Opinion

A stomach churning timeline of how the UK government handled Covid-19

Written by Sophie Hack

Illustrated by Laura Buckell

We’re three months deep into what can only be described as an utter shambles. The UK now has the highest coronavirus death toll in all of Europe. The R rate (reproduction number) is still a concern and the people of the nation are, I bet, down-right confused as they’re allowed to send their kids back to school and shop in Primark once again.

So, where did it all go wrong?

Coronavirus: Leicester and UK government clash over lockdown extension |  Euronews
Boris Johnson. Source: euronews

January

As China deals with the virus at its epicenter of Wuhan, the UK moves from ‘very-low’ to ‘low’ risk according to Public Health England. Alarm bells may have been ringing for some, but then again, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

A few days after Heathrow airport started screening people flying in from Wuhan, two cases are confirmed in the UK.

Meanwhile, there’s a rather important meeting taking place on January 24th that you would hope a certain politician would be attending.

February 

One lucky man (sarcasm) is donned as the ‘super spreader’ as it is predicted they contracted the virus at a conference in Singapore and spread it to eleven people. To put this into perspective, this is half the amount of people dead in the whole of New Zealand.

In fairness, Matt Hancock gives doctors more authority to quarantine people, but is it enough?

March

Buckle up, we’re about to ride through a whole month-long sh*t-show. Turbulence, eye rolls, and mixed messages forecasted. On March 4th the total positive cases of Coronavirus hit 85 and globally the number of cases is an eye watering 93,000. Surely now is the time to put the country in a monitored lockdown, right?

What happens next is an avalanche. On March 5th the first death is confirmed: a 70-year-old woman. By March 10th, 6 people have died. The World Health Organisation officially declares a pandemic.

Source: The Verge

It is going to take a quick thinking, level headed and rational electorate to now take a stand, lead the country and inform them of what is best for everyone involved. Instead, Boris declared his plan of herd immunity. This is often used in regards to childhood vaccinations – not a deadly disease. His statement was: “Many families, many more families, are going to lose loved ones before their time.”

Meanwhile, Boris decides to attend his first Cobra meeting about coronavirus, five weeks after the initial one was called. This did not go down well with the public.

The UK is now in full lockdown. We are only allowed one hour of exercise outside a day, with the rest of our free time spent politely queuing outside of supermarkets for hours on end. We are inundated with banana bread making, online pub quiz attending, confused human beings stuck indoors and awaiting further instruction.

The Banana Bread Renaissance of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Source: Teen Vogue

A new scheme called furlough is in full effect, with many workers paid 80% of their salary whilst not working. However, those who are self-employed are left out in the sticks with no support (yet), meaning 80,000 people applied for Universal Credit in the first two weeks of March. Some are still yet to receive payment.

April

A few weeks of lockdown has passed and people are starting to acclimatise to a “new normal”. The death toll has been rapidly and alarmingly climbing, reaching a total of 2,352 by April 1st. Many elderly people and those in a high-risk category have been self-isolating, relying on their friends, family and neighbours to bring supplies to them.

Sadly, over at 10 Downing Street, these symptoms have befallen the Prime Minister who is later taken into intensive care. He made a full recovery and probably regrets boasting about shaking hands with Covid-19 patients now.

Just before VE Day, the Queen makes a speech to the people of the UK referencing the WW2 anthem ‘We’ll Meet Again’ by the late Dame Vera Lynn.

Source: The Guardian

In another case of typical political deflection, Priti Patel is “sorry if people feel there have been failings” with regards to PPE – the lexical equivalent of being slapped in the face.

The death toll sky rockets over this month, mainly as the figures (for the first time) include care homes and other communities. By April 29th, the UK death toll is a staggering 26,000

May

If you’ve made it this far without giving into a huge sigh of disbelief, you’ve got true spirit. It appears spirit can take many forms and solidarity with your peers and community is paramount in this time. However, a socially distanced conga line maybe isn’t the best way to go?

Either way, everyone seems in relatively high spirits. The government are even patting themselves on the back for hitting their Coronavirus tests goal of 100,000. Let’s not forget that there are 66 million people in the UK and that 30,000 tests had to be redone after the government sent the swabs to the USA to be tested.

If you weren’t feeling patriotic by now, Britain surpasses Italy in death tolls, becoming the highest number in the whole of Europe, splendid! 

By May 27th, the UK death toll is at 37,460 – although the total number will never be clear, as this is just people who have tested positive and died in a hospital setting. Not to worry though, as it’s clearly safe to drive to Durham whilst showing symptoms, and test your eye-sight by driving with children in the car, according to Dominic Cummings anyway.

Dominic Cummings. Source: The Times

June

At the time of writing this, we’re dealing with two public health crises: the pandemic and racial inequality. As the murder of George Floyd sparks protests across the world, the people of the UK look to their own racism towards Black people. A report states that BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) people are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 compared to White, non-ethnic people, putting pressure on the government to act. 

On June 15th, it is announced that zoos and some non-essential shops can reopen, seemingly easing us back into the real world. The can-do British attitude tells us we’ve won this war, although the infection rate is still between 0.7 and 0.9.

The latest review of our glorious, stress and failure-free lockdown told us that pubs are set to reopen July 4th while Leicester and its surroundings are due to have the previous lockdown measures reinstated.

Now, as July approaches, all we can do is wait and see what confusing, bubble-centered rules Boris Johnson will set out next.

The Author

Sophie moved to Birmingham when she was 18 after spending years in Brum’s best music venues. She works in social media, PR and events and is the co-owner of wxmen and LGBTQ+ focused Slag Mag (Serious Ladies of Art and Gigs). You can visit Slag Mag here and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Edited by Stephanie Kleanthous

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