Northern Ireland Covid-19 figures going in wrong direction but another lockdown would be disastrous

News Letter editorialNews Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
The heady days of high summer, when large swathes of the UK had reopened after long months of lockdown, and deaths relating to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland were virtually non-existent, seem a long time ago.

It’s almost been the norm in the last week for daily cases of coronavirus here to either be on the cusp of 1,000 if not over it, and yesterday brought news of another new 1,066 infections.

When you consider that the total number of infections recorded in the whole of the United Kingdom yesterday was 12,872, the numbers reflect very badly indeed on Northern Ireland.

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The latest statistics also show the number of hospital admissions here relating to Covid-19 having climbed substantially in recent weeks, even if there has been no significant increase in deaths.

So why are we showing such an exponential growth in new infections, with the Derry and Strabane Council area for example recording the highest infection rate in the whole of the United Kingdom and Ireland?

The Executive keep reinforcing the need for masks in shops and other indoor settings, but in shops observance is close to 100%, so non-compliance on masks is unlikely to be a factor in the soaring figures. The strong suspicion is that restrictions on the mixing of households indoors are being flagrantly ignored in several key geographical areas and this may be a key cause of spiralling infection rates.

Test and trace, meanwhile, was introduced so that local outbreaks could be detected and then stopped in their tracks. Clearly, the system is failing for whatever reason.

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Nationally, the mood is tense, with Boris Johnson today set to announce a three-tier coronavirus restrictions regime.

So what next? Government at Stormont and Westminister needs to do better but sections of the population need to wise up too. The fact remains though, a return to national or Province-wide lockdown would have disastrous consequences.