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They’ve gone a bit quiet… January 13, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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…the IT soft denialists. A brief spurt of activity late last week talking about unfair retrospective analysis seems to have slumped into silence as the numbers have ramped upwards. It is a difficult corner to argue somehow there’s fault in finding that the situation is worse than the very bad predictions that were made by public health officials and others, against their own rhetoric of ‘reopening’. Unconvincing many would say. Unfortunately for them no lesser person than WHO’s Mike Ryan had this to say:

Emergencies chief Mike Ryan told reporters he had spoken to chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan on Monday to discuss the situation, which has seen Ireland become the world’s worst pandemic hotspot. “My own country in Ireland . . . has suffered one of the most acute increases in disease incidence of any country in the world,” the Mayo man said. “And not due to the variant let me add, but due to increased social mixing and reduction of physical distancing,” he said. “New variant strains . . . have not been the driver of new transmission.”

There goes another excuse for the soft denialists and parts of the Government.

Another WHO expert noted:

WHO infectious disease epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said countries such as Ireland had seen “near vertical” exponential growth in cases due to mixing over Christmas and New Year.

Meanwhile in Germany:

German chancellor Angela Merkel has told politicians in her conservative party that she expects a lockdown in Germany to curb the spread of the coronavirus to last until the start of April, top-selling newspaper Bid daily cited participants at the meeting as saying.

And today comes news that:

Health workers who are deemed close contacts, but who are not showing symptoms of Covid-19, have been called back to work in the health service.Health Service Executive Chief Operations Officer Anne O’Connor said that asymptomatic close contacts were being monitored while at work by occupational health experts. She said the decision was made due to the shortage of healthcare workers. It comes as pressure on the acute hospital system from Covid-19 continues to increase, with 160 patients now in intensive care.

But how can this be happening when we were told it was necessary to reopen the economy, that concerns were overblown, that (a certain Pat Leahy assured us) the virus seemed less virulent?

This is a human disaster, and there’s no pleasure at all in writing about it. I know a raft of people who have been impacted negatively by Covid-19 with ailments ranging from impaired senses through to serious long term cardiac issues and these are people in the 20-50 age range, with most in the 20-40 category, and I know people who have lost loved ones. So there’s no glee in this, just sheer unadulterated frustration at a situation which was – at least to some extent – avoidable.

Why focus on Government and parts of the media? Because one had authority and the other had the power of influence. It has been mystifying for me to see the former bend under commercial and other pressures, to see the other make no efforts to clean out denialists and disinformation peddlers in comments sections and allow space for same in guest columns as well as from some regular commenters allow frankly disgraceful attacks on NPHET and public health people. To say this has been a relinquishing of responsibility is too kind. There have been clear effects.

But all this too at a time when polling data was clear that the population as a whole had a clear and very very strong majority in favour of difficult restrictions to contain the virus. It’s interesting to see some of the IT soft deniers quote a single poll here and there (one Amarach poll has been dragged out) but time and again RedC and B&A polls demonstrated up to 80% support for constraints throughout the Autumn. And indeed for more constraints – not for their own sake, but for the protection of the society.

To go against that grain tells us much about how difficult decisions are actually made and by and for whom. No one has argued against supports for businesses shuttered during this period. Anything but. They will be an essential part of the mix as some sort of new normal is achieved. But the continuing champing at the bit, the inability of the state to actually say that it was far far too premature for them to reopen, the unwillingness to state this message clearly. Not good enough, not nearly good enough when we are talking about human life. And we have a situation where those who have adhered to public health guidance throughout – who have across the best part of a year kept interactions to the bare minimum, have sought to protect others and themselves, have seen an almost wilful disregard for that care and worse others wasting that effort. Again, not good enough.

Comments»

1. crocodileshoes - January 13, 2021

I share your frustration here. The unwillingness of media and government to admit they called it wrong is one thing; the lobbying by business interests must have played a big part – but I see a third element that’s hard to define and I wonder if it’s peculiarly Irish. It’s a kind of sentimental attachment to certain occasions that sees them treated as – literally – more important than life or death.
That nonsense about a ‘meaningful Christmas’ was pointed out here long before December 25th. It wasn’t much about religion but about a different kind of piety, I think, the kind where it’s collectively decided that certain things are central, indispensable – decided without consulting me. Personally, I’d forego everything about Christmas if it hastened the end of this nightmare – the same goes for the Championship, the Late Late toy show (insert your own sacred cow here). “Ah, sure, you have to meet up for the Christmas,’ said two women interviewed for an RTE Vox pop while Christmas shopping. ‘No,’ chorused the people on my sofa, ‘you bloody well don’t.’
The US seems to have had a similar orgy of self-indulgence/pity at Thanksgiving – is the same true of our European friends (as BJ calls them)?

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WorldbyStorm - January 13, 2021

+1 That’s an interesting thought, and in a way it’s beyond politics re a sentimental attachment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from people ‘zoom isn’t the same as being face to face’ which is true, but this on the back of zoom calls with people far-flung around the globe which if it weren’t for the pandemic would likely not have happened in the first place at all. It’s that sort of contradiction. Or – another example, meeting people in the open air but somehow not being able to get past the lack of hugs when while sure hugs are great, but the meeting is the key thing. It’s this focus on best rather than better or less worse that is also kind of telling. I’ve friends who had a nightmare with relatives at Christmas coming to eat in their house who did nothing but complain about and ridicule the precautions taken – tables set apart to keep people even nominally 2-3m distant, etc, etc. And I was thinking, these feckers are being fed at your expense in your house after hours of your work cooking and cleaning, potentially causing grievous health impacts to you and yours and they’re still complaining 😦

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2. Dr Nightdub - January 14, 2021

Then lob in the elephant in the room – the fact that they’re no longer testing close contacts, so no matter how horrific the daily case figures in terms of thousands, even then they’re still under-stated.

Meanwhile, deaths have jumped from single figures last week to 46 yesterday and 63 today. It’s terrifying, almost worse than last spring, because back then we didn’t really understand the consequences fully, now we do.

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3. Joseph - January 14, 2021

Writing from the UK, I think there is a lot of similar sentiment here about Christmas – which is also a major commercial opportunity. It’s probably caused the deaths of a lot of people – hard to know how many. I’ve no idea if this applies in Ireland, but one resort on the North Wales coast, Llandudno, features a number of small hotels which fill vacant rooms (indeed, open at all!) with “turkey and tinsel” customers. They arrive – I’ve seen Father Christmas and artificial snow – on “Christmas Eve”, and have “Christmas Day” and then “New Years Eve” and “New Years Day” – but in February or March! Most customers seem to be pensioners coming by coach, and I doubt that it costs an enormous amount. Why the UK and Ireland could not follow the same idea – have a celebration, but when it’s much safer…seems an obvious practical idea.

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4. Mick 2 - January 15, 2021

I don’t mean in any way to downplay the increased deaths and morbidity as a result of the Government’s non-strategy of ‘living with the virus’ (boom-bust but in public health terms), and I’m not being glib, but it has genuinely been a breath of fresh air to have the airwaves suddenly cleared of the likes of IBEC, ISME, the restaurateurs, the VFI and LVA (who would almost have you driven into the arms of the Pioneers at this stage), Michael O’Leary and the assorted corporate and business shills turned overnight experts in epidemiology.

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