Inept politicians deepen the covid-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom

The world in the grip of a virus

The world in the grip of a virus

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Inept politicians deepen the covid-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom

If I had a pound for every time someone has used the term’ unprecedented’ since the beginning of 2020 I would be as wealthy as the owners of transnational companies who are going to get untold quantities of cash (of various currencies) shovelled into their bank accounts. And it has to be admitted that times are somewhat different from what we have been used to, especially since the end of WWII in 1945. However, in such ‘unprecedented’ times; matters tend to move on very quickly; decisions are changed; ‘expert advice’ also changes; things are said which are (possibly) later regretted; accusations of inefficiency and ineptness are bandied around; and we’re still ‘ruled’ by a bunch of Tory buffoons.

With all that comes the danger that history is forgotten, the words that seem pertinent in the past are superseded by others, and the same with actions. Therefore during the course of this ‘unprecedented’ situation I will attempt to regularly record what I consider to be some of the standout moments. People, or more exactly the capitalist system, will have to be held to account for how this ‘unprecedented’ affair has been handled and it will help to have evidence easily to hand when they face the court of public outrage. (And I’ve already, in two paragraphs, earned myself £4.)

This will be concerned primarily with the situation in the ‘United Kingdom’, although with occasional references to other countries if the experience there sheds greater light on what has happened on the ‘sceptred isle’.

In an age of so-called ‘fake’ news there’s always a potential that information absorbed in good faith might not be accurate. In an effort to back up the points I list below I will, where possible, give a reference to where the piece of news was either heard (normally on BBC radio) or read – from various websites. That may be slightly patchy in this post as when I started collecting the information I didn’t have a clear plan of what to do with it. Hopefully further posts will be more clearly and accurately referenced.

On Monday 30th March Damian Collins, a Tory MP, suggested that it should be a criminal offence for false statements to be made about the situation surrounding covid-19. He stated that without a hint of irony. If such a law about false statements was applied then there would be 650 individuals from Westminster waiting outside the court rooms to be processed.

These comments follow on from those I made in a previous post, published on 23rd March

Publishing this on 1st April might make some to think that this is all a joke – but no, this is the world in which us Brits live under the control of this cretinous Tory government.

The reaction of our ‘governors’

  • UK ranks low when it comes to how proactive the government is compared to other countries in Europe – only worse is US
  • continued lack of clarity
  • continued speculation all day before an announcement, or not, at night
  • always quoting experts when they make their decsions so that if it goes wrong then they have their scapegoats
  • breaking promise about protection for renters
  • government defends watered down policy
  • won’t make a definitive decision on how to deal with the requests from tourist about refunds on holidays already paid for but now cancelled – no decision until July (30th March)
  • why was Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) still being sold on on-line auction sites whern there should have been a clamp down on such speculation and such materials should have been requisitioned for national distribution?
  • an on-line appeal to raise money for PPE, (30th March) – no one but the government should be able to buy this equipment at the end of March
  • Daily Telegraph also running a Charity Appeal – why when there’s so much money magically available from the State?

Keeping the population informed

‘Seven years ago, the UK Cabinet Office conducted a successful trial of an emergency alert system, but in the following years, there have been no further signs of development. As crowds of people began gathering at parks and beaches over the weekend (21-22 March), the government was unable to send a formal warning. Similar systems are used by countries such as South Korea and the Netherlands, the latter of which sent out messages to warn people from congregating in the park on Sunday. Although the government announced a large support package for businesses and individuals to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19, it has struggled to get clear messages out to the public, often competing with misinformation on social media sites.

It has now given a clear order to stay home, via mobile operators, but it could have been a lot easier it had followed up on its own research.’

https://www.itpro.co.uk/mobile/mobile-networks/355096/gov-failed-to-act-on-own-alert-messaging-advice

Shopping and the supply chain

  • the culture of food production in the past has made the society less able to react when a crisis appears
  • reliance on concentrated shopping like supermarkets
  • just in time distribution
  • problems of importing food from other countries when there are closed border
  • dependence on road transport to deliver huge quantities of food
  • problem of lorry driver being generally older

BBC Radio 4, The Food Programme’, Monday 23rd March.

