Not especially newsworthy in and of itself, but certainly newsworthy in terms of what it might mean for Ireland:
Chancellor Angela Merkel has told lawmakers in her conservative party that she expects a lockdown in Germany to curb the spread of the coronavirus to last until the start of April, top-selling Bild daily cited participants as the meeting as saying.
“If we don’t manage to stop this British virus, then we will have 10 times the number of cases by Easter. We need eight to 10 more weeks of tough measures,” Bild quoted Merkel as saying.
Germany reported 11,706 new cases yesterday. That’s one case for every 7,000 people, there or thereabouts. Ireland, by contrast, reported 4,929 – a low, for recent days, but still one case for every 994 people. In other words, Ireland’s position, even on a relatively good day by recent standards, is more than seven times worse than Germany’s.
Now the good news is that Covid is not necessarily linear: There was a time, remember, when Ireland was one of the best performing countries in Europe. There’s every chance that in a few months, the relative positions of Germany and Ireland might be reversed.
But that’s not directly relevant here. Merkel’s view is that from a standing start, at their present level of infection, the German lockdown will have to last until April.
So how realistic is it, then, that the Irish lockdown will come to an end before that, as is currently envisaged?
The German lockdown, incidentally, is remarkably similar to the Irish version, with the exception that religious services are not banned, provided that they take place subject to hygiene restrictions. Here’s the summary:
All shops and services deemed nonessential are closed.
Day care centers are closed, but parents can take paid holidays in order to look after their children.
Employers are encouraged to allow employees to work from home if possible.
People are not allowed to drink alcohol in public.
Religious events in churches, synagogues and mosques may take place if they follow hygiene rules. Communal singing is banned.
Schools are largely closed and students are taught through distance learning.
Private meetings will be limited to members of one household, plus one other person. Previously the limit was set at a maximum of five people from two households.
Anyone arriving in Germany from high-risk areas must submit two negative test results. A minimum five-day quarantine period is required between the two tests — even if the first is negative.
The German health service, incidentally, is not experiencing anything like the pressure that Irish hospitals are currently facing – which isn’t surprising, given that their case numbers per capita are seven times lower.
But how likely is it, if we’re realistic, that we’ll be in a better position than the Germans by the end of March? Because that’s the yarn our politicians are trying to sell us. They’re banking on the idea that the people want to hear mindless hope. Merkel, for better or worse, is feeding her people a dose of realism.
The contrast is interesting.