Nigel Beeton (pictured above in his PPE) works in Radiology in a hospital in the East of England. During this time of the coronavirus crisis, he is writing a weekly diary of his life at the hospital. 

Friday 8th May

I fear I may have spoken a little bit too soon last week. The quiet day was a one-off and we’ve been back in full flight since then. The official line is that East Anglia is a little behind the national curve, and students of the graphs shown at the daily briefings will be aware that East Anglian cases are still rising slowly.

But there is no longer that dreadful feeling that we are about to become overwhelmed. In fact, there is that relieved feeling that we prepared for the worst and that we have coped. Staff are still tired, the relentless need to carry out familiar tasks wearing cumbersome and uncomfortable PPE is, to say the least, wearying; but nevertheless, we now hear laughter amongst the sighs, and see smiles amidst the tears.

There are still positive signs. On Monday (4th) nobody passed away in the hospital as a direct result of a covid infection. Ours was one of two hospitals in the region to report no deaths, and another significant milestone is passed. The media have been using deaths as a kind of measurement of the severity of the crisis. It is as good a yardstick as any, I’m sure, but the use of words like ‘yardstick’ or ‘measurement’ to describe the numbers of families torn apart by this virus feels faintly inappropriate. But a day when no more mourning has been caused does seem to justify rejoicing.

I’ve remarked before about the effects of the virus being exacerbated by the enforced separation; it is not a nice way to lose loved ones. The desire to sit by someone we love, to speak gentle words to them and to hold their hand as they slip away is a very deep one. My wonderful father died in 2017, long before Covid-19. I was reading the opening phrases of John chapter 14 to him at the very moment that his breathing stopped.  That I was able to do so was a great comfort, at least to us, and I am bitterly conscious that this comfort has been denied to so many over the past few miserable weeks.

If the disease is abating, let us thank God for it, and let us therefore pray that it is doing so for good, and will not return in second or third waves as previous epidemics have done. Then we can consign our deathly ‘yardstick’ to the pages of history.