122k dead: What happened to us?

Kayleigh Fraser questions just what went so horribly wrong in the Government's response to the pandemic.

Kayleigh Fraser
26th February 2021
Nearly a year into the pandemic, the UK has the highest proportional death rate from coronavirus worldwide. After three lockdowns, four tiers and widespread fear for the future; how did we get here?

I think we can all agree that in March 2020 we never could have foreseen the bleak reality we have today. What began as a simple 'stay at home' developed into widespread closures, the loss of family members and social distancing. Within the UK, there are many people who feel an inherent mistrust with the government through the mishandling of the pandemic.

After all of this many are asking what could we have done differently? Surely, there could have been things that the government could have done? Here are the 5 actions that (from my perspective) hindered our fight against the pandemic:

Coronavirus: NHS England declares level four incident over ...
Image: sky.com
  1. Missing Cobra Meetings: It is known that in February of 2020 the Prime Minister missed not one... not two, but five consecutive COBRA briefings to discuss the threat of COVID-19. (Source: The Guardian) Maybe if a greater level of urgency was held around the virus, the government may have actually had a plan to deal with the pandemic.
Boris Johnson states we are 'past the peak' in May 2020. (Source: twitter.com/borisjohnson)

2. Lockdown too late: Not only did the Prime Minister delay calling for a national lockdown, he failed to instruct social venues to close. On the 16th March 2020 he stated that 'risks of transmission of the disease at mass gatherings such as sporting events are relatively low.'(Source: gov.uk) Clearly, we learned this wasn't the case and a national lockdown was announced less than a week later.

3. Pubs not protected: Take it from someone who worked at a pub during last July's 're-opening' strategy. The rules were not strict enough. The 'rule of 6' allowed households to mix daily and it was so difficult to enforce restrictions. No masks were required around the bar (apart from staff), and test and trace was optional. Combine this with 'Eat out to Help out' and it's easy to see why we had a second wave.

Boris Johnson confronted by furious parent of 'gravely ill ...
Image: The Evening Standard

4. New Variants Ignored: It was revealed later in 2020 that the 'new variant' of Coronavirus was detected in September. This begs the question: why wasn't the UK placed in a short, sharp circuit breaker lockdown to prevent the spread? Instead, Britain's lockdown began in November. By then it was too late.

5. London's Tier 2: In my eyes this was the governments biggest mistake throughout this entire pandemic. Placing the city with the largest population into a lower tier than the entirety of the North allowed London to spread the virus like wildfire. Based on that it wasn't surprising when the new variant originated from Kent and placed London into tier four restrictions. But, like always, it was too late.

"I’m shaking hands continuously. I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were actually a few coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody, you’ll be pleased to know. I continue to shake hands."

- Boris Johnson, 3rd March 2020. (Source: The Guardian)

Through this past year it is clear to see that measures could have been put in place to end this pandemic. Although the UK has now vaccinated over ten million people, the relaxing of restrictions won't be rushed. Eleven months on we stand in a worse place than we ever could have imagined. More than ever it is abundantly clear - this isn't over yet.

Image: Flickr

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AUTHOR: Kayleigh Fraser
Campus Comment Sub Editor for 2021/22 and Head of News at NSR. English Literature Student heavily obsessed with politics, bath and body works and making positive change. Also slightly infatuated with iced coffee, guinea pigs, my dog and binging The Simpsons.

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