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Editor's Viewpoint

Human cost of the coronavirus crisis is beyond calculation

Editor's Viewpoint


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Up until now we have discussed the coronavirus crisis in cold statistical form. Every day the number of confirmed cases and deaths are read out on news bulletins or printed in newspapers

Up until now we have discussed the coronavirus crisis in cold statistical form. Every day the number of confirmed cases and deaths are read out on news bulletins or printed in newspapers

Up until now we have discussed the coronavirus crisis in cold statistical form. Every day the number of confirmed cases and deaths are read out on news bulletins or printed in newspapers

Up until now we have discussed the coronavirus crisis in cold statistical form. Every day the number of confirmed cases and deaths are read out on news bulletins or printed in newspapers.

The greatest public health crisis to face humanity in living memory is relayed in terms which give no hint of the sorrows facing those who have relatives with the disease or, most poignantly, who have had loved ones die as a result of it.

But today on our front page we go behind the statistics to give you the testimony of two families from different parts of Northern Ireland whose relatives are among the five deaths in the province to date.

Their stories reveal that death from coronavirus is like no other in most people's experience.

In both instances the man and woman infected had underlying health problems. The speed at which they were overwhelmed by the virus was alarming.

No one who reads the testimony of those brave relatives, devastated as they are, can fail to understand the true depth of the crisis facing us all.

It is an absolute necessity that everyone follows the Government's advice on staying in their homes except for brief forays out to exercise, seek medical help or stock up on essential supplies.

It beggars belief that some people are still congregating in groups and making unnecessary journeys.

While it is difficult to prevent someone putting their own life in jeopardy, they have an obligation not to put anyone else's at risk.

That is what those who ignore the Government's advice are doing: playing Russian roulette with people's lives.

Can they not see that they may infect a close relative, a sibling, a parent or a grandparent with a potentially fatal disease?

We must pay tribute to the relatives of Ruth Burke and Billy Allan for going public with their stories in a bid to encourage more people to behave responsibly so they don't find themselves in their position in the future.

Those two families did not think when their relatives went into hospital that they would never emerge alive.

Their grief is compounded by the fact that they were not allowed to be with their loved ones as they drew their last breaths, nor are they able to see their remains as those who die from the disease must lie in closed coffins.

At every turn of this virus, the grief mounts.

If there is anything positive to emerge from the battle against this unseen enemy it is in the tributes to the heroism of those working in the NHS - and 'heroism' is not too strong a word.

They are combating a deadly enemy armed with nothing but their desire to help and their expertise. At this moment it is an unequal struggle.

How many of us would put ourselves in the front line knowing that we could be the next person to be infected or even worse?

They must be given all the necessary protective equipment and the latest medical equipment so that they can become victors, not victims.

The stories of these two bereaved families from Northern Ireland shows that all the dire warnings emanating from scientists, doctors and political leaders are not empty words or jargon designed to alarm us. This is a real crisis.

On our front page you will see the slogan 'We are in this together' in NHS blue. That is not a trite phrase. It means everyone has a part to play in beating coronavirus.

Let us be determined to play that part.

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