Tag Archives: empathy

George Lee

Earlier today on RTÉ’s News at One.

RTE’s Science Correspondent George Lee spoke to Áine Lawlor about the new Covid-19 restrictions for Dublin.

During the interview, they had this exchange about “public buy-in”.

Warning: contains smugness, scolding and startling indifference to human suffering.

Áine Lawlor: “If this is your livelihood, if you have restocked your pub a couple of times, you know, in the hope that finally the restrictions were going to be lifted and you could go back to trying to earn a crust and suddenly again you’re told you can’t.”

George Lee: ‘But I do honestly wonder, Aine, when I hear stuff like that, these people aren’t living on the blooming moon, you know.

“They know how we have been since March. They have a particular position and they’re all in pain economically and socially because of it like us all and, unfortunately because of the sectors they’re in, they’re in a sector where you do have transmission, they know that. So …and they don’t want it to happen but they do see, as you say, I suppose, exemptions being made for some areas and they’re wondering why.

“Well I’ll give you an example now today. Professor Philip Nolan is picking up on this argument and I’m very struck by the fact that people from NPHET now have to do this. They’re engaging, basically trying to explain the arguments that the people who are lobbying politically are putting to politicians.”

Lawlor: “But it is important, this as well, isn’t it, George, because however often it has to be explained. If you are asking people to live in the new normal…”

Lee: “You have to explain it…you must explain it.”

Lawlor: “If you are asking people to live with new restrictions and if you are asking people to accept that their livelihood has gone out the window, they need to understand why.”

Lee: “One hundred per cent. But we have been, what people have been explaining it now since March. So…”

Lawlor: “Explain it again though. What’s Philip Nolan saying?”

Lee: “I do, people do understand, I think people complain.”

Lawlor: “What’s Philip Nolan saying?”

Lee: “What he’s saying is, look, this whole issue of talking about closing restaurants and pubs, why do we have to do it when there are so few outbreaks in those areas. He said people are making those arguments, he says, on behalf of NPHET basically, they’re misreading and misinterpreting the data about outbreaks.

“What he’s says is that when you effectively, if you are out in a restaurant and you are with a group and you pick up the virus, the virus grows within you, invisibly for three days, for the next few days you begin to shed the virus and you develop symptoms and you go for a test.

“Now the testing thing is so, remember what they’re trying to do, they’re trying to stop the spread of the virus, so they’re trying to get ahead of it. Who have you met in the last 48 hours? Where is it going to break out next? They’re concentrating on that. They’re not going back five days, they’re not going back and saying ‘were you in a restaurant, or were you in a pub or somewhere, or a hotel five days ago?

“And so when you look at the data, in that case, that individual, he said, will turn out to be a community-acquired infection and his household, who picked it up are now a household infection. So you see all the numbers which are saying ‘oh you have a huge increase’ in most of the cases and clusters are in households.

They don’t say where did the household actually originally get it because nobody really knows. And what he’s saying is all of the evidence suggests that it’s coming from wherever people are socially interacting up to five days beforehand. And he said that turns out to be pubs, restaurants and all of those other things like gyms and so on.

“And he said, so to say that there’s no outbreaks in pubs and restaurants, or those places, obviously not in pubs, we haven’t had the wet pubs open, he said that is misreading the data. It’s not saying that that’s not where it happens and that’s why he says that it’s so important to close down those social interactions.”


The masks just keep slipping,

Listen back here