Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) -man-made or NOT? functional Analysis with additional critical Commentary and further Data updates (Tuesday 26th May 2020)

 

 

 

THIS IS A FURTHER DATA AND COMMENT UPDATE IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING SITUATION SO OTHER CHANGES [with Revised Charts as available] WILL BE ADDED LATER SO PLEASE RETURN TO THIS BLOG AGAIN SOON

WE MUSTN’T KEEP THE CURRENT UK’S LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS ANY LONGER, AS THE ECONOMY IS ALREADY IN ‘FREEFALL, UNEMPLOYMENT IS ROCKETING AND INVESTMENT HAS STALLED, WITH THE ’UK SET TO ENTER WORST AND SHARPEST RECESSION FOR 300 YEARS ALL  BECAUSE OF THE LOCKDOWN, THE POPULATION IS DEMORALISED AND MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGED, HUNGER AND POVERTY IS INEVITABLY ESCALATING OUT OF CONTROL, SO THE IMPENDING OUTCOME WILL SIMPLY DESTROY THIS GREAT NATION AND BRING EVEN GREATER THAN THE PANDEMIC’S DEATH AND DESTRUCTION TO OUR SHORES. The government will have therefore to think outside the box and come up with BETTER solutions that will save the day in both respects, won’t it?

Yep, but Instead, PM Boris Johnson had voiced to the nation some more of his meaningless platitudes about dealing with coronavirus in a confusing television statement SUNDAY evening two weeks ago, which simply raised more questions than answered – as new Labour leader Keir Starmer has pointed-out. The government subsequently released a 60 page explanation of proposals a day later (pity that Johnson didn’t seem to know the details before he spoke, eh?]. Now that comes on top of him changing the clear government message of “Stay at Home” which was well understood and heeded by the public (though not by lockdown rules abusers or cheating senior government players apparently). The NEW nebulous slogan is “STAY ALERT AND CONTROL THE VIRUS”, which will NOT be well understood nor heeded by the public as it won’t even be comprehended by Ministers (alert is commonly used to mean ‘awake’, and ‘control’ means direct something’s behaviour or supervise the running of it, when so far the public have been well informed that the virus can’t be controlled by any country or government, let alone by us as individuals), It is a further example of ministers putting out ‘vague’ and ‘meaningless’ mixed messages that will inevitably result in individuals creating their own interpretations and versions (does the government really expect people to stay awake day and night just to shout at the virus and scare it off, perhaps?

To at last successfully tackle here this ‘out-of-control’ pandemic there has to be a NATIONAL approach and absolute NATIONWIDE control by the government over resources and all the Country’s defences, so what is particularly worrying is that in a disastrous dereliction of duty the UK Prime Minister and his government has seemingly relinquished control over lockdown and virus handling by allowing the devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and NI to paddle their own canoes and go their own separate ways, to have completely different rules applying in their different regional areas with alternative routes going forward – is this the start of the break-up of the Union, as has been persistently sought by protagonist in Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, , the Scottish first minister with institutional powers to undermine the authority of a Tory prime minister, eh?

What next, the 9 directly mayors of London, Manchester, Liverpool, South Yorkshire, Northumberland, Tees Valley, West of England, West Midlands, and Cambridgeshire, to also define their own rules, laws and methods of enforcement, eh? All that would spread divisive alarm and despondency throughout the British Iles, surely?

Johnson’s plan, as presented,  lacked clarity and was bereft of detail but involved establishing a traffic light system to signify the level of threat the virus is deemed to present to Britain (akin to that used in relation to a potential terrorist attack). Now, exactly how that is going to help anyone deal with this pandemic in the UK is anyone’s guess, isn’t it?

[Just remember as well that the impending economic doom was SELF-INFLICTED because the UK WASN’T PREPARED, did TOO LITTLE TOO LATE and compounded that with BAD DECISIONS along the way]

What was needed 1st and IMMEDIATELY months ago from the British government was for it to take the necessary action to enact the design, production and widespread introduction of a virus effective, low cost, bulk produced respirator, issued free STRAIGHT AWAY to all the general population, so they could safely resume normal activities, like working and socialising, whence the Country’s economic life could have been resurrected and be returned to normal with businesses being revived to achieve their future economic survival

The 2nd thing still on the agenda is to ramp up the action in the UK to find and trial in BRITAIN drug treatments for the virus, as that would have an ‘immediate’ effect on our successful handling of this crisis, whereas the concentration here so far has been primarily focused on the research for a vaccine [indeed the first human patients (two volunteers) have been injected in a UK vaccine trial involving over 1000 healthy people, that began in Oxford on 23 April, but it will be a while before we know the efficiency result because they can’t then actually expose people to a deadly virus to check the vaccine, can they? – the vaccine was developed in under three months by a team at Oxford University), which though critically important nevertheless has only mid to long term significance for the Country’s ability to overcome the coronavirus epidemic (just note though that there has never been any drug treatment for flue and that has been a respiratory illness that’s been with us for decades, hasn’t it?)]

[Remdesivir thought to be one of the best prospects for potentially treating Covid-19 (the experimental drug is an antiviral made by the US company Gilead Sciences, and was first trialled against Ebola but failed to show benefits in Africa) – but reportedly the first full trial in US of this particular drug (in a “gold standard” trial of 237 patients) showed it perhaps was ineffective, and the initial WHO draft put online in their clinical trials database, states that it does not benefit severe coronavirus patients – since then, the trial results’ analysis, published in the Lancet, was a bit more positive, although it also found no significant clinical benefit from use of the drug. However, while not statistically significant, the time to clinical improvement and duration of invasive mechanical ventilation were shorter in people treated with remdesivir within 10 days after illness onset, compared to standard care.

(One hundred and fifty-eight patients were randomised to Remdesivir and 79 patients were randomised to placebo for 14 days)

The trial had to be stopped early due to lack of patients, which meant the trial was underpowered and the results are inconclusive.

Disappointingly, while there was seen no clear benefit from Remdesivir, there were however suggestions of a possible benefit, particularly in those treated earlier, so ongoing, bigger trials will be needed to confirm or refute the findings

[Remdesivir had not previously been licensed or approved anywhere globally and has not yet been demonstrated to be safe or effective for the treatment of COVID-19. However, as it is believed that the drug’s POTENTIAL benefits outweigh its RISKS, the US has issued emergency use authorization (EUA) of this experimental drug for coronavirus following the US regulator FDA’s opinion that the drug, which appears to help some recover faster, can block the virus, so it should be available for hospitalized Covid-19 patients (it would become a new standard of care for severely ill Covid-19 patients like those in the study. The drug has not been tested on people with milder illness, and currently is given through an IV in a hospital).

Those given the drug were able to leave the hospital in 11 days on average versus 15 days for the comparison group. The drug also might be reducing deaths, although that’s not certain from the partial results revealed so far

Remdesivir, as with all drugs, has its side effects which here includes increased levels of liver enzymes, (which may be a sign of inflammation or damage to cells in the liver) and infusion-related reactions (which may include low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, sweating and shivering), but there may be other serious side effects that have not been discovered yet, so the drug is NOT risk free and will still need formal approval, but the FDA can convert the drug’s status to full approval if Gilead or other researchers provide additional data of its safety and effectiveness. (The EUA requires hospitals to monitor patients’ liver enzymes through blood tests before the treatment is started and every day that treatment is ongoing)]

Japan’s health ministry has also now approved antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19

   Just recall everybody, that Britain issued gas masks in 1939 to protect civilians from the effects of dreaded potential gas raids (which never came), and those respirators were issued to the entire population [every man, woman and child had their own respirator (gas mask) and even babies could wear masks]. The government needed to urgently produce close to 38 million masks and the contract was given to a factory in Lancashire, where production started in earnest in 1938. Indeed, public posters reminded people to carry their gas mask at all times, and though the smell of the rubber and disinfectant made some feel sick, people were fined if they were caught without their gas masks.

SEE THE INFORMATION BELOW about innovators’ converting low-cost snorkel masks into ‘homemade’ respirators WHICH DOESN’T YET SEEM TO HAVE BEEN TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF IN THE UK? That is despite the fact that a firm here is making valves that transform a £25 snorkelling mask into a respiratory ventilator for coronavirus patients [Protolabs, in Halesfield, Telford, Shropshire, is 3D printing the Charlotte’ valves parts for Italian firm Isinnova, and being shipped to Italy, and will be made ready for medical use where engineers came up with the novel solution – the mask is widely sold at Decathlon stores and online priced at £24.99.

While the masks and the Charlotte valve have NOT yet been officially certified for medical use but with other masks often not available in Italy, patients are now able to take advantage of a potentially life-saving option, and this is already having a really positive impact on the challenge faced by medical staff and the wider society.

A 3rd and a very pressing matter still on the agenda, is of course removal of elements of the lockdown (extended despite the May 10 changes when there were signs that compliance with the nationwide quarantine was starting to fray), and thereby restore the Country’s more normal life and revive business, but SO FAR the UK government seem to be totally clueless and to date has been surprisingly bereft of IDEAS on how to do that very thing. Ministers still have no CREDIBLE or defined strategy NOR EXIT PLAN, on how to move out of our lockdown – and more so when unexpectedly the government had stubbornly refused to talk about an exit strategy, while around the world, from Germany to California, exit strategies were being published, [and indeed the World Health Organization (WHO) had already issued one for use across the globe], it’s true though that earlier last month ‘five tests’ were set out in strategy documents by the UK , which was said must be met before the lockdown could be eased. (while it would seem that the UK is ‘past the peak’ nevertheless this pandemic is nowhere near over yet). It was said that they WOULD have a plan TWO weekends ago but as expected there weren’t any bright innovations to make it work nor a CONFIRMED timetable and in light of their track record so far with this pandemic, many of us can’t trust their plan to END or adequately MODIFY the UK lockdown in a SAFE way, can we? No, and as there aren’t any alternative safeguards introduced, it seems more likely that the current lockdown restrictions perhaps with minor minimal changes (say like using 1m social distancing) will simply carryon for months despite the economy increasingly going down the toilet

THERE IS A READYMADE, EFFECTIVE, FULLY TRIED AND TEST TEMPLATE, FOR HOW TO DEFEAT THE VIRUS AND RESTORE THE COUNTRY’S NORMAL MODUS OPERANDI, AND THAT IS THE ONE DEMONSTRATED BY TAIWAN WHERE LIFE CARRIES ON AS NORMAL WITHOUT IT HAVING HAD ANY KIND OF LOCKDOWN AS WE KNOW IT, SO THERE’S NO RECESSION THERE EITHER [see information below on ‘What the world should have learnt from ‘Taiwan’ about successfully fighting coronavirus’]

The UK’s published strategy correctly involves:

  • Mass testing, plus temperature checkswe are scrambling to increase UK testing capacity which is vital in knowing who has the virus, but a significant proportion of infections are caused by people who are pre-symptomatic, which is estimated to be in the region of ‘45 per cent in lockdown’, falling to around ‘25 per cent in normal times’, and it is only PCR ‘do you have it’ tests IN CONJUNCTION with temperature checks that will identify this crucial group
  • Rapid reaction or ‘contact and trace’ team
    tests alone are basically ineffective without being ‘accompanied’ by highly localised contact and trace teams to ‘contain’ the virus by making sure that newly discovered cases are quickly ‘quarantined’ and their close ‘contacts traced’. The UK did this at the start of the coronavirus outbreak but due to ‘LACK OF PREPAREDNESS’ soon ran out of CAPACITY, allowing the virus to SPREAD [reportedly the last active tracing in UK was as long ago as 12 March, which is disgusting in light of the fact that the evidence is that tracing and subsequent isolation of those infected is the ONLY way to eliminate contagion, don’t you think?
  • Special testing at all ports
    (a special focus on all ports of entry to prevent ‘potential’ new cases entering the country, as is done In China and much of Asia and as is recommended by the WHO)
  • A ‘self-reporting’ system for people with Covid symptomsthe Country must fundamentally increase capacity to quickly identify suspected cases of Covid-19 in the general population based on the ONSET of signs or symptoms – a new NHS symptom checker will need to be rolled out to help people ‘spot their symptoms’ early and self-refer themselves for testing if they have any. SELF-REPORTING OF SYMPTOMS MUST BE MADE COMPULSORY WITH MAJOR FINES IMPOSED ON THOSE WHO DON’T FULLY COMPLYPersonal protective equipment

it is vital to have a very large stockpile of PPE, and Spain, Germany, Italy and America all now recommend the use of ‘surgical facemasks’ on public transport systems and in other areas where close contacts are likely The masks are designed NOT for the protection of the individual SELF, but for the protection of OTHERS – it’s LIKELY that some form of FACIAL COVER is going to become the norm in ALL societies fighting coronavirus

[THE FIVE THINGS THE GOVERNMENTS HAVE SAID THAT BRITAIN MUST PUT IN PLACE BEFORE IT CAN ‘EXIT’ LOCKDOWN ARE

    • Step one: Protect the NHS

Protect the NHS’s ability to cope – be able to provide sufficient critical care and specialist treatment right across the UK

(The seven new ‘Nightingale’ Hospitals would increase NHS capacity by more than 10,000 beds (currently five are operational, but the two ‘Pop up’ hospitals in Washington and Exeter are yet to open, though however, the latest data suggests that regions outside the M25 are behind the curve of infectionsA sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from coronavirus (showing that we have moved beyond the peak). Death figures are expected to “reach a plateau” before they fall

 

    • Step two: Consistent fall in death rates

A sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from coronavirus (showing that we have moved beyond the peak). Death figures are expected to “reach a plateau” before they fall

 

    • Step three: Lower infection rates across the board

Having data that showed the rate of infection was “decreasing to manageable levels across the board (it is currently assessed that the rate of infection, or the R value, is “almost certainly below 1” in the community, which means that on average each infected person is, in turn, infecting less than one other person – signifying that the virus and the epidemic is likely now shrinking

    • Step four: Testing and PPE

Ensuring that operationally testing capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) availability were in hand, with supply able to meet further demand (which includes the requirement that everyone in the social care system who needs a test can get one immediately)

    • Step five: Prevent a second peak

Ensuring any adjustments to the current measures would not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelm the NHS. (the concern is that a second wave in the autumn would cause even greater damage to the UK economy)]

A couple of weeks ago, it would appear that the first four of these have either been met or were close to being met. The FIFTH – which ministers had always said is the most important – was described on official Government documents a week last Monday as a confidence that “any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections“.

However, on the Tuesday, the wording was changed to say the aim was to avoid a second peak that overwhelms the NHS – relaxing goal, making it easier for ministers to have claimed that the test had been met.

NOW, notwithstanding the government’s previous lassitude on disclosing the way forward nor indeed treating people like adults, some of us who did and DO have ideas, believe that removing the lockdown should ONLY be achieved by introducing at the same time ALTERNATIVE ‘safeguards’ (as is suggested herein) that will prevent a renewed virus surge, but we can’t see that the government is doing just that.

You see, we have already seen evidence locally that responsible small local ‘essential’ businesses that are currently allowed to open (e.g. small grocery shop, pharmacy, Post Office newsagents, bakers, butchers), are in fact successfully controlling customer access and numbers, are enforcing 2m social distancing, are employing protective screens for cahiers, are encouraging contactless payments, and are providing sanitiser anti-viral sprays. Using that, building-on it, and extending that kind of controlled approach, plus enhancing it by enforcing (NOT simply recommending) use of surgical face masks in PUBLIC places by EVERYBODY (NOT just workers) to help stop the spread from virus carriers or the asymptomatic, and even more importantly also by requiring the taking of customer temperatures using fever screening thermal cameras, combined with use of hand spray sanitiser, BEFORE ALLOWING CUSTOMERS IN, which should allow MOST if not all restaurants, pubs, gyms, and cafes to REOPEN immediately (perhaps with certain size dependent bespoke restrictions/conditions) – as well as OFFICES, other WORKPLACES and most significantly fully COMMIT to restart children’s education and reopen SCHOOLS [starting perhaps with the youngest pupils (if that is medically considered the safest) and with strict class size enforcement to avoid introducing social distancing issues]. 

A study has concluded that preliminary evidence from data gathered by contact tracing and population screening studies around the world, shows that CHILDREN and young people are only half as likely as adults to become infected with coronavirus (under-20s appear 56% less likely to contract Covid-19), so that supports the idea that children are unlikely to play a major role in spreading the disease – they have the lowest prevalence of infections and the risk of death or severe infection from Covid-19 is exceptionally low in children, and the balance of evidence is clearly that children are the safest group to be out in the community, while nevertheless an EFFECTIVE test and trace mechanism being in place is very important to mitigate any uncertainty about transmission from children. However, a recently published draft consultation by a group of senior scientists warned that 1 June was too soon for schools to reopen safely and that more time was needed to set up such an effective track and trace system to contain future outbreaks, while the Independent Sage committee, chaired by the former government chief scientist Sir David King, found the RISK of children picking up the virus could be HALVED if they returned to school just two weeks later than ministers were proposing, and delaying until September would reduce the risk still further.

a Marlowe professional sophisticated system

(Thermal Imaging Cameras can assist with Fever Screening by detecting elevated body temperatures in large groups of people, in under 1 second, with accuracy up to ±0.3°C. Temperature checks are not foolproof, but when used at the doors to shops, offices, and other enclosed spaces, they can weed out cases and help stop potential super-spreading events). The technology was developed by a number of manufacturers in response to 2003 SARS virus outbreak and indeed there are low cost ones quite affordable by small businesses

Thermographic Handheld Camera

Fast and non-contact temperature measurement can obtained with a Thermographic Bullet/Turret Camera or a Thermographic Handheld Camera or even a Temperature Screening & Access Control unit (combining temperature screening technology and contactless access control) which can be used to monitor a business’ entrances (if an elevated skin-surface temperature is recognised, entry will be denied, prompting the individual to seek further confirmation using clinical measurement devices before entering).

However, the ONLY clear and safe way out of any serious lockdown and removal of restrictions (like say travelling about or enforcing strict social-distancing measures), is as clearly demonstrated by other counties like say Taiwan, is via the three Ts key message principle, message principle, followed-up by using ISOLATION, isn’t it? YEP and they are:

The NHS tracking App has completed its trial in IOW and is expected to be launched nationally next week, however it would appear that recruitment of Trackers staff has shambolically stalled badly and only about a tenth are now in place – not surprising really when the government contracted the task to repetitive failures Serco, eh?)

95% of UK households do have a smart phone and in 2019, 79% of UK adults (18+) owned a smartphone, 100% of 16-24-year-olds have Internet access via a smartphone, while just 40% of those aged 65+ have the same access. Nevertheless, it may be necessary for the government to free-issue to those in need a cheap phone that can run the app to ensure that EVERYONE in the Country is being properly monitored

There are of course issues surrounding the collection and subsequent use of the data so collected by this Government’s coronavirus tracing app with questions arising as reportedly, the product had failed all the standards which would allow it to be included in the NHS’s own app library, including cyber security, performance and clinical safety (any healthcare app needs to meet certain standards before it is kitemarked in the library). Senior figures have said that it had been hard to assess the App because the government was ”going about it in a kind of a ham-fisted way, and because the app keeps changing, it had not been fully tested, and it was described as a bit wobbly, but all that has been officially DENIED as being factually untrue and it is said that it has been clear that the App will go through the normal assessment and approval process following the Isle of Wight roll-out.

There are also concerns about how users’ privacy will be protected once they log that they have coronavirus symptoms, and become “traceable”, and how this information will be used

However, the smartphone app uses the low-energy Bluetooth signals and not GPS to log when users come into close contact with each other (therefore it does not track people’s locations nor record their identities). When one user reports symptoms in the app that are deemed likely to be Covid-19, an alert SHOULD be sent within 21 days to all those logged as being in contact, advising them to ‘self-isolate’

What the world SHOULD have learnt from Taiwan about fighting coronavirus

In Taiwan, most residents carry on as normal, with offices and schools open. Many restaurants, gyms, and cafes in the capital, Taipei, are still bustling, although most premises will take temperatures and spray hands with sanitiser before allowing customers in

Despite being blocked by Beijing from being part of the WHO, Taiwan put the lessons it learned during the 2003 SARS outbreak to good use, and this time its government and people were both prepared and proactive

As countries around the world fail to grapple with the coronavirus, Taiwan’s example provides valuable lessons on how to curb its spread.

The island is just 81 miles and a short flight away from mainland China, where COVID-19 originated in the city of Wuhan. As the outbreak took hold in January, many Taiwanese business people and their families based in China were returning to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and up to 2,000 Chinese tourists a day visited the island, potentially bringing the virus with them.

