COVID – 19 has now made its mark in world History. What was once thought as impossible has now actually happened. The pubs, leisure centres, holiday parks, restaurants are now closing. There are less people on the road and the world has effectively shut down or so it seems.
If you ask anyone on 31st of December of 2019 what they would expect form 2020, I will bet you with everything I have that none of them will say that the world will stop. At the time of writing, there are 6,650 confirmed cases in the UK, bearing in mind that these are only for people that are tested at the Hospitals. Actual figures are expected to be exponentially larger.
The UK government has had a generally calmer response compared to other countries, but as of Friday 23rd March 2020 has advised all pubs, restaurants(you can stay open if you provide takeaway) gyms, and leisure centres to close. In response to the Government advise, McDonalds’ and Nando’s have both announced that they are closing all their branches nationwide.
Obviously one of the larger concerns for this advisory is the economic impact of closing down and social distancing. In Response, the chancellor has unveiled a £350 billion package in the form of tax deferrals, government guaranteed loans, Corona Virus Job retention scheme(where the government subsidise up to 80% of the workers wages capping at £2,500) and many more.
The Government has appropriated what seems now a misplaced trust on the general public. The Government has clamoured for social distancing without imposing a lockdown, on the understanding that the physical and mental well being of the public is important and outweighs the epidemiologic concerns of the situation. That is why one is free to go out and get fresh air and exercise as long as they are 2 metres away from other people.
I think it is appalling for people to ignore government advise and go out acting as if there isn’t a pandemic on the loose. People forget that symptoms don’t manifest quickly and can take up to 14 days to appear. By the time it actually it does, it will probably be too late as you have unknowingly infected others, your loved one or otherwise just by going out and leaving your biological footprint in the environment. There have been reports and photos of people queueing up in beaches, cafes full and Snowdonia reporting that this weekend, it had its busiest day of the year – During a time where people can actually die.
We do not know much about this virus. There have been unconfirmed reports that even the healthy and the young can still get affected. On the 18th of march, it is reported that 475 people died in one day alone in Italy.
In reaction to this, the UK Government, in a statement by Boris Johnson on 23rd March 2020, has effectively put the entire country in a lockdown. In a nutshell all non-essential activities, or businesses that may invite a large group of people have been now asked to close. The police have now the power to disperse a gathering of more than two people not from the same household in public and are now able to impose fines if necessary.
Boris Johnson reiterates that they are monitoring the situation constantly and will adapt accordingly. The government is hoping to pass all stages of their 329-page emergency bill through the House of Commons on Monday.
We have ignored the very weapon we can use to combat this disease – Social Distancing. We have to act now otherwise more people will die irresponsibly. The government was left no choice but to jump in and takeaway the liberties they were trying to protect. All because we all can’t follow simple advice.
As stark as it seems, we can still beat this disease, and now more than ever we must heed the government’s advice. No non-essential activities, no public gatherings( there will be more to come once this is all over), and effective infection control. If we do this, , we minimise transmission and we can kill this virus dead in its track, and the sooner we do this, the sooner we get our lives back.