JANET STREET-PORTER: When did the policy of ‘flattening the curve’ so the NHS would not be overwhelmed turn into ruining our lives and wrecking the economy so nobody catches Covid, ever?
Panic? Who’s panicking? Talk of ‘a second wave sweeping Europe’ isn’t a line from Dad’s Army halfwits but the latest pronouncement from the confused chaps in mission control.
One minute plucky Brits were packing their bags for a welcome break from the gloom and doom in Blighty, encouraged by talk of ‘air bridges’ and phrases like ‘we’re past the peak’, and the next minute any hopes of fun in the sun were cruelly dashed. We’re told that a new wave of coronavirus is moving across Europe in our direction and will arrive in two weeks.
This morning, Health Minister Matt Hancock reacted in his usual manner (ie with a patronising put down) when asked if imposing a 14-day quarantine without any warning on travellers returning from Spain last Saturday was a bit hysterical. He replied ‘we want to keep the virus from our shores’. But is that an achievable goal?
At the start of the pandemic, we willingly agreed to a strict lockdown to ‘flatten the curve’ to contain the virus and reduce stop the NHS being overwhelmed at any one point in time until either the disease burned itself out or we found a cure or a vaccine. I can still see the chart they showed us
Health Secretary Matt Hancock appears on Sky News today. If Mr Hancock wants to keep us safe, he has failed miserably compared to some of his European counterparts
The fact is, Spain lost three people to Covid on July 24, two on July 28 and five on July 29.
Yes, that’s an increase, but 26 people died in the UK on July 26 and all over the country there are spikes in the infection rate in places like Greater Manchester and Oldham.
In Spain, the death rate from Covid runs at 574 per million of the population – in the UK, it stands of 708 per million – so if Mr Hancock wants to keep us safe, he has failed miserably compared to some of his European counterparts.
As for ‘keeping the virus from our shores’ we aren’t talking about a German army landing on our beaches, but an ever-mutating virus, one that is invisible and the transmission of which is a subject on which experts still disagree. Some say you can get it from surfaces, some say you need to be two metres apart to avoid inhaling it, who knows?
At the start of the pandemic, we willingly agreed to a strict lockdown to ‘flatten the curve’ to contain the virus and reduce stop the NHS being overwhelmed at any one point in time until either the disease burned itself out or we found a cure or a vaccine.
I can still see the chart they showed us.
The effect on the economy was catastrophic, but the infection rate dropped, the NHS coped brilliantly, the Nightingale hospitals were eventually mothballed and then we were told it was safe to go back to work.
From the moment pubs and factories were allowed to re-open, the infection rate was always going to rise.
Plus, young people simply have no interest in social distancing (understandable as the deaths in their age group are tiny) and there’s no way the police or anyone else can impose martial law to ensure they fall into line.
As the weather improved, we took to parks and beaches and began to mix with friends and relatives. But, just as Brits were regaining their confidence, the warnings from mission control seem to have subtly changed.
Somehow our ambition has morphed from from ‘containing’ the virus to ‘eliminating’ it.
Passengers arrive at London Heathrow Airport today. The Government imposed a 14-day quarantine without any warning on travellers returning from Spain last Saturday
This talk of a ‘second wave’ is nonsense. Many experts say that the virus is just one wave of infection that rises and falls, like other viruses.
Take flu – it’s never been eliminated- it just comes back year after year in a different form.
As for ‘containing’ the so called threat of Covid, the UK is an island, with air and sea borders. But they will never be secure – look at the dozens of people crossing the busiest shipping lane in the world every day in rubber boats and washing up on the Kentish coast.
We can’t even control that, let alone police every port, and airstrip for Covid carriers.
Now, people who have spent a fortnight in Benidorm are being ordered to stay at home (losing wages and even their jobs) because they might be carriers, even though there are huge parts of Spain, and the Canary and Balearic islands where the death rate is lower than Leicester.
Too late, the government have realised this is a PR disaster for their new working class Tory voters, and so they are already back-tracking, hinting that quarantine could be shrunk to 10 days with two tests.
People who have spent a fortnight in Benidorm (pictured on Monday) are being ordered to stay at home because they might be carriers, even though there are huge parts of Spain, and the Canary and Balearic islands where the death rate is lower than Leicester
Like everyone else, my summer holiday has been off, then on, then filed in the pending tray.
Confused? Depressed? We’re all in the same boat- stuck up shit creek without a paddle, trying to understand conflicting directives from those in charge of the UK’s laughable Covid ‘strategy’.
Their masterplan is about as robust as a wet dishcloth. In the last few weeks, we’ve been told to leave Planet Fear, put on our smiley faces, get back to work, eat out at Nando’s to save the economy get shopping to ‘save our high streets’
But then were told that was only OK if we wore masks unless we actually eating or drinking indoors. No wonder a new report says ‘togetherness is starting to fray’.
In the end, Boris must stop waffling about the benefits of cycling and accept that the damage currently being inflicted on the country both mentally and financially can’t go on. And then be honest enough to explain it to folk.
In previous flu pandemics, thousands of people (particularly the old and the vulnerable) died every winter. This time is no different. During the pandemic, we learnt some valuable lessons. An anti-inflammatory drug has reduced the deaths of those on ventilators by 30 per cent. Patients in intensive care can receive clear air at their bedsides, thanks to a brilliant new invention by scientists Glasgow.
There will be free flu jabs for everyone over 50 and many key workers. The government has invested in at least four vaccines, and it’s hoped at least one might be available in the autumn.
And surely all the social distancing, masks and hand washing has to count for something? Are we really in danger of seeing cases spiral out of control as they did in March?
Sweden, which has never locked down, is now seeing its daily cases number drop like a stone.
Until there is a vaccine, we remain at some risk but the public must be treated like grown-ups, not children, and allowed to decide for themselves how to live their lives.
As for ‘containing’ the so called threat of Covid, the UK is an island, with air and sea borders. But they will never be secure – look at the dozens of people crossing the busiest shipping lane in the world every day in rubber boats and washing up on the Kentish coast (pictured today)
We simply won’t be able to eliminate Covid and have lives and a functioning economy so we’d better learn to live with it. Right now the economy is in tatters and the public still feel anxious and cautious.
Work from home guidance may have morphed into ‘go back and get stuck in’ but at least a third of staff say they are fearful to return.
Productivity is down – we’re making the same number of cars as 66 years ago.
Millions more will be laid off as consumption slumps and Brexit remains in chaos without trade deals to protect business. The high street is going bust, and thousands of office buildings will remain empty – although hopefully they can be repurposed as homes if anyone can afford one.
The main task facing Boris is not to block our borders but to get people back to work.
Forget quarantines which will be worthless and unenforceable anyway unless we are all scrupulously honest.
The hard truth is that some people are still going to get Covid in Britain and a small number of them are going to die. The alternative is that Britain goes bust.
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