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The Differing Perspectives of Europe Towards Covid 19

Coronavirus has ripped through the streets of Britain like Bloody Sunday, except the numbers are even greater. One report in The Byline Times makes reference to the small number of deaths in Norway, Denmark, Greece, Austria, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, Vietnam, Finland, Australia, Czech Republic, and Taiwan. 

“The combined overall total of Coronavirus deaths in these countries is less than the weekly death rates in the UK”.

This is utterly astounding. How is it that the U.K has been ravaged and swathes of Europe, amongst the rest of the world, have dodged the fatalities such as we have not? As it stands today, on Friday 26th April- the U.K death toll is at 18,738, however, it is widely believed this figure to be at least 30% more, due to death in care homes and other settings not being reported until much later. That would put us in the region of 25,000 and in the same playing field as Italy and France. If they have a more efficient reporting system. 

Needless to say, there seems to be a vast division between Northern Europe and its cousins. In Denmark, children have already began to go back to school incrementally  (Byline Times, James Melville) and they have a clear plan in place. At least just now. In Norway, they are implementing ease of lockdown. In Germany, small businesses are being given the ‘go-ahead to open their doors again, albeit in a much different manner. 

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What these European countries have in common is some kind of planning, that has enabled them to get ahead, so it seems. In Denmark-they went into lockdown early, as early as 11th March (Byline Times, James Melville), and before any deaths had happened. In Germany, they carried out mass testing and tracked cases. And it seems Norway has capitalised on mobile technology to track cases, similar to South Korea.

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Interestingly Norway (5.3 million) has a very similar population to Scotland (5.4 million); Norway have had more cases (7,401) than Scotland at 6,067, yet they have only had 194 deaths. It is estimated that Scotland has had well over 1000 deaths, and potentially more. And even one BBC article cites, it is believed to be in the range of 1600 deaths and this was 4 days ago.

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Is it perspective alone that is causing the dramatic difference in numbers? I suspect not. I suspect that the health and quality of life differ between the two nations and this may be having an effect.

Yet, we cannot do anything about the lifestyle habits of our prospective nations at present. Certainly not to the extent it is needed. However, we can change our perspective and I think this is what is ultimately making itself apparent in Europe’s differing cultures and ideologies.

Northern Europe is well known to be pragmatic, along with its close neighbor, Germany. Where Germany and Norway have turned to their resources, Denmark seems to have remarkably relied upon common sense. I say remarkable, yet, is this not expected at the very least? Where Northern Europe in the majority has come to sensible decisions, I am sure Sweden wishes it had not set out to be the trailblazer. A combination of haste and arrogance has now meant the country has over 2000 deaths (Wikipedia, 26th April 2020). Similar to British discussions early on, Sweden has been trialing this notion of ‘herd immunity’. The epidemiologist who they have parading this game of cards is definitely testing his chances, stating on BBC Four’s Today show:

 “We believe that we have an immunity level, if I remember rightly, somewhere between 15-20 percent of the population in Stockholm.

“This is not complete herd immunity but it will definitely affect the reproduction rate and slow down the spread.”

(Anders Tegnell, Epidemiologist)

In fact, if I remember rightly, Bill Gates mentioned in a recent interview that, ‘herd immunity’ is not something that is achieved, until you reach 80% of the population has contracted the disease. So yes, this is definitely not ‘complete herd immunity’ and is nowhere near. Even I understand that.

A clear pattern is emerging. Northern European countries like Norway, Denmark and Finland, as well as Germany are seeing their efforts cultivate progress. They took action early, they tracked cases and they were not hasty. Unfortunately, I think this is where the United Kingdom have gone wrong.

Perhaps being an island, gives a false sense of security and this lies within our subconscious decisions. Perhaps being in Western Europe, we always believe we have more time. Fact of the matter is; we most certainly are not ‘leading the way’, as was insinuated at a daily televised briefing recently-Jenny Harries (Deputy Chief Medical Officer) said (the U.K):

“ Has been an international exemplar in preparedness”.

You have to be joking. Where are they getting these people? We will not mention the lack of PPE, waiting until there really was a problem to do something about it (going into lockdown 7 weeks after the first case), and ‘herd immunity as an idea.

One thing that is exemplary is the NHS and the support Rishi Sunak (Chancellor of the Exchequer) has provided for U.K citizens, who have lost their jobs; with the job retention scheme. That is true. What we do not need at this time, however, is bull-faced denial mixed with pathological arrogance. That belongs with Trump. We need the U.K perspective to be humble, admit there have been mistakes (A.K.A France), and promise to do their best because ultimately this is our failing perspective. We have leaders who are not living in the real world, and that really has to change.

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