(title inspired by treatment of lepers in the distant past)
We’ve passed from futile quarantine to self-isolation. From evacuation to lockdown in varying degrees. From headless chickens in charge to … well, headless chickens. The new lurgy, that’s apparently sufficiently different from regular lurgies that there’s no herd resistance in the population.
Government moves in under a week from reserving the right to close the stable door (but definitely not until after the horse has firmly bolted) to explaining how closing the door would be counterproductive. People wonder if closing their own doors can help, and what are the implications.
Latest advice is to self-isolate if you show even mild symptoms of a lurgy, and government moves to help avoid penalising people for doing the right thing. Splendid: it seems they can at least do something right! Now, how about urging people similarly to self-isolate when suffering a regular lurgy? It’ll surely benefit the population in general if those are spread rather less. Even for employers, paying sick leave for an employee or two to stay home is surely better than having another dozen or many more getting ill and at best losing productivity.
Coronavirus could leave a really good legacy if knowingly spreading germs could become as socially unacceptable as smoking. But I wonder if yesterday’s budget might prejudice the chances of that, by associating sick leave for a lurgy with Stuttley and his new yes-man’s fairy castles?
Meanwhile there’s a more immediate concern: how will attitudes be towards a regular cough, sneeze, or sniffle? Will sufferers from chronic symptoms – the cough or sniffle that’s been with them for years – suddenly face ostracisism? And the hay-fever season is approaching!
And the personal decisions. I think my lifestyle is fairly low-risk: I don’t travel much, and such big gatherings as I participate in tend to be the same groups, such as my choirs. I tend to the view that it would probably be futile to make changes. If I do go down with a lurgy, I’ll be happy to self-isolate in a basic sense of keeping my distance from people, but there’s no way I could sit at home and not go out for at least my daily walkies – even if that gets curtailed if I get too ill to go far! And if I perish of it, they’ll apply the convenient label of existing health condition to avoid panic.
 Not least the horses at Cheltenham, in a big event for people far too posh to inconvenience.