When the first wave of COVID struck little Northern Ireland in March and the country entered full lockdown, it was a surreal experience. We huddled around our television sets and watched the story unfold as cases, hospitalisations and deaths rose. It impacted massively upon our lives and lifestyles as schools and offices closed, the economy and the country grinding to a halt. The silence was eerie.
Yet, at the same time, it was like we were watching a disaster movie on Netflix. I followed the news religiously, watched the daily government briefings without fail, and could rhyme off daily statistics as easily as my own date of birth. It was real, but it wasn’t. I didn’t personally know anyone who had coronavirus and daily infection rates did not rise above 200. When the lockdown relaxations began everyone thought that was that, it was over. How wrong we were.
We were encouraged by our government to ‘eat out to help out,’ told to get back out there and start living our lives again. People became complacent, arrogant and the figures started to creep back up again. The creep became a jog until now it is a full on gallop. Northern Ireland is currently averaging over 1000 cases a day, hospitalisations are on the rise and our intensive care beds are filling up. We are teetering on the brink again.
Today, the U.K. government is holding an emergency meeting and it is expected we will know our fate later in the day. It’s a sad state of affairs but my next post to you could come from a very different looking Northern Ireland. I hope you are all staying safe and keeping well. Please continue to wash your hands, maintain social distancing and wear a mask where necessary. Your actions could save lives. This is not a movie. It’s real life.