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National Covid Neurosis

The problem may be international – but what I pick up is mainly from the scene in the UK After a couple of weeks with the news giving more prominence to other matters, this past week has been ravaged by fears of the Covid-19 Pandemic. There is no doubt that here, and in other European counties the number of people contracting the disease has increased – mainly younger people, often because of involvement in reckless social activities, oiled by alcohol or other substances, in a culture encouraged and sponsored by government.

This is a hazard for young people, but more so for older people, especially those carrying multiple pathologies, including dementia – and especially those in care homes or hospital. Also at additional risk are the care workers, especially those of the BAME communities. Has anything happened since the first and devastating surge of Covid-19 which will make lives safer in those homes? There are reports already of lack of PPE. The dynamics of hospital to care home transfers may have been tightened up, but maybe. The dynamics of the workforce remain the same as far as I know – Shortages of staff, loss of staff by deaths, self-isolation and illness mean that some homes are dependent on agency staff, who work because they cannot afford not to – even when they are ill and will carry infection from one setting to another.

Yet we have become aware that there are alternative hazards to people, arising from the responses to this threat, as much as from the physical risks of the infection. It has its grip women and especially within younger age groups, with 30% being anxious. Despite all the changes in the past decade, older people remain more philosophical.

Focus in care homes has become the consequences of isolation and loss of personal and meaningful contact even when death is approaching.

There are calls for improvement to the working conditions for staff – Let us hope this can be achieved, but it will take time and a major review of where money is spent

We are pleased to have schools and colleges reopened and beginning to function again. We are glad to be able to spend time in church, even if we are told not to sing our praises. We are glad to have health walks recognised as an organised sporting activity and to be cautiously started again. It is essential that families can meet in responsible and caring ways.

My favourite observation of the week has been that of Professor Moin Saleem of The University of Bristol who draws attention to evidence that 35 – 50%of the world population has natural resistance to Covid-19 and another 25% has acquired resistance – to it. This means we may be approaching herd immunity. ‘Is Covid’s end closer than we think?’

The world has lived through previous pandemics without the benefit of so much knowledge and science. Our difficulty – and current failure – is to learn from what is fact – and to balance the risks to physical health, psychological wellbeing, and the economy before taking action.

We need collaborative efforts not competition between ‘for-profit’ mega-organisations, and cool heads, experienced in making clinical judgements.

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