Advice on how to protect yourself is as quiet as a whisper, just as Covid regulations are being phased out

The words “mandatory” and “restrictions” are part of the history of the Covid-19 pandemic for the time being.

But the surprise is that the messages encouraging people to voluntarily do the right thing have become so sophisticated and genteel.

Some of the public health news is as quiet as a whisper.

Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly yesterday confirmed the view that the BA.2 form of Covid-19 is so contagious that “rather extreme measures” will be needed to bring it under control. So that’s not going to happen.

But calls for leadership in trying to stem the tide will grow louder as hospitals buckle again.

If nothing is mandatory, how do you nudge people to help the country escape this BA.2 wave?

Extreme Measures

Beaumont Hospital’s infectious disease consultant, Professor Sam McConkey, said yesterday he believes even a return to 2020’s two-metre social distancing rule may not stem the spread of the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant.

He said that this is currently being tried in China and has not been very successful. This is in contrast to 2020, when dramatic restrictions here and around the world have been working to contain the much less contagious variant.

It’s not a good idea to go back to some of the more draconian measures like limiting household visits and closing non-essential businesses, he told RTÉ Today with Claire Byrne.

“We are not seeing the dire escalation of illness and death that we saw two years ago,” he added.

Mask requirement

The most common demand is the reintroduction of the mask requirement.

However, the government’s emergency Covid-19 decrees expire tomorrow.

A new law would be required to confer this status. There are no steps to do this.

Wearing a face mask might be seen as the most practical measure, and while the rise in cases has led more people to start using them again, many are clearly not.

The advice remains to wear them on public transport and healthcare, as well as indoors with a lot of people.

Masks are particularly important to protect other vulnerable people at higher risk if they contract Covid-19.

If there are no steps to make them mandatory again, then a high profile awareness campaign is needed to nudge and remind people to use them more often.

Why not have public announcements every half hour on buses and trains or in shops asking people to voluntarily wear a mask for their safety and that of others? It would serve as a reminder and also exert some peer pressure.

Look to Denmark

As cases began to escalate in recent weeks, Denmark was one of the countries cited as an example of a rise and fall in Covid-19.

The hope was Ireland would follow a separate pattern in which Covid-19 would retreat.

But there is no evidence of this so far. Denmark lifted restrictions in early February and said that despite high cases, Covid-19 was no longer a critical threat.

How the numbers compare

At the end of March, Denmark had 1,748 patients hospitalized with Covid-19, half due to the virus and the rest with another illness. This compares to 1,605 Covid-19 patients in Irish hospitals yesterday, a slight decrease from Monday. However, Denmark’s official case count is on the decline, falling by more than 10,800 in the last three weeks.

how did it do that Looking at the vaccination ranking shows that it is second in Europe with 226.05 per 100 people, while Ireland is seventh with 213.91 per 100 people.

The alternative

According to Dr. Colm Henry, Chief Medical Officer of the HSE, still has much to do. In particular, he has cited the need for people to get vaccinated and get a booster shot. Figures for hospitalized Covid-19 patients still show that the unvaccinated are disproportionately represented, he said.

A significant number in intensive care have not received a booster dose. More than 700,000 people over the age of 16 are eligible for a booster shot.

There is also the problem of people with symptoms not staying at home. Added to this is the persistent hurdle of hospital capacity. Additional general beds and ICU beds have been added since the pandemic, but they are falling short of target. And at the moment they are still far behind demand as the Covid infection control measures cause significant disruptiontion. Advice on how to protect yourself is as quiet as a whisper, just as Covid regulations are being phased out

Fry Electronics Team

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