If Jacinda Ardern can do it, why can’t Johnson?


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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a complete lockdown of her country from Wednesday. Only essential services people will be allowed outside their homes.

New Zealand currently has 102 reported cases of Covid-19, with zero deaths from the disease.

The UK currently has 5,683 cases with 281 deaths. (Figures from John Hopkins University).

And yet, last weekend, people were swarming the beaches of seaside towns such as Skegness, and UK urban parks were “heaving” with people.

Johnson cites the freedom-loving instincts of the British people as reason to take things slowly, at the weekend balking at the idea that the police might get involved in enforcing the virus rules.

I think it is worth bearing in mind that the Cato Institute Freedom Index puts New Zealand at the top. It is considered by them to be the freeest country in the world. The UK is 14th.

Geographically, New Zealand is a bit like an upside down carbon copy of the British Isles at the other end of the world. It’s recent traditions, laws and democratic structures are very similar to ours in the UK.

So, I think Boris Johnson needs to “person up” and take a leaf out of the Kiwis’ book this afternoon.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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171 Comments

  • Had a seven mile amble today via coast, sea-front and town centre, everyone was keeping a good distance away and there were no large groups… the message does seem to have got home. NZ is at the containment phase so a very short lock down might work, we are beyond that so it is probably too late other than doing it for a month or three which would probably result in total chaos as no systems are in place for it to work properly, hence panic buying etc. As soon as people start starving there will be riots, violence and general madness…

    Latest talk is not using ventilators of certain groups that do no respond well to it, can I suggest mega-doses of vitamin C – like 10-50g a day or even on a drip continuously. Lots of medical data says it does not work but they used very small doses 200-500mg a day which barely works for fending off colds. There is anecdotal evidence that people who have been written off with pneumonia have saved themselves by taking such large doses. It is worth a shot if they are otherwise not going to be treated.

  • Katharine Pindar 23rd Mar '20 - 1:07pm

    Totally disagree with this. The social distancing measures are already over the top. How on earth can someone infect you, even if only one metre away, unless they at least breathe on you or touch you? It’s quite impossible for people buying groceries to keep two metres away from each other or the person on the till. As for the thousands who went to the beaches and parks yesterday, I expect they needed the break and the outdoor enjoyment after the very anxious week everyone had had, and knew what was best for themselves and their families. British people are not going to be ordered about, but have the sense now I expect to curtail their social contacts and knuckle down to a reasonable extent. I have faith in our people, Paul!

  • Phil Beesley 23rd Mar '20 - 1:26pm

    Remember the old joke about the time difference between the UK and New Zealand? Answer: about fifty years.

    My understanding and observation of New Zealand is that the country has some strict laws which operate with a lot of flexibility. Farmers stick to environmental and animal welfare regulations because reputational cost is so high. Cyclists ignore laws requiring a helmet where they know that the police have better things to worry about. Car ‘MOT’ testing and road licensing regs are formally strict but in the countryside costs may be beyond the income of locals; 20% of vehicles are untaxed in some places, and people somehow know when and where roadside checks will be conducted.

    I suspect that Kiwi common sense will help them — noting that those living in New Zealand cities are in pretty much the same position as UK urban dwellers. I hope that sociability — that it is rude to walk past somebody in the countryside without stopping for a natter — will not be lost.

  • Phil Beesley 23rd Mar '20 - 1:40pm

    Katharine Pindar: “How on earth can someone infect you, even if only one metre away, unless they at least breathe on you or touch you?”

    I hope that you put the lid down on the toilet seat before you flush. You can’t see anything in the air, but microbiologists can find, err, unpleasant evidence, two metres away from the toilet.

    Behaviour like heavy breathing, coughs and sneezes from people sends particles into the air, and if particle density is similar to air they will linger for a while before descending to the ground. All public health stuff which has been recognised for 100 years, it’s why responsible food shops employ so many cleaners.

  • @Katharine

    It is almost impossible to be conscious all of the time when you are outdoors not to touch face, rub eyes, adjust your glasses or pick your nose even.
    The longer you are outdoors the more exposure risk you have.

    From every bench, you sit on to take a rest, to every lamp-post you may lean on and every surface that you might come into contact with.

    That is why in supermarkets you can be conscious not to touch anything on your body until the shopping is back in the car and you are in a safe place to santazize your hands.
    When you get home and pack your shopping away and you’re in your safe space you can then wash your hands.

    The longer you are outdoors in unnecessary circumstances you’re raising your expose risk to yourself and others.
    It is quite simple science really.
    Nobody is proclaiming this is easy but it is necessary for the greater good until the medics can come up with better antiviral meds to treat the infections with the hope of a vaccine.

    If people would have behaved responsibility and only gone for walks around woods and lakes and parks instead of congregating at ice cream vans and amusement arcades and fish and chip shops etc, then maybe it would not have been necessary to go to the more extreme measures that are being called for now, but people were not responsible and used sense and so we are now at where we are.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Mar '20 - 3:14pm

    Agree with Paul on a lot of this, with Katharine on little.

    We ought not refer to this as a lockdown. It is staying home. No awful thing they ask of us. The naysayers to doing more are losing us this war. Yes. Macron called it that in many different points in one address.

    Merely the only way to combat this. And if you want to have another version of the conclusion here, read my article today as well.

  • Paul asks, “If Jacinda Ardern can do it, why can’t Johnson ?”

    Maybe because population density is sixteen times higher in the UK than in New Zealand, and a population of 4.8 million is more manageable than 68 million in the UK..

    Scotland (5.5 million) may reflect after all this that small is beautiful and prefer the localism advantages of being an independent state led by a competent woman. It would also chime with the Liberal Party’s Young Scots’ aspirations for Scottish Home Rule over 100 years ago.

  • There still seem to be shortages of masks etc for health workers (have yet to see any of the doctors or social workers who visit my 85 year-old neighbour wearing any, either) BUT there does not seem to be any heavily hit country where people are not wearing masks when out and about, let alone in enclosed places like supermarkets which may also be recirculating the virus via the airconditioning systems so a priority should be making these for general distribution to the populace (via their letterbox?) once front-line staff have a sufficiency. In ideal conditions the science says that the virus will drop straight to the floor when sneezing etc but can be spread into the air via atomization, and I imagine airconditioning might help it spread. You only have to look at closed systems such as a cruise ship even where there is self-isolation to see that the virus does still spread.

    Walking at a good distance to other people, in good clean air, should not be a problem, though.

  • No-one who advocates, defends or in any way facilitates martial law can ever be described as a “liberal”. The day that we have martial law in this country is the day that freedom dies.

  • Phil Beesley 23rd Mar '20 - 4:48pm

    David Raw: “Maybe because population density is sixteen times higher in the UK than in New Zealand, and a population of 4.8 million is more manageable than 68 million in the UK.”

    Sorry, David but that isn’t the answer. In the UK we concentrate things, sacrifices to the god of so-called efficiency.

    We build secondary schools for thousands of pupils — so many kids to justify a subject on the curriculum — forgetting that there is more to education. We’ve created these multi-academy monsters where it is impossible for the head to know every teacher.

    In health, big hospitals are ‘better’ than small hospitals? Apart from times when you need an expert, you’d be better off somewhere smaller. The whole point of medical education is to spread knowledge, that there will be somebody who knows.

    In pharmaceuticals, we have built up a supply chain of finished product and precursors. We know how to make paracetamol but nobody makes it.

    Urban population of Auckland is about 1.6 million people. Birmingham sized?

  • Katharine Pindar 23rd Mar ’20 – 1:07pm………………..As for the thousands who went to the beaches and parks yesterday, I expect they needed the break and the outdoor enjoyment after the very anxious week everyone had had, and knew what was best for themselves and their families………………

    When the death toll rises (aided by those enjoying themselves) and people get even more anxious, will they need more such days out?
    The problem is that many people still believe that the virus will only affect other people. No one would congregate in an area where there was a rabid dog; this virus is an invisible ‘rabid dog’ just because you can’t see it it doesn’t mean you are safe.

  • Andrew Tampion 23rd Mar '20 - 6:30pm

    Just because saome Countries have imposed what amounts to Martial Law in the hope that that will be effective doesn’t prove that they are right.
    I thought that Gus O’Donnell made a good point on today’s PM programme on Radio 4 when he said that such measures have to be suystainable and by implication that the extreme measures implemented might not be.
    My concern is that it’s all very for a couple of weeks but whether such onerous measures are sustainable is doubtful.

  • John Marriott 23rd Mar '20 - 7:11pm

    So Katharine Pindar reckons that “the British people are not going to be ordered about”. Well, here’s one, who is prepared to do as he’s told, even if she isn’t. Where has she been for the past few weeks? Katharine, if we get through this, life will not be the same again. If you are merely echoing what you consider true liberal values, then I wonder whether I have been supporting the wrong party these past forty years.

  • I’m with Katharine on this one as was the expert on the PM programme this evening and BTW, walks are allowed in NZ. There probably is a miniscule risk. But mostly people are 2 metres away from each other.

    Hopefully anyone who has any sneezing or coughing symptoms is self isolating indoors. But let’s assume that there was one person who sneezed with the virus as you walked past them. It’d have to reach you which is relatively unlikely. It might stay in the air but I would venture not long. And there are very few surfaces outside. UV sunlight also kills the virus but this might take a little while. This is different from a pub or office where its easy for people to sneeze all over you and you them! And indeed shopping etc. And there’s considerably less UV direct sunlight inside ( windows I believe filter quite a lot of it)

    Personally when I am out of the house, I am wearing ordinary gloves and keeping my hands in my pockets. More as a reminder not to touch my face then anything else. But hopefully any virus will go on my gloves rather than my hands – and also washing my hands when I get back. But you can of course do this in a park!

    It’s also worth remembering there are other risks worth thinking about than coronavirus. And it is said that if a daily 20 minute walk was a pill then it would be hailed as a wonder drug! As it reduces lots of nasty things cardiovascular disease etc., it’s particularly good for depression! And a walk in a park is much more uplifting than along a street and not all of us live in the countryside.

    But of course we should all be responsible and try and minimise the spread of the virus. To which end why are still having printed daily newspapers? They are not needed with the internet, radio and TV and going to a shop every day or having them delivered must constitute a risk – miniscule per newspaper but multiplied by over ten million EVERY day. I suspect we won’t see a call for them to be ended by the media!

    It’s also worth noting that arguably the most dangerous thing most of us did today was to cross the road!

    As to being responsible we should all try and keep to the speed limit and especially 20 mph in residential areas or if we are not driving make sure the driver keeps to the limit. Something that I admit that I have lapsed on in the past! But it’s probably the most danger we will cause other people even in these weeks of the coronavirus!

  • Phil Beesley 23rd Mar '20 - 7:56pm

    John Marriott: “Well, here’s one, who is prepared to do as he’s told, even if she isn’t. Where has she been for the past few weeks?”

    Thank you, John. I have spent my whole life avoiding people telling me what to do. That is what I do.

    When somebody gives me a piece of advice that my life might be threatened if I don’t change my behaviour, I have the capacity to observe. When I receive a trickle of advice and news for weeks, followed by facts every couple of days, then a scary tale every day, I’d take it seriously.

    I know enough science to comprehend that I must act differently. For once, I might do as I am told.

  • Katharine Pindar 23rd Mar '20 - 8:08pm

    Hi, Paul and others, I didn’t expect my comment to be popular, and of course I am following the rules myself, in so far as they are practicable – which keeping two metres apart when paying for shopping I have collected for someone else at the supermarket till isn’t. I don’t see the till staff flinching from customers who are neither sneezing nor coughing nor wiping their noses. I have ordinary chats with the woman selling me the papers in the independent newsagents, just hoping they won’t be obliged to shut, and that the closed cafe nearby may be going to be cooking and ferrying out meals to the old chap who came in for dinner every day and perhaps some other lonely people.

    The fact is that last week was pretty terrifying for everyone, as the rules here were suddenly changed, and the news from poor Italy, a country that I love, grew worse every day. I still think that for just one sunny day it was reasonable for families to go out and enjoy the fresh air in the parks or at the coast, reassuring their children that they can enjoy them again in a few weeks. Contrary to that, telling people that they must stay indoors for twelve weeks is a debilitating, depressing prospect for anyone used to a bit of social contact, perhaps dancing or singing or a coffee break with friends, and I as a counsellor worry about the mental effects on people’s health. Andrew Tampion’s point is a good one: long-term submission is indeed probably not sustainable, and I just add that keeping people in continual dread of it isn’t good for their well-being. Get enough protective equipment for our brave hospital staff, but don’t restrict our liberties too much – our leader Ed Davey had it right I think in the Commons a few minutes ago.

  • David Becket 23rd Mar '20 - 8:36pm

    Paul
    You do not need all those words to answer your question.

    She is a leader

  • Paul

    Lockdown hurts the economy. Prolonged lockdown causes a recession, the longer the lockdown, the deeper the recession and likelihood of a financial crisis. Financial crises kill people, in much bigger numbers than is appreciated. If I remember, the financial crisis of 2008 and the (very necessary) austerity to contain it, led to 130,000 excess deaths due to cuts to health and social care alone (this only a snapshot of the harm this sadly very necessary austerity caused). If we compare the loss of localised productivity, and by extension economic output, in Wuhan due to the lockdown to the loss of economic output of the 2008 financial crisis, then the 2008 financial crisis looks like a walk in the park. The austerity it will inflict could reach excess deaths in the high hundreds of thousands, way beyond excess deaths coronavirus would cause even at the (very high) estimate of 1% mortality.

