It has been three years since the virus was first discovered in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. What was seen then, has since crossed land and sea to touch all four corners of the globe (save Antarctica). COVID-19 has shocked and rattled the world, securing itself as one of the worst, if not the worst, pandemic in history.
To combat this resilient and non-discriminative virus, the world has chosen to fight back through social distancing, masks, lockdowns and, most importantly, millions of courageous doctors, nurses, and volunteers. It is common knowledge that coronavirus has tested the NHS: 40,000 covid patients were hospitalised at its peak. It is thanks to the combined strength of healthcare workers in a time when society grinded to a halt, that the world has returned to a somewhat ‘normal’ state.
In his 21 years of working in healthcare, Dr Ruben Gary Cervantes regards the COVID-19 pandemic as the busiest time in his whole career.
“At the start it was difficult,” he said, “you saw patients deteriorating. Nobody knew what it was and how to treat it. You didn’t even know whether you were going to catch it.”
England saw its first covid case in early 2020, which rendered the NHS blind. The mode of transmission, type of virus and how to cure it was still unknown. The NHS could only provide beds to treat the symptoms of covid to keep the patients stable- not to cure it. This uncertainty of how long it would take to recover (if at all) and the highly-transmittable nature of the virus meant doctors had to work twice around the clock.
To ease further strain on doctors, nurses, and volunteers alike, the government enforced three lockdowns. The first started on March 23rd 2020, the second on 31st October (to prevent a “medical and moral disaster” for the NHS, according to Former PM Boris Johnson), and the third on 6th January 2021. Although this did prove affective to lower the number of admissions of covid patients into hospital, there were undeniable sacrifices that had to be made.
“Pressures on doctors grew during lockdown. There were many missed cancer diagnoses and lots of delayed operations,” he recalls. This is proved by the backlog of patients after the peak of covid. “Lots of people died alone, scared. Patients with dementia’s mental health got worse. They couldn’t see their loved ones and were taken to hospital with nobody familiar with them. They grew more confused.”
Rules and regulations have eased, and life, for a majority, has almost completely returned to pre-covid times. Many wonder now if COVID-19 is finally over. However, the virus has proved to be able to mutate time and time again, so it may never be fully gone. Regardless, having persevered through this devastating pandemic, lessons should have been learned, and so the world should be prepared to take another untimely disaster head-on, should another arise.