 

And yet, Taiwan still has had only 441 cases of COVID-19 and 7 deaths as of – far fewer than China’s 82,992 cases and 4,634 deaths, a stark contrast even when taking into account the enormous population difference: Taiwan’s almost 24 million to China’s 1.4 billion. Taiwan’s numbers are also much lower than neighbouring countries such as South Korea, which has had more than 11,225 cases, and Japan, with 16,581 cases. It’s also faring better than countries much farther away from China, such as Italy, with 230,158 cases, and the United States, the worst-case country by far which now has an astonishing 1,706,226 cases as of Tuesday

[Some weeks ago President Donald Trump described coronavirus as “the latest hoax” political ploy by the Democrats, likening the Democrats’ criticism of his administration’s response to the new coronavirus outbreak like impeachment as their new hoax.” and he also downplayed the severity of the outbreak, comparing it to the common flu]

Of the over 150 countries and territories affected, Taiwan has one of the lowest incidence rate per capita — around 19 in every 1,000,000 people — for a place that is located so close to China and with so much travel to and from.

[UK (a ‘developed economy’ country) has less than 3x the population of Taiwan (a ‘developing economy’ country) but has

      • about 30thousand percent more coronavirus cases and
      • close to 275thousand percent more coronavirus deaths]

While nations in the Asia Pacific region make up 9 percent of the world’s population, they have only experienced 1 percent of the cases, and less than 1 percent of the deaths. Britain, meanwhile, was shockingly predicted and expected to suffer the highest death rate in Europe, and based on currently published statistics that indeed IS ALREADY the present case, eh?

In contrast, Germany has one of the lowest case fatality rates in the world, with 8,428 deaths for 180,789 detected infections. That’s a case fatality rate of just over 4½ percent, compared to some 14¼ to 15 ½ percent or so in the UK, France and Italy.

.German scientists had also announced that they had succeeded in bringing the R ‘reproduction factor’ (the number of people each person with the virus passes the infection onto) to under 1 for the first time (but Britain is NOW able to claim similar success, however it is somewhat worrying that our UK R rate seems to be a finger in the air estimate rather than an actual recorded data figure or scientific measurement).

Germany has substantially fewer deaths than the UK or France, and that all comes down to a combination of demographics, testing, and chance

Besides, we in the UK might well look in envy at Germany though as it has now begun to lift some of its coronavirus lockdown measures and shops reopened around the country, with car dealerships and furniture stores back in business as well. We will not know for some time if the German authorities have got it right on that one, or have acted too soon in easing the pressure, but it is already crystal clear that Germany has done much better than most of its European neighbours in tackling the virus so far, and their story of success has been based on TWO basic and simple things with some luck thrown-in as well: PREPAREDNESS, combined with a DECENTRALISED public health system that lets doctors make the calls (there is no central authority like the UK’s NHS, so hospitals and clinics are independent, and whereby healthcare is funded by compulsory public insurance).

The luck element relates to the fact that the major outbreak of the virus was introduced to Germany by a very specific path — via skiers returning from winter breaks in the resorts of Austria and Italy. That meant initial infections were confined to the young and fit, who had the best chance of surviving the virus, which gave Germany a vital WINDOW to start its programme of testing and tracking infection chains, before it could spread to the most vulnerable groups (those over 70 or with pre-existing health conditions)

[

[Germany was better prepared for the coronavirus than anywhere else in Europe for another one key reason: it had more intensive care beds – as seen in Italy, when the intensive care units are full, it is then that the death rate really rises dramatically. At the start of the outbreak Germany had 28,000 ICU beds, far more than any other European country (the UK had just 4,000), and relative to the size of its population, Germany had 29.2 intensive care beds per 100,000 people, compared to 12.5 in Italy, 11.6 in France, and just 6.6 in the UK. Since the crisis began Germany has ramped its total number of ICU beds up even further, to 40,000 — meaning its health system has NEVER been close to overload]. “Test, test, test,” has been the World Health Organisation’s prime ‘by-line’ for successfully tackling the virus, and Germany is one country that has taken that on board really, really seriously, so has carried out over 2m coronavirus tests at a current rate of ½ million a week. [thorough rigorous testing though doesn’t just give more reliable numbers, as it also allows you to stem the spread of the virus by tracing infection chains and isolating people before they can pass it on to others) The other BIG difference, between the UK and Germany is that they got their act together ‘QUICKER’ – doctors and academics worked together with the private sector without waiting for the GOVERNMENT to act – like in January, before the WHO had even declared that the coronavirus was transmissible from one person to another, German scientists had developed a test for the virus (and the public insurance funds agreed to pay for testing that February)]

Taiwan was alert and proactive

Partly because it’s near China and speaks the same language, Taiwan learned early that a “severe pneumonia” was spreading in Wuhan. But it was the proactive measures the island took that helped it avert a major outbreak.

  • On Dec. 31, the same day China notified the World Health Organization that it had several cases of an unknown pneumonia, Taiwan’s Centres for Disease Control immediately ordered inspections of passengers arriving on flights from Wuhan.
  • And despite poor relations with Beijing, Taiwan asked and received permission to send a team of experts to the mainland on a fact-finding mission Jan. 12.

A government spokesperson reported “They didn’t let us see what they didn’t want us to see, but our experts sensed the situation was not optimistic,”

  • Shortly after the team returned, Taiwan began requiring hospitals to test for and report cases. That helped the government identify those infected, trace their contacts and isolate everyone involved, preventing the virus from spreading to the community.

All this happened long before Taiwan confirmed its first case Jan. 21 and the rest of the world became alarmed.

Taiwan set up a command centre

  • Equally important, Taiwan’s Centres for Disease Control (CDC) activated the Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC) relatively early on Jan. 20 and that allowed it to quickly roll out a series of epidemic control measures.
  • Taiwan has rapidly produced and implemented a list of at least 124 action items in the past month or so — that was three to four per day — to protect public health. The policies and actions go beyond border control because they recognized that that’s not enough.

The command centre not only investigated confirmed and suspected cases, it also worked with ministries and local governments to coordinate the response across Taiwan, including allocating funds, mobilizing personnel and advising on the disinfection of schools.

Taiwan took quick and decisive action

  • Taiwan also took tough action early. On Jan. 26, five days after it confirmed its first case, Taiwan banned arrivals from Wuhan, earlier than any other country.
  • Not long after, it did the same for flights from all but a handful of Chinese cities, and only Taiwanese people were allowed to fly in.

Taiwan used technology to detect and track cases

  • After securing its borders, Taiwan used technology to fight the virus. Temperature monitors were already set up at airports after the 2003 SARS outbreak to detect anyone with a fever, a symptom of coronavirus.
  • Passengers can also scan a QR code and report their travel history and health symptoms online. That data is then given directly to Taiwan’s CDC.
  • Those coming from badly affected areas are put under mandatory 14-day home quarantine, even if they are not sick, and are tracked using location sharing on their mobile phone. Absconding or not reporting symptoms can lead to heavy fines like say $10,000.
  • The authorities in Taiwan also quickly determine whom the confirmed cases had been in contact with, and then test them, and put them in home quarantine. They also proactively find new cases by retesting those who tested negative

Taiwan ensured availability of supplies

  • To ensure a steady supply of masks, the government quickly banned manufacturers from exporting them, implemented a rationing system and set the price at just 16 cents each.
  • It also set up new production lines and dispatched soldiers to staff factories, significantly increasing production.
  • These masks are the tools for residents in Taiwan’s densely populated cities to protect themselves; they made them feel safe and not panic.

Taiwan educated the public

  • The government also asked television and radio stations to broadcast hourly public service announcements on how the virus is spread, the importance of washing hands properly, and when to wear a mask, as only when information is transparent, and people have sufficient medical knowledge, will their fear be reduced
  • Residents learned that most patients had mild or no symptoms, so the death rate could be lower than what was reported. They also understood that a person’s travel history or contact with infected individuals determined their risk level, not their nationality or race. That understanding helped reduce discrimination.

Taiwan got public buy-in

  • The public’s cooperation with the government’s recommended measures was crucial to prevent the spread of the virus, including among students
  • More than 95 percent of parents took their child’s temperature at home and report it to the school before the children arrived, as regardless of what the government does, people had to take responsibility for their own health.
  • Some businesses checked the temperature of employees arriving for work, using a detection camera
  • Offices stocked up on alcohol disinfectants and temperature guns. Practically every office building, school and community sports centre check temperatures and prevent anyone with a fever from entering. Apartment buildings also place hand sanitizer inside or outside elevators

Taiwan learned from experience

  • Taiwan put the lessons it learned during the SARS outbreak in 2003 to good use. That epidemic ended up killing 73 people and hurting the economy [China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were the worst affected countries]. This time, Taiwan’s government and people were prepared, and that readiness paid off.
  • The country’s health insurance system, which covers 99 percent of the population, was crucial to fighting the spread of the outbreak, as Taiwan’s health insurance lets everyone not be afraid to go to the hospital. If you suspect you have coronavirus, you won’t have to worry that you can’t afford the hospital visit to get tested. You can get a free test, and if you’re forced to be isolated, during the 14 days, food is paid for, as is lodging and medical care, so no one would avoid seeing the doctor because they can’t pay for health care

[However somewhat surprisingly, Taiwan, with a population of almost 24 million, currently conducts only around 800 screenings a day and not everyone under quarantine is tested]

Conversely, apart from Taiwan, elsewhere in the world, the spread of coronavirus and death goes on unabated, doesn’t it? Yep, it may have originated from Wuhan China last December, but has since travelled around the globe rapidly and relentlessly at increasing pace, so has been identified in over a hundred-and-eighty countries of 6 WHO regions so far, yet in most places no effective action has been taken to stop it, has it?

No, and it inevitably reached and pretty quickly established large outbreaks in all regions of the UK and cases are increasingly occurring where the person infected or killed doesn’t have an underlying health condition or old, and hasn’t been in contact with anyone who has been overseas nor contact with a known infected person, which is an extremely worrying development, isn’t it?

Some countries are testing patients for coronavirus by the tens of thousands daily as was the UK’s previously ‘unachieved’ plan of mid-March and the criteria for testing here had narrowed to only the most severe cases.

Well over ½ MILLION PEOPLE have now been tested in UK but the UK still has a record as one of the lowest rates in Europe, behind the likes of Russia, Germany, Italy, Turkey, and Spain

There had been growing concern that the UK was only managing to test 5,000 people a day, had struggled to pass 8,000 a day, and had hovered around 15,000 tests per day, despite aims to increase tests to 10,000 and then 25,000 a day and that despite the fact that capacity had increased certainly to 51,000 per day – which is still far short of the 72,000 a day that Germany was managing, or the UK’s commitment of 100,000 by the end of April (that looked bloody unrealistic one has to say?). The latest published figure however claimed that 120,000 tests in a day had in fact been carried out on 30 April, so to everyone’s surprise the government ‘apparently’ had indeed met the 100,000-test target (albeit though it turns out otherwise, as there was a bit of a fiddle going on by counting-in some 40,000 test kits delivered either to home addresses (27,497) or to official test sites that hadn’t actually been used/returned so were ‘unverified’ and may not really have been taken and indeed may never be taken, and had Hancock perhaps included also booked tests with ‘no-show’ or ‘cancelled test’ participants, eh? [although it was said officially that 122,347 tests were carried out, at MOST that figure should be 82,347 but nevertheless a significant achievement, surely?]

This manipulation of the numbers was in fact an unnecessary fudge factor, as it had been widely trailed by ministers that the target figure was ‘probably’ going to be missed and the public had been ready to accept that, but would indeed give credit for what had been achieved in increasing the number of tests – as it is, the needless skulduggery, lack of transparency, and massage of the figures, instead of simply admitting the truth of a minimalistic failure, will not only have disappointed the public but it could undermine public confidence and that could prove problematic downstream when the government might need future public buy-in, don’t you think?

Previously, no explanation had been forthcoming about why we had FAILED all the previous targets, nor how that was to be overcome to allow the new one or others to be achieved, so that’s not very tolerable, is it?

Moreover, is that why since the end of April, each day at the start of THIS new month of May there was a significant drop-off EVERY single day in numbers of tests conducted against the 100.00 target, perhaps? [following-on from the claimed ‘triumph’ of meeting the goal of 100,000 tests a day, the government has now set out a new target of capacity for 200,000 tests a day by the end of May – a goal immediately dismissed by medics and opposition figures as a STUNT to distract from 6 May Wednesday’s 30% shortfall, with just 69,463 tests carried out or posted to recipients].

[Unfortunately, also the effort to ‘ramp up’ testing may have come too late, as the UK appears to have passed the initial peak and yet the ‘overall’ death rate continues to climb]

New testing arrangements had beenannounced and recently introduced, together with a commitment to recruit 18,000 people to trace contacts of those infected [a bit late, eh? Moreover, only 1/5th of those recruited will be trained public heath staff working on the ground with the majority simply being ‘call handlers’ when we have seen the experience of Singapore showing that nearly all of the work there was done by physical contact tracers].

However, senior members of the UK government have recently conceded that the official launch date of 1 June 2020 for the UK contact-tracing app is set to be missed and that the date will NOT now be met

Furthermore, regarding an integral part of the Government’s ‘test, track and trace’ strategy, the critical element of TRACING needed to defeat the virus, the UK in typical head in the sand style have once AGAIN ignored the experience of others and finds itself almost alone with a CENTRALIZED infrastructure virus contact-tracing app that probably WON’T work well, as we have decided to use a discredited CENTRALISED type tracking system instead of a localised one. Just a further example of Britain sleepwalking into yet ANOTHER unnecessary coronavirus BLUNDER by failing to listen to global consensus and expert analysis as being shown with our impending release of the NHS COVID-19 contact-tracking app – now the NHS itself will have to consider ditching its model of the app in favour of the Apple and Google preferred system. (a month ago GERMANY did a U-turn on building its own centralized COVID-19 contacts tracing app and will instead adopt a decentralized architecture, while just last week Columbia became the latest country to mothball its efforts to build such a contact-tracing app, after it was beset by technical problems (now it is moving over the tech giants’ model – that leaves FRANCE and the UK as the ONLY two main regional backers of centralized apps for coronavirus contacts tracing)

[JUST WHY DOES THE UK CONSTANTLY HIT THE BUFFERS ON DEALING WITH CORONAVIRUS TO GO ITS OWN WAY AND IGNORE THE LESSONS LEARNT AND SUCCESS EXAMPLES FROM OTHER COUNTRIES?]

You see with coronavirus contact-tracing, the World is split between two types of app (those that are centralized and those that are decentralized) and we have like idiots made the more risky choice to use a bespoke iOS and Android smartphone application which has unwarranted claims that it is a better solution to the one by Apple and Google which is one which OTHER nations have decided to adopt. [the UK’s APP has of course just undergone trials in the Isle of Wight, where over 30,000 people downloaded it, but residents say that it fails to work even on just ‘four-year-old’ phones and has other glitches like phone battery draining problems and users being bombarded with multiple notifications]

Unfortunately for us in UK, while the government’s explanation in favours of their App is coherent, calm, well-reasoned and plausible, and it is likely to be a repeat of the disastrous “herd immunity” approach the government initially backed as a way to explain why it DIDN’T NEED to go into a national lockdown. That policy was also well-reasoned and well-explained by a small number of very competent doctors and scientists who just happened to be WRONG.

There are broadly two types of coronavirus contact-tracing apps.

  • The first takes data from people’s phones and saves it on a CENTRAL system where experts are ‘trusted’ to make the best possible use of the data, including providing advice to people as and when necessary.
  • The second, decentralized approach, as set out by Apple and Google, puts USERS themselves in more control of their information, and alerts them AUTOMATICALLY with no intervention from a third party. Apple and Google have also banned apps that use their anonymized API from accessing location services to track and identify people, despite pressure to do so. And they have said they will only allow one App per country, or state in the US, to use the interface.

 

Both types use Bluetooth to detect nearby phones also running the software. Thus, when someone catches the coronavirus, people can be warned if their phone was within 6ft of that patient’s phone for more than a few minutes.

So-called HEALTH SERVICE EXPERTS have access to all the data collected from the smartphone and make a JUDGEMENT call on how to deal with matters – they can use risk modelling and some analysis to decide WHICH contacts are MOST at risk, and then notify them OR NOT to take some action

The argument is that while the Apple-Google decentralized model PROTECTS people’s privacy, it leaves the authorities blindsided. Meanwhile, the undertone of the centralized NHS method, where people’s data is collected and analysed together, is almost explicit: we all know how important privacy is but the government suggest we let it leave this to the experts. You see there is a major problem in that the NHS’s approach requires MAJOR smartphone software WORKAROUNDS to properly function so probably won’t work as well as expected, and probably won’t be really accurate at measuring the spread of the virus (Apple’s iOS normally forbids applications from broadcasting via Bluetooth when running in the background, which means that one would have to leave a contact-tracing app open in the foreground ALL the time for it to work properly. However, the operating system does allow software, such as the NHS tracing app, to run in a special mode so that it can announce itself to nearby iPhones and iPads via Bluetooth, and listen out for copies of itself on other devices, even when in the background. However, there are strict limits to this, and for instance, Apple says the background announcements are designed to work ONLY with other iOS devices, though Android apps COULD be programmed to work around this. however, an iOS app’s transmissions may be delayed if, for example, the device is busy sending other data over Bluetooth, and the app has only TEN or so seconds at a time to WAKE UP and communicate with nearby phones running the contact-tracing app, or be killed or throttled back. Also performing many Bluetooth-related tasks require the active use of an iOS device’s onboard radio — and, in turn, radio usage has an adverse effect on an iOS device’s battery life. Meanwhile, Google Android versions 8 and later allow contact-tracing applications to announce themselves for ONLY a few minutes after the app falls into the background. The apps could run as a foreground service on Android all the time, with an icon present to say it’s active while other programs run in the foreground, though this ISN’T particularly BATTERY friendly NOR recommended by Google, and could lead to people SIMPLY NOT USING the app to preserve power

The NHS has insisted it has worked around these limits “sufficiently well” (whatever that means?) at least on iOS but nevertheless, compromises will have had to be made to work around both iOS and Android issues, rather than use the decentralized Apple-Google API that has all of this handled AUTOMATICALLY in the background by the operating system, which is kinder to battery life and potentially MORE ACCURATE. Some encounters between people may be MISSED either due to operating system incompatibilities, limits on execution and transmission, or because the software proves to be such a battery hog that people don’t bother with it, or forget to run the app.

The other concern with the UK approach is that while it insists it will keep data private, and location data will not be stored nor attached to individuals, the truth is that it will ONLY work as promised if that data is NOT kept PRIVATE and location data IS STORED and ATTACHED TO INDIVIDUALS.

While it is claimed that the app doesn’t have any personal information about users, and doesn’t collect users’ location and tries to ensure that users can’t work out WHO has become symptomatic” and that “it holds only anonymous data and communicates out to other NHS systems through privacy preserving gateways, whereas in fact the first thing the App does when a user installs and opens it is to ask for the users postcode, and logs the exact make of the phone.

Moreover, as soon as someone agrees to share their information with UK government – by claiming to feel unwell and hitting a button – 28 days of data from the app is given to a CENTRAL SERVER from where it can NEVER be recalled by the user. That data, featuring all the unique IDs you’ve encountered in that period and when and how far apart you were, becomes the property of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)–that the data WILL NOT be deleted, and UK citizens will NOT HAVE THE RIGHT to demand it is deleted, but it can or WILL be used for future research.

A decentralised smartphone contact tracing system –would be likely to comply with both human rights and data protection laws. In contrast, a centralised smartphone system –is a greater interference with and may not actually be lawful regarding fundamental rights on both human rights and data protection laws

At the heart of this decision by the UK to fall back on the belief that a CENTRAL AUTHORITY is going to be a better solution, no matter what compromises have to be made, is that central planning will work better when it comes to COVID-19?

The UK government is also considering using the Apple-Google approach after all, given that its own App may not actually work

 

Those who can now register for a test include the people (and their families) of:

        • NHS
        • Social care workers
        • Police officers
        • Teachers
        • Justice system workers
        • Supermarket and food production workers
        • Journalists
        • Undertakers
        • Transport workers
        • Over 65’s with symptoms

 

Previously, a smaller group of key workers – those whose work is deemed critical to the Covid-19 response – were eligible for testing. The aim is to allow essential staff to safely return to work.

