Speaking from the UK, the current situation with Covid19 is escalating. As with other countries the reported number of cases is now escalating daily and the government’s suggestion is that they have now moved out of the containment stage and into the delay stage. The basis of the strategy is to try and push the peak of the virus towards the summer which gives the best opportunity for the National Health Service to have the maximum range of staff and resources required to deal with it.
There is a campaign of public information currently being waged, the like of which we have not seen, probably since the Second World War. The focus is to have the whole population adopting a strict and consistent hand washing regime, maintaining their distance in public places and self-isolating at home if they have any of the symptoms of the disease.
To highlight the seriousness of the affair, public events, and even the Football Leagues are currently being proposed for postponement.
One observation about the situation is that for over forty years, since the time of Margaret Thatcher, the dominant mantra in the UK has been increasingly one of aggressive individualism. Citizens in the UK have been increasingly used to showing enterprise and entrepreneurial flair to improve their personal circumstances.
This mantra includes such facets as one famous politician venerating his father, who, finding himself unemployed ‘got on his bike’ and cycled to the next town to find work. This sort of individualism has ben venerated over group action and social responsibility. As Margaret Thatcher famously once said ‘There’s no such thing as society.’
Unfortunately, this attitude is corrosive of community efforts to contain the virus.
There are a large number of people currently thinking the guidance given for the containment of the virus does not apply to them, that the effects are not that serious, and that in the British bulldog spirit, they will carry on as normal. Such people have been weaned on small government and resisting any restrictions on their liberty and freedom of action. They will be the weakest links in containing the virus with their selfish attitude.
In my own village the virus has already arrived. It seems to have been brought here by a family returning from a skiing trip to Italy. One of the family subsequently visited a local pub and the local after school club to pick up a child. These sites will be the epicentres from where the virus will spread.
We’ve also had the government feeding information and determining action in stages, as they believe the behaviourist view, that people won’t comply with public health requirements for more than a few weeks.
Other than in specific cases, like the out of school club mentioned above, the schools are not yet closed. But the feeling is that school closures are coming. From an educational point of view, that might have some profound impacts. This year’s examination season already looks compromised, which will require some fresh thinking to maintain the momentum of the system.
Similarly, to avoid disruption to the learning year, many schools are beginning to take various forms of online learning seriously. From websites to learning management systems and even online tutoring, online learning now has a priority like never before. It will be interesting to see if these learning forms outlive the current medical crisis and become a wider part of the learning diet beyond the virus, if so, it might be one of the few good things to have come of the current situation.
Wherever you are in the world, I hope the Covid19 virus either passes you by, or has a benign effect in your community and country. In the spread of the virus we have a wonderful illustration of the inter-connectiveness of our world, and how notional are the ideas of national borders. The virus also shows how dependent we are on each other to think beyond ourselves and act in socially responsible ways.