UK news 'We just never expected it to escalate to what we have seen': Health Minister Robin Swann reflects on the last 12 months last news
PremierLeague-News.Com - Health Minister Robin Swann will never forget the additional mortuaries that were put in place in preparation for the potential destruction Covid-19 could have brought to Northern Ireland in the early days of the pandemic.
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! "Health Minister Robin Swann will never forget the additional mortuaries that were put in place in preparation for the potential destruction Covid-19 could have brought to Northern Ireland in the early days of the pandemic. After taking on one of the most notoriously difficult roles within the Executive in January 2020, Mr Swann said his main priorities at that time were dealing with health workers on the picket lines and the severe waiting lists.Less than one month later, the relatively unknown coronavirus was sweeping across Europe and making its way to our shores.In late 2019, reports emerged from the Wuhan province of China that people were dying from a mysterious respiratory disease and just weeks later, Northern Ireland had entered into a full lockdown.Mr Swann admitted that no one expected Covid to be so damaging when he looked back to last January."I don't think a lot of the health services in the western world were expecting it to be as severe as it was or as long-term as it is," he told the Belfast Telegraph.Mr Swann came in for stinging criticism after he said 15,000 people could have died from the virus in Northern Ireland if nothing had been done to stop the spread of Covid. Last week, our death toll reached 2,000, based on figures from his department. Separate figures from statistics agency Nisra put the toll at 2,673 as of February 12.Mr Swann's comments came after the first Covid-19 related death was reported here on March 19, and looking back, Mr Swann said he based the figures on an early COBRA briefing.The UK's political leaders were told that if the virus remained unchecked, there would have been an 80% infection rate and a 1% death rate."It worked out at 15,000 people and I showed it to the rest of my Executive colleagues," reflected Mr Swann. "In regards to the steps we actually took afterwards, we established additional mortuaries because this is where that could potentially have gone at that time if we hadn't taken the steps that we did."The first confirmed Covid-19 case in Northern Ireland emerged on February 27.A Co Down resident had flown into Dublin Airport after returning from a skiing holiday in Italy - where the virus was doing untold damage - before travelling into Northern Ireland on the Enterprise train service.
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.Mr Swann and the Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride were attending a drugs and alcohol summit in Scotland when the news came through.The Health Minister explained he was just about to give his address before Dr McBride got up and left their table after receiving a phone call.It was then that Mr Swann knew that Northern Ireland had its first Covid-19 case but said it was already known that it was a matter of when and not if."We never expected the numbers to escalate to what we've seen," he said.Mr Swann added: "For that first case, and this has been well documented now, they arrived into Dublin and travelled up but what we saw was the integrations of both our public health systems both here in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland really coming together."There was a reassurance at that point that our systems worked and then as the scale of the situation increased, that intervention still maintains today."Mr Swann admitted that reporting the daily death figures during his weekly press briefings is still just as challenging as it was when he told the public that the first person had passed away on March 19. "These are people and these are families who have lost loved ones due to this virus," he stated.Thanking the public for their incredible response to the virus over the last year, the Health Minister said that if it wasn't for that united effort, our health service would have collapsed."What we have done over this period of time is with the thanks and the support of the people of Northern Ireland," he continued."The hope is that we can take those proportionate steps and the people of Northern Ireland will understand why we do them, and they also understand that there is hope at the end of this."Highlighting Northern Ireland's successful vaccine programme, Mr Swann said it is the "envy of many countries in the world" because of the number of jabs being administered to older age groups and those classed as extremely vulnerable."We're now rolling it out across different cohorts as well," he stated."We've a vaccine programme that will bring us hope and opportunity later in the year, but again as we come out of these restrictions, I don't think we should waste [our efforts] that it will potentially bring in a number of weeks and months.""
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