JulieB By: JulieB
Lecturer in Global Health
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01 Apr 2020 : April Fools?

It's early hours of the morning on the 1st April. When I wake up, in a few short hours time, I am hoping that someone will shout April Fools at me, and this will all be over, like some really bad joke. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Instead, I am likely to wake up to more rising cases in UK and around the world, more loss of life, more health risks (of all sorts), more vulnerability, more threat of violence, more actual violence, more unknowns... certainly no jokes [beyond the hundreds of memes that are shared each day to keep our spirits high]. 

In the last few days I've had a strange feeling of "no way out" - does an exit strategy exist? And even if it did, would it be feasible? That may sound defeatist, but it isn't meant that way. It's rather a kind of acceptance of the loss, however devestatingly heartbreaking it is and will continue to be. I keep wondering how much "progress" the world will lose, how far backwards we will go? A comparison which I have some first hand knowledge about is the devastating 2015 earthquakes of Nepal. In the instant that the earth shook there, countless buildings collaposed and nearly 9000 lives were lost; the country is said to have also "lost" very many years of prior development and progress (forgive me, at 3am I cannot recall or find the actual number of years, but it was a significant amount).

The challenge here is two-fold; first, the whole world is going through this at more or less the same time. During the 2015 earthquake(s), the world came to the aid of Nepal in a stunning show of solidarity. I see very little of that here, perhaps because of changes in the geopolitical climate since 2015, or perhaps because of overwhelming fear and desire to protect ones-"own" (or more likely both of those and other factors). But most likely it is due to the fact that everyone, everywhere is currently in fire-fighting mode. How do you think of your neighbours while your trapped in your own burning house?  

The other challenge is that - although the Nepal earthquake had several thousands of aftershocks, which caused further damage, the disaster itself was an "event" which happened and then stopped - leaving it's long shadow. Here, with covid19, it isn't a one-off event. It's an ongoing "living" situation which continues to evolve faster than we appear to be able to adapt to it. And that is why I fear we may be facing a situaiton from which there is "no way out". But... we have at least half the world's population working towards addressing this issue, and I am an eternal optimist, so I will not loose hope or faith just yet. 

Perhaps some sleep will help keep that optimistic view strong tomorrow - come what may with the April Fool's jokes and the rapidly escalating coronavirus situation. 


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