Well we are now in week whatever (don’t they all feel the same) of coronavirus lock down. I have avoided writing about this before as there have been very few solid facts. There still aren’t in the medical sense. I did not want to jump on the comment band wagon about Wuhan virus, in part because Renaissance is set in the long aftermath of a serious pandemic; it might look like tasteless profiteering. However, lockdown has induced cabin fever and a huge desire to get back to normal, so here are a few, somewhat incoherent, thoughts.
I have so many friends, whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed, not by the virus, but by the heavy handed lock down imposed. I worry abut the level of hysteria being generated in the media. This is not Ebola or bubonic plague on our doorstep. The effectiveness of the lock down is being questioned, rightly I think. The only seeming certainty is the huge economic damage being done. This will get worse if we allow the media to talk us into a recession mood of not spending money and a panicked demand that the lock down continues for ever.
Do you know how many towns there are in England? The answer, according to a quick google search, is 49000. We have yet to reach one death per town in England. All the losses are important, these are people. Regular flu kills nearly as many every year globally and we don’t shut the country. The vast majority of the victims are old and have underlying problems like dementia, heart disease etc. It sounds callous, it is not meant to be, but why are we locking down the whole country to protect a relatively small number of old people, with little time left anyway, who are already locked in care homes? Surely they could have been protected there without a general lock down?
London has been badly hit, rural parts much less so. Another interesting statistic has been that black people are about 4x more likely to die than white people. Surely part of the reason London has been hit so hard is the relatively large BAME population. It would seem sensible to target measures and more help to those areas and groups rather than have a whole country policy. London is not the whole UK.
A final thought. Lets not get carried away with the public parades of grief and look at ourselves very carefully. Many of the old people who have died, did so alone. They caught the disease from carers who unknowingly brought it with them and they died alone because they had been abandoned by their families in care homes. One of the most horrible things about this situation is that even people who have loving families have been unable to say goodbye except by video message. No one to hold their hand at the end. That is inhuman.
It is a horror for me that when my time comes I will make that journey alone an unmourned. I have no children and now am now unlikely to, despite it always being something I wanted. So I shall probably join those faceless thousands, neglected at the end and immediately forgotten. That neglect and inhumanity, the bureaucratic callousness of it has been ignored for too long. This disease has brought it into relief. Our collective spasm of reaction to this disease is in part terror for ourselves and in part our collective guilt at the way we treat our old people.