[The invasive test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, and it is said that the “majority” of people will get their result in 24 hours]

HOWEVER, THE CURRENT SWAB TEST IS FAR TO INVSIVE TO BE SELF ADMINISTERED FOR RELIABLE REULTS, SO A FINGER PRICK TYPE CORONAVIRUS BLOOD TEST IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD FOR MASS COMMUNITY TESTING AND THAT WILL BE AN ESSENTIAL TOOL IN DEFEATING THE VIRUS. Its about time the government did something about it, isn’t it?

The government’s dedicated brand new website to allow key workers [there are an astounding 10 million of them (together with their families) needing to use it] to obtain home test kits or book tests was opened at 8am on Wednesday 24th April, but In true Laurel & Hardy comic style, typical of the UK’s crass handling of this crisis so far, the Department of Health was taken BY UTTER SURPRISE by its first day popularity [an immediate stampede of 46,000 workers], and the site either crashed or was quickly shut down when ALL 5000 home test kits (to be delivered by courier), were allocated WITHIN 2 MINUTES, and then ALL 15,000 ‘drive through’ test slots at regional centres were booked-out in UNDER 2 HOURS, and all applications were SHUT at 10am JUST TWO HOURS AFTER OPENING – with the website saying people could NO LONGER even register. (Not only that fiasco, but there were no checks that the people using the portal were in fact ‘key workers’ and so the ones eligible to use the service). Just 28,760 tests were carried out on the first day – so a long way short compared with the target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April).

[Under this new scheme, test results from the drive-through sites supposedly will be sent out by text within 48 hours, and within 72 hours of collection of the home delivery tests]

Matters didn’t go all that much better with the portal on its second day on the Saturday morning either, as yet again it was overwhelmed within hours and test requests once more exceeded capacity in England and Wales – testing kits ran out (after 15 MINUTES this time) while its drive through test slots only lasted LESS THAN 1 HOUR. Reportedly however it appears that even if you as a ‘suspect positive’, have an appointment, and turn-up, it doesn’t mean that you’ll get that much needed test.

Well, those worrying issue have proved to be just ‘the tip of the iceberg’, as subsequently it has become apparent that the management of the national network of drive-in coronavirus drive-through testing centres has proved to be shambolic in terms of competence and accuracy of results (indeed doctors at three London hospital trusts are “actively discouraging” staff from using them, and instead Royal Free trust is swabbing staff at work and sending the results to an Institute’s laboratories for analysis.

Problems resulting have included long queues of up to five hours at some facilities after perhaps even a two-hour round trip to get there, with motorists – many of them already feeling unwell with symptoms of Covid-19 – stuck in their cars in hot weather for hours, forbidden from opening windows and unable to use toilets or find water, key-workers with appointments turned away because of delays, resultant leaking test vials, or wrongly labelled samples returned for lab testing, plus lost or delayed test results (with no contact number provided to chase missing results) – a husband and wife can have the test at the same place and time but one result comes back but  ‘delayed’ while the other is weeks later if at all – due to lab problems swabs are even having to be sent to America for results).  In addition, people attending a number of drive-in facilities reported being disgracefully left with no choice, but to take their own swabs, a most difficult task, having expected the procedure to be carried out by a trained professional (hardly surprising then if as amateurs they might get a potentially false negative result, eh?

Moreover, the results only indicate positive or negative with no indication whether or not that someone even with severe symptoms had previously had the disease and is immune.

The firms responsible for running things aren’t really properly qualified to do it – Deloitte accountants [managing logistics and data across most of the test centres, including booking tests, getting samples to the labs and communicating the results], with Serco, a services company, [managing the site facilities at some of the Covid-19 test facilities] and Sodexo, a services company in catering and care {involved in the set up and operation of ten Covid-19 testing centres across the UK and Ireland and provided test operatives to administer a throat and nasal swab test to key frontline workers but not responsible for getting test results back to them], or even Boots pharmacy [which apparently trained and provided more than 300 staff to administer swabs and managed the Nottingham site but has no role in processing the results].

Well, this significant level of failure is hardly surprising considering that the contracts to operate the facilities had been awarded under special pandemic rules, through a fast-track process without open competition, and were simply handed to somehow favoured private companies

It’s somewhat incomprehensible why such contracts were ever handed out so readily and casually to the likes of outsourcing firms Serco (majority of its turnover is generated from UK operations, but the company also operates in Continental Europe, the Middle East, the Asia Pacific region and North America), and Sodexo (a French multinational food, facilities and justice services multinational based in Paris) when they both already had form for past ‘catastrophic failures’ in performing multi-million pound government contracts. Serco has several contracts with the UK government, and had a number of failed contracts including a scandal over tagging criminals, and yet was even subsequently awarded this year a £200million contract to run two immigration removal detention centres in the UK despite obviously having failed to protect people in their custody in the past (including a string of sexual abuse scandals in its Yarl’s Wood facility). In health services, Serco’s failures included the poor handling of pathology labs and fatal errors in patient records. At St Thomas’ Hospital, the increase in the number of clinical incidents arising from Serco non-clinical management had resulted in patients receiving incorrect and infected blood, as well as patients suffering kidney damage due to Serco providing incorrect data used for medical calculations. A Serco employee later revealed that the company had FALSIFIED 252 reports to the National Health Service regarding Serco health services in Cornwall. Serco had also provided facilities management services at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Wishaw General Hospital and at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital. The company had the contract for out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall from which it withdrew from in December 2013 after the company left the county SHORT OF DOCTORS. The company also said it would stop running Braintree hospital in Essex as it pulled out of managing GP services and large hospitals. It emerged in November 2013, that Serco, which won a contract for Suffolk Community Healthcare in 2012, had 72 vacancies after earlier cutting 137 posts. Problems identified by Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group include “staff capacity, skill mix, workload, succession planning and morale, training, communication, mobile working, care co-ordination centre processes, incidents and near miss incidents

In its Probation services work Serco was stripped of its responsibility for tagging criminals in late 2013 and it paid £70m to the government in December of that year after it overcharged the government on the contract. (a £19.2m fine included a 50 per cent discount because Serco reported the problems itself and co-operated with the investigation)

In April 2014 Serco revealed that it would lose almost £18 million on three of its NHS contracts. The firm has made provisions for losses in its Braintree and Cornwall contracts, which were cancelled early. It has also made provisions for losses in its contract for services in Suffolk. The company claims it will take longer to deliver the operational efficiencies it hoped for, despite saying in May 2013 that it expected to make a profit on the three-year, £140 million contract for community services. It said that staff had not recorded activity accurately on the Electronic health record and that activity had increased significantly during the course of the contract.

In August 2014 it was reported that the company had decided to withdraw from the clinical health services market in the UK after a review of the cost of delivering “improved service levels” and meeting the performance requirements of several existing contracts

Serco as part of government prison privatisation, has a contract to run HMP Thameside in Hampshire, which is one of the 14 are privately run ones amongst 134 prisons in England and Wales. It was given the lowest performance rating of one.

We now have a higher percentage of privatised prisons than the US even though privatised prisons cost us more than public prisons. Privatised prisons house 15% of our prison population, yet the government spends 23% of its prison budget on private prisons. The maths just doesn’t add up

Riots, drugs, and staff losing control

2013, two of the three worst performing prisons in the country were privately run. For the past 17 years, private prisons have been more likely to hold prisoners in overcrowded accommodation than public sector prisons. Over one third of people in private prisons were held in overcrowded accommodation in 2014-15. Fewer and less well-trained staff means that private prisons also do worse in terms of security than prisons in our public sector. Serco, and Sodexo –two of the three international, multi-billion-pound corporations currently running our prisons – have both had problems with security.

In 2016, there was drug-fuelled violence at Sodexo’s Forest Bank prison and violence at a Doncaster prison run by Serco was revealed to be four times higher than at other similar sized prisons. When private companies cut costs by reducing staff and training, they make both staff and inmates in our prisons vulnerable].

In 25 July 2013 the privately-run prison HMP Thameside, run by Serco, was among three the government has expressed “serious concern” over, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) ratings had revealed that it was given the lowest performance rating of one.

IS ALL THAT PALAVA SIMPLY MORE EXAMPLES OF GOVERNMENT ABJECT PROCUREMENT  INCOMPETENCE OR WHAT?

Critics had previously questioning the UK’s initial decision only to test people for coronavirus in hospitals and NHS workers, arguing that a return to testing more widely would ultimately be necessary to suppress the virus. It seems certain that a policy of mass community testing will be essential to identify new hotspots, as has happened in South Korea, and so eventually end the current minimalistic lockdown the UK has had now for seven weeks.

Before the UK, South Korean officials were setting up “drive-thru” coronavirus screening facilities, and manufacturers in China have the capacity to distribute more than 1.5 million tests a week. Some countries, alongside Italy and the U.K., are testing tens of thousands of people for the coronavirus, in many cases processing thousands of samples a day.

Reportedly, the UK did previously have the capacity to process tens of thousands more tests for coronavirus but had failed to organise itself properly and there had been calls for the UK to make use of testing machines in every university and big hospital around the country, and set up mobile testing units like Ireland, which is testing far more people per head of population

There are 44 molecular virology labs in the UK and if they had been doing 400 tests a day Britain would be up to Germany levels of testing and that is perfectly feasible. Public Health England (PHE) was slow and controlled and only allowed non-PHE labs to start testing some while ago but that was only after the strategy shift to end community testing

A BioMedomics, 15-minute coronavirus blood test, claimed 80% accurate, is not being used in the UK (because health officials here have yet to approve it), despite China, Italy and Japan diagnosing patients with it. The test, which takes a blood droplet from a finger prick, and shows results in a pregnancy-test fashion, allegedly shows the severity of coronavirus infection in a patient within minutes even if they don’t show symptoms, and could potentially save delays in diagnosis [Public Health England currently used swab tests take up to 48 hours to be read by lab specialists]. A FINGER PRICK TYPE CORONAVIRUS BLOOD TEST IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD FOR MASS COMMUNITY TESTING AND WILL BE AN ESSENTIAL TOOL IN DEFEATING THE VIRUS

Many of the countries that have had the greatest success in containing the disease are ones that were most responsive as they were affected by SARS in 2002-03. The memory of that crisis may have led to better preparedness,, both within government and amongst the population, and to a greater acceptance of people to comply with restrictions on movement and daily life, to prevent the spread of infection.

There are three main aspects to controls that aim to stop the spread of the disease:

  1. The first is travel bans on people from areas with high levels of cases (initially mainland China, now many more places)
  2. the second is quarantine rules to prevent known or suspected carriers from spreading infection; and
  3. the third is shutdowns and social distancing to prevent transmission between unidentified carriers by reducing human contact.

Now, the British government seems to have early-on adopted the attitude that such full-on controls may have proved to work well in other countries but were not appropriate or needed in the UK – they preferred to do virtually NOTHING and rely instead on an approach of on a wing and a prayer, to somehow halt the virus, eh?

[Boris Johnson to the horror of the World Health Organisation, was (and still is?) pursuing a strategy of gradually attempting to achieve UK “herd immunity” so had resisted even the current pseudo-lockdown in the UK (lockdown of most of the deemed ‘unessential’ businesses, with people only allowed to leave their homes under limited circumstances), but he was galvanised into imposing it only after Imperial College published its controversial, non-peer-reviewed, results of mathematical modelling that predicted a total failure to control the virus here with 1/4million deaths resulting]

NOTE: Moreover, the PM dithered for ten days when UK lockdown was recommended at Cobra on March 14th, with infection rate DOUBLING EVERY 3 DAYS in late February and early March, and the population was allowed and indeed encouraged to carry-on as NORMAL, including attending major public events like the Cheltenham horse racing FESTIVAL (March 10th) and Champions league football at LIVERPOOL (March 11th), while Johnson delayed imposing ANY lockdown until March 23rd.

Modelling teams from IC London and Oxford Uni now estimate the consequence of that tardy hesitancy in such a crucial period, was that UK coronavirus case numbers simply soared by an extra 1.3MILLION, making us the ONLY large European nation to let virus infections get so out of control before locking-down – hence we were the worst virus affected Country between Italy, Spain, France and Germany before entering a lockdown and that late lockdown here has meant that a we suffered a much greater than necessary number of hospitalisations and significantly more avoidable British deaths (as many as (as many as ¾?). The government’s EXCUSE for this crass incompetence? No admission of fault nor failure, and despite the glaring evidence to the contrary, simply a claim that “OUR STRATEGY HAS BEEN DESIGNED AT ALL TIMES TO PROTECT OUR NHS AND SAVE LIVES”

Herd Immunity

This is a term used to describe a form of indirect protection of susceptible members of a population from infectious disease and the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population, that results if a sufficiently HIGH PROPORTION of individuals are IMMUNE to the disease, especially if achieved through vaccination (but can also result through previous infections when protection is via antibodies already in the blood produced by the immune system).

Herd Immunity provides the protection of the population as a whole brought about by the presence of immune individuals within it, giving a measure of protection for individuals who are NOT immune.

(The level of vaccination needed to achieve herd immunity varies by disease)

TIMELINE ON CORONAVIRUS:

end October 2016; Exercise Cygnus  – NHS and authorities conducted a test of their  joint ability to cope with a flue pandemic and the RESULT was FAILURE as the NHS was stretched beyond breaking point [UK reaction – government made the decision that the UK would do NOTHING and simply let any pandemic OVERWHELM’ the Country (as it has!). Britain assumed a deadly virus would cripple the NHS and kill up ¾ million people (the assumption that a new virus could not be contained is also explicitly stated in the government’s pandemic strategy documents):

end December 2019; China alerted the WHO about unusual pneumonia in Wuhan [UK reaction – nil):

early January2020; virus identified as new [UK reaction – nil):

end January 2020; the WHO declare global emergency [UK reaction – nil):

early February 2020; first transmission within UK [UK reaction – government decides NOT to follow Italy and China in imposing restrictions):

early March; the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic [UK reaction –discussed in the UK government’s annual budget, and the government advised that anyone with a new continuous cough or a fever should self-isolate for seven days, schools were ‘asked’ to cancel trips abroad, and people over 70 and those with pre-existing medical conditions were ‘advised’ to avoid cruises:

mid-March 2020; France and Italy have mandatory locked-down [UK reaction – an unbelievably irresponsible decision to abandon widespread community testing and contact tracing – so the start of the much disputed ‘herd immunity’ phase of the UK strategy (all to the shock of scientists and in direct defiance of the WHO’s advice for all governments to test, test, test), 2020 United Kingdom local elections were postponed for a year, and the UK government ‘advises’ against non-essential travel and contact, and ‘recommends’ home working, NHS England announces that all non-urgent operations in England would be postponed from mid-April to free up beds, and PM advised everyone in the UK against “non-essential” travel and contact with others, and Chancellor announces that £330bn would be made available in loan guarantees for businesses affected by the pandemic – NHS has shortage of personal protection equipment]:

late March 2020; on 23rd government orders orders pubs, eateries and gyms to close and announces a mild ‘stay-at-home order’ pseudo lockdown including a series of strict social measures, with the closure of non-essential shops and the banning of social gatherings, while ordering members of the public to stay at home with only a few exceptions, Health Secretary announces that everyone in Britain over the age of 70 would be told to self-isolate “within the coming weeks”, and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency announced that all pending practical and driving theory tests were to be postponed, in the case of practical tests for at least 3 months, and up to and including 20 April for theory tests, Johnson announces tightened measures to mitigate the virus in order to protect the NHS, with wide-ranging restrictions made on freedom of movement, enforceable in law for a planned period intended to last for at least three weeks. The public have been now ‘ordered’ to “stay indoors” and to only leave the house for one of these four reasons: Shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine (Shopping trips should be as infrequent as possible); One form of exercise a day such as a run, walk, or cycle (This should be done alone or only with people you live with); Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person (This includes moving children under the age of 18 between their parents’ homes, where applicable and Key workers or those with children identified as vulnerable, can continue to take their children to school); Travelling to and from work, but only where work absolutely cannot be done from home. The government has announced strict social distancing measures, banning gatherings of more than two people (It was publicized that the police have powers to impose fines on those breaking the stringent rules, and can disperse gatherings)]. The number of UK coronavirus deaths jumped by more than 100 in a day for the first time.

While the UK government claims that its new measures are strict, they’re not really so, and certainly still not anywhere near as draconian as those put in place even in other European countries, are they?

However, as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise incessantly here in the UK, more dramatic and effective measures will surely be needed in the near future to stem its spread and in order to protect life, won’t they? [Enforced lockdowns could be applied countrywide or only to major towns and cities like London (which certainly because of its population and property density and the tube, even inexperienced people just knew London should have been in complete shutdown previously, but now because of cowardly culpable mismanagement that has currently resulted in some eighteen thousand confirmed deaths and rising, so it is continuing to suffer abominably in terms of coronavirus spread)

early April 2020; the government announced that a total of 2,000 NHS staff had now been tested for coronavirus since the outbreak began, and the Health Secretary announced a “five pillar” plan for testing people for the virus, with the aim of conducting 100,000 tests a day by the end of April. [a five-year-old has died from the virus, believed to be the youngest UK victim to date]

 

The later figures came as government data showed that new infections had got close to 6,000 again calling into question the idea that demand for tests would be falling. After the UK’s death toll became the worst in Europe a week ago, and since then further deaths take the total this Tuesday to 36,914

Britain has now massively overtaken China with the number of coronavirus cases as well as deaths and we are number six in the cases table headed by the USA.

 

There has been a dramatic escalation in the number of new daily coronavirus cases which in early March was still under 50 a day but that has now jumped into the thousands a day, which amply indicates that the UK’s slow response coupled with government’s virtually zero efforts to contain it, have been disastrous. We missed the window of opportunity in the first weeks and ignored the warning signs from other countries and went in a totally different direction to the rest of the world, so Britain is inevitably now paying the price with countless needless deaths

Some people, including even a few professionals, early on said that too much was being made about this virus in the media because we knew how to deal with, and could handle, a flu epidemic, but that’s utter rubbish, not least because the evidence NOW is that we certainly DIDN’T! It’s true that there was no need for the public to panic, nor for the food stockpiling that’s cleared supermarket shelves, but a dose of reality is the best protection and the reason the virus has been spreading more rapidly here recently in the past couple of months [numbers are doubling every few days] and is not being contained effectively in the UK (as was the government’s planned Stage), is that initially the population wasn’t worried enough, so didn’t take the simple health precautions steps to protect themselves and others, at a time when the government hadn’t and hasn’t implemented a proper lockdown, nor is doing sufficient testing, don’t you think?

Those of us who have been closely following and analysing our own daily stats have found it disturbingly difficult to keep abreast of it all as the situation changes so rapidly and is frighteningly out of control EVERYWHERE, with cases and deaths simply skyrocketing hourly, and often there is different public information published from different WHO sources and not all countries’ figures are reliably up to date, or based on appropriate testing.

In an unbelievable escapade of government mismanagement of its virus shambolic response, its misleading of the public about the scale of the pandemic, and its adept failure to learn anything from the experience of other countries, there is now exposed the avoidable crisis that has hit the UK Care Homes. Not only is there the scandal of Care Homes not being able to obtain PPE because delivery had been paltry and haphazard, hence putting residents and staff at high risk, but now we find out that outbreaks in over 3,000 Care Homes have resulted in an astronomical death toll, which has been kept well-hidden and pretty secret when it hasn’t been declared in daily official UK death figures (which until the end of April ONLY covered hospital deaths and not Care Homes nor Community deaths). It has though recently been estimated (lack of testing means no firm number) that some 7,500 have actually died in Care Homes, which would add some fifty percent to the UK’s official deaths figure, and it is substantially higher (over 5 times so) than a previous estimate and it compares most dramatically with the Office for National Statistics figure of just 217 Care Homes deaths up to early April (which is just 3% of it).

However, there is a major issue surrounding care deaths in the community skewing statistics because due to lack of universal testing, GPs, particularly if there had been other coronavirus cases around, are too readily adding ‘Covid-19 related’ or ‘suspected coronavirus’ to certificates of naturally occurring deaths of ‘frailty due to old age’ even if the person had not ever been tested, let alone been found to be positive for the virus, and moreover to the unease of relatives this is being recorded when no symptoms were present or displayed at all by their loved-ones

Another more worrying factor about Care Homes is that the carers themselves will generally live in the community and being unprotected and closely exposed to the virus at work, they will inevitably be bringing it back to their own family homes, as well as spreading it far and wide as they travel around their locality.

