‘Either late, or just plain wrong’: The Government Response to COVID-19

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The UK Government’s response to Coronavirus is rather like a night out in Soho. Absurdly late, full of embarrassing stumbles, and causing long-lasting damage. Unfortunately, the economy is slightly more important than my liver. The entire response to this crisis has been wrong, every call has come at the wrong time, or has just been bizarre, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change soon.

Firstly, nobody took this whole thing seriously until the pandemic had already spread across the country. By the time we all went into lockdown, the virus had had a significant impact. Yet, despite none of us going to the pub, flights continued to come and go every day with no quarantine. The government are now planning a two-week quarantine upon entry, three months later, when the danger is significantly less severe, and we all really should be trying to get back to normal life. The fact that this will destroy the airlines, hotels, and entire hospitality sector doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Instead of doing anything productive, we built a whole host of Nightingale Hospitals. Florence Nightingale, incidentally, did very little to actually stop the spread of disease in the Crimea. It was two men, Doctor John Sutherland and Civil Engineer Robert Rawlinson, who established the connection between health and hygiene. The Nightingale Hospitals’ reputation, like their namesakes, presents the appearance of more dynamic action than has actually occurred. They have not actually done anything, besides build a bit of publicity. They have not treated a single patient. The irony is palpable.

And finally, the jewel in the crown of poor choices, #Cumgate. When an (unelected) person intimately involved with the construction of these rules cannot follow them themselves, we really should take a bit of notice. Or, we could all forget about it and it’ll blow over in two weeks.

we need to be looking forward

At this point, we need to be looking forward. We need to be thinking about the long-term economic consequences of this virus, which are already going to be pretty horrific. People need to go back to work, trains need to run, courts need to be open, cancer patients need to get their treatment, we all must be within two-meters of each other sometimes, probably often, but to say this is to admit that more people are going to die, which the government are obviously unable to do for political reasons.

The Government are, once again, going to move too little, too late

If we don’t start returning to normality, it’s going to ruin the economy forever. In a few months, there will not be any jobs to go back to, yet for lots of people going back to work certainly isn’t on the cards.  The Government are, once again, going to move too little, too late.

Alex Walker

When Boris Johnson first announced his plan for herd immunity against COVID-19 in the UK in March, I thought it was terrible. Hearing the words ‘widespread immunity’ by your government in the face of a global virus is never a good sign. 

The UK is currently one of the top 5 countries that has been hugely affected by this pandemic. According to YouGov, only 41% of Brits agree that the British government is managing this outbreak well. Furthermore, the percentage of Brits who think the coronavirus situation is getting better in the UK has been decreasing from 76% to 65%, according to YouGov. But it isn’t surprising that Brits have ranked their own government as one of the worst in the world regarding their response to the coronavirus.

According to YouGov, only 41% of Brits agree that the British government is managing this outbreak well 

Over the course of these few months, I have watched cases increase exponentially by the thousands. Despite this, the NHS has still not been provided with sufficient equipment such as PPE to help these patients, and Boris Johnson meanwhile thinks that it is a good idea to start easing up on some of the lockdown measures. Boris Johnson is clearly not doing enough

Governments are expected to support and unite the country in times like this, and in my opinion, Boris Johnson’s undertaking of this mission has been inadequate. Moments like this provide us with a clear view on how our government, as well as other governments, lead through their responses. One comparison that I have been seeing recently is the response of the UK and New Zealand government. 

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s leadership skills during this crisis have been attracting attention globally

New Zealand recently hit 0 new cases of coronavirus. And while some may argue that reasons such as New Zealand’s smaller population explains this, it isn’t really about population density is it? What New Zealand has been doing is using a policy of elimination to help fight this pandemic. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s leadership skills during this crisis have been attracting attention globally. Through her strong command, consistency, and by listening to the science, Arden has outperformed many of her counterparts, and the statistics prove this. The UK’s response to this pandemic can be seen as almost the opposite of New Zealand, in my opinion, but nonetheless, Boris Johnson had declared that he was ‘very proud’ of the government’s response to the coronavirus. 

Maybe Boris Johnson is too busy with Brexit, or still celebrating himself being elected, but the lack of concern towards this pandemic is alarming and the government needs to step up in fighting this virus. 

Amanda Goh

Last modified: 24th June 2020

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