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27 Mar, 2020 18:13

Boris Johnson getting Covid-19 is just what the doctor ordered for Britain, his likely uneventful recovery will calm all the panic

Boris Johnson getting Covid-19 is just what the doctor ordered for Britain, his likely uneventful recovery will calm all the panic

The prime minister’s diagnosis may lead more people to follow his edicts on social isolation. But the real boost will come when he gets over it and demonstrates that for the majority of us, it’s not a widespread killer.

As police across the UK attempt to enforce the coronavirus lockdown, they have been given a massive boost by the news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has fallen victim to Covid-19 himself.

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And not only has the PM copped the virus but so too has normally-chipper Matt Hancock, the health secretary. These are the very two guys heading up the UK response to the pandemic and they need to be at the top of their game 24/7. 

While the last thing we want is for their current mild symptoms to escalate into something more serious, having the very public faces of the fightback dramatically floored might just be the wake-up call the rest of the nation needs as we head into the second weekend of the clampdown on free movement.

While Boris managed to cap his usual jocular manner as he delivered his stern warning last week, it was simply ignored by vast numbers of people who chose to venture outside and enjoy the weekend sun, coronavirus be damned.

The message from Boris lacked the gravitas and authority of his hero, Winston Churchill. If that guy had told the nation to stay at home, you would have heard doors slam shut in an instance from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Instead, we saw images of record crowds in Snowdonia, at the beach, in parks and gardens, and at outdoor markets, mixing together without a care in the world. The PM just hadn’t hit the target. 

The indifference of large swathes of the public to the edicts has led to ramping up their enforcement of the new laws on gatherings and social distancing, with officers doling out the on-the-spot fines of £30, with the ink barely dry on a law that was only passed yesterday, and  the use of drones and helicopters to order people to go inside. In London, the head of the Metropolitan Police announced plans to get thousands of recently-retired officers to return to the force.

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But now, an under-the-weather BoJo is a different beast. If he can get the virus, anyone can.

Maybe he should put on one of those plastic bubble helmets they’re using in Italian hospitals just to accentuate the fact that his life, potentially, is in very real danger. He wants people hanging on his every gasped word.

A country in crisis needs a leader made of strong stuff. Now Boris has contracted the virus, his constitution just turned into something he can build on. Not because people can see the consequences of catching the virus, but rather because they will now be able to see it for what it really is: a disease that mainly hits the elderly, the frail and those with underlying health problems. It is not the Black Death, come to slaughter us all, as too many would have us believe.

A robust and, ideally, speedy recovery for the 55-year-old premier is more than likely, and we’ll soon see him bounce back onto our screens bookended by his two top boffins for what has become the nightly ritual of the PM’s press conference. 

Then we will have in front of us, a man we know who has beaten the coronavirus. That’s a man you want to believe in. This killer may have taken thousands of lives, but not his. He can pretty much tell us to do anything then.

It is just what the doctor ordered.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.