This photo is as much of the outside as we get right now, our little 1.5×3 balcony. As lockdown in the UK is easing significantly, I keep asking myself if it’s safe to rejoin the world yet. Is it safe is it safe is it safe?
Hairdressers are to open, as are cinemas and bingo halls and theme parks. Pubs and restaurants are opening indoor service. The UK gov has even given the go ahead for people isolating, like us, to return to normality (with social distancing) from August.
But what is social distancing? Apparently it’s two metres, except when you can’t do two metres, so one metre. Except no one is going to bother with that, are they? In shops or on footpaths or in any situation where it’s inconvenient.
The thing is, the government is all for opening everything up, but an open letter published in the British Medical Journal has said “available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk”. It calls for a review, which among other things, should identify current weaknesses where “action is needed urgently to prevent further loss of life”.
It was signed by the presidents of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons, Nursing, Physicians, and GPs. The bodies of people who inform the government.
The other thing that gets up my grill, is that yesterday the prime minister, good old Boris, said he did not believe there was “a risk of a second peak of infections that might overwhelm the NHS”… can we take a moment to point out that his concern was for the NHS, and not for the many many lives that would be lost with a second peak?
Yesterday the number of additional deaths due to covid in the UK was 171. The number of additional confirmed cases was 874.
Hundreds of people are still dying everyday from covid. Hundreds more have a positive test result. And sure, it’s not the thousands that we saw in peak, but does that make it safe, for us?
Can we go out, for walk, to the supermarket, to appointments, and feel safe? Can Sam go back to work? Can I got meet friends for coffee? Is it safe is it safe is it safe?
How do we know that our baby boy isn’t going to be snatched away by a respiratory virus? How do we know we aren’t coming into contact with people who are asymptotic?
The tricky thing is, we obviously want to go outside. We want to be able to shop, and go for walks and see our therapists. We want to be able to sit in the park, and go visit Sams family and be able to go down the road and get a coffee. Made by a barista with the fancy machine, with milk FOAM and a take away croissant, and eat it at a table while watching all the people! (It’s been a very long time since we’ve been out and about).
Is it safe, is it safe, is it safe?
See, I don’t think it is. I don’t think the virus has been eliminated, I don’t think the numbers are down enough to make going out a negligible risk, and I don’t trust the government to make decisions that are best for us. In fact, in 95% sure the government is setting out policy that that puts the economy and ‘feel good news’ ahead of evidence and consultation with scientific bodies (in addition to being very clear: loss of life of the vulnerable is not high in their list of priorities).
I’ve read so many interviews with academics that all caution risk (example, Prof Stephen Griffin, who is a virologist at the University of Leeds was very clear, “we have not eliminated this virus or suppressed it to what I would say is a safe level.” The people who study viruses are very very clear, saying it’s not safe.
It’s not safe.
That in general, there are still so many local community level transmissions, most of which are unknown and not tracked because the system is not especially efficient (sure, they can know you had coffee with your sister day before yesterday, but can they track everyone that was on the bus you used to get there? And everyone those people have been in contact with?).
It’s not safe it’s not safe it’s not safe.
It’s not safe.
And I hate that. Because EVERYONE ELSE is out meeting their friends and family and being outside and enjoying the summer. Everyone else is making hair appointments and picking up BBQ makings and enjoying pitchers of Pimms, and walks in the parks and ice cream from ice cream trucks. They can browse supermarket aisles at their leisure and go shopping. They can be outside and go for walks.
And it would be so so so easy to join them. To trust the government and put Mikaere in his buggy and go for a WALK. OUTSIDE!! (The ecstasy of that statement requires the overuse of capitalisation).
But it’s not safe.
The other thing is that I don’t know for certain what “safe” is. Is elimination a realistic goal in the UK? The lack of community transitions? Significantly reduced transmission numbers? Is it when the scientific bodies say it’s safe?
I just want to be able to go outside and live our lives without the fear that our son will catch a virus that will kill him.
It also desperately makes me wish that we’d somehow magically managed to move to NZ, so we could be there. In a country where they’ve eliminated covid within the community, and the leadership are being decimated over the few cases they have (they have 32 positive cases. So few in fact, that their daily stats briefing shows you where they are, their age, sex and what flight they arrived on).
But we’re not there, we’re here. (It could be worse, I guess we could be in the USA, whose death rate surpasses every other country and is in the millions, whose peak is rising and yet is still opening everything back up because the economy > people’s lives).
But also, if we’re making wishes, I’d wish our baby boy didn’t have NKH. That NKH wasn’t even a thing that existed, and no one, ever, had to suffer under it’s influence. I’m fully aware that there’s about as much chance of that happening as there is me taking Kaikai for a meandering walk outside today.
Hey ho, onwards (in isolation!) we go.