    This is a deeply unpopular view to be expressed at the moment I know, but it’s a reality we as a society are going to have to face up to sooner rather than later

  • Interesting, reading the comments on LDV, I do get the impression that very few have had an encounter with SARS-CoV-2/CoViD-19 and so aren’t treating the advice seriously.
    From my relatively small circle of friends (ie. people I would normally see face-to-face each week) I know two people who have had CorViD-19 like illness (*)(now recovering), my children each know a friend now in isolation because of a parent (in my son’s case, they had a sleepover at the friend’s house in the week before…).

    In the coming weeks and months, I expect the majority of the population will be touched by SARS-CoV-2/CoVID-19. I’m not looking forward to when it visits my home.

    (*) The people had all the symptoms but were not deemed sufficiently serious by NHS 111 to be admitted to hospital and so were not tested and hence do not know whether what they had really was CoVid-19 or something similar. Which makes you realise that the numbers being socialised on the media are really hospital admissions of the critical cases, not the number of cases in the population…

  • Roland

    I look at the data to draw my conclusion (both economic and medical: looking at the latter only, which is what many are doing is extremely unwise), hence why I conclude that the extreme response and all encompassing measures to the threat of coronavirus (along with the significant harm that responses and measures entail) is out of proportion to its risk. We’re heading in a direction that the measures being adopted by governments (if continued “for as long as it takes” i.e a year when a vaccine might be available) will kill more people than the virus itself. But people who are pointing out these realities are being shouted down.

  • James – Yes, your point [comment: 23rd Mar ’20 – 9:46pm] was well made.
    SARS-Cov-2 isn’t going to go away in a hurry, so having the country under lockdown for more than a short period of time isn’t a medium or long-term solution. Personally, I think it is just a way of starting to make people realise that the world has changed and their day-to-day behaviours are going to have to change.

    Reading between the lines the highest priority (wrt economy) seems to be getting a cheap and plentiful supply of testing kits, so that we can better determine those who have had CoViD-19 and hence are able to go back to work etc.

  • Ok, you guys say NZ is too small. But, in Canada, all provinces have already imposed lockdowns at a much greater extent than us from early last week, if not the week before that, and the federal government had banned all passenger air, land and cruise travelling in and out of Canada as well. And the federal government have not invoked the Emergency Act yet.

  • Because Jacinda is a leader and Johnson is a populist.

  • @Brian Dash

    Actually, these extreme measures are rooted in populism. There is an hysterical screaming from traditional and social media for deeper and harsher lock downs. When the economy is on the brink, the same populist screaming will continue, even if it means continuing the lock down and driving the economy (and the whole country and social order) off a cliff.

    We’ve entered very dangerous territory, rooted in emotion over reason and panic over perspective. Sociologists will look back at this event for endless research and analysis as to how society could drive so hard and so quickly for measures that are so against it’s medium and long term interests.

  • @ James Pugh In what way are you qualified to make such a statement, Mr Pugh ?

    Do you have any specialist knowledge or expertise in the field of immunology or medicine, or is it just your opinion ?

  • James Pugh – saving the economy vs saving lives is a false dichtonomy. Letting the virus “run its course” might not really help the economy to avoid a collapse, and it could lead to collapsed healthcare systems and a lot of excess death in multiple countries. Remember that healthcare comes down to doctors, nurses and other professionals even more than medical gear and supplies. If we choose to run those human resources to a breaking point, we might not be able to rebuild the system for a long time. And consumer spending is certain to collapse when there is a pandemic. When you know there is a highly infectious virus in circulation, it does not make you want to go to lots of stores. Some people might still be brave and shop normally, but a lot will not.

    Also, British government, at least the Johnson government, is not exactly highly regarded in terms of competency, and British experts do not have direct experience in fighting SARS and MERS. Not to mention that South Korea has been preparing for potential bioweapon attacks and thus it is almost certain than they have run pandemic wargames. Finally, WHO also recommends proactive measures and aggressive testing, which are opposite to the original British pandemic response plan.

    Therefore, I am inclined to trust authorities and experts in countries like Korea, NZ and Canada than British ones, as well as WHO and the international scientific establishment. As I have said before, public health is not an area to play the contrarian game.

  • @David Raw

    I am a medical doctor with experience of working as a doctor in both the UK and overseas. I also have a postgraduate degree jointly awarded by LSE and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in International Health Policy. In addition to direct medical experience in hospitals, I have experience working in central government including the Government Office for Science and the Chief Medical Officer Unit.

    But actually I don’t think “credentials” in specific fields are the key issue here. One of the problems of this crisis is deference to only a narrow field of expertise (medical) to the neglect of other fields. Doctors, epidemiologists and virologists operate in a silo, with little concern for the impact of their advised measures on any field outside the medical one. Hence why they neglect any concern for the economic and social impact of their advice, and the economic and social impact of these measures is disastrous (risking financial collapse and entrenched loss of civil liberties). And there is little attention showed to the impact of these measures on mental health, nor the deprivation of a a proper education to millions of children (the closure of schools for just one term represents a loss of 3% of a child’s lifetime of primary and secondary education).

    Any person can expressed a reasoned opinion. It’s not reserved to a select few. Real liberals understand this very well

  • @Thomas

    Unfortunately the economy vs lives issue is not a false dichotomy at all. Almost everything that we do and government does is underpinned by economic activity. Cut away the economy and you cut away everything.

    There is a difference in a healthcare system “collapsing” and “becoming overwhelmed”. In any scenario, our NHS will become overwhelmed and will adjust and adapt in an attempt to cope to greater or lesser success. Being overwhelmed is related to supply. But a healthcare system “collapses” when the structure of it breaks down, and a severe financial crisis of the magnitude a prolonged lock down would bring, will do just that. Demand doesn’t cause a healthcare systems to collapse but supply and organisation. Economic meltdown will do just that, and not just for a few months (that an “overwhelmed” NHS would face) but for a generation.

    The most pragmatic solution in my opinion is targeted isolation of the elderly and the chronically ill (if individuals want to). It slows the spread of the virus within the population most susceptible to dying and/or needing secondary medical care, whilst keeps the economic wheels and engine of the country going. A country without an economy sinks very quickly.

    The threat of this disease has been massively overplayed. The most basic of data pieces to consider is this;
    -the average age of person dying of coronavirus in Italy is near 80
    -the average life expectancy in Italy 84

    Yes this virus poses threats and does and will harm, but not in the way or anywhere near the degree the more panicked sections of the media and social media are shrieking. See my comment to David Raw about silos of expertise

  • Correction “Being overwhelmed is related to supply” should read “Being overwhelmed is related to demand”

  • Yesterday I listened to Hancock saying 3.5 million PPEs are being sent out; but he was saying the same thing a week ago. Many hospitals are still saying they haven’t received any and medical staff are threatening not to work unless they have adequate protection..
    It’s amazing how, when these supplies are in warehouses (or so we’re told), it takes so long to get them out..Amazon used to deliver items to individual homes within 24 hours or less…

  • Thank you, James. Much to think about there, but an accurate definition of what a Real Liberals is over the last century would be interesting to contemplate.

  • James Pugh
    I find it very ironic that a lot of the people who want evermore draconian ways of putting people under house arrest by consigning students to their dorms and digs or demanding that parents living in bedsits or sheltered accommodation not go out, locking the inner city poor in their flats and shutting down small businesses are the very people most committed to the idea of free movement and have spent the last few years saying old people voted for Brexit and the next generation are more open and so on. I’m only surprised they aren’t asking concerned citizen to twitch their curtains for Britain. After all, what if your neighbours aren’t abiding by self-isolation stringently enough? They might be secretly meeting with each other and some of them may even be doing more than that. They may even touch things and you won’t know about it. It’s darkly comical.

  • @James Pugh thank you James for reminding us that it is economic activity that underpins everything else in this country; something that is too often forgotten.

    @David Raw I think an apology is in order. And I think we all know what your (narrow and exclusive) view of what a “Real Liberal” is.

  • “I think we all know” ??????

    Would love to know what the four chief medical officers in the United Kingdom: Professor Chris Whitty, the CMO for England and to the UK government; Dr Michael McBride, the CMO to the Northern Ireland executive; Dr Catherine Calderwood, the CMO to the Scottish government; and, Dr Frank Atherton, the CMO to the Welsh government think of James Pugh’s opinion – I repeat – opinion.

    I assume that James Pugh, and TCO (whose qualifications are a mystery), think they know better.

  • Katharine Pindar 25th Mar '20 - 10:14am

    James Pugh makes very good points about the risks being incurred nationally by the over-reaction to the crisis. I think of the mental effects, not only due to widespread fear and confusion, but also of how it must be for people used to an active life mainly outside the home, finding themselves cooped up, whether they are alone or obliged now to spend most of the time with partners and children. Regarding this current debate as to whether people should be going out to work as usual, I think the government should be encouraging those who can to keep their jobs going in as normal a way as possible, both for economic and health reasons, and to treat the social distancing measures sensibly. There must also be many ill people who don’t need many weeks at home, but are desperate to continue their life-saving treatments and appointments which are now under threat.

    Besides, there are many individual lives, happily, where people don’t conform to majority ways of life, and as Liberal Democrats believing in liberty and the right to nonconformity we should defend their right not to be forced into conformity. Above all, I believe the government should be keeping up hope. Saying that we will try these drastic measures for three weeks, to attempt to stop the rate of fatalities from this virus rising, but we don’t like restricting your freedoms, and we will hope to be able to reduce the restrictions after that. Unfortunately though this government’s idea of populism is their right to force most people to behave as they think best, and they have no capacity to understand or care about individual diverse needs.

  • As someone with a compromised immune system, and with a wife who suffers from asthma, we’re not prepared to play the equivalent of Russian Roulette. End of.

  • @David Raw

    Seconded

    As someone with 7 family members all in the high-risk group ages
    10, 22, 44, 49, 50, 75 and 79 The odds for our family are not great. I just pray that scientists are given the time to come up with better treatment and hopefully a vaccine.

    There are millions of families like ours who has multiple at-risk family members and are terrified.
    We hope that if the country comes together and takes the measures that we are told, that we can get on top of the infection rate as quickly as possible so that we are allowed to leave our houses by the Summer.

    Yes we know the risk will be there again for the winter and might raise its head again and measures will need to be put in place again, but the quicker we can get on top of the current infection rate, the quicker some of the most vulnerable people in society might get to leave their houses again for a while, even if for only a couple of months.

  • James Pugh, Katharine Pindar, TCO…..

    Economies always recover; the dead don’t.*

    *I know there was a possible case 2000 odd years ago but…..?

  • We’re currently running the risk with the country at the moment of something akin to the “operation successful; patient died” scenario.

    It’s worth reading this – which describes what happens afterwards.

    There’s a mad panic to catch up and slow things down. But … then what?

  • @expats

    Surely you realise that us “less productive” ill type can be replaced though.

    Us more burdensome members of society just need to be treated differently from the rest of society and be locked down indefinitely whilst everyone else goes about their business.
    That’s very much how it feels “some” attitudes are, from some quarters of society that they are putting their liberties before mine.

  • @matt “Us more burdensome members of society just need to be treated differently from the rest of society and be locked down indefinitely whilst everyone else goes about their business.
    That’s very much how it feels “some” attitudes are, from some quarters of society that they are putting their liberties before mine.”

    Who staffs the hospitals? Who empties the bins? Who keeps the power, water and telecomms systems operating? Who grows, makes and distributes food? Who keeps law and order? Who keeps the banking system running? How do you think the vulnerable get cared for if none of those are operating?

  • Richard Underhill 25th Mar '20 - 11:11am

    David Raw 25th Mar ’20 – 10:13am
    You can fool some of the people some of the time.
    You can fool all of the people some of the time.
    but you cannot fool ALL of the people ALL of the time

  • Richard Underhill 25th Mar '20 - 11:14am

    matt 25th Mar ’20 – 11:00am
    We should all try harder to democratise the electoral system, all at the same time.

  • matt 25th Mar ’20 – 11:00am…

    I thought ‘Logan’s Run’ was fiction…Mind you, us oldies were 21 in the story; I wonder how those advocating risking our health/life would feel if they’d passed the ‘cut-off point?

  • David Raw, Expats, and Matt
    So basically you want workers thrown out of jobs, single mums locked up in council flats, people with mental health problems suffering, clubs shut, and teenagers unable to hang out with their friends for personal reasons, but you want to project it as community spirited altruism. Instead of telling people off, you should take a good hard look at yourselves.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Mar '20 - 11:21am

    Caroline Lucas has only one voice, but she should be listened to, by the powerful,
    Electronic voting for MPs should happen now.
    Mechanised voting for parliamentarians happens in other countries, although in the USA they sometimes get the wrong outcome. Even the Supreme Court cannot be right all of the time.

  • Glenn 25th Mar ’20 – 11:17am………….David Raw, Expats, and Matt……..So basically you want workers thrown out of jobs, single mums locked up in council flats, people with mental health problems suffering, clubs shut, and teenagers unable to hang out with their friends for personal reasons, but you want to project it as community spirited altruism. Instead of telling people off, you should take a good hard look at yourselves………

    Strange how, although I’m reluctantly willing to accept a limited lockdown, teenagers should be allowed to visit clubs and hang out with their friends and pass the virus on. And you want me to look at myself????

