A month or two ago no one of this generation had any concept of how a worldwide epidemic or ‘pandemic’ would affect our lives. Now with the rapid spread of Covid-19 from country to country, its significance has become horribly familiar, illustrated by daily statistics of those who have ‘sadly died’ and a whole list of do’s and don’ts constricting our activities.
For those of us living in the UK being in the grip of a pandemic has also spawned a range of previously unheard of activities: lockdown, social distancing, self-isolation. But it has also generated resilience, compassion, and a realisation that, despite the challenges we are individually and collectively facing, the situation could be worse. Contagious as the virus is, there could be yet more deaths, it could spread even more rapidly. Moreover in the 21st century, we have the advantage of an extraordinary means of communication which, less than half a century ago, did not exist. And so we have to remind ourselves that we are fortunate this is happening in 2020; what if the pandemic had occurred in an age when there was no internet and we were unable, as we are now, to remain in touch with family and friends although physically isolated from them?
Business meetings, political discussions, quiz nights and even concerts can all function through ‘virtual’ connections. We must also be thankful that we do have committed medical staff, who are prepared to put their lives on the line to help others, that those involved in essential work are prepared to go out and do their jobs, and equally that those, who can work from home, are doing so, thereby minimising the risk for others. Finally, as Her Majesty the Queen said in her broadcast to the nation. ‘We should take comfort that while we may have still more to endure, better days will return.’
Victoria Schofield is the Chair of the Editorial Board of The Round Table.