Three years ago today...23rd March 2020
Three years ago today the country was sent into lockdown for the first time. Much has been written since and of course with the benefit of hindsight we learn that vaccines and lockdowns and PPE etc was all a waste of time, apparently. People point to Sweden as an example but the demography and topography are different to out own. Everyone is wise after the event are they not?
To commemorate the three year anniversary below is an extract from 'Coronavirus 2020 Vision - The Road To Freedom Day - a complete diary and events of the COVID 19 pandemic.'
The diary gives something quite unique - it was written at the time and shows the context perceived each day without being tainted by hazy recollections and 'told you so' rhetoric.
I include a day either side of the 23rd March 2020:
SUNDAY 22ND MARCH 2020
Facts and figures.
72,000 have so far been tested, and 5,681 of these are positive.
There have been 48 deaths in the last 24 hours, making 281 deaths in the UK so far.
Today’s Sunday newspaper headlines:
Stay home alone to save your life, 1.5m warned.
– The Sunday Times.
NHS facing Italian-style crisis if we don’t stay home, says PM.
– The Sunday Telegraph.
Boris – NHS is on the brink.
– The Mail on Sunday.
Military planners drafted in to get aid to vulnerable Britons.
– The Observer.
For your Mother’s sake stay at home.
– Sunday Express.
Thousands of people are seen in parks and beaches mixing together, treating it like a public holiday rather than a global emergency. The reason for this, in my view, is:
1) They are idiots.
2) They don’t watch the news. (See 1 above).
3) They don’t understand how virulent this is. (see 1 above).
4) They are mistakenly thinking ‘I will beat this virus; I’m not scared of it.’ (See 1 above).
An epidemiologist explained the difference between the flu and COVID-19. If you have the flu, you are expected to spread it to 1.3 people who, in turn, will do the same.
After ten rounds of this, about 15 people will be infected.
COVID-19 is much more contagious, and you will infect 2.5 people. This does not sound a lot, does it? However, if you then times that by ten cycles of infection, it means an astonishing 59,000 would be infected.
The World Health Organisation has said that it will be at least a year before a vaccine is available.
4 pm Press Briefing. Matt Hancock Secretary of State for Health.
There is a new initiative announced for 1.5 million vulnerable people. They are to be ‘shielded.’
There is a government list of who qualifies for this. The list includes the over 70’s, some cancer patients and others with chronic illnesses. The NHS is sending a letter to them this week. There will be a community effort to support them, particularly those without family or other support. The medicines and food will be delivered by pharmacies and the local council, respectively.
There has been an appeal for retired NHS staff to give their services. In the first 48 hours, 4,000 retired nurses and 500 retired doctors responded—an admirable response.
Callum still has a headache and aches. He and Lottie continue to self-isolate.
My son, Chris, has a cold but says it is not COVID-19 symptoms. He is a teacher and, for the moment, continues to work.
Andy, my other son, works for the NHS, and so is naturally working too.
A pair of knickers.
My fiancée, Jackie, continues to have to work. ‘Next’ fashion stores have announced themselves to be ‘essential.’
Jackie says that they still have many customers coming in the shop, who, for some inexplicable reason, think it is worth risking catching and spreading this deadly virus to buy a £5 pair of knickers or a potted plant from the Home section. Bizarre.
Even McDonalds and Costa are closing their stores from today, including their drive-thru facility and take away service.
We have set up ‘What’s App’ pages for Jackie’s family now, as well as mine, so we can update and check in regularly. I am arranging a skype conference call, via Harry, for this coming Sunday for us to attend.
Quote of the day:
‘If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.’ – Noel Langley. (The Wizard of Oz).
MONDAY 23RD MARCH 2020
Facts and figures.
46 deaths making the total 335.
There are a total of 6,650 people with COVID 19.
The prime minister's usual 5 pm briefing is postponed as they are having a COBRA meeting.
There is to be an announcement by the P.M. at 8.30 pm.
8.30 pm Announcement to the nation by the Prime Minister:
‘This is a national emergency.’ Mr Johnson declares.
Emergency measures are to be put in place.
It will require a substantial national effort. If too many people become unwell at the same time, the NHS cannot cope.
There are new ‘emergency measures’ which will be enforced:
1) Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.
2) Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
3) Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public.
These measures are effective immediately and will be reviewed after three weeks.
STAYING AT HOME.
People must stay at home apart from the following reasons when they can be in a public place:
· Shopping for basic necessities, for example, food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
· One form of exercise a day, for example, a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
· A medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
· Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
CLOSING NON-ESSENTIAL SHOPS AND PUBLIC SPACES.
Last week the government ordered certain businesses – including pubs, cinemas, and theatres – to close.
The Government is now extending this requirement, and the following must also close:
· All non-essential retail stores – this will include clothing and electronics stores, hair, beauty and nail salons, and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets.
· Libraries, community centres and youth centres.
· Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities.
· Communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
· Places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families.
· Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses.
STOPPING PUBLIC GATHERINGS.
