On Lockdown and The Covid-19 Situation

My personal thoughts on Covid-19

Like many people around the world I’m in lockdown right now, waiting out the storm that is the Covid 19 pandemic until it’s safe to go back in the water... or you know, outside in pubic as "normal". This is the case for me personally because of the underlying health conditions which I have that make me more vulnerable to the disease than my age alone would suggest.

Being in lockdown (quarantine) in London, England, has been incredibly stressful and has all but obliterated my ability to be creative. London is the hardest hit area in the UK and I live in one of the worse impacted areas of London. The reason for this is incredibly simple. My area is very densely populated just like London as a whole and as every junior environmental scientist knows,

“High population density results in the ready transmission of infectious disease, the effects of which will be made worse if sufferers are already malnourished (lacking nutrients essentials for health), due to the scarcity of resources.”
Environmental Science: Second Edition by Kevin Byrne, 2000.

Many people in our contemporary societies are lacking nutrients essential for health but they simply don't realise it, for example people with darker skin tones who originate in the warmer regions around the tropics often suffer from some level of Vitamin D deficiency merely by living in more temperate regions which don't get enough sunshine. That's just one way for people to become naturally lacking in essential nutrients but since I'm trying not to go off on a rant about that I'll move on.

First Thoughts

When I first heard about the new coronavirus in January I didn't consider it to be serious on a global, era changing level, after all I remember the first SARS outbreak. I knew that coronaviruses cause flu like symptoms. Let me just be clear, I'm not saying that in my mind these viruses cause the flu. Influenza is a completely different virus. I'm saying that I assumed that for most people getting SARS would produce symptoms very similar to those found in the flu. That's what I personally understood by "flu like". On a personal level I'm a person who needs to be vaccinated for the flu every flu season and even a "common cold" can end in pneumonia or bronchitis for me so I think that the reason why I didn't initially take the coronavirus very seriously was because I assumed it wouldn't spread very far or kill a lot of people. I'm not trying to be casual about people's lives, every person who dies is hopefully loved and mourned by someone, but the fact is that we will all eventually die. Death is the only constant in life.

My thinking was that the various governments wouldn't allow an outbreak of any significant magnitude to happen  (for example on the scale that the virus had reached on the day when the World Health Organisation declared this a pandemic).

At first, in January I didn't consider the situation to be overly serious on a global level. I thought that infection would be limited to people with close and probably intimate contact with victims. But by February Sars-Cov-2 had circumnavigated the globe with a speed that would make Philias Fogg green with envy, infected thousands and killed hundreds and I found myself obsessing about the situation trying to find out more about it. How did it start? Where did it come from? What were the symptoms? How likely was a vaccine? Who exactly was dying? Blah, blah, blah. Learning as much as possible is how I cope with stressful situations. I find that accurate information from reliable sources helps.

I didn't think that governments would allow this level of outbreak to occur. Looking back at what's happened I can see that my assumptions were based on an idealised or maybe delusional view of the world. Probably the result of watching too much science fiction or imagining and writing too much science fantasy/space opera. When I was developing the Adhara universe with my sister, one of the main reasons why we decided to set much of the action on various space stations was to combat real problems on Earth, for example mass migration and cultural degradation. We thought that if people wanted to live in multicultural societies they should do so in artificial environments so that planets (representative of countries) could maintain their native culture without many of the issues we see in real life like overpopulation and all of the environmental issues that causes as well as social issues like disease and xenophobia.

When deciding to settle most of our cast of characters on space stations and spaceships we did consider the issue of the closed environment and how that would impact the spread of diseases. We tried to think of every issue that could come up and think of realistic solutions of them. So if thousands or hundreds of people live in a completely closed and artificial environment and there's an airborne infectious disease, what can you realistically do? Quarantine. As far as I'm concerned any magic in the Alliance is merely the unexplained natural abilities of the various races not the suspension of disbelief defying things that happen on television such as one lone, overworked GP or surgeon of a spaceship or space station with hundreds to thousands of patients somehow coming up with a cure for a completely new disease within a 45 minute episode. That to me is supernatural magic.

