5th May 2020
Writing: Rowan McGirr (Year 11)
Editing: Luke Corey (Year 10)
The COVID-19 crisis has had a huge impact on us all. The outbreak has inevitably forced us to adapt to a whole new way of living. Despite this, the country has been very reactive and should be applauded for their response to government guidelines, whether that's on a social level, which prevents us visiting those dearest to ourselves, or on an individual basis as the virus prohibits most adults from working in their normal environment and children from attending school. The pandemic has tested our patience as a nation and our perseverance as individuals.
Unfortunately, this invisible killer has had a negative impact on a much broader scale. The current lockdown and social distancing measures brought about by the coronavirus crisis, coupled with the direct effects of the virus on workers and firms, are having a huge impact on economies in the UK and around the world. Will the economic recovery be shaped like a V or a U, or perhaps the Nike swoosh?
Although this is a much-discussed question among economists right now, it's perhaps not the most important question. We have had troubling periods previously, such as the global financial crash of 2008/09, however quick fixes proved the key to regaining control. But, in the situation we find ourselves in currently, old fixes cannot apply to this new crisis. Interest rates cannot be cut at the pace they did ten years ago, for example. This is what makes the current climate so unique: never before have we witnessed a worldwide pandemic which has taken control so rapidly.
After the lockdown, life will slowly recover to its normal self. People will have the ability to visit friends and family face to face, streets will become busier; longer term, restaurants, shops, theatres and cinemas will reopen. As this occurs, suppliers will begin to trade and then a question arises - whether the consumers return to normal or abide by some of the habits forced upon them in lockdown. Until this happens however, it's challenging for economists to detect how badly the economy has been hit.
The virus, as mentioned earlier, has reached an unprecedented scale. As such, for us to combat and eventually defeat this pandemic, we all need to play an active role in maintaining our personal hygiene. This involves actions such as vigorous washing of hands, application of hand sanitiser to prevent germs spreading and to comply with social distancing measures. The rapid spread of the virus, matched with its high infection rate shows how crucial these hygiene measures are.
Regrettably, these measures will be likely to stay intact until the end of this year. To quote Prof. Chris Whitty, the UK’s most senior medic, it was important to be realistic that ‘highly disruptive’ social distancing would need to be in place for ‘really quite a long period of time’. Although this can be perceived as daunting, there is still light at the end of the tunnel. Looking at the long-term effects of the virus, there is a high chance that a number of people will cling on to some of the habits they acquired during the lockdown, and consistently maintain a high standard of personal hygiene. If this was upheld and countries around the globe began properly preparing for another pandemic by having Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in vast quantities for front-line workers, life-saving devices such as ventilators, higher testing resources and strengthened surveillance, we would undoubtedly have the capabilities to prevent another spread of this potentially lethal virus, therefore greatly reducing the devastating impacts, such as the current pandemic inflicted upon us today.
There are many unanswered questions circling through our heads. The once perceived temporary period of quarantine may become some people's 'normal'. Although the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has mentioned that we are close to the peak of the virus, we haven't overcome it. When the Government decides to relax the rules lockdown imposes on us, there will be a long period of time until we return to normality. As previously highlighted, social distancing measures are likely to be enforced until the end of this year in the UK and around Europe. In addition, the coronavirus lockdown has the potential to cause a 35% decline in GDP in the coming months, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. This emphasises the true reality of where we are and gives us some indication of the duration in which we have to persevere and endure the monotony lockdown inflicts upon us. Therefore, it is important that we follow government guidelines and aid those who cannot provide for themselves during these challenging times. I hope this finds you all in good health and with luck, sooner rather than later, we can reunite as a school community and enjoy the friendly company of one another.