The tackle variant BA.2 must not be left to chance

It has been argued that saying you have no choice is simply absolving yourself of responsibility. There are those who believe the government is doing this by not responding to the rising Covid numbers.

Such unease is understandable given Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly’s briefing at a Fianna Fáil meeting. His admission that several hundred thousand people are being infected with Covid-19 every week will have surprised his listeners.

Another revelation that no plans are being drawn up to reintroduce restrictions despite mounting pressure on hospitals seemed even more puzzling.

Last week, our handling of the pandemic was rounded out by the World Health Organization (WHO), who said we had “brutally” lifted restrictions. WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge said: “The countries where we are seeing increases in particular are the UK, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, France, Italy and Germany.”

We had “gone from too much (curbs) to too little,” he argued. Despite the criticism, appeals for a return to the mask requirement in public places went unheeded. A lack of orientation leads to uncertainty. If Mr. Donnelly thought it important to address the issue at a Fianna Fáil meeting, didn’t he think it wise to make a similar address to the entire nation?

An explanation of how the government is thinking in this wave could only help navigate it.

According to Sinn Féin spokesman David Cullinane, Mr Donnelly told him only a “full level 5 lockdown” would curb the spread of the new BA.2 variant. With incidence rising so rapidly, more widespread public outreach is certainly needed.

People are concerned that hospitals with 6,000 health workers absent due to the virus may not be able to cope with the growing pressure of case numbers. Solidarity People Before Profit’s TD Paul Murphy appealed for a restoration of the masks, saying Mr Donnelly’s approach made little sense. “Our frontline workers, whom we have applauded for their work, are crying out for something that needs to be done, and yet Stephen Donnelly says we won’t do the bare minimum because it’s so serious,” he said.

Emergency advisors believe conditions are now worse than ever. “A five-hour wait to be admitted to a bed results in one additional death for every 82 patients. That should ring alarm bells,” the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine warned.

We don’t know how high the case numbers could go in this surge.

Vaccines are doing their job, but 700,000 people have yet to be fully vaccinated.

Instructions on how to deal with the increased level of risk are overdue. The last thing anyone wants is a return to rigid protocols and further encroachments on personal liberty.

But the management of the fast portability is too complex due to the unique character of the BA.2 subvariant and must not be left to chance.

There needs to be a sure way of finding a middle ground between lockdown and laissez faire. The tackle variant BA.2 must not be left to chance

Fry Electronics Team

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