I have huge sympathy with the Government. On the one hand they are hoping that life can continue with some semblance of normality, but they know that public health concerns are paramount
When I wrote my column last week I was unsure about the possible effect the coronavirus outbreak would have here, but now the situation is very serious indeed. I just hope the authorities have been painting a worst-case scenario for the public this week and that things might not be as bad as are feared.
The suggestion that as many as 1.9 million people could be infected in this country has spooked a lot of people. Even though it is a fact that the vast majority of people who get this virus will not die or even get very ill from it, that is scant consolation to vulnerable people in our community.
At the time of writing the number of cases here is very low, but the experience elsewhere tell us that the situation might get worse. However, I am not going to add to the obvious sense of panic that is out there already.
All we can do is to take individual responsibility for our own personal hygiene and wash our hands as often as possible. I have huge sympathy with the Government. On the one hand they are hoping that life can continue with some semblance of normality, but they know that public health concerns are paramount. A worst-case scenario would see everything close down/be halted – schools, universities, sports fixtures, restaurants, pubs, etc. Hopefully it will not come to that but a big increase in the number of cases here would change everything.
Any such increase would be the nightmare scenario as industry would grind to a halt and people would be isolated at home and that could lead to even more problems in the long-term.
The bottom line though is that no-one really knows what will happen into the next week, never mind into the next month. What I have detected since the weekend is that people are now genuinely worried and unsure of what to do.
There is no doubt that this is the biggest health emergency that we have ever seen, one that has the potential to change our world forever. But we have to just do the best we can and follow the advice in in terms of minding ourselves and our families.
Maybe the situation will not turn out to be as bad as was predicted by many at the weekend, but the truth is that we cannot take any chances. The Government must ensure that the public are kept abreast of whatever information they have. The only way this virus will be defeated is with the goodwill of the public.
Most Irish people realise that we are in a tight corner at the moment and that if we all work together and do what is necessary we can come out the other end of this crisis without too much damage being done. Hopefully in a few months’ time we can put it all behind us and move on.