Over the last five weeks we have seen an unprecedented attack on our most basic freedoms and human rights in the UK. Our freedom of movement, to work, buy and sell and receive an education has all stopped for what we are told is to stop a deadly virus and ‘keep us safe’. Scientists say that lockdown and social distancing could last until 2022 (The Guardian, 14th April).
However mainstream media is not outlining what the real risks are in relation to other epidemics or risks to human life.
Fear has always been used a tool to control and take away our freedoms.
Firstly, looking at the statistics provided, covid19 is reported to date to have claimed the lives of 21,731 people (NHS England, 28/04/20). According to Public Health England, the average death rate from seasonal flu in the UK varies between 17,000- 28,000. Globally, the World Health Organisation puts the death toll at 202,597 (WHO, 28/04/20). There are also lots of unanswered questions as to the reliability of these statistics. Reports suggest that the death toll might include people who have died ‘with the virus and not ‘of the virus’ and it’s been reported that testing kits are useless and that people are being diagnosed as having covid19 without tests. (Financial Times, 30/03)
Malaria kills 1 child every second and has an annual death rate of 1 million. Diarrhoea and pneumonia claim the lives of 2 million children a year, and poverty kills millions every year (dosomething.org, 28/04/20).
In the UK Pedro Guertler and Peter Smith reported that 9,700 deaths a year are caused by living in a cold house (NEA, Cold Homes and Excess Winter Deaths Report, 2018). The ONS released figures that show that 351 people in England and Wales died of malnutrition in 2016.
Fear, panic and anxiety that a hysterical 24/7 media is creating, while keeping people locked up in their homes without human contact, fresh air and sunlight will do irrevocable damage. Studies show that isolation is on par with high blood pressure, obesity and smoking as risk factors for early death (Social Relationships and Health, House, Landis and Umberson, 1988). Other studies have shown that living in isolation can cause a 50% increase in risk of death. (Cindy Lamothe, The Guardian, 3 Jan 2018).
Putting this all into context, the fear of the virus and reality are quite different. We do not lock up our society and stop our economies for other risks to human life such as seasonal flu, malaria and poverty. Staying locked up away from work family, friends and social connectivity will take a far greater toll on our health and that of our loved ones, than living in irrational fear of a virus that means we lose our most basic, hard won human rights.
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