    In the early 1980’s the prevailing economicy plan cost 3 million jobs in this country alone..I don’t recall those responsible shedding many tears. The government has already compensated workers and, if Ed Davey’s plan goes through, so will the self employed. Where you get your bits about those with mental health issues and single mums only you know…

  • @TCO
    Re: It’s worth reading this – which describes what happens afterwards.
    Disagree, as it doesn’t actually add any new insights. Specifically I note Dr. Bruce Aylward avoids actually answering the question: “Looking further into the future, what do you anticipate? Will COVID-19 ever disappear?”, the closest he gets is in his response to the question “Is there reason to be concerned about a second wave of infections in China?” where he simply quotes/paraphrases what the Chinese authorities have been telling him.

    @Matt – As someone with 7 family members all in the high-risk group ages…
    Yes the waiting is probably more terrifying than the reality, yesterday we got notified that two relations are now in isolation – both had been working in intensive care at different hospitals…

  • Expats
    I’m locked down, those teenages are locked down. Bar workers locked down. shop are shut’ local business are closed. Am I mad about? I’m spitting mad. But I’m stilling enduring it and so is my daughter at University and so is my son living with is Mum.
    Now, I’m just going into my garden to do a bit of reading. Then I’ll ring my sister up so we can have a good moan about being under involuntary house arrest and we will say some pretty colourful things about it and what we think of the people imposing it on us. Then later I might have a smoke, play some old Jungle records (with my headphones on, I may lack community spirit but I’m a considerate neighbour) and eat some Hob Nobs.
    PS
    I do look at my motives all the time. I recommend that people sit down and truly examine their thoughts. It can be very revealing.

  • James Pugh – “The most pragmatic solution in my opinion is targeted isolation of the elderly and the chronically ill (if individuals want to). It slows the spread of the virus within the population most susceptible to dying and/or needing secondary medical care, whilst keeps the economic wheels and engine of the country going. A country without an economy sinks very quickly.” – in France, half of the cases in ICU are under-60. Also, if “mild” cases are simply defined as cases that do not need ICU, they can be still very nasty. You cannot determine who are at risk, because even very young people are not invincible like commonly believed. Letting the virus run its course, even just for the rest of the population, will lead to a case spike that resembles Philadelphia in 1918 – and given Britain’s low number of ICUs, death toll will surge. And the stock market and consumer spending will certainly tank in a mass death scenario as confidence collapses.

    So, the choices here are either moderate-to-extensive lockdown now, or a complete and total lockdown later. And this is exactly why saving the economy vs saving lives is, or has become a false choice. Of course, you cannot run a market economy in this circumstance, and therefore I have advocated for converting into a war economy. The West have missed the window of opportunity to simply block and contain the virus while keeping business as usual long ago (from late February). Now, there is no other choice.

    James Pugh, TCO, expats, Katharine Pindar, Glenn, David Raws – by the way, BoJo’s reverse course is not driven by populism, but by an Imperial College modelling study predicting that their original strategy will lead to a 260000 death toll, and a laissez-faire strategy will lead to over 500000 deaths (and 2.2 million in the US at the same time). No political party, populist or not, can survive with such a death count.

    Glenn – Btw, I am actually not a fanatical freedom-of-movement cheerleader, and as far as I remember, matt is a Leaver.

    In addition to social distancing and testing, big data and AI can also be employed to analyze test results, as well as to track down infected cases (via credit cards and mobile phones for example).

  • On a lighter note (or more sombre, depending how one looks at life)..In my mail this morning were two items offering me life (death) insurance and one for an ‘affordable cremation’…
    As they say, “It pays to advertise”

  • Phil Beesley 25th Mar '20 - 2:37pm

    Thomas: “Also, if “mild” cases are simply defined as cases that do not need ICU, they can be still very nasty. You cannot determine who are at risk, because even very young people are not invincible like commonly believed.”

    I largely agree, Thomas. I’d quibble over definition of ‘mild’ but there are other considerations.

    Doctors who have scanned recovered patients have observed the body repairing organ damage. Pretty much what you expect and most survivors will not be affected.

    Invasive medical procedures have long term consequences.

  • Joseph Bourke
    I take your point. But we’re not talking about restrictions caused by the technological differences and working cultural of a previous era. We are talking about confining people to their homes or flats or bedsits or hostels. Closing everything down and having the police question why people are outside. Now some people may think this is a mere inconvenience, I think it’s an appalling very damaging overreaction. We are not in lockdown to save millions of lives. It’s to prevent over capacity in hospitals and because Coronavirus has created an atmosphere in which governments have to out do each other in combatting the threat in case they are politically ostracised on the world stage. The estimates are that up to 50% of the population have already had the virus with most of them not even knowing they’ve had it or getting over it with mild symptoms and we’re treating it as if its an extinction event. For all we know it could have already been in the population in December with people just thinking they had a cold and deaths amongst the elderly and people with pre-existing health problems being attributed to other factors. We weren’t testing then. I agree that some of the measure were sensible, but not this abomination and to top the lot you’ve got normally reasonable people demanding even harsher forms of lockdown.

  • Peter Martin 25th Mar '20 - 2:50pm

    @ Katharine,

    “The risks being incurred nationally by the over-reaction to the crisis……..”

    My first reaction was to disagree with you strongly on this. However, it seems that you could possibly be right if Prof. Gupta and his team at Oxford Uni are right. He’s claiming that half the population, about 30 million or so, could be already infected. In which case, it would be very good news. The virus is causes barely noticeable effects in most people, and there’s really nothing more to be done. The death rate should peak very shortly and then start to fall.

    But if he isn’t and there are less than about 30, 000 infections, which is what I believe Professor Neil Ferguson and the Imperial College Group are saying, there certainly isn’t an over reaction.

    It shouldn’t be too hard to find out who is correct. We need to test a random sample of the population for the presence of antibodies to Covid 19. Just a couple of hundred people should be enough. The WHO has emphasised the importance of testing. The Government has been too slow to accept the advice.

    https://www.cityam.com/coronavirus-may-have-infected-half-of-uk-population-according-to-experts/

  • Thomas
    I was talking about the overreaction by journalists and the support of parliamentarians. Not anyone posting on here. We’re just lowly people talking, not opinion formers or those in a position of power.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Mar '20 - 3:06pm

    The leader of the \House of Commons has announced various timetable matters. In the Lords the government has said that matters can be addressed after the resumption in April.
    MPs can be used as hotlines.
    Baroness Ludford is pressing an amendment with the support of Baroness Kennedy and others (Labour, Green and non-affiliated).
    In the Commons Ed Davey had said that the bill contains measures which we would normally oppose vigorously. In the Lords Baroness Kennedy referred to the Human Rights Act, which had been debated at length. She also referred to other countries, such as Hungary, legislating differently from the UK, which might be worrying.

  • @TCO

    “Who staffs the hospitals? Who empties the bins? Who keeps the power, water and telecomms systems operating? Who grows, makes and distributes food? Who keeps law and order? Who keeps the banking system running? How do you think the vulnerable get cared for if none of those are operating?”

    They are part of the keyworkers that are still operating so what’s your point?

    Everyone else is being asked to make temporary sacrifices on their movements which the government will try to provide financial support for in order to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed and collapsing.
    It is not just about us oldy sickly types. It is about preventing indirect deaths from coronavirus as well for people who will struggle to get the care that they need to survive other accidents and ailments which in normal circumstances would be a survivable event, or do you fail to grasp that?

  • Richard Underhill 25th Mar '20 - 3:14pm

    Boris Johnson’s spin doctors may have oversold the ability of the Formula One teams to do engineering changes quickly. They can, but who is holding them up?

  • Richard Underhill 25th Mar '20 - 3:19pm

    matt 25th Mar ’20 – 3:10pm
    The current leader of the opposition made numerous points about cleaners, agreed by the current PM.

  • Phil Beesley 25th Mar '20 - 3:19pm

    Glenn: “The estimates are that up to 50% of the population have already had the virus with most of them not even knowing they’ve had it or getting over it with mild symptoms and we’re treating it as if its an extinction event.”

    One news story based on one analysis. We do not have a reliable test for antibodies to identify people who have contracted Covid-19 and recovered.

    “For all we know it could have already been in the population in December with people just thinking they had a cold and deaths amongst the elderly and people with pre-existing health problems being attributed to other factors.”

    I think you underestimate the instincts of medical professionals to observe recurrent strange events, even during the flu season. Or for epidemiologists to notice that people who had received flu vaccination became ill.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Mar '20 - 3:25pm

    matt 25th Mar ’20 – 10:52am
    Suppose the Big Pharma do develop a vaccine, as Donald Trump seems to think they will.
    Suppose they also prove it is safe for human consumption. What will they charge for it?
    Will the recipients of our aid be able to pay?

  • Richard Underhill 25th Mar '20 - 3:32pm

    In the early 1970s the government established and funded a hospital building programme, known s HARNESS. They called an early general election in February 1974 and lost.
    The incoming Labour government led by Harold Wilson cancelled the programme. It would have provided modern hospitals for medium sized towns, such as Dudley.
    New Labour allowed hospital building if it could be paid for by PFI (essentially a post-dated cheque).

  • @Thomas “James Pugh, TCO, expats, Katharine Pindar, Glenn, David Raws – by the way, BoJo’s reverse course is not driven by populism, but by an Imperial College modelling study predicting that their original strategy will lead to a 260000 death toll, and a laissez-faire strategy will lead to over 500000 deaths (and 2.2 million in the US at the same time). No political party, populist or not, can survive with such a death count.”

    But James’ point was that academics work in silos. And this particular group’s research is not universally acknowledged – as Peter Martin’s point about Professor Gupta shows.

    The facts of the matter are these. The government has decided to follow the advice from Imperial College to prevent potential huge overstretch in the Health Service. This will undoubtedly prevent deaths in the short term. The long term effects on our society are as yet unforeseeable – and we can only hope that they aren’t like what happened with Fukushima, where there were c11 deaths from radiation and over 1000 from the consequences of evacuation.

  • @Glenn

    “So basically you want workers thrown out of jobs, single mums locked up in council flats, people with mental health problems suffering, clubs shut, and teenagers unable to hang out with their friends for personal reasons, but you want to project it as community spirited altruism. Instead of telling people off, you should take a good hard look at yourselves.”

    You might be surprised to hear that my concern is not just for myself and my family and people with underlying conditions.
    My concern is for everyone from the “heart attack” patient who could have under normal circumstances survived the event with a fully functioning NHS
    or
    The Stroke patient who could have made a full recovery or at the very least had limited damage if the NHS was able to treat in time and give the full care and attention it would normally. Or the Cancer patient
    Or the Epileptic patient or the Car accident, or the person who just fell from a ladder, or the poor bloke who just fell down the stairs.

    If by putting the country into lock-down and asking all non-keyworkers to stay indoors allows the slowing of the spread of infection, allowing the NHS to get on top of things and get resources in place, saves lives which otherwise would be unnecessarily lost, then I am happy to surrender my freedoms on a temporary basis in order to allow that to happen.

  • matt 25th Mar ’20 – 5:27pm…

    Hear, hear!

    TCO’s “This will undoubtedly prevent deaths in the short term.” must accept the fact that not only deaths but also a short term explosion in cases needing hospital treatment would occur without lock down. The shortage of suitable PPE would have meant that large numbers of front line staff would be unable to work, due to infection, and the resultant melt-down of the NHS, this early in the pandemic, would be catastrophic in the weeks ahead.

    The only alternative was, as Cummings (possibly) supported, not to bother treating oldies and keep NHS treatment for ‘producers’..Thankfully, the NHS is still for all and the lock down reduces the likelyhood of it being overloaded this early in the pandemic.

  • Peter Martin 25th Mar '20 - 6:34pm

    Having previously drawn attention to Sunetra Gupta’s work at Oxford Uni, suggesting that half of the population may have already contracted the virus, I should also now say that many are suggesting that this is unproven. My guess is that they are probably right. The media often get hold of the wrong end of the stick when trying to interpret scientific opinion. A suggestion of what could be, just about, possible can easily be misinterpreted to mean ‘likely’.

    Incidentally, I should acknowledge Prof Gupta’s gender to be female. I was possibly guilty of some unintended sexism with my initial assumption of male. Sorry about that!

    https://www.wired.co.uk/article/coronavirus-infections-oxford-study-immunity

  • Matt
    I apologies for being harsh. We disagree. Anyway, I’m going to do my bit for the country by doing absolutely nothing. I’ve had my government sanctioned one trip out to exercise for the day. So I’m going to play some tunes. Tomorrow, I might become more actively involved in the national effort by spying on my neighbours. You can never be too vigilant. They might be sneaking out to visit a friend or to touch each other inappropriately. I suggest everyone do the same. I will be twitching my curtain to save lives and the NHS.

  • @Glenn

    Thank you. And we might disagree on this and I do understand that feelings are intensified on both sides.
    Somehow we all have to acknowledge each others fears and frustrations without tearing each other apart
    I have respected and agreed with a lot that you have written on LDV over the years.
    it is inevitable that we will not always sit on the same side of the fence on all matters.

    I do acknowledge your strong feels and passion for something you believe in and hope we can find a better way to voice our opinions and disagreements in future.

