Image: RED RUM. Mixed Media in Canvas. 61 x 61 x 2 cm. 2015.
As Europe is cautiously coming out of lockdown comparisons are inevitable, many experts feel that the UK was too slow to react which has led to one of the largest death tolls in the world.
Looking at some of the lockdown dates for the major European countries is revealing. Italy was the first European country to enter a period of nation wide Lockdown on March 9th, On March 11, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared a national emergency for the country. Poland closed its borders on March 13th, Spain began lockdown on March 14th. Austria on March 16th, France on March 17th, Belgium on March 18th. Unlike other European countries, Germany has so far stopped short of ordering its over 80 million population to remain at home but instead opting for strict social distancing measures which were issued on March 22. The UK began lockdown on March 23rd.
According to Professor David King, former Chief scientific Advisor, events which went ahead, like the Cheltenham Festival and The Champions League game at Anfield, should never have happened, feeling that lockdown should have been implemented much earlier. Professor King was a main contributor to the 2006 Government report into pandemics which recommended measures that were never implemented. He considers that as a result of lack of Government action following his report, together with severe austerity measures, that the UK was not prepared for the outbreak.
In other words, it seems that the Government took a gamble that the virus would be less virulent in the UK, but as is now clear, the odds were stacked against them. You can take a gamble on the horses or the result of a football match, and may lose a fiver or two, but relying on lady luck in a global pandemic is likely to lose you lives.