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Prime Minister’s illness shows how dangerous coronavirus can be

10 April, 2020 - 08:00
Boris Johnson is being treated at St Thomas Hospital after becoming seriously ill with coronavirus.  Picture: IAN VOLGER/DAILY MIRROR/PA WIRE

Boris Johnson is being treated at St Thomas Hospital after becoming seriously ill with coronavirus. Picture: IAN VOLGER/DAILY MIRROR/PA WIRE

Ian Vogler

This week we have all witnessed the dramatic spectacle of the Prime Minister of our country being admitted to the intensive care department at St Thomas’s Hospital in central London. This was a very sudden development and one that caught many of us by surprise.

It really goes to show how dangerous the virus is, how it doesn’t discriminate between people and how we are all vulnerable to its effects. It also goes to show how unpredictable its impact can be on people.

Initially it seemed as though the symptoms the Prime Minister was experiencing were only mild and that like most people he would be able to leave self-isolation after one week. But then all of a sudden, he’d been admitted into the intensive care department at a London hospital.

By the time this column is published I can’t say with certainty what the latest will be regarding the Prime Minister’s health but as I write, fortunately it seems as though the Prime Minister is responding positively to treatment and will hopefully be out of Hospital in the near future.

It’s been pleasing to see figures from across the political spectrum coming together and wishing the Prime Minister well. In addition to being our Prime Minister, he is also a father, a son, a brother and someone who is loved very dearly by someone who very soon is expecting to give birth to his child.

I can only imagine how they must have been feeling over the past week. Over the last week a huge number of constituents have been in touch to wish the Prime Minister well and I have expressed these sentiments directly to the Prime Minister.

Some have asked whether the Prime Minister could have helped himself out by not working so hard over the past few weeks, particularly after he was tested positive for COVID-19.

Ultimately I do not know the answer to this question but what I do know is that the Prime Minister must be feeling an awesome sense of responsibility for steering our country through these hellish waters and I can understand how in his own mind “switching off” must seem like the hardest and the most unnatural thing to do.

However, at this stage clearly the Prime Minister should be focused on his own wellbeing and recovery. It’s only by conquering that challenge that he can ensure that as soon as possible he is back at the helm providing us with the firm leadership that we desperately need.

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With regard to my own situation, my period of self-isolation ended last Sunday and I was no longer feeling any symptoms so I have resumed my daily walks which has been a welcome relief.

Concerns continue to be raised with me by constituents about a small number of people not following the social distancing guidelines. The vast majority are, but I share the frustration of the constituents who have contacted me that some clearly aren’t.

We are all making such sacrifices to follow the guidance and it’s infuriating to see a small number act in such a reckless fashion endangering not just their own lives but the lives of others. I continue to liase with the Police as and when examples are raised with me and I’m glad that they’ve been responsive to looking into issues and carrying out patrols across town.

I had a call last weekend from a national weekend newspaper asking me what I thought about park closures. This followed the decision by some London councils to close public parks as a result of concerns that lots of people weren’t following the social distance guidance and that there had been examples of big groups huddling together, football matches and even barbecues.

My view is that the decision to close public parks is wrong and punishes the majority who are using public parks to exercise in a responsible way. Far better to properly enforce the guidelines on parks and hold to account the small number who are clearly flouting the rules and risking the lives of others.

My thinking is the same when it comes to the talk there was about further restrictions being introduced in relation to physical exercise. Why punish the majority who are acting in a responsible way because of the behaviour of an irresponsible minority? The same principle holds.

Earlier this week I spoke with Suffolk Mind about the mental health implications of this crisis and the different challenges it presents. Being able to exercise, get some fresh air, and enjoy the natural environment, whether in a public park or a private garden, is crucial for our mental wellbeing.

The reality is that there is a significant difference between those who have their own outdoor space and those who don’t but ultimately if a decision is made to close a public park then it is those without their own outdoor space that will pay the highest price.

Fortunately having discussed this matter with the Leader of Ipswich Borough Council I know that he views the issue in a similar way and the cases of people not following the social distancing rules within our parks have been few and far between.

The last few weeks haven’t been easy for any of us and following the guidelines is not easy but it is making a difference, helping our NHS and without doubt saving lives. It won’t last forever and we will soon go back to a more normal reality, but while the rules are there, following them saves lives and not following puts the lives of many the people who we love the most at risk, it’s as simple as that.


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