A letter from Dr Harrington

Coronavirus – the need for vigilance

Sir, – Many people have been showing great support to the healthcare workers that are on the “frontline’’. I have had people asking me what they can do to support doctors and nurses in the fight against coronavirus. This is a heartwarming sentiment but it also shows a huge misunderstanding of what is actually going on here. The frontline is not in hospitals. The frontline is where you are, out on the streets. If we are using this war analogy, doctors and nurses are not the soldiers. They are still just the doctors and nurses, dealing with the casualties of war. It is the everyday citizen who is the soldier. It is you who is playing the most important role in fighting this disease. We do not have medicine to treat this virus. Prevention is the only way to fight this. Prevention is up to every one of us.

There are two things about viruses that we all must understand. First, they require hosts to spread. They cannot replicate by themselves. Every time you come into contact with someone you are giving the virus a chance to spread, to replicate, and become more powerful. Every time you decide to avoid contact with someone new, you starve the virus.

Second, viruses spread exponentially. Every time you come into contact with someone new, you are not just putting that person at risk, but also all the people that that person comes into contact with, and all the people that those people come into contact with. Every time you meet one person, it will affect an untold number of people, many of whom will have weaker immune systems than you, and will suffer severely. It is your duty to protect these vulnerable people. I cannot stress this enough. It is the decisions that you make that will decide the course of this disaster.

Social distancing is the most important intervention we can all carry out. It is our greatest weapon. If you can self-isolate for at least two weeks you will help flatten the curve and you will save countless lives. That is the gift that healthcare workers are praying for. Please be our heroes! – Yours, etc


Salthill, Galway.

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