Coronavirus and its heroes

Published 19th April 2020 at 06:39pm UTC (Last Updated 20th April 2020 at 05:35pm UTC)

Due to technical difficulties, it's been a while since my last post. I've been meaning to write something about code but honestly it didn't seem right to do that without acknowledging the state the country is in right now. So this'll be a short post where I attempt to do something to that effect albeit, a little later perhaps than others have.

I want to take a moment to pay tribute to all of the NHS staff who've risked their lives during the coronavirus pandemic. They've been failed by the Tory government and by right wingers more generally who have been planning the destruction of the NHS for years now. Underpaid, overworked, drowning in student debt and denied desperately needed PPE: they do so much for us and get so little in return.

And you know, they really do just get on with it.

They fashion makeshift protective gear out of plastic bags during the government's PPE shortage.

Image of nurses wearing plastic bags (image courtesy of the Mirror). The nurses photographed have since tested positive for COVID-19

They work these insane and stressful shifts. Many of them will care for us using equipment that requires specialised training - equipment that will breathe for us when our lungs can't.

An NHS ICU (image courtesy of The Independent)

In an emergency, they're the ones who pull us back from the brink all the while knowing that one day we could make them ill too.

'Half of A&E team' test positive (image courtesy of the BBC)

But if we get better, they'll be the ones who cheer us on as we leave their hospitals.

Tweet courtesy of @EmpressSapph

Sometimes I feel they don't complain about this as much as they could. Nevertheless, in a world where we have often reserved a great deal of reverence for those who destroy lives both at home and overseas, I hope that going forwards we can begin to redirect our feelings of gratitude towards those who save lives instead.

NHS casualties of coronavirus (image courtesy of Internewscast).

(In case you're wondering how the crisis might affect me, I've been quite concerned as my mum's a nurse and this illness seems to have disproportionately affected BAME healthcare workers. She was lucky enough both to be tested for the virus recently and to have tested negative so my family are hopeful for now. I do however know of old colleagues who've gotten ill and we already have family friends who haven't been as lucky as my mum. It seems no amount of ironic lampshading in my website titles can really make the situation any less terrifying)

Of course our NHS staff aren't the only heroes in this story. There's also our carers, our cleaners, our shopkeepers, supermarket staff, postal workers, lorry drivers, gig economy workers, train drivers, bus drivers, agricultural workers, factory workers, waste many people that we don't compensate enough in our society even though our entire way of life depends on their labour. We take them for granted, we invisiblise them. Often, particularly if they're migrants, we bite the hand that feeds and demonise them just for being here.

Maybe "hero" is the wrong word to use in this instance. We know what we do to "heroes" in our society after all. But if anything good can come out of this cataclysm I really hope it's that we learn to appreciate those people more and that, at the very least, their wages more adequately reflect that appreciation. As a software engineer, I don't care all that much if politicians are paid £82k/year with seemingly no strings attached - I just hope that someday cleaners, nurses and deliveroo riders will get paid that much as well.



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