This absurd panic will cost us our health, our businesses, our education, our livelihoods…and our children
IN recent days we have seen an absurd panic about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Speaking for myself, I am heartily sick of these endlessly scary “variants” coming up.
The virus is deadly for very few people, dangerous for others and wholly unimportant for most of us.
We have to stop living as though this virus is Ebola. It isn’t.
But much of the media in this country — and the BBC in particular — approaches this from a totally different direction.
When a new variant of Covid arrives they do not ask: “How can we get on with life as normal?”
Instead they ask: “How can we go back into full lockdown?”
It is the same with the devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales.
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They never ask whether they can be less restrictive than Westminster, but only boast of doing more.
The journalists and the Welsh and Scots grandstanders all ask the same thing: “Why isn’t No10 restricting the public more?”
Never do they ask: “How can we let the public get on with their lives and stop living in fear?”
But they should do.
Because we now know the very high price of lockdowns.
And we know that the public don’t want any more lockdowns.
Indeed, before this latest panic, 52 per cent said they would oppose any introduction of new lockdowns, according to a YouGov poll for The Times.
The catalogue of damage inflicted on this country by lockdowns makes for very grim reading indeed.
It has touched every single one of us in ways we could never have imagined.
Let’s start with the impact on our health — the one thing these lockdowns are apparently designed to save — which has been startling.
HUGE NHS BACKLOG
We all now know there is a huge NHS backlog and the subsequent increase in undiagnosed illnesses that have resulted from an NHS focused solely on Covid.
Cancer in particular.
Up to 740,000 potential cases that should have been urgently referred to GPs were “missed”, according to one report out last week.
We know of the years of education lost by our nation’s children.
Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman spelled it out in no uncertain terms just this week.
Millions of kids became “lonely and miserable”, and some even lost the ability to hold a knife and fork, she revealed.
And if that is not outrageous and heartbreaking enough, there is a very sinister knock-on effect.
That is the neglect of the most vulnerable in our nation, like little Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, ignored by a social care system that suspended many of its duties during lockdown.
As Spielman put it so devastatingly: “There is a minority of children who are safer in school than out of it. We have to recognise that, by closing schools, we make that minority less safe.”
We also know of the backlog of trials in our criminal justice system.
COST OF LOCKDOWN
And we know of the businesses closed and livelihoods destroyed.
The economy on its knees.
Just last night, the Institute of Economic Affairs reported that Plan B — the first flush of a lockdown, let’s be honest — could wipe two per cent off the UK economy.
Which is £4billion a month, by the way.
There is, of course, more damage that we could discuss.
But you get the picture. The question is does No10?
Some people thought the ill-judged party was a “Westminster bubble” story.
Well, that idea has certainly burst now.
But we need to take the right lessons from it.
That isn’t that we should have tighter restrictions, more rules and less freedom.
The lesson should be that we need to be freed up.
And that lockdowns should be no more.
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