Written 20th March 2020 so some of the stats are out of date. In fact, they are now worse!
(photo taken by me – 8th March)
Having successfully locked down and killed off the initial virus, ironically China is now suffering from the return of Covid-19. Most of the new infections in China have come from the UK. Singapore has called our modelling irresponsible and also closed its border. Unlike most of Europe we have not locked down our country citing herd immunity. Not only was Boris’ initial language full of encouraging but hazy language, he then informed us he’d be closing the pubs and cafes down on a Saturday morning giving us a Friday night to spread it amongst ourselves. Who the fuck does this? And on 20th March, 12 days after the outbreak.
South Korea and Taiwan have successfully managed corona despite less warning and without a lockdown. How? By planning and implementing the plan. They relied on widespread testing and aggressively following up on the disease. We have done none of this despite the extra month to get the test from these countries, secure the ventilators or get enough protective garb for our medical personnel. We can’t even test them to see if they are infected or infecting. It’s incompetence on a criminal level. Now of course, some people would die but the government seemed content with that. A sacrifice worth paying like it is the Battle of the Somme or the Crimea War. Again, unthinkable you would have thought.
Due to the lack of testing, we essentially don’t know where the virus is which also explains our unprecedented 81% testing/death rate ratio. Korea has a ratio of around 2%. This sort of neglect would be unthinkable in any project. Our herd mentality idea is not only callous, but will have real long implications for the nation beyond Brexit. The idea seemed to be that we will be able to hang on until a vaccine arrives. The stupidity and short-sightedness of this policy should be clear. Firstly, we have no idea when a vaccine will arrive or what the country will look like then. We also don’t know right now whether after infection and recovery, we become immune. If we are not, then we’re just another time bomb and untouchable until vaccinated.
Another reasoning given is to not tank the economy. A recession is coming to all nations this year so let’s not worry about that. But the economy will recover unlike the thousands of victims. Not only is this policy a danger to our own people but who is going to invite UK business into their country right now? We’ll be isolated from Europe and countries are looking at us in bewilderment. If you think the US is going to prioritise the UK over others, you clearly don’t understand Trump’s focus or frankly any recent US President. Do you not remember that Reagan refused our request for an aircraft carrier for the Falklands War citing their relationship with the Argentinian junta. Furthermore, any trade deal would naturally favour the US. We don’t have any bargaining chips except to give up.
So recently, not only have we isolated ourselves from the EU, but any British company wishing to do projects abroad simply won’t let us in until this clears. The delay could be interminable. In other eyes, we’ve not played our part. Other European states have suffered more than the UK right now, but they’ve also taken comprehensive and unequivocal action to stem this which has shown results elsewhere and for the long-term health of the nation.
Why did we act this way? I’ve numerous theories from our recent political instability, to the bumbling nature of Boris, an ill-fated determination to save the economy, the British sense of exceptionalism and an ill-feeling with extreme government intervention. While it’s naturally a mix of all these, the first and last two factors stand out to me. The former prevented us from being united and prepared for catastrophe while the latters have impaired our true understanding of the virus and who we are. We aren’t exceptional. This crisis is showing that to us. When we get used to that idea and our politicians stop playing up to it for power, then we’ll find our strength again.