To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the government is also stopping all public gatherings of more than two people.
There are only two exceptions to this rule:
· Where the gathering is of a group of people who live together – this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home.
· Where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.
Also, the Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms, and other religious ceremonies. This will exclude funerals that can be attended by immediate family.
The penalties at the moment for noncompliance are fines of up to £1000, but they start at a weak £30. The police will have the power to disperse groups.
If people persist the police will have stronger powers.
The PM closes by saying that the way ahead is hard, many lives will sadly be lost. We must ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives.’
We are now most certainly in ‘LOCKDOWN.’
I decided to twin my exercise with a call in at the food shop in town, so I went for a walk. We need some more hand sanitiser and cleaning stuff.
There is a hell of a lot of cars driving around; it is like Piccadilly circus. Where are they all going at 10 in the morning? On the walk, I noticed that the park was empty apart from one family, a mother, and two small children. She stood and watched as they climbed all over the metal, potentially disease-ridden, apparatus.
The Co-op store was sufficiently safe to go in. Not too many people, and I was pleased to see that they had spacing in the queue to the tills. Sadly, no sanitiser and no cleaning stuff, however.
Quote of the day:
‘Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.’ – George Bernard Shaw.
TUESDAY 24TH MARCH 2020
Facts and figures.
87 further deaths in England.
422 total deaths in the UK.
8,077 cases of people having the virus in the UK.
332,930 cases worldwide, with a total of 14,510 deaths. (Up 1,727 in the last 24 hours).
65 countries are in lockdown. 40 countries are in partial lockdown (specific areas).
YouGov has done a snap poll, and 93% said they support the lockdown.
66% said it would be easy to follow the new rules for three weeks. (It will be much longer). 29% said they thought it would be hard.
39% think the police powers are sufficient, and 39% think they are not.
Deaths are doubling every two or three days in Italy and Spain. If this happens here, then we will be up to 1,000 deaths a day very quickly.
87 deaths by 24th March (Today)
174 deaths by 27th March 2020
348 deaths by 30th March 2020
696 deaths by 2nd April 2020
1,392 by 5th April 2020
We wake up to see pictures of people crammed together on the tube in London. This needs to be addressed by Transport London and get it resolved with limited numbers on coaches.
There are inevitably going to be some teething problems. There is confusion. This morning Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office Minister, said that estranged parents should not be moving children between homes. He has since clarified this, and it means that children under the age of 18 can be moved between homes.
There is further confusion about construction workers and whether they are classed as essential. At the moment, it appears that they are.
These are issues that will no doubt be resolved, and when the government is moving so quickly, there will undoubtedly be ambiguities.
Some tragic stories are circulating. One in Spain is that they have found a care home abandoned, with elderly patients left to their own devices, and some old folks were found dead in their beds.
New text friends.
I got a text this morning from the NHS and separately from the government merely saying, ‘Stay at Home.’ There was a link for further details.
5 pm Press Briefing. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The government briefing is seeking a quarter of a million volunteers – ‘NHS Volunteer Responders’ is a new group.
These volunteers are to ‘shield’ the most vulnerable who are to stay in their homes for the next three months. This will be things like talking to them on the phone to check in and cheer them up. Deliver essentials to their houses, such as food and pharmaceutical products. Delivering items between NHS locations.
May to December.
The request for retired NHS personnel to return to help has so far resulted in 11,000 people stepping up to the plate. This is fantastic news. How wonderfully dedicated these people are.
The government is utilising final year medical students, so in addition to the retirees, there will be the mobilisation of a further 5,000 young medical doctors and 18,000 nurses—incredible numbers.
A Nightingale sang.
The military is building a new NHS hospital. The government has commandeered the massive Excel Exhibition Centre in East London. It is called the Nightingale Hospital and will have two wards with 2,000 patients in each, all with ventilators. A total of 4,000 beds with ventilators. Grimly there are also two large morgues being built in the hospital.
The government is also allegedly looking at doing the same at The National Exhibition Centre in the West Midlands, which is even bigger than the Excel Centre in London. This is only speculation at the moment, though.
Treated like rubbish.
There are still issues with NHS staff getting the appropriate safety clothing (known as PPE – Personal Protection Equipment) to wear, and they are risking their lives. This is frustrating and cannot happen; the government is prioritising this, but it needs to be sorted out now. Some are wearing bin liners with holes punched through for neck and arms, for heaven’s sake.
Callum says he feels okay but still has a persistent cough.
Katie, my son, Andy’s fiancée, has asked us to sign a petition for the government to support freelancers. All the government support is currently to PAYE earners, yet people like Katie, a music teacher and operatic singer, suddenly has no income and no support. I signed it. Hopefully, something will be done soon to help them.
Quote of the day:
‘In Venice, in the Middle Ages there was a man called a codega – a fellow you hired to walk in front of you at night with a lit lantern, showing you the way, scaring off thieves and demons, bringing you confidence and protection through the dark streets.’ – Elizabeth Gilbert.
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