Western Morning News

Government is taking away personal responsibi­lity


AS a fit and healthy 73 year old, with no underlying medical conditions, I am shocked and angry at the prospect, being considered by the government, of being placed under what amounts to house arrest for an indefinite period because of the coronaviru­s.

Determined to find out the facts for myself, I tracked down the figures for deaths, in a hospital and by age group, on the NHS website. It’s crystal clear to see there the overall situation, and with totals, up to the 19th April.

Out of 14,829 overall deaths, only eight are in the age group up to 19 years of age. From 20 to 39, the figure has been 107, which is a mere 0.07% of the 14,829. All but around 1,000 of this grand total were over 60s, of whom four out of five had a preexistin­g medical condition. This distributi­on and figures are closely reflected in the “Worldomete­r” statistics for the disease.

Health officials have repeatedly advised that children are at very little risk from coronaviru­s, and this suggests to me that all educationa­l facilities should be reopened immediatel­y.

Of course, many young people will catch the disease and, like a dose of seasonal flu, need time off for a week or more.

They will then quickly be able to get back to their studies. Obviously, children with medical conditions will need extra protection. This will enable a genuine herd immunity to build up and limit any recurrence of the outbreak.

For the majority of those at work, and including schoolteac­hers, I don’t see any reason why they should not resume their jobs.

For the older portion of the 20 to 60s age group extra care can be taken, depending on their underlying health. Organising this is perfectly feasible.

For the over 60s, the situation is much more concerning. But with so many healthy retirees, I believe the honest approach is to operate a voluntary system, with advice on hand, implementi­ng common sense precaution­s ranging from distancing, extra hand-washing and using a face mask, to spending most of the week at home and only venturing out with extra caution for those with a serious medical condition.

But these choices must, from now on, be one of personal responsibi­lity. This is the only logical and reasonable solution in a democratic society.

If Sweden can get through this challenge without destroying their economy and imposing draconian restrictio­ns, then so can we.

Ian Phillips, Harbertonf­ord,


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