The news wasn’t good. During a televised address yesterday morning, the UK’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance (pictured, on right, with Whitty), presented slide after slide of dire figures. Cases of Covid-19 are doubling in the UK every seven days and if no action is taken, we could be seeing as many as 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October and 200 deaths a day by mid-November. All in all, they said, the UK is facing a very difficult six months. It was a sobering affair.
But then came the really alarming part. After the scientists’ presentation, no government minister appeared to answer questions or to outline a plan of action. No clarity was offered about what was being done to prevent such an outcome or what measures might be enforced in the coming days, weeks or months. Instead, Downing Street revealed that Boris Johnson would be chairing a crisis meeting today, which prompted plenty of foreboding speculation that another lockdown was at least possible – if not imminent.
Once again the UK government has left the country in a state of limbo. Business owners don’t know whether they’ll be asked to shut their doors; parents can’t be certain that they won’t need to restart home-schooling; families don’t know if they’ll be prevented from seeing one another again. Why roll out the experts to share grim statistics without also offering a clear and reassuring plan of action? Such lack of preparation might have been excusable in March but this pandemic has been with us for months now and will remain a part of our lives for a long while yet. Though no one wants hasty decisions to be made, it’s hard not to feel frustrated by the unnecessary theatrics of the UK government’s approach.