Plague of our Time The coronavirus has infected our nation, targeting the airways and respiratory systems of its hosts. At first the deadly disease struck Wuhan brutally and it has subsequently swept through Europe with alarming ferocity, sparking an international health crisis. As the virus claimed its 100th victim the Irish government, appreciating the severity of the illness, placed the entire country in “lockdown” . The whole planet seemed to come to a halt on that day. To some the lockdown is like a modern day apocalypse, others see it as an unexpected holiday, a break from school, as they continue to turn a blind eye to news reports and statistics and remain ignorant to the consequences of their selfish acts. There have been numerous reports of young people hosting “quarantine parties” or “lockdown get togethers “ instead of sticking to the government’s guidelines on social distancing. Human activity has had a devastating impact on our planet. Maybe it was time for nature to get her own back. We have burned our homes and plundered the earth's natural resources, we have killed thousands of children and we have infected our planet’s airways. However the canals of Venice are now running clear, free from human destruction, for the first time in decades. Fish have returned to their natural habitats, after being banished by pollution, the ozone layer is finally recovering from years of carbon abuse. The coronavirus has greatly reduced travel opportunities, causing a dramatic downturn in the levels of air pollutants and CO2 in the atmosphere surrounding major towns and cities. The coronavirus has given our planet a chance to breathe. But we must also consider the impact social isolation can have on mental health; for some people school and work are the only reasons they get out of bed each day, without these reasons they will have no cause to do anything, no motivation, nothing to distract them from their personal demons. Fragile mental health causes people to feel alone in a room full of people, just imagine how lonely they will feel in total isolation. I empathise with those whose for whom home isn't their safe space,where school or work is a shelter from a torturous home environment filled with toxic behaviour or abuse. These people are trapped in their own personal hell which is mentally and physically draining. According to SAFE Ireland, 1 in 3 women in Ireland experiences severe mental abuse from their partner. These women have no escape. For some people home is the most dangerous place of all. I believe the coronavirus will have many more casualties than we think. The suicide rate will rise and deaths caused by domestic abuse will also increase. In these turbulent times it is important to remember to look out for one another. We can't heal the world today but we can begin with a voice of compassion, a heart of love and an act of kindness. Jessica Moir 69

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