    Take Care Glenn

  • Katharine Pindar 25th Mar '20 - 9:37pm

    Glenn, I am enjoying your word pictures! Peter, thank you for that encouraging reference about Professor Gupta and her team. Matt, of course we must try to protect the Health Service for everyone. I am just asking really for a bit of common sense, and for leaders not to add to possible mass hysteria, and certainly to current fear and dread.

    Common sense. Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, was quoted in Monday’s Times reflecting on outdoor exercise. “There is a real balance here – what we don’t want to find is that we grow mental health problems or we grow other physical problems because of such a strict imposition. ” she is quoted as saying. “The virus doesn’t last well outside … but the difficulty is if people are congregating outside or coming together.” I read this out to a friend whose 18-year-old son has had cancer treatment and who has received the letter telling him he must not leave their home for 12 weeks. I told her of the entirely quiet country walk I took yesterday by myself starting not 200 yards from their home, and pointed out that her son could walk along that wide path into a field as I did with not the slightest chance of a close encounter with anyone, either going or coming back. But my friend thought she must stick rigidly to this general guidance in the letter, which was confirmed by the hospital.

  • Frank West,

    Are you saying taking 20 500mg vitamin C tablets a day for people who think they have Covid-19 will help fight it off? I’ll have to see if they are any vitamin C tablets in the shops I go into.

    James Pugh,

    A recession does not need to lead to any deaths if the safety net is good enough, but ours is not. Austerity was not the answer in 2010, it is never the answer to a recession. This crisis has shown what governments can do and the amount of money they can spend. I don’t understand how anyone who considers themselves a liberal can support government action which resulted in the death of any people, let alone 130,000 people.

    “Any person can expressed a reasoned opinion. It’s not reserved to a select few. Real liberals understand this very well”
    Indeed.

    Joe Bourke,

    I remember the 1970’s and factories closing down for two weeks in the summer. My mother particularly liked the silence as at the bottom of our garden was a furniture factory and the noise was constant except for those two weeks. The pubs and the shops didn’t shut down for two weeks and people were not being told not to go out of their homes for those two weeks.

    (I remember a time in the 1970s when all but essential travel by petrol vehicles was banned on Sundays.)

    Glenn,

    The estimates are that up to 50% of the population have already had the virus with most of them not even knowing they’ve had it or getting over it with mild symptoms

    There has been modelling done at the University of Oxford (https://www.ft.com/content/5ff6469a-6dd8-11ea-89df-41bea055720b), which states that Covid-19 arrived here in January. It seems antibody testing will start soon in Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Kent and we will know. However, there are doubts about these tests, which I understand are still being tested.

    With regard to the new government advice, I would have been much happier if the government had stressed their advice on Monday to get people to comply, rather than state not going out except for their four reasons is the law.

  • Michael BG – the Oxford study seems utterly insane because it would mean that death rates are vastly lower than EVERYONE is reporting including countries like Iceland that are doing tons of testing. A lot of medical experts have given horribly wrong advice in this crisis and have often had to be over-ruled by politicians before they lead their countries on death marches (like in Denmark for example). The best thing to do is look at countries that have handled this well and follow their example.

  • The original herd immunity plan required 60-80% of the population to get it. This was lunacy. The current level of lockdown still has hospitals full in London, and massive temporary ones being built around the country.

    The current low death rate needs to be viewed in context; x% get the virus, x% need the hospital, x% need intensive care and x% die. Many more cases than we currently have, and the ICU beds are full, or the hospitals themselves are full. Suddenly people who could have survived, die, because they couldn’t be treated. The 1% death rate suddenly shoots up

  • Michael BG
    “”””A recession does not need to lead to any deaths if the safety net is good enough, but ours is not. Austerity was not the answer in 2010, it is never the answer to a recession. “”””

    This is an economic argument, and I disagree. Greece took the line you are offering here, and had a much worse time when government solvency was threatened (and it was threatened because it was not handling its finances responsibly). Of course Greece could have gone under, and the world would have coped. The problems arise when multiple countries face the sort of problems Greece faced at the same time. Because of the nature of this pandemic, the prospect of multiple countries defaulting in quick succession and an inability to contain the spread of financial insolvency, will mean a real threat of global collapse which I am going to say confidently WILL kill more people than coronavirus. Lebanon is the first to have gone bankrupt. More will be following very soon, mostly likely the middle income countries.

  • @matt
    “”””Everyone else is being asked to make temporary sacrifices on their movements which the government will try to provide financial support for in order to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed and collapsing.””””

    But governments can’t provide such a sudden expanded package of financial support on such a scale for very long, especially when the flow of tax receipts has been drastically reduced because of the economic shutdown. Governments will eventually become insolvent, some sooner than others. It’s this insolvency that is the greatest threat

  • @Thomas

    Some insights which might help you re-evaluate your point of view

    “””” in France, half of the cases in ICU are under-60.””””

    This is not surprising for a few reasons

    1. As demand pressure on ICU increases with increasing critical cases, and the supply of ICU static, doctors modify their admissions to ICU to those who are most likely to benefit from it based on pre-morbid state which favours younger because pre-morbid state deteriorates as we age. Which means the age of admission goes down (this will be replicated across the world). It means that more critical cases are attempted to be managed with non-ICU interventions.

    It’s also worth pointing out that we don’t yet have data on the efficacy of ventilation of critical coronavirus patients. What we do know is that cases of non-coronavirus pneumonia with respiratory failure requiring ventilation have a very poor prognosis. And non-coronavirus pneumonia is usually being treated with an effective antibiotic, antiviral or anti fungal agent. So even with such an antimicrobial treatment, the prognosis is poor. There isn’t any data yet, but I’d be doubtful that prognosis of ventilated coronavirus patients followed a better prognostic pathway, especially since there is no known antimicrobial treatment. I strongly suspect that the key to life saving interventions by healthcare services lies in focusing on the severe cases (i.e do not require ventilation, but do benefit from oxygen therapy, IV treatments and CPAP or BIPAP). Hence why the rush for ventilators (which is a populist measure based on social media shrieking) might actually do more harm than good because it will divert resources away from more fruitful interventions.

    2. Younger people are more exposed to coronavirus because of less self-isolation (by choice) and continued need to work. Greater numbers of older people have been starting to pre-emptively self-isolate or at least take precautionary measures for quite sometime. So age of infected patient will be going down.

  • @Thomas

    “”””Also, if “mild” cases are simply defined as cases that do not need ICU, they can be still very nasty. “”””

    Critical is needs ventilation. Severe is needs hospitalisation (or at least needs treatments usually delivered in hospital: I am envisaging “hospital at home” set ups being deployed where these people get oxygen and IV treatment at home). Mild is copes in the community.

    “”””You cannot determine who are at risk, because even very young people are not invincible like commonly believed.””””

    Yes we can. The old and ill are at much much higher risk. The young have a very low risk. Just because a young healthy person dies of coronavirus doesn’t change the risk profile. A 30 year old non-smoker can still get lung cancer. Some people are unlucky. A 100 year old smoker can still be fit as a fiddle. Some people are lucky. Doesn’t change the fact that smoking puts you at high risk of lung cancer.

  • @Joe Bourke

    “”””We seem to have got ourselves into a situation where even a relatively short interruption to business, as usual, threatens an economic meltdown.””””

    Not really. Economies cope well with stability and routine. If it’s usual for economic activity to stop in summer and Sundays, it’s built into the economic stability and routine of that economy.

    What economies can’t cope well with are shocks. And the sharper the shock, the worse the coping. This is true today, as it would have been in the 70s. Suddenly stopping economic production for even 1 month will be (and will have been) disasterous.

  • @David Raw
    “”””Would love to know what the four chief medical officers in the United Kingdom: Professor Chris Whitty, the CMO for England and to the UK government; Dr Michael McBride, the CMO to the Northern Ireland executive; Dr Catherine Calderwood, the CMO to the Scottish government; and, Dr Frank Atherton, the CMO to the Welsh government think of James Pugh’s opinion – I repeat – opinion.””””

    I am very sure all the CMOs disagree with me. And the reason they do is because not only do they operate in a mental silo of expertise (only focusing on medical, especially immediate medical outcomes), but their job is to only focus on medical outcomes. They are not tasked to take into consideration the effects of their advice on non-medical matters (the economy), and are going to be especially distant from considering indirect effects of their advice downstream. This point was already covered earlier in the thread, so it’s been paraphrased for you here for your benefit.

  • @David Raw
    “”””As someone with a compromised immune system, and with a wife who suffers from asthma, we’re not prepared to play the equivalent of Russian Roulette. End of.””””

    Yes, that’s entirely your choice. And the role of government here is to support at risk groups wanting to effectively self-isolate. Just as it’s the job of liberal governments to support smokers who want to to quit to be able to do so (rather than ban smoking).

    We’re fortunate in this coronavirus situation that the overwhelming majority of high risk individuals in society were not economically active, and so can self-isolate (if they wish to) without as much negative impact on the economy. This allows the economically active (the overwhelming majority of whom are low or much lower risk) from keeping the engine of the economy going, allowing the ongoing support of the old and the ill (as well as the continued general functioning of the country)

  • @James Pugh. Thank you for telling me things for my benefit.

    Given that you are making judgements on political and economic matters can we now take it that your scientific and/or medical qualifications can be discounted ? I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I have a bit more faith in the judgement of Catherine Calderwood……..

    Ps it seems the powers that be on LDV are being remarkably generous to you this morning and your spell checker seems to have gone down with a virus.

  • jayne Mansfield 26th Mar '20 - 8:52am

    David Raw,
    Looked up this site because I wondered how you were doing given your health issues. We are learning about this novel virus and its mutations, and all I would say to you is look after yourself given what we know about it’s transmission.

    There is an excellent article in today’s Guardian:-

    ‘Don’t believe the myth that we must sacrifice lives to save the economy’

    The author is Professor Jonathan Portes, professor of economics and public Policy at King’s College.

  • @David Raw

    I actually thought that there was a Hippocratic oath for medical professionals that put the safety and welfare of citizens above all else?

    Maybe that oath isn’t worth the paper it is written.

    What I find bizarre is people arguing that the economic downturn is not worth the loss of lives and more peoples lives will be lost in the long run due to the downturn in the economy.
    That may well be true if AFTER this crisis is over if Governments continued on with the economical models they pursued in the past, however, I doubt that that would be the case.
    The world is going to have to change drastically after this event and priorities on tax and spend will surely change. Wasteful projects like HS2 will probably be scrapped for one, Heathrow expansion another, I am sure there are many other areas of government that will have to be changed.
    I very much doubt that after this crisis is over the NHS will ever be allowed to be underfunded again and get into the state that it was in.
    It will also be the ripe time to join up better adult social-care to take the pressure of front line NHS.

  • @Matt. I suspect you are right about the changes in government direction post coronovirus. The examples given (NHS, HS2, Heathrow) are just a tip of a policy iceberg that will need revision. It will be interesting to see how willing we are to rethink nearly everything, without deviating from fundamental principles, obviously.
    Clearly we are between a rock and a hard place, more restriction = greater economic pain (and its long term effects), less restrictions = short term loss of live. What is clear is that the nation can only take a few weeks of the present restrictions before we go collectively mad. Even the good people on LDV are starting to squabble in a very un Lib Dem kike way.

  • Hi Jayne, How lovely of you to do that… I was wondering about you too because I know you have issues. Very much hope you’re OK. You always reassure me about the best bits of human nature.

    Yes, so far we’re still fine. In self isolation now for over two weeks. A bit difficult emotionally because my wife’s Dad is in a locked down care home and he’ll be 93 next week. On the opposite extreme our daughter had a new one over two weeks ago. A quick at a distance five minutes with them before isolating. She’s a bonny wee thing.

    Going to read the Guardian article as instructed. Very very best wishes to you.

    Here’s something for you.

    Pete Seeger – “Forever Young” – YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com › watch
    Video for pete seeger forever young▶ 5:20
    29 Jan 2014 – Uploaded by Amnistía Internacional México
    De “Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International”.

  • @David Raw “@James Pugh. Thank you for telling me things for my benefit.

    Given that you are making judgements on political and economic matters can we now take it that your scientific and/or medical qualifications can be discounted ? I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I have a bit more faith in the judgement of Catherine Calderwood……..”

    Perhaps for once you will engage with the arguments that James makes. You really don’t like being challenged, do you?

    James has made perfectly valid, cogent points, that you could make an attempt to address. Your argument seems to be “I don’t like what you say so am going to harrumph about spelling.”

  • Katharine Pinder, and I enjoy reading your views because you’re one of few people that looks at this beyond arguments about economics v health. A lot of people on here talk as if being confined to your home and with only supermarkets to go to is a minor inconvenience. They don’t seem to grasp the idea that some people are very active and others are cooped up in tiny living spaces with kids or are in bedsits or hostels. They seem to imagine that everyone is pretty much like themselves and lives like they do. Anyway, I’m off to make some tea and then I’m going to perform my civic duty by checking to see if anyone is standing less than 6ft apart on my street.

