Well this is not a post I thought I would be making. When, right at the end of 2019, news came out of china of a new virus, the coronavirus that was spreading, I didn’t seriously think that less than 3 months later, the entire UK would be in lock down, schools would be shut, I would be working from home and that numbers of people infected would be rising daily.
There are a few things that strike me during this time of crisis, and one major one is the difference in people’s attitudes. As of the 23rd March we are under an unofficial lockdown. We are only allowed outside of the house for very specific reasons. This has moved on from when I started writing this post just a few days ago where the scientific expert advice is that we were practising social distancing. All non-essential businesses are now closed, including clothes and electronics shops, pubs, nightclubs, libraries, cinemas, gyms, many restaurants/takeaways. Laws have been relaxed allowing many restaurants have changed to takeaways so that they can continue to generate some revenue but many have shut, including chains like McDonalds, KFC, and Greggs. There are a limited number of shops open now, we are only allowed out of the house for essential shopping, one period of exercise per day alone or with household members, emergency medical care or to go to essential jobs.
Even with all of this, there are still some people claiming this reaction to the Coronavirus is an overreaction, that they will be fine, we don’t need to worry, the flu kills more people (a whataboutism argument that just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny). These people flaunt the rules, there was a pub open locally at the weekend full of people. It was eventually shut, but this is ridiculous. I know people personally who had their elderly relatives over to visit for mothers day, when these people are the highest risk. The weather at the weekend was nice, and thousands flocked to the coast, mingling certainly less than 2 metres away from each other. The introduction of fines for disobeying the rules may curb this behaviour, but I worry they will need to make the lockdown even more stringent
The economy is facing one of it’s toughest times, countless people are losing jobs, businesses are going under. The government has announced a huge input of money into the economy, for people and businesses to try and keep them afloat.
Schools have shut and more than likely will not open until after the summer holidays. Exams are cancelled, only the children of key workers such as NHS staff are allowed to return to ensure they can still go to work.
When we were in Amsterdam in January, I remember watching the news in the hotel, and thinking about that the Netherlands had no confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, but considering whether the airport was safe. I saw a girl with a mask on and I was shocked for a second, but it seemed to sink in that something was happening.
Now, a few months on, it feels as though the world has changed. Everywhere is affected. Deaths are still fairly low (currently just over 17,000 worldwide, only 10,000 when I started writing this two days ago), but expected to rise exponentially. This seems unreal at the moment, like we are in a dream, or a simulation.
Now, as I mentioned, attitudes differ. I stand on the side of believing the scientists, they have no reason to lie. Governments have agendas, all politicians have an agenda and the current leadership in the UK is not who I chose, but scientists speak in facts and figures, and as someone who works with software and with computers, I appreciate facts and figures.
For our family, we are following the lockdown to the best of our capabilities. Limited trips to the shops for essential food shopping, washing hands before and after. No non essential travel, I go for a run and walk the dog before most of the neighbourhood has woke up. We are both working from home, supervising our daughters school work the best that we can.
My plea for anyone reading this is to stay at home. This virus is deadly for a number of reasons. This article explains the reason why the lockdown will work in the long term to save lives and is definitely worth a read. Another good article that describes how the virus works, why it kills people and generally the scientific background can be found here. There may be a time to discuss the suspected theory that the virus made the jump from a bat to humans at a Chinese Wet Market, or that the global lockdown is reducing our greenhouse gas output, but now isn’t that time.
Please everybody, stay safe, stay at home if you can. Don’t panic buy, wash your hands, follow the scientific advice and hopefully we make it to the other side.