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Did Ireland's long, harsh lockdown work?

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yorkie

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https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/12/europe/ireland-covid-rate-intl/index.html
Cork, Ireland (CNN)When Ireland came out of a strict six-week lockdown in December it had one of the lowest levels of Covid-19 cases in Europe. Since then, the situation has dramatically unraveled.
The country recorded the highest infection rate in the world last week, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication based at the University of Oxford.
In the seven days leading up to January 10, Ireland reported around 1,323 Covid-19 cases per one million people, the statistics showed, more than any other country over the same period.

Not only did they have a harsh and long-lasting lockdown during 2020, including during the Summer, but they have locked down hard again, far more so than the UK:
Ireland shut restaurants, pubs serving food and some shops on Christmas Eve and has since further tightened its lockdown measures -- including closing non-essential construction sites, schools, and childcare services.

So, does the Irish approach of long, harsh lockdowns work? Thoughts welcome!
 
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hwl

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https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/12/europe/ireland-covid-rate-intl/index.html


Not only did they have a harsh and long-lasting lockdown during 2020, including during the Summer, but they have locked down hard again, far more so than the UK:


So, does the Irish approach of long, harsh lockdowns work? Thoughts welcome!
It looked like it was working till both the run up to Christmas and the new strain hit (which is now estimated at 50+% of cases from analysis out yesterday so data last week).

In general short lock downs aren't that effective due to lags between catching it, showing symptoms and potentially passing it on. Some effectiveness comes from holding out for enough whole transmission events to (potential) transmission event cycles.
 

brad465

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Looking at the infection graph it hasn't worked in that respect:



1610477813180.png

However, looking at the deaths graph, the whole thing is open to question, as the peak in October had a negligible impact on deaths with Covid-19, however we'll have to see what happens from this latest surge:

1610477873406.png

I'm glad though in that article from CNN there's recognition of the seasonality of the whole thing, as we seem to be forgetting that in trying to control the virus at a time of year the weather can turbo charge it and other respiratory viruses.
 

yorkie

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I think that harsh lockdowns delay the inevitable (of course that is unless a country can completely seal its borders or literally stay in lockdown until the majority of the population is vaccinated) and, worse, once the virus does start to spread, the lack of immunity in the population means cases will increase at a faster rate than in places where there is already some immunity.

I am sure Ireland's steep increase would not have been so steep if they had some pre-existing immunity, but their harsh and lockdown precludes that. Therefore, I'd take the view that their measures did not actually achieve anything, other than making the current period even worse and of course destroying the mental & physical wellbeing of the population by not letting them have any sort of decent Summer.

I am sure the authoritarians will say Ireland went wrong by relasing the lockdown at all and should have locked down throughout most of 2020 and much of 2021, but the idea that this would be sustainable is stark raving bonkers!
 

6862

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It looked like it was working till both the run up to Christmas and the new strain hit (which is now estimated at 50+% of cases from analysis out yesterday so data last week).

Or how about it was 'working' until the part of the year when many respiratory viruses really start to spread like wildfire?
 

Philip

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Has the Irish health service been overwhelmed at all during the pandemic? This is the key as to whether or not the lockdowns have worked.
 

Yew

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hwl

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I think that harsh lockdowns delay the inevitable (of course that is unless a country can completely seal its borders or literally stay in lockdown until the majority of the population is vaccinated) and, worse, once the virus does start to spread, the lack of immunity in the population means cases will increase at a faster rate than in places where there is already some immunity.

I am sure Ireland's steep increase would not have been so steep if they had some pre-existing immunity, but their harsh and lockdown precludes that. Therefore, I'd take the view that their measures did not actually achieve anything, other than making the current period even worse and of course destroying the mental & physical wellbeing of the population by not letting them have any sort of decent Summer.

I am sure the authoritarians will say Ireland went wrong by releasing the lockdown at all and should have locked down throughout most of 2020 and much of 2021, but the idea that this would be sustainable is stark raving bonkers!
There is work in several countries starting to look at re-infection rates especially with new strains as they are beginning to suspect re-infection may be more of a problem that they originally thought.

Ireland in the border areas also has shared schools, hospitals (and if it goes very wrong Fire Brigade) so no chance of isolation from NI.