  • Guardian….London hospitals are facing a “continuous tsunami” of seriously-ill patients because of coronavirus, a health service leader said this morning. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, used the phrase in an interview on the Today programme. Commenting on the situation in London, he said:
    “They are struggling with two things. The first is the explosion of demand they are seeing in seriously ill patients. They talk about wave after wave after wave – the word that’s often used to me is a continuous tsunami.”
    “We are now seeing 30%, 40% and indeed in some places 50% sickness rates as staff catch the virus or are in vulnerable groups or have to self-isolate. That’s an unprecedented absence rate.”
    “So what we have got is a really wicked combination – trusts trying to deal with a lot more demand than they have ever had before with a lot fewer staff than they have had before.”……………..

    And that is with the ‘uneccessary’ lockdown.

    BTW…ref expats 26th Mar ’20 – 9:41am….I was 31, not 35, when I was hit by the ‘flu’ (1975)..so even fitter than at 35..

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Mar '20 - 10:27am

    This government is not serving us well. Apart from the shortage of protective equipment for the health workers and insufficient testing for the virus, the government is increasing the economic shock by denying the need for as many people able to go on working to continue to do so. The statement of the Prime Minister which led to the headline You must stay at home was monstrous. Only a small minority, apparently 1.5m, are advised officially to stay at home, though for an arbitrarily imposed time for which no reason can be given of 12 weeks. Most of the population will be going out either to work or undertake some service or to do some shopping from time to time.

    There is not only a grave threat to the economy, as James Pugh makes clear, in the government actions, but also very much to our liberties. Yes, we need to avoid crowds, and limit social contact to limit the spread of the virus, but there is no reason why for example one friend should feel inhibited in driving to meet another in his home, or take a walk in an open park, or take a long walk. People are being unnecessarily alarmed and dispirited. I shall be taking a close look at the Coronavirus Act to see exactly what is legally forbidden now, but take little heed of what a prime minister who cannot be held in personal respect or expected to be capable of truthful statements may be saying. Meantime I will go buy my papers and chat to my neighbours sunning themselves on their doorsteps – thank heaven for these lovely days of sunshine, helping to cheer us up.

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Mar '20 - 10:58am

    Glenn, mutual regard, even though you spell my name wrongly! (And I seem to remember that in olden days we maybe disagreed about that displaced subject, Brexit!) I am certainly with you in feeling for the mounting despair and frustration of people cooped up together in small flats, or needing plenty of exercise. It’s to be hoped that all the folk who would like to be working out in the sports centre or playing football have or can find jobs that keep them physically energetic. I do hope my young friend breaks out – his health will suffer again if he really tries to spend 12 weeks without exercise except in their house. I need some myself now, time to go out.

  • I noticed that the death toll fell in the last 24 hours; “Great”, said I..but then it turns out that they “may not actually be the deaths that have taken place over the last 24 hrs”

    They are counting the dead a different way???????????? and now are requesting family consent before counting someone as dead…

    First the ‘unemployed’ and now the ‘unliving’..

    Do they think we’re idiots? Answers on a postcard to Mrs. Trellis, etc..

  • @expats

    I really do not understand why there are doing this unless it is to try and mask the figures which make no sense whatsoever, all it will achieve is make people believe that the problem is not as severe as it is which will result in people becoming more resentful of the lock-down measures put in place.

    Why the Government would need the permission of the family to include them in the figure is beyond me when they don’t release the names of those who have died. You can only come to the conclusion that it is to distort the figures.

    Who is making up this government policy and maybe they need a test urgently as they seem to be suffering some kind of infection and delirium

  • Peter Martin 26th Mar '20 - 11:44am

    @ Katharine Pindar,

    “……there is no reason why for example one friend should feel inhibited in driving to meet another in his home”

    There is every reason. I’m sorry now I gave out that Prof Gupta link. She’s not yet published anything which has been peer reviewed, so we have to assume she’s very likely not correct. Or, more likely, the general interpretation of what she’s saying isn’t correct.

    We’ve all heard arguments like – “people die from the seasonal flu”, “COVID-19 is mostly a mild illness” etc, which are possibly true, however the evidence is pointing to a much larger number of people requiring hospitalisation. A very much larger number.

    And it doesn’t help much to harp on about how our health system has been run down. It has and that is a huge issue. But it still doesn’t change anything in the immediate period.

    The ‘cure is worse than the disease’ logic, if that’s the right word, is that money, or, to be more correct, the things that it will buy, is more important than human life.

    It suggests that we want profits to continue and if a large number of people, particularly the elderly, are going to die more quickly and in terrible circumstances, then so be it.

    The WHO report (February 16-24, 2020) – Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – describes a shocking death – multi-organ failure, respiratory failure and septic shock and drowning in excess fluid in the lungs.

    That’s not worth a chat and a cup of tea in a friend’s house.

  • @Peter Martin “The ‘cure is worse than the disease’ logic, if that’s the right word, is that money, or, to be more correct, the things that it will buy, is more important than human life.”

    No, that’s absolutely NOT the case. What that refers to is that the massive disruption to our functioning as a society in order to halt the spread of coronavirus and alleviate a short-term overwhelming of the health system (whereby lives are lost that would otherwise be saved), has to be looked at in the context of what lives will be lost due to the effects of the shut-down on those deeply affected by it.

  • I am a bit surprised that a lot of people commenting on here dont seem to get the seriousness of this pandemic.
    Currently, numbers infected seem to be doubling every 2 or 3 Days, that means that in a Week there will be 10 times as many, in a Fortnight 100 times, in 3 Weeks 1,000 times.
    Actually the Virus should peak in time for Easter & if The NHS can cope there should be no more than 100,000 Deaths. Its a very big “IF” though.
    Perhaps the “Lockdown” will start to have an effect on those growth rates in the next few days, lets hope so.
    Our criticism of the Government should be that all along they have been playing “Catch Up”, never thinking ahead.

  • Peter Martin
    What you are describing sounds very like pneumonia which can lead to multi organ failure and septic shock. Covid 19 is known to lead to pneumonia in some cases in vulnerable people. The point being missed is that flu is not a mild virus. It kills thousands of people every year, many of them because it can lead to pneumonia. I’ve seen what flu and pneumonia can do in a close family member. Presuming we can trust them, medical professionals are saying that this strain of coronavirus has relatively mild effects in most cases in most healthy people. The advice is to self isolate if you are showing symptoms. This should also apply to flu symptoms. People should not be “bravely” going to work or be compelled by loss of income to soldier on with what can be a deadly virus. But this suggest better sick pay provision, better advice, better hygiene standards and more considered behaviour. What it doesn’t mean is that everywhere should be locked down.

  • @:Paul Barker “I am a bit surprised that a lot of people commenting on here don’t seem to get the seriousness of this pandemic.”

    We “get it” – in the sense of slowing down infection rates so as not to overwhelm the medical system.

    The open – and as yet unanswered – question is “then what?”

    – Either restrictions are relaxed, in which case cases rise again and we go thorugh the whole cycle again, or
    – We remain on lockdown, causing further stress to the economy and starting to impact our ability to provide basics and critically impair our long term future

    The only way to break the above is to find a vaccine (12 months earliest) or test and exclude those who’ve had it (but presumes they cannot get it again and can’t pass it on, neither of which are proven).

    The choice we’ve made is to protect the short-term vulnerable at the risk of creating many more vulnerable in the long term.

  • Katharine Pindar – “The statement of the Prime Minister which led to the headline You must stay at home was monstrous. Only a small minority, apparently 1.5m, are advised officially to stay at home, though for an arbitrarily imposed time for which no reason can be given of 12 weeks” – you know, the problem is that people kept breaking social distancing unnecessarily, like going to bars, cafes, theatres and concerts, gathering on streets… en masse like just a few days ago. They themselves may be OK, but they will affect others. You have to recognize that this is a war, and this must be fought with a war mentality.

    Hell, even Trudeau, I mean, Trudeau of all people, had to give stern warnings like that. I mean, in BC, people kept going to the beach.

    TCO – ”
    No, that’s absolutely NOT the case. What that refers to is that the massive disruption to our functioning as a society in order to halt the spread of coronavirus and alleviate a short-term overwhelming of the health system (whereby lives are lost that would otherwise be saved), has to be looked at in the context of what lives will be lost due to the effects of the shut-down on those deeply affected by it” – those lives will be lost due to shutdown probably will never reach 260000 or over 500000, which are potential death figures for the UK predicted by Imperial without social distancing or weak social distancing.

    Chris Cory – “more restriction = greater economic pain (and its long term effects), less restrictions = short term loss of live.” – the problem is that such short-term loss of lives can potentially become as worse as Philadelphia 1918. In fact, over 500000 are expected to die without restrictions. And by this time, the real choices here have become: economic collapse and mass death vs economic collapse and fewer deaths. Btw, you can look at Spain as a modern day Philadelphia. On 8/3, Madrid held a huge Women’s Day parade, and the rest is history (I mean, situation in Spain has become so bad that Spanish doctors now have to choose who to save and who to abandon).

  • BBC NEWS 14.31 today

    “Downing Street has declined to take part in an EU scheme to source life-saving ventilators to treat coronavirus because the UK is “no longer a member” and is “making our own efforts”. Critics accused Boris Johnson of putting “Brexit over breathing” after No 10 said it did not need to participate in the EU effort to procure equipment to fight coronavirus. The EU has said it is open to the UK taking part in the programme, which seeks to use its bulk-buying power to get new ventilators at the best price.

    The UK has instead chosen to source ventilators from British manufacturers who have never made the products before, ordering 10,000 machines from the household appliance firm Dyson.

    Asked why the UK was not taking part, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We are no longer members of the EU.” He also stressed that the UK was “making our own efforts” in this area. When asked whether it would be hard for people to understand this decision, particularly in the light of the fact Johnson has called for international cooperation in the fight against Coronavirus, the spokesman said: “I’m not sure that it is.

    People may remember that Dyson was a prominent Brexiteer – and has outsourced many of his business activities overseas. Is it pay back time and is it the shape of things to come under this rascally government ?

  • Peter Martin 26th Mar '20 - 3:00pm

    @ Glenn,

    “The point being missed is that flu is not a mild virus. It kills thousands of people every year……..”

    Two points that you’ve missed.

    1) Thanks to the availability of effective vaccines having the flu, or not, is largely a choice one makes.

    2) If we don’t get a grip on the problem it won’t just be thousands, it will be hundreds of thousands. The death rate may well be less than 1% of cases if the NHS is able to cope and provide ventilator support for everyone who needs it, but it will shoot up to be much higher if the system is overwhelmed.

    As Paul Barker rightly says: I am a bit surprised that a lot of people commenting on here don’t seem to get the seriousness of this pandemic.

    What is it about a quarter of a million or even half a million dead that people just don’t understand?

    “The modelling projected that if the UK did nothing, 81% of people would be infected and 510,000 would die from coronavirus by August. The mitigation strategy is better, but would still result in about 250,000 deaths and completely overwhelm intensive care in the NHS.”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51915302

  • Peter Martin 26th Mar ’20 – 3:00pm….
    ‘If, through neglect, you allow 1 person to die it’s manslaughter; if, through neglect , you allow 250,000 to die it’s politics…

  • Phil Beesley 26th Mar '20 - 3:44pm

    David Raw: “People may remember that Dyson was a prominent Brexiteer – and has outsourced many of his business activities overseas. Is it pay back time and is it the shape of things to come under this rascally government ?”

    I share David’s scepticism but on this occasion his may be misplaced. And I am not a fan of James Dyson — remember the wheel barrow with a spherical wheel?

    Dyson runs labs and prototype facilities in the UK, with the kit and skilled staff to make medical kit. News stories talk about ventilators a lot, but doctors and nurses will be asking for other types of equipment.

    I am sure that there are fools who wish to use our circumstances for perceived political advantage. I am sure that those who try to manipulate business opportunities will be caught out.

    The crime and noir novelist Jim Thompson once carried a little book to record the name of everyone who had upset him in life. Many of us are noting the names of companies who do not act in their own interest, let alone looking after staff.

  • Peter Martin
    People who have flu jabs get the flu. It’s only available for older people and people with underlying health issue. Like all viruses it mutates and the vaccines only protect you against the most likely mutation of flu in a particular year. This is why people get the flu and why it kills thousands of people every year. Choice has little do with it. And anyway, you chaps have got your lock down. Just don’t expect people not question it. I’m doing just as much as you are to abide by the rules. I will not even pretend to agree with them. After it’s all over when the Conservative government decides to keep some of these extra powers for longer and Bojo announces all the cuts he is now forced to make, don’t write one of your long posts about money or act upset because the unemployment figures have leapt and protesting about it has been banned to protect the nation from a lingering possibility of re-infection.

  • @Glenn

    This is not a criticism it is a genuine query, not really directed just as you but anyone who is totally against the government’s measures, so all please feel free to answer

    At what levels of deaths and the NHS being totally overwhelmed and NHS medical staff becoming seriously ill and need critical care support themselves. Would you then say that the Governments measures where appropriate?
    I am curious if there was at any point you would be arguing for a lockdown, or are you against it at any costs?

  • Peter Martin 26th Mar '20 - 4:46pm

    @ Glenn,

    ” It’s (The flu vaccine) only available for older people and people with underlying health issue.”

    Not true.

    It’s widely available free of charge for many groups of workers and younger people. See the link below.

    For anyone who doesn’t qualify they can get a jab for a small charge at most pharmacies. They do work.

    Your comments are verging on the criminally irresponsible. You can’t compare CV19 with flu. Nearly all front line health care workers are vaccinated against flu so if you are silly enough not to protect yourself it too, you aren’t putting their lives at risk. But with CV19 you are.

