Infections fuelled by mundane lockdown breaches not flagrant flouting of the rules


Are you a lockdown rule breaker?

You might never take part in a street party, as witnessed in Dublin city over the weekend, but are there other unconscious old habits you have slipped into?

With slightly more than two weeks of lockdown left chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan’s tone has changed – words like “concern” have replaced “encouraging” as the five-day case count rises and is now more than 400 cases a day. The country was put on more notice yesterday as 456 were reported.

The goal is to reach 50 to 100 a day by early December to allow the country to reopen. The lower the spread
the more bountiful Christmas will be for the nation’s freedoms. If it is higher a leaner festive season looms.

What is going wrong?

When lockdown was announced in October the incidence of the virus was in excess of 260 per 100,000 people over two weeks. It was down to 120.4 per 100,000 yesterday.

More than 400 cases a day is still high.

People might wonder what is undermining the momentum given so much is closed, from non-essential shops to pubs and gyms.

There are the recurring reports of street revelries and the spotlight falls heavily on this type of behaviour with no physical distancing and people from different households mixing with all the inhibition that comes with alcohol. This does not tell the full story.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said yesterday there are many small clusters around the country and also significant community transmission where the source is unknown.

It is unclear why the pace of the fall has slowed but there are signals it could be partly due to many people not giving up some of the pre-Covid routines they returned to over the summer and autumn.

There has been reference to small gatherings. The lockdown rule is for no visitors to home or garden, with the exception of visits for essential purpose.

It is only possible to meet one other household in an outdoor setting which is not a home or garden such as a park, including for exercise. No other social or family gatherings should take place.

The most recent report on clusters for the week ending November 7 shows there were 443 outbreaks in private houses. How the spread increased is unclear but we know now that the more different households get together, the greater the risk.

That “little visit”, involving extended family, could end as a virus-spreading event. How many times have we seen groups of neighbours out jogging together and having outdoor coffees?

There have also been cases linked to a student event in Limerick.

There is also evidence of the virus being passed on at funeral wakes and Donegal has been identified as one of the counties where this has happened.

These are the saddest occasions and friends and family in Ireland have long lasting traditions of giving the deceased the best send-off.

The number attending a funeral was increased to 25 but there should be no socialising after the ceremonies.

What about workplaces?

One of the areas where there is particular concern, although people who can work at home should do so.

This is being breached to some extent and safeguards around work practices and how staff are interacting with each other are not in compliance.

Figures for the week ending November 7 show five cases linked to outbreaks were reported in meat, poultry and fish processing plants. Six were identified on construction sites. But 21 were in other workplaces excluding health settings and retail outlets.

Familiarity with colleagues leads to staff letting down their guard.

The full picture remains cloudy but it would seem it is the sum of everyday breaches, not just the flagrant flouting, which is potentially undermining this lockdown. It also emphasises the need for clear Christmas guidelines.

Irish Independent

Source: Irish News