End of our second week facilitating our children's learning at home. 2 weeks in to self-isolation. As a nation it seems we are doing so much DIY, gardening and spring cleaning that some local authorities struggle to continue to collect this type of waste. At the same time I feel Facebook has become more genuinely informative, being alight with interesting posts on what arts and crafts can be done at home, what books and apps can be downloaded and what you can usefully make out of everyday items around your home - I have even seen posts where people have recreated famous paintings wearing various bed sheets and assorted hats... However, the elephants made from big plastic milk bottles were my personal favourite.
Facebook is also launching a new tool aimed at connecting communities in lockdown, you will be able to request and offer help to those around you. Elsewhere, Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War 2 and there will be no Edinburgh Fringe this summer. While in government the Defence Secretary is the 4th cabinet minister to self-isolate. The spread of the virus is most advanced in London and the Midlands is 'cause for concern'. While some pundits think there are signs of progress, that there is a slowing down in the number of new cases and so hope the trajectory itself will slow. All eyes are on the next few days to see if the hope bears fruit. For the World Health organisation has said that there are over 1 million confirmed cases of the Coronavirus and nearly 53,000 deaths world-wide. London's new NHS Nightingale hospital for critical care, an emergency field hospital, has opened today, the building it has risen from, or commandeered, was the ExCel exhibitions and convention centre. Everything is being reimagined... Our reality included. I can't keep track of what day it is and the clocks going forward means I haven't yet got a handle of what time of day it is either. It doesn't feel like a particular day or a particular time of day. Possibly we are reimagining our lives and reinventing ourselves.
The UK's death toll has increased by 684 to 3,645 in the last 24 hours, this total being greater than China's official figures to date. I look back and see a week ago the UK sadly lost over 100 in a day for the first time and had a total of 578 deaths. I still can't come to terms with the fact that these figures aren't lottery jackpots or money we have raised for good causes, those are the figures I am used to seeing grow in leaps and bounds - positive, happy meanings behind them, being represented by them. But these totals, this relentless upward climb, these figures are grim and represent a dreadful reality that beggars belief - this daily calculation we do as a nation brings sadness and loss and I feel numb as daily I see them rise.
The Queen will record a message to be broadcast on Sunday and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned against people going out to enjoy the sunshine and ignoring the social isolation instructions. He described the Coronavirus infection as continuing 'it's grim march' and reminded us that doctors and nurses on the front-line have now been recorded among those who have succumbed to the virus. At 8pm this evening my husband, son and I were out on our doorstep with torches sending beams of light upwards to join the beautiful moon shining stoically above us. We were honouring those who had lost their lives, and those who were struggling to recover. Grief in these strange days may be experienced as a solitary affair, adding to the sense of isolation, as families cannot gather to comfort each other, and, in many cases, cannot even be present at the bedside as their loved one slips away. However we can all show we care, that we acknowledge their sense of loss, and respect their grief.
As a nation we await news on a vaccine as younger victims of the virus are reported to have died. 'Tsunami', 'tidal wave' and 'explosion' are all words I have seen used to describe the onslaught of the virus, we are all watching it's steep upward curve and we are all waiting for the peak... The Prime Minister is still self isolating and thinks the peak will occur over Easter. While I still haven't received the fabled letter from Boris that was supposed to have arrived this week, I did receive a catalogue in the post, I opened it to see a range of dressy fashions with the strap line, 'Going Somewhere?'... NO, most definitely not. Unfortunate advertising but no doubt thought up and approved in a time before the Coronavirus - I am almost finding it difficult to remember what that was like...how about you?