Covid19 pandemic – How the UK Government can win people’s confidence in their action-plan.

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Emeka Anyanwu

Emeka Anyanwu - Publisher, C. Hub magazine.

Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action. Solutions to complex problems are simple and the answer is always within. 

Emeka Anyanwu – The Big R of a Successful Business.

At the moment it’s doom and gloom across nations. The sun is not yet broken through the cloud of coronavirus. FTSE 100 down by 4%. Governments are grappling to understand how to deal with the covid19 outbreak threatening the lives of millions worldwide. In all of these, world leaders need to show effective leadership.

There are no silver bullet solutions but the following strategies no doubt will be helpful.

  1. Understanding the time.
  2. Understanding people’s needs.
  3. Be able to communicate your understanding effectively.

We can learn from our physiological and psychological functioning of our body system. The same is true in life.

Understanding the time we are in is critical. In times of danger such as we have it now,  the body usually shuts down non-essential parts of its activities. The body initiates the fight-flight-freeze response. As the body endures a rush of hormones, pupil dilation, and increased blood circulation, the limbic system takes control of the brain. The limbic controls our emotions, drives, instincts, and moods. As it takes over it pushes aside the frontal lobe, which can be thought of as the, “thinking brain.” In the end, we need to restore frontal lobe if we are to regain logical thinking.

We are aware that the government is trying to strike a balance between the two crises: Health and Financial. Getting people treated and maintaining essential services during this paralysing time will rekindle people’s confidence in the government.

Government is avoiding the terrifying the financial crisis of 2008 and unemployment of the 1930s where half of Britain was undernourished with unemployment peaked the harshest year of depression. Many are worried that the spectre of the Devil’s decade has come to haunt them. Any manner of inconsistencies from the government will undermine people trust and may encourage erratic behaviour like panic buying, lawlessness and rebellion.

 However, one expects that the UK Prime Minister should come up with a robust and concise action plan to curb the spread of Covid19, given the fact that at the early stage it was localized. The UK is playing catchup with this dangerous virus, this is not alright. The government should be ahead and not catching up. Lives are being lost. The UK should see it as an act of war, just like France, not asking people to voluntarily isolate.

Focus is the hardest thing to accomplish and the easiest thing to lose in this terrifying situation when huge numbers of people are losing their lives due to Covid19 outbreak. The government needs to be focused on both short term and long term course of action. Researching on Covid19 should be ongoing as the virus seem to be persistent and established as a global pandemic. Better research and diagnostic would lead to the production of vaccine in the long run.

The Need Of The People.

The need of people is for the government to provide leadership and build trust through honest and committed actions in stopping the spread of this virus. Leadership is more of a mindset than resources and capabilities. Getting the right balance is crucial.  The government can achieve this by effectively reassuring the people, showing empathy, clarity, taking swift actions and communicating these actions effectively and convincingly.


Effectively reassuring people that their bills will be paid, house rent will be taken care of during the time they’re asked to self-isolate and recovering from Coronavirus attack.  You cannot ask people to stay at home for two weeks without providing money or a clear solution on how their bills will be paid and their needs met. If people don’t have money they will be forced to break rules even at their own peril. 

World Health Organisation is sending messages to countries:  Test! Test! Test! This is urgent. No one fights fire with eyes blindfolded. As we speak, England is not doing enough to test people especially the health workers at the frontline. Leaving the hospital ill-equipped and understaffed could be a tragic mistake. We have just heard the health secretary making a desperate request for manufacturers to produce more ventilators. This clearly shows a lack of preparedness on the part of the government. If the UK is so ill-equipped at this stage with essentials, one wonders what else could go wrong at the last minute. 

The government’s 4 point strategy to contain, delay, research and mitigate is alright however, it is not being combined with action. Not taking radical measures such as banning flights from hot spots undermines the strategy government claimed to be following. The delay phase if the global situation makes containing the virus impossible as we see global pandemic.  Now, the Chief scientist is talking of lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season when the NHS would be able to cope with the pressures. 

The government said they would be willing to take further measures including the ones taken by other European countries at more advanced stages of an outbreak. The question is why are governments not taken clear and direct actions on banning social gatherings and shutting down pubs rather than leaving them at their discretion.

While discussing with a friend that worked in Hong Kong, he expressed his dismay and disappointment on how the UK was not controlling its borders and testing arrivals at airports. He said at Hong kong all arrivals were being tested with temperature monitoring and adequate follow up instructions; those that tested positive are taken into one place and in that process, Hong Kong was able to stop the spread of coronavirus.

People need to see and feel the actions that the government is taking. Unfortunately, at this point, many cannot feel the government’s actions as being serious with saving people’s lives

Effective Communication.

Effective communication is crucial at this point that people’s circumstances are constantly changing. People are dying, people are losing loved ones, the government is changing tactics and strategies. 

This communication must show care and empathy. A feat the PM has failed to use in reaching the people’s heart and winning their confidence. It was good that the PM was sombre as he told the nation how much life would change, he, however, failed to also show optimism and confidence that he is capable of coming up with ways to get on top of things fast as well as failed to also empath with the nation. Rather he sounded sadly defeated.  Telling people the will sadly lose their loved ones before their time without following that up with clear and concise plan to make sure that is avoided, is reckless of the PM.

Last week,  many scientists and doctors launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and his team of scientists and advisors urging them to show clarity. The critics are worried that the model and strategy are flawed. People want to know why the government is not closing schools.  Why is the UK not shutting down like other European countries? Effective communication is the key here. Why is the UK government not following the WHO directives? If they have different scientific data, why are they not sharing this information with other scientists so they know to understand and help communicate the strategy? These are crucial in taking the people along.

In fact, I was happy when the news that there would be a daily briefing on the Covid19 outbreak. People’s attitudes cannot change if people are left in limbo. Asking people to maintain social distance, wash their hands, avoid unnecessary gathering wouldn’t make meaning if people fail to understand the reason behind each action.  The menace of Covid19 has disorientated people in such a way that if words and language are not handled appropriately a lot of people would lose the plot. If the government is not upfront and honest with the people they are creating opportunities for fake news to dominate people’s minds. With fear, panic and anxiety on the horizon, the tendency to lose focus is commonplace.

Need to work with the government, regardless.

As it is, it’s still better to adhere to the government’s advice such as social distancing, washing hands, avoiding unnecessary gathering, self-isolating and working from home, as more confusion will cause further damage and loss of lives and property. If you want to win, the will can never retire, the race can never stop and faith can never be weakened