Three Months On: Are Female Leaders Still Handling Coronavirus?

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Back in May, England was still in the middle of a summer-long lockdown, watching on as countries like New Zealand, Denmark, and even our neighbouring Scotland seemingly soared through their respective goals. These countries lifted lockdowns, opened up schools, and tackled the coronavirus in an efficient, life-preserving way that many would argue we haven’t seen in England or the USA. 

Flash forward to now, and we’ve ended both nationwide lockdown and shielding. Shops, cafes, and restaurants have opened back up and we’re preparing to return to university at the end of the month. But with over a thousand new cases a day and local lockdowns becoming increasingly common, has Boris blundered what should have been a successful end to months of uncertainty?

When New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the country COVID-free on June 8th, it was the first to achieve such a huge milestone after having just 1,700 cases. The UK is far from being able to claim such a victory, however, has nearly fully opened back up, with masks and social distancing becoming a necessary part of normal life. While Ardern put policies in place designed to reduce the virus until the risk to New Zealanders was minimal to zero, Johnson seems to have adopted a laissez-faire approach, choosing to lift restrictions regardless of safety. 

The UCU (University and College Union) has said that the return to university could spark ‘disaster’, with around a million students traveling around the country to take part in freshers events. While young people are less likely to die from the virus, that still doesn’t account for pre-existing conditions that, once you look into it, affect more of us than thought. If your BMI considers you to be overweight or obese, then that classes you as having a pre-existing condition, and in a study by the WHO, 73.7% of a 10,000-person sample who were critically ill in hospital were overweight.

This also explains Boris Johnson’s recent push for the country to lose weight – the UK’s vastly unhealthy lifestyle of drinking and takeaways (which university culture only amplifies) puts us 11th in the world for obesity rates, a list which the USA – who recently passed 6 million cases – tops.  

So why is Johnson seemingly hoping that the country pulls up its bootstraps and quells the virus themselves? We have been asked to lose weight, to enforce the mask rule ourselves, to stay home where possible but also to go back to work. Rishi Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme saw millions of us venture into restaurants despite cases being at their highest since June. The paradoxical advice being given to us is reflected in the confused state of the nation. With the daily briefings ended, declared ‘unnecessary’, most people don’t know how many new cases or deaths there are, and the lax attitude shows that some really may not care.

Compared to Ardern’s response to 6 new cases in the city of Auckland, which instantly went into a two-week lockdown, Johnson is completely lacking. The new cases were likely brought in by Kiwis returning from abroad or flying in, for example, to attend funerals. In the UK, holiday goers are free to come and go from the country and citizens are more likely to follow the rules out of compassion. 

Back in May, England was still in the middle of a summer-long lockdown, watching on as countries like New Zealand, Denmark, and even our neighbouring Scotland seemingly soared through their respective goals. These countries lifted lockdowns, opened up schools, and tackled the coronavirus in an efficient, life-preserving way that many would argue we haven’t seen in England or the USA. 

Flash forward to now, and we’ve ended both nationwide lockdown and shielding. Shops, cafes, and restaurants have opened back up and we’re preparing to return to university at the end of the month. But with over a thousand new cases a day and local lockdowns becoming increasingly common, has Boris blundered what should have been a successful end to months of uncertainty?

When New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the country COVID-free on June 8th, it was the first to achieve such a huge milestone after having just 1,700 cases. The UK is far from being able to claim such a victory, however, has nearly fully opened back up, with masks and social distancing becoming a necessary part of normal life. While Ardern put policies in place designed to reduce the virus until the risk to New Zealanders was minimal to zero, Johnson seems to have adopted a laissez-faire approach, choosing to lift restrictions regardless of safety. 

The UCU (University and College Union) has said that the return to university could spark ‘disaster’, with around a million students traveling around the country to take part in freshers events. While young people are less likely to die from the virus, that still doesn’t account for pre-existing conditions that, once you look into it, affect more of us than thought. If your BMI considers you to be overweight or obese, then that classes you as having a pre-existing condition, and in a study by the WHO, 73.7% of a 10,000-person sample who were critically ill in hospital were overweight.

This also explains Boris Johnson’s recent push for the country to lose weight – the UK’s vastly unhealthy lifestyle of drinking and takeaways (which university culture only amplifies) puts us 11th in the world for obesity rates, a list which the USA – who recently passed 6 million cases – tops.  

So why is Johnson seemingly hoping that the country pulls up its bootstraps and quells the virus themselves? We have been asked to lose weight, to enforce the mask rule ourselves, to stay home where possible but also to go back to work. Rishi Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme saw millions of us venture into restaurants despite cases being at their highest since June. The paradoxical advice being given to us is reflected in the confused state of the nation. With the daily briefings ended, declared ‘unnecessary’, most people don’t know how many new cases or deaths there are, and the lax attitude shows that some really may not care.

Compared to Ardern’s response to 6 new cases in the city of Auckland, which instantly went into a two-week lockdown, Johnson is completely lacking. The new cases were likely brought in by Kiwis returning from abroad or flying in, for example, to attend funerals. In the UK, holiday goers are free to come and go from the country and citizens are more likely to follow the rules out of compassion. 

While cases have been on the rise in both nations, it’s clear that one Prime Minister is running their country like a well-oiled machine, efficient and dedicated to eradicating the virus and protecting human lives. The other? Well, we’re living in his mess.

Lizzie Wright

Featured Image Source: Flickr