    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine/

  • Peter Martin
    I’m not suggesting we do nothing, I think health care should be targeted at people in vulnerable groups so that the country isn’t wrecked and healthy people are not sat at home . As for the “verging on criminally negligent” crack. I have no power and so nothing I say makes a blind bit of difference and it’s a clichéd easy insult that serves no purpose beyond giving the person using it a turgid (that’s swollen and distended, if you think I’m making the common mistake) sense of moral legitimacy. I abide by the rules. I’m just not willing to pretend I agree with them.

  • I will not be taking part in the “Clap for the NHS” stunt this evening. Instead I’ll be quoting Kipling’s ‘Tommy’ from memory..I say my wholehearted thanks for their efforts every time I see a doctor, nurse or ambulance staff..

    I wonder how many of the ‘great and good’ turning out actually use the service?

    As for Johnson (a man who refused to even view a picture of a little boy lying on the floor) “Herod applauding Save the Children staff” comes to mind…

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Mar '20 - 6:56pm

    Paul Walter. Thanks for the links to the YouTube exercises, Paul. I promptly did the ones for seniors, since they were there. Only trouble very little room in my office! It will be the same for families cooped up in small flats. But I’ll look out for the wonderful Gareth Malone’s sing-along, since in ordinary life I do a lot of singing, and also dancing – I will find some tunes to do the latter in my living room.

    Glenn is writing some sensible comments again. Peter Martin, I am amazed by your ‘There’s every reason.’ Since you give none, I amend that mentally to ‘There’s no reason’, and my friend can continue helping keep the local garage going by buying petrol occasionally, and his own friends (one at a time) happy by occasionally meeting up. But, Thomas, I do get the point about larger social gatherings being out for the moment.

    More idiocy this morning. My newsagent who is continuing her lawful business got a visit from a police constable who wanted to know why she wasn’t at home and what she was doing. Actually she happens to live in the same building, but newsagents are on the permitted list. The constable also left her an A4 sheet giving all the prescriptions of social distancing, etc., produced by the local police themselves. I suppose they are glad to find work to do.

    Good news about the Chancellor’s provision for most of the self-employed tonight, following, it would seem Lib Dem advice on how to calculate what they can be entitled to from their tax returns preferably over three years. Now what is needed is, as soon as possible, hopefully this summer, to enable them to work again.

  • Peter Martin 26th Mar '20 - 9:10pm

    @ Katharine,

    If you think I gave no reason in my comment, I suggest you read it through again.

    The virus is quite happy to jump from one person to another. The more the better of course but just two, ie you and a friend, is quite enough

    I’m surprised to find you lining up with very right wing opinion . There’s an article in today’s Telegraph which is making much the same argument as yourself. Donald Trump too is trying to view the crisis through his own ideological lens.

    Please put aside the politics and look at the peer reviewed scientific evidence.

  • Some tentative conclusions I can draw from the Korean experience:
    -Once you’re well past the peak you can relax controls more than I thought with (apparently) not much in the way of renewed outbreaks as long as you do lots of testing and jump HARD on any outbreaks that spring up.
    -It’s not how hard the lockdown is, it’s how early you put it in place. Korea’s lockdown was very very mild by current European standards. Only a few apartment complexes were ever forcibly locked down. Many restaurants all over the country stayed open throughout. Many many non-essential businesses never closed etc. etc. And yet Korea’s response is working much better because it started much easier.
    -A lot of outlying areas might be spared the worst. A lot of European lockdowns are motivated by big outbreaks in the capital or a few other areas. If that gets rural areas to lock down as well before they get many cases they will hopefully barely be touched, much like SW Korea that has barely been dinged. Of course too late for many places but any place that was mostly virus free when its country locked down should be able to pull through relatively well.
    -It’s important for countries that are past the peak to implement HARD quarantine controls of incoming people. I’d support full 14 day quarantines of everyone coming in for Korea and similar places.
    -The length of time that many countries waited (especially much of Europe with Italy right next door) before ordering lockdown was sheer murderous idiocy. If they’d locked down FAST they could’ve gotten off lightly, had far less economically damaging lockdowns and eased up on them far far far earlier. So much needless self-inflicted damage in so many countries. South Korea’s bureaucracy makes all kinds of blunders and generally sucks horribly at planning but one thing they do have going for them is they are FAST. Speed makes so much difference when you’re dealing with exponential growth and the sort of wait and see responses we go all over the place will do so much damage in so many places.

  • Btw, I am a very early advocate of lockdown, from the time Britain only had just hundreds of cases or even fewer than 100 cases.

    If we imposed lockdown 3-4 weeks ago, we would have been in a much better place and would have been in the process of relaxing certain activities right now (well, except for people coming from abroad, these folks *must* be subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine without exception and this should be the case at least until July 2021).

  • Peter Martin – right, Donald Trump and his buddies have been agitating for “return to normalcy” for days, despite the opposition from the Democrats and the American experts.

    You know, my personal experience to get things done right includes listening to everything Trump says and do the opposite. I will not take any advice from a guy who looked straight at the sun eclipse.

  • @Thomas

    You are right.

    There is no doubt that this virus is going to be around for some time at least until we can find a successful vaccination.
    From what I have gathered this virus has adapted quickly from animal to human transmission then adapted again to human to human transmission, which makes this one so scary.

    Taiwan learnt from sars that they had to act quickly in these incidents. That’s why they had good surveillance measures in place.
    We have to learn from this terrible experience.

    The whole world needs to have in place better surveillance measures and when we do come out of lock-down, we need to be better prepared for the future outbreaks.

    Suspected cases are quarantined immediately, temporary travel bans from affected areas implemented immediately, People coming back from affected areas are put into immediate 14-day isolation, Contact tracing and test test test.
    If you control the outbreak from the start, there is less need for drastic draconian lock-downs which harm the economy.

    This is going to be a feature that is with us until a successful vaccine is found and herd immunity is gained through immunisation.

    We need this action plan in place and world cooperation in place for this virus and all future virus as well, I think the world has learnt a painful lesson on cover-ups to protect local economies now the damage can be seen what it has done to their own economies and world economies.
    Hopefully, they will not allow that to happen again

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Mar ’20 – 6:56pm………… The constable also left her an A4 sheet giving all the prescriptions of social distancing, etc., produced by the local police themselves. I suppose they are glad to find work to do……………

    A nasty remark unworthy of this thread! The police have plenty to do apart from dealing with those who believe that the isolation policy shouldn’t apply to them and a friend. .

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Mar '20 - 9:12am

    On the contrary, expats, one of our peers has suggested to me that the newsagent should complain to the local police about that wasting of police time.. Certainly it appears that the police in England are taking on themselves a level of activity in restricting people’s movements for which it is hard to see any legal backing. This is surely a threat to the right of freedom of movement, one of our civil liberties, not justified by the health crisis when it is not contributing to the spread of the virus.

    There is no statutory justification that I can see for police interference with people’s movements, provided they do not meet in numbers. The policeman just speaking on the Today programme when challenged on the danger of two people driving to a beauty spot for a walk conjured up the prospect of a traffic accident (on the quieter roads?) or the need for mountain rescuers to be called up by these people! You should not have big interventions by the police on the basis of remote possibilities.

    Last night Michael BG and I looked up the Statutory Instrument (not yet of course formally approved by Parliament) which has been issued which restricts people’s movements in this health crisis. The ‘reasonable excuses to leave home’ include to take exercise either alone or with your household. There is nothing there restricting travel at all, or limiting the length of the exercise or specifying how long it can take. Therefore it appears that powers are being taken by the police which have no legal backing. This is something our party should surely protest about. and I shall certainly write to our leader to request.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Mar ’20 – 9:12am…

    As you obviously know better than scientists what constitutes a risk, I’ll not bother to continue…
    However, just a thought about visiting beauty spots…If my memory serves, when it was left to people’s discretion, the crowds ignoring the ‘advice’ resulted in it being made mandatory.

  • Peter Martin 27th Mar '20 - 10:25am

    @ Thomas,

    You are quite right to suggest that speed is of the essence. Unfortunately we only get one chance to do things when we should and we’re having to make up for our earlier inaction now. If where I live is anything to go by, I’d be confident we should see the infection rate flatten off and later the death rate too in the coming weeks.

    Another big factor is connected to what might be termed the ‘National culture’, particularly in connection to public attitudes towards authority. On this basis I wouldn’t expect that the USA, where there is a widespread feeling that the Federal government is the enemy of the people, will handle the crisis at all well. Consequently their death toll is likely to be high. On the other hand, Germany will do much better. As anyone who has been there knows, German pedestrians wait for a green man at a crossing even when the street is clear of traffic. Maybe this is making too much of national stereotypes – we’ll see how this plays out in the coming weeks.

    We’re somewhere in between. There are, from time to time, certainly some very valid reasons to complain about police behaviour but Katharine Pindar must have led a very sheltered life if her only problem is one, very possibly, slightly over officious local Bobby. I’m not sure how Katharine thinks the virus moves around the country. It can’t do it on its own. It can only move when we move. So you can’t stop the virus moving and allow us to move around as we normally do.

  • @ Katharine Pindar Katharine, on reflection, I think your Cumbrian bobby had not been properly briefed and was ill-informed. Whoever briefed and supervised him was the person who was wasting police time.

    There’s a perfectly clear video on the Cumbria Police Commissioners website on what is permitted and what isn’t :

    COVID-19: Police out in communities providing guidancewww.cumbria.police.uk › News › News-Articles › March › COVID-1…
    2 days ago – Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery is the chairman of the Cumbria Local Resilience Forum

  • Businesses that are allowed to stay open under the strict new guidelines include:

    Supermarkets and convenience stores
    Off-licenses
    Banks
    Pharmacies
    Post offices
    Market stalls selling food
    Restaurants and cafes that offer a takeaway service
    Bicycle shops

  • Boris Johnson is following in the footsteps of Lloyd George having tested positive for Covid-19 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/09/spanish-flu-pandemic-centenary-first-world-war
    Probably means most of the cabinet, public health advisors and 10 Downing Street have been infected.

  • @ Joe Bourke

    Are you a psychic Joe? The article was not printed in the Guardian until 11.26! Respect!

  • @Thomas you will note from the Imperial modelling that suppression of the initial phase does not prevent a later peak – as the second graph in this article shows. What do you recommend happens then?

  • Peter Martin 27th Mar '20 - 1:53pm

    @ TCO,

    Anything that delays the infection rate has to be worthwhile in that, by definition, delay buys us time. This is time to equip the NHS with more ICUs and ventilators. Time to learn and find better treatments. Ultimately, time to develop a workable vaccine.

  • @Peter Martin “Anything that delays the infection rate has to be worthwhile in that, by definition, delay buys us time. This is time to equip the NHS with more ICUs and ventilators. Time to learn and find better treatments. Ultimately, time to develop a workable vaccine.”

    A workable vaccine is at least 12 months away. Trials are just starting. The next spike is only 6 months away. For every month we’re in lockdown we lose 2% of GDP. It won’t take many months to go into a depression.

    I note Sweden is the only Western country not performing lockdown. At least we will have a comparitor.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Mar '20 - 2:55pm

    Peter Martin. No, the over-officious local policeman is not my only evidence of a concerning slide towards over-zealous policing of the regulations to stop the spread of the virus – though in fact the local over-reaction was compounded today by a senior policeman telling the newsagent that if she allowed more than two people at once into her shop they would close her down. Newsagents are on the permitted list, David, as she showed me. (Incidentally, I made a mistake in saying the advice which you gave me was given by a peer – sorry – I was writing to you both, and got mixed up just then.) I expect that many police people are glad to be able to contribute in the national fight against the virus, but that won’t stop some behaving with self-importance, as the newsagent agreed with me. She does a great job delivering newspapers to hundreds of local people at dawn, as well as selling them and many useful things in her shop,

    I wrote to Ed Davey with my alarm about possible erosion of civil liberties, and have discussed that in a comment on Paul Walter’s new Op Ed piece. Of course we must all do what we can to try to stop the virus spreading, but as I said days ago, let us use common sense in deciding what is required and what is harmless.

    Peter Martin, I suppose the reason why you see me as apparently siding with right-wing thinking is that as a Liberal I care greatly about freedom, as do many, possibly most, Conservatives, whereas you as a Socialist I suspect care less, and also are more inclined to top-down authoritarian measures.

  • @ Katharine You’re probably the only Lib Dem who would ever make me a peer, Katharine, but you should know me well enough to know I would turn it down !!!

    As for a knighthood, given its only utility is to get a good seat in a restaurant – and given they’re all closed down for the duration – there doesn’t seem much point in that either. Better not say what I think of C.B.E.’s.

    His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
    The man o’ independent mind
    He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

  • @TCO

    “A workable vaccine is at least 12 months away. Trials are just starting. The next spike is only 6 months away. For every month we’re in lockdown we lose 2% of GDP. It won’t take many months to go into a depression.”

