By Niall O’Dowd, Publisher
Ireland appears to have done a remarkable job holding infection and death numbers down from the coronavirus..
As of Thursday, this week they had under 100 fatalities and 3,900 infections.
The experts had suggested the Irish would have 15,000 infected by the end of March with death numbers as high as 500.
What have they been doing differently?
Not much but doing it better than almost any other country.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, himself a doctor, has led the nation similar to the way Andrew Cuomo had led New York with purpose, clarity and honesty.
There are no meandering press conferences of personal guesses about what the numbers will be. There were no attacks on political opponents, there was no failure to take responsibility
He gave the speech to the nation early in March that did not mince words, the speech that Trump should have made. It is the speech of a true leader.
Tonight, I know many of you are feeling scared and overwhelmed. That is a normal reaction, but we will get through this and we will prevail.
We need to halt the spread of the virus but we also need to halt the spread of fear.
“This is the calm before the storm—before the surge,” he said. “We’re asking people to come together as a nation by staying apart from each other.”
Channeling Churchill he stated, “Never will so many ask so much of so few,” Varadkar referring to Ireland’s healthcare workers.
He said the experts were predicting 15,000 infections and up to 500 dead by the end of the month.
He made it clear that social isolationism was the only pathway to follow if they wanted to keep the numbers down.
With that speech he brought the country with him. There were no states or cities making their own decisions. It was a national lockdown. People immediately committed to it. The country shut down..
When the numbers grew a few weeks later he asked those over 70 to not leave their homes and those under 70 to take just one physical exercise such as a walk just once a day. Again, the country agreed.
The result has been a quiet victory so far, but no one is cheering just yet. COVID-19 is a dangerous virus whose future path is unknown.
Friends in Dublin say the streets are empty but people are calm and patiently waiting it out. There is a war spirit that the Irish are in it together. If the low rate of infections and deaths continue Ireland will be a beacon to the world. Compared to the dithering of Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Varadkar stands out with his clarity and command of the issue. Ireland is lucky to have him.