March 20 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


It’s going to get worse before it gets better but hope and Faith endure

With challenging times upon us, Ian Dunn says it is important to remember the Faith and courage of others as the coronavirus spreads around the world.

A few stray thoughts from this week. The pope preaching to an empty St Peter’s Square. A Coatbridge Church getting scrubbed by fellas in hazmat suits.

Six priests dead and 20 more getting treatment in an Italian hospital. It feels like the early stages of a horror movie.

Mind you, I’ve had plenty of time for stray thoughts right enough as, like the world and his wife, I’ve been self-isolating. Just a bit of fever and a niggly cough—but that’s enough.


Self-isolating doesn’t really feel like exactly the right description for what being stuck in the house with my long suffering wife and a couple of very high-energy toddlers really feels like, but I suppose it’s what we’ve got.

Glancing out of the window, everything seems normal. It’s raining. Glancing at the TV or my phone, and everything seems like we are in the final days with fresh reports of new cases, and more deaths coming from every country under the sun.

Borders closing, aeroplanes grounded. Schools shut, restaurants empty, churches closed in Italy, Ireland closing every pub in the country on the day before St Patrick’s Day.


Yet, here, it doesn’t seem totally real. We’re not shutting everything down, not at the time of writing this article anyway, and there’s still a faint sense that maybe this isn’t as bad as the media say, maybe it’ll all blow over.

I haven’t felt like that for a while, not since I saw a viral Facebook post from Italian doctor Daniele Macchini, an Intensive Care Unit physician in Bergamo. If what he says is even half true, pray for Italy, and pray for us.

“Reasons for entry are always the same: fever and breathing difficulties, fever and cough, respiratory failure. Radiology reports always the same: bilateral interstitial pneumonia, bilateral interstitial pneumonia, bilateral interstitial pneumonia. All to be hospitalised.

“Some are already to be intubated and go to intensive care. For others it’s too late… Every ventilator becomes like gold: those in operating theatres that have now suspended their non-urgent activity become intensive care beds that did not exist before.

“The staff are exhausted. I saw new levels of tiredness on faces despite the already exhausting workloads they had. I saw the solidarity among all of us, who never failed to go to our internist colleagues to ask ‘what can I do for you now?’


There are no more shifts, no more hours.

“Social life is suspended for us. We no longer see our families for fear of infecting them. Some of us have already become infected despite the protocols.

“Some of our colleagues who are infected also have infected relatives and some of their relatives are already struggling between life and death. So be patient, you can’t go to the theatre, museums or the gym. Try to have pity on the myriad of old people you could exterminate.”

But alongside the horror he describes, there is heroism, the medical staff giving everything, giving up everything to try and help others. A lot of doctors and nurses have been killed by this virus already.

Courage of others

Yet healthcare staff still get up each morning and go to work. Serve others. Save others.

The coming months will be very difficult, even if they are much better than we fear.

There will be many dark moments. So let us celebrate the courage of others and help those that we can. If that means staying away from those we love, and making other such sacrifices, then we have to do it.

If the churches close, that will be extremely difficult for many of us. But I once visited a remote village in India. They had one visit from a priest every six months. Every woman there had rosary beads round her neck. Faith endures.

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