"all of a sudden it is someone you know."
A man has urged for lockdown restrictions not to be lifted after losing his father to Coronavirus.
Omar Islam, aged 25, of Newham, east London, also lost his aunt from the disease.
His father’s friend also died from it as did another man on Omar’s road and an elderly couple two streets away. His uncle is currently fighting the virus.
Omar has called the plans to slowly lift lockdown restrictions “stupid”.
He said: “Lifting the restrictions will make it worse because we haven’t done anything about it yet.
“When it first happened, I thought – a couple of hundred have died – it’s not my dad, it’s not anyone I know. Then all of a sudden it is someone you know. And that’s when you realise this is real. This is a serious thing.”
Newham has recorded a mortality rate from COVID-19 of 144.3 deaths per 100,000 people, which is the worst in England and Wales, according to the Office of National Statistics.
Omar’s father, Roufal, was a fit and healthy 65-year-old man. He had been self-isolating, however, he lost his battle against the virus.
Omar lived with his father and fears that because he continued working at a vehicle rental company, he might have brought the virus home.
He is currently furloughed and is in no hurry to return to work.
Omar told Sky News: “Where I work you have to interact with members of the public and it’s not just the illness you’ve got to look out for, it’s the carriers as well. You would never know who is a carrier.
“I was still going to work when my dad was at home and I don’t know if I brought it home.”
“I am scared. I’ve got an ill mother as well. I don’t want to be the one who goes to work and then she catches it off me – and then I’ve lost another parent.”
The government has used rational fear to successfully convince society into lockdown.
However, it is now turning to behavioural scientists to examine how to change that messaging when the time comes to ease lockdown measures and get the economy moving again.
Professor Peter Ayton, of the University of London, said: “It’s a big problem.
“At the moment the messaging is all about how essential it is to stay at home, and if there is a change in that policy what people need to know is why has that changed?”
The government has set out five tests for lifting restrictions.
- Ensuring the NHS can cope
- A sustained and consistent fall in the death rate
- Rate of infection falling to manageable levels
- Ensuring tests and PPE meet demand
- Being confident adjustments would not provoke a second peak.
Professor Ayton says: “What we have now is a blanket measure where it is pretty simple to understand what you can and can’t do – but if there is relaxation contingent and conditional on all sorts of things to do with age or whatever it might be – that’s going to be more difficult to get across.
“People may not understand it – but also, they may not be particularly compliant with it, because they may feel there is injustice in the way the variability has been set out.”
He said it will be important to get the right messengers as well as the right messages in persuading people that it is safe to return to work.
A lot of it will depend on the actions taken by the government in showing they are controlling the situation.
Professor Ayton added: “With testing and contacting tracing that’s going to change the game a little bit – and there is something that can be built out of that, in terms of garnering the trust of people that it is, to a degree, safe for them to proceed out and about. It can’t be guesswork if it is going to carry people.”