It’s good politics to give worst-case scenarios. Most of the time they never arise and it’s better to be seen to be overly cautious than blasé. Think back to the recurring reassurances of a “soft landing” we got from officialdom ahead of the 2008 crash.
Donald Trump’s assertion that coronavirus is “totally under control” or that cases in the US will soon drop to zero make him look like the mayor in Jaws, blithely ignoring reports of a killer shark to protect the local economy during tourist season.
In contrast Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has jumped in with two feet, suggesting that as much as 60 per cent of the Republic’s population could contract the virus. This led to media reports that as many as 85,000 people here could die. It’s an extraordinary assertion in the context of a global pandemic that has killed 4,000, mainly in China, where it now appears to be under control.
The figures are plausible: 60 per cent of the Republic’s population is 1.9 million and a Covid-19 mortality rate of 3.4 per cent presupposes 85,000 deaths. The Irish Association of Funeral Directors has even advised members that funeral services should not take place for people who die from the disease, at least not immediately, and their remains should be brought straight to the crematorium or cemetery for committal, presumably to control the spread of infection.
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