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WE SAY: How we rise to this Coronavirus challenge is vital

St Paul's Church on Hawthorne Street St Paul's Church on Hawthorne Street
By The Editor

WHILE the Stormont response to the Coronoavirus crisis was significantly ramped up this week, the early sense of inertia injected into the populace by the crazy decision not to close the schools early and the continued failure to follow the World Health Organisation plea to ‘Test, test, test’ has lingered. That was to be seen in the indifferent response to the ‘lockdown’ measures announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday night.

While there’s been an appreciable difference in the number of people out and about on the streeets and in the shops, compliance with social isolation guidelines remains extremely patchy, to say the least, and is not yet anywhere near the level required for this more stringent advice to be effective. For now, we can only put the mistakes of the past ten days behind us in the hope that those people who made them will have been sufficiently informed and chastened to begin showing the extreme sense of urgency required. Explanations for failures can come at the other side of this crisis.

In the here and now, what is most important is that every single one of us injects into our lives a deadly serious and single-minded determination to protect ourselves from contracting the virus – and from spreading it. Hygiene protocols remain vital and continue to be central in our efforts to mitigate the worst effects virus and  now adherence to the new stay at home advice is critical as we face into the coming storm. For make no mistake, a storm is coming. If that sounds grim and depressing, it’s because a cold slap of reality is badly required at this stage, particularly when we look at where we are on the arc of response when compared to countries who have been and are being dealt a sledgehammer blow by Covid-19. But there is an opportunity here for those of us willing to step forward and grasp it.

And that opportunity lies in the fact that we all have a tremendous amount of power and autonomy as individuals; we are not helpless in the face of an unseen enemy as some would claim – far from it. Those of us who have not contracted the virus – or perhaps we should say have not yet displayed symptoms – have tremendous scope to protect ourselves, our families, our friends and our communities. That means practising the recommended hygiene and social isolation protocols with every ounce of determination and commitment at our disposal. Stay at home. Go out only when completely necessary and, when you do, be aware of that six-foot circle round you at all times. Wash, sanitise, disinfect at every turn. Claim your personal dominion and protect it. For your sake – and the sake of all of those who share the city with you.

How we rise to this challenge will determine the nature of that coming storm. If we continue to display indifference, we will be battered by a hurricane that will leave a wake of human suffering and economic devastation in its wake from which it may take decades to recover. If we display the maturity and focus required, we might look back when it’s all over and be grateful so many did what had to be done. That is the magnitude of the choice that faces us not as a community, but as individuals acting in defence of our community.

Our personal response can be our greatest strength, or our greatest weakness.

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