Don’t be selfish: continue social distancing

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Since Boris Johnson has announced that the number of people allowed to meet during lockdown increased to six, I have noticed an increasing number of people breaking rules which for months have been repeated through radios, TVs and social media.

Despite a slogan change of “Stay at Home, Protect the NHS” to now “Stay Alert”, the virus is still just as deadly as ever. Frustratingly, much of the British population seem to have taken the relaxing of rules as permission to give up on the two metres of social distancing. This is putting the UK at risk of a second wave, forcing us back into isolation. Not only would this negatively affect the economy (even further than already) but would also put more lives in danger.

A BBC report highlighted that the UK was only second to the US in terms of global coronavirus deaths, with 40,000 deaths at the time of the report. This number is rising.

The government has handled the situation badly. They were not prepared for a virus with such horrific consequences. Having said that, we have all had our part to play in the spread of the virus. The excuse I’ve heard repeated is ‘I’m healthy and so is the person I’m meeting, so why not?’ Indeed, it is true that when socially distancing from friends and family who seem healthy it begins to seem ridiculous that two metres is protecting you from an invisible threat. Perhaps people feel that their own interpretation of lockdown rules will not affect the fate of a whole country. But if everyone begins to think that their actions will have no consequences, deaths will increase once again.

Dominic Cummings, as an example, made decisions based on his own individual situation. He was rightly criticised for deciding how he could interpret rules that he had made himself. It seems that more people are beginning to do this.

A recent BBC article by David Shukman had the headline ‘Coronavirus: The mystery of asymptomatic ‘silent spreaders’’. It was discovered that it was possible to not show any symptoms of the virus and still be highly contagious. The uncertainty of how many cases there are which are asymptomatic range from 5% to 80% of cases. Essentially you could have the virus but appear completely healthy. Scientists in California called these asymptomatic cases the ‘Achilles Heel’ of the pandemic, suggesting that this is the main issue.

Understandably, the government still urge social distancing. This is the most effective way that the virus will be controlled. It will protect others from yourself, as you might be unknowingly infected. Indeed, many people don’t seem to realise how easily this virus spreads. Even if you’re not going out and seeing people you could have caught the virus from your postman touching a package coming through your door.

In Shukman’s article he uses the example of a church service in Singapore. A couple flew from Wuhan to Singapore and then went to church the morning they landed. They thought that they were completely healthy because they had no symptoms of the virus. However, that week the couple and three other locals became ill with COVID-19.

The cases were investigated, and it was found that one of the women who had become ill hadn’t been at the same service as the couple but had sat in the same seats as them hours later. Once again proving the highly infective nature of the disease. Everyone should assume that they are contagious.

Another excuse used by many young people is that if they catch the virus it is very unlikely to put them at risk. However, this selfish excuse is made redundant by the fact that you are still a spreader, potentially ‘super-spreader’, if you’re not following government rules. To put it bluntly; your spreading of the virus could result in someone’s death.

Whatever your excuse and reasoning is for breaking government guidance, I can guarantee you that there is someone else in the country who is in a worse situation than you are and is still following regulations.

So, next time you are not following social distancing, ask yourself; why have I put myself above the rules? And at what cost to others?

Ana Hill Lopez-Menchero

Image: Public Domain Pictures.