The focus on not having a lock down at Christmas and working everything around that might have been the biggest mistake. Releasing from the pre-Christmas lockdown as the new strain was spreading was unfortunate timing.
 

takno

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There is work in several countries starting to look at re-infection rates especially with new strains as they are beginning to suspect re-infection may be more of a problem that they originally thought.
Could you provide some citations for that? You've mentioned it several times, and I haven't seen anything myself, but would be extremely interested in reading more.

In particular it would be good to know whether the reinfections relate to the new strains evading the developed immunity, or whether it's a case of being easier to identify with different strains in play. It would also be good to know if the reinfections are generally less severe as was found in the past, or whether there's an identified risk of being reinfected and becoming seriously ill.
 

island

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Ireland's mistake was keeping the Common Travel Area border open. In hindsight it and Northern Ireland should have cut ties with plague island (the mainland) sooner.
I would have gone farther and said it could and should have run New Zealand style measures, from March 2020. Though the NI politicians would never have agreed.

Instead it has had a porous border and other than for a couple of weeks in May, no legal requirement whatsoever to self-isolate when returning from abroad, only a woolly “recommendation to restrict your movements”.

I am from Cork myself as is my wife. Our families disinvited us from travelling home for Christmas – though in the end we would have fallen foul of the travel ban for flights from the UK from 21•DMR•20 to 07•JNR•21. It does not seem to have helped; Irish statistics showed that of nearly 30,000 cases in the country for the two weeks to 03•JNR•21, thirteen were imported.

Ireland also has government recommendations to wear face coverings in any busy outdoor space, and public compliance is a lot higher. Face shields/visors are banned, exemptions are fewer, and reasonable excuses such as eating and drinking on a train are not recognised in law. Back when pubs were open under a substantial meal rule, they were even required to keep a record with everyone’s track and trace details of what they ate and how much they paid for it. And for a lot of the year, there has been a limit as to how far you could travel from home, generally X kilometres although sometimes it has been travel within your own county.

However, enforcement is far more by peer pressure. An Garda Síochána have taken a very lax approach.

Overall I agree with the original premise, the Irish measures don’t seem to work.
 

Yew

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It does feel that all of these fussy little rules have done approximately zero to contain the spread anywhere they've been implemented.
 

Elwyn

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The current position is that hospitals in the Republic of Ireland are struggling to cope. Many have no ICU beds left. So presumably the situation would be far worse if there had not been some sort of lockdown? Do we want folk dying in hospital car parks?

https://www.irishnews.com/news/repu...umbers-rising-in-republic-of-ireland-2184631/

The Irish Chief Medical Officer spoke yesterday to say that he believed that people socialized far too much over Christmas and this has led to the dramatic increase.

From personal observation here in Northern Ireland (where the numbers are also high) I know lots of people who have been visiting their neighbours in breach of the rules. I suspect that’s replicated across all parts of this island. The issue seems to be, not whether lockdowns can work – they will if followed properly – but compliance and enforcing them.
 

Yew

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The current position is that hospitals in the Republic of Ireland are struggling to cope. Many have no ICU beds left. So presumably the situation would be far worse if there had not been some sort of lockdown? Do we want folk dying in hospital car parks?
You're using circular logic there, your question assumes that lockdowns and restrictions are effective, and that things would be worse without them, which is exactly the point we're trying to debate. Your reliance then on a graphic and needlessly emotive scenario further undermines the logical credibility of your argument.
 

Skimpot flyer

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It does feel that all of these fussy little rules have done approximately zero to contain the spread anywhere they've been implemented.
Here’s a compilation video of various people, including Matt Hancock, Jonathon Van Tamm and other medical professionals, all derided the use of face masks, because of lack of evidence for their effectiveness.
As one poster on here said

Government had to be seen doing something

Masks are something

So they did it

https://twitter.com/ianjamesseale/status/1349094159018287104?s=21
 

Yew

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Philip

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You're using circular logic there, your question assumes that lockdowns and restrictions are effective, and that things would be worse without them, which is exactly the point we're trying to debate. Your reliance then on a graphic and needlessly emotive scenario further undermines the logical credibility of your argument.

It isn't emotive, the risk of hospitals being overwhelmed because of coronavirus patients is a fact and reality. Lockdown here, and probably in Ireland, has helped and is continuing to help lessen the burden on the health service. Without tough restrictions/lockdown here in the UK now, we would be seeing exponential growth in cases and the NHS would be quickly swamped, because of the virulent nature of this virus. The health service has to take the priority.
 

