As the lifting of lockdown restrictions approaches, the decision-making process of what we can and cannot do, switches from the Government and their Medical and Scientific advisors to each and everyone of us, within the framework of the Government’s eventual plan. We must take personal responsibility for the lifestyle risks we are prepared to take in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Continuous blanket media coverage of the serious consequences of Covid-19, does not resonate with these plans for lockdown easing. The UK death rate is set to be the highest in Europe in the coming week, second only to the USA. Also, there are reports that coronavirus can not only cause severe respiratory illness, but can attack just about every major organ system in the body.
New reports from the USA (New England Journal of Medicine) have been sounding the alarm about a disturbing new outcome: blood clots and strokes, which are striking even healthy young people with no known risk factors — and sometimes no other symptom of the virus. There are also reports from the UK that 20% of patients admitted to Intensive care suffer renal failure and require dialysis.
Joyous scenes of people exercising and released from lockdown in Spain yesterday , and the lifting or restrictions in many European countries gives hope to many in the UK, but anxiety remains.
An interesting poll for the Observer this morning indicates that less than one in five of the British public believe the time is right to start lifting lockdown restrictions. The findings suggest Boris Johnson will struggle to convince people to return their lives to normal when he announces plans to ease the lockdown on Thursday.
The poll by Opinium, taken between Wednesday and Friday last week, found only 17% of people think conditions have been met to consider reopening schools, nearly 10% for the reopening of restaurants and pubs and only 7% in favour of allowing mass gatherings in sports and other stadiums to resume.
Psychologists suggest that public reaction to easing the lockdown will reveal varying levels of anxiety amongst different groups, particularly families. The elderly are worrying about if it is safe for grandparents to hug their grandchildren? Parents are worrying about their children bringing coronavirus virus home from school. Can children spread coronavirus to their parents and grandparents ? Young children themselves worry about getting coronavirus, and worry about infecting their parents and grandparents. There are so many questions and no easy answers.
Reassurance from scientists is required to put the risks of being infected by covid-19 into context of normal lifestyle risks. eg How much more dangerous is getting Covid-19 than being in a car ?
The Observer poll figures, and warnings from experts, will therefore fuel an increasingly tense debate inside Whitehall over how best to strike a balance between keeping the public safe and minimising damage to the economy in the next phase of the crisis.
Boris Johnson said on Thursday that the UK had passed the peak of the virus but that people had to expect restrictions on their freedoms to remain in place for the foreseeable future. The prime minister will spell out his thinking later this week on how the lockdown could be eased when infection rates have come down.