Now then, NOT ONLY are Care Homes residents generally highly vulnerable, and more so when in an act of murderous recklessness, hospitals were twice instructed (in mid-March & early April) as a matter of policy to offload and discharge hundreds of elderly patients, whether or not virus positive or merely untested, to Care Homes [so within 2 weeks, in early April, that resulted in an accelerated death rate in Care Homes (more than twice the hospital rate at that time – Care Home deaths go up as hospital cases fall! Figures show that a third of all coronavirus deaths in England and Wales are now happening in care homes], BUT there was ample warning to the government that Care Homes could be a potential problem here, as it had been widely reported in the UK press in late March that corpses of the elderly were found abandoned in Spanish Care Homes and other residents were left to their own fates – teams of soldiers deployed and sent to disinfect nursing homes in Madrid found elderly residents abandoned, and others dead in their beds. What was the response and the British government’s action to what should have been a red flag warning– ZILCH!

In context then, just remember that Matt Hancock’s (in post since 2018) full title is in fact Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, , so he is equally responsible for care in the community and Care Homes, as he is for health and NHS hospitals, but what we have seen, at a time when there has been decades of neglect and lack of funding for care, is that there has been a disastrous disregard and lack of priority for the care sector which with its front line staff was forgotten and abandoned and that was combined with an unwarranted total precedence being given to the NHS and its health issues instead, haven’t we?? It has been self-evident for decades that NHS and Care are two sides of the same coin, so they have to be a single NHS combined unit and cannot be run as competing parallel operations, as has been clearly demonstrated by their fiaso handling in this pandemic, eh?

Meanwhile, at the other side of the globe, we have New Zealand which has ‘won the battle’ against community transmission of Covid-19. Its prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, had previously announced, without complacency, that the country had ‘avoided the worst’ in the pandemic, and although it must continue to fight the virus, nevertheless it has done what few countries have been able to do and has ‘currently’ stopped the widespread, undetected, community transmission of coronavirus – consequently New Zealand lifted its level-4 lockdown (its most severe level) which had been in place for more than four weeks. During that time, almost all businesses have been closed, along with schools, while the population has been asked to remain in their homes for all but supermarket visits and short walks. That lockdown will be replaced by a level-3 one), which will see retailers, restaurants and schools allowed to reopen on a smaller scale. Schools were to reopen over a week ago for children up to Year 10 who cannot study from home, or whose parents need to return to work. Workers were also able to resume on-site work, provided they had Covid-19 control plan in place, with appropriate health and safety and physical distancing measures. It is expected one million New Zealanders would return to work [It’s said that whilst they are opening up the economy, they aren’t opening up people’s social lives] – and although the transmission of the virus had been “eliminated”, that did not mean zero cases, but that health officials ‘knew’ where all new cases were coming from – and to succeed they admit that they must now hunt down the last few cases of the virus, in a needle in a haystack task. [New Zealand’s R (transmission rate – the number of people each infected person can pass the virus to) was now under 0.4, compared to the average overseas transmission rate of 2.5]. (Level-3 was to be in place for two weeks before the cabinet decided on whether to move to level 2)

As New Zealand continues to rollback its coronavirus lockdown restrictions, shopping centres, cinemas, cafes and restaurants were due to open this week because there are now only 65 active  coronavirus cases in the country, out of 1,497 total confirmed COVID-19 infections. [with just 21deaths)

Other businesses deemed non-essential under alert levels three and four including cafes and retail stores can also open their doors again within the next couple of days.

The new alert LEVEL2 is effective from midnight on Thursday morning meanwhile schools can open again next week, but Bars have to wait until May 21 though before getting the green light to re-open, but then only if he number of active cases in the country remains at the current low level

New Zealand’s ultimate aim though is to eradicate Covid-19, not just suppress it (China is the only other country working to that ambition and China has done it – 1.4 billion people haven’t got the virus. They have been protected from it). New Zealand believes that they can do the same for their five million people and can protect them from the virus).

COMPARE NZ (which is defeating the virus) WITH UK (which has done anything but beat the virus) – they have levels of lockdown, but we don’t do levels of lockdown, do we? No, we seem to know better and ONLY have a relatively mild initial Level-0 introduced late as a fob, with no strict or severe levels to fall back on or implement at all, eh?

New Zealand’s has offered a model response of empathy, clarity and trust in science (for a pandemic response to be effective, science and leadership have to work together) which proved relatively successful as it has among the lowest cases per capita in the world. New Zealand is of course quite a small nation with a population smaller than New York City’s – but it is remote with easily sealable borders, which all played in its favour when the virus broke out. Their outcome has mainly been attributed to the clarity of the message coming from the government, a message that made sense, was delivered with excellent communication by an empathetic leader, whilst telling the public in detail the rules of the lockdown, which hence gained their trust [the government’s message was that of a country coming together as a team of five million, and urged people to “Unite Against Covid-19” as well as Be Strong. Be Kind, which resulted in a high level of compliance].

Unlike some others, New Zealand is a country that has strong working relationship with the science community, so scientists felt they had a great deal of influence and were likely to be heeded. Because it’s public health experts had carefully and calmly communicated the many complex health issues around Covid-19 that were paving the way for government decisions, and had clearly explained the trajectory the country was on in terms of the increase in the number of cases, when the government decided on going into a major lockdown, people fully understood why. In addition to demonstrate togetherness, the prime minister has announced that she, ministers in her cabinet, and public service chief executives, would all take a 20% pay cut for six months, to recognise the impact of the virus on other New Zealanders

A key to New Zealand’s response to Covid-19, was that the prime minister and government visibly put people’s health first, whereas other countries [like the UK indeed] which for whatever reason or for fear of the economic damage had delayed harsh action or the imposing of strict social distancing measures, subsequently had, and are having, a much harder time controlling the virus and it’s spread.

The background there, is that in mid-March, just after the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared a pandemic, New Zealand was about to mark the first anniversary of the Christchurch shooting with a national memorial event,

[Christchurch shooting: a 2019 terrorist attack, carried out by a single gunman in the capital, the largest city, (motives: Far-right politics, White supremacy, Islamophobia), with two consecutive mass shootings at separate mosques (51 deaths 49 injured)]

BUT things changed overnight, and not only was that particular large gathering event immediately cancelled, but despite only having 102 cases of coronavirus at the time, it was announced that almost everyone coming into New Zealand would have to self-isolate for 14 days. It was amongst the earliest and toughest self-isolation measures in the world, but which, a week later, was followed by a complete severe lockdown, During the first two weeks of lockdown, New Zealand saw a steady decline in the number of new cases. To date, it has had still over 1500 cases with only 21 deaths, and has confirmed that on average each infected person is passing the virus to fewer than one other person

   

While here in Britain, as at 26th May 2020, UK numbers are continuing to rise and 261,184 people here were confirmed as positive and now 36,914 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 have died in the UK (Hospitals, Care Homes, & Community combined). [UK hospital deaths alone had escalated to close to a thousand a day but had since dropped back a bit (121 on 25 May, 494 on 14 May, 346 on 9 May, was 616 on 24 April, 717 on 14th April, and 980 on 10th April (the deadliest day of pandemic yet – a higher number in a single day than any EVER experienced by Italy or Spain, though of course in USA over 2,000 people have died in a 24 hrs period)]

However, in the UK the hospital death rate continues to fall, and the number of people in hospital with the virus had dropped by 14 per cent recently, with more than 3,200 critical care beds now empty. However, Care Home deaths are rising-up and the crisis in that sector is even deeper than feared with THREE QUARTERS of homes hit amid ‘shambolic’ government handling of PPE. Experts warn that the Care Home crisis won’t peak for MONTHS

Now, it turns out, that after the swine flu pandemic of 2009, Britain’s pandemic plan was updated, but however the UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy took the view that it will NOT be possible to stop the spread of, or to eradicate, the pandemic influenza virus, either in THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN (and yet China has done just that very thing?) OR IN THE UK, as it will spread too rapidly and too widely”, so the expectation must be that the virus will inevitably spread and that any local measures taken to disrupt or reduce the spread are likely to have very limited or partial success at a national level and cannot be relied on as a way to ‘buy time’. Whereinafter, the UK’s Pandemic Influenza Response Plan was produced in 2014, and astoundingly still remains in place despite the coronavirus outbreak and notwithstanding that the plan proving to be totally ineffective – it has only recently come to light in the public that that the NHS ‘failed a test of its ability to handle a full scale pandemic over three years ago’ [the testing, codenamed Exercise Cygnus, conducted a three day run on how the health service would cope with a major flu outbreak] but ‘ministers hid the “terrifying” results’ from the public (deemed to be too sensitive you see?), so it’s hardly surprising that it shows close similarities between the handling of the current Covid-19 outbreak, and as lessons obviously weren’t learned nor action taken under Jeremy Hunt’s watch [2012-2018] and that highlights why the UK have screwed-up so badly in handling coronavirus, doesn’t it? In 2018, Hunt became the longest-serving Health Secretary in British political history (so what’s his excuse for failure on this one, not least since the NHS already had visibility and the experience of the genetically similar SARS virus pandemic a decade before he was in post); later that year he then even got promoted to Foreign Secretary no less, the 3rd Great Office of State, but he now chairs the Health & Social Care Select Committee – so he is well placed to cover-up his incompetence in running the NHS, the Cygnus cover-up, and the resulting lack of action, so has he direct responsibility for what is likely to be in excess of 40,000 deaths in the UK, do you think?

Exercise Cygnus:

  • NHS hospitals, local authorities and major government departments were included in the operation that took place in October 2016.
  • Ministers were briefed on the results of Cygnus, which revealed that there were significant gaps in the NHS “surge capacity” and included a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly N95 face masks (requiring action to increase their production), inadequate numbers of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and a shortfall in morgue capacity
  • The NHS was stretched beyond breaking point [by Cygnus].

BUT WHAT’S THE BLEEDING POINT OF RUNNING SUCH AN EXERCISE LIKE CYGNUS IF YOU DON’T IMMEDIATELY DEAL EFFECTIVELY WITH THE RESULTS? These exercises are supposed to prepare the government for something like this coronavirus – but it appears they were aware of the problem but didn’t do much about it, didn’t spend a lot of time exploring how the Country could prevent it in the first place, but merely looked at how Britain could build up mortuary space and increase intensive care beds but only after the virus had already spread, so we HAD already made the decision that the UK would do nothing and simply let a viral pandemic ‘OVERWHELM’ the Country (as it has!) and let it kill ¾ million Brits in the process. An unbelievable capitulation from a once proud courageous Country – indeed the equivalent of us deciding in 1935 that we couldn’t fight another World War so would simply surrender if another country like Germany invaded us, eh?]

Britain purely relied on a ‘herd immunity’ strategy that was baked into Britain’s official pandemic plans, whereas Asian counties like Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore had put in place ‘battle-plans’ to defeat any new viral outbreak and focused on enhanced mass testing capacity, , contact tracing, and huge stockpiles of protective equipment, as subsequently demonstrated in Taiwan with it’s prudent action, rapid response, and early deployment, which was then supported by a travel alert, and that combined with optimisation of border quarantine to identify important cases. [Taiwan also developed a policy of “sheltering” – a detailed plan for a complete lockdown, and also families had been advised to build up their own supplies of masks and gloves], while Singapore said all workplaces should stockpile protective gear. Nearly all the Asian countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, also had preparations in place for contact tracing to help stop the disease spreading

The British government has, even NOW, formally REFUSED to release the findings of Cygnus, as it has rejected a request under the Freedom Of Information Act to do so, but a frontline NHS doctor is mounting a legal ‘Judicial Review ‘challenge to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to contest that refusal and is seeking its publication.

A senior Whitehall official involved in drawing up the Cygnus major test of this country’s pandemic preparations, has admitted that the UK was intent on ploughing its own furrow, so lessons from other countries had been “entirely ignored” and what they were doing in South Korea and places like that, was NEVER EVEN DISCUSSED (clearly, that was a BIG mistake) given the ongoing lack of testing capacity and repetitive shortages of PPE in Britain – AT LEAST 150 health and social care workers have now died of coronavirus and whose fault is that – their OWN, or MATT HANCOCK’s (who had said that PPE must be used responsibly – implying that the front line hero’s WEREN’T doing just that), or SOMEBODY ELSE’s, eh?]. Even some half of doctors have had to purchase their own PPE or use externally donated supplies from charities or local firms, due to non-availability of official NHS procurement supplies, and MORE than half of doctors felt only PARTLY protected at work and one in 10 DIDN’T feel protected AT ALL, eh?

[FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

An entire request can be refused if:

•It would cost too much or take too much staff time to deal with the request.

•The request is vexatious.

 In addition, the Freedom of Information Act contains a number of exemptions that allow withholding of information from a requester

Some exemptions relate to a particular type of information, for instance, information relating to government policy. Other exemptions are based on the harm that would arise or would be likely arise from disclosure, for example, if disclosure would be likely to prejudice a criminal investigation or prejudice someone’s commercial interests.

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE JOHNSON TORY GOVERNMENT’S EXCUSE IN THE ‘CYGNUS’ CASE THOUGH, eh? Guilty Secrecy perhaps!]]

Despite the glaring evidence to the contrary, a Department of Health spokesperson has said (LIED) recently that ‘”The coronavirus outbreak calls for decisive action, at home and abroad, and the World Health Organisation recognises that ‘the UK is one of the most prepared countries in the world for pandemic flu’, and that as the public would expect, we regularly test our pandemic plans so ‘the learnings from previous exercises have helped allow us to rapidly respond to COVID-19’. We are committed to be as transparent as possible, and in publishing the SAGE evidence the public are aware of the science behind the government’s response”

One has for example to seriously question the UK’s policy of ‘seven-days isolation’ for suspected coronavirus cases, when public health expert doctors here have warned of a risk of infection beyond seven days from symptom onset [the UK guidance says people who develop symptoms should isolate themselves for seven days, whereas, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends DOUBLE that, and people should only end their isolation after 14 days without symptoms] – all other countries are working to the WHO guidelines on this, so just why does the UK think it always knows better, and as we’ve seen, has had to pay the consequences of increased cases of infection and moreover deaths – crass pig-headed stupidity, or what?

As of 26th May 2020, getting 4½ million cases worldwide have been confirmed, of which close to 2¼ million are active, and some 46 thousand remain classified as serious/critical (the first peak was at just 12 thousand).

Major outbreaks have currently occurred [ranked here in number order] in 1.USA, now by far the worse hit in case numbers 1,706,226 cases- 31% of all], 2.Brazil [376,669 cases – 7 % of all cases], 3.Russia [353,427 cases – 6% of all cases], 4.Spain [282,480 cases – 5% of all cases], 5.UK [261,184 cases – 5 % of all cases], 6.Italy [230,158 cases- – 3¼ % of all cases], 7.France [182,942 cases – 4 % of all cases], 8.Germany [180,789 cases- 3¼% of all cases], 9.Turkey [157,814 cases – 2¾ of all cases], 11.Iran 137,724 cases- 2½ % of all cases], 14.Central China, where it all started [82,992 cases – 1½ % of all cases], 13.Canada [85,711 cases – 1½ % of all cases], 10.India [145,456 cases- 2½ % of all cases], 19.Belgium [57,342 cases- 1 % of all cases], 21.Netherlands [45,445 cases- ¾ % of all cases], 28.Switzerland [30,746 cases ½% of all cases], 27.Portugal [30,788 cases –½%of all cases], 25.Sweden [33,843 cases – ½% of all cases], 41.Austria [16,539 cases – ¼% of all cases], 47.South Korea [11,225 cases –¼% of all cases], while some 350 thousand people have died [overall mortality rate is now 6.2%) – some 4,634 [just over 1¼ % of all deaths] are in mainland China so now some 99% (over 343 thousand) deaths are in other countries, but with 32,877 [9½% of all deaths] in Italy and 26,837 deaths in Spain [7¾ % of all deaths] although in total nearly 2½ million people are reported recovered [42% of all cases but actually down from about 55% some time ago]

 

Here in the UK, we have seen a shameful and an utterly ineffective government response to the grave dangers from this ongoing ‘of international proportions’ public health emergency and one which has involved a clueless Prime Minister, at the outset offering worthless platitudes of reassurance to the public and uttering the barefaced lie that Britain and the NHS was well geared-up to deal with what many of us predicted was undoubtably to be a mass-killer pandemic, eh? That is crass political and health stupidity when the bulk of us knew full well that the NHS is broke both financially and resource wise, so has been on its knees and trembling every year for decades now about the potential devastating impact on UK hospital resources of just an ordinary winter flu epidemic [which in the past half-decade has killed an estimated average of 17,000 people annually (but had a high of 28,330 in 2014/15) – in context the coronavirus has so far resulted in 36,914 deaths in the UK in just 5 months this year – more so, even a PM spokesperson had warned that the coronavirus was likely to spread significantly, as it indeed has!

The blatant lie has been fully demonstrated by subsequent events which have exposed facts like the NHS had insufficient bed capacity [at the twelfth hour the Government just a month ago commandeered the first of some ten makeshift hospital facilities planned (7 ‘Nightingale Hospitals’ at London, Birmingham, Manchester, Harrogate Yorkshire, Bristol, Washington NE, and Exeter, plus also 3 similar hospitals being set up in other countries Cardiff, Glasgow, & Belfast), with the first being the east London venue of the ExCeL centre, but at potentially some enormous expense (£3million a month in rent was to be charged by Adnec, the Abu Dhabi owners which would result in untold millions of NHS cost – that’s in stark contrast to another of the one planned, at the NEC in Birmingham [now operational as scheduled on 10th April with 500 beds and 5,000-bed capacity], owned by the American private equity giant Blackstone, which is providing the venue for free. That news resulted in Adnec backing down on their full billing plans – but saying only that it would scrap a ‘contribution to some fixed costs’ that had been demanded from the NHS)]. The temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital North West with up to 750 beds, located at the ex-Manchester Central railway station that had since been become the GMEX convention centre was converted to a hospital and opened following less than 3 weeks of work so was ready to receive patients on Easter Sunday – 13 April

The first NHS Nightingale Hospital (London) was officially opened on 3 April. As of 27th April 2020 five if the seven planned hospitals have been opened (so the 5 running are London, Manchester, Harrogate Yorkshire, Bristol, and Birmingham (a step-down facility) and the 2 still to open are Washington NE, and Exeter.

IF THESE HOSPITALS WERE INDEED REQUIRED FOR UK CAPACITY THEN WHY WEREN’T THESE BUILT AS PERMANENT HOSPITALS BEFOREHAND as they would have then had inherent value which they certainly don’t have when cuckooing in temporary premises, AND WHY DID JOHNSON SAY we had adequate facilities, do you think?

This new London hospital facility was built with the help of up to 200 soldiers a day (from the Royal Anglian Regiment and Royal Gurkha Rifles), working long shifts alongside NHS staff and over 160 contractors. The NHS have kitted it out, but again all at undisclosed substantial cost (£?million) and in 9 days (an amazing achievement) which had turned it into a makeshift 4000 bed coronavirus field hospital (now called Nightingale Hospital London) to cope with the impending peak of the epidemic. It has been fitted with the framework made from material usually used to make exhibition stands – because it is lightweight and could be constructed quickly – for more than 80 wards, each with 42 beds. Some 500 fully-equipped beds, with oxygen and ventilators, are already in place and there is space for another 3,500, but lack of staff resources (16,00 needed) means that in addition to those drawn from local hospitals and trusts, it will have to be staffed significantly with volunteer retired staff and military medical personnel.

[Excel’s existing electrical infrastructure had to be modified to ensure the power supply could cope with demand – and not cut out – and temporary generators and oxygen tanks, to supply the beds, have also been installed]

Then a couple of weeks ago, a successful national campaign was launched by government to sign-up ¼ million public volunteers to become NHS Volunteer Responders, who can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as: delivering medicines from pharmacies; driving patients to appointments; bringing them home from hospital; or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home. [NHS Volunteer Responders apparently is not intended to replace local groups helping their vulnerable neighbours but is an additional service provided by the NHS (GPs, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, NHS 111 advisers and social care staff will all be able to request help for their at-risk patients via a call centre run by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), who will match people who need help with volunteers who live near to them].

Furthermore, it transpires that the NHS didn’t have anything like the required numbers (only a quarter) of ventilators needed by hospitals to help their critically ill respiratory patients to take a breath and avoid death [a ventilator takes over the body’s breathing process when disease has caused the lungs to fail – this gives the patient time to fight off the infection and recover] – WHY WAS THAT for goodness sake?

