Covid-19: Out of Control

The latest Covid-19 figures for Ireland make grim reading. Yesterday the number of new cases was the highest it has ever been since the start of the pandemic in March (though part of this is due to increased testing). The 7-day average is climbing relentlessly. It’s not the incidence rate itself which is the cause of alarm, it’s the fact that it is on an exponential trajectory again (with a doubling time only just over a week):

Yesterday evening the National Public Health Emergency Team advised that the entire country should immediately move to Level 5 for a period of six weeks.

Will the Government agree to this escalation? NPHET advised such a move less than a fortnight ago, but to no avail. Since then the situation has deteriorated more quickly than anyone predicted. It’s easy to be wise after the event but I think that decision was a very bad mistake. Even if they agree now, precious time will have been lost. There are now so many cases that contact tracing is effectively impossible, and hospitals are already feeling the strain. Unless something drastic is done now, by next month the health system will be overloaded. In my opinion it will be a scandal if there is no immediate move to Level 5.

Failing to move to Level 5 earlier this month was the second big mistake this Government has made. The first was the decision taken in June to wind down restrictions starting from 20th July, earlier than the original ‘Roadmap’ indicated. That was a mistake because it sent out a message that the pandemic was almost over. The change in behaviour among certain sectors of the public was immediate. Complacency set in, and the second wave started. It seems to me that the Roadmap was working so there was no need to change it.

Most European countries are experiencing a `second wave’ of Covid-19, in many cases worse than the first, so I’m not saying that adhering to the original Roadmap would have prevented a similar phenomenon in Ireland. I am saying that it could have been slowed considerably. By loosening the constraints too quickly and then not applying them again quickly enough, in both cases bowing to pressure from vested interests, the Government has made a difficult situation far worse than it need have been. They’ve let the situation get out of control and now nobody knows how it is going to end.

7 Responses to “Covid-19: Out of Control”

  1. Phillip Helbig Says:

    At least in some places, higher infection rates are due to a few people not following the rules. Thus, a better solution (fewer harmful side-effects for people who do follow the rules) might be to enforce whatever restrictions are currently in place much more strictly. Some people don’t follow the rules because things aren’t as bad as feared a few months ago—but the reason for that is that there were restrictions.

    • nannacecilie Says:

      I am not sure how feasible or wise it is to send police into homes to arrest people for having a birthday party.

      • Phillip Helbig Says:

        What if the alternative means people dying who would otherwise not have died? Is a birthday party more important than the lives of innocent people?

        Your freedom ends where the freedom of others is compromised.

      • nannacecilie Says:

        There is a place for enforcement, but much more important and effective is working with people, understanding why people behave as they do, and help them and make it easy for them to do the right things. For example, a major reason for people breaking quarantine rules is job or financial insecurity, and a system of 100% sick pay for everyone from day one (as in Norway) would go a long way to solve that problem without calling on the police.
        When it comes to private gatherings, first of all the message needs to be put across that it is our friends and family who are most dangerous to us, something that goes so completely against our instincts that it is hard for most to fathom. Because it is so contrary to our nature, it should have been stressed early and often, but the health authorities have only belatedly come around to making it.
        Never mind that sending police into private homes would be unconstitutional in Ireland at least.

  2. Phillip Helbig Says:

    In general I agree, but there are people who loudly proclaim that the whole thing is a hoax (Illuminati, Bill Gates, George Soros) and so on. There is no way to work with these people. A significant fraction of those who break the rules are so-called corona sceptics or corona rebels. As for financial security and so on, do you have data to back that up? At least in some places, those breaking the rules are not doing it to go to work, but rather so that they can get drunk together.

    I am no expert on Irish law, but are police in Ireland prevented from entering private homes for any reason? I don’t think so.

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