IF you are feeling frightened now it is no surprise. 1,640 new cases of Covid-19 in one week in Waterford is shocking, and the results of that are already impacting our hospital. Day after day, hour by hour, the numbers are mounting. As we went to press on Monday night, the number of Covid patients in UHW had jumped to 59. Six are in ICU. As you read this article, those numbers will have increased further.
The ability to care for people in serious ill-health due to Covid-19 is finite. UHW only has the capacity to surge in terms of ventilation to 23 beds, as each ICU bed needs highly trained intensive care staff to manage it. Currently at least 100 staff at the hospital are absent because of Covid related reasons.
‘Children are home from school now, we do not want them to return more broken by this past year of hardship because they lose their grandparents, unnecessarily, to this callous virus.’
Today, most, if not all, of us know someone with Covid. The early days of anecdotal stories of young people catching the virus, but the more vulnerable age groups remaining protected are long gone.
Working at the coalface is Prof John Ryan, Head of Emergency Medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital. His stark comments to the Irish Times yesterday are devastating, as he speaks of his patients struggling to survive now due to Covid.
“These people got Covid for Christmas from their children despite all the advice, don’t do it, don’t visit your grandparents, don’t have meetings, they went and gave big hugs and delivered Covid for Christmas.”
20% of those who go into ICU will not come out alive, and Prof Ryan knows the very grim reality of that statistic, the devastation for the patient, and for the family who will bury them after a tiny, lonely funeral.
We are not going to try and sugar coat this reality in this week’s Waterford News & Star because Waterford needs people fortunate enough now not to have Covid to double down on their efforts in order that it stays that way. Children are home from school now, we do not want them to return more broken by this past year of hardship because they lose their grandparents, unnecessarily, to this callous virus.
Our front page photo of a heaving, crowded city centre in mid-December tells of a tragedy in motion. This is on us. But it is also on us to play our role now.
“Staying at home and cutting your contacts right down to only those in your immediate household is the one vital way we will protect our healthcare system as it struggles with the burdens brought on by this surge in Covid-19 infections,” Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, said last night.
If we don’t nothing is more certain than Covid-19 finding an ever increasing, deadly path.
Editorial published in Waterford News & Star January 12th, 2021