Yesterday evening we went to be with the news that our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson had been transferred to an intensive care unit as a precautionary measure due to the fact that he was having difficulty breathing. He remains conscious for the time being but has asked the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputise where necessary.
The nation is anxious and upset that its larger than life, charismatic leader is now deeper into the danger zone. We don’t even want to think of the consequences of the worst case scenarios. How quickly things can change.
Before the news of Boris’s worsening condition yesterday gave us reason to hope that the end of this crisis might be in sight. Austria and Germany announced dates later this month when they plan to relax their lockdowns. Spain and Italy appear to have peaked. The UK number of deaths in the previous day was less than the previous two days. Had we reached the peak?
Two weeks ago this image was circulated online. You can see that the estimate was for 5,700 dead by April 5th. By yesterday, 6th April, the total had reached 5,373, so the estimate was in the ballpark.
It could be that we peak during Easter weekend in a few days time. Instead of a busy weekend of outings, family gatherings, and busy beauty spots we’ll still all be confined to our homes like every other day during the past two weeks. The loss of revenue for thousands of businesses of all types will be enormous.
The EU and the Coronavirus pandemic
One thing this crisis has reminded us of is the value of leaders, nations, and borders. There’s nothing like a viral pandemic to prove what the free movement of people has its disadvantages, to say the least.
It has also produced examples of how nation states (understandably) look after their own during a crisis. It’s easy, during soft times, to talk of solidarity between nations but when the chips are down we all become much more insular.
For example, 20% of all surgeries carried out in the EU use PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) imported by the Swedish company Mölnlycke from Asia. Their main warehouse is in Lyon and they had earmarked a million masks each for Italy, Spain, and France, but the entire stock was confiscated by France. The French eventually relented but for now the shipments are no longer being sent to the Lyon warehouse.
French veteran policitician Jacques Delors (94), who played an important role in the formation of the EU, has suggested that the pandemic has put the union in ‘mortal danger‘ citing the lack of solidarity between member states. He is not alone in thinking this and similar thoughts have been expressed by other politicians and analysts.
As much as a crisis like this can unite communities and the citizens of a country behind the leadership of the day, temporarily leaving aside political differences, it doesn’t follow that a federation of states is united. We’re each looking after our own.