  • no control of wholesale markets so private customers preventing companies from getting supplies
  • no consideration of monitoring of the price of basic foodstuffs to avoid price rises and speculation
  • the ‘just in time’ delivery model cannot ever cope in times of crisis, saves companies money but makes them vulnerable when there is an interruption in the supply chain – even bad weather can do that let alone a shut-down of weeks, perhaps months

Lidl to reduce restrictions on the quantities of food people can buy – apart from toilet paper (31st March)

The same day so did Aldi, Morrisons, Waitrose and Asda

  • more money spent in supermarkets in March 2020 than at any time in the past as people ‘rushed to stock-pile vital supplies’, 31st March – but on the same day reports were coming in about all the food that was being thrown away due to panic buying earlier in March.

School closures

  • definition of ‘key workers’ muddled and therefore ‘broke’ those schools that opened on the first day – i.e. Monday 23rd March
  • muddled thinking about exams
  • no consultation about exams with education professionals
  • no consideration of the effect this would have on students
  • still uncertainties about the situation in Universities

The not so ‘united’ kingdom

  • conflicting information in relation to the construction industry – whether sites should open or not – in UK and Scotland, which went on for days, (23rd March)
  • how long will the lock-down be, Sunday 29th March first it was 13 weeks (Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland) and then ‘it won’t be save until after six months’ (Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harris) – causing uncertainty, fear and panic. The six months had an ominous rider ‘or longer’. They all seem to be acting as if it were a game and they are into ‘one-upmanship’
  • the four parts of the United Kingdom are making decisions by themselves when the system calls for an all island approach – just the Nationalists playing a political game
  • UK government introduces (under pressure) a ban on renter evictions for three months, in Scotland the ban is for six months
  • ‘NHS Wales has been testing NHS staff there for a couple of weeks’, Frank Atherton, Chief Health Officer for Wales, (30th March)

Testing – and why it’s not really taking place in the UK

  • testing still not moving forward and the TUC asking that ‘front line’ workers should be tested more thoroughly 23rd March
  • confusion over tests, not 25,000 but 5,000 a day (24th March)

Mass virus testing shop kits a ‘gamechanger’

The Prime Minister has described testing kits that reveal whether people have already had coronavirus as a possible “gamechanger”. More than three million of the tests – which tell people if they have developed immunity – could be available via Amazon and Boots within weeks. [T]he prospect of widespread testing could mean that key public services and parts of the economy reopen within weeks. Meanwhile, the first app monitoring symptoms of people in Britain with suspected coronavirus suggests that 6.5m people in the UK – one in 10 – has had the infection.

The Telegraph web site 25th March

  • British Medical Association, 29th March, after statement by government that testing (of medical staff) will take place from Monday 30th March, ‘long overdue’. Somewhat of an understatement.
  • then the Tory Buffoon boasts that such tests had meant that 20,000 health personnel would be returning to work as they do not have the virus, only symptoms that could be nothing. So why wasn’t testing of these people, as well as a more general testing throughout the population, instituted long ago.
  • Health Minister Heather Whately says they are ‘ramping up its capacity of testing for NHS staff’ and ‘boasts’ that there were 9,100 tests in a 24 hour period over the weekend, 31st March
  • Gove, as the Buffoon’s stand-in, states that the reason for the small number of testing taking place was due to ‘a chemical shortage’. How can this happen? More than two weeks ago they were talking about aiming to achieve a minuscule number of 25,000 tests per day (a pathetic number by any account) but this is the first we have been told of a problem in the testing procedure. Why do other countries seem to do so – even the USA? And why has this issue only come to light now? 31st March
  • the government’s ‘target’ of 25,000 tests per day ‘not likely for a month’, 31st March
  • Spokesperson for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine ‘mass testing is needed now. The whole point of testing is to detect it before you’ve infected somebody. Those affected self quarantine and everyone else carries on a normal life.’ 31st March
  • increasing calls for a more general testing regime, not just in hospitals and care homes. It should be rolling out in the community – the only way to get back to some sort of normality

NHS ‘snubbed offers from top labs to help with testing’

Officials in charge of coronavirus testing have largely ignored offers of help from leading scientific institutions, we have been told. Public Health England is accused of leaving specialists from Oxford University and the Francis Crick Institute “sitting on their hands” while questions mount over Britain’s testing capacity compared with other nations. An argument is growing between the health ministry and the NHS over a failure to use spare capacity to test hospital staff so they can get back to work. Britain is able to conduct 12,700 tests a day but only did 8,240 yesterday – fewer than Monday.

