Wednesday 27 January 2021

Covid - We are not helpless - A guest blog by Dr Julia Hines

By Dr Julia Hines

Yesterday the Government confirmed that by their figures more than 100,000 people have died of Covid. It was a Tuesday, so Barnet published their figures, as usual, at 5pm. In 2020, across the whole year, 560 Barnet residents died of Covid 19. It was the cause of death on 20% of death certificates. This year, in the first two weeks of 2021, 130 Barnet residents died. Almost a quarter of last years death toll, and it feels like a toll, in just two weeks. 

Here is the thing - according to Barnet's figures, the case numbers are going down. But they are not dropping as fast as last week. And they are still incredibly high. Hospital admissions are not going down, but there are no beds. People go in faster than others are discharged. ICU is full, and expanded, and full again. 

It is so tempting to feel helpless in this situation, so easy to panic, so hard not to feel angry. To quote CS Lewis "I never knew grief felt so much like fear." 

We are not helpless. I am not going to talk to you about the rules you need to stick to. Honestly, the rules are so confusing and change so often, that I think only Adam Wagner understands them. But what we do have is a strategy. A set of basic principles that we can all understand. We can, and should, do more than the rules require, if we can. 

This is an airborne disease - wear a mask, in fact, wear two. Remember that anywhere inside puts you at risk. Work from home if you can; educate your kids from home if you can; ask for furlough if you need to; reduce your shopping trips for essentials; remember that when you order nonessentials online you put people in stockrooms and warehouses in contact with delivery workers, and people in sorting offices and post offices, and other delivery people, who also go to petrol stations. Open windows. Walk, cycle, get off the bus a stop or two early if you can. 

Stay 2 metres apart. Just, do.

Wash your hands. Wash the things you touched before you washed your hands - the doorknobs, loo flushes, light switches. And, whilst we are talking loos, close the lid before you flush. 

Get tested. Get the PCR test if you have symptoms or know you have been in contact with someone. Get the rapid testing regularly if you are a key worker or volunteer. 

Isolate. Ask for help if you need it, but please isolate. And I know that is easier said than done. 

Get the vaccine. Please get the vaccine. If you are worried about it, ask. If you have questions about it, ask. Ask me. Ask your GP. Turn up for vaccine appointment and ask the doctor there. A lot of people have worries about the vaccine - that is normal. A lot of rumours and stories go around about the vaccine. Stories are important, they bind us as communities, but being powerful does not make them true. 

Today, after the grief of yesterday, is Holocaust Memorial Day. The theme this year is "Be the light in the darkness". The darkness of distortion, hate and anger, the emotional darkness. We can be the light, we can make a path with kindness and calm. Because what we need to do is just what we have been doing, but more. 

Thank you to churches, temples mosques and synagogues who are already doing more by halting communal worship. We know your work continues, even though your buildings are shut. Thank you to all our key workers and volunteers for their courage. We see you and salute you. We know bravery was not necessarily in your job description. Thank you to everybody who makes every journey, every contact, every link in the chain, count. 

Be the light in the darkness and take care.


Dr Resident of London Borough of Barnet and former trustee and now volunteer at Age UK Barnet.

Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye.

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