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Vaccines to bring hope

Wednesday, 11th March, 2020 4:49pm

Ireland has had its first confirmed death due to Covid-19. The woman died in a hospital in the east of the country. She was elderly and was suffering from an underlying illness.

The head of the HSE also said yesterday that Ireland is entering a new phase of the coronavirus. Paul Reid said: “We are entering a new phase in #Covid19. I fully support our hospitals who have to make decisions on restricting visitors based on clinical risk, patient and public safety.”

He didn’t elaborate further but he may be suggesting that we are moving from the containment phase to the delay phase.

The Mercy University Hospital confirmed that it has three inpatients who have tested positive for Covid-19.

We don’t know what’s going to happen, although we can look at other countries, particularly Italy, to see what’s coming down the tracks. Hopefully we are learning and doing things better as a result of their experiences.

In the last few days the Government have begun to be a bit more proactive and that’s good to see, but is it enough to mitigate the worst effects? It is truly unprecedented in the most literal sense. It’s a new virus and we are still learning about it.

I’ve never experienced anything like it in my lifetime. Foot and Mouth disease was a discomfort and annoyance for most people as they weren’t directly impacted. And since humans didn’t get sick, it was easy to ignore it.

An epidemic of SARS affected 26 countries and resulted in more than 8,000 cases in 2003. It didn’t affect Ireland too much though and I don’t really remember much about it, although Ireland had one non-fatal case. Over 750 people died worldwide.

I think it’s mind-boggling that Cheltenham went ahead. Thousands of Irish people have gone there, mixed with thousands more people in close proximity, where you can be sure best practice health protocols are not being observed.

Those thousands of Irish people will return during the week, heading to all parts of Ireland. Cheltenham got its first confirmed Covid-19 case on the eve of the festival. It doesn’t bode well.

The UK may be doing okay at the moment but it seems like things may get bad there pretty quickly. Their health minister Nadine Dorries has been diagnosed with coronavirus. She had been in Westminster for the past week, met hundreds of people, and attended a No 10 reception hosted by Boris Johnson last Thursday.

An acquaintance of mine had a harrowing story on Monday. His wife works with someone who tested positive for coronavirus. The NHS told the team she works with that they and their families have to self-isolate for two weeks. Two hours later, they were told to go back to work until they develop symptoms - should they do so.

That sounds very much like worst practice. If they had direct contact with someone with the virus, surely they have to self-isolate immediately? The UK doesn’t seem to be dealing with it very well. That’s pretty bad for us as we are very interconnected with our closest neighbours.

There is hope too. Speaking on Newstalk, Professor Luke O’Neill was very positive about the development of a vaccine, saying we will have one by September. On treatments he said that there is “huge positivity here too” and outlined some of the effective measures that are working well including anti-inflammatories. Every day there are new treatments he said.

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