The Northern Ireland Executive has begun to tighten restrictions in response to an increase in the number of reported coronavirus cases in clusters across the country.
The death toll, however, remains at 559 and no one is currently in intensive care with any serious symptoms, according to government statistics, as quoted in the local news. The current median age for people who have passed away in hospitals due to this virus is 81, according to the BBC.
Mr Swann, the Health Minister, has been particularly critical of free-minded members of the public who have decided to return to some form of normality. He has branded them “armchair experts” for criticising his approach to the situation and for having alternate opinions to his bonafide panel of experts. He requisitioned their consciences for the NHS workers who are striving hard to keep the ICUs in the hospitals devoid of additional patients.
According to the Minister, their messages are undermining the efforts of “those who have sacrificed so much already” and will lead to ultimate failure in controlling the spread of the virus. However, it is unclear whether the current government approach of mitigation remains the goal or if the guidelines are an attempted scramble to keep up with the new set of restrictions in the Republic of Ireland, which shares an open border.
The Minister then went on to clarify that “self-centred” and “ignorant” people will have to face strict enforcement of these restrictions from the Police Service of Northern Ireland in hotspots as part of “co-ordinated approach.” He ended by reminding the public that, if the strict instructions were flouted, he would (albeit unwillingly) consider reimposing a draconian lockdown to contain the spread.
Critics have been loud in questioning the need for stricter measures and backtracking progress to normality with rather grim questions. Some have pointed out that the average life expectancy currently stands at 78.7 across the country. Yet others have criticised the Government for job losses, with Stormont’s Department for the Economy warning, according to a BBC article, that the claimant count has more than doubled in two months. With more job losses to come, this could plausibly exceed 100,000 before the end of 2020 or shortly afterwards. Stormont said: “By way of context, anything above 106,000 has not been witnessed since the 1980s.”