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By Chris Marshall
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Lockdown 3.0: It’s A Lifestyle Virus!

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A recurring criticism (from me at least) of the handling of COVID-19 by the Government here in the UK has been the reluctance (am being generous) or the inability (nearer the mark I suspect) to clearly identify the higher risk groups/profiles, rather than giving generally useless “catch all” guidleines.

I could go round the houses (well I could if I was allowed to visit any) trying to explain but as you will (hopefully) see that would make me somewhat hypocritical so in the true Yorkshire tradition of calling a spade a b***** shovel ……….

COVID-19 is a lifestyle virus: it seems clearly to be more rampant in certain demographics than in others. If your lifestyle means that you travel to work on public transport, share a workspace with multiple colleagues in small spaces, travel back to your home via public transport and spend your evening with a partner and children who have also used public transport, maybe worked in a similar environment or gone to school, and you then spend the evening watching TV in the same room your risk of catching and transmitting is much higher than an individual who travels to work in their car, parks at the office and spends the day in their own air conditioned office, conducts meetings online or socially distanced, before returning home to their partner to spend the evening alone in a house spacious enough to allow social distancing.

Patently the risks are different, the circumstances are different, and the circles of contact (the key factor here) are significantly different: yet both are treated as the “same” household.

I am not necessarily saying that the rules should be different for the two examples above, but being honest about the increased risk to one would I think have been beneficial.

My guess/fear is that this would be frowned upon in today’s society and solicit calls of protest for “laying the blame”, “picking on the poor”, no doubt some element of racism would be implied as well.

I will cut this short: when did it become more important to “protect ones feelings” than to “explain the facts”?

This is not a new theme for me, nor was the one written about by Michele Gelfand recently which started off saying ” With a death toll over 2 million and nearly 100 million people infected worldwide, COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc even as vaccines are deployed. Yet fatalities are far from evenly distributed. Some nations have effectively beaten the pandemic; others have been soundly beaten. Japan’s 126 million citizens have recorded just over 5,000 deaths. With a nearly identical population, Mexico has suffered more than 150,000 deaths and counting”.

She poses the question as what explains this: wealth? age? climate? hospital capacity?

Appears the answer is much simpler, and let’s be honest obvious: cultural differences in our willingness to follow rules.

All depends, according to someone called Herodutus, on whether you have a ‘tight’ or ‘loose’ attitude to social norms: do you do as you are told or are you a rule breaker basically.

“Relative to the US, the UK, Israel, Spain and Italy, countries such as Singapore, Japan, China and Austria have shown to be much tighter.”

Guess which have the higher death rates, the most damaged economies, the greater impact on Mental Health.

If you want some numbers: YouGov the UK polling company reported that in a tight nation 70% were very scared of catching COVID-19 opposed to 49% in a loose culture.

It’s a long and fascinating article (for me at least) best summed up in simple terms: if only the threat we were facing had been communicated based on facts and we had done what we had told …….

In the UK it’s too late for the c110,000 who have died, but there is evidence that the Government is being more specific with it’s information (the increased number of people being told to Shield i.e. that they are high risk is an example) and the vaccination program has yet to reach the “looser” demographics in our society so we have still have time to take these lessons on board.

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