As I started to write this piece , the daily email from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) arrived in my inbox. There had been a further 383 cases and two deaths recorded.
t was a timely reminder that Ireland’s fight with Covid-19 is not over. One can’t help but feel anxious that history could be about to repeat itself. On November 27 last, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced to the nation that restrictions would be relaxed for Christmas. That day there were seven deaths and 206 cases – and we all know what happened next.
Ireland’s infection rate is higher now, after four months of lockdown, than it was then. The country will start reopening on May 10, but the big difference this time is that 1.5 million vaccine doses have been administered and some of our most vulnerable will be protected.
There is hope in the air as people look forward to visiting family in other counties and getting a long-overdue haircut.
Some business owners, devastated by multiple lockdowns, were moved to tears as the loosening of restrictions exceeded expectations.
There is no doubt we all want this to work after 15 months of social isolation and loss.
Nobody wants to be the killjoy in the room when normality is within touching distance, but the figures on death rates show the virus is still a very real threat. More than 4,800 families have lost loved ones during the pandemic.
There has been some debate about how Ireland actually records Covid-19 fatalities, as many of those who died were suffering from underlying conditions or terminal illnesses which may have contributed to their deaths.
Mayo coroner and solicitor Patrick O’Connor told this paper that it is difficult to ascertain who died from Covid and who died with Covid as no post mortems are carried out. Ireland follows the World Health Organisation’s method in counting all deaths where the person was Covid-positive as a Covid death, even where other issues were present.
The fact is, someone with an underlying condition would probably still be here if they had not contracted Covid-19.
Those with terminal illnesses were robbed of precious time – this is why it is important for us to proceed with caution.
Nobody wants to look back on this annus horribilis, we all want to move forward to a time when social distancing, wet pubs and cocooning are no longer in our vocabulary. We’ve already reached enough heartbreaking milestones, let’s hope that 5,000 deaths is one we avoid.