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Lockdown or locked-up? the side-effects of further imposed isolation

By Pat Kelly - 29th Sep 2020

At time of writing, the upward slide in the number of Covid-19 cases has prompted Government to tighten its grip on movement, particularly in and out of Dublin. Yes, this may slow down the spread of the virus and yes, the traffic is a whole lot lighter, but there are now whispers that another lockdown may be imposed, depending on the rate of spread of SARS-CoV-2. If another lockdown is decreed, it’s a decision that should certainly not be taken lightly.

Only in the aftermath of the last lockdown did data begin to emerge on how social isolation worsened mental health outcomes, delayed appointments for those with other conditions, and delayed diagnoses for people with other potentially serious conditions who may have slipped under the radar. As Muiris Houston pointed out in
The Irish Times recently, it’s okay to play a round of golf, but there are as yet no plans to restart BreastCheck, BowelScreen or CervicalCheck.

It was reported in BMJ Opinion, and a range of other publications, that there have been potentially serious delays in presentations for a range of conditions, including diabetes mellitus, cancer and sepsis. In addition, the UK saw unprecedented reductions of >50% in attendances to emergency departments during lockdown.

And that’s not even touching on the adverse mental health consequences, spike in domestic violence and the damage to an already battered economy brought about by a type of imposed house arrest.

Policy-makers and advisors to Government need to think long and hard about imposing another lockdown to ensure that the ‘cure’ is not more harmful than the disease in the long run.

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