A week that turned the NHS and the world upside down

By Marie-Louise Connolly
BBC News NI Health Correspondent

  • Published
Covid-19 testImage source, Getty Images

After this week, nothing will ever be the same again.

Our lives are changing at a dizzying rate as this invisible virus wreaks havoc across the world.

We all have been enlisted in the battle against this unseen foe - even the weak, elderly and infirm are being asked to play their part.

Despite being told to stay apart, never before have our families meant so much, or felt so close.

Some have already been touched by tragedy. Ruth Burke and Magdalene Mitchell are women I never knew - but whose names I will never forget.

They died this week after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

It feels as if a once bustling health and social care service has been turned upside down.

Image source, Liam McBurney/PA Media

What experts, health officials and countless reports couldn’t do over decades has been achieved in the sweep of a pen.

The surge plans include the temporary closure of the Downe and Daisy Hill Emergency Departments. Not so long ago, locals took to the streets in protest to keep them open.

But that was before Covid-19 loomed.

Assurances have been given that the closures are temporary. Press officers stressed: “We must do this in order to fight the pandemic”.

It is difficult to argue with that.

The pandemic has triggered many questions.

Not least what has happened to all the tens of thousands of sick and critically ill patients who only 24 hours ago needed beds, medication and care?

It seems that our hospitals are being emptied, our GP practices partially closed and daycare centres shut.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
People took to the streets across the UK on Thursday night to applaud healthcare workers

Where have all the patients gone?

Everyone is mentally and physically exhausted. Even youngsters seem weary.

I’ve shed tears of sorrow at the loss and then cried with joy at the outpouring of support for our health workers.

And yet, this is only the start.

But stay safe folks and look forward.

This will end.