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Coping with Coronavirus - how is Britain actually doing?
Posted on 20/03/2020

SocietyUnited Kingdom

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After a protest in front of Downing Street to press Boris Johnson to put the UK "into lockdown" regarding the Coronavirus emergency, and the international online campaign named "Stay the fuck home!" encouraging everyone to participate in self-isolation, the Prime Minister has banned mass gatherings and asked people to avoid all but essential contact earlier this week... But where are we really at and is it enough?

Stop the spreading

Stop the spreading
© Jozef Polc / 123RF

As the European Union is closing its borders and putting its populations into lockdown, the UK has been majorly criticised for not doing enough and not "playing its part" in the war against the deadly virus. As people start self-isolating, supermarkets have had to ration food, people jumping into panic-buying and creating a somewhat chaotic atmosphere.

Self-isolation is an essential step though, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's chief scientific adviser, reveals that, according to him, it would be reasonable to assume that around 55,000 people in the country have Covid-19. But he remains optimistic and says that recent measures such as general social distancing, household quarantines, case isolation, and social shielding for elderly people could dramatically reduce the number of potential deaths, as well as the peak in cases.

"They're not all completely additive, but together, they should have a very significant effect on the peak, and we should start to see the rates come down in two or three weeks time," Sir Vallance said.

But the situation is even more worrying, as it puts a lot of pressure on health services. Earlier this week, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS, has asked every hospital in the country to suspend all non-urgent surgery for at least three months. He has said that for him the crisis is "arguably the greatest challenge" the health service has ever faced."

An unprecedented danger for people and for the economy

But that's not the only worry for people in Britain. The crisis will also be one for the economy, and finding solutions in these complicated times can be tricky. As they have announced a three-month "holiday" on mortgage payments, the government has been criticised for not doing enough to help tenants.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: "It clearly lacks the emergency measures I was looking for, which are needed to protect those who are facing destitution as a result of the country shutting down."

The emergency, more than ever, is for people who are in the front line for this crisis, such as NHS workers, people working in shops, and everyone who is keeping the country afloat. On this matter, chancellor Rishi Sunak demanded the immediate suspension of all rent and mortgage payments for NHS workers. Let's hope these demands will be heard, and that Britain will recognise its most valuable workers in such difficult times.