HARRIS FURY AT COUGH CRAZE
»»Minister slams ‘Corona Challenge’ yobs »»Two more die and 1,564 cases in Ireland
SIMON Harris told yesterday how a young hooligan deliberately coughed in his face and ran away laughing.
The Health Minister condemned the so-called “Corona Challenge” in which people are dared to put themselves or others at risk of harm.
Mr Harris said: “He thought it was funny to cough on me. It’s disgusting.”
Yesterday two more deaths from Covid-19 took the total to nine, while the number of sufferers rose 235 to 1,564.
TWO more people have died of coronavirus in Ireland, it was revealed yesterday.
The Health Department confirmed the new deaths, along with 235 new cases of the killer virus.
It brings the total number infected to 1,564 – a 17% increase on Tuesday’s figure of 1,329 and much lower than the 30% day-on-day rise predicted by the Government last week.
Of the two deaths, one was a female with an underlying health condition and one male without existing issues, both in the east of the country.
There are now 1,773 cases of Covid-19 on the island of Ireland with 209 cases confirmed in the North.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “We were not informed the man had an underlying health condition, and we would be if he did, so we are taking it as he didn’t. We hope to be able to give figures in relation to recovered cases soon to help with real-time reporting.” However, Dr Holohan said it seemed people were largely sticking to social distancing guidelines and the drop in the number of contacts per case were reassuring.
He added: “I don’t think we see any real sign of complacency, people are worried. People became a little more concerned which is
understandable. We have seen through our contact tracing data a reduction of 20 per case approximately two weeks ago and dropping to 10 per case approximately one week ago and down now to about five contacts per case.
“Again, [it is] giving us encouragement in terms of compliance with social distancing we have [had] in place in the last 10 days or so. It’s too early to conclude if the reduction of cases has been helped by social distancing but it appears that the measures are being taken on by the public.
“Our data showed yesterday only 6% of our tests so far returned positive – so for every 100 people we test we are only finding six people with Covid-19.
“In light of this, our case definition changed. Changing case definition is a standard practice in managing pandemics. Ultimately, we want our 6% detected rate to increase, we want to find as many people as possible with Covid-19, isolate them and contain the spread.”
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn added: “We are seeking to prioritise those who are to be tested with a focus in the short-term on those who are vulnerable and those who are at the highest risk of exposure.”
Meanwhile, shocking pictures show busy town centres in Limerick and Cork as people broke social distancing guidelines.
These people defied the guidelines set out by the HSE and took enormous risks as they flocked to city centres. As the number of confirmed cases rose, these important guidelines were also being ignored at beauty spots throughout the country.
Droves of people were snapped enjoying beaches as the mercury climbed to 16C in parts of the country.
EVER since I was a boy, I’ve loved science fiction movies. I just never thought I’d end up living in one.
That’s what it felt like yesterday morning as I strolled through pretty much empty streets in the virtual lockdown state that is now Ireland.
Sure, it wasn’t quite like the film 28 Days Later where a virus turns humans into flesh-eating zombies.
But the eerie quiet, the lack of people out and about, the shuttered shops, pubs and bookies, gave it an unreal feeling.
Like something wasn’t right. And it isn’t. Our little country, like every other nation on earth, is at war.
Not with each other. But war with the deadly coronavirus that has killed 20,000 people. And that toll is rising.
It was like a New Year’s morning with the deserted roads. This is the everyday norm for the foreseeable.
At least it’s sunny, though. And the birds are singing. For now. They stop in the movies when the virus gets near. They go quiet. Let’s hope they never quit their twittering here.
In our cities, towns and villages, business life has practically come to a shuddering halt. A dead stop.
We’ve gone from record employment to the prospect of losing 500,000 jobs in just three weeks.
After Leo Varadkar’s latest speech, all theatres, clubs, gyms and leisure centres, hair salons and barbers, bookies and cattle marts, casinos, bingo halls and libraries must close.
