OPINION: My late grandad is one of many victims of UK’s coronavirus overreaction

PUBLISHED: 09:06 01 October 2020 | UPDATED: 09:13 01 October 2020

Ella Wilkinson with her grandfather who died recently. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Ella Wilkinson with her grandfather who died recently. Picture: Ella Wilkinson


Our columnist says Covid-19 restrictions meant she couldn’t say a proper goodbye to her grandad

My grandad just died because of Covid-19; he didn’t contract the virus, but it was a big contributor to his death.

Less than three weeks ago he took his final breath, he was so worried about catching this virus – because of how the fear of it had been exacerbated, that he stopped going to his regular check-ups at the hospital for his lung condition, neglecting his own health, which eventually led to him dying.

We couldn’t even properly say goodbye.

I wasn’t allowed to hold his hand in his final moments and tell him I love him, I had to talk to a non-responsive shell of a man through a screen.

The saddest thing is that he lived his last months on this earth in complete isolation. Just imagine how he felt as he was slowly dying with no one around him.

The view that I hold, is one I believe the silent majority do to, and that is that our reaction to the pandemic is completely disproportionate.

I am not in the boat which believes the virus is a lie, fabricated to control the masses. I do not believe the lockdown is the beginning of an AI revolution, or that the symptoms are those of 5G ‘sickness’.

It is clear that this is a serious illness, which can prove fatal to a very small percentage of our society. But that is simply it, a very small percentage (0.3% at its peak).

Worldwide a million people have now died after being diagnosed with Covid, which seems a very shocking statistic.

But compare this to the 9.6 million people globally who die from cancer every year. A large percentage of these people in the UK have had their treatments postponed and even stopped. These people will, in effect, die because of Covid too, but not from contracting the virus.

Then take the flu which kills off 650,000 annually. A virus which we have arguably had since Hippocrates wrote about flu-like symptoms some 2500 years ago, a virus which people have built up a natural immunity to, even vaccinated against, and it doesn’t seem as deadly.

In the UK we have lost just over 42,000 people, 90% of these people have had pre-existing health conditions and the average age of these people is 79 years old - this is not the Black Death.

Social isolation has also led to an increase in the already significantly high number of suicides, with psychologists warning there may be a suicide epidemic following lockdown.

Since time began people have lived with viruses, not in fear of them, just with the understanding that they exist.

Children are even encouraged to spread germs, chicken pox, colds, and flus at school to establish strong immune systems. So why as a nation are we cowering from this one?

In my adult life, I have lost relatives to cancer, lung conditions, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s and have still managed to carry on as normal. These people are the ones who are truly being let down in these unparalleled circumstances: Treatments are being put on hold, dementia suffers are denied family visits – the only thing that keeps their brains stimulated – and for what?

As a nation we have lost our ‘stiff upper lip’, we now fear death, and assume everyone must be kept alive forever – even when that quality of life is so agonising to the individual and their families - that we are prepared to risk our mental health, our economy, our job security and our futures over a relatively small proportion of people.

The rhetoric of good people vs bad people when it comes to following the rules is segregating us, and causing more of a societal divide than there already is. Over what? Over some moral high ground that people behind a keyboard can perch on?

People don’t wake up in fear of the common cold or the flu. People carry on living their lives knowing one in two of them are likely to develop cancer at some point. People don’t avoid using their cars, despite thousands of fatal car crashes each year on UK roads.

I think this is no longer simply about a virus, this is about a government which cannot back down from decisions made when they were under the impression the virus was far more deadly than it is. Our response to the epidemic has impoverished the nation, reduced the life chances of most of the younger generation and has been completely disproportionate to a disease which is now seen to only afflict the old and infirm.

Worst of all, the few people who are affected by this virus, the ones who are told to self-isolate and separate themselves from their families and social situations; those are the people who are missing out on living their final months and years with their loved ones.

Ella Wilkinson is an Archant visual journalist

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