Perhaps that's why I'm so surprised about how things have turned out with Covid-19. I assumed that people with underlying health conditions that had been shown by studies from China published by the WHO, to be likely to end in a bad result would be quarantined as well as those who were already infected. Instead in the initial stages of the outbreak in the UK, the government decided to  the "herd immunity" path. Their plan as far as I understood it was to have as many people as possible quarantine (which is annoyingly being called "social distancing") and then to allow certain sections of the population to come out and get infected so that they could control the flow of infection and not overwhelm the health care service but that's not what happened. In order to keep certain critical industries ticking over, the people who actually have more prevalence of the very underlying health conditions that can kill if comorbid with Covid-19, couldn't be protected. As a result at the time of writing over 98% of all the closed cases of Covid -19 in the UK, where I live have ended in death and I knew it was coming from the first week of quarantine.

When I didn't see a shield letter come through the post for either my sister or myself and when certain conditions disappeared from our government's list of high risk conditions it was incredibly easy to understand what was going on and why. Certain ethnic groups have more prevalence of conditions like hypertension and diabetes. They also happen to be deficient in certain essential nutrients sometimes purely because as mentioned above, their skin isn't able to absorb it from the sun due to a limited amount of sunlight in comparison to the environment in which their ancestors evolved or adapted. These same ethnic groups tend to work in industries like health and social care as well as transportation, retail and manufacturing etc. Basically all of the either undesirable or lower working class occupations are left to certain ethnic groups in predominantly European societies. So in order to support the sick and otherwise vulnerable and get other essential staff to work, it was entirely impossible to have these people wait out the storm in their homes.

Due to all of the things mentioned above and my inherently anxious personality, I found it incredibly hard to write for the first few weeks of the Covid-19 situation when it started ramping up outside of the initial infected area in Wuhan, China. I realised that in the UK a certain portion of the population was going to be culled, and I'm in it.

I really don't know how to explain my feelings on this, I don't think I'm afraid. I just find it unbelievable and unfair that years of what I think could be called institutionalised racism and/or xenophobia, a lot of people have and will continue to die just because they were forced to take jobs that their European peers and socio-economic equals aren't interested in and aren't given equal care in a health service that is part funded by their tax contributions. It annoys me greatly because this was supposed to be an age of political correctness and people being supposedly awoken to the human rights of others but in reality as far as I can tell all that happened was that people obsessed with their own sex and sexuality pushed a narrative of victimisation because other people don't like or even care about their choice of lifestyle (no one can help how they feel but most people can help what they do).

Forced into undesirable jobs because of xenophobes from the primary school classroom to the job interview (my personal experience btw), people of certain ethnicities are dying at a disproportionate rate from a disease that they have no ability to avoid because it is transmitted by air and touch and can infect from inanimate, inorganic objects but I can almost 100% guarantee that these people will get none of the sympathy that victims of blood and bodily fluid transmitted diseases like AIDS got in the late 80s and early 90s at the height of what is an ongoing pandemic. This lack of sympathy will occur even though contracting HIV was and is almost completely avoidable in most cases unless a patient happens to be one of the unlucky and tiny percentage of those who got a tainted blood transfusion or was purposely infected by abusive long term partner. There are certain choices of activity that people make which makes them more likely to be infected by viruses like HIV that's why large percentages of the population are able to avoid them completely. Unlike Covid-19 which is a coronavirus as easy to contract as unavoidable as the common cold. I'm not saying that people whose actions lead to negative consequences don't deserve sympathy, they do but I don't think we should mollycoddle an uncomfortable truth either. Actions do have consequences and sometimes hedonistic actions can be deadly.

I know that there will be no equal sympathy for the disproportionate number of victims of certain ethnicities because I actually heard news anchors for Sky News Australia claim that it's a racist policy for the British NHS to move high risk, more likely to die non whites off of the "front line" and instead staff it with low risk, less likely to have any symptoms young white people. So apparently people who have an unequal risk of dying should face an equal risk of contamination and if not that's racist...

Excuse me?

A study found that in the UK black people for example are 90% more likely to die from covid-19 than their white peers but it's racist to move them from the front line? Isn't that unequal equality?

This situation is mind boggling. I've tried to write and I have several stories underway but at least half of my mind is constantly thinking about the covid-19 situation no matter what I do. If the risk of a painful and protracted death wasn't enough to flood one's mind then the blatant exposure of the inequalities and hypocrisy of the ongoing civil rights movements is.

Anyway that's it. I wasn't trying to preach or get up on a soapbox. I simply needed to clear my mind and I think this post helps with that. I always try to remain as unbiased as possible but I don't think that's always possible especially when one finds oneself in the group being culled.

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