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It’s taken this long? April 1, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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The chief medical officers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will sign a Memorandum of Understanding formalising co-ordination and cooperation between the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive this week.

Really, got to wonder how it can take weeks into a pandemic for such basic cooperation to be arrived at. Perhaps that’s the real April Fool’s on us all – though it’s no joke.

Speaking of cooperation, the piece linked to above notes:

In the coming days, Northern Ireland will get access to some of the Personal Protection Equipment that was sourced in China and transported back to Dublin by Aer Lingus.

This was noted by the BBC too at the weekend when the flight took place:

A historic flight from the Republic of Ireland to China to collect personal protective equipment (PPE) has landed back in Dublin.
The Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Beijing was the airline’s first ever scheduled trip to China. Some of the PPE from these flights is believed to be destined for Northern Ireland.
NI Finance Minister Conor Murphy last week said a “significant consignment” of PPE would be sent from China after a joint order by the Irish government and the Stormont executive.

And Murphy said in another piece:

“We have agreed a joint order with Dublin and there is procurement going on through the British system as well.”
“To be prudent, we want to be sure that if the crisis that is coming our way becomes more severe in Britain and those supply lines across the Irish Sea dry up, then we want our own supply chain here. It is a joint effort,” he added.

This is an island, even putting the politics aside, a shared history aside, the basic commonalities aside, having any great divergence in measures and responses between North and South is a bad idea.

Comments»

1. Joe - April 1, 2020

I’ve been pushing the line all along that we’ve all got to follow the advice of the medics and scientists at this time. Specifically the medics and scientists who specialize in this area and who are advising the Chief Medical Officer, Tony Holohan, and effectively dictating government policy and actions on this.

But then I heard Arlene Foster on the telly yesterday saying she’s doing exactly that – following the advice of the specialist medics and scientists in the North.

In the RoI, people who’ve had the virus are advised to self-isolate for fourteen days after all symptoms have gone. In the UK it’s seven days.

So I don’t know. Doctors differ and patients die?

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WorldbyStorm - April 1, 2020

But as noted before, there are global authorities on this. WHO for a start. They’re best in show, and the UK government and NI administration diverged sharply from WHO advice at the start of this and have remained semi-detached from it. So this isn’t a case of ROI/NI, this is a case of WHO+ROI+almost all national governments as against NI+UK. And it is fair to point out that opinion within the NI administration is not uniform in relation to backing the UK approach either.

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makedoanmend - April 1, 2020

RTE had (fair play to them) a very good article a couple of weeks back about how China tackled the situation once it became apparent they couldn’t contain the virus without major state-medical intervention.

The major take away from the article is that China contacted WHO and invited them into China in January or early February. They set up a joint chair with both a WHO representative and a Chinese medical expert. They worked together to establish some base-line epidemic data and then devised ways to convey information to Chinese government officials. Apparently the govt. then began to implement policies to contain the epidemic. Also, apparently with some fair degree of success. The entire process when the WHO became involved was made transparent and the data made available to the world via WHO.

What’s sobering is that European countries, and not just the UK, failed to realise the severity of the situation until the pandemic hit Italy very hard. It then became a game of Euro governments, to varying degrees, responding to the situation on the back foot. In fairness, Irish officials seemed to reasonably understand the ramifications, even if the government was a little slow in implementing policies for fear of affecting business. These policies have largely mimicked Chinese ones– although not in exact detail or depth.

The UK, on the other hand, decided it would be a “maverick” and come up with some nifty herd immunity bullocks. Only when it became apparent that Johnson might suffer a political backlash due to death toll prediction, did that government row back on their ill-advised initial policies. They too went the WHO route but at an even later date. The Dutch responded slowly as well, while Sweden still follows a business as usual, laissez-faire policy.

When a new virus emerges, there are three inflection points 1. compiling data about the virus characteristics, vector identification and spread rate 2. data digestion by the medical community in order to convey the information in an understandable format along with suggestions to policy makers 3. implementation of policies and monitoring for efficacy. There can certainly be different ways of dealing with these inflection points but the overwhelming medical and moral imperative is to assume the worst and take appropriate measures in order to do your utter best to prevent unnecessary deaths.

In short, while Europe was slow to respond, the UK and a few others thought they would use expert advice in a different way than Prudent epidemiological procedures normally suggest. They were cavalier and it smacked of the UK political establishment putting politics before medical and moral prudence – indeed before human life. That certain parties in the six counties decided to eternally prove their britishness just added another political layer to the mix when vulnerable people on this Island could have done without the usual usual usual…

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WorldbyStorm - April 1, 2020

I think you nail the overall issues in the above makedoandmend. And one other thought, even their definition of ‘herd immunity’ diverges from that of the term as used by others. This is good here:

https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-comments-about-herd-immunity/

“Where the concept of heard immunity works, it can be very successful – this is how we’ve eliminated small pox virus and almost wiped out polio too.

“The concept of creating herd immunity by infection is similar to creating it by vaccination. The difference is that when you vaccinate, you are using tried, tested and extremely safe vaccinations.

“Trying to create herd immunity through Covid-19 brings in questions of safety. You can’t control infection spread to “high risk” people. Therefore, some people who become infected will develop very severe illnesses, and some of those would die.

