“This is not the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning.” Despite the awfulness of the defeats and disasters at the start of the Second World War, those are the words- alongside “blood, toil, sweat and tears” which gave the British people some hope for the future. My instinct about the Coronavirus crisis may be about the same, especially here in the West Country.
It was only a month ago that we were fearing massive numbers ill and dying. There was a risk that the entire National Health Service would have been overwhelmed. We really had no clue about what the future held.
The Government acted, and acted decisively, both with regard to the Lockdown, which would of course have been unthinkable only a few weeks previously and social distancing in general. They put a financial package in place to tide businesses and people over the worst, and to try to give a foundation stone for the rebuilding of the economy once it’s all over. Hundreds of millions of pieces of Personal Protection Equipment were sourced and shipped, testing was increased, new hospitals built in a record time; an army of volunteers mobilised; and a whole host of other ideas and initiatives.
Now of course there are criticisms which can be made. No enterprise as big as this is ever free of error. The PPE should have been delivered to the front line sooner. It should have been delivered far more widely- especially as we now realise to the Care Home Sector. There should have been far more testing; more ventilators should have been ordered. Of course, there are things that could have been done better or done differently. Hindsight is a luxury for armchair generals.
But I am beginning to be encouraged by all of the weekly online briefings I am being given. The number of sad deaths is still increasing, especially if you include all of those in care homes and in people’s private houses, which are harder to collect as statistics. It seems likely that the 20,000 figure will very sadly be about right. But that could easily have been so much higher. It appears that the numbers being admitted to hospital are levelling off, which means that the death figures will at least level off and start to fall we all hope within a week or so.
In other words, the social distancing and the lockdown which has been so hard on so many people, really does seem to be working. There is still a great deal we do not know, of course. We really do not yet have much idea how we are going to get out of this and get back to some semblance of normal life. The Government are announcing a further three weeks of lockdown- which takes us through to 7th May or thereabouts. There is some talk of easing off some of the restrictions thereafter- perhaps starting with primary schools, thinking about whether or not more shops, perhaps garden centres, could open albeit with social distancing rules in place; whether or not public parks and so on would be better open for joggers and walkers, albeit 6 feet apart.
Its most definitely not the end; not even the beginning of the end. But I just somehow sense that it may be the end of the beginning. So now we must stiffen our resolve; stick to the rules; stay at home; and see this thing through.