Ripple or tsunami? Fate of Ireland’s second coronavirus wave is in our hands

With a few exceptions, we have done well in managing the pandemic which is now clearly the most significant infectious disease in a century, resulting in the fastest and deepest recession since the Great Frost of 1709, to quote the Financial Times quoting the Bank of England, both sober organisations.

Today coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, is under temporary control. The number of people in hospital is currently few, only a small number needed intensive care for the disease in the last week but the numbers of newly diagnosed cases have edged back upwards.

Yet, according to Dr Tedros Gebrejesus, head of the World Health Organisation, “the worst is yet to come”. At a worldwide level, I am sure that he is right. But in Ireland, we can control our fate, because our actions and behaviours, our public policies and our social cohesion will determine what happens next.

So how can we prevent a second wave or a second tsunami of the disease in Ireland?

We should wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible, because asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission of the virus may cause about half of all transmissions to other people. To reduce the environmental impact, re-usable coverings are preferable to single-use ones. After use, we should take them off carefully from behind, put them into a plastic bag and then wash them at 60 degrees with some detergent, in order to kill any virus that might be present.

If we feel unwell with fever, cough, raised temperature, chills, shivers, or just new body aches, or fatigue or loss of smell, we should call our GP – quickly. We should stay away from others, even those that we live with. The family doctor might arrange a test that same day. Ideally the result would be available quickly.

If the appearance and encouragement of the gardaí are not successful, then prosecution to implement our present laws should be considered

Keeping the network of people we come into close physical contact with small is also important and possible through a safe home community, or a small collection of households socialising and enjoying life regularly together. By keeping to our own exclusive social bubble for physical contacts, we can prevent the faster spread of the virus. We should also download and use the coronavirus tracker contact-tracing app.