So it’s Lockdown then. Scientific experts told the government it was necessary to save lives and because otherwise the NHS would be overwhelmed. The MSM are happy with that because it’s what they wanted, but are still criticising Johnson. It’s as if he and President Trump can get nothing right while the wannabe Napoleon across the Channel is untouchable.
First though, the HoC – MPs scrupulously observing ‘social distancing – voted through the Law giving unprecedented powers to government and to the police. While this is set to last until 2022, at least there’s a clause for this law to be revisited and scrutinised by Parliament every six months.
On that basis Johnson was able to make his speech, ordering the country to go into total lockdown. He did say that this might be partially lifted after three weeks if the situation permits (paywalled link). Experiences from other countries would suggest that this is not precisely likely – but hey, it’s a nice little bit of sugar-coating. The reason for the lockdown isn’t just that people didn’t obey the rules over the weekend, it’s this:
“More than 75 per cent of Britons need to socially isolate for the attempt to stop coronavirus overwhelming the National Health Service. This meant that the only option left was to enforce the lockdown.” (paywalled link)
The MSM, asking ‘the people’, found that they’re mostly happy with that because ‘saving Our NHS’ is a good thing. Make no mistake: this is about the NHS and nothing else. The tests which are a prime necessity to stop the spread, according to experts, are now needed first and foremost to test medical NHS personnel, repeatedly, says Jeremy Hunt (link, also paywalled here).
Fair enough, especially since many doctors and nurses are self-isolating because of an afflicted member of their families but may not, themselves, have that virus. And yes, they are needed, even though hospitals, who have already cancelled all non-urgent treatments such as hip and knee replacements and cataract surgeries are now also starting to cancel cancer treatments:
“In a statement, Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust said “an increase in the number of seriously ill patients” diagnosed with Covid-19 meant planned cancer treatments would be delayed for at least two weeks. […] It comes after NHS hospitals were advised to ration cancer services to patients with the highest chance of survival in the event of a major coronavirus outbreak. Hospitals across the country have since begun telling individual cancer sufferers that their planned surgery or chemotherapy appointments have been cancelled until further notice.” (paywalled link)
Why the NHS still can’t manage to test more people – well, ‘tis not because of ‘Toree Austeritee’, it’s because of unpreparedness and lack of equipment. Now that Universities are closed, the Army (!) is reportedly stepping in:
“The army has been sent to requisition testing machines from university laboratories as ministers scramble to find a way of checking NHS staff for coronavirus. Private labs will also have their machines taken to a central NHS processing centre within days to offer tens of thousands of extra tests a day.” (link, paywalled)
It’s a start, but it seems that joint-up thinking was lacking everywhere. See this, for example:
“On March 12, Britain said it would no longer be testing in the community and instead only checking people admitted to hospital for the virus, leading to widespread criticism from UK scientists.’ (paywalled link)
Then see this, illustrating that ‘UK scientists’ may be very clever but are speaking from their ivory towers from where making ponderous claims is easy. How can you test if there are no kits?
“Dr Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, warned there aren’t enough testing kits to go around the country and officials have refused to reveal how many tests were available to the NHS. Experts said they believe the lack of testing was less to do with unwillingness and more likely to be a lack of kits available and enough people to process the results.” (paywalled link)
And there’s still that wonderful ‘new type of test’ which the government has been promising is just round the corner …. It’s ‘jam tomorrow’, but not for us plebs:
“Experts are also hopeful that a new antibody test, which can tell if people have been infected in the past, will be available soon to find out who is now immune. Prof Martin Hibberd, Professor of Emerging Infectious Disease at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “When this diagnostic does become available, I think it will become a big help in tackling the disease. Most likely this will be reserved for frontline healthcare workers and other key workers first and perhaps vulnerable groups later, before becoming more widely available.” (paywalled link)
That test, btw, is being developed by a British firm but will be manufactured in … Senegal (link). It is interesting though that, ever since the experts and scientists populating our MSM have clamoured for ‘more tests’, it’s become very quiet about any efforts to develop a vaccine or cure. Well, we can’t have everything! Tom Walsh, writing in the DT, makes some interesting points in his opinion piece:
“[Why], when people have been sensibly self-isolating at home because they have developed symptoms, are they not being tested to see if they have this virus? […] The idea that we are an ignorantly libertarian people that needs to be conditioned to the idea of obeying orders is absurd. But ministers will need to be honest about why we are now living through these unprecedented times, and why those sacrifices have become necessary. It is not true that all of this was inevitable; other countries, particularly those that learnt the lessons of Sars, appear to be in a far better position. This tragedy is not the fault of the British people, selfish or otherwise.” (paywalled link)
There are many questions needing answers on this first day of Lockdown Britain. For example, everybody is to stay inside except for one trip if you’re ‘exercising’, and no more than one trip to a food store close by. We can all use delivery services, said Johnson blithely, in a way reminiscent of ‘why can’t they eat cake?’.
His expert advisers, heads deeply into their CV-19 statistics, probably didn’t tell him that there are no delivery slots to be had, certainly not before he partially lifts these restrictions (if he does), or that people can’t even access those online delivery sites (link). How could those grocery giants possibly predict that demand would rise so high – it’s not as if their sites weren’t crashing for a good week already …!
How this lockdown will affect the self-employed, especially those in what should be called the ‘care industry’ is anybody’s guess. ‘Carers’ are also those who are supporting the infirm and disabled and especially the elderly to maintain their homes and gardens. Their income, with one stroke, has now gone.
Never mind – they don’t need extra money except for food because they can’t go anywhere to spend it, can they! Austerity in the times of the CV-19 pandemic … with a nasty reminder that we’re not all ‘in it together’:
“High street banks and smaller lenders have increased rates on three-year loans since December, according to the data analysis company Moneyfacts. Some of the cheapest personal loan rates have been withdrawn in the past days after a flood of applications. On April 6 overdraft rates will in some cases quadruple from 9.99 per cent to almost 40 per cent because of rules brought in before the crisis. Most big banks are yet to pass on cuts in mortgage rates to borrowers after the Bank of England cut the base rate to a record low of 0.1 per cent.” (link, paywalled)
Yes, that will help all those self-employed and small businesses, won’t it, Mr Sunak! May I respectfully suggest a bit of punitive supervision of those banks by the government is advisable right now, Mr Sunak?
As we’re all staying at home, perhaps we ourselves can find voices critical of the whole numbers game and the lockdown. I was pleased albeit astonished to find the following in The Times, in an article on an analysis by University College London on people ‘most’ at risk, used to justify the lockdown:
“Professor Robert Dingwall, of Nottingham Trent University, raised doubts about the findings. “Suppression efforts would not prevent deaths, merely delay them, and it is misleading to imply otherwise,” he said. “What the paper shows is that Covid-19 is probably going to bring forward a lot of deaths that would have occurred anyway in the next 12 months.” Given more than half a million people die in Britain every year, Professor Dingwall suggested that to avoid an rise of about 10 per cent “we can reasonably ask whether the collateral damage to society and the economy from more aggressive suppression is justifiable”.” (link, paywalled)
Amen to that! Don’t forget that, lockdown or not, we still have the right to question government measures. We must not let ourselves be cowed by claims that the lockdown is necessary to ‘save lives’ – it’s about saving ‘Our NHS’, as various articles now shamefacedly admit.
So question everything, stay vigilant, take good care of yourselves, and
Photo by StartToFigureItOut