Well, for a start, the government didn’t order them earlier in this crisis, so other counties have secured the available manufactures’ stock and future output – leaving our government scabbling about trying to get UK companies like defence firm Babcock and engineering company Dyson, to take on ventilators as a new product line and possibly create new designs, no less? [indeed, the government has placed firm orders for 10,000 machines from Dyson] The UK needed an estimated 30,000 units to deal with the coronavirus peak but there were only 8,000 units then available, eh? The UK had hoped to source another 30,000 ventilators (but that requirement has subsequently been lowered to 18,000) for the NHS by ordering newly designed models, scaling up production of existing ones, and importing machines from overseas [the proven heavy-duty machine models suited for hospital use, are already made by the specialist UK firm Penion, while another specialist UK firm Smiths, currently produces a lightweight portable “paraPac” ventilator (how many units have been EXPORTED THOUGH instead of going to the NHS?)]. There were in fact subsequently 10,120 available ventilators, with around 1,000 acquired from the private health sector and the rest from imports and orders from small suppliers

DOES ANY OF THAT SOUND TO YOU LIKE THE UK BEING WELL PREPARED, as Johnson HAD previously claimed, eh?

  • [The large majority of people (80%) with Covid-19 – the disease caused by coronavirus – should recover without needing hospital treatment, but one person in six will likely become seriously ill and can develop breathing difficulties.
  • In these severe cases, the virus causes damage to the lungs. The body’s immune system detects this and expands blood vessels so more immune cells enter.
  • But this can cause fluid to enter the lungs, making it harder to breathe, and causing the body’s oxygen levels to drop.
  • To alleviate this, a machine ventilator is used to push air, with increased levels of oxygen, into the lungs.
  • The ventilator also has a humidifier, which modifies adds heat and moisture to the medical air so it matches the patient’s body temperature.
  • Patients are given medication to relax the respiratory muscles so their breathing can be fully regulated by the machine]

Apparently, also the government had previously failed to join an EU scheme to procure ventilators, because it had missed an invitation to do so owing to a ‘communication problem’, no less? OR was it a political decision, perhaps?

These are simply more glaring examples of centralised disgraceful failures to adequately deal with this mammoth health crisis by the incompetent Johnson government – all mouth and no trousers, you see?

Worryingly, despite the PM’s initial false assurances about our NHS resource capability, weeks ago some people who were confirmed to have contracted the virus were actually having to be treated at home rather than in hospital — some unfathomable and unsatisfactory NHS change of policy, don’t you think?

Well, just compare and consider the situation of lowly war ravaged for 20 years Vietnam, the easternmost country on the Southeast Asian Indochinese Peninsula and the 15th most populous country in the world (96 million), which might have been expected to have suffered a terminal blow by the ravages of Covid-19, but NOT SO in practice, despite the fact that is shares a 870 mile porous border to the North with China itself, and moreover faced other challenges including poverty, corruption and inadequate social welfare. Remarkably however, it suffered UNDER 300 VIRUS CASES and NOT A SINGLE VIRUS DEATH, and now begins to LIFT ITS LOCKDOWN, as it had employed a successful strategy of CONTAINING the virus – achieved by a TESTING regime combined with effective and diligent targeted CONTACT TRACING to halt the spread, by quickly identifying and physically tracking down potential carriers, and so to encircle small clusters of the disease, as well as the country having instituted a strategy of mass QUARANTINE of up to 80,000 people (initially arrivals from China, South Korea, Italy, Iran – half of them housed in government facilities like military barracks and university dormitories). Furthermore, all incoming international flights had been halted in late March

[ie ALL THINGS that the UK GOVERNMENT DIDN’T BOTHER TO DO, which explains just why we are in the Khazi and they are not, doesn’t it?]

While, Germany which may have a quarter less coronavirus cases as UK but we have had over 420 percent more deaths [and it has a LOW mortality rate of 23] and even Iran with some half of our cases has just a fifth of our fatalities – why, why, why? Well, it’s not by luck you can be sure. In the case of Germany, it might well be related to the level of testing and the fact that they started with the greatest number of intensive care beds and facilities of any country in Europe, don’t you think?

Despite recording 174,098 coronavirus cases, Germany has just 7,861 deaths – a lot fewer than the UK or France. It all comes down to a combination of demographics, testing, and chance

As the UK had very little direct exposure to the previous SARS virus from China [only four cases were recorded here, with zero deaths] no lessons were learnt from that outbreak. Now, regarding the current situation, in reality, the one and only practical thing that the UK government did at the outset about coronavirus was to launch a minimalistic lacklustre campaign to advise people to properly wash their hands with soap and water [aka the scrub-up a surgeon doctor does] – but that didn’t even attempt to properly explain the reasons why, so that message is likely to have been ineffective, isn’t it? It’s even more unlikely that such a message would be heeded when delivered by our ‘generally untrusted’ politicians – only health professionals should have been used for this important advice, don’t you think?

[Hand washing both helps people stop contracting coronavirus and also stops them spreading it. That is because apart from being airborne, the virus can live on and be picked up on, or be deposited by, hands from surfaces, like say door handles or taps, and then it gets ingested through eyes, ears, and mouth into your respiratory system.

Soap works on coronavirus and indeed most viruses because the virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and becomes inactive). SOAP IS IN FACT THE ‘MOST’ EFFECTIVE WAY TO DESTROY A VIRUS FROM THE SKIN OR INDEED ANY SURFACE OR ARTICLE and is much more effective than hand gels or wipes (and much much cheaper to boot)] 

The dirty truth is that men are particularly irresponsible about hand washing after urinating using a public toilet, and the majority [63 per cent in 2015 study] can’t be bothered to even do that basic but essential act of personal hygiene, so they will inevitably leave bacteria, bugs and disease behind for others to pick up [while it is perhaps less significant, women at 39 per cent aren’t quite as bad]

[Reportedly, bathroom-door handles have so much bacteria on them, you could use one to colonize Mars, and additionally, flushing actually launches aerosolized toilet funk into the air, which can travel up to six feet. That means virtually everything you touch in the bathroom could be coated with a fine mist of invisible poo particles so when toileting, it’s possible to have faecal material and faecal bacteria get onto your hands,” (by-products of ingesting faecal matter include E. Coli and hepatitis.)]

With respect to coronavirus risk alone the government should have, as a minimum surely, provided and forced all public toilets to display their hand-washing message on a printed notice or even to have required an automatic recording to be played to everyone using the facility (as happens on some cruise ships)?

Health and Social Care Secretary, hapless Matt Hancock, had publicly said he would do everything in his power to support the NHS, so why was there, and still is there, a substantial lack of Personal Protection Equipment available to those staff at the front end and not even sufficient numbers of aprons let alone specialized respirator masks to stop medical and care staff themselves getting coronavirus infected due to very close contact with infected patients and clients? Disgracefully, doubtless to cover-up for equipment shortages, the rules were suddenly relaxed and changed to instruct NHS staff to deal with potential coronavirus patients without using any PPE whatsoever or to reuse ‘single use’ deemed items, or to use PEE with multiple patients, or even to use just standard lab-coats, and that puts their own lives and safety at risk, doesn’t it? Hopeless Hancock should get on his bike

It is noteworthy that Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance has now hit the media with a claim that he had signed-off a Whitehall risk assessment paper, and had warned Ministers last year, before Covid-19 emerged, that plans needed to be made by Ministers as there was a very-high risk of a viral pandemic hitting the UK that would be highly transmissible and highly virulent, meaning that half the population would be infected, and it would have a devastating impact regarding deaths and on the economy – he apparently he urged that pandemic preparation were made urgently, called for plans to bring home Brits stranded abroad, plans to monitor and contact-trace infected patients and manage a surge in deaths, and he also urged the stockpiling of PPE. NONE of these thigs actually happened though, did they?

NO. Well, Johnson and his other government ministers like Matt Hancock, now claim that the right steps have been taken at the right time, and furthermore, they have repeatedly and consistently said they have been guided throughout by the best medical and scientific advice – however the evidence would strongly suggest otherwise though (perhaps political influence as well has played a part?), and that SOMEONE’S definitely lying through their teeth with a smile, eh?

Its unfathomable why the British government didn’t at least screen here in some manner those thousands of people who had flown back from Wuhan in January or entering the Country from China, when it became obvious there was a major coronavirus health problem there, as was reported in December to the World Health Organisation (WHO), isn’t it? Certainly, we know that a student at York University and a relative are known to also have brought the virus back from China to York at the start of February.

In another astounding ball dropping ‘faux pas’ by the government and one which has doubtless cost many British lives, has been its crass incompetence and lack of foresight about the impending pandemic’s associated consequences. You see the British public and frontline staff have been badly let down by a government that took no action whatsoever to stop the vile profiteers who, as should have been ‘predicted’, have eagerly latched onto the myriad of opportunities offered by the war on the pandemic, whence for example we have seen suppliers of critical PPE, employing extreme exploitation of supply and demand and putting prices of their goods up by eight times when it was in tremendously short supply, as well as other companies blatantly manipulating their prices on essential goods or coronavirus protection products needed by the public such as viral spays, wipes, hand-wash, and facemasks (prices of masks and sanitisers up by as much as 2,000%), or even toilet rolls, to rake-in massive excess profits, which just WASN’T allowed in other countries, was it? N0, and we had already seen that the likes of Taiwan had ensured availability of face masks there by implemented a rationing system and setting the price at just 16 cents (about 30 pence) each, eh?

[Profiteering is not technically illegal unless it involves committing a crime]

While our government simply took no steps whatsoever to regulate prices of hand sanitiser or other protective kit or anything else relating to the coronavirus for that matter, it has been left to the likes of Amazon and eBay to act independently to remove tens of thousands of listings in a struggle to limit or prevent profiteering as the bad boys relentlessly attempted to cash in on coronavirus fears by raising prices.

Profiteering action is also known as Price gouging and occurs when a seller increases the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair. Usually, this event occurs after a demand or supply shock.

In Britain we failed to protect our fellow citizens, and particularly those who were most vulnerable like even frontline workers, when we should have been well aware of the prevalence of war profiteering, and indeed its occurrence in peacetime when ‘fear-based’ problems and hoarding conditions exist, as we inevitably have in a pandemic. Certainly, in WW2 the UK issued orders included maximum price controls to prevent businesses from profiteering and large fines were undeniably imposed on organisations that charged increased prices, or deliberately created shortages, or failed to meet production obligations set-out for the war effort. Many other countries, including most American States, DO have statutory prohibitions on price gouging, thus protecting people from exploitative increases in the costs of essential goods – in USA which become effective once a state of emergency or disaster has been declared by the President of the United States or the State’s governor

In what has become predictable reaction by the UK government during this crisis of ‘too little too late’, when the deed was done and the profiteers had already made their killing, the government set up about a month ago a new UK taskforce to crack down on coronavirus profiteers. The competition watchdog CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) has been asked (belatedly) to act against traders raising prices on goods and companies that cash in during the outbreak by bumping up prices or exploiting people’s fears with misleading claims about products [The CMA said it had already contacted traders and online trading platforms about excessive pricing of hand sanitiser, sales of which have soared as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the virus and action will be taken against firms that breach consumer protection or competition laws if they do not respond to warnings (WOW?). The taskforce will also advise government on emergency legislation if problems cannot be addressed through existing powers].

[On another matter, some five months after the horse had bolted, the governments is finally ‘planning’ to introduce (early next month), a two weeks’ quarantine restriction for returning UK citizens and foreigners arriving at UK airports and seaports (still no temperature testing for fever though, but incoming passengers would have to fill-out a health information based landing card and provide a committed address at which they will ‘self-isolate’ – touted as a radical plan, but it’s not really so formative, considering that it simply is a crib and replicates (though less stringently, as passengers themselves can choose where to stay and might not adhere to it?) one which Singapore had introduced  some 2 months ago, by issuing such notices to serve a 14-day self-isolation at dedicated Stay-Home Notice (SHN) facilities. to citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders, returning from abroad

This two weeks’ quarantine plan which is not to be applied selectively nor be symptomatically based will further ‘devastate’ the UK aviation industry and the British wider economy, so a much better idea would have been to allow people INSTEAD to undertake a CERTIFIED two weeks’ quarantine in their country of residence BEFORE actually traveling to the UK and indeed to put in place reciprocal arrangements HERE for British citizens, intending to travel abroad, to undertake just such a quarantine at government special dedicated STAY-HOME residential facilities setup say in military or university accommodation or even in diversely located specified hotels with own room and toilet, to have all their meals provided, and so avoid physical contact with other individuals – that should mean that they can subsequently travel overseas and not be subject to a quarantine there]

As there was a significant risk  monthsw ago of the virus becoming more widespread, we might have expected the UK government to have advised then against travel to certain counties or places and to identify the danger of going on cruises (which heightens the risk of coronavirus infection as passengers can come from many countries and are contained in large numbers in an enclosed environment wherever the ship is heading). Had the government done that, then people could have played safe and cancelled holidays and cruises and been covered by holiday insurance, but instead have put themselves at risk because the government had sanctioned their travel and holiday plans [note P&O have recently changed their cancellation policy because of coronavirus and bookings can now be deferred without financial penalty)

Another consideration had to be the cancelling of events involving large gatherings of people which enable rapid inter-contamination, but so far, the government haven’t done anything in that respect and indeed international canine event Crufts 2020 in Birmingham, to which around 160,000 people went (the lowest turnout ever seen because of coronavirus visitor fears) went ahead at the start of March, and ran for 4 days when some had said that the event was “too big to cancel over some unfounded fears”, eh?

 

The three UK sporting events that almost certainly have led to a coronavirus death spike, were The Cheltenham Festival, Liverpool’s tie with Atletico Madrid and the Manchester football derby all resulted in more coronavirus cases and deaths All three events, each attended by tens of thousands of people, many from overseas, were held between March 8 and 13 – after the virus arrived in Britain but ahead of the government late lockdown. Analysis, shows that each fixture is linked to between 2.5 and 3.5 additional deaths per day at local hospitals 20 to 35 days later, compared with similar hospital trusts which were used as a control This analysis suggests there IS a correlation between mass gatherings and infection and therefore mortality which needs to be investigated further.

The close proximity of people and likelihood of someone carrying the disease make transmission far more likely to happen

Then after Crufts followed-on the 2020 Cheltenham Festival horse racing, with its highlight day of the prodigious Gold Cup, which was somehow sanctioned by the UK government, so remained open and went ahead over 4 days (10 Mar 2020 – 13 Mar 2020) on the edge of the Cotswolds in the county of Gloucestershire,. It was NOT cancelled despite the coronavirus pandemic and valid fears that the virus could rapidly spread at the Festival [oh yes, the racecourse put in measures said to try to mitigate the threat – including bringing in extra toilets and staff to keep them hygienic, and setting up hand sanitiser stations around the course, but that was basically just a sop so they could say they were doing everything possible, but those extra facilities didn’t really made a scrap of difference to the risk, did they?

The organisers of the Cheltenham Festival, owned by of the Jockey Club, in a letter explaining why it was going ahead, despite concerns about the Covid-19 outbreak, have cited Boris Johnson’s rugby outing as a valid reason for its go-ahead. That justification invoked the presence of the PM at the England v Wales international rugby match at Twickenham on Saturday 7 March three days before the race meeting was due to begin [however, the Festival really cannot be compared with a rugby match (in the main, people go to a rugby match and then go home, whereas a significant number of people who went to the Cheltenham Festival stayed in the area and also went into the town – that hardly meets the ‘stay-at-home’ rule, does it?).

Also, the organisers reportedly claimed that the government guidance is for ‘the business of the country to ‘continue as usual’, while ensuring adherence to and promotion of the latest public health advice’. Bunkum?

The organisers quoted as well, the confusing advice from the then chief medical officer of Scotland, Catherine Calderwood, who said: “There’s actually very little impact on virus spread from mass gatherings, particularly if they are in the open air” (talk about mixed messages, eh?). Speaking at Murrayfield ahead of Scotland’s Six Nations clash with France, Calderwood had likewise said: “I’ve looked at the scientific evidence very carefully, and what’s emerging is that there’s actually very little impact on virus spread from mass gatherings, particularly if they are in the open air. This is not a risk to the Scottish population in hosting this match.” She is equally the incompetent medical officer who allowed Prince Charles and wife Camilla to jump the queue ahead of frontline workers and have virus tests they weren’t eligible for in Scotland, when they had travelled there against the rules to a second home.

[Calderwood herself was forced to resign her post after facing intense criticism for breaking her own rules to twice also visit her own second home during the coronavirus outbreak].

Here in England we have had another example of senior government figures simply ignoring of the rules when scientist Prof Neil Ferguson (the epidemiologist leader of the team at Imperial College London, whose advice prompted Boris Johnson to introduce the lockdown), who frequently appeared in the media to support the lockdown and had lectured the public on the need for strict social distancing in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus, had to resign and therefore step-back from his involvement in Sage [the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies], after himself flouting lockdown rules to meet his married lover for trysts on at least two occasions – he allowed the woman who had only just finished a two-week spell self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus, to visit him at home during the lockdown and was exposed by The Telegraph newspaper. Moreover, he like other public health experts and senior government figures involved in supposedly leading the Country and the fight against the virus, had himself previously also tested positive for coronavirus (all a bit worrying, eh?)

packed in tight at the Cheltenham Festival 

It seemed to be an astounding controversial decision by the UK government to take the risk and allow this Cheltenham event to go ahead in light of the fact that it broke ALL the rules of lockdown, with attendees traveling long distances from far and wide, with some 60,000 to over 70,000 racegoers flocking daily to the Gloucestershire course [more than 250,000 punters are estimated to have visited over the four days of the Festival], amid clear evidence of TOTAL abandonment of SOCIAL DISTANCING rules, which have banned ALL public gatherings of anyone not from the same household, as masses of people were TIGHTLY PACKED TOGETHER in the enclosures, stands and bars. It brought people from all parts of the UK and Ireland together, mixed them up and sent them back home. People were in close proximity, shouting, whooping, hollering. If you had someone there transmitting the disease, there was a very great scope for others to become infected and take it home. There followed a huge spike in coronavirus hospital admissions after Cheltenham Festival

[Indeed, a report on lockdown suggests that “public events” account for 60 per cent of a viral reproduction number of one (R1) – the level at which the virus starts to spread again, while according to Imperial College data, opening schools, by contrast, would account for just 30 per cent of R1]

Confirmed deaths of patients with Covid-19 in Gloucestershire hospitals reach 185 as of Friday, May 1, 2020 and leaked data showed that as of April 3 CHELTENHAM itself had the highest number of coronavirus hospital admissions in the COUNTY. What is stark about the stats is just how badly Gloucestershire has been hit by the virus, far surpassing any other region in the South West, almost double the number of cases seen in Devon, the next worst hit county. It was absolutely ludicrous the festival was allowed to take place this year, don’t you think?

Moreover, the lack of community ‘testing and tracing’, had meant it would never be possible to know whether Cheltenham contributed to the UK spread of Covid-19, or the extent of that nor how far it travelled away

[A number of attendees have reported symptoms consistent with the virus and there have been a number of confirmed virus cases within Cheltenham village itself, with a Tesco worker testing positive for COVID-19. Amongst those who definitely caught virus after mixing with the crowds at the Festival were, member of the British royal family and in the line of succession to the Earldom of Macclesfield, Andrew Parker Bowles, comic and actor, the star of sitcom ‘Not Going Out’ Lee Mack and professional footballer for West Bromwich Albion Charlie Austin].

Moreover, the UK should have learned from other countries and gone into serious lockdown at least a couple of months ago, whence doubtless we could have avoided the massive scale of destruction the virus has delivered here. Even so, it has then been left to the likes of the English FA to take independent action and suspend all Premier League and EFL football games and stop the public attending football matches. While, with the connivance of the government, it might have been business as usual at Cheltenham last month, a host of other responsible sports have announced the cancellation of their big events, with the NBA ending the season early, Formula 1 calling off the Australian Grand Prix and the annual PGA ‘The Players Championship’ (TPC) tournament at Sawgrass scrapped.

