The British variant has spread rapidly, and now this virus strain is responsible for almost half of the infections.
“I ask you to remember that even with the arrival of winter, there is hope and there is light. If we work closely together for the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way, ”Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin promised to the public in mid-October when he announced the national quarantine until December. The Dublin government’s calculation was based on a clear principle: if people disciplinedly adhere to the most stringent five-level restrictions on the five-point scale, they can celebrate as a reward with family. The idea seemed successful at first, as by December the daily number of cases had fallen to roughly one-fifth of the autumn peak of 1282, the Irish government could easily reopen to the Advent period, people returned to shops and restaurants, and reunited with their friends and loved ones. The Dublin government boasted the best epidemiological data in the EU, and a “Irish model” that drastically reduced the number of infections in a timely manner with a few weeks of quarantine had a large number of admirers on the continent. German MEP Peter Liese, the European People’s Party’s (EPP) health policy, therefore cited the island nation as an example to follow, where “restaurants and even gyms could be reopened”. However, the praise came late, by the time Liese issued his announcement on December 18, by which time dark clouds had gathered over “the Irish model”. Within days, Ireland has been forced to recognize one of the essential lessons of the pandemic: arrogance does not lead to much good, as the near-idyllic state of low infection levels is separated from nightmares by only a few ball steps. When the Dublin government eased restrictions, society breathed a sigh of relief – people met and shopped in stores as if the epidemic and the risk of infection were a thing of the past. Irish Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan now referred to data aggregated on Monday that the population behaved as in summer in early December and as it did before the coronavirus appeared in the days before Christmas. Indiscipline proved to be a serious mistake, as the disease could actually spread freely. The Dublin government only came to mind after the British authorities announced that a new, more contagious mutation in the coronavirus had been detected. At the last minute before the holidays, on 22 December, the Prime Minister announced that Level 5 quarantine provisions would be brought back across the country. Micheál Martin said that although the virus strain has not yet been detected, it is assumed to be present in the population. Regardless, he did not back down from his previous promise, postponing the introduction of certain restrictions after the holidays, but also asking people to behave responsibly, to take care of their loved ones. At the same time, it is not clear to what extent adherence to the “meaningful Christmas” plan played a role in exacerbating the epidemic situation for the new year. In any case, the Cabinet’s assumption proved to be true, the British variant did appear and spread rapidly, and now this virus strain is responsible for almost half of the infections. Perhaps this also contributed to the fact that even the most pessimistic prediction of the authorities, the number of cases per day in 2000, was well exceeded by the January data, which last Friday was about 8227 newly registered patients. Even more astonishing is the fact that in the first full week of the new year, the coronavirus was detected in more than 1 percent of the population. Currently, the epidemic in Ireland is the worst in the world, which also proves how dangerous the new British virus strain is. According to reports, the health system has been on the verge of performance, and although epidemic data have improved in recent days, the admission of each new patient is bringing hospitals closer to the Bergamo conditions. Overburdened doctors can only hope that the restrictions in place will result in a shorter dark period for them.
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