The covid-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom – 2nd April
Wasn’t planning on another post (after doing so yesterday) in relation to the covid-19 pandemic and how it develops in the UK so soon but things are changing all the time and it seemed to make sense to put some of the crazy situations out there in a e-newsletter form. How regular depends on developments but with the buffoons we have in charge of things in Britain there will always be, I’m sure, something to bemuse and/or amuse.
When this present ‘crisis’ (made worse by the government the people of the UK decided to put into power in 2019) is eventually over the question that will have to be answered is; Why did the authorities get the testing all wrong.
And also why did the government keep on lying about the numbers?
On the afternoon of the 1st April it emerged that only 2,000 NHS staff had been tested out of a total of 1.2 million. As a result of recommendations about symptoms thousands are self-isolating – but they might well not have the virus. As the number of deaths increases there is need of more not less staff to help in the emergency.
As of the morning of 2nd April there can be few people in Britain now who aren’t asking the question ‘what’s happening about testing’? Long before matters started to get out of hand in the UK information from other parts of the world, principally South Korea and Singapore, indicated that some sort of control of the outbreak could be achieved with comprehensive testing with a follow-up to trace the line of infection. That required organisation as well as a will to stamp on the virus before the numbers got too high.
But what did the government do in the UK? It made promises it couldn’t (and didn’t keep) and then started to blame outside agencies and causes for their own failures. There was a problem of lack of chemicals. There was a problem of lack of testing facilities. But both those matters are relatively easy to solve.
And it should have been a doddle if they had done in the past what they have been assuring us they have – and that is prepare for such an eventuality as a pandemic. Such preparation, if it had been carried out thoroughly, would have identified what would have been needed in the event of an outbreak, made sure that a certain amount of initial stocks were available immediately and a process for producing more established in a set time frame. All testing facilities would also have been identified and a decision made on how they would fit in to the over strategic plan.
More importantly there wouldn’t have been any problem in getting supplies or access to laboratories for testing. In such a situation as a pandemic speed is of the essence and companies producing key materials should be told what to produce and when – there would be no such discussions on price or other recompense. As for laboratory space and facilities they would be requisitioned if there was any reluctance or tardiness.
All commentators are using military terminology so the whole matter should be approached as if the country was on a war footing – without giving power to the military.
On the evening of 1st April the Buffoon said that testing ‘ … is how we will unlock the coronavirus puzzle. This is how we will defeat it in the end.‘ He speaks the truth but doesn’t do the necessary. He expects to solve the jigsaw puzzle when half the pieces are missing and somebody has thrown the box lid on the fire.
Testing not only enables some workers to carry on in their jobs it also offers reassurance when many people need it. But perhaps more importantly if testing is done with a follow-up trace it can provide valuable information of how the virus is spreading and where the hotspots might be. Only in this way can resources be concentrated where they will do the most good.
The Buffoon has always placed more emphasis on the anti-body tests which can identify those who might have picked up the virus without any adverse effects and have developed some immunity. These tests are also important but aren’t ready yet. It shouldn’t be a matter of one or the other. To manage the pandemic both are necessary. But the Tories are more concerned with getting back to some level of normality (which is important to everyone) but not at the expense of leaving many others in a potentially dangerous position.
Capital wants to have a ‘fair’ share of the billions on offer
The government stated that the pit of money was bottomless and companies, especially the ones with the most wealth, are attempting to get their hands on it. The first in line were a few Premier League Football Clubs;
‘Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Norwich City have all taken advantage of the country’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in which as much as 80pc of their non-playing staff’s wages could be paid by the Government.’
The Telegraph, Front Page PM, 1st April
There’s an argument that the players should foot the bill for non-playing staff as they are still getting their massive salaries. It’s obscene what they get paid when playing, to still receive that when they are not is beyond the absurd. I’m surprised the football clubs concerned (and it’s almost certain others in the Premier thought about it if tardy in making applications) didn’t lay-off their players and then claim 80% of their wages from the disaster fund.
On 2nd April Gary Lineker asked that the players should be given some slack – being football players they take a long time to tell which is left from right so the major decision of what they should do with the money they get would take weeks – and they would come to the ‘right decision’ eventually. But this doesn’t get near to addressing the greater issue of the unbelievable disparities that exist in the professional sport arena where some prime donne earn millions yet others are on minimum wage – and this isn’t just in football.
