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Editor's Viewpoint

Life and death have changed drastically because of coronavirus

Editor's Viewpoint


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Health Minister Robin Swann

Health Minister Robin Swann

PA

Health Minister Robin Swann

Health Minister Robin Swann said yesterday that the health service will be unrecognisable in a week's time due to the changes being forced on it by the coronavirus. He could have said that life has already changed drastically for practically everyone in Northern Ireland.

The developments flowing from the battle against the pandemic have reach into every corner of everyday life - from being forced to stay in our homes unless performing a vital service, or to undertake a number of other infrequent excursions.

We are in days of information overload. The simple instructions of staying indoors, keeping our distance from others not from our households when we go out for exercise or necessary shopping, and frequent handwashing are our weapons against the virus. But there are so many other things happening that one scarcely knows where to turn.

Planned hospital treatments, except the most urgent, have been postponed to free staff to deal with patients infected by the virus. Hospital visits will now be cancelled, and A&E departments at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry and Downe Hospital in Downpatrick are closed temporarily to free up staff and resources.

We know the NHS has not enough capacity in the province to deal with patients if the numbers infected reach the predicted levels in the next few weeks. We don't have enough ventilators, although more are being sought. Frontline healthcare staff, especially in the community and in nursing and residential homes, do not have enough personal protection equipment, although again, more is being sought.

While a magic money tree was found to finance support for the economy and people forced out of work by the virus - an incredible measure by the Government - some might wonder why a fraction of that funding had not been found earlier to finance a creaking NHS. It might now have been in a better place to combat the pandemic.

One of the most unsettling developments revealed yesterday was that part of an Army base is being prepared as a large-scale mortuary. As well, no funeral services will be held in Catholic churches for the foreseeable future, with prayers being said only at the graveside. The bereaved are also advised not to hold the traditional wakes. The future does look that grim unless we all adhere to the restrictions placed on our lives. Mr Swann, life, and even death, is already unrecognisable.

Belfast Telegraph