Pandemic restrictions and response


Sir, – As we obsessively read the news each day, we have become largely familiar with the repetitive terms “epidemiology”, “trajectory” and “incidence rate”.

Perhaps there should be more focus on explaining the terms “underlying health conditions”, “long-term complications” and “hospital capacity”.

If we gained further knowledge of the latter, it would give us the much-needed context required to understand these overused “big” words! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – What do we want? Zero Covid.

When do we want it? Now. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Riddle me this. As I left Enniskerry this Sunday morning where I live, right on the border between Wicklow and Dublin, to drive to Carrickmines, a journey of all of 10 minutes, I was stopped by gardaí asking if my journey was necessary. I said no, as I wasn’t shopping for food, and compliantly turned back, as hordes of cyclists passed me on their way into Enniskerry.

I questioned the guard about this, and he told me he and his colleague had spent the morning asking large groups of cyclists outside the local coffee shop to return home, and some had become quite defensive, apparently.

I have passed large groups of cyclists as I walk the roads around Enniskerry as they grunt and breathe heavily beside each other, and sometimes coughing.

I work in a school where we wear masks all day, as do the students. When someone in the school tests positive for Covid, we are not considered close contacts as we are all wearing masks.

Yet the sweat and vapour coming from cyclists in large groups does not appear to be considered a threat to the health of those they are with, and those whom they pass on the narrow roads around Enniskerry.

If I had gone to TK Maxx, as I planned that morning, I would have been wearing a mask and keeping my social distance.

Maybe I should have been going to Halfords to buy myself a bike and a nice bit of sweaty lycra. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir , – The current proposal by the HSE to acquire 40 per cent of the capacity of private hospitals for up to two years to manage the second surge of Covid-19 is fundamentally flawed.

It is based on assumptions that spare capacity exists in the private system.

This is far from the reality, as the system is till trying to catch-up with the backlog created by the chaotic forced takeover by the HSE in April for three months of all private hospitals to deal with first wave of Covid.

This episode created uncertainty for 2.2 million insured members of healthcare plans who have chosen not to be a burden on free public healthcare system, and also brought the multibillion euro health insurance industry to near-collapse.

Private hospitals have shown tremendous resilience having regained control of their facilities in July and very quickly were able to get up to 90 per cent to 100 per cent level of pre-Covid activity.

What we need is capacity enhancement in both systems, and not capacity sequestration, to deal with the pandemic and resultant long waiting lists for elective clinical care that now exist.

Currently in excess of 60 per cent of all national elective surgery takes place in the private system and a significant cohort of public hospital waiting lists are also being dealt with via the National Treatment Purchase Fund route very efficiently.

The priority should be to make the public elective healthcare delivery system as efficient as private by increasing the normal working days to 12 hours and working week to six days.

This can be achieved in the short to medium term by emergency derogation from the Working Time Act and paying staff appropriate compensation with overtime rates.

This obviously is going to require the State to seek appropriate agreements with public service unions, but at a time of great national emergency such measures are required for the common good of our people. – Yours, etc,


Medical Director

and Consultant


UPMC Whitfield



Sir, – I cannot understand the need to close retail outlets during the pandemic. The behaviours that cause the spread of Covid appear to be related to social gatherings of one sort or another, often involving alcohol.

Most shopping is done during the day and in environments that can control flow and movement of customers. Alcohol consumption at that time isn’t usually a feature of the experience.

With more people able to remain in employment, it should be possible for a higher stipend for those out of work due to pandemic. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Opening and closing like a sea anemone in a rock pool is not a plan. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 14.

A chara, – Infection numbers go up. Lockdown. Infection numbers go down. Open up. Infection numbers go up. Lockdown. Infection numbers go down. Open up. Repeat.

What’s the definition of stupidity again? – Yours, etc,



Co Meath.