Coronavirus crisis underlines need for a new Government

Hopefully the number of cases will be low, because if major sporting and cultural events are called off and tourism all but halted, then we are in for a rough ride economically

As I write these words on Tuesday, the situation with regard to the coronavirus (Covid-19) is ever-changing, but there is no doubt that it has the potential to be one of the most serious and damaging developments that we have seen in our lifetime. The effect that it could have on industry, sport, tourism and almost every aspect of modern life is frightening, but it is very important that people keep calm about it until we see how matters develop. It may well be that it will blow over in a couple of months.

Of course there are people getting carried away. I listened to travel expert Eoghan Corry on the radio at the weekend. He said he was in Colombia last week and on the plane journey he noted about 100 people were wearing protective masks. According to Corry, none of them had their mask on correctly! Not alone that, many people don’t realise that the masks are useless unless you have actually got the virus – their benefit then being that they might stop you giving it to someone else. (It will not actually prevent the wearer from getting the virus).

Thankfully up to now life can continue as normal, but a huge problem could arise if there happens to be a widespread outbreak. It would mean that people would have to stay out of work – and the big question then would be who would pay people in that scenario. It’s all right for Google and Twitter to tell their employees to stay at home, but the majority of small employers would not be able to afford to pay workers to sit at home for weeks on end. In that case there would be severe implications for the economy, but let’s not panic until we see what happens.

My main worry about the situation here in Ireland is that we have a health service that is bursting at the seams – and despite all the fine words that we have heard from the authorities in recent weeks, if there are a lot of cases we would find ourselves in big trouble. The hospital beds are simply not there to cope.

People who have breathing difficulties, e.g. asthma, COPD and other respiratory diseases, should certainly be very careful, but for the rest of the population there should be no panic.

There are some people who are going around buying up lots of hand sanitiser when it is proven that using old-fashioned soap and water is by far the best way to wash one’s hands.

Hopefully the number of cases will be low, because if major sporting and cultural events are called off and tourism all but halted, then we are in for a rough ride economically.

The coronavirus crisis has also brought into focus the need for strong leadership and how we need a Government to be formed without much further delay. Massaging egos and semantics should be set aside and the parties should form a Government to deal with not alone this crisis but also with the other problems that we have such as Brexit, housing, homelessness, the health service, etc.

The main thing is for people is not to panic about this coronavirus, which hopefully can be contained. Whatever happens, we will have to deal with it – but for the moment the best thing to do is get on with life and remain calm.