They joined the list of 7,000 pubs and nightclubs, schools, colleges and creches, from Donegal to Cork, already on lockdown.
Mr Varadkar said: “People should stay at home if at all possible – this is the best way to slow the virus.”
Now only supermarkets, banks, newsagents, chemists and fuel stations remain open. Essential shops only. And rightly too.
Outside the AIB in my village of Celbridge, Co Kildare, yesterday, a queue had formed before the 10am opening time.
Standing one metre apart, observing social distancing, many wore masks.
It’s probably the only time bank staff were glad to see people in balaclavas and gloves.
There were cars on the roads but only a fraction of the
usual traffic. With schools closed, the streets, roads and rat-runs weren’t choked from 7.30am with mammies in powerful SUV jeeps driving their kids a few hundred metres to class.
From early morning, delivery trucks too pulled into Aldi, Tesco, Lidl, Supervalu and Centra.
In my local Daybreak, a few hungry builders got their jumbo breakfast roll. And then they stood like the rest of us, six feet from one another.
Papers were flying out of the shop. The newsagent said: “People can’t get enough news, some are buying two or three newspapers and then sitting in the sun to read them. It’s a long day at home.” A few fit-looking cyclists pedalled at speed, no longer two a breast because of social distancing but single file. Wish they’d do that all the time.
And the chemists, of course, were open. Some operating a one-in, one-out system. Everyone leaving with their prescriptions in little white bags.
And the butchers were doing a roaring trade. Only right to support them. Local businesses giving two fingers to Covid-19. Just a few folk were on the footpaths, sizing up the approaching walker, to see if they would go a little to the left or to the right. Mind that social distance.
The buses were running. And fair play to the drivers.
But they were like ghost ships – gliding silently non-stop through the towns with no one onboard, the bus shelters deserted. But it was the little
shuttered businesses you notice most while walking around.
The heart of any little town, the pub, is gone and with it the craic.
No lad leaving his pint on the counter in Ger O’connor’s as he nips out to put a bet on in Ladbroke’s around the corner. No little old ladies chatting outside the hairdressers after getting a dye job ahead of some big do.
Or teenage girls showing off their newly-painted nails in the salons.
No bulked-up lads with sports bags strolling chest out into the gym or heading for the GAA field. All sports events are cancelled. No teens standing around, some sharing a fag, in groups.
Any gathering of more than four people in public is banned.
Anyway, even though the schools are out, the kids are not on holiday.
Far from it. For this is a battle with the coronavirus. A deadly bug. We could be contagious and a danger to our fellow human beings.
In the gorgeous sunshine, with the daffodils at the edge of parks in full bloom, it was hard to believe such danger was lurking.
But it’s there. So small we can’t see it. Even under a microscope it’s tiny. But it can and has killed. And sadly it will make more of us sick. And then kill some more.
By evening it’s like there’s a wartime curfew. Off quickly to our homes before dark, before the virus gets us. But we’re getting on with life in lockdown as best we can.
Leo might say we’re not in lockdown – but it’s the next best thing.
And that’s the great Irish spirit. We’ve taken a lot of knocks down the years but we’ve always bounced back.
Like the line from the song by Chumbawamba “I get knocked down, but I get up again – you’re never going to keep me down”.
Well, we’re down.
But like the battered and bruised old boxer still on his feet the 12th round, we’re still not out.
And the sun is shining. And the birds are still singing. And this real-life science fiction movie will have a happy ending. Hopefully.
ANGER Minister Simon Harris
LIMERICK People on city’s O’connell Street CORK Shoppers at English Market
CHIEF Dr Tony Holohan
TEST FEAR LE Samuel Becket, Dublin DUBLIN Dollymount Strand yesterday DOLLYMOUNT Youths enjoying day out at the beach
LIFE CYCLE Lone woman in Temple Bar, Dublin
BELOW PAR Golf suspended
DESERTED Motorway into Cork yesterday ALONE Jogger in empty Phoenix Park ISOLATE Dog walker has road to himself