AN emergency department nurse fears the horrific scenes witnessed in Italian hospitals could still happen here if people continue to ignore coronavirus restrictions.
Emma Murphy, a clinical nurse manager at Mercy University Hospital, said her concerns began to grow after seeing a significant increase in traffic movements on her journey to work in recent days.
In the last week she has seen more cars on the road than at any time since the lockdown restrictions were imposed.
The Cloyne woman spoke of how the sacrifices made by frontline staff will have been for nothing if public support begins to crumble.
In recent months, terrifying footage of patients in Italy battling coronavirus in overcrowded ICUs sent shockwaves across the globe.
Ms Murphy warned that if the current complacency continues we will no longer be watching these scenes online.
Instead, they will be playing out in front of us in Cork hospitals.
“At the start we were very interested in looking at these videos to see where things could go,” said Ms Murphy.
“Even though they are in a different part of the world they are still our colleagues.
“All we can do is hope that this won’t be us but if people get complacent it will be.
“If we keep playing by the rules we can stop it from getting to that point.”
She reminded people that the power is in everyone’s hands.
“We are the ones who will look after people if they become unwell. However, you are the ones who can prevent people from getting sick in the first place.”
She pleaded with the public not to allow frontline workers’ efforts go to waste.
“Don’t let our efforts be for nothing. Don’t let our elderly population’s efforts be for nothing.”
Ms Murphy said that seeing so many people out and about can be frustrating.
“When you’re driving along and seeing so many people it’s worrying.
“In your head you’re saying ‘what are you doing?’ and ‘why can’t you just stay at home?’”
She said that the premature reopening of businesses would be disastrous.
“If the Taoiseach did announce that everything is to open next week then we would be facing a very dangerous scenario.
“I think my colleagues and I would be in total despair.”
She underlined the way life has changed for herself and her husband Joe who is a social care worker.
“Everything takes that bit longer because you’re gowning up and wearing masks so you’re always that little bit more tired when you get home.
“When I get home I have to clean down the car before I get out.
“Once inside I can’t hug or kiss my children.
“I have to tell them to go wait in their rooms for me so I can immediately go and take a shower.
“Our biggest fear is that we could bring this home to our children.”
Ms Murphy said that news of parties taking place in Cork is a huge concern.
“It’s so maddening,” she said.
“Two of our children have had birthdays while this was all going on. We couldn’t have parties for them and instead organised for them to see family through zoom.
“If we can do it surely to God other people can follow the rules too.”
The frontline worker credits her children, Molly, 7, Jack, 5, and three-year old Lucy for helping them through the crisis.
“They have been the best medicine,” she said.