Responding to the pandemic


Sir, – When Covid-19 first began to affect Ireland, Leo Varadkar promised that the then-government would initiate testing and tracing on the same scale as South Korea. This never happened.

Over six months and a new Government later, we in Ireland have a patently inadequate test-and-trace regime and fatalities are approaching the 2,000 mark. South Korea, with a population of 51.6 million, has further refined its system, and recorded less than 500 Covid fatalities.

The present Government seems to have no concrete plan to upgrade our test-and-trace capacity to the necessary level of efficiency. However, without such a capacity we have no exit strategy from the pandemic.

We face years of soul destroying lockdowns and relaxations – and the medical, social and economic damage that will accompany them.

Ordinary Irish people have generally demonstrated a splendid response to this unprecedented crisis.

But should we continue to accept the complete burden of responsibility for the upward spread of Covid, and the prospect of endless, and ultimately futile, restrictions on our daily lives?

Isn’t it time we insisted that the Government played its part in providing us with what is the only currently known means to control this pandemic?

And it would help enormously if our all too deferential political commentators and medical experts were to join us in this undertaking. Lacking an efficient test-and-trace system, we are just pushing the huge Covid rock up the infinitely steep hill of continuous contagion. – Yours, etc.




Co Wicklow.

Sir, – What has surprised me somewhat during the course of this virus is, save for last week, the lack of a contrarian view to that of Nphet.

While the public was happy to buy into its view in March and April, I would suggest that the same may not happen again for a number of reasons.

There does not not appear to have been any serious work done on how to reopen the country when the time came and there is nothing to suggest that there would be any change a second time around.

It is simply too much to ask 400,000 single households to lockdown again without giving them some hope as to a better quality of their lives when reopening comes.

The HSE has much work to do to clear backlogs in cardiac and cancer services which have yet to fully reopen, and a second national lockdown will just lead to a greater backlog.

Business, which has shown flexibility, cannot simply be asked to open and close and open again continually.

It is becoming more and more clear that none of our so-called betters has ever run a business. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – No matter the unenviable task and good intentions of both Nphet and our Government to contain the virus, their efforts will be as nought if the North does not reciprocate. We residents of the Border counties can stick to the rules as assiduously as we like, but unless Northern Ireland enacts, and rigidly enforces, travel restrictions, then our efforts may well be utterly wasted.

Do I expect the holiday homes here in Bundoran to be occupied during the upcoming half-term break? Of course I do, as who is there to stop it from occurring?

The North needs to implement travel restrictions and it needs to implement them now. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – Between ourselves in the Republic, Northern Ireland, and the three countries that make up Britain, we have varying names for the types or stages of lockdowns.

Would it not be better that we all agree on the same tag for our enforcement rules?

The simplest would be floors; for example, ground floor, first floor, and so on, up to the attic.

The basement of course would be the safest. That way we would all know where we stand. – Yours, etc,


Ballyduff Upper,

Co Waterford.

Sir, – It’s in times like these that I’m glad to live in Ireland. Spare a thought for our neighbours in England. They are in tiers. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 9.

Sir, – An Irish Times letter writer wonders why it is not mandatory to wear masks outdoors, as it would help to remind people that life is not normal (Letters, October 16th).

Perhaps the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve lost their jobs or those suffering ill-health due to delayed treatments might be exempt on the basis that they probably don’t need further reminders. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.