Only a month ago, only 40 people in the UK had contracted the Coronavirus and no one had yet died. Less than a week ago I was writing here of a ‘calm before the storm‘ – as the mounting number of cases still seemed remote from our socially distanced little bubble. Now that’s all changed; it’s much closer to home.
The elderly parents of a good friend are very ill. My son’s friends are sharing pictures of paramedics in hazmet suits removing someone from the block of flats where they live just round the corner from us. And down the road in Brixton 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, a previously healthy lad with no underlying health problems, died on Monday.
His was one of 182 deaths from Covid-19 that day. Two days later, on Wednesday, the daily death toll had shot up to 563 and total deaths to more than 2,350. This is the exponential rise we were warned of, but I’m still finding it hard to process. When Italy recorded over 700 deaths in one day (on 21st March), I recall being open-mouthed in amazement, but here we are just 12 days later and we too are closing in on that grim marker.
Families of the four NHS doctors who have died speak of their shock at the speed with which their loved ones’ conditions deteriorated. Watching these interviews, and seeing the daily death tolls, triggers our own anxieties about a force we cannot withstand, a situation we cannot control. But we are finding some kind of strength in each other. The WhatsApp groups for our street and my choir are busy with offers of help, and postings of morale-boosting jokes.
At my morning online yoga classes, we all have a little check in with each other before we start the session. People’s moods are in flux, OK some days, others feeling scared and isolated. But just seeing each others’ images on the screen and offering each other our time and shared endeavour, does something to settle us and help us regain a bit of trust that we can stay steady, look ourselves and each other.
And tonight at 8pm, millions of us will be out on our doorsteps and balconies waving to our neighbours and clapping our support for the NHS and others in the frontline.