Liverpool verses Atlético Madrid (space less)

Regarding football, little less than 2 months ago, coronavirus was beginning to grip Britain, and there were almost 600 cases, UK deaths were being counted and doctors in northern Italy were warning of the nightmare to come. Yet on 11 March, in the very same week as the Cheltenham Festival, a Champions League match (the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie). did though take place on Merseyside, between Liverpool and Atlético Madrid. That was despite the statistic that Madrid emerged as one of Europe’s first hotspots for the spread of Covid-19 in early March, a fact that resulted in La Liga games swiftly being moved behind closed doors (indeed Atlético had been ordered to play matches at their own home ground behind closed doors) and then ultimately postponed. However, despite that action being taken, Atletico were allowed to travel to England to play against the reigning European champions

It was attended by 52,000 people, including 3,000 from Madrid, at a time when Spain was already in partial lockdown, gatherings of more than 1,000 people had been banned in Spain, and the UK had also introduced its own lockdown measures including social distancing, although the banning mass gatherings was not a UK government priority at the time, and only later did Johnson finally advise against large-scale events. The fact that the Madrid fans were UNABLE to attend matches in their home city yet could travel to a game in Liverpool was absurd, but nevertheless the Government and UEFA decided the game should go ahead. Following several deaths in their city which have been blamed on that football game, and anger over Atlético fans attending Anfield, Madrid officials are to investigate the potential Covid-19 link. Moreover, some here say it is scandalous if people had contracted the virus as a direct result of an event that shouldn’t have taken place. There remain fears that it had turbo-charged the spread of the killer disease, and indeed the stats would indicate that it is actually true, considering that Liverpool had only six confirmed coronavirus cases when the match took place, since which 246 people have died in Liverpool NHS hospitals from the disease. Indeed, back in mid-March there were just 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Merseyside as a whole at the time, but a month late by mid-April, there were nearly 3,000, with 448 deaths recorded in the region’s hospitals.

The number of coronavirus cases in Liverpool rose sharply after the match on 11 March and the 5-14 days virus pre-symptomatic/incubation period and other cCharts and maps are showing how coronavirus has spread across Greater Manchester in five weeks

Data usually lags a few days and figures for the yellow columns are likely to be revised upwards when NHS England issues further updatesThe number of coronavirus deaths in Manchester rose sharply after the derby match between Man City and Man Utd on 8 March and the following 5-14 days virus pre-symptomatic/incubation period. Exactly five weeks after the first confirmed Covid-19 death in the region (on the same date as the match), there have were some 505 deaths recorded by NHS England, and so a coronavirus patient died every 30 minutes in Greater Manchester hospitals as the pandemic’s deadly toll reached a terrifying new peak. At the same time North west coronavirus case hospital admissions themselves continued to rise

Up until mid-March 2020, the UK was supposed to be in a ‘containment’ phase before moving to a ‘delay’ phase of COVID-19, but what exactly did the government actually DO to enact containment and then delay. In a word virtually NOTHING [SO BOTH PHASES FAILED] and that is why the UK is instead suffering a massive coronavirus expansion and indeed has followed the same track as Italy’s disastrous coronavirus numbers and deaths escalation, and that’s hardly surprising because initially, Italy like the UK did little to stop the spread of coronavirus. Only after it registered more deaths than any other country outside China, and the scale of the crisis became clear, did Italy lock down first the northern region at the centre of the crisis and then the entire country – we in UK have still haven’t introduced any travel bans, applied airport fever screening or significantly locked down ANYTHING, have we? No, and that’s despite having the benefit of seeing the success of major lockdowns in other counties.

In a telling indictment, the Mayor of an Italian town that’s been in the midst of the pandemic, who personally had locked down his town very early on in the crisis, reported in a recent television programme on the severity of the virus and its devastating consequences locally. He disclosed that he had two daughters studying in England and that they were returning home because he said it was safer there in Italy, despite being in an epicentre, because the UK was utterly unsafe as it hadn’t done enough to contain the virus nor was doing enough to protect the population. Many of would understand where he is coming from, wouldn’t we?

All our government has done recently is to unconvincingly tell people (without adequate explanation, it has to be said) “stay at home to save the NHS” [a clever but meaningless phrase dreamt up no doubt by Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff and his chief adviser], but like in all other such matters, mixed messages has been transmitted by those in government about everyone self-isolating (when the Department of Health and Social Care ‘at that time’ said that people should not self-isolate unless they had a fever or a new continuous cough), staying at home, not going out at all, not working nor travelling anywhere,– why then were the members of the House of Lords [792 of the self-indulgent blighters] and 650 MPs from all over the UK still daily or weekly traveling to Westminster, regularly using London tube and public transport, with all of those MPs working in Parliament, hourly all crowding into the House of Commons chamber, filling lobbies, enjoying their members’ main bars and restaurants [which most shockingly have remained open (while those in our communities are shut)], and moreover failing to keep safe separation distances from others including thousands of staff and civil servants, and doubtless further spreading coronavirus far and wide everywhere, as evidenced when we had a number of MPs with symptoms self-isolating including Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner, with the new Chancellor Rishi Sunak working from home as a precaution, Head of Public Health England Duncan Selbie with symptoms self-isolating, even the Chief Medical Officer Prof Whitty with symptoms self-isolating, and MP Kate Osborne, MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle together with Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, plus Health Minister Nadine Dorries, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, as well as PM Boris Johnson himself (now hospitalised), actually testing positive for COVID-19 coronavirus, eh? (Johnson’s pregnant girlfriend ex-head of communications for Conservative Party headquarters Carrie Symonds, in addition to his Downing Street located chief advisor Dominic Cummings supposedly from 30 March at home ‘self-isolating’ after experiencing coronavirus SYMPTOMS – well it turns out though that he and his symptomatic wife while the PM was in hospital with coronavirus, DIDN’T STAY AT HOME but instead flitted-around for weeks and shattered the strict lockdown rules by NOT actually self-isolating, and not even for 7 days let alone 14 days, neither at home nor elsewhere, when as potential carriers of coronavirus, they then even further compounded that by reportedly TWICE escaping from their permanent residence in a highly infected lock-downed London to TWICE make a 250 mile car journey and hence potentially transfer the virus to the then minimally infected North East (Durham which since then has become the 5th worse area for infection) – though illegal somehow, unlike normal people in the public, he wasn’t fined by the police – to blatantly further flaunt the rules and with his sick wife to visit and stay with his over 70 year old vulnerable parents at their home in Durham, thereby risking THEIR lives, plus also visiting a local woods beauty spot, while additionally on his wife’s birthday, taking a further 30 mile daytrip out to the popular tourist destination of Teesdale market town Barnard Castle – so it would seem that Johnson’s personal previous disregard of lockdown regulations HIMSELF simply transfers to those most closely associated with him, while a weak Number 10 intolerably and repeatability defends and basically excuses the barefaced wilful lapses and the implausible explanations of those who should be setting an example, which thereby further erodes public trust in the government and its mixed messaging about dealing with the virus, eh?)

[Oh yes parliament HAD indeed subsequently BEEN PUT INTO shutdown on 25th March, and they all went home for a month, but that was NOTHING to do with something so important as coronavirus crippling the Country, was it? NO, it was simply put in recess for its standard Easter break HOLIDAY and they all tripped back some month ago – bizarre, or what?]

There are only two possible explanations for that whole dire situation of infections within the elite, aren’t there? Yep either those at the top ignored so themselves haven’t followed their own public advice diktat, or the advice itself is crap – but which is it, though?

[We do ‘know’ however that Boris some time ago before he was ill with the virus, together with other Ministers, ignored the rules and attended a Commons crowded PMQs on the Wednesday and that he, Hancock and Whitty, all with crucial coronavirus protection roles, nevertheless had also attended Cabinet on the Tuesday [the Cabinet Secretary ‘Mark Sedwill’ also joined Cabinet but as yet reports no symptoms], while other ministers responsibly just dialled-in INSTEAD. Johnson although he had symptoms also then led on the Thursday the ‘Clap for Carers’ event in Downing Street, without warning others there, like the Chancellor, of his symptoms condition – somewhat irresponsible for someone supposedly setting an example and leading the Country in the fight against the virus, eh? He also chaired the daily COVID-19 emergency committee meeting in his office on the Friday].

How can the public trust those in in charge including the Prime Minister, OR those supposedly public health EXPERTS generating medical advice for them, to look after US when patently they can’t even look after THEMSELVES in that respect?]

Because of government mixed messages’, we have seen that massive numbers of people, against the then government advice, had still been going to work in the UK [like say in the construction industry].

However, the most effective way of keeping companies solvent while controlling or reducing the numbers at work would have been to introduce a 3-Day-week, on the lines of that which was implemented for over 2 months back in 1974 by the Tories [in that case to reduce electricity consumption, and thus conserve coal stocks during the miners’ strike – commercial users of electricity were limited to three specified consecutive days’ consumption each week and prohibited from working longer hours on those days. Services deemed essential (e.g. hospitals, supermarkets and newspaper printing presses) were exempt].

In the current and more important life-threatening coronavirus situation, the equivalent 3-Day-week would mean that all companies and organisations, with essential exemptions of course, were limited to three specified consecutive days’ of work each week and prohibited from working longer hours on those days. That would at a stroke cut-off work opportunity by half or more and achieve what is sought, without resorting to personal persuasion that doesn’t work when there is conflicting pressure like say income

Furthermore, a much better and lest costly way of dealing with this coronavirus epidemic though would have been for the government to have generate sufficient quick and cheap facilities in the UK to test everybody and do so everyday, and then give them clearance certification to allow those who prove to be negative [say for two consecutive days] to go about their normal lives like going to work, socialising and attending events – then the economy and country would not have collapsed in the way it has and businesses would not have gone to the wall

As the current, swab tests used by Public Health England take up to 2 days to get a result in that time, suspected patients could be spreading germs to other people, couldn’t they?

Oh yes the Government had as of last month finally shut indefinitely the schools with resulting impending mayhem for the young of A-level and GCSE exams being cancelled, as the government made another sudden but too-late escalation in its efforts to curb the increasing spread of coronavirus, but it even immediately undermined that message BOTH by saying schools can now be used for ‘childcare’ instead of education by those parents who are deemed key workers [so THEY are ones who should ignore the public advice and still have gone to work, eh? But there is totally inadequate definition of those who are deemed to be key workers, hence even low-paid Macdonald staff believed they fell into that category (as part of the supply chain), no less?] AND surprisingly the government had failed to learn from other counties who had done school closures much earlier – their experience was that such an announcement of school closures resulted in an immediate public panic buying spree and hoarding of food, so did our government caution the population against doing it and shame them against it, or even warn UK grocery retailers of that serious impending problem and suggest avoidance of it by them rationing and limiting customer purchases to normal quantities (as they’re doing now) to avoid the shelves being cleared? NO OF COURSE NOT – they just let the disaster take place whereby a £1billion of food was snatched away from the shelves and hoarded in just three weeks, meaning afterwards nurses and medical staff coming off long shifts couldn’t then buy basic supplies of food for their meals, and that is despite manufacturers increasing production by 50 percent.

The government have made a massive mess of their attempts to educated the British public about coronavirus and lockdown, as their daily TV update, instead of being upbeat, encouraging and usefully informative about the virus and ways of dealing with it, or even identifying the low death rates for many age groups, has simply been a disheartening exposure of demoralizing data showing increasing failure and a continuing downward trend in the UK’s and World’s handing of the crisis – leaving the public more demoralised and ready to slit their wrists, rather than with developing a Blitz mentality that got us through the War , wouldn’t you say?

On top of that, in a shameful display of tribalism of the well-off with affluent lifestyles, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced substantial State financial help for fulltime workers and the self-employed whose income or work opportunities had been hit by the pandemic. Well, one can judge that it was morally right and necessary to do so, but not at the massive overgenerous scale proposed which is most certainly OTT. The people covered by this handout have had many years of substantially higher income and more affluent lifestyle compared to the average worker and many of them will have accrued substantial assets, so why should the ordinary taxpayer now be called upon to allow them to simply continue in an affluent style compared to the rest of society at public expense, do you think? Any additional payments/grants surely should have been means tested or at least only been at the same type of level of unemployment benefit [circa £300/month not the £2,500 or £5,000 proposed].

Then into the bargain all businesses, however rich and capable of taking some of the financial pain, are being allowed to furlough staff (temporary layoff from work – inflexibly was initially ‘full-time’) and the State simply picks-up the wages tab, with the taxpayer facing a £60BILLION hit [half of UK companies are seeking to furlough staff over coronavirus, and the Treasury itself has estimated that about 3m people, or 10 per cent of the private sector workforce, will be furloughed, so their employers will take advantage of the government job retention scheme [it has to be said, without facing any restriction (like say a maximum 50 percentage of the workforce that can be so furloughed, or say a £50,000 cap on the total of furloughed salaries or employer must pay the other 20%), or some penalty (like say loss of tax relief on Corporation tax), or some disincentive (like say a special furloughed tax of 20% of total avoided wages), otherwise it is a no-brainer for firms just to furlough everybody, isn’t it?].

The fact is that companies should exhaust all financial revenues before turning to the taxpayer, but that’s not happening, is it? No and moreover despite the scheme’s objectives of preventing avoidable unemployment some employers are bucking the traces and simply sacking staff. The furlough arrangements SHOULD have been accompanied by statuary REDUNDANCY obligations place on employers who release staff (say perhaps a minimum of 6 months redundancy pay)

Moreover, the taxpaying public would have expected those individuals of great personal wealth should use their own resources at this time of crisis, whereas at least 20 billionaires are amongst 63 of the County’s richest people to pocket public funding to pay their companies’ workers under ‘mad as a hatter’ Rishi Sunak’s government’s furlough scheme.

So, we have second in the rich list (and worth £16billion) Sri and Gopi Hinduja brothers furloughed360 staff of bus & coach building company Optare, founded 1985, a leading British manufacturer of urban buses with a modern assembly facility near Leeds, Yorkshire, and part of Ashok Leyland, one of the top 4 global bus producers, and part of the Hinduja Group (Optare 2016/17 revenue £35million, financial results for the year showed a net loss of £14.7m compared to a loss of £15.7m in the previous period, largely due to a drop in UK volume, INVESTMENT IN EXPORTS and EV vehicle DEVELOPMENT. The key highlights for the period end are that Optare entered 2018/19 with significantly LOWER level of DEBTS); Jim Ratcliffe fifth in the rich list (and worth over £12billion) as co-owner of The Pig hotel chain of seven hotels (2017 Turnover at The Pig’s parent company ‘Home Grown Hotels’ reached £21m as occupancy at The Pig rose to 93%) which has furloughed most of its staff, while his other company chemical giant Incos hasn’t done so YET; property tycoons brothers worth £16billion) David and Simon Reuben furloughed some 750 business staff; music and media baron worth £16billion Leonard Blavatnik also used furlough ; Philip Green worth nearly £1billion furloughed 14,500 (30%) of his Arcadia retail staff; Mike Ashley worth nearly £2billion Frasers Group has put most of its 18,000 employees on furlough; while others like Victoria Beckham (worth £370million) and Spurs owners Joe Lewis (worth 4billion) and Daniel Levy (worth £329million) ditched using the scheme but only did so following public backlash

Regarding use of furlough, THEN, we have ALSO the glaring RIP-OFF example of CP Plus the NHS car park firm that plans to furlough staff (so we pick-up the cost of part funding the company’s £5.8m wages bill) as well as deferring tens of thousand of pounds of due VAT payments, when NOT ONLY has it just declared an annual pre-tax profit of £4.5m on £20m of turnover, BUT ALSO the two owners have just taken £16m out of the business, while nevertheless the taxpayer bales-out their company and is hit hard for such unwarranted emergency coronavirus substantial funding – Rishi Sunak needs to put his brain into gear and sort-out this ‘self-created’ mess, don’t you think?

Companies which are tax avoiders, who make hugh profits but hide them in tax havens so don’t pay into the exchequer what they should in fair share, aren’t excluded so are nevertheless extensively using the furlough, bailout, and state aid schemes [you see, international corporations use complex financial structures to move their income and costs around the world to cut their tax bill liabilities – so 20 of Britain’s BIGGEST companies operate more the a thousand subsidiaries in off-shore tax havens and/or have overseas head offices]. Other countries like France, Denmark, and Poland deny state aid to such firms, and so should Britain unless they commit to ditching their tax havens to returning to UK for tax purposes and so pay here a proper and fair tax share

As well, those companies owned by wealthy Tory donors, as you’d expect, have also been allowed to get their snouts in the government’s state aid cash trough with its over-generous, inadequate and poorly formulated coronavirus compensation scheme

So we have the likes of Staffordshire-based construction equipment and agricultural machinery firm JCB [a 75 year old business with a profitability of £447million and a record annual turnover of £4.1BILLION last year], owned by Lord Bamford [family wealth £4BILLION (given a peerage 7 years ago who has pledged £10million to the Conservatives), furloughing MOST of its 6,500 staff

Or the UK’s No. 1 Homewares retailer with ‘169 superstores’, ‘three high street store’s and ‘an online website’, the giant British furniture maker, homewares and furnishings retailer, firm Dunelm [founded in 1979 but enhanced in 2016 with the acquisition of the Worldstores Group (comprising the Worldstores, Achica and Kiddicare retail brands) that in summer 2018 delivered the impressive trading results of £140million profit with a turnover of over £1BILLION, and said then to be well positioned for growth, and then as sales soared it made another £85million profit last year]; Deputy Chairman Will Adderley last year arranged through his private investment firm, a ½ million donation to the Conservatives. However, ‘Dunelm’ is now furloughing the VAST MAJORITY of its 10,000 staff, despite last month actually reopening its online business after making coronavirus safety changes.

In addition, we have the example of German discount chain B&M [2019 a massive pre-tax profit of £96 million – but a drop due to a “disappointing” first half performance of its business in Germany] that briefly furloughed staff and closed 49 of its 660 stores; Tory donor Simon Arora and his two brothers have made about £1million from the company including £230million by selling shares

The government’s coronavirus scheme, which also includes a three-month business rates holiday, covers four-fifths of a worker’s wages up to £2,500 a month, which means those earning at least a very sizable £30,000/year salary (well more than average income).

Within the bailout of the business GIANTS, we have the likes of Marriott, the world’s largest hotel company, which expects to furlough tens of thousands of employees’, as well as major outfits like British Airways [a large majority of employees, more than half of its 45,000 workers (30,000 cabin crew and ground staff furloughed for the next two months, though making some 12,000 redundant was dropped), despite it making a whopping £1.6 BILLION PROFIT last year], Virgin Atlantic, EasyJet, Nissan, Arcadia and Ovo energy (the second largest UK supplier after BG, with 5 million retail customers, 5 million employees and a turnover of some 1,000 million pounds) – all planning to furlough workers and joining the likes of Greggs, Costa, McDonald’s and Primark, so experts predict that as many as 6.1million private sector employees (at least double the Treasury figure) could be furloughed].

It is unclear why AIRLINES that ought to be strong and resilient enough, find themselves in such financial peril that they require hugh UK government bailouts. Although they’ve avoided paying their fair share of taxes and have dodged responsibility for their climate-wrecking emissions, they now want to get a free ride from this virus crisis, when for example billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson (who founded Virgin Atlantic in 1984 and retains a 51% stake), hasn’t paid the exchequer ANY UK personal income tax for 14 years since moving to the tax-free British Virgin Islands, , but he’s as well as furloughing 8,000 Virgin staff is also pleading for UK government support and asking for a £500 million taxpayer bailout for his mammoth airline comprising Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Holidays and Cargo [although, for 2018 it reported a pre-tax loss of £26.1 million before tax and exceptional items following-on from a £49m loss in 2017, it nevertheless reported being in a strong cash position, while its overall revenue was a hugh £150m, and passenger numbers had grown to 5.4 million, with results displaying positive growth in passenger unit revenue (passenger revenue per available seat kilometre or PRASK) – that performance had been impacted by the weakness of GBP versus USD, economic uncertainty and the continued shortage of the engines used on Boeing 787 aircraft, but nevertheless an overall result that was said to put the company in a strong position to realise its plan to revive growth and return to profitability. [Its focus is on delivering safe, industry leading service with unrivalled customer experience, and it is number one in IATA customer satisfaction ranking for transatlantic flights and operating its most punctual flying schedule between the US and London Heathrow since 1997]. However, while in the process of applying for emergency loans from the government, it now reports in a shock and devastating announcement that it is to cut more than 3,000 jobs in the UK and plans to end its operation at Gatwick airport where it is the ninth-largest airline. Virgin doubtless will be challenging very hard to justify its actions with 30% of jobs being lost, and whether or not it will be allowed to keep its slots at Gatwick as it intends for a potential return, is a moot point, surely?

Meanwhile, budget airline EasyJet [its latest revenue was £6.39 BILLION with a declared pre-tax profit of £430 million (following on from £445 million for fiscal 2018) and while refusing to cancel a £170 million pay-out made to shareholders just weeks ago, it is nevertheless set to receive £600 million in cheap government loans].

In stark contrast, the low-cost carrier Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, insists it will hit its full-year profit forecasts [so pre-tax profits of between £808million and £940million for this year] despite a collapse in global air travel, though it does not expect passenger demand to recover for at least two years. However, it plans to axe 3,000 jobs (15% of its workforce as the minimum needed just to survive the next 12 months, mainly pilot and cabin crew jobs), as well as also urging some staff to take unpaid leave, and implementing pay cuts of up to 20pc, while planning the closure of a number of aircraft bases across Europe. Rather than furloughing staff, it has apparently chosen to get rid of some of the Prestwick Aircraft Maintenance Ltd (PAML) workers, who service Ryanair planes, (allegedly sacked after they raised their grievances about their pay being halved during the coronavirus lockdown).

