John Dolan: This has to be the last Level 5 lockdown — I fear the ‘cure’ is getting worse than the disease

Could we weather a lockdown three? So asks John Dolan in his weekly column
John Dolan: This has to be the last Level 5 lockdown — I fear the ‘cure’ is getting worse than the disease

A near deserted St Patricks street, Cork.

I’LL be honest with you — I’m finding these Level 5 lockdowns pretty easy, if I say so myself.

I’m working from home, watching the odd soccer match on the telly and drama on Netflix, and enjoying saving on the commuting time to the office, while spending more time than ever with my family.

As long as the kids are at school, I feel like I could do this almost indefinitely.

Don’t get me wrong; I would murder a pint and would love some ball-hopping time with my buddies, and a week in Tenerife would be Manna from heaven. Moreover, money is tight as my self-employed wife has had no business practically since March.

But overall, I’m happy to count my blessings, to do my bit for the country, and sit out this horrible virus until the world is a safer place.

But, of course, that’s just me, and I realise how lucky I am that I can afford to be so blasé.

There is a whole other world of people out there who are not in such a fortunate position — these are people who have lost their jobs, or whose jobs are in jeopardy, not because of Covid-19, but because of the lockdowns and restrictions. Entire industries — tourism, travel, the arts, for instance — are in complete limbo.

Then there are those whose mental health is suffering badly, not because of Covid-19, but because of the lockdowns.

Others are missing out on vital hospital appointments, or are failing to get early signs of illness checked out with their doctor.

Entire social supports have been taken away — support organisations, social structures, sports clubs, scouts...

Lonely people are even more ostracised. Reports of domestic violence incidents are rising. Younger people are spending what should be the best days of their lives indoors, with some gaining an unhealthy attachment to social media.

All of this, and more, is down to the lockdown, not Covid-19.

In recent weeks, I am sensing a shift in attitudes towards the way we try to deal with this pandemic, away from the ‘Stop Covid At All Costs’ argument, and towards the ‘We Must Learn To Live With It’ side of the debate.

Once characterised as cold and heartless, that argument — that older and vulnerable people must shield themselves while life goes on for the rest of us, still doing our best to stop the spread of the virus — has become the dominant one.

It has almost become cold and heartless to argue in favour of lockdowns, such is the resentment among large sections of society.

Lockdown I in March was a no-brainer — and I’m mighty glad we did it in a hasty fashion.

Lockdown II which began a few weeks ago still has a majority of people behind it, although there are plenty of dissenters this time.

Common sense dictates that there is every chance of a Lockdown III being proposed by public health experts early next year.

But it’s my strong and growing belief that it will not happen — certainly with nothing like the same level of restrictions as the first two full lockdowns.

By then the majority of people will, I reckon, be of the view that Level 5 for several more agonising weeks will be a step too far.

The reasoning behind this is usually dominated by the opinions of people whose lives are being badly affected by full lockdowns — workers who are losing their jobs, people whose physical and mental health is suffering, patients missing hospital appointments, and a slew of others.

But my thinking is also shaped by a couple of conversations I had recently, relating to elderly people who had died because of Covid-19.

Now, these people had not contracted the virus, and Covid-19 will not appear on their death certificates. They will not be among the daily numbers of victims we see posted in the evening bulletins.

But, most assuredly, their lives have been cut short by lockdowns and they have been denied a dignified death and funeral because of it — and you wonder how many more such cases have occurred.

Because, put bluntly, if more people are dying from the effects of lockdown than from Covid-19 — in effect, if the cure is worse than the disease — then it simply is not a viable action — and that’s before you factor in all the other detrimental effects of a lockdown relating to jobs and the economy.

The first lockdown death I heard about related to a friend’s elderly mother in a nursing home, who was denied visitors and was missing her family.

My friend said: “It all got too much for her. I feel she couldn’t take any more of the new routine, where her carers and we, her family, had to put on PPE just to see her.”

One of the saddest parts, my friend said, was his mother died knowing her funeral would be attended by so few of her family and friends. That really tugs at the heart.

The second anecdotal story was similar, relating to an elderly gentleman this time, who went from being in fine form at the start of the year to effectively giving up the ghost in the summer, frustrated at being denied access to his family for so long.

Both these anecdotes shook me. I can share no such similar stories about people who have died of Covid-19, although obviously there are many to be heard.

Denying someone a ‘good’ death goes against everything we are about. Denying them a funeral and send-off they deserve also goes against everything we are about.

Every day, we hear a sad update on the number of deaths due to Covid-19.

Imagine if we had a similar update on the number of deaths due to Lockdown.

When the toll for the second starts to match and even surpass the toll for the first, then you know our Government have got a big decision to make.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more