This week the UK Government announced that all Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted: here are my thoughts
As someone who is still experiencing the wrath of long covid 15 months later, I am utterly horrified — this could mean 10,000 new long haulers per day
This is how I felt after watching the televised announcement on the 5th July:
On the same day, the BBC asked for my thoughts about lifting restrictions:
You can read the article here.
‘My thoughts’ turned into an essay…
I call this 'The Tories do it again', episode 27,334: (the current number of daily cases).
PART 1: HEALTH IS YOUR GREATEST FREEDOM
In an increasing pandemic, yesterday the UK Government announced that they'll be lifting covid restrictions on the 19th July, including masks and social distancing.
No country in the world has attempted to lift restrictions like this, particularly whilst cases are skyrocketing.
Of course I don't 'want' to 'limit my own freedom' by wearing a mask and social distancing - I want life to return to normal, just like everyone else.
Yet, when you've gone from being a highly active, healthy and happy person to struggling to walk and talk for 15 months because of blood clotted lungs and multiple organ impairments, all because of covid - let's just say, your definition of freedom changes. Your health becomes your greatest freedom.
How do we return to our lives whilst dodging an invisible killer virus then? Well isn't that the million dollar question, that scientists and researchers all over the world are scrambling to find the answers to.
PART 2: HAVE WE LEARNT NOTHING?
Meanwhile, the delta variant is flying around, particularly affecting young people and sadly more are likely to develop long covid, adding to the existing millions of us already. Borris told us that positive cases are likely to hit 50,000 in a fortnight yet restrictions were still to be lifted. Experts now predict, we’re going to be seeing 100,000 cases per day. What does that mean? More deaths, hospitalisations and potentially 10,000 affected by long covid per day!
Horrifyingly, it is now that the Government are relaxing the very conditions designed to protect us. The success of the vaccine doesn't mean 'a get out of jail free card' to 'gamble with the lives of the nation', yet apparently it does. New variants are still emerging and we don't know the efficacy of the vaccine against them yet. It's most certainly an act of gross negligence and arrogant laxity.
Have we learnt nothing from the past 18 months?
The chairman of the British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul said, "face masks are proven to reduce spread of the infection", "we can't understand why we would knowingly want people to become infected."
We're moving from lockdown to living like we did before the pandemic - from one extremity to the other. Reviving the economy whilst instilling a culture of sensible restrictions until we understand more about the virus and it's incessant variants is surely the most logical next step, no?
PART 3: PROTECTIVE MEASURES
The virus isn't something that we solely need to "learn to live with". Spreading covid is something that can help to be prevented.
Adopting 'some' level of protective measures would not only help to reduce the spread of cases, thus developing long covid but it may also help us to mentally adapt to another winter lockdown, (which looks likely, given that we're allowing free roam of the virus)...
Short sighted thinking means a longer term sacrifice.
Additionally, it would help an overwhelmed NHS. Let us not forget that the NHS is one of our best defences against the virus. Let us not forget what happened in the first wave - there's nothing to say that this won't happen again. It's this very defence that the Government needs to prioritise and strengthen, not neglect and compromise. Let us learn from what happened in India.
To put a nail in the coffin, yesterday Chris Witty crudely stated, "they're an emergency service, they can handle anything". This sentiment represents the Government's treatment of the NHS: denying NHS workers a pay rise greater than a menial 1% whilst ignoring compensation calls for NHS long haulers who risked their lives to treat the public and are now unable to work due to long covid.
PART 4: EDUCATION
Well what do I know?
I know first hand the wrath of this virus - precisely why we cannot take any chances for more of the population to become debilitated as a result, particularly when we have some form of control over our own conditions by simply wearing a mask, social distancing and continuing testing.
This isn't about amplifying fear, it's the opposite. It's about education since astoundingly, the Government's current narrative still doesn't include the experiences that have happened to me and over two million others, despite having 'some' data. 'Some data' means 'over 2 million' - imagine what the accurate numbers looks like?
With no long covid tracking system, how can we monitor these long term affects to advance research or the effect of the vaccine on long haulers?
I have 'post ICU level damage', yet I was never hospitalised and world renowned doctors can't explain it - an example of understanding that we're only in the very beginning stages of understanding the impact of this virus...
I can't stress this enough - you just never think that something like this will ever happen to you, especially when you're young and fit with no illnesses.
PART 5: LEARN FROM OUR EXPERIENCES
Some won't agree with what I say and that's their prerogative. All I can share is what happened to me and what's happened to others in the hope that it can help to open eyes and minds.
If you had told me back then, that all I needed to do was wear a mask and social distance to lessen the risk of me ending up in this situation, I wouldn't have thought twice.
We didn't act quickly enough back then but we have more knowledge and the countermeasures now. We cannot afford to act like we have 'beaten the virus' by retracting more than a year's work of public education and behavioural change.
The advice of "exercising judgement" is open to 101 interpretations - we don't need to be a scientist to figure that one out and the mess that comes with this level of subjectivity.
I implore you to continue to wear a mask and social distance where possible, because take it from me, you don't ever want to risk the insidious horror of long covid.
I'm just one story - ask the hundreds of long haulers in The Hidden Voices of Long Covid Project.