It now seems almost certain that the coronavirus will spread to the United Kingdom.
Schools have sent home children recently returned from skiing trips to infection-hit regions of northern Italy.
Hospitals have action plans at the ready in case doctors and nurses are struck down by it. Triage units (looking suspiciously like those tents workmen use in the rain) are being set up in car parks.
My kids’ school sent round an email informing parents they were in contact with the Department of Health and asking us to remind our kids about the importance of hand-washing. (To be honest, if it takes a global pandemic to make my little boy wash his hands a bit more often, it’s probably a price worth paying.)
Meanwhile, the HR department here at the Mirror sent a message instructing us to be vigilant and to let our line managers know if we’re about to keel over.
It’s starting to feel like we’re 10 minutes into every disaster movie you’ve ever watched. It’s that bit where people are still carelessly going about their everyday lives with only a couple of oddballs warning about an impending meteor strike/alien invasion/nuclear hit/dinosaur revival*.
By this time next week we’ll be 20 minutes into Britain’s real-life coronavirus movie and we’ll know more whether it’s turned into a full-on disaster or (hopefully) another near miss.
Let’s all hope and pray it’s another near miss as planning for this pandemic seems about as efficient as the national preparedness for flooding.
Even though both have been warned about for years. But if this pending disaster achieves one thing (beyond improving my little boy’s handwashing) it will be a timely reminder of how much we in our modern world depend on those around us for survival.
We may like to think we’re living in the age of the individual but if thousands of essential workers suddenly went into isolation the cracks in this fragile nation would show within hours.
Imagine thousands of truckers and delivery drivers had to isolate themselves. They’d then be unable to deliver food to our shops. Ingredients to take-aways. Medicines to hospitals. Fuel to garages. Some train and bus services would have to close down.
Energy and water plants would struggle to function. Power cuts could begin. The wifi might even cut out!
Prices of products that remain in shops would sky rocket.
Imagine staff in our police, fire services and NHS have to stay at home in isolation. Or our financial institutions which keep the whole thing ticking have to close.
In reality, I doubt much of this will happen. And I don’t mean to scare anyone with such prophecies of doom. But sometimes it’s only a little bit of fear which reminds us how much we have to lose.
*delete as appropriate
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