Covid-19 and lessons unlearned

 

Sir, – I’ve had a serious case of déjà vu in the past 24 hours or so, hearing and reading comments that the current wave of the pandemic is essentially over and that there should be immediate moves to start opening things up.

I feel like I’m living in some bizarre parallel universe where logic has gone out the window.

Does nobody else recall almost identical conversations back in September (including calls to disband Nphet), and also in November 2020 (including directions to go and have a “meaningful Christmas”) and where that put us in January 2021 and December 2021 respectively?

It was only a fortnight or so ago that the PCR testing system was so overwhelmed that people couldn’t secure an appointment.

We were instead told to rely on antigen tests.

Now, with people not feeling compelled to get PCR tests, and with a voluntary system where people may or may not decide to upload positive antigen test results, there is an apparent drop in numbers which may or may not truly reflect the situation.

Rather than advising caution and taking a wait-and-see approach, Nphet and Government appear to have decided that the peak is over and that it is safe to consider heading back towards where we were in, yes, September 2021 and November 2020.

This is the same week where The Irish Times reported that the director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the pandemic is “nowhere near over”, warned that “Omicron continues to sweep the world”, and that said the WHO is “concerned about the impact Omicron is having on already exhausted health workers and overburdened health systems”.

He also cautioned that new variants are likely to emerge (“Covid-19 pandemic is ‘nowhere near over’, WHO chief warns”, Health, January 19th).

Like everyone else, I too would like the pandemic to disappear and for all our lives to go back to normal.

I understand too the financial pressures on businesses.

And yet it seems we are stuck in a repeating loop between opening things up far too quickly and then having to impose serious restrictions again weeks later.

Hasn’t the history of this virus shown a slower, steadier and more cautious approach is needed? – Yours, etc,

Yours, etc,

SHANE STOKES,

Newtownmountkennedy,

Co Wicklow.