Editorial: We must do more to protect the vulnerable

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Editorial: We must do more to protect the vulnerable

Anyone in Longford who is blasé about the threat to life of Covid-19 should just take a look at what happened in Portlaoise last week.

The virus took hold at St Fintan's Hospital in Portlaoise and claimed nine lives in just 72 hours. Many of the people who died had little or no chance. Most probably did not show the classic symptoms of fever or cough.

The silent killer ran through the Maryborough Centre like a plague.

As of Monday, April 20, there were 91 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Longford, 401 in neighbouring Cavan, 369 in Westmeath, 91 in Roscommon and 49 in Leitrim.

What happened in Laois shocked the nation. But, it was a timely wake up call for everyone. In some ways the fact that the deaths were officially confirmed and publicised is the best thing that could have happened.

In some ways, there has been a little too much confidentiality around the lives claimed by the virus. Health authorities here have decided that Covid-19 hotspots should not be identified. There has been a lot of secrecy around victims.

This is largely understandable but it depersonalises the virus. There is a danger, as Bishop Denis Nulty rightly pointed out last week, that people become just statistics.

To suppress this virus we need to know about the damage it is doing not just the numbers.

It is not very palatable and we might want to switch off.

We need to hear more from the families of those who have lost loved ones. We need to hear from the staff at the front line who have had to care for people in their final moments.

The Italian, Spanish and US experience has woken the world up to the catastrophic nature of Covid-19.

We must learn from what happened in Portlaoise. We must do more to protect our most vulnerable citizens from this silent killer. We must also retain our solidarity and unity of purpose in continuing to suppress this awful virus.