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The Hidden Impact of a National Lockdown

Martha Davies sheds light on some of the prominent adverse effects of the pandemic which are causing upset and unrest.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina

Nearly a year after COVID-19 first swept the world, Britain now has three national lockdowns under its belt. Yet, aside from the bleakness of living out each day stuck in our homes, other serious issues arise when the nation comes to a standstill, and some people have had enough.

Anti-lockdown sentiment has been felt recently across the UK and Europe, as people are getting increasingly fed up with the financial, medical, psychological and emotional costs of such extended isolation.

Though lockdown is, in principle, a method of saving lives, those potentially shielded from the grips of coronavirus are still vulnerable to all kinds of medical issues that have received woefully little attention during the pandemic.

Excess Deaths on the Rise 

According to figures presented to the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies in July last year, an estimated 16,000 people died because they did not receive the necessary medical care for other conditions between March 23 and May 1, 2020. Around 25,000 people died of coronavirus in the same period. People in need of medical attention are often reluctant to go into hospital as they are fearful of catching the virus, or they feel they are putting unnecessary pressure on the NHS. 

Excess deaths have also been reported elsewhere: in November last year, the British Heart Foundation stated that nearly 5,000 more people died from heart problems in England since the start of the pandemic than would normally be expected. Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, a consultant NHS cardiologist and the associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, commented, “We wouldn't want the very people who need the NHS the most being the ones staying at home trying to protect it".

Coronavirus has overtaken every aspect of our lives, but both the risks posed by the virus and the difficulties created by restrictions have had a huge impact on people requiring entirely separate but just as vital treatment. 

Even cancer treatments have been pushed back or cancelled completely: UK experts have noted a worst case scenario figure of up to 35,000 excess cancer deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Screenings have been hugely delayed, meaning that diagnoses have been spotted late or not at all. It is all too clear that the tragedies of COVID-19 are far-reaching and relentless. Faced with the misery of statistics like these, people around the world are begging for their governments to do better.

Mental Illness: a Darkening Cloud

Feelings of isolation and helplessness during lockdown have had catastrophic effects on mental health. According to a new model created by the Centre for Mental Health, up to 10 million people in England - nearly ⅕ of the population - will require either new or additional mental health support as a result of the pandemic. 1.5 million of these people will be under the age 18; many studies have suggested that young people are particularly at risk, with one in six young people now suffering from a probable mental illness, compared to one in nine before the pandemic began.

There is a pressing need for greater acknowledgement of the mental health crisis that rages on amid the other tragedies of the pandemic. The situation will only deteriorate further as lockdown measures continue to pin us with an iron grip to our homes. 

Reaching Breaking Point

It is no surprise that people are feeling trapped, and such hopelessness has swelled into anger – since March 2020, more than 30 major protests have been staged against coronavirus restrictions in 26 countries. This year has already seen multiple demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions, from anti-lockdown protesters gathering in Hyde Park at the beginning of the month, to other well known cities in Europe such as Copenhagen, Vienna, and Amsterdam.

While feelings of distress are understandable with lockdown measures constantly being extended and many governments management of the crisis, such protests are not only violating current regulations but risking the health of those around them, including police officers.

The end of the pandemic feels impossibly distant as cases remain high and restrictions continue to impede on our lives. It is certain that lockdown has had widespread and extremely troubling impacts, and it is true that protesting is our human right, but it does also add to the pressures and dangers that we already face collectively. 

Here is some information on current the Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines. If you are struggling with your own mental health, please check out these charities and healthcare providers.

Article on a similar topic: Mental Health: Self-Isolation and Social Distancing Guide

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