Tuesday, March 10, 2020

A member of staff sanitizes at The Book Centre, Waterford city.

WHETHER you love or loathe the government, no amount of keyboard bashing or praising will be of any use in containing or limiting the spread of Covid-19. That will ultimately be up to us, individually and collectively, in workplaces, schools, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, healthcare settings, sports grounds, gyms, cinemas and the countless other places people gather in close proximity.

Covid-19 is here now, and over the coming days and weeks it will spread within the community, including across Waterford. It is reckless, at this stage, to go about your daily life and business with an air of complacency. The HSE advice to wash your hands and maintain a space of one metre is not a matter of choice, it is essential.

For the majority of us we will be ok. If we get a dose of Covid-19, 80 percent of us will come through it relatively unscathed, though it will not be a nice experience. To put it in context, it will be similar to a bad flu. For children, the statistics suggest they will bounce back to full health relatively easily.

However, for 20 percent of us who get the illness – a huge percentage – this will be a tough experience. This is where we are dealing with a significant pneumonia-like illness. We will require hospitalisation, with around 5% of us critically ill and in need of ICU care. Those more likely, but not exclusively, to fall into this bracket are the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.


‘For 20 percent of us who get the illness this will be a tough experience. This is where we are dealing with a significant pneumonia-like illness. We will require hospitalisation, with around 5% of us critically ill and in need of ICU care.’


Each of us that falls ill has the potential to spread Covid-19. The statistics suggest this to stand at between two and three people per every person that becomes ill.

The HSE and the Department of Health are managing an incredibly difficult situation on a changing daily basis. There is no question but that resources are being directed at dealing with Covid-19, and that responsible leadership is being taken.

At political leadership level choices will always be made, and not everyone will agree with those choices. There will also be the factor of timing in relation to those choices. The St Patrick’s Day Parades are a case in point.

One thing is certain though in Ireland’s case. A team of exemplary experts have been brought together to deal with Covid-19 and manage the national response. They have all of our best interests at heart. The choices they make are based on careful research and painstaking work. They are not operating as an island, excuse the pun, but in conjunction with the best in the world, including the World Health Organisation.

Our role now comes into play in a major way. No government was ever going to stop Covid-19 entering Ireland. It is here and we must step up to the plate.

Think of your hands, what you touch, when you need to wash your hands. Think of your children, what they touch and when they need to wash their hands. Maintain the one metre space between yourself and others. Cough into a tissue and bin it. Or into your elbow.

Forget about niceties and awkwardness – you are being nice, and kind, if you act responsibly and respect others who are doing likewise. You also do not have to stay in a space where you feel unsafe – such as in the company of someone who is noticeably ill. Look after yourselves.

Explore other forms of communication – reach out over the phone to elderly neighbours, work from home, step outside into the fresh air and safe open spaces that are there to be enjoyed. Work at remaining calm and reducing panic for yourself and those around you.

We are not going to escape Covid-19 as a community. We can slow it down. Do your bit so that those who live among us, who will fall into the 20% more seriously ill bracket, can access the health care they require. If too many of us are ill at the same time the numbers will not stack up in our favour.

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