Don’t live your life in a state of constant Covid fear – Simon Carter

So, what have I been up to in the last week? Well, I’ve been to the gym every day, I’ve eaten out in a restaurant, I’ve been to a pub and three times - THREE TIMES! - I’ve been to Southsea beach and swam in the sea.

Disinfecting a treadmill in a gym, which was allowed a reopen over a fortnight ago. Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images.
Disinfecting a treadmill in a gym, which was allowed a reopen over a fortnight ago. Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images.

Yeah I know, what I rebel I am. After all, if you take any notice of social media - where there are more (self-appointed) health experts than we seem to employ in our wonderful NHS - I seem to be putting my life (and that of others I’m close to) in danger just by doing things I’ve always been allowed to do prior to mid-March. Activities I’m allowed by the state, lest we forget, to do.

We need to get back to living our lives, and that is what I’m (sensibly) doing. I’m wearing my face mask in shops, I’m not laying my towel right next to someone else’s - who does that on a beach at the best of times? - and I’m not inviting stacks of friends round my house for a BBQ. Indeed, I’ve only been inside one house - apart from my own - in the last five months and that was to see my kids.

‘The continuing disproportionate focus on coronavirus has created a persistent atmosphere of exaggerated fear.’

They were the wise words written by British financier Dame Helena Morrisey in a national paper at the weekend.

‘The institutional obsession with covid is all-consuming. It’s authoritarianism extends into every aspect of life.’

Dame Helana wrote those words as well, and they are wise ones too.

‘Most Britons are not at any risk of serious illness at all .. we are allowing this disease to dominate us in a bullying, destructive manner out of all proportion to its real health impact.’

Yep, she wrote those words too. I do not apologise for repeating them here. You might have guessed by now her article was in the Mail, so no doubt lots of keyboard warriors will slag me off for my choice of paper even though I buy it mainly because I enjoy reading sports journos like Martin Samuel, Oliver Holt and Paul Newman (I’m a sports journalist myself, always have been, that’s why I’ve mentioned those three). And I voted Green in the last election, so I’m not an avid Tory supporter either.

Of course, we must protect the elderly and the vulnerable. But I would love to know how many people have died of covid-19 who did NOT have underlying health conditions? Does anyone know? I’m betting the figure is very low.

Public Health England were counting anyone who had tested positive for covid, had recovered and then died from unrelated causes as a covid death. Why?

I have seen joggers on the streets of Portsmouth wearing face masks. I have seen people sat on their own in a car wearing them. And these are not elderly people at all. Of course, the car drivers might have an underlying health issue - but the joggers?

‘Our society needs to develop a sense of perspective about coronavirus.’ Dame Helena again. That should go without saying - we need a sense of perspective about everything in our lives - but how many members of Joe Public will agree? How many people in the UK have been scared to death by the constant negativity of our national media and what they might read on those bastions of truth, Facebook and Twitter?

Social media, inevitably, is the worst place on planet earth to go for a sense of perspective or an educated, sensible discussion on anything that matters - be it the pandemic, Donald Trump or Kenny Jackett’s style of football. It’s toxic on all three of those issues, and almost certainly many, many more.

But Mrs Miggins of Fratton might be taken in by social media’s fake news - and, hey presto, we have one more scared individual who doesn’t want to go to the beach, or take advantage of the government’s generous eating out offer, or go back to their local gym even though they’ve taken lots of precautions and, like many businesses, would love to welcome people through their doors again.

I’ve had a gutful of people posting apocalyptic statements on social media - I remember back at the beginning of May keyboard warriors were telling us all, via The News’ Facebook page, there was BOUND to be a second wave in Portsmouth due to the Bank Holiday. Those people - the ones who no doubt would love a spike so they can open up their social media account and type out ‘T-O-L-D-Y-O-U-S-O!’ with joyful haste - have been repeating it ever since. But guess what? Here on Portsea Island we have one of the lowest infection rates in England. And guess what again? Not everyone on social media is the health expert they think they are.

Stay alert, control the virus, save lives - the mantra of our elected government. But how about this: control the virus, be responsible, get a sense of perspective, start living your life without fear. Not that snappy, I know, but you get the point.

There’s lots of space on Portsmouth beach for everyone, there’s lots of restaurants that would like your custom. The sun is out. Enjoy it. After all, if you believe the online merchants of doom, we’re all going to test positive for the virus come the winter ...