Other wealthy companies are also fighting to get their snouts in the trough. On 2nd April British Airways stated it was going to suspend 36,000 of their staff and claim 80% of their wages from the emergency fund. They have also, already, stated that they would need a bail-out as a company if they were to be able to survive the pandemic.
So the State pays the majority of the staff’s wages, the State will then be expected to ‘donate’ billions to keep the company going later in the year yet the State and the company argue for the private and free enterprise system.
British Airways was one of the thousands of companies, many small some huge, that was privatised (i.e., stolen from the people – although often with some of their collaboration) in the 1980s and 90s. If they can’t survive in the free market then they should collapse – that’s the rule of the market. But as is always the case with capitalism it wants its cake and eat it.
Such a bail out of the banks occurred after their self-made disaster of 2008. It will be interesting to see if the people of the UK – or other capitalist countries where they will be asked to shovel untold millions into the hands of these private companies – are prepared to do this again.
The Prince of Wales has paid tribute to the ‘utter, selfless devotion to duty’ of NHS staff, volunteers and the new ’emergency service’ of supermarket workers,
The Telegraph, Front Page PM, 1st April
Does this mean that their selflessness will be rewarded when things get back to normal – or will they then have to carry on surviving on minimum wages, zero hours contracts and any other invention to undermine working conditions?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – for everyone
A recent study suggests it might be beneficial for everyone to be wearing masks at all times when outside their home.
However, there are a number of problems with this ‘study’;
a) it hasn’t been totally proven – so what’s the point of speculation, at a time when many people are fearful and clutching at any straw that’s thrown to them,
b) even if it were to be the case where are millions of ‘the public’ to get hold of these masks when even the inept Tory Government can’t do so’
c) mask wearing is only really for those who are already infected with the virus (but perhaps without them knowing) as they drastically reduce the distance that potentially harmful spores can travel. Flimsy masks won’t protect healthy people.
d) ‘masks need to be worn properly, with a seal over the nose. If they become moist then particles can pass through. People must remove them carefully to avoid their hands becoming contaminated. … masks need to be worn consistently. It’s not on to wear a mask and then decide to take it off to smoke a cigarette or eat a meal – it must be worn full time.’
e) conflict between ‘experts’ – Public Health England don’t consider masks effective and also encourage people to be lax when following other recognised working strategies, such as distancing and hand washing,
f) and this is all under the auspices of the World Health Organisation (WHO) – give me the Doctor any day.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) – for NHS staff and care workers
Along with the questions surrounding testing the provision of adequate safety equipment for NHS and care home staff has been going on since we first heard the name covid-19. The saga continues.
On 1st April, Claudia Paoloni, President of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, said (BBC, Radio 4), ‘We know of cases where they (hospital staff) are not using equipment or it is being rationed and you can’t use it in certain circumstances. Everybody should be getting PPE, at all times, with all cases with patient contact within the hospital setting.’
Some doctors have complained about the quality of the items they have received.
Little pieces of news, related to the pandemic, which say a lot.
A rainbow to a nightingale
A nurse requested that pictures be sent to the ‘Nightingale’ Hospitals (the temporary hospitals being set up in exhibition spaces) and here request went viral. Tens, or hundreds of thousands of bored children and their parents then started to send these to the various locations. The NHS has now asked that this stop. It’s not difficult to see why an emergency hospital, set up to deal with a viral infection, would be cautious about receiving thousands of pieces of paper from unknown locations. It might also be be the benefit if the patients. What would you think if the first thing you see on waking up from your covid-19 fever was the wall covered in ‘imaginatively’ drawn rainbows?
Do it yourself repairs
In an advert (broadcast on the commercial radio station Classic FM) by British Gas apologised for delays in getting through to report repairs. To reduce the pressure the company has now placed information on its website so that people might be able to fix minor repairs themselves. Presumably these are the same repairs they would have charged their minimum call-out fee in the past. Will this information remain available after the pandemic has passed over?
Don’t think there’s much to say about that.
The Lord will provide
The minister at the Kingdom Church, Camberwell in south London, Bishop Climate Wiseman, has been selling ‘Plague protection kits’ for just over £90 a go. The ‘kit’ contains ‘a small bottle of oil and a piece of red yarn’. The £90 is to cover costs.
Still nothing here.