A Year of Coronavirus
In the first story of the Daily Briefing today, we discuss the past year. It may be hard to believe, but it has now been a year since the first lockdown was announced in the UK. It has been a full year of restrictions on who we can meet, how many people we can meet, where we can meet and even if we can meet. It has been a full year of uncertainty for business, of jobs being lost, of people being made to work from home. It has been a full year of debating whether it’s legal and safe to meet loved ones, of homeschooling, of debating whether the items you need from the shop are ‘essential’.
And, sadly, it has been a year of loss. It has been a year where families up and down the country – and, indeed, around the world – have been told the heartbreaking news that their father, their mother or their partner has lost their life to this unrelenting, remorseless, retched virus.
On the anniversary of the pandemic in the UK – it is essential that we remember those that we have lost. All of the 125,000 people that have died in the UK from this disease had families, they were loved, they had hobbies, they had jobs, they had fun, and they contributed to society.
Some of them had not even finished school. In one utterly devastating case, a 13 year old from Brixton died following a positive coronavirus test. Due to coronavirus restrictions, and as they had tested positive themselves, his immediate family were unable to attend the funeral. The coffin was lowered by four people wearing protective clothing and masks.
This story highlights the horror and the sheer inhumanity of the disease, and demonstrates that the virus has not only taken loved ones, but also our ability to physically gather and remember them.
There are, though, some more positive things to remember. Despite the immense challenge coronavirus has presented, we have managed to pull together as one. The NHS has stepped up to the challenge and has helped more than 450,000 people admitted to hospital with coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. Over 400,000 people signed up to be a volunteer for the NHS – showing their determination to help others, despite the personal risk. Many of us donated to Captain Sir Tom Moore’s fundraiser – showing that even at a time of financial hardship, people are determined to help one another.
The virus has, then, demonstrated both our mettle and our empathy.
If you live in the UK, then you can remember all those that we’ve lost in the last year by lighting a candle, a phone, or a torch and standing on your doorstep at 8pm. I’m doing so, it is hoped that people will reflect not only on those who have died from coronavirus – but all those who have died in the last year.
In the second story today, we stay in the UK to discuss the rather controversial proposal to make it a legal requirement for certain people to have a coronavirus vaccine. It is no surprise that this issue has come up yet again – it has been a bit of a hot potato for a few months now. Largely, though, as there has been no word from the government that such a proposal would be implemented, it has remained simply a hypothetical.
Until today, that is. According to The Telegraph, a leaked paper from the Covid-19 Operations Cabinet sub-committee suggests that the Prime Minister and Health and Social Care Secretary have requested that the law is changed to make it a legal requirement for care home staff to have the vaccine. This was, supposedly, spurred on by the low vaccine take-up among care home staff.
If this leak turns out to be true, then it would pose some serious moral, and even legal, questions. After all, there are people who cannot get vaccines for health and religious reasons. Would these people need to give details of why they can’t get the vaccine? If so, this could be discriminatory.
What do you think, though? Is making it mandatory for care workers to have a vaccine a good idea – or is it crossing a line? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
A Name-Calling Polish Writer
In the third story of the Daily Briefing today, we move to Poland to discuss a writer who could go to prison for calling President Duda a ‘moron’. This story actually starts all the way back in November, when there was quite a lot of discussion about whether Joe Biden had actually won the election.
The popular Polish writer Jakub Zulczyk decided to write on Facebook that “Joe Biden is the 46th president of the USA” and that “Andrzej Duda [the President of Poland] is a moron”. This was in response to the fact that Mr. Zulczyk didn’t believe that President Duda understood the electoral college.
Unfortunately for Mr. Zulczyk, prosecutors have alleged that the language in the tweet (the word ‘moron’) was “offensive” and “unacceptable”. In Poland, there are nine different protest laws which can be used against citizens if they so much as insult the Polish flag. These laws can carry prison sentences. In the case of Mr. Zulczyk, he could be sentenced to prison for three years if found guilty.
We’ll have to keep an eye on this case to see whether Mr. Zulczyk is found guilty or cleared of the charges.
In our final story today, we discuss the New South Wales floods in Australia – specifically looking at the animal rescue that occurred over the last few days. Paul Zammit, who lives in the region, has a large collection of animals – estimated to number around 400. Due to the flood, many of these animals were at risk, so he and his friends set about trying to rescue them.
Many were evacuated before the flood had happened. All except two – his emu called Gookie and his deer. In order to evacuate Gookie, he used his dinghy and staged a daring rescue. His deers, though, were not able to be rescued.
Instead, they have taken residence in his house – which has luckily not flooded.
For those of you who think the news is too long, be sure to check out tomorrow’s Daily Briefing.