AS high profile protests took place in Dublin at the weekend, by extreme groups against public health guidelines such as mask wearing, the real spectre of Covid 19 was rising in Waterford.
On Sunday, NPHET (the National Public Health Emergency Team) announced Waterford’s highest daily increase, since the pandemic first hit Irish shores, with 22 cases.
It was not a bolt out of the blue either, as over the past month we have seen a steady increase in Waterford cases. We have long since left behind the days of Waterford being the best performing county in terms of minimal exposure to the Coronavirus.
‘Many are concerned that businesses and companies are not being forthright when Covid 19 is confirmed among their staff’
The ripple effect is that as these cases emerge, 48 over the past week alone, so too do rumours, alongside factual accounts, of where they are and what steps should be taken as a result. Only yesterday (Monday), both Waterpark College and Mercy Secondary schools revealed a positive case for Covid 19, however no classes were sent home. In Waterpark, a student had been absent for a number of days prior to a positive test result. Both schools stated that they were following HSE and public health advice.
The slew of comments on Facebook that followed included the full gamut of opinion, from those deeply concerned at the health implications, to those irresponsibly proclaiming it all to be a figment of the imagination.
In the meantime, the rumour mill is ratcheting up as to where the other cases are, and what we are and aren’t being informed about. Many are concerned that businesses and companies are not being forthright when Covid 19 is confirmed among their staff.
It is understandable that the public would want more information, as they seek to juggle economic and social responsibilities – jobs, children in school, key events such as First Holy Communions and Confirmations that involve the inclusion of more vulnerable family members, and so forth.
As ‘wet’ pubs anticipate reopening next week, many are bravely stepping up to achieve that delicate balance between reestablishing the lifestyle we enjoyed prior to Covid 19, but in a more carefully managed way as is appropriate for this pandemic-era.
If anything, this all points to the importance of personal responsibility. Covid 19 has not changed. Symptoms still often only present themselves after a person has already been infectious, and the disease has an incubation period of up to a fortnight. We are also more than well aware at this stage that many cases are asymptomatic. It is a silent, deadly presence in our community.
If you are questioning the reliability of public health advice, our politicians and the World Health Organisation as to the merits of wearing a mask and of sticking to social distancing and public health regulations (Fr Liam Power’s column this week tells of the ridiculous lengths irresponsible people will go to put both themselves and others at risk, entirely unnecessarily) ponder for a moment being on a ventilator, alone, with your lungs drowning in mucus. It’s not a very pleasant way to die, not for you nor your family.
And for goodness sake, don’t be the person who gifts that reality to someone else.