Leona O'Neill: I'm ignoring Boris – family and health must come first when it comes to self-isolation
As the Covid-19 crisis deepens, Boris Johnson and Stormont finds themselves at odds with European leaders and the World Health Organization on how to best tackle the virus. However, as Leona O'Neill writes, when it comes to the wellbeing of vulnerable family members, sometimes you just have to trust your gut – and experts
NEVER in my life have I placed my faith in politicians. And I'm not going to start doing that now. We are stumbling our way through the worst global health crisis in a century. We are battling a virus that is infecting possibly millions across the world and has killed thousands of people. While leaders of other countries are taking drastic and aggressive measures to prevent their populations from picking up the coronavirus and buckling their health care systems, Boris Johnson seems to be stalling on acting beyond telling people that they will lose many loved ones and advising people not to go on cruises.
His advice last week was undoubtedly more complex than that, but that is what many people – terrified of what the next few weeks will hold for them and their families – will have taken away from his press conference.
Boris reassured us all last week by 'levelling with' us and saying that many of us and our loved ones will die before our time, but that they were keeping our schools – germ factories at the best of times, never mind in the middle of a health emergency – open.
His health experts seemed to suggest they were following a herd immunity method, that if great numbers of our population get the virus, there will be some degree of immunity. A hugely risky approach when dealing with a completely new and unpredictable virus.
Our politicians fell in behind Boris and the worried public, understandably, reacted in nuclear fashion at a stance that is completely at odds with the World Health Organization. Those guys, who are leaning on the knowledge of the world's best experts, have called on all countries to 'take urgent and aggressive action' against coronavirus.
Over the weekend, many parents have decided to make their own moves. I'm taking a calm, reasoned, rational approach to this global health crisis that is knocking on our door and I'm moving to protect my family. I'm afraid I'm not willing to wait for approval or permission.
I'm looking at my daughter and son, asthmatics, my mum – a cancer patient, my sister with lung disease and myself with asthma and I'm locking down. School's out for us. Not in a week's time or next month or when the time is right, but now. I'm not taking part in Boris Johnson's weird medical experiment.
Everyone can make up their own minds about their own family. I'm basing my next move on advice given to me by virologists I have spoken to, people who have dealt with global outbreaks, medical experts with first hand knowledge of these things. They have told me that when community transmission is present in Northern Ireland – as it was announced last week,with patients presenting to hospital with no clue where they picked it up – that is the time vulnerable people need to take precautions, including self-isolation. So that's what we are doing.
We're not going to panic buy, or indeed panic at all, we're just – in a super relaxed, chilled-out fashion – going to stick close to home, avoid socialising for a while, adapt and work from home more, enjoy each other's company and no doubt drive one another absolutely crazy after two days. Just until this all blows over, which will hopefully be soon.
We are in completely uncharted territory at the moment. We will (hopefully) look back at this time in world history and learn from the many lessons it teaches us. It will not only impact on many people's health, but also decimate businesses and wreck our economies.
There are tough times ahead. At the moment, we must batten down the hatches and ride out the storm as best we can.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important than family and health.