CAN you remember back to February last year? I know it seems a lifetime ago but we all watched in fascinated horror as scenes of utter carnage in Italian hospitals were nightly shown on our TVs when the first coronavirus wave hit an unprepared Lombardy.

As a man of a certain age, what terrified me most were the words of Italian medics, talking about how their hospitals were overwhelmed and how they were having to make ‘battlefield decisions’.

That was a polite way of saying they were being forced to decide on the spot who would be left to die and who would be treated.

What I found most chilling was that at the height of the first wave, the initial decision about who would be treated was age – anyone over the age of 60 was literally discarded.

The logic, of course, was that those younger than 60 stood a better chance of recovering from the illness and scarce resources were better deployed saving them.

Have lessons been learned from the awful experiences of Italy? You would have hoped so.

After all, we were hit by the pandemic a month after the Italians, and despite locking down, the death toll in the UK started to climb.

So have lessons been learned? Sadly it looks like they haven’t.

One national newspaper reported on Saturday that doctors in London hospitals have started 'triaging' coronavirus patients. And in this context, what exactly does ‘triaging’ mean? Put simply, it means they are having to make those ‘battlefield decisions’ as their Italian counterparts had had to do, choosing who gets critical care and who will be made comfortable and be left to die.

Frighteningly, those medics are warning the NHS is reaching the point where it 'simply won't be able to cope'.

The reported: “Doctors in the capital said a critical shortage of beds meant some hospitals were implementing emergency guidelines to prioritise treatment for patients with the best survival chances.

“This means younger patients who are more likely to survive will be offered critical care over the elderly, who are less likely to survive.”

So why have we found ourselves in this situation.

In the first instance, it would appear the new, more transmissible variant of Covid-19 is wreaking havoc.

But figures also show that just 30 per cent of people exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms are actually staying at home, saying the need to work, caring responsibilities or the need to buy supplies is forcing them to leave their homes.

I also suspect that the more lax lockdown 3 regulations aren’t helping either. The criteria for who is considered an essential worker have been widened, paving the way for many more children to remain in school.

Nursery schools are still open, cleaners can still work, going from house to house, you can meet one person outside who isn’t part of your household, we have support bubbles and childcare bubbles.

The list of what we can still do goes on and on.

Maybe the situation is more dangerous because of the new strain of the virus but it doesn’t transmit in any different way. What we actually needed was a tougher lockdown, not a weaker one.

And yes, I suspect people are suffering from Covid and lockdown fatigue – I know I am – but a deadly virus has no regard for your feelings.

On Saturday, I went out for a walk around Penketh to get some exercise. The roads were as busy as a normal day. People were still out and about and I witnessed two groups stopping for a chat with social distancing non-existent. Joggers were still failing to give people space, cyclists were still riding on pavements.

Lockdown? What lockdown.

The best advice I have been given is: Act as though you have the virus, and act as though everyone else has it.