3460 covid 19 stephen s green

Coronavirus impact could dwarf the Troubles

Going the distance. Strollers in Stephen's Green Dublin are being reminded to stroll in their own space. RollingNews.ie photo.

By Anthony Neeson

The impact of coronavirus could dwarf that of the Troubles, Northern Ireland’s Health Minister has warned.

It comes as many people ignored warnings about social distancing over the weekend.

And while testing for Covid-19 has not been as extensive in Northern Ireland than it has been in the Republic, new statistics released on Monday show that those impacted by the disease are from all age groups.

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Fifty-two people have been infected by coronavirus in the 0-44 age groups; 51 people in the 45-69 age group and 45 in the 70 plus group, breaking down as 64 females and 84 males.

The same stats show that 148 people have rested positive for the virus with two deaths.

Although the figures have begun to rise in the past week, there has been a lot of frustration that the message for people to socially distance themselves from each other is falling on deaf ears. Authorities north and south of the border have warned people to brace themselves for an upsurge in cases and deaths in the time ahead.

However, that message is still not getting through to some. Photos circulated on social media at the weekend of large crowds of people at coastal destinations in Antrim, Down, Derry and Donegal.

Stormont Health Minister, Robin Swann, warned: “It seems the social distancing message has not landed yet with everybody. So let me repeat the warning.

“The very same virus that is creating untold devastation in Italy and elsewhere is here and spreading in our community right now. It threatens us with an onslaught.

“In a few short weeks, this onslaught could very rapidly dwarf the impact of the Troubles on our society.

“But we are not powerless in this situation. We can push it back. We can fight back.

“So let me urge everyone across society to do the right thing. Do it not just for yourself but for your family, friends and neighbours. Do it for our health workers and the health service.

“Stay at home. Save lives. When or if you absolutely have to go out, keep your distance from others. And keep washing your hands throughout the day.

“Please everyone hammer this message home however you can.”