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Ireland’s response to Covid-19 ‘Frustrating’

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UNCERTAIN TIMES Ronan O'Boyle pictured during his Castlebar Celtic playing days.

Castlebar man in Hong Kong contrasts how the pandemic is being managed there

Edwin McGreal

A Castlebar man based in Hong Kong has expressed his frustrations at Ireland’s attempts to control Covid-19.
Ronan O’Boyle (33) and his fiancé Tiana Sheridan are due to return home to Mayo to get married on December 30 but that date is very much uncertain with evolving restrictions on indoor gatherings.
Under Level 2 restrictions, 50 is the maximum at a wedding. It is half that for Level 3 and only six can attend a wedding at Level 5.  
He feels Ireland would be a lot further down the road if they took firmer steps to control access to the country during the pandemic.
He contrasts that with what he has experienced in Hong Kong.
“Our main frustration lies in how Covid-19 has been handled in Ireland compared to Hong Kong. We’ve seen what works here and it is frustrating to see Ireland not taking the same approach,” he told The Mayo News.
“If you come in through the airports here, you have to quarantine for two weeks. If you travel from what they call here an infected country, which currently includes the UK, you’ve to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks.
“So we’d avoid connecting flights at Heathrow so at least we can quarantine in our own apartment. In order to do that you’ve to be tested at the airport, wait for a negative result and then you can quarantine in your apartment. You’ve an app then on your phone to monitor you and a wristband to make sure you do not leave your apartment. Any groceries are brought to you. People have been fined and brought to court for breaches. The numbers tell the tale,” he said.

105 deaths
There have been just 105 deaths in total in Hong Kong from Covid-19, compared to over 1,800 in Ireland. Hong Kong has a larger population than Ireland, with 7.5 million people and has a population density almost 100 times greater than Ireland.
O’Boyle, who works as a pre-construction planner for a London-based company, has been keeping a close eye on developments in Ireland. Not just with family and friends there, but also with a view to their wedding which is booked for December 30. It won’t be going ahead, he says, if Ireland is on Level 3 or higher.
“It’s frustrating watching Ireland then leaving the ports open and not having testing at the airport. I know the border is hard to manage but if you are not keeping a lid on who is coming in and out of the country, it is hard to control.
“It is like a see-saw the way it is being managed in Ireland. The numbers go up, we increase the levels and then when they go down, we will reduce the levels and they will rise again. It is impossible to keep it out if there is no testing and proper measures on people coming into the country. There are still many strict controls in Hong Kong but many other aspects of life are returning to normality,” he said.