The Virtue of Patience: Why it was Right to Delay Reopening



image: Unsplash

Well, would you look at that. The UK recently announced its decision to delay the easing of lockdown measures (moving from limits on the gathering of people to 'normal life') on the 21st of June. Understandable, given the sharp rise in the number of cases that are being observed now in the country (65 thousand people tested positive in the last week (at time of writing) or a 31.1% increase). However, I find myself in the group that (apparently) holds the unpopular opinion that this, for once, has been a step in the safer direction; an idea that seems strange to me. I would rather have a limit on the number of people I meet, than go back into the throes of a full-fledged lockdown (remember the Christmas that was 'saved'?). It seems that not everyone agrees.


However, let's look at this a bit further. Since the beginning of the pandemic, this is one of the most 'open' phases we have witnessed. This time last year, I was in India, just coming out of a five month long lockdown where I didn't step out of the house, even for groceries or exercise (shock!). My family and I were fortunate enough to be able to order essentials online; I cannot say the same for most of my fellow citizens. Sitting at home, scrolling through Instagram, I yearned to be in the UK and 'take in the summer sun' (summer sun in the UK?). I finally arrived in the UK in September, and it was scarcely two months before the country headed into another lockdown. Then it reopened. Then it went into another lockdown. Now, it's somewhat open again. And we're unhappy that it isn't opening up further.


An improvement in a nation's response against the pandemic does not suggest an elimination of the virus itself

Going back to March 2020, I remember one thing that held us all together; patience. We were told, "this, too, shall pass." We would make it out together; all we needed to do was stay calm. And indoors, obviously. It would merely be a matter of weeks - India kicked off its season of never-ending lockdowns with a promise that this would only be a matter of three weeks. However, we made it through that. Collectively, we've witnessed and suffered through a plethora of tragedies and atrocities over the past few months. Why, then, does the idea to hold out on mass gatherings, for just a bit longer, sound that appalling?


image: Unsplash

Let me reflect on the experience my home country has been going through. Earlier this year, our Prime Minister was jubilant and confident in his claim that India had vanquished COVID-19, going so far to say that the country had saved the rest of the world from a global calamity by managing to keep Coronavirus at bay. Which would have been right, had the former claim been true. The ensuing second wave that caught India off-guard is evidence to the contrary, to put it very lightly.

We can bide our time with this one, maybe reinforcing the virtues of being patient while we're at it

Here, one can think about how patience might have helped. An improvement in a nation's response against the pandemic does not suggest an elimination of the virus itself. The absence of large numbers of people testing positive for COVID-19 in the sample size of those being tested did not imply that Covid had disappeared. A simple but grave concern, raised time-and-again in general discourse, is that the government-provided data significantly under-reported the number of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths that could be attributed to COVID-19 in India. Thus, a low number of positive cases, by logical deduction, would not imply an eradication of Covid; it would simply show an inability to actually capture the scale of the problem faced. Patience, in an ideal world, combined with increased testing, much-improved social welfare programmes and safeguarding procedures, could have helped save so many lives.


Therefore, all I ask for those reading this to consider is being patient, just for a bit longer. The UK is racing ahead, when it comes to vaccinations. Why not wait till everyone has been vaccinated, at least once, to commence the 'opening up' we were hoping for on 21st June? To be blunt, I cherish the ability to head out of my house, enjoy a meal with my loved ones. I would keep this, hands down, rather than risk the chance of heading into lockdown once again. We can bide our time with this one, maybe reinforcing the virtues of being patient while we're at it. We've been waiting for ages, so let's do this last step safely. Well, at least, that's what I think.


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