OPINION: Zero coronavirus deaths is a major milestone worthy of cautious celebration

A view of life in Donegal through the coronavirus crisis by journalist Siobhán McNamara

Marking the first day of zero coronavirus deaths recorded  in over two months

Marking the first day of zero coronavirus deaths recorded in over two months

The news for which everyone had been waiting but was afraid to hope finally came through.

In last night's update from the Department of Health, it was announced that no new deaths from coronavirus had been reported.

Since an elderly woman in Naas General Hospital became Ireland's first coronavirus victim on March 11, we have been listening to daily reports of how many people lost their lives. Not since March 21 has there been a day with no new reported deaths. Through April as restrictions tightened, the numbers rose steadily, as did our fear and anxiety levels. 

Early May brought the first glimmer of hope as the benefits of lockdown began to show in the decreasing number of deaths.

The publication of the government's Roadmap For Reopening Society and Business gave shape to the potential moves forward. 

Over the last 10 days since entering Phase One we have seen some people move willingly along that path while others remain rooted to the spot, afraid that easing out of lockdown will give the virus a new foothold.

We need to find a balance, to not rush forward so eagerly that we forget why we need to be careful. But to not be too  afraid to move either.

More than 1,600 people have lost their lives to Covid-19 in Ireland, leaving their loved ones devastated. It is not only the death itself which is tragic enough on its own. It is the way in which the remains of those who die from the virus are placed in a body bag, put in a sealed coffin and buried quickly. No proper goodbye before or after.

There will be many more people who will have suffered long term damage from Covid-19. And only over time we will learn about the mental health impact of living through this  pandemic.

We cannot yet dare to think that the threat has gone. But we can celebrate attaining that magic number - zero - as we strive to keep it that way.  

And we can allow ourselves to embrace and enjoy that more substantial feeling of hope that many people are only truly experiencing for the first time since this crisis began.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email editorial@donegaldemocrat.ie To contact Donegal Post, email editor@donegalpost.com To contact Inish Times, email editor@inishtimes.com.

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