The Cabinets ‘relationship with the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) reminds you a bit of Mark Twains’ reflection on his father.
When I was a 14-year-old boy, my father was so ignorant that I could hardly bear to have the old man around. But when I turned 21, I was amazed at what the elder had learned for seven years.
In recent weeks Ministers have challenged and rejected Nphets’s advice spectacularly in the case of Tnaiste Leo Varadkar but have since come to accept the validity of most of what he has to say.
The numbers do not lie. The upward trajectory of the second wave of Covid-19 in Ireland has been dramatic. Since October 1, the number of confirmed cases per 100,000 has increased from 96 to 232, an increase of 133 percent.
Nphets’s advice to the Government over the weekend was harsh the trajectory of infections is growing alarmingly and the spread of the disease was becoming increasingly difficult to control.
Two weeks after the government rejected Nphets advice to set up the Level 5 preparedness plan, it is now considering doing just that. However, to characterize him as the Cabinet finally subject to the view of public health experts would be very simple.
Nphet has recommended going to Level 5 almost a total block for a period of six weeks. But the government will not go to the highest level. Nor will he do it for six weeks.
Society and the economy
The time when Nphets advice was accepted without discussion and without dilution is gone. Varadkar may have gone too far two weeks ago by minimizing this advice, but the Government’s relationship with Nphet has changed.
Over the weekend it was important for senior Ministers to look beyond Covid data to other social and economic indicators. In addition to information from Nphet, Taoiseach Michel Martin and his old colleagues heard about some of the negative manifestations of the recent blockade.
They included a one-third increase in domestic violence, a rapid decline in child welfare referrals, the impact on mental health and social isolation, and the effect on non-Covid health services.
A point made by Simon Harris at Politics Week on Sunday was echoed by Ministers from all three coalition parties: The state cannot get into a deadlock without understanding what success looks like. Harris cited the Israeli move which is a 0.8 reproduction, or R, rating a marker that is well below Ireland now.
As for the level beyond Level 4 and how close Level 5 the state should move, on Sunday there were divided views between ministers and councilors and they do not break down along party lines.
Within each of the three parties there are those who want to follow Nphet’s advice almost on paper and those who worry that healing for a problem will create numerous problems elsewhere.
Travel and isolation
However, it appeared that there was a general agreement that the escalation of restrictions would not last six weeks. It’s too long and will not give anyone hope, said a Minister.
Even if the measures deviate towards Level 5, there is certainty that schools will remain open, possibly even constructions, and that any travel restrictions will deal with social isolation, taking the idea put forward by workers Rebecca Moynihan and Brendan Howlin for make sure that those who live alone are not left to take care of themselves but have a social bubble. There are divided views on the sport, with one minister saying the GAA championship will have to be canceled.
This increase has been varied. Most cases were younger people and deaths remained relatively low compared to March. They have been taught since then about optimal treatment for patients, protecting the homes of the elderly and needy adults, and elderly people who remain vigilant in adhering to the Covid-19 label.
Also, this time ICU admissions have been relatively low. There are currently no capacity issues in hospitals. In the traffic light alarm system used for ICU capacity, it is still green for now.
Of the 1,838 people who have died with a possible diagnosis of Covid-19 in Ireland since March, only 52 (or 2.8 percent) were under 55 years old.
If the authorities can prevent the spread to older age groups, the measures being introduced now will be considered successful.
As of Sunday evening, it looks like Level 4-plus or Level 5-minus making a little joke with the five-level plan. From the point of view of governments, it sends a message that the situation is serious, but a little different this time, that the restrictions will not be open, that they will not be so strict and that they will end sooner than the previous deadlock. .
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