Part 1 of this post may be read here.
It was no surprise that immediately after this decision was made, the real panic buying started, much worse than it had been. This has continued due to the government’s recent announcements, as the public has lost respect for them.
There is this perception that the government is making decisions because they feel they have to, rather than for any rational well thought out reason. Once a decision has been made, they then think about the consequences and how to deal with it! This has been seen from the very beginning of this crisis.
It seems that decisions are made using flow charts with a questionable methodology, and that people become mere pawns to be to be played with as and when the chess master sees fit. It is not the way the public want to be treated.
The chaotic situation of deciding which children would still go to school was an example of thinking after the decision.
Now about 25% of children will be still be going to school, but they will be doing some sort of activities, but not their normal educational program.
It is farce – these 25% being at school and not studying and the 75% told to go home supposedly studying, but how and why remains to be seen. They might as well have left the schools open.
The situation has been wrongly compared to a wartime one, but in the Second World War, decisions were sensible and understandable. Schools did not close and continued with their study programs.
Then there is the very bizarre decision to drastically reduce the trains and buses running. It is said that they are only about 25% of their pre-crisis usage. But then if those using the transport system have got to be crowded closer together, surely that gives a higher chance of them catching the Covid-19 virus?
At present, because they are sitting quite a safe distance apart, they are hardly likely to catch anything. The real reason appears to be more draconian: to make it more difficult for people to travel, even though most people have been taking government advice and only travelling if they have to.
But what about the decision to close 40 London tube stations? How are those who find it difficult to walk going to be able to cope with walking so far to get to a station which is open? It is so inconsiderate.
The other decision which has not been fully considered is the one to cancel over 30,000 non- urgent operations from 15th April, to free up hospital beds ‘which may be needed’.
It is already becoming apparent many of these operations are highly necessary for the people concerned and any delays will cause them considerable pain, anxiety and a worsening of their conditions. People affected are already protesting that their health conditions are being given less attention than those affected by the Covid-19 virus.
The government simply has not looked into the consequences of imposing these indefinite delays, which will be immense, and cause major backlogs in the health system. Because of all these factors, it is important to look at this crisis and at the very least carry out a cost/benefit analysis of the decisions made so far.
What is quite obviously apparent is the NHS has been starved of resources over many years, has mistakenly cut beds in hospitals for some time, and is now not able to deal with emergency health situations. That is the real crisis, the fact that we have not the facilities and staff readily available.
The government had been warned for years that it needed to be prepared for new virus infections, but they did nothing about it. The decisions the government have been making recently have been very much to do with covering up their lack of preparedness, and not to do with necessity.
The nation’s response to this crisis has been amazing in a number of ways:
The huge support and appreciation of medical staff and those keeping all our essential services going. Many in the past have been unsung heroes and now they are receiving the recognition they deserve.
The caring nature of British citizens shown by the numerous offers of neighbours offering help in their own communities. The absolutely fabulous over 750,000 people who have signed up to be NHS Volunteers. These are all positives to come out of this crisis. Some sort of permanent structure should be built up so that the nation is properly prepared for any future crisis which may occur.
The Covid-19 virus is not even predicted by the government to be responsible for major numbers of deaths, ( estimates of up to 20,000 have been made) yet it is receiving more priority than other more major causes of death.
It is true that the worst case scenario could be 250,000, or even as much as 500,000. But these sorts of larger figures are always given with other diseases, Aids being a major example. Currently the highest factors causing deaths are dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, strokes and heart attacks.
The government’s policies could unwittingly cause an increase in these, and indeed other areas too, as they seem to be policies of unintended and unforeseen consequences. These could see areas such as suicides increase (currently 6057 last year) and alcohol-related death increase (7551 last year).
Is it really rational to put a disproportionate amount of government resources into preventing some Covid-19 deaths, when smoking-related deaths are over 80,000 per year? One in every two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease. It is inevitable that dealing with smoking related diseases will have less emphasis as a result of this government policy.
How best should the government deal with the Covid-19 crisis? Firstly, we must recognise that whilst it is a world pandemic, it is not one which will cause the deaths of large numbers of populations, such as the Spanish flu of 1918, for instance.
The predictions, if true, only merit the decisions and resources which a virus of this nature justify, and going any further than that needs justification and balance. Currently that has been lacking.
Obviously, all government health advice and suggestions should be taken notice of by the public, but then it seems that they are. That is effectively all that is needed, plus a more capable health service. The curtailment of business activities, the transport system and more should be reversed without further delay.
The excellent idea of recruiting retired doctors and nurses is a good one, but then should there not always be a medical reserve available, as there are reserves for the armed services? We should always have access to more medical personnel, not less.
The thousands of operations which have been cancelled should be re-booked as soon as possible.
The schools should be re-opened and exams back on the agenda. All places of sport, entertainment and leisure should be re-opened.
There is no reason to shut down the nation or its way of life. So the delaying of the local elections for a year should be reversed too, so the delay is not that long.
Any loss to businesses and individuals should be compensated for, and it is clear now that the government has no intention of doing this.
The borders will have to remain mainly closed for a few more weeks to ensure we import no more individuals with the virus. That is how the virus became active in the country in the first place, because of human carriers travelling here from abroad. It is in this area where perhaps the government was most at fault. It seems more successful countries have had early and thorough checking and quarantining methods.
Part three of this post will be published here tomorrow.