What the papers have been saying in the week to Easter 2020
The UK and the rest of the world continue to be transfixed by the Covid-19 crisis which is causing suffering and deaths – cutting short lives which would otherwise have gone on for more months – sometimes many years. The consequences of actions taken to reduce the spread of the virus pose enormous challenges to understanding and what to do about them
In the UK, and elsewhere, attention moved swiftly to the threats to big companies and to the service sector. In the crisis and in normal times we have become increasingly dependent on formal charities to fill the gaps where there is need and no mainstream response. Nowhere is this more evident than in the care of older people, the mentally ill, and others with chronic and progressive disorders including at the end of life. But charities need money as well as volunteers to function. Their cash flow is much reduced by the crisis – this is being recognised https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/apr/08/rishi-sunak-heeds-calls-to-help-charities-with-750m-extra-funding
There are encouraging stories of recovery from the infection by even very old people like Daphne Shah of Dundee http://guardian.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx quite apart from that of the Prime Minister.
There have also been daily acknowledgements of the deaths of many individuals, accompanied by photographs – some famous, most known only to their most immediate circle, all with moving brief notes about their lives. This is an insight into the wonder and importance of so many people we have lived alongside but never known.
Statistics are presented to us night after night. These describe the world situation and the local status. It is not easy to follow the numbers even with the interpretations given to us by experts. It does seem odd that we have been told to stay home and not expect to have a confirmatory test unless we become very ill and hospitalisation is needed. Only if that happens do we have chance to register as a case of Covid-19 – and become someone who might die from it. This has to mean that many cases go unrecognised in any formal way and the death rate as registered in this country relates only to people who have been admitted to hospital, confirmed as cases, and then die. Despite the daily death rate for the UK now hovering around 1,000, it is inevitable that the true death rate is higher. In particular we know that people who become unwell in care homes, many of them with dementia, are likely to stay there and may die there. They will not be counted – They will be saving the NHS: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/09/covid-19-hundreds-of-uk-care-home-deaths-not-added-to-official-toll
That is not to say that people who die in care homes with or without dementia don’t count. We do know that almost 70,000 people died with a diagnosis of dementia in England and Wales last year – half of these deaths were in care homes.
The House of Lords plans to continue its work using online techniques https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/apr/09/house-of-lords-online-parliament-reopens-coronavirus
The National Trust has encouraged people to share images of beautiful blossoms – it is that time of year – taking in the Japanese custom of ‘hanami’, relishing the sight and scent of blossom http://guardian.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx
While we are encouraged to take daily exercise, the stern reminders to stay at home have harvested a shift towards extra consumption of unhealthy foods and alcohol and an epidemic of backache https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/apr/07/sleep-and-exercise-down-back-pain-and-tv-up-in-uk-lockdown
Stress of altered life-patterns is leading to evidence of mental ill-health, complicated by lack of staff to prevent or respond to crises https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/apr/06/police-absences-may-lead-to-rise-in-suicides-mps-told
But interestingly it seems that, despite their vulnerability, older people are less phased by this situation than their juniors https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/depression-anxiety-spiked-after-lockdown-announcement-coronavirus-mental-health-psychology-study-1.885549
Monty Goldin’s letter of Good Friday suggested we Christians adopt an interpretation of the Jewish tradition at Seder of leaving an empty chair for the absent Elijah – an empty chair for friends or family who would otherwise be with us to celebrate
Catharine Howard remembered being warned that drinking milk after eating marmalade leaves a bad taste
This is an Easter like no other: churches are closed and our usual response to crisis by opening doors and making ourselves available is prohibited – for it is dangerous. In this context Church leaders have turned to the internet and every mode of no-touch communication. This has generated wonderful messages and a plethora of online offerings from local churches and centres of other faiths. This is reported to be involving more households than attend regular weekly services: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/10/the-guardian-view-on-closed-churches-a-necessary-sacrifice
The Queen gave us an Easter message for the first time, saying – ‘Easter is not cancelled’. Spine-chilling https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/apr/11/new-hope-queen-reassures-nation-in-first-easter-message
The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in his regalia from his kitchen: ‘We are not alone’ https://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2020/apr/12/archbishop-praises-frontline-workers-in-easter-message-from-kitchen-video
Pope Francis delivered his messages from the empty, huge and immensely ornate Vatican palace: His word for us is ‘Solidarity’
This has been a week of high emotion. We are experiencing changes in life-styles, some enforced, some self-determined. For most of us it is a time of more thoughtfulness, a powerful awareness of how important our friends and families are to us, and the strengths associated with shared beliefs and share actions.
Many are saying that the world will not be the same again. Easter – A new beginning