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Costly new tools to contain vile virus Covid-19 after sledgehammer lockdown has served its purpose

coronavirus covid-19

PPE costing a fortune

There was no great science in the lockdown - it has been the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Using a sledgehammer was vital in this instance. It has been a crude but effective tool to control the spread of Covid-19.

It was startling to hear a figure given by the HSE's Clincial Director Dr Colm Henry at the health authority's recent weekly coronavirus press briefing.

He said that had we not used the sledgehammer lockdown, up to 12,000 people in Ireland would have been dead by this week after contracting coronavirus in Ireland.

That would only have been the death toll. If we think the lockdown has been economically costly, imagine the social misery and economic consequences of 12,000 Irish people dying in just over two months. Remember, a chunk of those deaths would have been doctors and nurses. Many other frontline workers who are managing to contain the spread of this killer would also have been infected or died.

With the lifting of the lockdown imminent a stark choice faces us all. We need new tools.

We were all prepared to collectively use the sledgehammer to suppress the virus. We did not smash that nut. It is out there. It is killing and it continues to spread.

The next phase in our response will be vital. If we decide that we have done our work, we will have a lot more death and suffering.

There are actions all of us can take that cost nothing - washing hands, sneezing and coughing etiquette, social distancing are more effective than total isolation. But we cannot escape the big ticket items to protect those at the frontline from catching it and spreading the virus.

The right actions will be inconvenient. They will take time. There will be pain. They will cost.

Personal Protection Equipment will also be a vital part of the next phase as we leave lockdown. As will the expensive testing and tracing.

The HSE's boss Paul Reid said that masks, gowns, gloves and other items will cost the health service €1 billion a year.

We will be paying for this in our taxes. The students who will not sit a Leaving Cert this year will pay in their taxes.

But, if we invest in our safety and follow the advice and stay united we can overcome this vile virus until a vaccine comes.

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