I promised my self I wouldn’t write about the Coronavirus. There is already an abundance of news articles, advice and hysteria out there to last a lifetime without me adding to it, but I do have a few things to say.
So I have just returned to Japan after spending a little while in England to recharge, and while I was there I watched the “Coronavirus” go from an unnamed thing said in passing, “oh,” “did you hear about that new mysterious illness that they found in some nowhere village in China?” To being a real-life pandemic that I can’t go one hour without hearing about. Be it friends, family, TV, internet, and news updates on my phone. Sky News might as well rename itself to Corona News at this point.
It has been really interesting watching how different countries are handling the situation, and what said counties are willing to do to inhibit the spread.
In China, several disappearing people after denying it had a virus, created stadium-sized pop-up hospitals, commenced spraying the streets with disinfectant, and began working on the cure. After initially suggesting that the virus didn’t come from them at all, they still probably had the strongest and most immediate response. China has carried out human trials in the cities of Wuhan and Shenzen. The mentioned “cure” or better put “treatment”, is Avigan (also known as Favipiravir), an anti-influenza drug created in Japan by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical. The trials have shown to be successful, however, the information surrounding the production, distribution, and administration of the drug to those affected with COVID-19 seems unclear (although Japan stated that they will donate Avigan to Iran).
Italy has shut down completely! Being caught outside by police too far from home without a provable reason carries a 206 Euro fine or a three months prison sentence. These are passionate, close, touchy-feely kind of people and not being able to eat with, drink coffee with or even see friends and loved ones must be torture.
Brussels has a warning system if caught outside in groups. The first time you get caught is a warning, the second time you could be charged a four thousand euro fine or a 3-month prison sentence. People are encouraged to call the police if you see any large groups outside.
The Middle East is banning religious ceremonies! Something I thought would never happen! They strike me as the type of people who fear “God” more than they fear a real invisible virus.
And then there’s England… Early last month I made a prediction, I said that if the Coronavirus ever comes to England the world is doomed! Because we will spread it like wildfire.
1. We don’t seek medical attention. My mother had Legionnaires disease for 3 months from a recent trip to Florida and instead of going to the doctor she said: “It’s fine, its just a cough.” This is more or less the norm for all Brits over a certain age. Lump? Weird rash? Unexplainable crippling pain leaving you in agony? Foot rotting off? “Meh, probably nothing,” “It’ll go away eventually.” In fact, because of the state of our healthcare system, even if you did decide to seek medical attention, you have to pre-book it weeks (if not months) in advance. Another way is calling on the day precisely at 8AM to see if there are any cancellations from the previous day. Even then, you have to be first in the queue of a thousand other people ringing to get an appointment. As soon as you say, “I have a bit of fever” you will be told over the phone to drink fluids and get bed rest. If you need an ambulance call an Uber (because the ambulance may take so long to arrive, you might actually die waiting for it). Many give up and hope the ailment will simply go away. This is not an attack on nurses or doctors or anyone else working tirelessly to heal people. They do brilliant work and are overworked and underappreciated. The NHS is greatly under strain, and there isn’t enough money or resources.
2. The English have a sort of cavalier attitude to everything. From top to the bottom, the government to the people, especially if you are wealthy. We just don’t care. For example, two days before returning to Japan with the Coronavirus PANDEMIC (as declared by WHO) in full swing I went to Liverpool city center (a place where the public has already tested positive for the Coronavirus) to pick up supplies. Medication, sorting out my phone contract, essential stuff for my trip that I couldn’t do online. I expected it to be a ghost town. The town was PACKED! People shopping, eating in restaurants, drinking in coffee shops and pubs, coughing, sneezing and touching everything. I went to a very popular pharmacy and in front of me, was a person coughing and rubbing her face saying to the pharmacist “Yea, I have a cough”. The pharmacist shrugged and gave her cough medicine.
