DAY 58

June 1, 2020

May 15th - 33,998 people have died, 384 in the last 24 hours.  So, how to exit lockdown - and when?  Two crucial questions that worry me.  It feels as if we are back at the start, well at the end of March anyway, when we just wanted our leaders to agree on a concerted response to the emerging pandemic - were we going into lockdown or not? JUST TELL US!  Now I feel unsettled in exactly the same way.  Nothing feels clear, everything Boris has said feels open to individual interpretation, which I feel is deliberate.  Protecting the economy driving a set of misguided policies that will pit people against each other as any increase in the virus, or second wave, will be blamed on people's actions rather than on government misdirection or lack of leadership. A 'get out of jail free' card for the politicians - 'well, it's your own faults, look at yourselves not us...tut tut tut...'  The tv programme 'Gogglebox', aired on Friday evenings, seemed to hit the nail on the head again this week, as it saw people trying to make sense of the governments message - 'stay at home, go to work, don't use public transport..., do more exercise, travel - but not to Wales as they are still advising everyone stays home - only essential journeys but you can go to the countryside and to the tip...'.  Do we wear a mask or not?  Who knows?  I don't.... 

 

Amid this lack of clarity, from June 1st English schools are supposed to re-open with nurseries, Reception Year 1, Year 6, Year 10 and Year 12 children going back first.  This seems like madness to me.  How can we keep the children safe, let alone teach them?  Restrictions will seem harsh and unsettling in a familiar surrounding that they trust and use to socially bond and feel supported in. Teachers unions and doctors unions have voiced concerns and many schools are writing to parents, asking them if they are intending to send their children back.  Again, it just seems calculated smoke and mirrors, people left to push through the haze with no sense of helpful information or direction, yet forced to make important decisions about themselves and their family.  The responsibility with the individual, with the community - so why have we got a centralised political system at all?  It seems in this time of crisis our political representatives think the best course of action is to leave us to it...remember that folks.  Remember to ask yourselves what the massive salaries are for, and where they could be better spent...?  Just how accountable or representative is our political system, are our politicians...?  What are they actually doing...?

 

I have had to google Boris's speeches to try and make sense of them.  I was just left totally confused, (I'm getting used to it), by the 'R' number.  It seemed to be vitally important as he kept mentioning it, and I gathered it had to be kept below one... but what was it?  Further research found that it represents the number of people each infected person passes the virus on to and it has been sitting between 0.5 to 0.9 and it needs to stay below one in order to stay in control of the spread of the virus.  Boris was saying then that any increase in this figure meant it would be difficult to lift the lockdown measures.  We have therefore moved from 'Stay Home' to 'Stay Alert'.  I can't be anymore alert than I have been, trying to keep my family safe, you condescending pillock, and as I can't physically 'see' this virus I feel this one piece of direction you have kindly deigned to offer is demeaning, useless and desultory.  It implies I can do something wrong, be un-alert and miss this virus approaching somehow and so put my family at risk.  It implies only action on my part will protect me, it therefore also implies that there is something concrete I can do to guard against a definable threat...  This feels a dangerous rhetoric, jingoistic and anachronistic...  It impugns the individual, piles on a sense of responsibility that is unrealistic and serves to lead the gaze away from a collective responsibility, from government accountability...  People have their part to play, have an individual accountability, have their responsibility to each other, but are, I feel, being used as political pawns to manoeuvre in a game of 'whose blame is it anyway?'

 

Oh, I nearly forgot, then there were the 5 tests Boris also mentioned in his speeches..  No, didn't really understand them either, so again had to turn to google (Note - for clarity and legal purposes, there are other search engines...).  So coupled with the R number there are 5 tests that have to be met before we exit lockdown any further - currently the sectors open are food production, construction and manufacturing, but the high street could potentially then re-open from 1st June.  Pubs and cafes would follow later, 4th July, if the 5 tests were still being met. There will be a 2 week quarantine for people arriving in the UK...but not those coming from France...  No, I don't understand that either.  No amount of googling (etc) helped either...

 

Anyway the 5 tests are about 1. making sure the NHS can cope, 2. having a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate (which has been confusing as the figures now include care homes so to keep track of the pattern I look at the hospital total and the then the overall one.  This is beginning to look like two different stories - the trend in the hospital is for a decrease in fatalities but in the care homes it is still rising...).  3. keeping the rate of infection manageable (which will need testing to determine, and that hasn't been going well, hasn't been done a lot full-stop...), 4. Carrying out testing and providing PPE (the lack of PPE has put lives at extra risk and as we send our children back to school, if we decide to, and the teachers can't wear masks but other sectors open up and decide to use PPE, who gets priority?  Who gets the delivery of PPE?  Will there not be a clash of interests with the NHS?)  5. Vaccinating (not risking a second peak as we have protection...not that we are able to do that yet, but we are piloting a contact tracking system to identify close contact of people who get infected...)

 

However there also seems to also be a new disease linked to the coronavirus that is being found in children.  Described as an 'hyper inflammatory' disease similar to Kawasaki disease (a bit like toxic shock syndrome) the symptoms include a high temperature, swollen hands and feet, red rash and red eyes.  Hospital treatment is needed immediately and while the children are not all testing positive for the coronavirus other indicators are remarkably similar to those in adults with Covid-19. So Boris, yes, I will STAY alert...but don't try to introduce this concept as something new or as a panacea to our predicament... 

 

One friend sends me a post from Facebook, from the 'UK Freedom Movement' - never heard of them.  She is livid, horrified, she asks, 'Tell me this is a joke...'.  They seem to be organising a mass gathering in London this weekend and are inviting us all along - bring a picnic it advises...  They seem to be saying 'no' to lots of things:-

 

- the Coronavirus Bill 2020 which became law on March 25th, an 'unlawful' lockdown and the 'new normal' (this Bill is a piece of temporary emergency legislation to provide the government with the powers it said it needed to respond to the epidemic. It passed through Parliament in just 3 days without opposition or amendment, and lasts for 2 years with Parliament debating its place and use and voting on the act every 6 months. While observers, like Amnesty International, rightly, I think, worry about the misuse of such draconian powers, especially in peacetime, it feels to me that these restrictions on our rights to liberty, privacy and protest were about protecting society. However, I am against complacency, and all for keeping an eye on this state of affairs - I just don't think a mass gathering is the right call. We are trying to protect the NHS and the vulnerable members of our community, a picnic just seems to be on a continuum from dangerous to disrespectful …)

 

 - mandatory vaccinations (I see lots of quotes about people's right to choose and freedom of speech, which are always emotive subjects but aspects I support and regard as mainstays of a democracy.   But with these rights also come responsibilities and I say 'no' to choosing to do something which may further the spread of the virus, bringing it to the door of people who also had a choice and exercised it by staying in to save lives.  These people may feel that those gathered in London were doing anything but respecting the right to choose after all …)  

 

So it feels like there are lots of decisions to make, and more questions than answers while doing so.  Another friend on Facebook comments on the HS2 situation - we both share the same abhorrence of the whole sneaky fiasco and question it's benefit and mounting cost.  He asks whether we should not be breaking lockdown to protest - individually mind, in a tree each... possible he's right.  Who knows?  I don't.  I do like trees though... 

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