The advent of vaccine nationalism and the decline of the popularity of the DUP to 19 per cent with Sinn Féin the most popular party at 24 per cent are not unconnected.
Just as Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity has risen with the perception that she has handled the pandemic well, Arlene’s has declined with her handling of the virus and the Irish Sea border.
The decline in DUP popularity may not be unconnected with the appearance of graffiti around the port of Larne which has been deemed to be threatening by those who man the Irish Sea border, has encouraged the ‘loyalists’ to indulge in public mask wearing and Paisley to plead with the British Prime Minister that he feels foreign in his own land.
However, is he speaking for all his constituents?
Gregory Campbell has had another outburst and the DUP seems to be turning to abstentionism at a Stormont meeting and maybe at North-South meetings.
"Many of the issues that we looked at - from staff terms and conditions, workforce shortages, funding and regulation - brought the wider question of adult social care reform into sharp focus," said Health Committee Chair Colm Gildernew.
"I am particularly pleased that all stakeholders, including the Department, positively engaged with the Committee. We know what needs to be done, both now and in the future. Adult social care reform has never been more urgent. Our recommendations were agreed unanimously by the Committee and we believe they constitute a real contribution to future pandemic planning and management."
775 care home residents or 40 per cent of total died of Covid-19. The report is forward-looking and calls for social care reform and work force strategies.
NI Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride: “There was a time before covid - and there will be a time after covid.” Says every vaccination is “a step towards a normal society” but “we need to build slowly and surely”— Chris Page (@ChrisPageTV) February 10, 2021
It makes 54 recommendations. The report looks at testing, particularly on discharge from hospital. Its recommendations suggest that no one be discharged without a negative test except into isolation.
It notes that personal protective equipment has now stabilised and is free of charge to nursing homes. There was to be risk-based inspection and advice, a review of regulations based on models of quality funding and advanced care home planning.
Future pandemic planning was to have care homes at the centre and there was to be a nominated staff member for infectious disease control. Lessons were to be learned from other countries.
There would be guidance on human rights and vaccinations in care homes, as achieved with the Pfizer vaccine. Also recommended was sick pay for care home staff. There should be be a workforce strategy with advanced care home planning and the RQIA (Regulation and Quality Improvement Agency) would undertake pragmatic inspections.
The Report and its recommendations were approved by the Assembly. (You can download the full report online.)
Since then the pandemic and politics have merged more with ‘anger’ over the Irish Sea border, Garda land border checks, hotel quarantine proposals and a recent statement from the Chief Medical Officer indicating that restrictions might continue for some time to come.
With 540 Covid cases in hospital, 61 in intensive care, 336 new cases, four deaths and concerns about vaccines and new variants who would second-guess him?