27-03-2020 Lockdown Day 4 : Ooh, this is awkward!

Well, this is becoming embarrassing!  Today our Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and the country’s Chief Medical Officer and government’s Chief Medical Advisor have all tested positive with the coronavirus, testing having been undertaken after they exhibited ‘mild symptoms’.  This situation would suggest that we are not all in tin-hat mode spouting conspiracy theory drivel but, as I’ve discussed before, that the virus is actually far more widespread than was previously believed.  Our suspicions that there is a huge discrepancy between the number of ‘confirmed’ cases and ‘actual’ cases will never be revealed because nobody has any idea how many people are carrying the virus at the present time, and it is also equally possible that we will never learn how many people were infected over the entire duration of the pandemic.

 It has also become clear that our published statistical data became meaningless some time ago, specifically when people were told not to seek medical attention or advice unless/until they became seriously ill and required urgent medical care or hospitalisation.  NHS information about COVID-19 has been uncharacteristically lacking in detail.  I looked it up last week, perhaps out of some sense of personal responsibility because I’d been feeling fatigued and breathless for a few days for no obvious reason, but the online information I found was clear: if you don’t have a fever or cough, it’s not coronavirus.  This puzzled me, since I’d heard or read about ‘other’ symptoms, and sure enough, other countries were considering the possibility of other early and more diverse indicators; nevertheless, I didn’t feel ill so just let it go. This recent NHS infographic, however, has added ‘shortness of breath’ into the fray.

Since then, obviously, the situation in the UK has changed dramatically and continues to do so.  Yesterday was recognised as the day with the highest number of deaths within a single day, but today that number has almost doubled to 181.  In such a situation as this, I would expect most people to feel some level of concern or even an obligation to check that we are not unwitting virus carriers ourselves, but there is no routine preventative testing policy in place and only those who are hospitalised are now tested.  Boris has been caught with his trousers down many times, but to be caught out personally for an inadequate preventative policy during a global pandemic along with his principle public health and medical advisors, now that is embarrassing. I’m not suggesting that complying with social distancing measures and relentless handwashing is sufficient to prevent contracting the virus, I’m sure it will impact on the number of cases in some way, but I do feel that the time spent dithering and contemplating sitting-on-the-fence measures such as ‘herd immunisation’, for example, could have been better spent by pushing the current measures into place sooner. Too little too late, Boris.

Following today’s announcement confirming these three high profile cases, thankfully it now seems that the many questions about ‘mild symptoms’ might finally be addressed and there are several articles in the press tonight.  This article from The Telegraph contains an infographic with a more varied list of possible symptoms, however, most could be characteristic of any number of illnesses, viral infections or even diseases, so I’m not sure if it helps much.  But the questions are now out there – what are the ‘mild symptoms’ and ‘how will I know if I have contracted this virus?’  Informed answers to these questions are absolutely vital since at present it feels like we continue to know or understand very little about COVID-19, and we’re certainly not managing to contain it.

Until now, I had always assumed that the virus would hit low income and vulnerable groups hardest, as is most often the case, but now it seems that even the wealthy and the privileged, including those whose job it is to (at the very least) be seen following exemplary practices in social behaviours and personal care, aren’t immune.  The coronoavirus clearly isn’t fussed, doesn’t care who you are, or only pick off the weak and vulnerable. Anyone will do.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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