    That’s why the government needs to get better surveillance measures in place for the 2nd round .
    It needs to have stockpiled tests on a massive scale.
    When we do come out of lock-down there needs to be intense monitoring around the world.
    The first sign of an outbreak in any country there needs to be a travel ban put in place immediately in and out of that country. Anyone arriving from that country needs to be put in compulsory 14-day isolation.
    If we do start getting domestic cases again (And we will) there needs to be immediate isolation and contact tracing. As the who said we would have to TEST TEST TEST and get on top of it quickly instead of holding back like we did this time.
    We need to learn from the likes of Taiwan and implement similar surveillance until a vaccine can be found.
    The whole world needs to be cooperating together on surveillance from here on in not just for this virus but futures ones.
    I do believe that countries across the globe have learnt a painful lesson that you cannot cover up these things to protect tourism, it’s a false economy that has come back to bite them in the butt.
    I would hope not to see that mistake made again

  • @David Raw
    “”””Given that you are making judgements on political and economic matters can we now take it that your scientific and/or medical qualifications can be discounted ?””””

    And why should they be discounted? As has been explained to you, real liberals understand that people can form reasoned opinions based on evidence and data in front of them even on topics which are unfamiliar. And they can express and discuss those opinions with others, who in turn challenge them with reason and counter evidence. It’s the bread and butter of a liberal society that all individuals have the right to form and express opinions, and they can be engaged with, countered, ignored, or whatever recipients choose to do. Forming opinions is the prerogative all free citizens, and not reserved for the select few. I’ll repeat again, real liberals always understand this.

    “”””Ps it seems the powers that be on LDV are being remarkably generous to you this morning “”””

    Are you suggesting there are comments of mine that require censoring? Please do elaborate.

    “””” your spell checker seems to have gone down with a virus.””””

    No David, it’s just when one is working nights shifts and is tired, one doesn’t prioritise immaculate spelling.

  • @Thomas

    Transferring health policy across countries has many pitfalls. In fact implementing identical health policies, even between similar countries, rarely results in the same outcome. This is because health is an extremely complex subject with a huge number of variables and dependencies.

    These particular Asian nations do have some socio-cultural aspects that make them very resilient in the face public health emergencies.

    The first is that there is an abnormally high level of trust in authorities in these countries, which makes them receptive to government information. There is a high level of deferential attitudes, meaning very high numbers of people follow government advice to the letter. The average level of individual discipline in these countries is also much higher than elsewhere in the world, meaning necessary measures (some of them requiring repetitive routines) are followed through properly on both an individual and population level. And these measures can be sustained and tolerated for longer without slippage.

    All this translates into a population that is both cooperative and “obedient” to public health measures. Handwashing gets taken very serious, as does social distancing. Indeed these particular countries have an advantage in that they were already well primed and in the routine of hygienic practices which would be considered eccentric in the rest of the world. Anyone whose visited these countries will have seen face masks worn quite commonly. It’s not out of paranoia, but out of courtesy, worn by those who themselves have a cold or flu so that they don’t transfer it to others. Carrying an alcohol hand sanitiser is a mainstream accessory. It’s therefore no wonder these populations had a cultural resilience to contain the virus.

    Europe and the rest of the world are just not like these countries. Trust in authorities is low. Adherence to government advice is much lower. Flouting rules is common. Average personal discipline is low, and a great many people live very unstructured lives with little routine (that’s not a bad thing). So you can’t expect to get mass mobilisation and engagement at ground level with official measures. Non-conformity to government advice, pressure, demands is just so much higher compared to relatively conformist North East Asia and Taiwan. And it’s the non-conformity that leads to stringent public health measures losing effectiveness.

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Mar '20 - 12:26am

    David Raw. I would be glad indeed to see you in the House of Lords, David – a reformed, elected second chamber only, of course! Thank you very much for the Robbie Burns poem you sent in your email, and the bit you quote here is very apt to a man of independent mind as you naturally are.

    James Pugh. David was surprised as I was, James, that the ‘flood principle’ of too many comments being submitted at one time, as judged by the editors, evidently hadn’t been applied to you. But if you are working as a doctor at this time, your writing comments on this site must be particularly appreciated. I myself have found your comments very interesting, and the latest one about the Asian cultures is certainly enlightening.

    I should think that you as well as David count as a ‘real liberal’. though the rest of us have had much less time to form an opinion about yourself. Best wishes with your work.

  • Thomas,

    I was not defending the Oxford modelling. I was only pointing out what had been reported plus making the point that the anti-body testing is not ready and it needs to be tested and passed before people can be tested and we can discover if the Oxford modelling is better than the Imperial College modelling.

    James Pugh,

    The problem for Greece was not having its own currency and the ECB not supporting it. Greece’s situation was made worse by the policies imposed on it by the EU and IMF. Most economists now agree that austerity was the wrong policy in 2010. I knew it was the wrong policy then. When reading our 2010 manifesto it would seem that the authors of it also understood that austerity would be the wrong policy in 2010.

    If a country borrows in its own currency it never needs to have to default on its debt. It is only when the debt is not in a country’s own currency that problems arrive. Lebanon defaulted on some of its foreign currency debt. The lesson the lenders should learn is that negotiating a restructuring of the debt is always the best option. The example of Greece is clear, austerity doesn’t help an economy it just makes the situation worse.

    The economic consequences of doing nothing on the economic front would have been an increase in the number of deaths. There is no likelihood that the UK government will go bankrupt. The issue is as it so often is – inflation. The government has to ensure that people have enough money to purchase what is being produced but not so much that it pushes up prices.

    TCO,

    You made a valid point, it is very important that the actions taken to control the spread of Covid-19 and to save lives does not itself cause more deaths than not taking the actions. It is therefore vital that everyone has enough food and access to their medicines. I am not convinced that this is happening yet.

    Peter Martin,

    I hadn’t thought that not having the flu vaccination was a matter of choice for everyone who doesn’t get a free one on the NHS. With a cost of between £7 and £20 you may be correct for most people but not everyone. I don’t think a person trying to live on £84.52 less than the poverty line or a couple £131.71 short can afford to have the flu vaccination.

  • Peter Martin 28th Mar '20 - 8:56am

    @ Katharine Pindar,

    “I suppose the reason why you see me as apparently siding with right-wing thinking is that as a Liberal I care greatly about freedom…..”

    You need to be careful that your Liberalism doesn’t morph into Libertarianism! The principle of the ‘common good’ should always be paramount. This unfortunately does mean that our freedoms do from time to time have to be temporarily curtailed. A freedom to ‘have a chat with a friend’ doesn’t just have implications for you and your friend. At the moment there are wider issues to be considered.

    I’m more interested in the bigger issues like police corruption which is often used to jail the innocent. This is not the place to discuss it but I’ve come very close to actually losing my own liberty recently in my attempt to expose this! Fortunately the Judge threw out the case and I’m still around as you’ll know!

    @ Michael BG,

    I started having flu jab some years ago after I was laid up with it for a couple of weeks. I mentioned this to the doctor and he offered me vaccinations at no charge. Even though I probably didn’t meet the criteria. There is some discretion. If anyone genuinely can’t afford one they probably would get one if they asked. I agree they should be free. The recipient is helping to protect everyone else too.

  • Peter Martin 28th Mar '20 - 9:16am

    @ Joseph Bourke,

    It looks like the message of MMT is finally getting through if your list of points is anything go by. There are still a few hangovers from the old thinking though. Governments don’t need a central bank to finance themselves or their deficits. The Treasury issued so called Bradbury pounds during WW1, simply because the BoE, which wasn’t Nationalised at the time, did have a genuine measure of independence and wasn’t playing ball as the Government saw it. Providing the govt was prepared to accept Bradbury pounds in payment for taxes there was no problem for anyone accepting them.

    This demonstrates that the Treasury and BoE can simply be merged into one arm of government. This actually makes the economic situation much easier to understand. So maybe a reason for not doing it? There’s no complication of one part of government holding assets which create debts for another. They then all simply cancel out.

    Note that MMT doesn’t say that this can all be done without real cost. The real cost is always there in the loss of production and the supply of services as parts of the economy shut down.

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Mar '20 - 4:25pm

    Oh dear, Peter, I really have considered the different dimensions of freedom for myself, you know. You don’t address my suggestion that you are less a believer in freedom yourself that a typical Liberal or Tory tends to be, and perhaps more drawn to top-down authoritarian solutions, and I am interested in your answer to that. However, I am pleased to hear that you remain at liberty! Unlike a good friend of mine, who should not be in jail, and who was not supported as he should have been by officialdom.

  • Peter Martin 28th Mar '20 - 5:15pm

    @ JoeB,

    There wouldn’t be any need for Bradbury pounds now because the BoE is govt owned so, in effect all pounds are Bradbury pounds. Saying they are backed by securities (Govt securities? ) doesn’t really mean anything if the Govt can create those securities at will. If a Bradbury pound wasn’t backed by gold but a BoE pound was, wouldn’t you expect there would have been a reluctance to accept them? There obviously wasn’t so the gold backing, or not, can’t have been an issue.

    “Buying up government bonds allows the government to spend more in the public sector without facing a debt or interest rate constraint on the spending.”

    OK so the BoE buying up Govt bonds reduces longer term interest rates generally. Agreed. We know short term rates are simply set by a decision of the Monetary Committee in the BoE. Why doesn’t Govt do that all the time then? The answer that the Govt may not want interest rates lowered. So applying a little lateral thinking it isn’t difficult to see the sale of bonds as part of a mechanism for setting longer terms interest rates rather than raising money for Govt spending.

    IF the Treasury and BoE were merged they’d be issuing ££ (Govt IOUs paying no interest) when they wanted lower rates and Gilts (Govt IOUs paying some interest) when they wanted them to be higher.

  • Peter Martin 28th Mar '20 - 5:23pm

    @ Katharine,

    I’m sure you have considered the trade-offs. I have too. I really have no desire to keep restaurants, pubs, cafes, shops etc closed. And I don’t have any desire to prevent you from visiting your friend. I’m just as freedom loving as any Liberal or libertarian. But I’d say I was more accepting of the idea that extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

    The FT is always worth a look. There’s an interesting article titled “How the UK got coronavirus testing wrong”. Yes we did. But why did we get it wrong?

    The answer isn’t spelled out but it’s there in this quote by a ‘Senior Tory’:

    “There is a belief here that the things being done in Korea were too intrusive and wouldn’t be acceptable. No one believed you could be totalitarian about this.”

    So this means the general opinion in Govt was that testing wasn’t the best way to handle the crisis. There isn’t any point if the tests aren’t followed up with very “intrusive” questioning and aggressive chasing up of contacts and then compulsory quarantining of suspected cases. It might be “acceptable” to some of us but it wouldn’t be acceptable to you and many others.

    But who’s right? I’d say Korea. Look at the graph about a quarter of the way down the page.

    https://www.ft.com/content/fa747fbd-c19e-4bac-9c37-d46afc9393fb

  • I would still like to hear from those that are against these social distancing measures
    At what number of deaths Directly and Indirectly from this virus would they support the measures already put in place? Is there a figure that exists in their minds?

    Do they think that the average healthy Joe should be allowed to carry on as normal going to work, visiting friends, drinking in the pub, queuing for icecream, picnic in the park, whilst the Elderly and vulnerable should isolate indefinitely ( or making a choice not too) until the virus has run its course, even if that means that the elderly and vulnerable might have to isolate even longer an entire 12 months or so?

    Is it a case that personal freedoms must always trump what is good for the collective no matter the costs?

    I am happy to surrender my freedoms for a shorter time as possible in order for us to defeat this virus so that we can all as a nation get back to enjoying the simple things in life that so many of us took for granted.

    I am also more than happy for whatever surveillance measures are needed to be put in place in the future and for swift border closures and isolation and contact tracing for this virus and future viruses that raise their ugly heads.
    Not to do so is a false economy and it takes swift action to protect life and economies as we have now seen.

    There has to be some realism here with what has changed with the world and this outbreak

  • Matt
    It’s a when did you stop beating your wife question.

  • Sorry Glenn I am obviously a bit slow today and do not get your response please elaborate.

    I do not think it is an unreasonable question to ask considering the circumstances. Is there a number?
    Or is it a case of as I suggested in paragraphs 2 and 3

  • Matt
    look it up. It’s the classic loaded question.

  • Actually I don’t see why the question would make you uncomfortable.

    If you’re of the opinion that personal freedom trumps all times then you should be comfortable in saying so.

    These are very serious questions that we are all going to face whether we like them or not.
    The world is never going to be the same after this,.

    There is going to have to be measures of surveillance that is going to make Liberals uncomfortable along with strict controls when outbreaks occur in the future.
    Surely it is better to start having those conversations now.

    There is never going to be getting back to “normal” as we know it and there is going to have to be an element of change in order to protect societies and the economies of the world

  • Matt
    You start your proposition with an assertion that it’s an objection to all social distancing (which it isn’t) and then add a clause that makes any answer sound callous. Like me asking you how much social damage do you want to cause and how long should a person be deprived of seeing their family and friends.

  • But Glenn

    There have been people on here and on many other sites that have made the arguments that we should just cocoon the elderly and vulnerable and the rest should get on with life, they are arguing against the damage being done to the economy.
    So my question was phrased the way it was and is a perfectly legitimate question to ask considering the attitudes of some and the objections of others to the measures that have been put in place, I understand that it may make some people uncomfortable, but it is just as uncomfortable if not more so for the elderly and vulnerable.

    I am only day 4 into having my elderly parents staying with me, 1 of whom has dementia and I have to be honest, I am struggling, It is no secret that I have mental health difficulties myself and this is an enormous strain. My home is normally my by holt hole where I can escape everyone and shut myself off, I no longer have that, but I know that this is the right thing to do as I have to put aside my own needs for theirs.