Moreover, the airlines dipping-in, all want their money with no-strings-attached, so no promises to clean up their businesses or protect the climate, and no commitments to put their employees before shareholders and bonuses, eh?

Even Chancellor Rishi Sunak, it has to be said without admitting culpability, now admits that the cost of furlough scheme and his other aid was “clearly not a sustainable situation” as he said that Britain must get back to work. In reality more than half of Britain’s adult population (is now being bankrolled by the state amid warnings from the Chancellor that the furlough scheme could soon cost as much as the NHS. Analysis of official figures shows that 27 million people, about 53 per cent out of an adult population of just over 52 million, are now being funded by the Government amid growing concern over the devastating toll to the economy wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. The figure includes people being paid through the furlough scheme and those now claiming benefits after being made unemployed because of the virus. The remainder are public sector workers and pensioners.

Latest official released figures showed 6.3 million people in the UK – almost a quarter of all PAYE employees – have now been put on furlough by their employers at a cost of £8 billion in the first month (while the NHS budget is only slightly more at approximately £11 billion a month). It is one thing to provide welfare help to those workers in most need but it is neither ‘practical’ and nor ‘affordable’ for the State to pay people NOT to work, as is happening now, is it?

IS THIS WHOLE SITUATION ALL GOVERNMENT FINANCIAL MADNESS or what?

Perhaps though, it can AND SHOULD BE ALL BE ultimately paid for by scrapping the irrelevant and Country’s bankrupting Trident replacement programme, as well as the crippling ‘vanity project’ of the inevitably failing HS2 venture, wouldn’t you say? [note furthermore that it has just come to light that NOT ONLY has the HS2 programme gone badly off course with the estimated cost up now to £86billion (significantly more than the original budget of £55.7billion) both at 2015 prices, with further cost increases likely, BUT twice (last May and in October2018), the Department for Transport (DfT) Permanent Secretary Bernadette Kelly appeared and personally misled parliament about the state of play on delivery timeline and budget (ie lied – it would appear under the coercion of political ministers?) and withheld the information that the programme was then in significant difficulty, and consequently the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) cannot be convinced now that the Department and HS2 ltd have the skills and capability needed to deliver it – the public wont and cannot trust the official cost of HS2 (and never could, eh?)

[COUNTRIES IMPOSING RESTRICTIONS BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS@ 27 March 2020

  • The number of restrictions around the World are multiplying rapidly and international travel is becoming very limited as air routes close, land borders close and new restrictions are put in place that prevent flights from leaving.Effective on 17 March for an initial period of 30 days, the Foreign Office (FCO) advised UK nationals against all but essential international travel. Border closures and other travel restrictions are increasing globally.Within the UK, the government is calling on people to avoid travelling at all unless essential and staying at home remaining in their primary residence to avoid putting additional pressure on communities and services that may be already at riskAs of 23 March, the FCO is advising UK nationals who are travelling abroad to return home immediately if commercial flights are still available. FCO also advises UK nationals against all non-essential travel for 30 days and if UK nationals are usually based in the UK, the FCO advises returning if possible, but if you are a permanent resident overseas, you should stay and follow the advice of the local authorities in the country you live inRESTRICTIONS: Countries that have travel restrictions in place that may affect UK nationals (who do not have residencies in other countries).
  • The Gulf countries (Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain) have introduced range of measures like travel bans, stepping up screening measures at important entry points, and rescheduling and in some cases cancelling significant sports and cultural events. aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus. Ban on entry to UK travellers. Some flights and visa-on-arrival schemes suspended. (Need to check with travel providers if transit is permitted before travelling). UAE inbound and outbound flights will stop from midnight (if you’re travelling in the UAE, continue to contact your airline or tour operator regarding any possible return flights: Bahrain; suspension of visa-on-arrival scheme. Self-quarantine for 14 days: ).
  • US has imposed additional travel restrictions regarding Iran, Italy and S Korea and now a ban on entry to UK travellers. Border with Canada closed to non-essential travel from 20 March. Some flights suspended. UK travellers that wish to leave are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, to ensure travel plans can be met.
  • Italy has locked down much of the Country’s North over the Coronavirus – the restrictions affect Milan and the regions that serve as Italy’s economic engine, and are the most sweeping measures outside China
  • Europe supposedly remains open although the EU has proposed that all non-essential travel should be suspended to the European Union for a month which would affect travel from outside the EU, [the UK would be exempt] but the countries, and airports, with restrictions and preventive measures in place is increasing [Albania and Slovenia; all flights suspended: France; some flights suspended.UK nationals can still drive through France to return to the UK. Cross-Channel train and ferry services reduced. Restrictions on non-essential movement from 17 March for 15 days (ie food shopping, medical care, exercise of up to 20 minutes running or walking). Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited: Austria; no direct flights between Austria and the UK, or direct air or rail connections from Austria to Italy, France, Spain or Switzerland. Travellers coming from Italy by road will be stopped at the border and must present a health certificate stating that they are not affected by coronavirus. Ski resorts closed on 15 March in Tirol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg: Greece; self-quarantine for 14 days. Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited; health screenings on arrival likely. Flights from and to UK Italy, Spain and Turkey are suspended: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine; ban on entry to UK travellers (check with airlines and transport providers if transit is permitted before travelling). UK travellers are advised to consider leaving these countries as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult. Flight schedules are reduced, some land/sea borders closed and some non-essential movement restricted: Bosnia-Herzegovina; ban on entry to UK travellers. Flights with UK suspended. All borders are closed: Croatia; ban on entry to UK travellers. Borders closed form 19 March for 30 days: Cyprus; ban on entry to UK travellers. Flights suspended until 4 April at least: Denmark; ban on entry to UK travellers. Some flights suspended. Flights suspended from Greenland from 21 March to at least 4 April. Flights to Faroe Islands severely reduced. Borders with Sweden closed to travellers from 14 March: Andorra, Monaco and the Netherlands; cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours; public transport limited; health screenings on arrival likely. Some flights suspended: Azerbaijan; mandatory quarantine for 14 days. E-visas suspended. Flight schedules reduced. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult: Belgium; flights from outside the EU are suspended. Transit through Belgium requires proof of residence and onward travel. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care). Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours; public transport limited. Some flights suspended: Ireland; self-quarantine for 14 days. Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited; health screenings on arrival likely: Isle of Man; self-quarantine for 14 days: Lithuania; Ban on entry and transit to UK travellers. Countrywide quarantine until 14 April. All commercial flights suspended until further notice. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible: Luxembourg; all passenger flights suspended from 23 March. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care). Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours; public transport limited: Malta travellers in Malta are advised by the Maltese government to leave as soon as possible: Moldova; no direct flights to the rest of Europe. Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Macao, South Korea or Taiwan in the 14 days before arrival: Montenegro; Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Iran and Hubei province of China. Self-quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Slovenia or Austria: Portugal; land border restrictions with Spain until 15 April (ie cross-border commuters and deliveries only). However, UK nationals can still drive through Spain and France to return to the UK. Flights from outside the EU suspended (not including UK, US, Canada, Venezuela, South Africa and Portuguese-speaking countries). Self-quarantine for 14 days for anyone arriving in The Algarve (Faro), the north (Viana do Castelo, Braga, Vila Real, Bragança, Porto, Aveiro, Viseu), the Azores, Madeira and Porto Santo. All campsites closed. Restrictions to non-essential movement are likely to be imposed soon: Romania; ban on entry to UK travellers. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible. Flights, bus, and rail routes from Italy suspended. Large gatherings restricted and some public transport suspended: Slovakia; ban on entry to UK travellers. Commercial charter company Charter Advisory may offer flights to London in the coming days. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving these countries as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult. Flight schedules are reduced, some land/sea borders closed and some non-essential movement restricted: Spain; ban on entry to UK travellers. UK nationals can still drive through Spain to return to the UK. All borders closed for entry from 23 March for 30 days. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible. Hotels and short-stay accommodation must close by Tuesday 24 March (measures do not apply to long-term accommodation, such as long-stay campsites, provided travellers can cater for themselves and do not rely on communal facilities, which will be closed). Some flights suspended. Land-border restrictions (ie cross-border commuters and deliveries only). Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care): Sweden; ban on entry to UK travellers. All Scandinavian Airlines flights suspended. Other travel options are limited: Switzerland; ban on entry to UK travellers. Land border restrictions (ie no non-residents, and cross-border commuters and deliveries only) and some flights restricted (residents only). Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie food shopping, medical care, exercise, those that can’t work from home only). Cultural and sporting activities prohibited; ski resorts closed; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars closed; grocery shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited: Turkey; ban on entry to UK travellers. Direct flights to the UK suspended from 17 March. Aeroflot is scheduling some flights to London via Moscow. Land borders closed. Travellers who test positive on arrival will be quarantined in a government facility for 14 days, and negative test results in 14 days self-quarantine. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult: ] – anyone who has recently travelled to or transited through China have complete ban on entry to Australia, Bahamas, many Caribbean islands, Guatemala, Indonesia, Madagascar, Maldives, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, USA and Vietnam, among others; anyone who has visited Italy recently complete ban on entry to Cook Islands, Fiji, India, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritius, Mongolia, St Lucia, Seychelles and Turkey, among others. (All of these countries also have a ban on entry to anyone who has visited China); Passengers travelling from the UK recently the locations with a ban on people coming from the UK are the Federated States of Micronesia in the Pacific (the islands of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae), the Comoro Islands near Mozambique – both of which have a ban on travellers from all countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus – and the Pacific island of Kiribati. Those coming from the UK will also face immediate quarantine in the Solomon Islands. North Korea has banned all tourists from entering the country; Poland requires anyone travelling from China, Hong Kong, Italy, Korea or Macao to fill in a health declaration form; some of the world’s largest and busiest international airports have announced preventive safety measures. Prague has designated separate gates for all passengers arriving from Italy or China. People travelling from those countries also face screening at Bratislava airport in Slovakia. Similar procedures are currently in place in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Moldova, Bulgaria, Albania and Turkey; UK, airports are acting on the advice of Public Health England (PHE) and have introduced advanced monitoring at airports with direct flights from China. There are also health experts at Heathrow ready to support anyone arriving from China who feels unwell; The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the US has increased screenings at 20 airports, including travellers having their temperature taken and filling out a questionnaire. Anyone with symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing has to undergo an additional health assessment. Passengers arriving in the UAE, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea will also face screenings, with each country varying in terms of flight origin
  • In Asia: Armenia, Bhutan, Israel, Kuwait, Macao, Maldives, Mongolia, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan; ban on entry to UK travellers. Some flights and visa-on-arrival schemes suspended. [Check with travel providers if transit is permitted before travelling]:
  • In Western Pacific: Brunei; ban on entry to UK travellers. Royal Brunei Airlines has suspended direct flight from Brunei to London – currently it is the only airline flying from Brunei, with twice-weekly flights to Hong Kong, Manila, Melbourne, and Singapore:
  • In South-East Asia: Bangladesh; suspension of visa-on-arrival scheme. Self-quarantine for 14 days. All travellers must present a health certificate within three days stating that they are not affected by coronavirus. Some flights suspended. Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in Europe (not including UK): India; ban on entry to all travellers from the UK, EU, and Turkey from 18 March. Flights suspended until 14 April. Non-essential movement severely restricted. Commercial flights suspended until 14 April. All visas and e-visas invalid until 15 April: Myanmar; UK travellers must present a health certificate stating that they are not affected by coronavirus, or self-quarantine for 14 days. UK travellers are advised to leave as soon as possible. Some flights suspended. Transit permitted through Thailand: Nepal; suspension of visa-on-arrival scheme. All land borders closed. All mountaineering expeditions for spring 2020 have been suspended. All travellers require a health certificate stating that they do not have coronavirus: Sri Lanka; no new visas being issued, but those currently in the country can extend visas until 12 April. Airports closed until 31 March. National curfew in place – some areas lifting this curfew on 23 or 24 March and then imposing it again:
  • In Western Pacific: Cambodia; ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Spain or the US: Hong Kong; ban on entry and transit to UK travellers. Some flights suspended: Indonesia; ban on entry to travellers who have been in the UK, Iran, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Switzerland in the 14 days before entry. All visas suspended until 20 April initially. Flights severely disrupted and transit options limited. Indonesia; ban on entry to travellers who have been in the UK, Iran, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Switzerland in the 14 days before entry. All visas suspended until 20 April initially. Flights severely disrupted and transit options limited: Japan; visa on arrival suspended until the end of April initially. Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Iran or Italy in the 14 days before arrival. Restrictions on non-essential movement in Tokyo 28 and 29 March: Laos; borders closed with Thailand. Thai Airlines and Thai Smile have suspended flights between Vientiane and Bangkok. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult: Malaysia; ban on entry to UK travellers. Transit permitted through Kuala Lumpur airport, but not between terminals, so travellers should confirm before travelling. Some flights suspended: Philippines; ban on entry to all UK travellers. Public transportation suspended, limited flights until 13 April: Singapore; ban on entry and transit. UK travellers that wish to leave are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible. Transit not currently permitted: Taiwan; ban on entry to UK travellers until 7 April. Some flights suspended:
  • In Eastern Mediterranean: Jordan; no commercial flights in or out of Jordan, and all land and sea borders closed. Restrictions on large gatherings and non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care): Lebanon; all borders closed and flights suspended until 12 April. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care) and violators could face imprisonment; public and private gatherings banned; two people per car only; public transport suspended: Pakistan; most flights suspended until 4 April. Qatar Airways is planning operating daily flights from Islamabad from 25 March until 3 April, and other airlines may be planning limited services in the next few days. Some borders closed. Large gatherings prohibited. Travellers must present a health certificate stating that they are not affected by coronavirus, issued in the 24 hours prior to arrival: Qatar; ban on entry to UK travellers. Some flights suspended. Transit currently permitted:
  •  NOTE: In practice, virus travel bans and travel restrictions are inevitable but prove ‘ineffective’ because 1. they are imposed too late or 2. people circumvent them]

Inexplicably, in an dereliction of national duty and care, the UK government abandoned and failed to urgently repatriate by air more than 70 British nationals trapped onboard for 2 weeks on the American run Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had been held in ‘quarantined flawed’ conditions that turned it into a disease incubator, off the coast of Japan in the port of Yokohama near Tokyo since February 3, when basic decease control blunders meant that coronavirus spread like wildfire [over 700 cases/12 deaths] – mistakes like, so many people being kept herded together in one place, positive tested crew sharing rooms, toilets and dining spaces, the virus positive ship’s ‘quarantine officer’ going door to door checking on passengers, whence the dire consequence of all that far-off incompetence together with our government’s crass abandonment of our citizens, resulted more than a week later there in a Japan hospital of the first British coronavirus death (a 80 year old man) who caught the virus on the stricken ship – some would say that PM Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab already have blood on their hands, eh?

When the government finally got their finger out some month or more ago, much later than other counties, and rescued our citizens, those 30 repatriated [who all tested negative to having Covid-19 before they flew home] faced another 14-day quarantine at accommodation at Arrowe Park on the Wirral upon arrival in the UK (and were subsequently discharged after being given the all-clear), while the four cruise ship passengers (who were not on the same flight) as they had previously tested positive for coronavirus, were transferred to specialist NHS infection centres

Months ago, the first person to die of coronavirus in the UK occurred but that was only announced almost one week later and indeed five were already dead by the time UK reported the first coronavirus death (a woman in her 70s with underlying health conditions who it was thought contracted the virus in the UK but had not been in contact with any other known cases) – most disturbingly her test results only came back only after she had died [as said, currently swab tests used by Public Health England take 24 to 48 hours to be read by a specialist in a lab. So much for Boris’ assurances that the NHS could cope, eh?

Why didn’t our British government ensure, as others did for theirs, that the Country had adequate testing facilities to test everyone needing it and to have a short time period for results, so that the disease could be best controlled here – those at risk and even our front line NHS and care staff couldn’t be tested due to lack of facilities

Coronavirus testing just hasn’t been available to those who need it most in the UK – like if say you live in Norfolk and had recently returned home from a previously coronavirus quarantined cruise ship but then developed symptoms, they wouldn’t give you a test, but heir to the throne Prince Charles (also titled Duke of Rothesay) while suffering coronavirus symptoms and his current wife Camilla, with second/holiday homes at Norfolk’s Sandringham and Scotland’s Balmoral, were allowed to travel inessentially to Scotland and relocate there, to sit out the coronavirus pandemic, despite the government already having issued instructions against non-essential travel and contact, and then they jumped the queue there for NHS testing ahead of frontline medical and social care workers (like a frontline clinician at NHS Grampian. who was isolating because she had been displaying symptoms – meaning as a clinician was unable to go to work, but didn’t know whether she actually had coronavirus because she had not been able to have a test, plus other frontline medical, nursing and other key worker staff, also then at home who were unable to access testing – they had a situation where staff were at home for 14 days in isolation when they may have been negative, and these were people who needed to get tested so that if they were negative, could all get back to the front line where they were required). How comes the Royals were both eligible for a test from NHS Grampian when both were still in good health but he displaying just mild symptoms and Camilla, being asymptomatic (moreover, Grampian went out to Balmoral to actually carry out the two tests), while NHS Scotland website states that “generally” people are only tested if they have “a serious illness that requires admission to hospital”], and Charles having as tested positive is then allowed to self-isolate at a second home in Scotland [when the rest of us are told by government that we must stay at home and only make essential trips and that essential travel does not include visits to second homes, campsites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays]. What kind of message does that send out to the British public about the restriction advice they themselves are being instructed to follow when, with the blessing of Scotland’s chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood, the monarchy, doesn’t have to, do you think? It hardly encourages a general public buy-in to the government’s quarantine rules, does it? That kind of selfishness and arrogance coming on top of that shown by Prince Andrew, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, puts the future of the British monarchy in jeopardy, surely?

The second UK reported death in early March, was of a Caribbean cruise ship passenger, man in his 80s who had underlying health conditions, but family say the hospital was ‘too slow’ to isolate him – apparently work is underway to trace people who the man was in contact with before he died (not very encouraging news or a sign that the government had got a grip then, is it?

Later, a man in his 60s died, making him the reported third person to die in the UK after contracting the virus. He had underlying health conditions and had recently returned from Italy

[There were 78 Britons on the Diamond Princess ship, 32 of whom were later airlifted home while four were taken to hospital in Japan where one died]

In March, a second cruise ship Grand Princess, on the trip of a lifetime 15-night vacation to Hawaii, with 3533 people on board (2422 passengers and 1111 crew members), of which more than 140 were Britons, needing to be tested for COVID-19 (amid America’s woeful lack of test kits, which had to be flown in by helicopter), so was ‘quarantined held’ off San Francisco US with 21 people including 19 crew members initially testing positive using the available test kits [after docking at port the passengers disembarked, with more than 3,000 people on board quarantined, with passengers at land facilities and the crew on board, it was later reported that, of the 1,103 passengers who elected to be tested, 103 tested positive, 699 tested negative, and the remaining results were pending (no subsequent test results though have been made public)]

A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses can infect all types of life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea

Virus is a biological agent that reproduces inside the cells of living hosts. When infected by a virus, a host cell is forced to produce thousands of identical copies of the original virus at an extraordinary rate. Unlike most living things, viruses do not have cells that divide; new viruses are assembled in the infected host cell. But unlike still simpler infectious agents, viruses contain genes, which gives them the ability to mutate and evolve. Over 5,000 species of viruses have been discovered

Viruses seem to be more than more than just simple, inert bundles of genetic material, but unlike bacteria, viruses are NOT alive [though are considered by some to be a ‘life form’], because they do carry genetic material, reproduce, and evolve through natural selection, but they lack key characteristics (such as cell structure) that are generally considered necessary to count as ‘life’. Their complete reliability on a host for all their vital processes has led some scientists to deem viruses as ‘non-living’

While every living organism wants to live and reproduce and it will because it has the will to find a way to life, viruses are not considered ‘live’, so the most difficult thing to understand is just why viruses want to make us ill and replicate themselves in the first place, isn’t it?

