Covid-19 – A rethink (assuming we had thunk in the first place)

Here we are, at the end of November 2020, surfing down the face of a “second wave” of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are one or two “good vibrations” in terms of progress with vaccine development. It’s scary stuff because, sadly, a lot of us are still going to experience “wipe out” despite a second series of ‘lockdowns’. I’m deliberately using the surfing analogy because there has been more than a small element of wilful risk taking that has brought us to this ‘place’. As of 2nd December the latest lockdowns are being replaced by a set of restrictions, dividing the home countries into ‘tiers’, in order to let the populatiuon “have a Christmas”. These tiered restrictions seem likely to last until March 2021.

Since I last wrote about Covid, back in mid-June, much of what I feared (even predicted) has come about. The UK’s so-called “world class” track and trace system failed miserably, and for the reasons that have been obvious from day one:

It lacked the capacity to test widely

It lacked the ability to reach enough ‘contacts’

It depends on people to report symptoms and then, diligently, self-isolate

From the very earliest days of the UK’s pandemic, certainly before the initial ‘lockdown’ in mid-March 2020, it has been clear that the extent of asymptomatic disease, and transmission, was underestimated and driving community incidence. Its effects have been compounded by our UK government’s variable position on social distancing, on the use of face masks and, critically, on the overwhelming desire to “get back to normal” and to re-open the economy (see “Shop til you drop” and “Tombstoning..” elsewhere in this thread). In the summer months, when Covid-19 was relatively under control, it now appears our population was used, guinea pig-like, to experiment with what happens if you let the brakes off in various ways. We were told to we could go on holiday. In the UK people streamed from areas with higher incidence rates to areas with lower incidence. People relaxed whatever adherence to anti-Covid measures they were observing, naturally enough, and forgot about social distancing. Young people, especially, threw themselves into party mode. At the same time we were told to “eat out to help out” and many holiday hot-spots became “super-spreader” locations. We now know that those who did venture abroad, especially to Spain, brought us back a new strain of Covid-19. Schools re-opened and, significantly for some local ‘spikes’, so did Universities. It seems nobody thought that mass movement of young people to University halls of residence across the UK might be a problem – or did they?

In the face of regional disquiet over the UK government response, and rising infections in university cities, the devolved administrations began to apply their own (some might say improved) responses. We already had confusion about what Covid-related restrictions applied, and the inevitable anomalies were wilfully exploited by some, but it just got even more confusing. Only the Welsh authorities imposed widespread travel restrictions, while in Scotland there were regional closures.

Sadly, as I see it, a large part of the UK population is not disposed to following guidance, never mind instruction. Whether this is because they are incapable of understanding, or are wilfully disregarding, the importance of their part in suppressing transmission, I don’t know. With the population suffering, what is called, Lockdown Fatigue, pent up frustration, and being somewhat encouraged to anticipate a “festive season”, one can only hope that common sense prevails.

Sadly I think it will not, by misunderstanding or deliberate disobedience, and it is highly likely we will see a third wave in the new year.

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