It’s now just over three months since the UK coronavirus pandemic lockdown restrictions began, and six months since it began to become clear a new and dangerous strain of the coronavirus was causing severe respiratory illnesses and deaths in China.
Since the beginning of lockdown all our lives have changed in multiple ways. We cannot see or visit family and friends when we want to, we cannot go to the pub or out for a meal. Home-schooling has become the norm for school children and their parents, and working from home, seeing colleagues only via online meetings, has changed the work environment entirely.
The Government, HMRC and the NHS have been working at warp-speed. HMRC staff have identified and paid out billions of pounds through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self Employment Income Support Scheme. NHS front line and administrative staff have opened up and equipped wards and staff to deal with COVID-19 patients. (The Government guidance is updated daily at gov.uk/coronavirus, covering everything from repatriation flights to education resources.)
The best medical and scientific minds in the world are working to develop an effective vaccine for coronavirus, again at a speed which defies belief when compared to the usual development and testing times.
The number of tests carried out throughout the country to find out who has coronavirus has been rapidly increased with the Government working to boost the capacity for testing in the UK to 200,000 daily tests. Thanks to the rapid increase in testing capabilities, everyone aged five and over who has coronavirus symptom is now eligible for a test. You can also apply on behalf of someone you live with, if they have symptoms. The Government has also expanded the criteria so that NHS and care workers can now get tested even if they don’t have symptoms.
Trials are even beginning for specially-trained ‘COVID dogs’ that may be able to detect coronavirus (COVID-19) in humans. The dogs, who successfully detect certain cancers, will undergo intensive training to see if they can spot coronavirus before symptoms appear.
This pandemic is far from over, and everyone should continue to follow medical advice and stay alert, to control the spread of the virus, and save lives.