I wrote about my plans for my second half marathon only weeks ago. On 3 March, we had heard of the coronavirus COVID-19 but like every other virus that the media threatened would kill us, we didn’t think about it much. We would have been empathetic to the plight of the Chinese people but would probably not have expected it would affect us. When I say “we”, I mean the majority of Britons. I think there was a “boy-who-cried-wolf” kind of feel to the early reporting. For example, the world was supposed to end when 1999 turned to 2000. We were supposed to all die of SARS in 2003. We were supposed to have been picked off by swine flu in 2009. Ebola was the threat for 2014. SARS claimed 775 lives. Swine flu was undeniably lethal and took around 200,000 lives, with Ebola causing the death of 11,000 people, mainly in West Africa. Undoubtedly 200,000 swine flu deaths (worldwide) is a high number but I don’t remember there being quite as much panic as there is now for COVID-19. This either suggests there was less social media coverage – which, given the fact that social media has a much wider spread in 2020 than it would have 11 years ago, is a distinct possibility – or that COVID-19 is a HUGE FUCKING CONCERN.
For past threats, sporting events were not cancelled. Concerts went ahead. Television shows were filmed as normal. Major businesses did not close. Our liberty was unaffected. Life as we know it has stopped. This is not a complaint. I understand we all have to stay home to do our bit. With my one outing to exercise (per day), I was hoping to run a half marathon myself tomorrow so that I could still mark the day. However, I have decided against it in case I am not the only one. I don’t want to be running along the route with numerous other people who have had the same idea and put myself and others at risk. The half marathon has been rescheduled to the end of September. I’ll wait until then and I will hopefully have gained extra, valuable training time. If liberty becomes further restricted, I can run indoors. I’ve done it before.
In the meantime, we have to believe we are helping by staying home for the majority of the day. We have to believe we are helping to stop the virus. We have to believe in the authorities, NHS staff and other frontline workers. We have to believe in ourselves. 30,840 deaths and counting. Let’s do our bit so that the counting can stop.