By Michael Smith.
Those who predicted swamped ICUs, scandalous shortages of equipment and overflowing morgues in Ireland were utterly wrong. If you haven’t realised that, you’re not following. The Irish Times, Irish Independent, RTE and other media in Ireland have failed their democratic duty to keep the public aware of the significance of the evolving pattern of Coronavirus cases in Ireland over the last three weeks. There may indeed be “the darkest days ahead” as the Taoiseach intoned, to media head-nodding, on Easter Sunday, but there is no evidence for it. I am not saying this to be provocative but because it is the truth.
There is a pattern of reported cases it is just that the media have not followed it, or conveyed what the pattern indicates as the probable outcome of at least the first wave of Coronavirus cases and deaths in Ireland. Their job was not to convey this as a certainty but as the probability, based on the curves – the data.
Instead they have plied, and continue hour after hour to ply, pictures of improvised morgues, invitations to submit stories about deceased love ones, pieces about our non-existent devastating shortages of PPE and ventilators, and of rockstars still organising emergency imports of it, and po-faced pieces about how funerals, so central of course to Irish life, will never be the same again.
The catastrophism is compounded by the fact that many countries and in particular the two countries from which we draw most of our external news, the US and the UK, genuinely face shortages of equipment and rampant deaths. Unlike here, in these countries the media are doing their best to reflect the context of the reality of cases and deaths.
On the other hand if we remove centres of infection like greater New York, Wuhan, Lombardy and Madrid, the rates of infection and indeed of death are really quite small (73 deaths per million in Ireland).