It’s been an odd sort of day. The clocks changed last night, went forward by an hour, so we’re now in ‘British Summer Time’ so the days will seem that bit longer and the daylight hours will increase as summer draws nearer. I’d forgotten about it, as always, so discovered that I was out dog walking an hour later than intended; perhaps this was why there were more people about, or maybe because it’s ‘the weekend’, although most people don’t have weekends now, it’s all one long weekend which we mostly spend in the confines of our homes. Most notable was that I didn’t talk to anyone today, possibly because they weren’t the usual familiar dog walkers – presumably, they’d got their butts out of bed at the correct time, unlike me – or perhaps because as the virus impacts on more and more people’s lives they are keeping more of a distance. There’s definitely a feeling of uncertainty, anxiety and fear of others in the air, which increases with each passing day. It’s like a bizarre kind of war of sorts – an invisible and intangible foe, unknown and unwitting carriers, and daily updates of official statistics revealing the number of deaths of unknown people in undisclosed locations. That’s more than enough to justify any levels of unease or paranoia anyone might feel.
I deliberately avoided looking at media articles and statistics until this evening, simply to see if I manage my day better without knowing; it works, so I’ll continue to deal with it that way. According to today’s data, the death rate has risen again, with 260 deaths yesterday, that’s around 45% increase on the previous day, which was a 52% increase on the day before. I’m not sure why the media are still reporting the ‘number of cases’ since it’s clearly grossly inaccurate and will only reflect the number of confirmed cases rather than what’s really going on; this is currently stated at just over 17, 000 yet is alongside articles suggesting than the actual number of cases is now over a million, which I think is a more likely figure.
Testing and effective policy, or a lack thereof, has some relevance here, with different countries using a variety of approaches so varied results are emerging, alongside differing predicted mortality rates and trajectories across the globe. Clearly, the more people tested will give a more accurate figure – which currently varies between 1% and 5% according to country, with the WHO estimate being between 2-3% of individuals who contract COVID-19 – whereas a blanket policy for testing on a national scale would provide vital input for developing the most effective strategy to actually get the virus under control.
Meanwhile, Boris has made the unusual step today of deciding to write to us all – yes, a hard copy letter to be delivered by post to every household, the contents of which can be found here in this Telegraph article. The letter contains a lot of repeated common sense, and is basically an appeal for people to comply with restrictions for the benefit of all communities and the nation itself. However, I do begrudge this for several reasons. Firstly, the cost – Boris isn’t telling us anything new here, so surely the £5.8M cost of this exercise could be better spent on the NHS right now? Secondly, just because you send a letter doesn’t guarantee it will be received, opened, or even read, or that its advice be followed. We all know the contents already, it’s all over the news and the internet, so why would we bother to read it? We all know what we’re supposed to do; most have complied while others have deliberately defied and done their own thing, and I don’t expect a letter will make much difference to how individuals choose to behave. Thirdly, is a postal service really necessary at this time, taking postal workers’ health into consideration? Wouldn’t it be better for everything to be sent virtually instead? And fourthly, what about the threat of contagion? Now I’m certain that Corona-Positive-Boris won’t be personally handling any of these letters, but we have very recently learned that individuals in Boris’ cabinet, team and staff have tested positive this week, so whoever has been tasked with this could also have contracted the virus. Only a few days ago, we were warned to take extra care when receiving mail, parcels from couriers, online orders etc. because of the possibility of infection from packaging, so how is this any different or safer? We can’t assume it’s ok in this particular case simply ‘because Boris says so’, since clearly he’s contracted the virus himself after, presumably, complying rigorously with his own preventative policies.
Learning and understanding how to manage the psychological impact of this situation is becoming increasingly difficult. I’m not really an ‘anxiety’ sort of person, and although my head feels fine (most likely it’s gone into complete denial), my body tells a different story. I am so incredibly agitated these days, I’m finding it really difficult to sit still, focus, distract myself or see anything through to the end, nor do I have much interest in what I’m doing. I’m also eating a lot (!), which is a really stupid thing to do when food shopping has become a relentless nightmare of queues and empty shelves. Actually, the only time I feel OK is when I’m out walking the dog – fresh air, open spaces, a daft dog flying around, and some exercise. I think others are beginning to feel like this too, and there’s certainly an emerging trend of ‘new’ walkers as well as habitual walkers going further and staying out longer simply because they can’t face being cooped up back at home again for the rest of the day.
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