The nature of a Battle, let alone War requires some clarity


All of us are currently being heavily impacted by Coronavirus in differing ways. Even though the numbers of people seriously wounded or killed by it may be relatively small in proportional terms, the rest of our nation are either being impacted by much less serious wounds or are being put in challenging conditions to avoid the risk of becoming seriously wounded and possibly killed. There are all sorts of ways of communicating about the virus and it is inevitable that some of the people with the best understanding are working hard in their own environment and far away from either the political or the media spotlights, whereas some of the people on the other end sometimes lack the understanding to make constructive communications. On Sunday two things emerged that both related to the impact of the virus. One came from a friend of mine called Roger Mitchell who writes a regular blog and on this occasion he was providing a link to a blog from a friend of his called Andy Knox who is the NHS Director of Population Health and Engagement in Morecambe Bay and so who has a good grasp of the pandemic and who had been tested positive for C-19 two days earlier on Good Friday. The first paragraph of his piece explains how he was feeling and I have copied it below, the rest of his blog relates to Easter and his faith and it is available here. The second set of information or comments came from Dan Hodges who writes a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday, having written for a range of other papers in the past. On Sunday Dan wrote about someone who had been impacted by the virus, and although Dan and his subject, Boris Johnson are much better known people in the national setting, their own grasp of C-19 is a lot less credible than Andy Knox. Indeed Dan did not spend very long focussing on the experience or needs of Boris Johnson but rather used his illness as a basis to criticise people with liberal political views and Mr Hodges also used his column to argue against those who have reacted negatively about the claims that C-19 pandemic is like a war.

He states “Of course, we are no longer supposed to use language like that. Over the past few days a liberal consensus has formed that such imagery is trite, even divisive. We are not a nation at war, and should not pretend to be.” and these words came straight after his focus on the establishment of the Nightingale arrangements at Excel in London which was pulled together primarily by the Army but with all of the military resources and it was the story of a Chinook helicopter, apparently flying over Hodges home that led him to state “I later discovered it was ferrying medical personnel on a training run to the ExCel Centre in nearby Docklands – the RAF once again making final preparations to protect the capital from a deadly invader.” The reality is that if Dan Hodges wishes to refer to C-19 as a war (if anything it is more like a battle, as there are many variations of Coronavirus, hence the -19 name) then I have no problems but the truth is that the RAF are not using their weapons or even their medical facilities to deal with C-19 in a public sense, they are actually using their logistic resources. Whilst they do not need to use weapons at present, although they might to direct them at people who are refusing to stay at home or stay in hospital, and they have not been using their medical staff apart from protecting their own workers, it is logistics that the Chinook is providing. There are many occasions when our nations logistics can get into trouble, but that is not really a battle. If there is a battle to be discussed it is the fact that someone like Boris Johnson chose not to stay 2m away from his colleagues (as indeed Matt Hancock is not doing currently) and indeed chose not to stay 2m away from people in hospitals who were suffering from C-19, but as he made clear in mid March, he actually shook hands with people who had the condition and who were in hospital beds. That is the battle which we are all working on, to prevent people from shaking hands and holding meetings with people in settings where people cannot stand or sit some distance apart.

Indeed if the image above is correct, the real war needs to take place in Westminster with all of our parties working together with the agencies that like Andy Knox, understand what C-19 really is and how best to deal with it.

I tested positive for Covid-19 on Good Friday. As a doctor it’s always tough to be off sick – you feel a mixture of guilt (because you know how hard your colleagues are working), frustration (because you want to be back out there serving your community) and helplessness (because there’s nothing you can do about it). I knew I had the virus before my result came through – I felt like I’d been hit by a bus – like all the energy had been knocked out of me and I was very achey. This, along with the cough and other symptoms has made me stop. I am forced to rest. I can’t just continue. I need to let my body recover. Covid-19 hasn’t only shown us the fragility of human life, but of the way we have constructed our systems together – the vast injustices afforded to more than half the world’s population and the damage we are doing to the planet itself. This virus has created an enforced rest for the majority of us and made us stop. And whilst we do so, the earth itself is regenerating – perhaps we are too.

Andy Knox – Director of Population Health and Engagement

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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