Coronavirus, coronavirus, coronavirus… it has filled all of the headlines in the past few months. I almost feel like we are living in a film as this virus has had the ability to shut down the whole world…almost. Food has gone from shelves, flights have been cancelled and everyone has been told to self-isolate. Due to the fact that my part one of the coronavirus is extremely out of date as it seemed to be something that would not affect us in the UK, something that was happening in a far away land (little did we know), I have decided (with requests) to do an updated post about the virus. Now, there is so much information out there that I cannot possibly focus on everything, Therefore, for this blog, I shall focus on Italy, the UK, Ireland, France, the US and an update on China.
Since I last blogged, the World Health Organisations (WHO) confirmed that the coronavirus is a pandemic. That, being a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time. There have been more than 208,000 cases of coronavirus around the world. More than 8,000 have died and more than 82,000 have recovered.
Italy has been hit the hardest in Europe with the coronavirus. They have had more than 31,000 cases and over 2,500 deaths. The average age (as of last week) of those dying in Italy is 81. This depicts how death, by the coronavirus, is unlikely unless you have underlying health issues or are elderly.
As of the 9th of March, the country has been on lockdown in order to limit the spread. Individuals are able to travel if it is urgent e.g for work, emergencies or health reasons. They have been advised to keep at least 1 metre apart as public spaces like museums, cinemas and theatres have been shut. Airports have remained open and many flights are continuing but they need a document to show the reasons for their travel. If they lie, they could face up to three months in prison or a fine of 206 euros. Italy has seen a lot of panic buying despite the fact that they were reassured that shopping will be allowed and supermarkets will remain open.
With everything being closed in Italy, the economy is due to go downhill. Tourism accounts for 6% of Italy’s GDP yet places like Venice and Rome have been deserted. Italy’s government is expected to unveil a range of emergency measures to offset some of the economic shock caused by the lockdown. Individuals who are unable to work from home and in quarantine, have had their mortgage payments suspended so that they have more time.
It is no secret that Italy was already struggling before the coronavirus. In fact, if the European Commission had to choose a country to avoid the outbreak, it would probably be Italy. It will be interesting to see how the country deal after the crisis. Will they be able to cope? Or, will they need to be bailed out from major powers?
Since the lockdown, Italy has seen the growth of the virus slow down. In fact, the Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio hopes that his country will be the first in Europe to get over the emergency.
There have been over 2,600 cases in the UK and 104 deaths thus far. However, again, it is important to note that the majority of deaths have been over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions.
Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that 30 billion pounds will be set to boost the economy and get the country through the coronavirus outbreak. 12 billion will go towards coronavirus measures, 5 billion will go to the NHS and 7 billion will go towards businesses and workers across the UK. In addition to this, there have been measures taken to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus:
- Statutory sick pay for all those who are advised to self isolate
- 500 million “hardship fund” to be given to local authorities in England to help vulnerable people in their areas
- A “temporary coronavirus business interruption loan scheme” for banks to offer loans of up to 1.2 million to support small and medium businesses
- The government will meet costs for businesses with fewer than 250 employees of providing statutory sick pay to those off work because of the coronavirus
- Plans to make it quicker and easier to get benefits for those on zero hour contracts
- Benefit claimants who have been advised to stay at home will not have to physically attend job centres
The forecast growth of 2020 is at 1.1% which is the slowest rate since 2009 and this does not account for the impact of the coronavirus. The economy will be affected however, it will only be temporarily.
On the 12th of March, Boris Johnson made a statement. He said that we were moving into the ‘delay’ stage of the government’s plan. This meant that there would be a mixture of health advice along with social restriction measures in order to try and slow the rate of spread. The PM said that individuals should continue to wash their hands regularly. However, if they receive even mild symptoms of the virus, then they should remain in isolation for 7 days. At that moment, schools remained open because of the knock on effect that they would have on parents who work. As the situation gets worse, they will move towards a lockdown approach.
On the 16th of March, the PM gave another update. He announced that individuals should avoid pubs, restaurants and public gatherings. Those who are over 70 have been told to self isolate as they are more at risk if they get the virus. However, they are able to go for walks during these periods. Due to the large strain on the NHS, some hotels have been converted into hospitals in order to boost NHS numbers. Where possible, individuals have been told to work from home and avoid travel in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
However, the route that the UK has taken has led to national panic across supermarkets. The shelves have emptied rapidly for items such as toilet roll, hand sanitizer, hand wash, pasta, rice and tinned goods. Even foods like eggs and long life milk have started to disappear. Since coming home from university on Friday, I have been to Asda, Sainsburys and Aldi, yet none of them have had pasta! But people ask, why toilet roll? As a result of this, I did some research and found an article on why people have decided to shop for toilet roll of all items:
- People resort to extremes when they hear conflicting messages. By hearing different messages on the severity of the coronavirus, people prepare for the worst.
