I’m angry not because I’m vulnerable, but because thousands of others are at risk too

Paddy Murray: Would Covid sceptics express their views to families who have lost loved ones?

For just for one minute, pretend it’s 80 years ago.

You’re in London – during the second World War.

Every night the air raid sirens sound and people are forced out of their homes into shelters or underground stations. Parts of London are bombed relentlessly. Casualties are high. Homes are destroyed.

There is widespread rationing and many basic goods are scarce. City children are moved away from their families to the relative safety of the countryside where they live with strangers. Every day, reports come back about young men being killed at the front.

There is no freedom of movement. The streets are watched and patrolled by uniformed police or volunteers.

The economy is in tatters.

And with no end in sight, people are becoming stressed.

Then some start complaining that the war has gone on too long, that they are suffering from stress and depression, that they are suffering physically and that their children’s education is suffering too.

Restrictions

They say it’s time to call a halt, time to get back to normal. Time to end the war and lift all the restrictions. They write to the newspapers – but the letters aren’t published. They have no way to garner support from the rest of the population. And so their campaign to end the restrictions comes to nought.

Of course, such events didn’t happen – as far as we know.

And of course the fight continued until the war was won, Hitler was dead, the Nazis surrendered and the concentration camps were liberated.

Now move on 80 years.

At present, we have hundreds of people falling ill every day with a disease which has already claimed more than 4,000 lives in the Republic of Ireland and 2,000 in the North – almost twice as many who died during the Troubles.

And yet we still have people telling us they’ve had enough of the coronavirus restrictions and we should just “get back to normal”.

We have people spouting views which, if listened to, will inevitably cause death and suffering – maybe not for them, but certainly for others.

They don’t need newspapers or indeed broadcasters to air their views – though they are getting some traction in the media. It is the internet which lets them air whatever views they wish without restraint.

Already we’ve seen how the pressure exerted by people calling for the partial lifting of the lockdown before Christmas resulted in the situation deteriorating and more people dying.

But somehow that hasn’t stopped the Covid sceptics, the mask refuseniks and those who believe it’s a matter of “personal choice” whether they obey restrictions or not.

I wonder if they’d express their views as firmly to the families of those who have lost loved ones?

I wonder if they’d tell those close to victims of long Covid, that we should all be out partying and shopping and doing as we please?

And if I sound angry it’s because I am.

Tested positive

I have been told of a workplace where one member of staff decided to continue to work every day without telling their colleagues they were a close contact of a person who had tested positive for Covid. Several colleagues were infected.

I have also been told about a house which was being shared by three people who were in quarantine. They stuck rigidly to the rules for 14 days. And when the fortnight was up, they had a house party. It’s hard to credit, but it’s what they did.

I’m angry not just because I’m vulnerable, but because thousands are.

But that cuts no ice with those who insist we lift restrictions and get back to “normal”.

The bad news is, that if we do lift restrictions, the “normal” they get will be very, very different from the one they’re expecting.

There may very well be reasons for lifting some restrictions. But “it’s being going on long enough” isn’t one of them.

If you think a second World War analogy was stretching it, well here’s another.

My view of those calling for everything to be opened up again is that they are likely to have been the ones complaining that they’d been too long in the lifeboats and demanded the right to get back on the Titanic.

Personally, I’ll take advice from experts, from doctors.

They’ve managed to keep me alive against the odds for the past few years.

Hopefully, if we listen to what they’re saying, they can do the same for many others in the coming months.