Great Britain

Unless we act now to save our economy and our kids’ future we won’t be ready for the next catastrophe

WE should all follow the Queen’s sensible advice to stay indoors, keep calm and carry on.

But it won’t stop us worrying. Especially about our children.

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School’s been out for three weeks.

By the time lessons resume in the autumn millions will have missed an entire term of learning, some never to catch up.

Lives will be blighted.

Statistically, children deprived of education grow up more prone to depression, unemployment, addiction, ill health, imprisonment and early death.

Ministers know the human cost will be in addition to the now inevitable economic crash.

They are alarmed by a 30 per cent spike in domestic violence in just a few days.

Some tragic children will pay with their lives as drive-by boyfriends reach for the fridge.

Downing Street is also horrified at the sharp rise in online grooming by vile sex predators — and the ruthless county lines drug gangs recruiting idle teenagers with the lure of easy money.

TOUGH CHOICE

Senior ministers wonder why we shut schools in the first place.

Others want them reopened after Easter, in time for the new term.

“Most children enjoy school,” says one.

“It’s where their friends are.

“It’s where they feel safe.

“It is often the only place they can rely on for a meal.

“Importantly, they are also at the lowest risk from coronavirus.”

Lockdown parents are struggling to cope with energetic and unruly kids.

Yet eight out of ten Covid-19 casualties are OAPs, a generation which has enjoyed the longest period of peace and prosperity in the history of humanity.

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As someone in the high-risk age group, I wonder who comes first — the elderly or our children and grandchildren — and children yet unborn.

By definition, our careers are behind us, our finances and our homes mostly secure.

Should we be asking those trapped at home, with the economy crumbling under their feet, to live in penury for the rest of their lives to give us a little extra time?

It’s a tough choice, but that’s what we elect governments for.

“Ultimately, politicians have to make decisions on the evidence available to them,” says a senior minister.

Coronavirus is a contagious disease.

The best we can do until a cure is found is to manage it.

The Government is struggling to find a way out of lockdown.

Ministers are at each others’ throats over copper-bottoming the NHS or saving what’s left of the economy and jobs.

We have to do both, and the sooner the better.

Covid-19 is both a wake-up call and a dress rehearsal.

Britain’s bureaucratic “Blob” failed the screen test.

Whitehall, Public Health England and the medical quangos were left slack-jawed and floundering by a predictable — and predicted — pandemic.

This threat was forecast by none other than Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Downing Street’s Dominic Cummings, now in dock with the bug.

It was war-gamed by the Cabinet Office in 2016 — and the lessons ignored.

EVERY CRISIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY

Instead of preparing for this catastrophe, our health authority concentrated on obesity and equality.

Today everything is different.

There can be no room now for snowflakes, safe spaces, climate change fanatics or diversity politics. Or, indeed, China’s Huawei 5G.

Every crisis is an opportunity.

We need to grasp this one and adjust our priorities, because there is sure to be another one along in a minute.

It might be a tsunami, nuclear or biological warfare or a hostile cyber attack.

Covid-19 has taught us to take such black-swan events seriously.

What would we do if, for instance, France carried out its recent threat to close the English Channel?

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We need reliable supply lines for food, medication, energy, science.

We must revive fracking, rely less on imported fuel — and shake up the bureaucratic “Blob” whose culpable negligence has left us exposed to catastrophe.

But unless we act decisively now to save our economy and our kids’ future, we will have nothing left in the kitty to fight the next catastrophe.

Look on the bright side

HOW many lives has coronavirus saved?

Probably more in the long run than those who have died from it.

Have you seen the clear skies over China and Calif- ornia, where deadly nitrogen dioxide has disappeared?

Countless asthmatics and others with lung or heart disease will live longer now.

And what about the empty streets?

Many more will get home in one piece instead of ending up as roadkill.

Always look on the bright side of life.

Exasperated policeman pours water from his helmet to put out barbecue of beachgoers flouting lockdown

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