one: COVID-19 and the Lockdown

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COVID-19 constitutes one of the most significant global health crises in a century. Since the novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019, over 5 million people have died worldwide (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 2021). Many who contracted the virus are now suffering from the debilitating effects of ‘long Covid’. A mental health crisis brought about by, among other factors, bereavement, enforced social isolation and financial anxiety, poses an acute challenge to health services (Campion et al, 2020). Children and young people, from preschoolers to university students, have lost over a year of traditional education. Many businesses, and their employees, face an uncertain future. And billion-euro fiscal bailouts will take decades to balance. Widespread vaccination may have reduced infection and subsequent rates of hospitalization and death in developed countries but, at the time of writing, infection and mortality rates in the Indian subcontinent and the global south are catastrophic.

The onslaught of the pandemic in Western Europe in spring 2020 led to a groundswell of community solidarity: across the United Kingdom people emerged from their houses every Thursday evening to applaud frontline health workers; 700,000 people volunteered their services; and a 99-year-old war veteran, Captain Tom Moore, was knighted after raising millions of pounds for healthcare charities by walking laps of his garden. Similar rounds of applause for frontline workers were held in the Republic of Ireland, and members of An Garda Síochána (the national police service) took part in a dance challenge in a bid to lighten spirits.

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