Well, the answer might be difficult to get one’s head round, because we are told that a virus does not ‘want’ anything, but is merely a piece of molecular machinery that is passive until it comes into contact with a susceptible cell (a cell having the right receptor molecules to attach to the virus) and its action is simply part of the laws of physics and chemistry [analogous to water freezing when the temperature drops or water forming six-sided shapes when it crystallizes]

However, your cells resist being taken over by viruses, and their defence is by alerting the immune system, which responds by raising body temperature (viruses are damaged by that, as their replication mechanisms work better at lower temperatures), and creating inflammation to destroy viral particles and infected cells. Your body also expels viral particles through any convenient orifice, which helps it spread to new hosts, while making it less likely to survive where it is. It’s usually this interaction between the immune system, the virus, and infected tissues that creates the symptoms of viral infection, which we experience as being sick. Indeed, the faster a virus replicates, the sooner it will attract the wrath of the immune system and lose its current host. Some viruses, like the common cold, are easy-come-easy-go – infecting specifically the upper respiratory tract, where you can easily be coughed and sneezed out, and reproduce quickly there.

If the virus enters a permissive cell (able to support viral replication) and it is not destroyed by the immune defences, it will be replicated by the cellular machinery. Viruses that fail to replicate become extinct, and that actually happens quite often, as viruses don’t have as many replication safeguards as humans and so many of them simply come out wrong, unable to replicate.

In order to infect new hosts, a virus has to create numerous copies. To create copies, it has to insert itself into your cells and co-opt their machinery for itself. Then those copies have to get out of the cells which created them, which usually means destroying the cells, which means you need to make more cells. This can sometimes damage your organs. But in most cases, sickness isn’t actually a direct result of cells being destroyed by viruses.

The origins of viruses are unclear: some may have evolved from plasmids—pieces of DNA that can move between cells—while others may have evolved from bacteria. A virus consists of two or three parts: genes, made from either DNA or RNA, long molecules that carry genetic information; a protein coat that protects the genes; and in some viruses, an envelope of fat that surrounds the protein coat and is used, in combination with specific receptors, to enter a new host cell. Viruses vary in shape from the simple helical and icosahedral to more complex structures. Viruses range in size from 20 to 300 nanometres; it would take 33,000 to 500,000 of them, side by side, to stretch to 1 centimetre (0.39 in).

Well, coronavirus COVID-19 itself is a flu like respiratory illness but it is much different from that as it comes with complications that include particularly pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, so those most at risk of serious illness and death are the elderly and vulnerable with an underlying medical condition, aren’t they? The young and fit are at much lower risk, as apparently are women, but nevertheless still serious risk. The virus causes death due to respiratory failure or organ failure

It is called ‘corona’ as its photograph or image taken using an electron microscope is likened to a crown, and is similar to the rarefied gaseous envelope of the sun, the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere, and other stars [the sun’s corona is normally visible only during a total solar eclipse, when it is seen as an irregularly shaped pearly glow surrounding the darkened disc of the moon]

[Coronavirus has evolved into two major lineages, the older ‘S-type’ appears to be milder and less infectious, while the ‘L-type’ which emerged later, appears to be far more aggressive, spreads quickly and currently accounts for around 70 per cent of cases, and it is possible to be infected with both]

This coronavirus disease was caused by SARS-CoV-2, and was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China. The virus primarily spreads between people in a similar way to influenza, via respiratory droplets produced during coughing or sneezing, with the time between exposure and symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, onset being typically five days, but ranging from two to fourteen days

[While coronavirus is believed to be spread mainly by inhaling droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes, these droplets can also land on surfaces, so a healthy person can then unknowingly touch those surfaces and the virus moves on to wherever and whatever the person touches next. Also, although more research is needed to fully determine the facts, it is believed to survive different times on different surfaces and it is said that coronavirus typically isn’t suited to surfaces that have a lot of holes or microscopic little grooves, nooks or crannies like paper and cardboard which are very porous, so it survives better on surfaces that are very smooth

Experts advise that the risk of consumers getting infected from touching even smooth hard materials surfaces, like plastic and steel is still low,

Not all the available data proves to be consistent but as a rough guide the information seems to be that survival times for the virus are:

Aerosol form 3 hours – but its ability to infect drops sharply over this time. Testing was carried out using a nebuliser to produce aerosol tiny particles floating in the air, but since a typical human cough actually produces large droplets which would fall to a surface more quickly than a nebuliser aerosol droplet, the validity of this survival time has to be questionable

When the virus becomes suspended in droplets smaller than 5 micrometers — known as aerosols — it can stay suspended for about a half-hour, researchers said, before drifting down and settling on surfaces where it can linger for hours. The finding on aerosol in particular is inconsistent with the World Health Organization’s position that THE VIRUS IS NOT TRANSPORTED BY AIR

Consequently, the WHO recommendation for ‘social distancing’ to reduce the spread of infection, is JUST 1m, and indeed that is the figure employed by OTHER countries, so just WHY has Britain decided to go its OWN way and that the rule here should be DOUBLE that at 2m (which of course makes life a significantly lot more difficult for EVERYBODY, and has destroyed the economy, by making it wholly UNREALISTIC or even completely IMPOSSIBLE to keep businesses open or meet downstream such Public Health England’s current social distancing lockdown advice in certain jobs, environments, businesses and industries, like say working as a beautician or hairdresser (which involves working 12in or 30cm from clients’ faces), Domino’s Pizza staff working in small space takeaways, or in construction and other outdoor work, or in air travel as social distancing is totally impractical on a modern plane, where seats are around just 45cm (17-18 inches) wide, so even leaving the middle seat free only keeps you 45cm from your neighbour, side to side and you’d need to be more than four seats apart to keep 2m away, while at airports with any volume of passengers it is “physically impossible” to be 2m apart all the time)?

Cardboard up to 24hrs– food packaging, shipping boxes

Copper up to 4 hours– coins, cookware, jewellery, electrical wires

Wood up to 2 to 4 days – tabletops, furniture, shelving.

Paper up to 4 days – paper money, letters and stationery, magazines and newspapers, tissues, paper towels, toilet paper

Glass up to 4 or 5 days – windows, mirrors, drinkware, screens for TVs, computers, and smartphones

Plastic 3 to 7 days – food packaging, water bottles and milk containers, credit cards, remote controls and video game controllers, light switches, computer keyboards and mouse, ATM buttons, toys

Stainless Steel 3 to 7 days – door handles, refrigerators, metal handrails, keys, cutlery, pots and pans, industrial equipment

Note also, that viruses can definitely be impacted by factors like temperature and humidity, so they will survive for a shorter time at higher temperatures and humidity levels.

Coronaviruses are a family group of viruses which affect your lungs and airways that usually cause mild illnesses, such as the common cold, but this one COVID-19 is much more dangerous and is now named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) while the disease associated with it is referred to as COVID-19.

This new virus is the second time in 20 years that such an infectious disease emanating from China has hit the World. In 2002 there was an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in southern China that caused an eventual 8,098 cases, resulting in 774 deaths reported in 17 countries (9.6% fatality rate) with the majority of cases in mainland China and Hong Kong. [However, no cases of SARS have been reported worldwide since 2004 – that gives us confidence that coronavirus will also be beaten and die out]

In late 2017, Chinese scientists claimed to have traced the virus through the intermediary of civets to cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Yunnan province. Chinese officials have reported that several of the first cluster of cases of this latest coronavirus had ties to a live animal market where both seafood and other wildlife were sold as food, though it did not sell bats).  (The market has since been closed.) The market has become their leading hypothesis for how the virus made the leap into humans where it’s been able to spread efficiently ever since.

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that that circulate among animals and cause diseases in mammals, and birds. After they have infected animals, they can eventually be transmitted to humans.

A wide range of animals is suspected to be the source of coronaviruses. For instance, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is said to have originated from camels and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) from civet cats

However, to some of us, knowing that all superpower nations weaponize bioweapons, it is a strange coincidence that two new virulent viruses have seemingly jumped from wild life to humans, supposedly without human intervention, in the country of an oppressive militant major Communist power which is aggressive towards the West so has a vested interest in a resulting pandemic uniquely destroying the market economies and political power of the West, wouldn’t you say?

Now, consider naturally occurring Anthrax, (which may have been the 5th one (Disease on Livestock) during the 10 plagues of Egypt), and is an infection caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It can occur in four forms: skin, lungs, intestinal, and injection – without treatment it is deadly. Anthrax is spread by contact with the bacterium’s spores, which often appear in infectious animal products. Contact is by breathing, eating, or through an area of broken skin. However, it does not typically spread directly between people. In domestic livestock and wild game ‘plant-eating’ animals, infection occurs when they eat or breathe in the spores while grazing, whence other animals may become infected by eating such infected animals, but humans can become infected through direct or indirect contact with sick animals. Usually, anthrax bacteria enter the body through a wound in the skin, though you can also become infected by eating contaminated meat or inhaling the spores.

Well, just equate in weapon principle, the current coronavirus situation with say that of anthrax which certainly has been developed as a biological-weapon by a number of countries [including Britain and USA which had produced the virulent “Ames strain” of anthrax which was later sold to many parts of the world],as although culturing large quantities of anthrax spores is a complicated task, it’s certainly within the capacity of many nations. (The accidental release of anthrax spores from a military research laboratory in the former Soviet Union city Sverdlovsk, in 1979 caused at least 79 cases of respiratory infection – and 68 deaths).

[There is evidence that the German army used anthrax to secretly infect livestock and animal feed traded to the Allied Nations by neutral partners. An example of this undercover biological warfare was the infection of Argentinian livestock intended for trade with the allied forces, resulting in the death of 200 mules in 1917 and 1918

The first mass use of anthrax spores as a weapon is said to have taken place during the Japanese occupation of China from 1932 to 1945. Anthrax may be among the most feared of biological weapons, and is acknowledged as one of the most likely sources of a bioweapon for either a single criminal or terrorist group (At the time of the fatal release of a nerve gas in the Tokyo subway in 1995, the same terrorist Aum Shinrikyo group released anthrax throughout Tokyo on at least eight occasions, but that didn’t actually result in an outbreak of disease)

After the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, letters filled with a white powder containing anthrax spores were mailed to two U.S. Senators’ offices and news media agencies along the East Coast. Authorities recovered four letters. The powder form allowed the anthrax to float in the air and for it to be breathed in, whence the first case of inhalation anthrax was diagnosed and during October and November of 2001, there were a total of 11 confirmed cases of inhalation anthrax and 11 confirmed cases of cutaneous anthrax. Of the 11 cases of inhalation anthrax, seven of the cases were postal workers who handled the letters or worked in a postal facility where the letters were processed]

That analogy is particularly so, when we know that Beijing is accused of a global cyber warfare espionage campaign against us in the West since 2006, evidenced in the US, Britain, Europe, Hong Kong, and Singapore, that sets out to destabilise government agencies, defence groups and to target high tech companies to steal trade secrets

For example, in May 2016 a cyber-attack on the British NHS crippled the organisation and cost it a hundred million pounds, and used the crypto worm malware ‘WannaCry’ (which encrypts data on infected Windows operating system computers and demands a ransom payment). It was the biggest global cyberattack offensive in history, and infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries. It was launched from North Korea, China’s neighbouring fellow communist ally

In the US, conspiracy theories about the origins of the coronavirus, are promoted by some politicians and are prevalent in the news and on social media. Similar rumours have also been running rampant in online forums in China

One basic rumour is that the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, started and was engineered by humans in a Chinese lab as a bioweapon (after being isolated from animals) and either then “escaped” or “leaked” because of poor safety protocol, and one common thread is that it originated in a level 4 (the highest biosafety level) research laboratory in Wuhan. In another version, the virus was being simply being studied in the lab, but then “escaped” or “leaked” – there is an array of circumstantial clues that Chinese labs’ handling of deadly pathogens can’t be trusted (US diplomatic cables in 2018 warned of risky bat research at Wuhan lab).

A later rumour was that someone from the lab sold experimental animals to the live animal and seafood market and so “leaked the virus” from the lab. Well now, it turns out that US intelligence spy agencies have ALREADY started a full-scale investigation into Wuhan Virology Lab and its ‘role in the virus’ and whether Wuhan Virology Lab was indeed the source of virus – the suspicion being that a lab worker became ‘Patient Zero’ in a lab botched experiment accident

Meanwhile China is refuting allegations the pandemic could have originated in the laboratory but nevertheless the White House is weighing up what punishment might be dished out to Beijing over what would be the biggest government ‘cover up’ of all time

[Notwithstanding the above, it appears that current scientific consensus in the West concludes that the emergence of this brand-new coronavirus in the same city as China’s only level 4 biosafety lab (the Wuhan Institute of Virology), is pure coincidence, eh?]

Nevertheless, some of us remained unconvinced by the scientists, as releasing a virus is something that China might be prepared to do in light of the US trade war, and not least to scupper the American dream, perhaps?

However, what we do know for certain, is that at the outset the Chinese lied through their teeth to cover-up the true situation in January about coronavirus spreading in their midst, played down the seriousness of the outbreak, and tried to mislead the World about how many people it had infected in China, claiming it was numbers in the low thousands in the city of Wuhan, but as the carriers travelled abroad, our decease control public health experts soon calculated its true extent as being in the high tens of thousands by seeing its spread pattern to other countries. [The indication is that Beijing may well still be censoring and suppressing the true scale of infections (and recently deaths) to avoid local political criticism of its handling of the crisis – a nurse treating coronavirus sufferers in China claims 90,000 cases existed in late January when the official figures reported just 1,975]. Moreover, the Chinese authorities accused the doctor who disclosed in late December that this new virus existed in Wuhan, of spreading false information and they locked him up – then seemingly allowed him the die of the decease. WHY would they do ANY of those things if they didn’t have ‘something’ to hide, do you think? They need to come clean and give-out all the information they have, don’t they?

We also know that China’s scientists had the sequence of its genome, as by mid-January, they had actually shared it with the World Health Organization [did they really rush as they claim to uncover it or did they know it by engineering it in the first place, eh?]

Conspiracy theories about manmade viruses are not new [eg HIV]. However, they are really quite dangerous kinds of things to get spread around and if they persist about the origin of the health crisis, can undermine trust in public health authorities, and unnerve their communities, so its helpful if they can be effectively debunked.

[Scientists say that the new coronavirus closely resembled viruses that circulate in bats. The genetic sequence of the virus, is closely related to a bat virus – about 96% the same, says the head of the Texas Galveston National Laboratory (a level 4 biosafety lab)]

Unfortunately, there’s a long history of these “spillover” events, where an emerging disease jumps from wildlife to humans, turning into a pandemic. And scientists say we should expect them with more travel, trade, connectivity, urbanization, climate change, and ecological destruction, if we don’t stop the drivers

Face masks

Wearing a normal face mask won’t protect you from the new coronavirus as a regular surgical mask will not help you steer clear of the virus sneezes that are the main transmission route of coronavirus, as such masks are NOT effective at filtering out very small particles and viruses can still enter through the eyes

The thinner surgical mask is intended for surgeons, because these products do a good job of keeping-out pathogens (infectious biological agents that causes disease or illness to its host) from the doctor’s nose and mouth from entering the surgical field, and in some Asian countries, such as Japan and China, it’s not uncommon to see people wearing surgical masks in public to protect against pathogens. and pollution, but those masks don’t help much in the context of a virus as they’re not designed to keep out viral particles, and they’re not tightly fitted around nose and cheeks and when viruses can still enter through the eyes.

However, while some people wear surgical masks because they are sick with a cold or the flu and they don’t want to get other people sick, it’s best just not to go to public areas and stay home.

People sick with COVID-19, or even asymptomatic, should however, definitely wear face masks to reduce the risk of infection to other people around them, as even that mask will stop deadly coronavirus droplets from getting out to infect others, with the bug hanging in the air for ‘several minutes. Health care workers and those “taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility), should also wear face masks, but should dispose of them after each use

The best way to avoid getting the coronavirus is to, first and foremost, postpone any travel to places with known outbreaks. Also thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

A more specialized single use mask, known as an N95 respirator, a device designed to protect the wearer from inhaling hazardous atmospheres, including fumes, vapours, gases and particulate matter such as dusts and airborne microorganisms, but which can protect against the new coronavirus. The respirator is thicker than a surgical mask, but the experts at this point don’t recommend it for public use, as it’s challenging to put on these masks or wear them for long periods of time and specialists receive retraining annually on how to properly fit these respirators around the nose, cheeks and chin, ensuring that wearers don’t breathe around the edges of the respirator. However, the work of breathing becomes much harder, since you’re going through a very thick material, so you have to work hard to breathe in and out and it’s a bit claustrophobic, moist and hot in there – after wearing for about a half-hour you need to take it off and have a break to take some deep breaths, and cool off – they are intended only for medical workers and those professionals who need them.

[THERE ARE TWO MAIN CATEGORIES OF RESPIRATOR:

  • the air-purifying respirator, in which respirable air is obtained by filtering a contaminated atmosphere and
  • the air-supplied respirator, in which an alternate supply of breathable air is delivered.

Air-purifying respirators range from relatively inexpensive single-use, disposable face masks sometimes referred to as a dust mask to more robust reusable models with replaceable cartridges often called a gas mask].

However, innovators are about who are trying to create new things to aid the World’s fight against coronavirus.

For example, after seeing a social media push among engineers to 3D print visor frames, and when it soon became clear that 3D printers weren’t going to be able to manufacture the number of face masks required for NHS staff, Stamford Endowed Schools’ Design Technology department, fortunate to have the equipment and skill set to make a real difference, set up a production line in the school’s workshops and started making face masks for frontline NHS workers during the coronavirus outbreak. After prototyping, testing and modelling it came up with a new design – a laser cut polypropylene (PP) headband attached to a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) screen and the team set up a production line in the school’s workshops. The team and are hoping to make 200 masks a day and intend to keep making them as long as the NHS need them. [indeed, many other Design Technology departments across the country have approached the NHS personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage as a design challenge]

As well as using their own resources, the team are also asking suppliers and companies to donate or supply materials and the school will also be sharing the files needed to make the product with other people who would like to join the effort to help manufacture the face masks.

Furthermore, researchers in Europe have been converting low-cost snorkel masks into ‘homemade’ respirators as protection for medical workers or to treat patients, in the battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak that has stretched healthcare resources

Medical workers from Motol hospital wear snorkel masks transformed into high-grade protection by researchers from The Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics at Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic March 25, 2020. Picture taken March 25, 2020. FN Motol/Handout via REUTERS

Medical staff have been confronted with a shortage of stock of single use medical masks

To help healthcare workers, a team from the Czech Technical University (CVUT) worked with volunteers to add military-grade filters to snorkel masks, which are meant for holiday swimming and typically sell for around 600 crowns (£19/$24) in local stores- 3-D printing is used for the tubes to connect masks to oxygen ventilator machines

The researchers said that tests had showed the retrofitted masks surpassed the protection of masks carrying FFP3, considered one of the highest grade filters

They have made 2,200 pieces so far and had plans for 10,000 more.

The idea was originally proposed by Italian engineers, who put their design online, as an alternative to a more invasive technique of placing a tube directly into a sedated person’s throat when medical masks are unavailable to pump oxygen to the lungs. The design included a custom-made valve that fits to the top of full-face masks, where the snorkel is meant to go, allowing them to connect to standard BiPAP machines that feed pressurised air into masks

Medics use 3D printed valves to adapt ordinary full face snorkelling masks

•The makeshift masks help to stop coronavirus patient’s lungs collapsing

•Mask is hooked up to a BiPAP machines that feed pressurised air to patient

They are to be used for patients with severe respiratory problems. The aim is to avoid having to intubate the trachea of the patient and put them on a respirator

This helps prevent the collapse of alveoli, lung air sacs needed for the intake of oxygen into our bodies and the exhalation of carbon dioxide. Pneumonia brought on by COVID-19 inflames the lung membrane and fills those sacs with liquid

The snorkelling mask solution could be a stop-gap measure for patients on the brink of intensive-care treatment but for whom no beds nor respirators are available. Hospital masks for the less-intensive BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) machines are also lacking

[    The UN has in general proved to be a pretty useless organisation but its Geneva-based WHO agency has well and truly proved its worth in dealing with world heath issues as has been fully demonstrated over the past 5 months in its attention to the coronavirus situation and information dissemination – though Donald Trump thinks NOT as earlier it hadn’t been critical enough of his trade enemy China, so he has withdrawn WHO’s funding. That seems to be an attempt by the President to shift blame for his own failures to prepare his country for this crisis, whence USA is top of the table for cases and deaths while nevertheless the lockdown has resulted in total job carnage creating the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression (20 million lost their jobs just last month alone and jobless rate was pushed up to nearly 15%, the highest since the Thirties – on top of that another 12 million jobs could go this month]

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.