We appear to have entered a rather different phase of response and comment on the question of Covid-19 and our response to this legally and socially. At the beginning of the ‘first wave’ in March, there was a widespread sense that we needed to respond quickly and drastically, and most of the criticism was that Government had not acted quickly enough or seriously enough.
The mood appears different now. There is so much more information around, and much more that we do in fact know about the virus—and with that there has been a clearer divergence of expert views on both how to make sense of what is happening and how to respond to it.
This sharpens the question of how Christians should respond. With the divergence of views elsewhere, I have noticed a divergence of views amongst Christian friends and ministry colleagues, and so I thought it worth making some observations about our response overall. I won’t be justifying everything I say; there has been such a torrent of literature, some of it technical and complex, that it would take weeks to note it all. But I think that these observations are easy to support, and they need to shape appropriate Christian response.
1. Covid-19 is a particularly nasty and dangerous virus
You don’t have to stray very far into the by-ways of social media to find people who claim that the situation we are in has been created by some sort of Government conspiracy, and even to find people claiming that the virus is not ‘real’. But the medical evidence is clear: this is real, and it is particularly nasty, in two ways.
First, it is highly infectious, and can be spread by those who have it even before they manifest symptoms. Solving this problem is the aim of track-and-trace systems, alerting people to contact they might have had with others who were, at the time, asymptomatic. There is some irony at work here; more immediately deadly viruses like Ebola were in some sense less dangerous at a population level, since people become ill and died before they could spread the virus widely. Covid-19 is exactly the opposite.