Coronavirus – April 2020

The following article was first published in the North Wales Weekly News on 14 April 2020
What sad, strange times we are living through.
Last weekend was what, in normal years, would have been the ideal of local hospitality businesses: a sunny Easter bank holiday. It would have heralded the start of the busy tourist season, our roads swarming with cars and our seafront promenades thronged with happy, ice cream-eating holidaymakers, bringing prosperity to our area.
But 2020 is far from a normal year. The entire world is reeling from the impact of Covid-19, a virus few of us had heard of just three short months ago. Whole countries, including the United Kingdom, are in lockdown, their residents unable to move from their homes, save for occasional visits to the supermarket or for a brief period of daily exercise.
The impact of the virus, on both our health and the economy, is potentially devastating. People are frightened for themselves and and their families. It is entirely natural that they should be, particularly when the disease so nearly claimed the life of the Prime Minister himself.
After three weeks of lockdown, some people – chiefly journalists – are urging that the restrictions should be lifted. The Government, however, has said that they will continue for this week, and it is likely that they will not be eased for several weeks more.
I am, of course, no epidemiologist, but I believe that we should be reluctant to relax the lockdown just at the moment that it appears to be having an effect on the spread of the virus. It is certainly the case that, very sadly, hundreds of our fellow-citizens are dying every day, but the curve of the increase appears to be flattening. Lifting the restrictions might well cause it shoot upwards again, potentially overwhelming our NHS.
It is possible to learn a lesson from history. In 1918, the Spanish flu caused the deaths of an estimated 50 million people around the world. Different US cities adopted varying approaches to the disease. Philadelphia was slow to impose restrictions, and kept them for only a short period of time.
Around 12,000 Philadelphians died in a matter of weeks.

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