They think it’s all over – it isn’t!

The Government might be acting irresponsibly but we must not do the same. Hands, face, space, masks and social distancing must constinue to be part of our lives for the foreseeable future

Over the past few weeks in connection with the Euro 2020 campaign I’ve heard a continued re-use of the phrase from the World Cup Final in 1966, “they think it’s all over – It is now!” The problem is that lots of people think that the pandemic is all over. My response to that is very clear – it isn’t.

On a single person basis look at the few Tweets that the Political Editor of the Liverpool Echo, Liam Thorp, has been able to send. He had been part inoculated but caught Covid-19 before he could get the second jab. He has really suffered excruciating pain and suffering and this is a reasonably fit, reasonably young man. (you can get your own back at me when you are better!!)

You may recall that he recounted in appalling detail his visit to an ICU ward last year. I hope he will be able to recount for us all in the Echo his personal experiences of just how bad a Corona attack is.

If you think that either Liam or I am exaggerating this you can do two things. Firstly, you can note that the bravado of ‘Freedom Day’ announcements from Buffoon Johnson, has been massively toned down. It is clear that the move to an early ending of aspects of lockdown has been driven by politics and not science.

As far as the incompetent Tory Government is concerned Pandora’s Box of goodies has been opened and it would almost appear that the four horsemen of the apocalypse emerged instead. The Tories now know that they have blundered into letting go too far and too soon and cannot work out how to backtrack.

Secondly, you can see below some of the statistics from the NHS and the ONS about long-Covid and emerging evidence about permanent Covid damage.

Although the rate of hospitalisation and deaths from Covid has been weakened it has not been broken. It’s not only deaths, however, that we should consider. We have serious problems with those who catch it and survive. Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering from a variety of conditions that are known collectively as ‘long-Covid’.

Yesterday I listened to a presentation from Public Health England about long-Covid which frankly was quite terrifying. Whilst lots of people think that we are through the worst of the pandemic others will be suffering from the effects of it for many months and others will suffer it for the rest of their lives.

The PHE presentation revealed that:

  • An Office for National Statistics Survey found that 385,000 had long-Covid symptoms for at least 12 months. This will continue to rise as it obviously follows 12 months behind new infection rates.
  • 66% of those reporting long-Covid (634,000) said symptoms had adversely affected day-to-day activities.
  • 71% said it was affecting personal relationships
  • Long term symptoms were the same for hospitalised cases and less severe cases
  • People of all ages are affected.

Meanwhile another study from the Wellcome Foundation looked at slightly different aspects of Long-Covid with a tight set of questions to a smaller number of people. The study found that

  • The probability of symptoms lasting beyond 35 weeks (eight months) was 91.8 per cent.
  • Among all of the respondents, 3,608 (96 per cent) reported symptoms lasting beyond 90 days, while 2,454 (65 per cent) experienced symptoms for at least 180 days.
  • Among those who were experiencing symptoms for at least six months, the most common included fatigue (80 per cent), post-exertional malaise (73 per cent), cognitive dysfunction (58 per cent), sensorimotor symptoms (56 per cent), headaches (54 per cent), and memory issues (51 per cent).
  • During their illness, participants reported an average of 55.9 symptoms (out of the longer list of 203 measured in the study), across an average of 9.1 organ systems.
  • Around nine in 10 (89 per cent) of the participants said their symptoms returned, with exercise, physical or mental activity, and stress listed as the main triggers.
  • Nearly half (45 per cent) said they had to reduce the number of hours they worked as a result of the illness and more than one in five (22 per cent) were not working at all at the time of the survey.

If you think that this is bad enough then it gets worse. There is clearly damage being done to at least 5 organs on a permanent basis for many people. I am being imprecise because not enough work has been done on this yet to give the full figures. However, there is clear evidence that healthy lungs can be permanently scarred with similar effects on the heart, liver and kidneys.

I don’t want to appear to be a shroud waver but people will die earlier at some time in the future than they otherwise would have done because of Covid-19. Already more are being pushed into social care or are needing more support from their families than would normally be the case.

So, IF THE GOVERNMENT IS REFUSUSING TO ACT RESPONSIBLY WHAT CAN WE DO? The answer is that we must act even more responsibly both as evidence and business owners.

Already shop keepers on Allerton Road are looking at a joint response to July 19th changes. Many will still choose to limit the number in their premises and their own rules about scial distancing and the way in which food and drink is ordered, paid for and served.

All good employers are still extending, where possible, the ability for people to work from home and therefore reduce the amount of crowding in offices and other potential locations. They have reviewed room and factory layouts to reduce contacts and have look at ventilation to reduce risk.

As individuals. Any one who has not been jabbed really must go and get done. That’s he best way to look after yourself and those around you.

The motto, ‘hands, face, and space’, must guide what we do wherever possible. Don’t go into crowded spaces unless you need to. Wear a mask because it is not a sign of a fascist identity theft but a sign that you care about the community around you.

It would be better if the Government acted but if they are being less responsible then we must be more responsible.

We may have to learn to live with Covid-19 but that’s better than dying because of it! Too many more people will die or be damaged in the medium to long term because of so-called ‘Freedom Day’ Together, we must try to mitigate the crass politicised behaviour of the Tory Government.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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