Covid-19: a matter of life and death

 

Sir, – I am perplexed by the decision of the Government to offer a “free-shot” to anyone who attempts to contravene the current restrictions on travel.

The decision will be counter-productive and it represents a slap in the face to the great majority of the population who have rigidly complied with all restrictions at considerable sacrifice to themselves. – Yours, etc,

JOHN MCGRATH,

Wicklow.

Sir, – Living within earshot of the Bundoran bypass, the reduction in traffic has been evident over the last couple of weeks. However, on Thursday there was almost no traffic at all.

It would appear that the much more stringent enforcement by An Garda Síochána is working and that there were still quite a number of unessential journeys being undertaken.

We will beat this virus, and if that means more rigorous restrictions and checks to counter the selfish in our society then so be it. – Yours, etc,

ANTHONY MORAN

Bundoran, Co Donegal.

Sir, – On Tuesday I went shopping in a supermarket. The shop was excellent in the manner in which it restricted numbers in the store and had hand wipes available as well as screens for the checkout staff.

However, my fellow shoppers were not as considerate, overtaking me closely in the aisles whenever I stopped to look at merchandise on the shelves. I think that supermarkets should enforce a one-way system in the aisles, insist that customers stay two metres behind the customer in front, and ban customers from overtaking each other. This system would cause delays, as movement through the store would be at the pace of the slowest customer, but it would ensure effective social distancing, which doesn’t happen in supermarkets at present. – Yours, etc,

MARY MORRISSEY,

Castletownbere, Co Cork.

Sir, – After a faltering start, our Government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis has been much better than most countries’. They have also been doing a pretty good job of regular open engagement with us .

However, one aspect of the daily briefings is troublingly lacking in transparency.

Even before the first confirmed case in Ireland, the importance of massive amounts of testing was widely acknowledged.

From early on the Government has aspired to rates of testing of 5,000, 10,000 and even 15,000 a day. However, it is clear that for reasons often outside governmental control, none of these figures has been even approached. On April 7th we were told that 12,271 tests had been processed that week. That represents an average of just over 1,750 tests per day.

The figure supplied on the same day of 42,484 tests processed since the start of testing represents an average daily rate of something in the region of 1,000 per day.

Unless we are supplied each day with the numbers of processed tests from which that day’s figures have been generated, it is impossible to establish in a transparent way what the ongoing rate of infection in the population actually is or to meaningfully compare the succession of daily figures to date.

For example, if 400 new cases are reported, it matters hugely whether that is 400 out of 4,000 processed tests or 400 out of 1,000 processed tests.

If a figure of 400 were reported on consecutive days it could look like a steadying of the curve, but if those two figures were generated from processed results of 4,000 and 1,000 respectively, it could represent a worrying escalation of the situation.

It is unclear why this vital information concerning daily numbers of processed tests is not included in the daily briefings.

One troubling possibility is that such information might reveal the gap between aspirations and actuality. Alternatively, it might reveal a testing regime that has been fluctuating wildly over the past 40 or so days. This might lead to a loss of public confidence in the Government’s overall strategy.

Whatever the reason, I think transparency in all aspects of the daily presentations is essential. If it eventually emerges that inconvenient truths were hidden or glossed over what will that do to our confidence in future briefings at times of crisis? – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN CONROY,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – New Zealand and Ireland are similar.  They are islands with the same size population. Both countries had their first Covid-19 detections at the end of February. The public health crisis statistics started to diverge from that point.

As of Tuesday, Ireland had recorded 6,000 cases of Covid-19 and 210 deaths while New Zealand had 1,200 cases and one death. The relative success of New Zealand has been attributed to an earlier lockdown and the closure of its borders. (People who arrived were quarantined and monitored).

New Zealand’s authorities are confident that extensive community spread has been avoided. Even at this late stage, we could replicate New Zealand’s approach – which would probably reduce community spread of  coronavirus and prevent a lot of suffering. – Yours, etc,

GER MCNAMARA,

Ballinacurra,

Limerick.

Sir, – May I highlight the role of radiographers in the care of patients at this time. As a radiologist, I have reported on hundreds of medical imaging studies over the last few weeks on patients who either have proven or suspected Covid-19 infection. Each of these studies has been performed hands-on by a radiographer directly in harm’s way.

The acquisition of each of these chest X-rays and CT scans represent an act of uncommon courage and professionalism. I cannot do my job without them. I am honoured to have them as colleagues. – Yours, etc,

RONAN MCDERMOTT,

Rathgar, Dublin 6.

Sir, – There is a crisis brewing which is receiving little or no attention – and that is a crisis of mobility for our over-70s. For thousands of them the phrase “use it or lose it” has very real meaning. Not all of them have the luxury of a garden, and if they are denied the opportunity to exercise they are in real danger of never being able to leave their houses unaided again. Think of those with arthritis, or who have recently had hip or knee replacements.

My mother Pat (80 years young) had a great idea. Could we not set aside a time each day exclusively for the over-70s when they could take a short walk outside their homes? Say between 6pm and 7pm? We know that they will observe social distancing, given they are the ones at greatest risk. But the longer they are denied the opportunity to exercise, the worse the consequences will be for them (and their families) if this lockdown goes on much longer. – Yours, etc,

STEVEN DUGGAN,

Greystones, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – So, 60,000 respond to “On call for Ireland” and our Taoiseach rejoins the medical register. Meanwhile, your newspaper reports “Consultants say they have significant issues with terms of contract offered” (Front page, April 6th). Shoulder to shoulder? – Yours, etc,

ELSPETH FINLAY,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – Over the last number of weeks pharmacists and their staffs have been at the frontline in the resistance to the Covid-19 pandemic. This letter is to pay tribute to the counter assistants and staff both temporary and permanent who have taken their responsibilities with courage and dedication.

They have made no small contribution to the welfare and health of this country and deserve credit for same. – Yours, etc,

RICHARD COLLIS,

Dublin.

Sir, – I would like to commend the superb work and services by An Post. Their professionalism, efficiency, pro-act tiveness and care and attentioto the elderly and more vulnerable people across Ireland is truly both inspiring and heart- warming. The foresight and speed at which they have implemented the “Request a Check-in” service and nationwide newspaper delivery is noteworthy. The managers and staff should be very proud. Thank you to An Post. – Yours, etc,

TRIONA McNICHOLL,

Kildare.

Sir, – I have never seen so many whole family units out and about, exercising and chatting together (while retaining social distancing from other groups). A welcome sight in these trying times. – Yours, etc,

TARA KELLY,

Loughrea, Co Galway.

A chara, – Two years ago Brave New Ireland rejoiced at the end of Good Friday as a day without pubs.

This year with the coronavirus lockdown there has already been nearly a month of pub closure and we are not finished yet. This makes for a lifetime of Good Fridays. – Is mise,

CIARÁN MAC GUILL

Clichy, An Fhrainc.