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Figures show hard work is paying off

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'Zero deaths linked to Covid on one day is something to celebrate, an illustration that the hard work of the public, north and south of the border has had the desired effect.'  Photo: Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press

'Zero deaths linked to Covid on one day is something to celebrate, an illustration that the hard work of the public, north and south of the border has had the desired effect.' Photo: Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press

'Zero deaths linked to Covid on one day is something to celebrate, an illustration that the hard work of the public, north and south of the border has had the desired effect.' Photo: Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press

'Zero Covid' has been a controversial subject during the pandemic - but a version of it was achieved yesterday when Northern Ireland recorded no Covid deaths for the first day since October. By happy coincidence this happened on the same day the Republic also recorded no deaths of people with Covid - so those who have been campaigning for an all-island approach to the virus got a glimpse of what a successful version of that strategy would look like.

Reality of course will bite back when it could be shown that yesterday's figure was just a blip. However, let's not downplay the good days too much. Zero deaths linked to Covid on one day is something to celebrate, an illustration that the hard work of the public, north and south of the border has had the desired effect.

Yesterday was the second Mother's Day which we've had to celebrate under the Covid cloud and Wednesday will also mark another St Patrick's Day when public gatherings will not be possible. These are normally big family days out and when you add in the usual happy occasions that people are missing, you are reminded just how much ordinary people have had to sacrifice to get the numbers down.

Inevitably, calls will increase for the Executive to relax restrictions when they meet tomorrow. Given what we've seen over the past year, we know there will be disagreement between ministers over what should and should not be allowed. It's important that the correct balance is found between allowing what we can safely manage and also offering hope to the public that better days do indeed lie ahead.

As much certainty over dates as is possible should be a priority - the recent roadmap was heavily criticised and unsurprisingly so given the lack of detail it contained. In fairness to the Executive, when Stormont returned 14 months ago, none of the ministers could have foreseen the extraordinary circumstances they'd have to deal with.

A further example of this is the vaccine issue which so far has been Northern Ireland's pandemic success story. However, yesterday's precautionary suspension of the AstraZeneca rollout in the Republic has brought unwanted complications to an already emotive subject. Authorities south of the border will obviously act based on the information at their disposal, but the upshot is that it means further delays to their vaccination programme. And as the Northern Ireland rollout continues, that may mean further headaches down the line on both sides of the border.

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