The death toll is rising and it will only get worse

Philip Evans: My Isolation Diary – Day 16 (Wednesday, April 1 2020)

ANY faint hopes that we may be turning the corner in this country’s fight again coronavirus were well and truly scuppered when it was revealed that 381 people died from the disease yesterday, bringing the total to 1,789 in total.

In Dorset there are more than 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with seven patients having died across the county.

One thing is for sure, those figures are going to rise dramatically over the next three weeks as the large conurbations around the country prepare for a huge rise in the number of cases and subsequent deaths.

This expectation has resulted in the setting up of massive Nightingale Hospitals in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff capable of treating thousands of patients, proof if ever you need it that things are going to get very much worse.

To do so within a week or so is a testament to this country’s ability to mobilise the personnel and equipment necessary, aided in no small measure by our armed forces and thousands of volunteers.

When all this is over, the establishment of these mega-hospitals may well be seen as one of our greatest achievements in dealing with this crisis.

However, the appalling testing figures and the lack of personal protective equipment for our front-line NHS and care workers will be seen as a serious government failure.

Boris Johnson, himself a victim on the virus, is said to be highly frustrated by their inability to ramp up the testing. We are expected to reach the 25,000 a day mark by mid-April but we are lagging behind every other country in the world.

Johnson is enjoying his highest approval ratings since he became leader of the Tory Party, up to 54 per cent in mid-March from a low of 34 per cent in December before the general election.

Unless he’s able to solve this issue quickly, this could well be his nemesis and you can count on Labour, especially if Sir Keir Starmer gets elected as leader , as is expected, on Saturday, making the most of a situation which they will claim, with some justification, is costing lives.

Another issue that Johnson will also be facing when this COVID-19 is beaten is his ability to retain the support of the red wall of traditional Labour voters in the Midlands and North who abandoned their social principles by voting Tory for the first time in his life.

Johnson committed to investing heavily in these areas and if he wants to retain his majority at the next General Election, he has to deliver. And that will be difficult with the billions that the government has promised to make sure the country , its people and its institutions, bounces back from coronavirus. We will be paying for it for decades.

With a slight decline in the number of cases, Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove was quick to point out this should not be interpreted as the beginning of the end of the crisis and urged the populace not to relax in adhering to the restrictions on social contact and staying indoors.

Isn’t Gove the most polite of all the government ministers who are conducting the daily No 10 press conferences when dealing with the Press, in stark contrast to the some of those hacks who clearly have no little respect for the recipients of their questions?

As I took my morning exercise this morning it occurred to me how ironic it was that prior to the lockdown the weather was really awful for several weeks, keeping us indoors. But now that we are not really able to enjoy the great outdoors, it’s been glorious sunshine virtually every day.

I started walking on day six of my isolation and since then I don’t think there’s been a gloomy morning.

On this morning’s walk I noticed that the workmen are back replacing the flat roof above businesses on Marine Parade, doing their best I am sure to stay two metres apart, not that that is possible as any person who has worked on a building site will tell you. And it’s certainly not enforceable.

This project is costing Lyme Regis Town Council around £600,000 so they will be anxious the work is completed on time before the summer season gets going.

Whilst mentioning the council, all meetings have been suspended and the administration staff are working from home. However, so that you, the council taxpayer, can keep abreast of what’s happening during this crisis, we have started an ‘Ask The Mayor’ feature in which Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE will answer any questions you have on council matters.

The feature will appear in this week’s LymeOnline digital edition on this website with instructions of how to put your questions to the mayor.

Stay positive, stay safe – and don’t miss Friday’s digital edition of LymeOnline to keep abreast of how our town is coping during these difficult days.

Woodmead Halls
About Philip Evans 715 Articles
Veteran journalist and newspaper manager Philip Evans has worked in the publishing industry for more than half a century. He started out as a reporter for Pulman’s Weekly News as a young man and went on to work for an international publishing company in the UK, South Africa and Australia before returning to Lyme Regis where he is still reporting on local events as he has done for more than 53 years.

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