- Some are reacting to the lack of clear direction from officials. There has been mass quarantine in other countries and therefore, people want to be prepared.
- Panic buying begets panic buying. If you see individuals piling their shopping carts high with items, you will do the same because you are scared that the shops will run out.
- It’s natural to want to overprepare.
- It allows some people to feel a sense of control in a helpless situation.
The WHO, along with the PM, have both said about the importance of washing hands in not spreading and catching the virus. This is why the demand for hand wash or hand sanitizer has rocketed. In fact, google searches for ‘making your own hand sanitizer’ have become very popular. I read an article recently on the top 10 things that can help spread the virus:
- Banknotes (WHO officials have warned people to use electronic payments instead)
- Door handles
- Office kitchens
- ATMs or ticket machines
- Communal bathroom surfaces
- Hospital surfaces
- Airplan seats
- Anything in a GP surgery
By cleaning these items regularly, it has been said that the rate of growth of the virus should steady.
Ireland have seen 292 cases of the coronavirus with 2 deaths. Already, Ireland have implemented measures to stop spreading the virus. An estimated 140,000 people in Ireland have been laid off and are now out of work in order to slow the spread. All of which work in restaurants, bars or with children. However, the government have introduced an online form in order to ensure the newly unemployed still receive an income. With St Patrick’s Day on the 17th March, the yearly parade has also been cancelled.
There have been more than 7,700 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in France with 175 deaths. President Emmanuel Macron has announced that France will be placed on lockdown from midday on Tuesday for at least 15 days. Public gatherings and social contact will be banned. Only trips to supermarkets, pharmacies and places of work will be allowed but people will be advised to work from home where possible. As someone that had planned to go to Paris next Wednesday, my Eurostar got cancelled and my boat trip also got cancelled. Along with this, the Eiffel Tower has been shut in order to prevent spreading the virus.
Looking at the EU as a whole, EU chief Ursula Von Der Leyen has proposed a 30 day ban on all non-essential travel to the bloc. Officials have insisted on the need to keep the 27-nation bloc’s internal borders open as much as possible urging members not to block the transport of goods and services.
THE UNITED STATES
The US have had over 7,500 cases with 117 deaths. In response to this, Trump primarily banned all flights from Europe, excluding the UK. The EU said that Trump decided this unilaterally. This caused the stock markets to plummet as the travel ban included trade and cargo. However, Trump has now extended this ban to include the UK- there goes my holiday to New York. Adding on from this, Washington is ordering restaurants, bars and clubs to close by 10pm. This will be in effect til April 1st.
Meanwhile, in China, the origin of the virus, there has been a large drop in cases. Not only this, but some schools are to reopen after more than a month of being closed. The country have been in lockdown for a few months now. They have seen a total of more than 3,200 deaths across the country with more than 80,000 cases and nearly 70,000 people who have recovered from the virus.
FILMS and SHOWS AFFECTED BY THE CORONAVIRUS
- Fargo season 4
- S.W.A.T. have halted production
- Saturday Night Live postponed indefinitely
- First Cow
- The Jinx
- The Matriz 4
- Fantastic Beasts
- Midnight in the Switchgrass
- The Climb
- The Card Cutter
- Love Island France
- The Witcher
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- Jurassic World: Dominion
- James Bond: No Time to Die
- Fast and Furious 11
- Many many more….
I honestly do not know what the future holds for the coronavirus. Will I go back to university next term is at the forefront of my mind? I have received an email saying that face to face teaching has finished but do not know what will happen next. From my last blog, I was very optimistic about the future of the coronavirus. I didn’t think it would affect the UK or the EU as much as it had. Maybe, it was because I had 3 holidays booked or maybe it was because I thought it wouldn’t get to that stage. Do I think that the coronavirus is serious enough to shut down entire countries? No. With regards to old people and people with underlying health issues, it is a serious matter. But, for those with no issues and are younger, there shouldn’t be so much panic. I’m not an expert at the end of the day so I do trust the reactions of political leaders across the world- I hope they know what they are doing. I just hope that people calm down. The scenes in the shops are atrocious. I was with my friend the other day and we saw some woman grab loads of chopped tomatoes off of the shelves. My friend also told me about a woman who wouldn’t let her have one bag of rice from her whole shopping cart of rice. It’s just selfish. Essentials for them are also essentials for other people, so sharing is the best way to go about it. Especially when it comes to older people who cannot actually fight for these items- and they are the people that need it most!! For us healthy, young, individuals, we can still go out during the lockdown to get food because even if we do get the virus, it won’t be as severe as those older people or people with underlying health issues. For now, I just hope that people stop being selfish and calm down in a time of crisis. I hope that together we get through this swiftly and return back to how we were before this pandemic.