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You’re welcome this Christmas to swim in a tank full of sharks! November 26, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Reading this yesterday on RTÉ can’t help saying I felt a degree of concern.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Government intends to ease restrictions for close to two weeks over Christmas and will only reimpose controls if Covid-19 rates are increasing….The Government is giving consideration to allowing up to three households gather for the Christmas period.

This follows similar approaches being taken in the UK.

Families across the UK will be able to gather in three-household groups of any size over Christmas, the government has announced, bringing warnings from scientists that the plan will almost inevitably see a rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

Those warnings?

Two advisers to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have said the relaxation will lead to the NHS being overwhelmed “Effectively what this will be doing is throwing fuel on the Covid fire. I think it will definitely lead to increased transmission. It is likely to lead to a third wave of infection, with hospitals being overrun, and more unnecessary deaths,” Prof Andrew Hayward told BBC Two’s Newsnight programme.

And:

Prof Graham Medley, an expert in infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the relaxation could lead to further lockdown measures in the new year. “I think it is inevitable that if a lot of people do take that risk, even if it is a small risk, then we will end up with a lot of people in hospital and potentially having to take measures in January to lock down again,” he said.

And to their credit:

Many politicians agreed with the scientists, with the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, also expressing fears about the NHS being overrun in the new year.

As was put to me yesterday this is the equivalent of government’s saying ‘You’re welcome this Christmas to swim in a tank full of sharks’ as they loosen restrictions. Varadkar’s stuff about ‘only reimposing controls if rates are increasing’ is risible given that in every instance to date where there has been transmission of the disease when controls are loosened rates increase.

I completely get that people want to be with their families. I’ve family in Britain, Europe and the US who I haven’t seen in the best part of a year or more due to this and where visits to and from have been cancelled due to the pandemic, as well as closer to home many many, including one close relative who had a very serious health condition earlier in the year. Clearly meeting up with them is a non-starter in this context because of potential risks of transmission from my side. So I don’t say this lightly, but surely a more sensible approach would be to try to minimise interactions particularly given the following point from Hayward…

“We are still in a country where we have got high levels of infection with Covid, particularly in young people. Bringing them together for hours, let alone days, with elderly relatives, I think, is a recipe for regret for many families. With the vaccine on the way, if we are not very careful over Christmas we are really in danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory on this one.”

And what is defeat? Consider this report in the Guardian from Sicily which notes that the situation there is so severe due to resurgent Covid that they have had to request Cuban medical assistance. This following was particularly notable.

Many [Italian] medics have chosen to leave the profession or take early retirement after the trauma experienced in the spring. Italy’s doctors’ federation said that 27 medics had lost their lives within the last 10 days, while 27,000 health workers had become infected over the past month.

Comments»

1. alanmyler - November 26, 2020

I suppose it was inevitable that the politicians would bottle it, and it’s understandable that many people want to say fuck it and just have a semi-normal christmas, after all it’s been some year 2020, but it’s going to be a disaster to put it mildly. I really wonder will enough people have enough self discipline not to go along with this recklessness to prevent the spread rates shooting up again in early January once the incubation period elapses after all the festive gatherings. The big thing here in all of this is alcohol. I’ve experienced it myself during the summer when we were down in Dingle on holidays in August, that warm feeling coming over me after a couple of drinks with the in-laws, there’s a willingness to just chill into it and allow oneself to break a teeny weeny little rule sure who can it hurt anyway aren’t the odds so small type of thing. So I’m feeling anxious about this. We had a very brief conversation over the dinner table yesterday evening about this and decided that whatever happens we won’t be visiting pubs or restaurants, even if those are an option, but my bigger fear is the extended family aspect of this to be honest, where some of those extended family members are less cautious about their meet up habits, and where the nature of family might mean that a blind eye is turned, that indulgences are granted, because family and because christmas.

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2. WorldbyStorm - November 26, 2020

I know precisely what you mean re the extended family aspect. And about the sense of allowing restrictions to break down in the face of, well, normality I guess. Or seeming normality. I’d even have thought a pub/restaurant was possibly less likely to see contagion, though I guess a lot depends on community transmission rates.

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