“There is some herd immunity against flu, which is mediated by vaccination – but it’s not excellent as the majority of the population are not vaccinated, nor is the Influenza vaccine highly immunogenic.”

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EWI - April 1, 2020

So I don’t know. Doctors differ and patients die?

Not at all. There’s been a responsible attitude to this, and regrettably also an irresponsible one. Guess who is who? (mirrors the voting on Brexit)

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2. makedoanmend - April 1, 2020

“Live Second virus wave feared if guard is dropped – WHO”

https://www.rte.ie/news/2020/0401/1127727-coronavirus-tracker/

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3. CL - April 1, 2020

“Two different approaches to testing and contact tracing are just not compatible with achieving the level of control needed to win the battle. It is a big ask, but now is not the time to be captives of our histories. Lives can and should be saved.
“The political leaders in the North need, on the specific issue of coronavirus, to decouple themselves from the Whitehall approach. They and their counterparts in the Republic must as equals set about, with every possible urgency, harmonising their strategies and actions. The situation requires boldness of thought and deed.”-
Dr Gabriel Scally (president of Epidemiology and Public Health section of the Royal Society of Medicine):

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CL - April 1, 2020
WorldbyStorm - April 1, 2020
EWI - April 1, 2020

Jesus. Get lost, Kane (I see Emerson and Fealty at it too, of course).

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WorldbyStorm - April 1, 2020

I find the level of complacency on all this, as in the article linked to above, to be near incredible. Despite ever increasing evidence to the contrary the adherence to a failed UK government approach, which was subsequently in large part changed, is weird. I also find the charge that this is somehow nationalist/unionist to be well wide the mark as if there’s an equivalence in regard to the broader context when there is no such equivalence beyond these islands.

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EWI - April 2, 2020

A lot of the reporting and opinionating on this (I’m looking at the Irish Times) is just playing politics with an eye to coalition formation in the south. And they’re at it again today:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/it-s-sinn-féin-against-the-rest-ni-executive-in-conflict-over-coronavirus-1.4218130

Just as one example among many:

In it, O’Neill wrote of how chief medical officers North and South would sign a “memorandum of understanding formalising co-ordination and co-operation between the Irish Government and the Executive this week”.

However, such co-operation is already in place between public health officers on both sides of the Border, and the memorandum merely formalises this. O’Neill’s wording is “just about presentation” to suit Sinn Féin, says a source.

(The second paragraph doesn’t at all disprove the first – in fact the opposite – despite the IT spin here)

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WorldbyStorm - April 2, 2020

Another example of the framing is in the following:

“Minister for Health Robin Swann has stated that if needed he would bring in the British army and the Irish Army to assist, if that would help. However, Sinn Féin is absolutely opposed to the British army having any role.“In this situation that shouldn’t be an issue,” says one senior unionist source. “For instance a few years ago no one thought twice about Irish Army helicopters coming in to feed cattle caught in the snow in Co Down. This shouldn’t be a political issue.””

The BA involved directly is an issue and will always be an issue in the North – it couldn’t be otherwise. A fundamental aspect of the GFA/BA was the removal of the BA from streets in the North.

And interestingly, the piece while referencing the following doesn’t actually editorialise as it has in the previous sections re unionism.

“More generally, [a senior Sinn Féin source] says Northern Ireland should be looking to Dublin, rather than across the water because in the Republic there is more testing, more concentration on getting in enough personal protective equipment and more focus on World Health Organisation advice, whereas London is taking a more laissez- faire attitude.
“It is us being handcuffed to a British approach where Britain seems to be putting more store on saving the economy than on saving lives,” he says.”

Again, the WHO Is best in show. That’s who any govt should be taking its cues from. The divergence on this island is driven by London and exacerbated by political unionism. Not good enough.

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4. roddy - April 1, 2020

The usual “one sides as bad as the other “and “why cant they agree?” shite is being pedalled by the media and “commentators” .There are 2 sides alright but one side is correct (SF) and the other side (unionism and unionist lite) is wrong.There is no compromise in this,you do the right thing and that’s it.

Liked by 1 person

5. Joe - April 1, 2020

There is a nationalist / unionist dimension. The nationalists want the north to take the same actions as the RoI government; the unionists want to take the same actions as the UK government.

I support the approach of the RoI government from the start, which I believe and understand to be underpinned by the Irish medical and scientific experts who are following WHO and European Centre for Disease Control advice and guidance. Simple.

What puzzles me is that the British medical and scientific experts seem to be advising their government to take different approaches. It’s one thing politicians and governments taking different approaches. But doctors and scientists? Do British doctors and scientists not follow evidence-based best practice?

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Joe - April 1, 2020

Ok. I’ve read that Guardian article above. The public health experts in the UK seem to have been sidelined – effectively by the Tory government.
So the blame clearly lies with the Johnson Tory government.
And the credit here goes to our government for listening to the correct scientific and public health medical advice.

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WorldbyStorm - April 1, 2020

That’s it exactly re the Tories. It’s a disaster in the making. And it’s distressing to see it followed by some (in fairness not all) in political unionism. The Alliance Party attitude is interesting too.

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EWI - April 2, 2020

The Alliance Party attitude is interesting too

The APNI have been irresponsible. Long is deservedly attracting mockery for her both sides-erism, when any adult can surely see where the problem lies.

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WorldbyStorm - April 2, 2020

Yeah, irresponsible is precisely the word.

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