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Boris Johnson Covid-19 Presser 11/05 by .
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty in the State Dining Room, 10 Downing Street. (Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street.)
  1. Keeping Britain’s skies and airports open with minimal checks

Many countries in the world, barring the US and UK had stopped travel between cities around the globe around mid-March when the scale of the pandemic became very clear. Israel put in a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anybody arriving in the country from anywhere. When large parts of the world had put in major blocks to travel, UK continued, which may have led to the increased rate of infection in the major cities around the world.

  1. Locking down at the right time?

One notable success, albeit delayed has been the lockdown. But this only occurred after Professor Neil Ferguson warned VW and their group of the dire consequences of not locking down, with a projected 250,000 deaths. Sadly he has left after an indiscretion that harmed no body. VW however remain in post, even after admitting that an earlier lockdown may have saved more lives.

  1. Making sure PPE was up to the British standard

The fiasco over the lack of PPE continues. Despite a dearth of offers from local manufacturers, the government appeared more focussed on importing the PPE. Either this was some kind of way to keep trade going, or it had better headlines like the Nightingale ‘White Elephant’ Hospital. The latest shipment from Turkey was felt to be not up to the new ‘British’ standard. Readers of this newspaper will be well aware of the ‘British/English’ standard when it comes to putting others down. That said, this could be a ploy not to pay for the PPE when death rates appear to be coming down.

  1. Starting contact tracing at the right time

It is normal practice to contact trace early when a serious infection is found in somebody. This includes TB and HIV. However, for some reason we have only started contact tracing recently. Launching it’s own Made In Britain centralised app, it seeks to help trace contacts of covid patients. Uptake should be interesting when you consider only 20% of the over-16 population in Australia and Norway have taken similar locally produced apps, due to concerns about personal data and government surveillance. Pre-app Contact tracing would normally be done directly by healthcare workers for infectious diseases. Clearly covid has presented more opportunities for government.

 

  1. Keeping opinion polls in the positive for the government

The viral video of Piers Morgan uncharacteristically challenging a fellow Tory i.e. Matt Hancock, gave an insight into the direction the government was taking. Viewers may recall that despite the whole PPE fiasco, Mr. Hancock asserted that the government ratings remained high. It would appear that all the Thursday street clapping has drowned out the daily concerns and realities of frontline healthcare staff.

  1. Easing lockdown in a clear and coherent manner

So we are now over the peak, and close to our destination of no more cases of covid? Data from China and previous epidemics would suggest a different picture. The message from Downing Street had all the hallmarks of previous statements. Hopefully the public will be able to get some clarity from it. Would a more specific approach been better? Surely the second half of this pandemic may provide the government with an opportunity to improve it’s approach with lessons learnt from the last two months?

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  1. Second highest deaths in the world

However, the data has been collected, it is very clear that our death rate is second only to the United States. We do not know the actual death rate, because unlike countries like Germany, there has been no investment in direct testing of the population. The question does arise that what would have happened if the UK invested early and mathematically modelled what would have happened if we had locked down earlier, Would the economy have benefitted with early preparations for home working. Encouraging ‘gig staff’ to get other forms of employment? Maybe there is a clever person reading this who could model this?

Also Read – Mayor Meets Experts Over BAME Deaths

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