Posted: 22.02.21 at 14:25 by Darren Greenwood
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is about to present his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown.
You might remember we were told 11 months ago that all we needed was three weeks to ‘flatten the curve’ and ‘save the NHS.’ And the first lockdown lasted well into summer.
It was such a great success, government imposed another in November in order to ‘save’ Christmas.
And then in the New year, it went for third time lucky, and now we hear from some, that if the government loosens up a little too soon, we will need a fourth, so successful that lockdowns are!
Now, before you say it, I do not deny the seriousness of the pandemic. I am all too aware of the 120,000 that have died. I receive various figures every day and have written and published that many stories, I don’t know what we will cover when eventually it’s all over.
But it must be said, that despite, or because of three lockdowns, the UK has now seen 120,000 or so deaths from people with the virus. We still have about the worst rate for Covid-19 related fatalities in the world.
Of course, judging by the tv news, their relentless negativity and fearmongering may make it seem that there is no alternative. But there is an alternative as other countries can show us.
Sweden has had few restrictions, no lockdowns, and life carries on pretty much as normal. Yes, more people have died there than in Norway next door, but based on population, fewer have died in Sweden than in the UK.
And despite the contrasting ways the UK and Sweden have handled this pandemic, graphs showing infections and deaths are pretty similar.
In the United States, we see lockdown California faring worse than no-lockdown Florida, which I understand is America’s ‘retirement home.’
Surely, if our SAGE and other experts are right, the home of ‘Golden Girls’ should see people dying in huge numbers, just as they predicted would happen in Sweden without lockdown, something that failed to happen.
But there are other things to consider too- that all make it clear that the cost of lockdown is greater than the pandemic it aims to save us from.
The county’s new state religion, ‘our NHS,’ has now become something of a National Covid Service. All too many cancers have gone untreated, the heart attacks of people afraid to dial 999 as they didn’t want to be burden, the missed appointments, and so on.
And as the NHS focussed on Covid, waiting lists have exploded in length.
At least belatedly, we have seen more recent government campaigns to tell us that the NHS is ‘still open’ and if you have a longstanding cough, you should still have it checked out.
Fortunately, Grantham Hospital at least is showing success by becoming Covid-free so it can treat neglected conditions like cancer, so well done United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust on this store.
There will be other deaths to follow too.
Staying imprisoned in your homes, forced to stay away from family and friends is not good for your mental health. It breaks my heart when I see the occasional stories of the very elderly locked up in care homes who cannot see or touch their families when they are near the end of their lives and might rather take the risk.
Suicide has also increased, especially amongst the young.
Some, like me, sought comfort in extra food and drink. I’m stressed, I’m bored, so I will have that extra wine or beer, or cheer myself up with ‘comfort food’ like shepherd’s pie or sausage and mash. Who knows the long-term effects of the pounds I have piled on.
Alcoholism has rocketed, drinks consumption is up, and doesn’t obesity put you at greater risk of Covid-19, as well as so many other things? Lockdown seems so self-defeating.
With our children, we see millions having their education damaged, the cancelled exams, with results determined by guesswork. Children can’t see their friends and are they learning properly?
And we must also consider the economy. Millions now face unemployment when the jobs market won’t be at its best. Businesses have gone under by being forced to close. Government might consider so many non-essential, but they were essential to the people who owned or worked in them.
Workers and their families will face financial impacts and mental pressures too. It’s not fun being unemployed. I know, I’ve been there. And how worse for those with their own businesses, that they have built up over decades, and now face ruin. I have a friend in such a situation, where they appear not to qualify for the support they need. It’s not pretty.
The links between poverty, economic prosperity, ill-health and death are also increasingly well-known. Put simply, the poor die younger, so a policy that causes economic devastation is a killer.
It’s all right for those in the state sector and others who can sit back on furlough, our MPs and other politicians who have never suffered financially. Don’t they realise we need a thriving private sector to pay for the NHS, the civil service, the teachers, the police, MP’s salaries and so on.
Walking down Grantham high street, you can see the devastation lockdown has wrought. Retail was struggling before lockdown and the months of closure could be a final blow. Bourne and Oakham face greater challenges too and even prosperous Stamford has its empty shops.
It’s not the pandemic that has caused this, it’s government’s response to it.
And we must consider the impact on what was once a free country, that we can’t visit our friends, our family, we can’t invite a neighbour in for coffee, that you cannot go for a drive, that you need a reason to be out, with government also saying who can and cannot trade. And as our tabloids also noted, you cannot, if you are single, go out on a date and enjoy what might come afterwards!
Yet, has government got the wisdom to make the right decisions, whatever party is in power?
One minute we have a 10pm curfew so people pile out of the pubs and restaurants at the same time and they cram into buses and trains together, which surelywas a greater risk than letting people head home when they want?
Remember the consternation over those packed beaches of Cornwall and Devon last summer? Well, you would think the Covid-19 figures would reveal mass slaughter after the sunshine. But just this week, the tv featured one scientist saying there was no link between infection and crowded beaches. So I guess parks filled with pic-nickers won’t turn into killing fields either, so let’s make it legal once more!
So, as Boris prepares his roadmap, he might need a bit of guidance, people to point him in the right direction. But it should be us, the people, that hold the map and compass. For far too long, we have had government telling us where we can and cannot go.
Instead, we should look at the evidence, look at the science, though no doubt we will need to look further than the ten-o’clock news, and come to our own conclusions, and tell the pro-lockdown establishment where to go!
We have seen little or no debate on this most important of all issues facing our lives, livelihoods and our reason of being.
I have found a debate featuring journalists Peter Hitchens and Dan Hodges. Cambridge University also recently staged one of it’s famous debates and the lockdown sceptics won. Enjoy the debate, it is one we need to have!