Coronavirus or Covid-19 disease has gripped the world. As of now, there have been around 381,415 positive cases across the world from the pandemic, and approximately 16,528 people have lost their lives. Country-wise, the death toll, as well as mortality rate has been the highest in Italy, with approximately 6,077 people having died in the country so far. Other parts of Europe as struggling to deal with the spread of the pandemic as well, with Spain reporting approximately 35,136 cases while Germany reporting around 29,282 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Europe has now become the new centre of this pandemic, though China, where Covid-19 has been reported to have originated, not reported any new domestic cases since the last week, and up to an extent, have completely stopped the transmission of the disease.
China was able to achieve this feat and contain this up to an extent, primarily because of its stringent containment and lockdown measures, something that the major European countries like Italy and Spain failed to do. Even in phase 2 and the phase 3 (community spreading phase), there were no measures taken by the government, or advisories were issued in these countries by healthcare officials, who were all taking this very lightly. Even the citizens of these countries were not educated enough at the time to take social distancing, self-isolation and quarantining measures seriously, following which there was a significant increase in the rate of the transmission of the Coronavirus. This proved to be the undoing of these countries, who are currently seriously reeling under the impact of the disease, the flattening of the bell curve of the number of daily cases reported still seems a bit distant.
The United Kingdom, in the beginning, was following the strategy of other European Nations, and wasnât too serious regarding both the economic and health-related issues being caused by the Novel Coronavirus outbreak in the country. But in the last couple of weeks, we have seen the government taking various necessary steps to curb the community transmission of the disease. As per a report by the Imperial College Covid-19 response team, it has been suggested that if the government had failed to take these primary measures to suppress or mitigate the community spreading, it would have resulted in approximately 500,000 deaths in the country throughout the extent of this pandemic. The team also reported that as per the government measures, this expected number should be limited to approximately 20,000. Some experts also suggested that the government needs to do a bit more, primarily because of the number of existing cases in the country continuing to increase. As of the time of writing, around 6,650 confirmed cases of Covid-19 had been reported in the United Kingdom, 335 people have lost their lives, 135 completely recovered while approximately 20 people have been reported to be fighting with their lives in a critical condition.
UK Governmentâs latest measures
In a historic clampdown, on 24th March 2020, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Mr Boris Johnson announced that the country would be in lockdown for a period of at least 3 weeks. This step was taken in line with a lot of experts calling out the government to go for such stringent measures, as this could be the only way to suppress or mitigate the process of transmission of the virus, especially in the absence of a vaccination or confirmed cure that can work against the infections.
In an address from 10 Downing street in the evening, the Prime Minister stated that the citizens of the country would not be allowed to leave their homes, though he also provided exceptions on certain emergency related conditions. He also mentioned that if the citizens of the United Kingdom were to move out of their houses, especially in a group of more than two people, they would be fined by an amount of ~Â£30.
Th prime minister, in the announcement of one of the biggest lockdowns in the countryâs entire history, also maintained his stance that all shops that serve or sell non-essential goods and services, will have to remain closed, along with any outdoor fitness centres and gyms, food and confectionery kiosks, as well as all places of worship and religious importance. Though he said that the funeral homes would stay operational for this lockdown period. Historically most stringent measures have come after fears being raised in and around the presidential office that its coronavirus mitigation stances have been ignored by the public at large, and modelling that suggests at least three-quarters of people must follow them for the National Health System (NHS) to be kept afloat.
Under the newly announced measures, the citizens of the United Kingdom are not allowed to go out of their homes with the following exceptions:
- Shop for only the most important and essential items, as less as possible
- Work out outdoors only once per day, that too either alone or with as less number of house members as possible
- Receive medical treatment or provide care
- Travel to and from work if impossible to work from home
The reaction of the citizens on lockdown announcement
The announcement of the complete lockdown of the country has sent shockwaves to the citizens of the country, the countryâs roads have gone into an utter silence mode. Some people have suggested that this is an extremely important but risky step on the part of a government of liberal and democratic society, but it is believed that most people are coming out in support of this move, as it is currently the only way to try and either suppress or mitigate the further transmission of the coronavirus in the community, which could multiply at an exponential level if these measures were not taken. Twitter feeds of British erupted after this decision was taken, as many of them felt that they might go crazy if it was to extend any further.
Whatâs important to understand are also the economic implications of such a move. The country heading into a complete lockdown will curb all economic activity, which could be a huge factor in causing another economic slowdown, that the government has been trying to delay or avoid since a long time. It is expected that a large number of people will lose their jobs, if this situation was to continue, while some daily wage labourers and workers will find it extremely hard to earn their living and survive. Hence, the government has also been called upon to take necessary steps so that the people, who are at the bottom of the survival pyramid, are given as much help and support at the time of this crisis, as possible, as they donât have any other way to earn their living.
It will be interesting to see where the country heads from this move and how it bounces back, but it is also expected that if successfully executed, this move could well and truly be the lender of the last resort in trying to fight the coronavirus in the UK, until and unless a vaccine or cure is developed and made available in volumes.