If you are a healthy, white teen or twenty girl you can be forgiven for thinking “Coronavirus, WTF is all the fuss about, half of you don’t even notice you have it and for most of the rest of you it’s not even a bad cold!” But tweak the demographic even a tad, change ‘white’ to ‘black’, or ‘healthy’ to ‘asthmatic’ and you have the right to be a little concerned. In the words of No 10 briefings, ‘ramp that up’ to ‘70-year-old white woman with pre-existing health issues’ and you get the right to be scared. If you are an 80-year-old, black bloke with diabetes and COPD, you could rightly be terrified!
As lockdown starts to be (I think prematurely) eased, the vast majority of the population is hovering around ‘a bit worried’, but some of us will be bricking it every time we have to cross the threshold for a medical appointment or other extreme contingency.
There are nearly nine million of us Brits over 70. Around eight million are BAME. Almost five million of us have diabetes. There are nearly fourteen million disabled people here. Of course, there are a lot of crossover’s here and not all disabled people are vulnerable. But whatever way you look at it there must be around 20% of us who could cark it if we got Covid-19. (If you are unfamiliar with what ‘cark’ means, it has two meanings, either to worry, or to die. In this case I’ll use it to mean worried about dying!) The stats for some groups really are terrifying… half of those over 80 who have been tested positive for C-19 have died.
So, while my older grandchildren might well be counting the days until the pubs open or they can chill with their mates, I’m among the twelve million who are worried we might be under self-imposed lockdown forever.
It’s great for you to be shoving pictures of your over-long or greying hair on Instagram or even making YouTube clips of self-dentistry. But there will be hundreds of thousands of people too scared to get their dentures adjusted when the dentists open, let alone have their hair cut. We know, already, that people are dying because they are too scared to go to hospital for cancer treatment or possible heart-attacks.
As we start to get to the new normal what’s to become of the self-shielding? Unless there is an effective treatment or vaccine our choice is between isolation and mortal danger.