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Editor's Viewpoint

The one constant in this crisis is the growing threat to life as we know it - unless everyone modifies their behaviour

Editor's Viewpoint


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The Mater was designated as Belfast's coronavirus hospital. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

The Mater was designated as Belfast's coronavirus hospital. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

The Mater was designated as Belfast's coronavirus hospital. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

As every day goes past, and as the number of confirmed cases and the death toll both increase, the warnings about the forthcoming surge in coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland become grimmer and grimmer.

Tom Black, chair of the British Medical Association Council here, predicts that the pandemic will be longer, harder and crueller than anyone can imagine.

And GP colleagues in Belfast urged the Executive to implement a total lockdown in an effort to slow down the tsunami of cases heading this way.

Their concern is justified, as we saw last weekend when people took to parks, tourist sites and resorts in their thousands, ignoring all advice to keep their distance from others to prevent spreading the disease.

Never before have any of us heard the medical professions express such deep concern for the future - not only for the public but also for themselves, those who are on the front line of treating the infection.

Dr Black estimates that it could take three months to get through the crisis, and the only way to mitigate the spread is for people to adhere strictly to the Government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.

We should read and heed the testimonies of those who have been bereaved by the contagion. Carol Hughes, whose mother was among the recent deaths, said she hopes other people don't have to lose somebody very close to them before they understand how serious this is.

Putting a face to the crisis is important.

That was someone's mum, and a void which can never be filled has been created in that family. This is a hugely contagious disease and the utmost care must be taken to avoid spreading it.

While this is a health crisis, it is also an economic one, with every facet of daily life being infected by the consequences of the disease.

A Portadown factory making seating for aircraft has laid off 350 workers. Their families will be wondering how they will cope in the coming months as they don't qualify for the Government's salary protection packages.

As plans for mass mortuaries and field hospitals are revealed, the one constant in the crisis is the growing threat to life unless everyone modifies their behaviour, unlike last weekend.

Belfast Telegraph