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Those still wary of Covid risk being sneered at… but do they simply see Freedom Day for the gamble it is?

2 19 0

Of all the concerns about this week’s heatwave — the hottest spot, risk of a hosepipe ban, keeping pets cool — one angle was conspicuous by its absence.

How sweltering it must be for medics in hazmat-style suits treating the rising numbers of Covid-19 patients.

We no longer talk about those still toiling in full protective gear in high summer as wards fill up again. Their sweat, trauma and battle-weariness is an old story, boring and unhelpful. We’re away to the beach in our packed trains and buses.

For a brief period in June in Northern Ireland there were no patients in ICU. Patient numbers in general wards had fallen to mid-teens, from 800 in January.

Reported new daily cases were down to low double figures from a peak of 1,500. The renewed lockdown and vaccine roll-out had dampened the pandemic. Talk of “reopening society” began, where vaccines could do the heavy lifting.

But even without formal relaxations here, over the last fortnight case numbers have risen alarmingly, hospitalisations are now in three figures, numbers in intensive care small but rising steadily. Deaths are occurring again.

Worryingly, where England calculates its school holidays — which began on Thursday — will reduce transmission, here the rise coincides with schools closing.

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With “Freedom Day” on July 19, England took the view that vaccines alone, without social distancing or masks, would handle what’s hoped to be the Covid endgame.

The dominant narrative is clear: “Back To Normal”. “Freedom Day” doesn’t — yet — apply here but its message is contagious.

Everywhere people stagger forth, blinking in the bright........

© Belfast Telegraph

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