Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Column 1 April 2020 - COVID-19 Update 3

It is now over a week since the Prime Minister instructed the country into lockdown in our fight against Coronavirus.

For every single one of us this is a new experience – none of us have been through this situation before. It is affecting every single person in our country – every individual, household, community, business and public service. Life is very different from the open and free lifestyle we have all grown up with and have probably taken for granted.

It has been good to see the vast majority of people across mid-Cornwall following the instructions of the government and staying at home, apart from the exceptions allowed. As I have been out for my daily exercise walk it has been a slightly eerie experience to see the roads almost empty of traffic, shops, pubs and offices closed and only a few people out walking.

The fact that we have had to take such drastic measures in order to save lives - and ensure our NHS does not become overwhelmed by those falling seriously ill from this virus - should put into sharp focus for us all just how serious this is. I know there a few cynics around who still seem to think this is an over-reaction to something that most of us will only experience mild symptoms from. But we only have to look at the scenes from Italy to understand this is a fight for the lives of the elderly and vulnerable – our own parents and grandparents, and those who we know and love with underlying conditions, are the ones we are primarily doing this for.

How long we have to endure this phase is very much dependent one each one of us. If we all keep to the restrictions and play our part by minimising our trips from home and avoid all contact with those outside our household, then we stand a good chance of getting through this fairly quickly and seeing life begin to return to normal. But if too many people flout the rules, it will simply mean we all have to endure this for longer and quite likely see greater restrictions placed on us in the coming weeks.
So, I simply want to appeal to anyone who for some reason thinks these restrictions do not apply to them – stop being selfish! You are not only risking the lives of the people in your community; you are risking every one of us having to live under these conditions for longer than we need to.    

A great example of the spirit we all need was experienced last Thursday when at 8pm millions of people across the country went to their windows, doorways or gardens to clap for our carers. This was a simple act to show respect and appreciation to all those working on the frontline in the battle against Coronavirus – the doctors, nurses, ambulance crews and support staff in the NHS; those who care of the elderly and most vulnerable, the local pharmacists providing essential advice and medicines and all those going to work under vastly increased pressure and putting the wellbeing and safety of others above their own.

I will admit I found it all quite emotional. Not only as I thought about all those people I know who are serving in these ways, but also because there was such a sense of unity – both locally and nationally. Our communities coming together in a very simple act that contained so much meaning.
Who knows what the coming weeks and months will bring. Both individually and collectively I am sure many of us will experience great challenges, heartache and even hardship. I know it is an overused clich̩ but it is true Рwe will only get through this together. It is by playing our part and behaving responsibly towards our neighbours by following the restrictions. By looking out for the elderly and vulnerable among us. By volunteering and making ourselves available to others and a thousand different acts of kindness, great and small, that we will pull through the coming weeks.

More than at any time in almost all of our lifetimes, this is the time each of us needs to put the wellbeing of our neighbours, our county and our country first. It is a challenge our grandparents rose to previously. Now it is out turn. Let’s do this together. Let us all play our part in beating this horrible virus. Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.