No explanation of how she should be self-quarantining, no information about the virus, oh! After she was given cough medicine, instead of being told to leave the store immediately because she is a public health risk, she walked around the store picking stuff up off the shelves and talking to her friend over products, handing her friend things, rubbing her face, using testers, taking things to the counter, giving those things to the checkout lady and literally spreading it in front of me! In a week’s time, that checkout lady is going to wonder how the hell did she and her family contract coronavirus. Pharmacists are trained professionals yet in this case nothing was done to prevent the spread.
But that’s not the worst thing I saw. It’s the 13th of March, two days after the Coronavirus was declared a pandemic. Sporting events are canceled, and the UK confirmed more than 200 new cases in a single day. Dead center of town we have a bank called Metro Bank. On this particular day, they were having some sort of grand opening event with music, freebies (handing out bags), and serving popcorn that the people were straight-up open fisting, eating and going back in for seconds. Also, face painting!!!! This is just one man’s opinion but I just couldn’t help but think “What an utterly irresponsible thing for a BANK of all institutions to do at a time like this!” “Why on earth would I trust them with my finances!?” They even bragged about it on social media!
I was watching “This Morning” two weeks ago and our wise and fearless leader Borris Johnson was discussing the Coronavirus on the couch with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. He said something to the tune of, “You know, there is the approach of just letting everyone get the virus so that we develop an immunity, just in a controlled way so that it doesn’t put a strain on the National Health Service”. I immediately thought “uh oh”, he isn’t going to put any money into this. He’s planning on announcing that we are all going to get the virus and he isn’t going to take any action that hinders the spread. A day or so later he announced that we will be taking the “HERD IMMUNITY” approach to the Coronavirus. Our National Health Service was at breaking point a long time ago and an introduction of a novel virus will cripple it. There is no controlled way here. Luckily the NHS brokered a deal with private hospitals and health care workers for more staff and beds. I only wonder what the NHS has lost in this deal.
I’m so thankful that I managed to get back to Japan in time! In the run-up to my flight, borders were closing, countries were getting locked down, flights were getting turned around mid-flight. I was starting to get a bit worried that I might get turned away at some point. The day of my flight arrived and I transferred to Germany and as soon as my flight from Germany took off for Japan, Germany banned all international flights and a few days after I landed in Japan, Shinzo Abe the prime minister of Japan asked that anyone from Europe arriving after Saturday to self-quarantine. My travel plans fall into the category of essential (in case you are wondering) as this would be an awful time to be taking a holiday.
What shocked and disgusted me the most, is that our prime minister, the leader of a developed country, a person that the UK public put in charge, said we’re going to let everyone catch the virus and that everyone should prepare for loved ones to die (seriously this happened-google it). He then shrugged his shoulders and stated that he was following the orders of the experts, thus absolving himself of any blame if and when this decision goes south. He let everyone know that he was essentially going to do nothing but tell us how to wash our hands properly.
How ironic is it, that the age range that is most at risk, are predominantly conservative voters and the leader of the conservative party has just told them that he will do nothing to help. Not test, not contain, in fact, they should prepare to not make it through this.
There is a town in Italy called Vo, that tested everyone and using the knowledge of who has the virus and why it’s being transmitted, managed to get its new cases of coronavirus down to zero. This is evidence that the only way to get through this is to test, test, test.
Here is a new prediction. The world is going to put the UK on a watch list. Our citizens will be most banned worldwide and we will be branded as a dangerous country to fly to for a long time. If Italy is anything to go by we have a lot of death ahead of us.
I feel like when all this blows over, Italians that want to travel will be recommended Syria as a holiday destination before the UK is.
Edit: as I am posting this Boris Johnson has finally issued a lockdown in an effort to contain the spread. Still, bars and clubs remained open for one more night (no killer virus is going to stop me from necking 8 pints and getting off with that complete stranger). Testing is still restricted, however. At some point, I think we will likely have an Italian style lockdown with military personnel upholding the rule. I still can’t believe that the government hasn’t stepped in to sort out the stock issues in supermarkets yet! Come on Boris, put austerity on hold for a little bit and start helping your people ey?