Tuesday, 24 March 2020

AHEAD OF THE CURVE

The laws announced in a dramatic speech last night at 8.30 pm live on BBC television by PM Boris Johnson are the most astonishing ever, in a UK context. The history of Britain, since Magna Carta at least, has never witnessed such draconian measures; indeed, not even the most fevered of ancient kings would have imagined ordering EVERYONE to stay indoor for 3 weeks, under penalty of sanction.

That these laws do not go far enough, in this blog's opinion, is a measure of just how serious the current global pandemic is. Indeed, it is of grave concern, now that cases are arriving in Africa, that death rates have been so high in Italy - a country with superb health care. The concern for all humane persons must be what such a deadly virus could do on a continent with far fewer hospital beds or ventilators per capita than Europe, which is itself stressed to breaking point, with many healthcare workers themselves dying from Covid-19.

Those who deny or diminish the dangers of this novel virus are endangering millions of lives; no one is immune, and the young and old can both die from this cruel and relentless parasite, that thrives on social contact.

We need to see our borders closed; internal travel curtailed for non-essential workers; and the underground and busses blocked to all but NHS staff, the police, and other emergency workers. Scenes of crowds sporting in the sun are insulting to human intelligence, and anti-social; packed train carriages suggest the government needs to support the zero-hours and self-employed workers faster and better; and crackdown on rogue bosses demanding people work when they should be staying inside for at least three weeks.

Now, at least, the government is getting its balance right - towards greater and more serious measures; we expect to see increasingly serious orders imposed in the coming 6-8 weeks, when the pandemic here will truly explode.

On March 8, when I first started writing about the pandemic, there were 100,000 cases. I predicted 1.5 million by April 8th. There are now 300,000, and apparently that number is doubling every 4 days, so we shall see. I hope not.

In other ways, I was conservative in my predictions, though jeered at by some as a fearmonger. I wrote on March 8:

'By Mid-May … Everyone who can will work from home, and food will be delivered by soldiers. Theatres, cinemas, music concerts, all will be firmly shut. It will feel like a movie, and not a happy one.'

The shutdown has begun, and soldiers are being discussed, now, as potential deliverers of food to the most in need. The army is on the streets today as reported in the news, so, by April, Great Britain's laws, streets, and general lifestyle will not be recognisable. In fact, they're alien to anything that has come before. Let's hope the laws work.

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