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Ireland isn’t on lockdown yet – but we must act NOW to save lives

A Chinese Red Cross delegation visited Milan yesterday and spoke to the media.

The Head of that delegation was extremely critical of the Italian lockdown and said that the authorities weren’t fit to use the word ‘lockdown’.

“I don’t know what you’re thinking,” he told them.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared the entire Italian Republic a ‘Red Zone’ last Monday, essentially shutting down the whole country.

In most cases, people are allowed to leave their homes only to go to the supermarket, or to the pharmacy.

On Saturday, President of the Government of Spain Pedro Sanchez declared a two-week state of alarm.

The country went into lockdown that evening.

However, on Sunday morning, although the streets were near empty, people were seen jogging together in Spanish city-centres, and social distancing wasn’t observed.

Since Sunday, the national police force and local police forces in Spain have been strictly imposing the lockdown.

Eighty-eight people have been arrested for not obeying the law, despite fines and possible imprisonment being suggested for those ignoring the quarantine.

Emanuel Macron in France has since followed suit, following the advice of countries which have managed to halt new coronavirus cases – such as Taiwan.

There are 72,000 cases in total in these countries, but they were in the same position as Ireland just a few weeks ago.

Leo Varadkar hopes that the government doesn’t have to introduce what he describes as “authoritarian measures” in Ireland.

But experts are saying that the “authoritarian” safety measures adopted in Italy aren’t enough to combat COVID-19.

So where does that leave Ireland?

Relying on the entire population to observe social distancing in all situations, while being free to roam the streets and markets, is a dangerous gamble.

It’s one that our health service cannot deal with.

In Ireland, we have half the amount of ICU beds per 100,000 people as Italy – and around 30% less than Spain.

Hundreds of coffins were shipped out of Bergamo in northern Italy in recent days by the Italian Army because the graveyard was full.

Ireland is roughly two weeks behind these countries in terms of confirmed cases.

So the nightmarish scenes from hospitals in Spain and Italy are likely to be our very near future.

And the numerous depressing reports online of people (young and old) congregating outside and not social distancing prove that, as of yet, the ‘advising the public’ strategy is not working.

For example, in Oranmore, most people are observing social distancing while doing their shopping or walking the streets.

However there are a few groups of young men playing football on school grounds and community pitches.

This has been seen across the country and there’s nobody to deal with this behaviour.

As long as there are people who are not following official advice, we are all at risk.

Amenities are to remain open in Galway for now, and will remain so – depending on whether people observe social distancing.

But we don’t need new signs asking people to distance themselves from others in public.

We need a lockdown.

Michael Malone
Email me at editor@galwaydaily.com
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