How different is lockdown life for the 1.5 million Brits ‘at-risk’ of COVID-19?

Quarantine is scary for most, but compared to someone for who it is literally life or death, is it?

When Boris Johnson made his speech to the United Kingdom on the 20th March, imploring people to “stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives”, many were panicked.

Despite the Prime Minister being relatively direct and forthright in his instructions many were quick to panic and the public had lots of questions.

One section of society that is especially invested in the PM’s instructions is that of people included in the ‘at-risk’ category of people for whom COVID-19 could potentially be fatal.

I spoke to Leo, 18, who has had clinical asthma for most of his life, to compare the differences in our lives during this period of lockdown.

Leo’s Morning

10am – Wake Up

Leo’s mum now has to bring him breakfast in bed (one of the more luxurious aspects) as, to minimise risk, he only travels from his room to the bathroom within his house. This is because his dad is a ‘key-worker’ and so has to go to work every day as normal.

Leo going about his daily routine as taken by his mum.

For the rest of the morning he plays video games, watches Netflix and FaceTimes his friends, just like many of us.

Olly’s Morning

10am – Wake Up

I do not have quite as hospitable a breakfast as my asthmatic counterpart, with me making myself a bowl of cereal and sitting in front of daytime television whilst I eat it.

I’d love to lie and portray myself as staring longingly out the window at the forbidden outside world but that isn’t necessarily true. I am a very typical student and these morning activities are as close to muscle memory as can be for me.

A particularly adventurous breakfast.

Leo’s Afternoon

2pm – Health Check

Due to Leo’s asthma he has to be in constant vicinity of his inhaler, something he described as akin to Leonardo DiCaprio and his character’s ‘totem’ from the movie ‘Inception’ (an item personal to each character that only they know) but more, in his words, “gross”.

As well as his inhaler being an ever-present, Leo’s mum has to check his temperature a few times a day to make sure he does not have a fever.

The Thermometer Leo uses to check if he has a fever daily.

After having a thermometer jammed into his ear he returns to Netflix.

Olly’s Afternoon

2pm – Walk

To prevent myself from becoming ‘at-risk’ of a vitamin D shortage (poor taste) I have been taking a walk once a day. This is usually a walk around my local park, keeping my distance, especially from the elderly, and taking in the hustle and bustle of the sleepy suburban village that I’m from.

Despite my sarcastic take on my state-regulated walk in the park, it was the one difference in mine and Leo’s day that really struck me as being of envy to him.

He is similar to me in temperament and lifestyle but he was not able to do an action that I was, because of a health condition he has that is of no fault of his own.

He couldn’t take a walk, because if he did then he might die.

The Last Word

I, as a condescending and cynical student, set out to write this piece as somewhat of a joke-take on quarantine. I am in no danger from COVID-19, most of my family will be okay and my life has not changed dramatically.

Hearing Leo’s positive take on an otherwise abhorrent situation was in a strange way, reaffirming. He has been stripped of his ability to actually go outside. I, although not as freely as before, have not.

Before speaking to him, I did not necessarily take the lockdown restrictions as seriously as I should. He told me “this isn’t about being selfish, its about coming together, separately” and making sure that the time our lives is affected for, is kept to a minimum.

About the Author

Olly Bradley
Student Journalist

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