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I am sorry but I don’t agree it’s emotive. It’s realistic. At my local hospital (Antrim Area) we had 15 ambulances in the car park for over 12 hours recently, each with a patient needing admitted, because there were no beds available within the building due to Covid. (New patients have to be isolated in single rooms for 24 hours to determine whether they are covid free. This creates a major pinchpoint in the system). The hospital director was interviewed on TV on the point of tears at the severity of the situation.


I know quite a few medical professionals here in Ireland and they are all in agreement that the more we mix the more it spreads. They also agree that hospitals across Ireland are at saturation point, plus the staff who work in them are exhausted. The other evening a colleague who is an off duty nurse got a text asking her to come in for work because they were overwhelmed at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.


That’s where we are. The professionals nearly all seem to agree that restricting people’s movement is essential to reducing the disease’s spread. Do you have a different solution?
 

Yew

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It isn't emotive, the risk of hospitals being overwhelmed because of coronavirus patients is a fact and reality. Lockdown here, and probably in Ireland, has helped and is continuing to help lessen the burden on the health service. Without tough restrictions/lockdown here in the UK now, we would be seeing exponential growth in cases and the NHS would be quickly swamped, because of the virulent nature of this virus. The health service has to take the priority.
We can't debate if the restrictions have been effective if you insist on presupposing the conclusion that they have.
That’s where we are. The professionals nearly all seem to agree that restricting people’s movement is essential to reducing the disease’s spread. Do you have a different solution?
There's no evidence that lockdowns are more effective than voluntary measures.
 

Philip

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We can't debate if the restrictions have been effective if you insist on presupposing the conclusion that they have.

There's no evidence that lockdowns are more effective than voluntary measures.

Evidence isn't required and nor should it when we're faced with this kind of pandemic, it is just common sense.
 

Yew

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Evidence isn't required and nor should it when we're faced with this kind of pandemic, it is just common sense.
Is this the same common sense says the earth is flat?
 

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MikeWM

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Evidence isn't required and nor should it when we're faced with this kind of pandemic, it is just common sense.

That's probably what people who killed cats to try to stop the Black Death thought too. Unfortunately when the evidence was finally looked at, it had actually made things much worse.
 

Dent

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Without tough restrictions/lockdown here in the UK now, we would be seeing exponential growth in cases and the NHS would be quickly swamped, because of the virulent nature of this virus.
Where is your proof of that statement?

Does the fact that cases peaked before the current restrictions even started not prove that statement to be false?
 

Philip

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That's probably what people who killed cats to try to stop the Black Death thought too. Unfortunately when the evidence was finally looked at, it had actually made things much worse.

Again, a ridiculous comparison made purely for the effect of trying to prove an invalid point.

Where is your proof of that statement?

Does the fact that cases peaked before the current restrictions even started not prove that statement to be false?

They peaked because of the behaviour of some of the general public, so enforced restrictions had to come in to curb this.
 

Yew

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Again, a ridiculous comparison made purely for the effect of trying to prove an invalid point.
You're the one saying that we don't need evidence, perhaps we could try throwing a virgin into a volcano?

Hippocrates first rule of pandemic control is 'do no harm' if we are going to break that, then we should have clear evidence that the benefits outweigh any harms caused by the measures.
 

Philip

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You're the one saying that we don't need evidence, perhaps we could try throwing a virgin into a volcano?

Hippocrates first rule of pandemic control is 'do no harm' if we are going to break that, then we should have clear evidence that the benefits outweigh any harms caused by the measures.

It isn't some long term research project as you seem to be implying, decisions have to made now and action taken quickly to prevent a health service crisis.
 

Dent

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They peaked because of the behaviour of some of the general public, so enforced restrictions had to come in to curb this.
So you're saying that "behaviour of some of the general public" caused infections to start falling, then enforced restrictions had to come in to "curb this" - why is it desirable to "curb" something which is causing infections to fall? This makes no sense.
 

Yew

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It isn't some long term research project as you seem to be implying, decisions have to made now and action taken quickly to prevent a health service crisis.
If we're going to depart from our pre-prepared pandemic plans, we should have a clear and logical reason, based by evidence. Otherwise we should follow the plan that we have carefully considered, and decided is the best course of action, with the least overall harms.
 
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