At the weekend, Health Minister Robin Swann warned the health service in Northern Ireland is facing its toughest winter yet.
Despite this, the Executive is pressing ahead with relaxations — seemingly determined to put the economy ahead of the NHS.
Of course, we aren’t privy to the conversations that take place between our ministers and the link between wealth and health is well documented.
Perhaps the short-term impact of easing restrictions is predicted to be less painful than the long-term impact of keeping nightclubs closed and ensuring social distancing in pubs and restaurants remains in place.
The British Medical Association has been clear on the issue — opening up nightclubs at this time is folly.
Yesterday, Northern Ireland recorded another 1,019 new cases and in a poignant reminder that no-one is entirely safe from the virus, a person aged between 20 and 39 was among the Covid-19 related deaths that have been reported to officials since Friday.
Whether they had underlying health conditions is neither here nor there — they are no more dispensable than anyone else just because they had pre-existing medical conditions.
They may have been a mum or dad, no doubt they were a much-loved son or daughter, they will have had friends whose lives they touched and who are now lost in grief.
The statistics from the Department of Health don’t tell us the stories behind every person affected by Covid-19 but they do reveal very clearly that the virus still has a firm grip of Northern Ireland.
But why are we still seeing more than a thousand cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in Northern Ireland every day?
The vaccination programme has played a vital part in driving down case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths, but it isn’t infallible.
So even though almost 85% of adults have now had two doses of the vaccine, there are still more than 156,000 people who haven’t even had one dose.
Natural immunity from the virus doesn’t offer total protection either — just because you ha v e had Covid-19 before doesn’t mean you can’t develop the illness again.
Northern Ireland’s stubbornly high infection rate is also set against a backdrop of beginning to come out of lockdown before the vaccination programme was well established and when daily cases numbers were still high.
The return to school hasn’t helped matters either — in fact the Department of Health’s daily dashboard illustrates clearly that the virus is running rampant in school age children.
It follows then that they are passing the virus on to their parents, grandparents and other household contacts.
Waning immunity is also likely to be playing a role — and while the third and booster doses are now being rolled out to those most at risk from the virus, there are concerns that it isn’t happening fast enough.
Meanwhile, the roll-out of the vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds has not yet started in any meaningful way.
Add to that the colder weather and more people meeting up indoors as a result, while at the same time people are becoming increasingly fed up with restrictions on their lives, and it is little wonder Covid-19 case rates remain frustratingly high.