    The thought of having to do this past 12 weeks is terrifying, especially with no support from mental health services or social services for my Dad as my house is locked down to all.
    Maybe it is selfish of me to want stricter controls in the hope of getting a handle on this virus as soon as possible so that I and others can back to some form of normality (whatever that may mean on an individual basis) but I am not going to be sorry for that, just as you will not be sorry for having your objections to what you are being asked to do, though I know that you are doing them

  • It’s a funny old thing this liberty/freedom thing…… especially to suggest that socialism v liberalism is about authoritarianism versus freedom . As it happens, history illustrates the conundrum about these misleading stereotypes.

    In 1916 in WW1 the Liberal led Asquith Coalition introduced conscription having previously, as a purely Liberal Government, introduced the Defence of the Realm Act which contained a host of draconian measures.

    Both of these illiberal measures led a fair number of Liberal M.P.’s to rebel in the cause of conscience, liberty and freedom…… and to join the Labour Party. One of the many reasons for the strange death (or eclipse) of the Liberal Party was that it could be illiberal. Forced feeding of suffragettes wasn’t exactly one of the most defensible aspects of Liberalism.

  • Peter Martin 28th Mar '20 - 9:52pm

    @ Joe B,

    “Without this confidence can quickly be lost and the kind of panic seen in 1914 and 2008…..”

    There really is no comparison between 1914 and 2008. There was an obvious reason for a run on the pound in 1914 but the 2008 crash only happened because it happened! Sure, lots of people were wise after the event. Not many were before!

    The situation now is more comparable with 1914.There is a clear reason for concern. All this gold standard stuff is red herring. In any case, de facto, there was no gold standard during WW1. And , de Jure, in the immediate post war period. That only came back in 1925.

    You’ve written that “Governments should avoid fiscal policies which unnecessarily exacerbate the supply disruption.” This is just neoliberal code for saying that we don’t have to ‘balance the books’ just at the moment. MMT always says this and the current emergency can’t change the fundamental laws of economics. As always the problem could be too much recession if the Govt gets it wrong one way and too much inflation if it gets it wrong the other.

    That’s all there is to it.

  • @matt “Do they think that the average healthy Joe should be allowed to carry on as normal going to work, visiting friends, drinking in the pub, queuing for icecream, picnic in the park, whilst the Elderly and vulnerable should isolate indefinitely ( or making a choice not too) until the virus has run its course, even if that means that the elderly and vulnerable might have to isolate even longer an entire 12 months or so?”

    This is what Sweden is doing.

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Mar '20 - 10:19pm

    “Misleading stereotypes’, I am sure you are right, David. But yet when I was at Uni long ago and joined both the Liberal and the Labour student societies, I seem to remember that it was the sense of the top-down over-centralised and narrow ‘feel’ of the Labour Party that soon made me revert to being only a Liberal. Now of course I care more about social justice than freedom – until I see freedom challenged! But Labour has remained to me quite different from our Liberal Party. They don’t put up with mavericks, do they? And somehow manage to be authoritarian whether the socialist or the social democrat faction is in charge.

  • TCO 28th Mar ’20 – 9:53pm…………….This is what Sweden is doing…………

    It is also what the UK was doing when our infection rate was that of Sweden…
    There are already many Swedish virologists criticising their government’s approach..Let’s see how things pan out

  • @matt “Do they think that the average healthy Joe should be allowed to carry on as normal going to work, visiting friends, drinking in the pub, … whilst the Elderly and vulnerable should isolate indefinitely”

    Understand the question, however Matt, from the global spread of CoVid19 [see: Coronavirus: A visual guide to the pandemic – it is probably worth bookmarking this page as the table is getting updated daily] social distancing would seem to be only addressing one of the distribution mechanisms – CoVid19 cases and related deaths have been reported in 177 countries. I suspect insufficient attention has been given to surface contact and other forms of transport such as birds…

    When we recently deep cleaned a workplace, one of the questions we had was about the boxes of finished product – all neatly packaged by hand… It was decided that as the boxes weren’t going to be moved for a week or so and then they would spend more time in someone else’s warehouse that it wasn’t a worry, given current advice is that SARS-CoV-2 degrades on surfaces, with those surfaces being effectively clean of active virus in 3~5 days.

    If you are self-isolating -because you are in an at risk group, I would be concerned about all the recent handling of stuff coming into your home. Not being paranoid, just stating the obvious…

  • @Roland

    Thank you and I am paranoid, I have 4 at-high-risk adults in my house that I am having to care for including myself.
    Everything that comes into this house is washed down with a bleach solution before it is put away in the cupboard or fridge, food is stock rotated to the back of the shelf as well just to make doubly sure.
    All fruit and veg is washed in hot soapy water though I have not quite got round to singing happy birthday to them.

    Any mail that comes into the home is opened and disposed of and then I wash my hands before doing anything else.

    Any parcels or deliveries, the packaging is disposed of and I sing Happy Birthday to myself once more, I am starting to feel more queenie than the Queen with the number of Birthdays i have had this year.

    I am Conscious to sanitise hands whenever going to any of the bins and after Bins have been collected they are well and truly sanitized as I am conscious of just how many bins the bin men have been touching.

    I don’t care if I am paranoid if being paranoid fruit loop is going to keep my parents alive, they are both scared stiff and neither one of them are ready to say goodbye, they had so many plans that they wanted to do before Dad’s dementia went into the advance stages and this bloody virus is trying to rob them of their very moving but also painful life plan that they have been making over the last couple of years and I am determined to see that they get it and not this *don’t swear* Virus…..

  • @expats “It is also what the UK was doing when our infection rate was that of Sweden…
    There are already many Swedish virologists criticising their government’s approach..Let’s see how things pan out”

    As of today Sweden has 1/6 of the number of cases and 1/10 of the number of deaths of the UK. It also has 1/6 of the population.

    So the same rate of infection per head of population, but half the number of deaths.

  • TCO 29th Mar ’20 – 10:47am……………As of today Sweden has 1/6 of the number of cases and 1/10 of the number of deaths of the UK. It also has 1/6 of the population…..So the same rate of infection per head of population, but half the number of deaths…..

    Really? You must be the only person in the UK who knows how many cases we have; without widespread testing the figures are just wild guesses.
    Late winter/early spring are the times that colds/flu infections are at there highest; without a test how does anyone, in isolation. know whether it’s a seasonal cold/flu or COVID-19?
    For all anyone kows our death rate could be far lower/higher than anywhere else.

    As in so many matters the right wing economics of ‘knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing’ has put this country, and NHS workers, at risk…Hunt’s decision that an possible increase in seasonal flu didn’t warrant buying basic PPE was wrong then and criminally wrong with hindsight. BTW who, apart from the simple minded, believes that the EU offer for PPE/ICU was a single lost e-mail?

  • Peter Martin 29th Mar '20 - 5:23pm

    @ TCO,

    “Sweden has 1/6 of the number of cases and 1/10 of the number of deaths of the UK. It also has 1/6 of the population.”

    These kinds of simple comparision unfortunately don’t tell us much at all. It’s difficult to make sense of the Stats given by various European countries. Particularly the ratio of cases to deaths. Some possibilities:

    1) Countries are at different stages, in relation to the development of the epidemic.

    2) Some countries do a lot more testing than others so find more cases relative to the number of recorded deaths.

    3) The criteria for the causes of death are markedly different in different countries. There is some suggestion that Germany’s low death rate is due to recording the cause of death as an underlying condition even if they tested positive to coronavirus.

  • Peter Martin 29th Mar '20 - 5:56pm

    @ JoeB,

    I’ve nothing against the Rowntree foundation per se. I’m sure there are a lot worse. Yet, you seem to be quoting them to me as if I’m in disagreement. But how can anyone possibly be? Look, anyone can write sentences like:

    ““Governments should avoid fiscal policies which unnecessarily exacerbate the supply disruption”.

    So how is it necessary to have the “informed understanding” you mention? The obvious criticism is that this is a statement of the bl**ding obvious! Who would ever say otherwise? Reading through much of their output they do seem rather averse to saying anything that might possibly ruffle feathers.

    Bu credit where credit is due. They do from time to time say something useful. Like “Two-thirds of the growth in employment since 2008 has been in ‘atypical’ roles such as self-employment, zero-hours contracts or agency work. Since 2016, however, atypical work has plateaued as the labour market has tightened and full-time work has grown.”

    This seems to be more in line with what I’ve been saying. I don’t remember you choosing similar quotes.

    https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/setting-the-record-straight-how-record-employment-has-changed-the-uk/

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Mar '20 - 8:11pm

    Peter Martin. Am I correct in inferring that you are writing about the Resolution Foundation, as Joe is, and not the Rowntree Foundation mentioned in the first line of your 5.56 comment?

  • Peter Martin 29th Mar '20 - 10:22pm

    @ Katharine,

    Yes the Resolution Foundation. I had a mental crosswire there!

  • Peter Martin 30th Mar '20 - 9:18am

    @ Joe B,

    I agree it would be good if my “that’s all there is to it” quote was a statement of the obvious. But we both know that I’m expressing a minority opinion. Most will worrying about the govt’s deficit and the reaction of the bond market. I’d simply say these can take care of themselves providing the economy is in good shape. That should be, but isn’t, another statement of ..

    I do acknowledge that it’s difficult to have the economy work well at the moment. Maybe some wartime measures like capital controls will be needed temporarily. More QE won’t do much, if any, good when interest rates are already so low. The best thing you can say is it won’t do any harm either. It won’t make much difference. It only worked reasonably well after the GFC because QE was used to force down longer term interest rates which were much higher at the time. So I don’t think the Resolution foundation are correct about this.

    I’m sure I can find quite a lot to agree with them on. They are largely of what I would say is the ‘progressive centre’. However, as their support for yet more QE shows, they are essentially far too wedded to discredited mainstream economic theories. In this case it’s so-called neo Keynesianism which isn’t really Keynesianism at all.

  • Peter Martin 30th Mar '20 - 10:11am

    @ JoeB,

    PS. I’ve just realised that the RF are going a bit further than just advocating more QE. They are obviously very uncomfortable with the idea of Govt creating their own spending money which is what they really mean. I’m not sure where they think it comes from in the first instance. Instead they dance around the topic with phrases like “synchronised global liquidity” and ” the liquidity needed to pay out against their commitments”. Why not just call a spade a spade?

    Yes there’s an inflation risk. There always is. And as production falls there’s probably a greater risk than usual. But that’s not directly caused by any virus -its our response to it. So if it’s OK to regulate the economy this way now why not always? As I always say, the hazards are inflation on one side and recession on the other. We need to steer a sensible path between the two.

  • It was not until 16th March that the Imperial College paper was released predicting that a mitigation strategy could lead to approximately 250,000 deaths from Covid-19 while a suppression strategy should lead to the number of cases falling. On Monday 16th March government advice was increased to everyone to do social distancing, not to go to pubs clubs and theatres and people over 70 and with certain health conditions and pregnant women were advised to self-isolate. On the 17th Rishi Sunak made his announcement regarding much more help being available. I suppose at this time the restaurants, pubs, clubs and indoor sport and leisure facilities and schools could have been ordered closed, three days earlier than what happened. Do those who say action was too slow know what difference this would have made? I know I don’t know.

    I think the problem here was that the advice was not very clear and many people didn’t understand it and it wasn’t being repeated enough on the radio and on TV programmes.

    I think the government should have taken action earlier to ensure more testing could take place. The government knew before the end of January that we were going to have lots of cases of Covid-19 and should have ensured that by the end of February we could carry out over 8,000 tests a day with it increasing to 50,000 tests a day by mid-March. I saw it reported that Germany is doing 500,000 test a week (71,428 a day). This means they could test their whole population in 24 weeks.

    Matt,

    I don’t like talk of government “surveillance” when I think we are talking about a “contact-and-trace strategy” where the government try to trace the contacts of those people who have been tested positive and then test those contacts. Which I think was a good idea and if done quickly enough it would have controlled the spread of the virus.

    I would hope everyone accepts that some social distancing and the closure of restaurants, pubs, clubs and indoor sport and leisure facilities and schools are necessary steps to reduce the death toll from 250,000 to 20,000. However, it should not be done if there was modelling pointing out that the result of these measures would cause 230,001 deaths.

    However, I think included in the reasons for why a person can move around is to visit a person who lives alone and is not working without any other criteria being needed.

  • Peter Martin,

    My concern is that the police might “gold plate” the restrictions and judge people away from their home with an “essential test” which isn’t included in the regulations (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/350/made).

    I don’t think GPs can give a free flu vaccination to everyone who asks for one. Therefore those living in poverty didn’t choose not to have the flu vaccination.

    Joe Bourke

    I think there is far too much emphasis on maintaining confidence in financial markets rather than maintaining business confidence in an expanding economy. As financial market confidence increases with the government spending more in a crisis it shouldn’t fall to problematic levels if government spends more to keep economic growth near to the historic average. The Coalition government was too concerned with market confidence but when the UK’s rating fell this didn’t affect general financial market confidence.

  • jayne Mansfield 31st Mar '20 - 5:03pm

    @ expats,
    Once more you have shown your wisdom as opposed to the tory propagandist TCO and others.

    It is a pity that, even on here, there seems to be a believe in English exceptionalism. We didn’t take note of the research information from China , South Korea and Italy.

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