Sunday, 3 February 2008


There is a growing anger amongst the general public about the lack of any proper planning for this disaster. I bought a selection of newspapers this morning and although they were all limited editions the common feature was an attack on the Government and local authorities.

At the beginning of the outbreak the media were supportive and in what on reflection seemed akin to the WW2 propaganda they appealed for people to go to work and follow the public service announcements .

Yet as the weeks have passed it has become obvious that whatever plans were in place were totally inadequate. There seems to have been an assumption that the infection rate would be between 25-30% of the population over a six month period. In reality the infection rate has hit 50% in some areas. However, the most significant underestimates have been in relation to the mortality rates which were thought to be 30% at the worst - when it is currently hitting between 75-80% of those who fall ill.

It's this fearful mortality rate that is keeping people at home and bringing the country to its knees. In Edinburgh alone, out of a population of nearly 450,000, there have been nearly 200,000 reported cases (probably severely under-reported) with 145,000 deaths. The death toll in Scotland is approaching 1.75 million and the absence rate from work is running at 75% which includes those who have died; those who are ill; those who are caring for the sick, young or elderly; and those who are simply too scared to go to work.

A powerful example came from Edinburgh City Council where they bravely tried to maintain services - unfortunately the office conditions merely served to provide a breeding ground for the virus, which led to nearly 90% of staff who came into work falling ill. Learning about these figures it's no surprise that I haven't heard anything from the Education office.

There has been talk from the outset about two waves of "it" coming over a 16 week period. Almost all scenarios had been based on this assumption which would have spread out the impact on services, whereas it appears that it's hit us in an enormous wave - I think back to the image of the Tsunami I wrote about four weeks ago.

In effect that is exactly what we have been hit with, yet the Government continue to reject such a picture - they are issuing bulletin after bulletin proclaiming that we are gradually starting to manage the outbreak - LIES!! - and everyone knows it. Gordon Brown was on the News at lunchtime today saying that they could not have predicted the severity of the outbreak and that no scenarios took account of what we are experiencing - I did feel sorry for him (he's lost one of his sons who had cystic fibrosis) and his wife is in hospital - which in itself is aggravating many of the public who can't get such care for their family. He relied upon telling us that we were tackling this "shoulder-to-shoulder" with every other country and human being on the planet......I'm afraid I switched it off at that point. There comes a time when you only care for those you know - the fact that nearly a billion people have died already means nothing to me in comparison to losing Graham and Kirsty .... is that selfish?


KathyinFL said...

Anger is a natural part of the grieving process. It would be unexpected if people weren't getting angry at some point.

The fault of the matter, in my opinion, doesn't necessarily lie in the various governments around the world to plan for a scenario that wound up not being "bad enough." The fault lies with the lack of insistence by those governments to require their citizens to take part in the preparations. It also lies in the "head in the sand" and "it can't happen to me" outlook shared by the majority of people.

But anger and blame only serve a purpose if it creates constructive change. The blame game will not help what is going on now. Its a waste of valuable creative energy that is needed right now. Hold people accountable after the pandemic is over with, assuming those officials survive. Accept responsibility after the pandemic is over with for not keeping more in our homes' pantries.

Right now that energy needs to be channeled to do the most good. How is the current scenario - what IS right now - going to be dealt with? Where is today's and tomorrow's food going to come from? Is there any way to rehabilitate the utility grid NOW to help those that have survived?

We are at war. The enemy may be a microscopic virus, but there is still a warlike quality to our attempts at survival.

War crime trials can come after we figure out who the winner is ... the human race or the pandemic flu.

DC said...


Once again your insights are very helpful.

One of the challenges we face is to try to maintain some form of normality in our daily lives. Today has been a case in point as we focused our attention on what and how we want to learn. I find that it's important to let the kids escape from their life beyond school by sometimes letting them talk about the future and to give them some feeling of being able to take control - when so much of their lives is outwith their control

Anonymous said...

Your portray of the central government response is about on target for what will happen, even though we have had fully 3 years to consider the fast-paced mutation rate, and what that forbodes when that last amino acid change or two occurs and the rate of viral shedding in humans is stepped up.

The UK is embroiled in overseas military engagements. What happens to your military? Have they been recalled to help with civil policing actions? Your fire and police units in every town are down to a bare bones few. Civil unrest is sure to rear its head, as larders are emptied quickly and looting occurs throughout the daylight hours.

How do you risk going to work while leaving the kids behind?

Lack of preparedness is shared by one and all. In your scenario, the outbreak in Thailand has killed dozen or so, and not the hundred plus of our very real world.

You've hit many points squarely - this is a great blog.