Journal of the Plague Year 2020
When news started coming out from China, just before the Chinese New Year holiday in the middle of January, about an unknown virus that was spreading quickly around the city of Wuhan there was no indication that within a short two or three months virtually every country in the world would be taking measures to mitigate the effects of the virus in an effort to keep death rates low.
I’m sure there were some people who saw this as the beginning of a pandemic but I wasn’t one of them – thinking that it might cause some disruption in China; mess up the holiday plans for millions of Chinese workers who only get the chance to go home to see their families this one time of year; cause a bit of a blip in the Chinese economy (which would be somewhat ameliorated by the fact that a great deal of industry would have been closed down for a couple of weeks anyway due to the holiday) but not that the world would almost grind to a halt by April.
The little over a handful of viruses that have seemingly come from nowhere over the last twenty years or so – and which had only caused major problems relatively locally – had obviously lulled us into a false sense of security. If a virus did break out about which no-one had any idea then it could be contained and, as with most diseases, it would be those in the poorest countries of the world that would suffer the most – not the ‘sophisticated, industrialised’ societies.
Our ignorance was one thing our stupidity in believing the politicians and those we have allowed to become out rulers is another. They lied when they had said, numerous times over the years, that there was nothing to fear as they had considered the threat of any pandemic and would be able to deal with it if it should dare to cross our borders. Both their reassurance and our trust will be our undoing.
There are 195 countries in the world and there have probably been even more than that number of ‘strategies’ to deal with this pandemic (nationalist movements in countries like Britain, for example, meaning that one ‘official’ country has four strategies). There hasn’t even been unity in those political structures that are based, however different they may be, on the idea of being together. The United States of America has been anything but and the European Union has displayed a remarkable level of disunion.
Although perhaps a little slow off the mark I decided that I would try and document how this pandemic developed in one of those countries, Britain (sometimes called the dis-United Kingdom).
The idea is not to be a news update, matters move to fast for that and there will be a great deal of information I will not even be aware of, but to document some of the incompetence, inconsistencies, irregularities and general chaos which has been a characteristic of this pandemic. Such chaos is not just in Britain, few countries will come out of this smelling of roses, but it’s in Britain I feel I have the right to point out where I think matters have been handled wrongly and/or where things could have been done better.
I’ll get a lot of things wrong, I’m sure, but then I don’t have access to all the ins and outs of what is happening. But those who are in that position should be held to account when the reckoning over the management of this situation is carried out in the future.
That’s assuming, of course, that their incompetence doesn’t kill us all.
As people are supposed to have a lot of spare time in the present circumstances might I suggest you could do worse than read Daniel Defoe’s ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’, a fictional account of the Great Plague of London (perhaps we would now call it a ‘fictionalised drama’ as he based much of it on research – he, himself, was only five years old at the time of the outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1665).
I think its quite remarkable that we haven’t really learnt a great deal in the intervening 355 years however much we might think we are technologically, scientifically and medically much more advanced than then. Run and hide has still been the response – together with fear and ignorance.
Below are links to those posts which started towards the end of March 202 until …. who knows?
Inept politicians deepen the covid-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom (1st April 2020)
The covid-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom – 2nd April (2nd April 2020)
Britain – start of week 3 of the pandemic lock down (6th April 2020)
Covid-19 in Britain just before the Easter ‘holiday’ 2020 (9th April 2020)
Covid-19 over the Easter 2020 weekend in Britain (13th April 2020)
Covid-19 in Britain as the country enters ‘Stage 2’ (18th April 2020)
Eight weeks after the first covid-19 death in Britain (29th April 2020)
Britain and the Pandemic – May Day weekend 2020 (2nd May 2020)