We can no longer let Covid-19 dictate our lives, writes KAROL SIKORA
We can no longer let Covid-19 dictate our lives... and it was always going to be easier to impose a lockdown than lift it, writes KAROL SIKORABy Karol Sikora For The Daily Mail Published: 22:04 BST,
We can no longer let Covid-19 dictate our lives... and it was always going to be easier to impose a lockdown than lift it, writes KAROL SIKORA
The Government has done a very poor job of keeping the public properly informed about the Covid-19 pandemic, but at last some sanity seems to be emerging from the confusion that has marked policy since the lockdown began.
According to media reports, Boris Johnson will halve the social distance rule from two metres to one.
He will also set out dates for the reopening of hair salons, restaurants and pubs.
Some sanity seems to be emerging from the confusion that has marked policy since lockdown
The public have unfortunately been left poorly informed throughout by the government
Boris Johnson is set to announce the halving of the two metre social distancing rules
I hope fervently he will also use the occasion to reverse the baffling 14-day quarantine rule for travellers to Britain from countries with lower rates of infection than ours.
All this will come as a huge relief to those of us who warned back in March that while it was very easy to win popular acclaim for imposing a national lockdown, it would be much harder to lift it.
Professor Karol Sikora is insistent that coronavirus cannot continue to control lives
There was no point in even talking about reopening the hospitality sector while the two-metre rule still retained its cultish support at the heart of Whitehall. It has also severely curtailed the ability of schools to function in any meaningful way.
When the Government’s handling of this crisis is properly analysed in due course, I think its insistence on a more restrictive social distancing regime than the one proposed by the World Health Organisation (which has always advised one metre) will be seen as perhaps its greatest single failing.
The priority must now be a swift return to the life we once lived, not some dreary state of semi-confinement summed up in the worst lockdown cliché, the New Normal.
The problem is that millions of people have got out of the habit of leading a full life built on the twin pillars of work and recreation.
The response to the reopening of non-essential shops should alarm the Government, for it has not led to the predicted stampede back to the high street. People – even those whose age and health put them at minimum risk – are still hunkering down, too timid to venture out or entirely lacking in motivation.
The 14-day quarantine for travellers coming into the UK from low-risk places is baffling
I have exempt status and as part of my work I have travelled extensively around the UK throughout the lockdown.
Often I have had a carriage to myself, sometimes virtually the whole train, even since the travel restrictions were eased.
Even as parks fill up on sunny weekends, parts of our cities remain ghost towns. Mainline stations have more staff than passengers.
Most troubling to me is the fact that the NHS is currently functioning at only about 40 per cent of capacity. Herein lies the next Covid-19 calamity waiting to happen – and there seems little urgency to resolve it.
My field is cancer, and large parts of the national diagnostic network have ground to a halt. Patients are unable or unwilling to visit their GP, and even if they do, colonoscopies and CT scans too often are not available.
Thousands of people today are carrying early stage cancers which in normal times would be being picked up and dealt with.
If this terrible situation is not reversed by August, I predict an extra 50,000 early cancer deaths will follow; if it is still not resolved by December, we would be looking perhaps at 100,000.
The same is true in the fields of cardiology and severe mental health disorders where thousands of patients are going undiagnosed and untreated.
Waiting lists have grown to between six and eight million, and could be ten million within three months — figures unprecedented in my 40 years as a hospital consultant. While millions of people in the private sector are fearful their jobs will not be waiting for them, some in the public sector seem to show no urgency. They remain on full salary, their pension entitlements ticking up nicely through the epidemic.
Local government seems to have effectively collapsed with few even going through the motions of working from home.
Cambridge University's decision to cancel lectures next year is a crass spasm of over-reaction
Now the doomsayers predict a second wave will overwhelm us later in the year. In a crass spasm of over-reaction my old university, Cambridge, has cancelled lectures for the next academic year even though they cannot know what conditions will be like in November or next spring.
While we should expect localised spikes, there is no evidence the pandemic will surge back, and certainly European governments are not allowing their policies to be constrained by fears of something that probably won’t happen.
I say this because there is now compelling evidence – most recently from Italy in the past 48 hours – that the virus may be losing its virulence. Doctors treating new patients there have noted they carry a lower ‘viral load’ than those who were first infected.
This is not unusual. The Sars virus – which is essentially a sibling of Covid-19 – initially captivated the epidemiology modellers who predicted hundreds of thousands of deaths.
But in fact, the virus just petered out. Viruses often just do this, for reasons we don’t fully understand.
I can’t say whether we will ever develop a Covid-19 vaccine but there is a possibility that it will never be needed. This week is surely the week to start rebuilding national morale and embrace the new freedoms we’ve been given.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson must bring all his ‘boosterism’ qualities to the fore to be the face of a wider Government campaign to banish the spectre of ‘coronaphobia’ once and for all.
Certainly we need to treat the virus with care, but it cannot be allowed any longer to dictate our lives, destroy our economy and tear out the heart of our social fabric.