'Time to accelerate re-opening of the country'

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By Jonathan Acton

RTÉ announced that The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will meet on Friday to discuss the possibility of easing lockdown restrictions sooner than planned, particularly in the case of parents with young families.

I really welcome this development as I feel a lot more needs to be done for parents trying to balance work and childcare when our normal supports for childcare are now unavailable.

This not only puts pressure on parents, but it is stressful for children who have had their worlds turned on their heads.

It’s very difficult to explain to a three-year-old – ‘why can’t we visit nanny or why can’t we go to school?’.

Public health representatives have acknowledged the difficulties experienced by parents and children younger than 18 struggling to cope under draconian restrictions on movement and social interaction.

It’s fair to say that children are interdependent. They learn from each other in many different social settings and it is really important that they can return to their normality sooner rather than later.

NPHET is expected to consider ways of reducing the burden of pandemic limitation policies on this demographic, particularly as the rate of transmission of Covid-19 may be lower among those aged under 18.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that 36 children under the age of 15 have been hospitalised with Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland so far.

Obviously we would be happier if there were no hospitalisations but it’s a low figure – which is encouraging.

With growing concerns over the development of Kawasaki disease among young children diagnosed with coronavirus, studies have indicated that children infected with Covid-19 do not generally experience significant symptoms, and may be less likely to infect those around them.

As the daily fatality and infection figures released by the HSE remain low, it has been suggested that the government may be able to accelerate the easing of restrictions if positive trends continue.

In a recent radio interview, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stated: ‘I’d like to be in the situation where we can accelerate the reopening of the country.

‘But it’s far too soon to make that call because we still don’t know what the impact is of the easing of restrictions this Monday and we won’t know that really until the first week of June.’

Good man Leo. Let’s kick on and get the show back on the road.

I think it’s time to accelerate the re-opening of our country and economy.

We now have nearly three months of experience of dealing with Covid-19 and have learned a lot in that time.

I believe that with close monitoring and clear guidelines, we can see most, if not all, businesses starting to get back to some sort of normality.

If we can do this with success, the focus needs to be turned to rebuilding the economy.

We will need to attract companies to Ireland, but in addition, support and encourage Irish businesses to restart and offer employment throughout the community.

Finally, one interesting item highlighted by An Taoiseach yesterday was that ‘community transmission of Covid-19 had been essentially suppressed’.

This is attributed to the high level of compliance with restrictions and guidance outlined by the Department of Health.

Again sincere thanks to CAREGivers all over Ireland for continued professionalism and support of infection prevention and control measures outlined by the Department of Health.

This ongoing dedication had meant that the transmission rate of Covid-19 in people’s homes in receipt of care has been less than 0.5%, which is truly amazing.

It also confirms the safest place to be is your own home.


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