This is not a holiday, it is a pandemic


Sir, – I live in Furbo, seven miles west of Galway. I’ve just come in from a short walk, and was staggered by the number of non-local cars, full of families and luggage, all heading west.

What part of this crisis do they not understand? 2km? The need for staying home? That this is not a holiday, it’s an epidemic?

I thought of my young niece, who is 26, and a doctor, and scared, but stepping up to the mark, to her role as an adult in this, working in A&E.

To me, it seems like yesterday that she was christened, that I held her and promised to safeguard her, as her godmother. I thought of my sister and brother-in-law, also doctors and now working directly with Covid-19 patients.

I thought of my nephew, whose part-time job in (council-run) leisure centre has come to an end, and who has been told he will have a role soon transporting bodies to a mortuary. He is 24.

Before you pack your car and head west, maybe thinking you’re clever to leave at 4 am and avoid road checks, maybe thinking you’re clever to pretend that you have an elderly relative who needs “minding”, think of this letter.

Shame on anyone who’s heading away “on holidays” this Easter.

It’s not a holiday, it’s an epidemic. – Yours, etc,


Furbo, Co. Galway.

Sir, – I read with interest the articles regarding the potential for the BCG vaccination to assist in the fight against Covid-19 (Front page, April 4th and Home News, April 6th).

Viral diseases are common in animals, and there are a number of products which are used in veterinary medicine to combat viral infection. A version of the BCG vaccination has been marketed for many years in equine veterinary medicine, particularly in the US. This product is used specifically to stimulate the horse’s immune defence mechanism and to help in the management of virus-induced respiratory diseases.

This is just one aspect of the wealth of experience within the veterinary community which could be exploited in this pandemic, and a reminder that there is really only “One Health”, encompassing environmental, human and animal health. – Yours, etc,


University College Dublin.

Sir, – I was delighted to see so many friends and colleagues returning to be “On Call for Ireland” and for the HSE (“50,000 people register within three days to On Call for Ireland campaign”, March 21st). As our health service navigates a period of pressure and uncertainty that is without precedent, it was inspiring to see.

This being said, we must also express our gratitude to our healthcare colleagues who are not from Ireland, but who have made Ireland their home and who serve alongside us in our common hour of need. A huge proportion of our doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants (HCAs), administrative staff, porters and multidisciplinary team members come from overseas. They form the backbone of our health service. In the past week alone, I have worked with colleagues from Pakistan, India, Romania, Botswana, Trinidad, Sudan, Poland, France, Syria, Spain, and the Philippines to name but a few. Many of them come to work each day concerned for family and friends thousands of miles away, in regions also hit by this global pandemic.

I hope when Covid-19 is a distant memory we can show our appreciation, thanks and deep respect for our friends who look after us every day. We would be lost without them, and we need them now more than ever. – Yours, etc,


St James’s Hospital,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – In 1922, the third Dáil introduced the Compulsory Tillage Order mandating farmers to sow a certain acreage of wheat per annum. The call was “one more sow, one more cow, one more acre under the plough”.

In the light of the present health emergency with countries moving to limit food exports and close borders, has the time now come for Irish farmers to again secure sufficient food supplies by sowing additional crops of wheat, oats, potato and vegetables during this planting season to secure food supplies.

Every citizen currently isolating at home can also help by sowing some vegetables in back gardens and window boxes. – Yours, etc,


Ballinasloe, Co Galway.

Sir, – Isn’t it wonderful that nowadays we appreciate the work of ordinary people such as shopkeepers, postmen, policemen and healthcare workers who provide such a wonderful service to keep society functioning?

So-called “celebrities” and overpaid footballers have been pushed firmly into second place behind these wonderful people whose role in society has been under-appreciated for many years. Hopefully this readjustment of our values will continue long after Covid-19 has faded away. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.

Sir, – I find myself getting increasingly irritated when journalists persist in comparing the unemployment figure in the present exceptional circumstances with those during the financial crash. To me this seems like comparing apple with oranges!

These are unprecedented times in which probably up to three-quarters of shops and businesses are either closed or affected in some way and life does not go on as we know it. – Yours, etc,


Churchtown, Dublin 14.

Sir, – Interesting to see that the previous manager of the national soccer football team is considered worthy of a salary in excess of €1 million a year, whereas a nurse fighting for our lives with her own life on the line has an average salary of between €30- and €40,000: some equality! – Yours, etc,


Blackrock, Co Dublin.