By Gurmukh Singh | OPINION |

We are restricted to our homes and the end to Covid-19 is not in sight as yet.

It has now been revealed that a three days exercise called Cygnus was carried out in October 2016 to test the ability of National Health Service (NHS) hospitals and other services to cope with a severe flu outbreak. According to a news report in The Telegraph of 28 March, 2020, the conclusion was that the services would be overwhelmed rapidly due to a shortage of critical care beds, morgue capacity and personal protective equipment. The results were kept secret.

So now we know that the Government was told by experts that UK was not prepared for the rapid spread of an infection like Covid-19. However, is it possible for any country to be prepared for a severe pandemic like the Coroner Virus? Or, for that matter, is it possible for any government to be fully prepared for any man-made or natural global disaster?

The truth is that, rich or poor, no country can be prepared against such pandemics (natural or produced as bio-weapons), floods, fires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, nuclear disasters or even determined atomic attacks. Also, such preparedness will not make economic sense. Even for annually occurring events such as heavy snow falls blocking roads, Britain is often caught unprepared. One limitation mentioned is bulk purchase of equipment because of cash constraints and worries they would become outdated or obsolete if left in storage. For example, it is doubtful if it would be advisable or practicable to keep thousands of NHS ventilators in storage for years.

As noted in the Cygnus report, “Throwing money at the problem was not necessarily the solution”. The exercise helped to develop a strategy on the basis of a better understanding of the public reaction. Key lessons included the “need to drill down into the exact actions that the military, police, fire service, local authorities, and the voluntary sector could take to keep systems running and to keep as many people alive as possible”.

It is a question of setting a limit on the cost of being prepared and the nature future challenges. Depending on the scale of the disaster, some countries can save a few but not the vast majority of people. Yet, exercises such as the Cygnus exercise do help in preparing response models for future reference. There would have been much more loss of life if the results of such exercises were not available.

Viruses are natural as well as engineered in laboratories by countries like the US, Russia, France, UK, Israel and maybe others like China. These countries spend billions on such weapons of mass destruction. We are told that such viruses produced in labs can destroy humans many times over! The labs which produce them also prepare antidotes, but only after these agents of death have been created. In the meantime, no lab can possibly be completely secure. Where human beings are involved there is always danger of these death-spreading viruses to escape.

At this time, while following government guidance, we can only seek Gurbani guidance and assurance:

ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਕੋਈ ਮਾਰਿ ਜੀਵਾਲਿ ਨ ਸਕੈ ਮਨ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਚਿੰਦ ਨਿਸਲੁ ਹੋਇ ਰਹੀਐ ॥

Other than the Lord, no one can kill or rejuvenate. O mind, do not be anxious – remain fearless. (SGGS A.594)

Gurmukh Singh OBE, a retired UK senior civil servant, chairs the Advisory Board of The Sikh Missionary Society UK. Email: The article appeared here.

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.



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