Covid: big effort needed to avoid hard lockdown

Dr Tom Black.Dr Tom Black.
Dr Tom Black.
A year ago, when we were looking at rising Covid-19 case numbers and an overwhelmed health service, there was hope that, by this time in 2021, we would be in a very different position with everyone able to look forward to Christmas, writes Dr Tom Black.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The transmission rates for Covid in our community are still far too high and are showing no signs of dropping.

This high level of case numbers in the community then puts immense pressure on our hospitals which were already struggling.

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To be blunt, every person in hospital with Covid means someone with another illness, or needing non-urgent treatment, is unable to get the care they need and that is very hard for patients, their families and healthcare staff.

The NI Executive has said it is going to bring in Covid certification - this is a good thing.

But we will need other mitigations alongside it and a sustained effort over the next few weeks to get our numbers down and to prevent a hard lockdown which is the last thing we all want.

We want our economy to recover, our young people to be able to go out and enjoy themselves and for life to go back to normal.

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But we also want our medical staff to get some breathing space or we risk them leaving the health service altogether as they can no longer bear the pressure.

And we want a health service that is able to see and treat everyone who needs it.

So, I would implore everyone to wear a mask, wash their hands, get a test, get vaccinated and, if at all possible, limit their contacts as much as they can for a few weeks so we can get our daily case numbers down.

Dr. Tom Black is a GP based in Derry. He is also chairperson of the British Medical Association (BMA) in NI.