Leading article

We all have a responsibility to stop the spread of coronavirus

Recent days have provided a stark reminder that coronavirus is not under control and unless we take the right actions we could face a re-imposition of lockdown restrictions.

The easing of measures after a strict stay at home order has allowed people to live some semblance of a normal life and provided a lifeline to businesses which feared financial ruin.

But this was always going to be a careful balancing act and requires the full engagement of the public in observing the precautions that help to prevent the spread of this highly contagious and invisible virus.

We have seen what happens when people ignore the guidance and let down their guard. The terrible toll of death and huge number of cases in the United States show the disastrous consequences of failing to listen to the scientific advice.

We are also seeing an upsurge in cases across Europe, blamed in part on the behaviour of young people, which suggests more needs to be done to reach this age group.

There are concerns closer to home, with Boris Johnson putting the brakes on some relaxation measures in England yesterday.

His announcement came hours after the late night decision to impose new restrictions on parts of northern England, a surprise move that will affect millions of people.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said there had been an increase in transmission in the affected regions which he attributed to people visiting friends and relatives.

The British government is clearly deeply worried by the rising level of infection and has decided to take urgent action.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has expressed concern after a spike in cases in the Republic while in the north,

the chief medical officer this week highlighted an increase in cases compared to earlier in July.

It is against this backdrop that the Department of Health in Northern Ireland has launched an app that will alert people who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

The public is encouraged to download the app which is seen as a key element in helping to stop the spread of Covid-19, along with the other measures including hand washing, social distancing and wearing a mask.

No one wants another lockdown but the lesson of the past few days is that an upsurge in cases could see a rowing back of our hard won gains.

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Leading article