Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Covid-19: New Measures: Statements
Michael Collins (Cork South West, Independent)
Our healthcare system is at breaking point almost two years into this pandemic. On 21 November 2020, we had 344 cases of Covid. Fast forward to 21 November 2021 and there were 4,181 cases. On 21 November 2020 we had 273 Covid patients in hospital, while on 21 November 2021, we had 668. On 21 November 2020 there were 32 Covid patients in ICU and on 21 November 2021 there were 125. The Taoiseach recently stated on Newstalk that if we all collectively behave, this too will pass. That was utterly condescending of him. The reality is that the general public have behaved. In fact, the public held firm and followed all the rules. It is the Government that has failed to play its part by not delivering on ICU beds. What the hell has it spent the €28 billion extra Covid money on? Ireland needs 200 additional ICU beds to bring us up to even the EU average.
The true cost of the pandemic will probably never be fully quantified. The knock-on effects of prolonged shutdowns are immeasurable. The Government has handed itself extraordinary powers and the members of NPHET bask in the bizarre celebrity status the media conferred on them from the start. The mixed messaging and lack of transparency coming from the Government is ridiculous. People are terrified, businesses are going to the wall and people do not know whether we are going into another lockdown. Some of the key measures we need are a return to testing and tracing and increasing our ICU capacity. You would like to think that this would have been done by now, nearly two years later. We also need free antigen tests and clean air systems in schools. Professor John Crown has argued, "We do not have the worst quality of healthcare in the developed world, we have instead the worst managed healthcare system in the developed world, run by technically deficient, medically illiterate bureaucrats." That is what he stated recently and it is hard to blame him.
I have to bring up the confusion faced by businesses that do not know from day to day if they are going to be closed next week. There is a major issue here and it is not being addressed. There are rumours coming out from the Government that there might be closures from 13 December. We have to dispel those rumours because these businesses are hanging on by a thread in the context of their very survival. That is the simplest thing the Minister can do. Everybody has to be careful, take care and follow the guidelines as best we can but some confirmation as to the future of people's businesses needs to be announced by the Government going forward.