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We're all in this together

28 May 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 10

On 13 March 2020 the pre-planned title of my lecture on the global health module aimed at student nurses was ‘What lessons can we learn from the West African Ebola outbreak?’ In the background, however, the rumblings of the growing storm, by then named COVID-19, could not simply be ignored. Although a very clear distinction needs to be made between the characteristics and contexts of these two viruses, I was struck by some remarkable similarities. At the time of the 2015 Ebola outbreak, with which I had some personal involvement (Boulton, 2015), the challenge of containment was strongly attributed to the poor healthcare system, lack of education and pervading culture in the countries affected (Chan, 2015). Surely, if the UK ever faced a sudden onslaught of a highly infective disease things would be very different? Or would they? The title of my lecture was hastily expanded to ‘What lessons can be learned from the West African Ebola epidemic … and what resonance can we see with COVID-19?’

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