It’s a worrying time for us all and no different in Northern Ireland regarding the coronavirus. At present, government are adhering to the mantra of improved personal hygiene. Our Prime Minister has told us to regularly wash our hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds; the time it would take to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice or ‘God Save the Queen.’ I’ll be singing them internally as otherwise I’d feel quite barking mad.
If anyone displays signs of coronavirus, that being a dry, continuous cough and/or high temperature they are to self isolate for 7 days. Many are saying that isn’t enough and are demanding the schools be closed as in the Republic of Ireland. The British government and Northern Ireland Assembly haven’t made that decision yet, even though our First Minister and Deputy First Minister are openly disagreeing on the issue. Our politicians can’t agree on anything, even in times of national crisis.
As I write this there have been 45 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Northern Ireland and almost 1400 in the United Kingdom as a whole. 35 people have died, aged between 59-94, all with underlying health conditions. The figures don’t tell the whole story, however, as tests are now only being carried out on those requiring hospital admission. It’s estimated there could be 30-40,000 cases nationwide.
We are said to be a few weeks behind where Italy is. The government are mulling over a number of options, including increased social distancing, the self isolating of the elderly and entire households to self isolate if one person shows symptoms consistent with coronavirus. As for work, well it’s business as usual at present. I shall be expected at my desk tomorrow morning despite the growing anxiety sweeping across the country.
Supermarkets are selling out of commodities such as toilet roll and sanitising hand gel as queues form. People are also bulk buying pasta, rice and other non perishable foodstuffs. Our village shop still has 99% of what we need but panic buying is happening. Some stores are to start opening early solely to cater for the needs of the elderly. If you were to rely only on social media for your information, you’d be convinced the fabric of society was unravelling and Armageddon was nigh.
The British Government have been widely criticised over poor communication and failing to act swiftly like other countries have. The current guidance is that mass gatherings can still take place and its ‘business as usual.’ Many sporting and entertainment bodies have ignored this advice and professional sports have effectively ground to a halt across the nation. People are scared, confused and desperately in need of clear and decisive leadership.
In the neighbouring Republic of Ireland more severe restrictions are already in place. Schools have closed as have pubs, bars and other venues. The island of Ireland covers two separate jurisdictions whose medical experts and politicians currently hold opposing views as to how we combat the virus. It’s no wonder people are confused. Clarity and direction are lacking at a time when they are most critically required.
I’ve decided to blog daily about coronavirus in Northern Ireland, how it is affecting our lives and society at large. I hope, by doing so, I can offer comfort and community via the blog. Feel free to comment and add your own experiences, wherever you are in the world. We are all in this together and nobody need feel alone on WordPress. Until next time, keep safe and do what is best for you and your loved ones.