The Telegraph, Front Page AM, 1st April

Financial ‘solutions’

  • 500,000 claiming Universal Credit – not enough staff and the computer system can’t deal with an already flawed and derided system, applicants have to wait weeks before any payment is made, 25th March
  • if such huge amounts of money are going to private companies that means they can’t exist in the ‘private, free enterprise’ system and so they should be allowed to die or be nationalised (without compensation) – especially the transnational, global companies such as airlines and other transport providers
  • major companies think they have a right to feed at the trough of the public purse
  • any future ‘nationalisations’ – which are introduced to maintain the present existence of a company must be permanent and not allowing them to return to private hands when the State (and its people) have bailed them out of their own mess.
  • payments to companies
  • where’s all this money coming from? For more than ten years we were told ther was no ‘magic money tree’ but when it’s necessary for the existence of capitalism (as it was in 2008 and again now with the covid-19 debacle) the amount of money is only limited by the imagination of the Treasury.
  • plant nurseries which provide garden plants asking for £250m to counteract the destruction of their stocks that would normally be going off the shelves now, 31st March – why isn’t there flexibility to mitigate such waste, people go to supermarkets why not to plant nurseries?

Ventilators

  • only 8,000 in the country on a regular basis
  • government to order 10,000 ventilators from Dyson, 26th March, why (yet again) a delay, the need was identified long ago
  • UK won’t work with the EU on acquiring ventilators, 26th March
  • engineering companies warn that they won’t be able to fulfil the demand of 30,000 when the virus is expected to reach its peak in the UK in 2 to 3 weeks time

The figures – of cases and deaths – and what they really mean

Prof Ferguson – infectious diseases expert – told the [Parliamentary] committee that the latest research suggested as many as half to two-thirds of deaths from coronavirus might have happened this year anyway, because most fatalities were among people at the end of their lives or with other health conditions.

BBC Radio 4 26th March

Capitalist arseholes

Tim Martin of Weatherspoons – refusing to pay staff – not a particularly good employer – after years of arguing that working for them was a good career move, 24th March

The underlying hypocrisy of the British ‘ruling class’

  • Thursday night, 26th March, clap for the NHS – promoted by those who have spent years trying to destroy the NHS and causing nursing staff to go on strike in 2019
  • (let’s hope that when this matter comes to some sort of conclusion the people of this country will get off their fat arses and fight for the NHS and not continue to vote in a government that has been trying to destroy its very foundations for decades)
  • so-called ‘austerity’ was forced upon the people, not only of the UK but throughout the world, so that they would have to pay for the crimes of capitalism. During that period, in the UK, we saw; the increase in homelessness; the introduction of short term contracts; zero hour contracts; attacks on social services; reduced funding for the elderly in care homes; and reduced funding for schools and a ‘privatisation’ of education with the introduction of Academies.
  • this produced a society less resilient, in organisational, skills and general health to be able to confront such a pandemic.

Who are the ‘key workers’?

All of a sudden ‘key workers’ are; NHS staff – at all levels; care workers; supermarket staff; refuse collectors; council workers, i.e., some of the lowest paid in the country.

A prepared world?

The Global Heath Security Index released a report in October 2019 where it stated:

‘National health security is fundamentally weak around the world. No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.’

This report is 324 pages long and I don’t expect most lay people to read it – but it should have been read by a responsible expert in all countries and recommendations made to governments. Did they in the UK/ If so, what happened? If not, why not. We are being asked to respect experts but if they are there just to give the politicians credibility then they are worse than nothing.

The report also found that the USA, out of all countries, was best prepared to deal with a pandemic. I wonder how many New Yorkers will agree with that?

A reference to this report appeared in an article in the Metro newspaper – way back on 5th March before the restrictions were introduced – one of the most read newspaper in the country.

But we have been told for years that past governments had been prerparing for such an eventuality – and one of the government ‘experts’ stated, when the first cases started to appear in the UK, that we shouldn’t panic as they were fully prepared. Economical with the truth or a lie?

What’s happening in other countries

  • Germany reporting that it carried out 500,000 tests in a week
  • what’s happening in Sweden
  • Trump claims there have been more than a million tests for the virus in the USA, 29th March
  • China sending supplies of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), by air, to New York (29th March)
  • Trump claims some hospitals are ‘hoarding’ ventilators – in an attempt to shift blame for lack of preparedness, 31st March
  • Austria making it compulsory for people to wear face masks in supermarkets, 30th March – how will this be possible when there is no availability of masks?
  • American Airlines has said it plans to request a $12bn US government bailout to cover its payroll costs over the next six months. 1st April

How is the NHS dealing with the pandemic?

  • shortage of Personal Protection Equipment – constantly being talked about, not only in the hospitals but in care homes as well
  • a big thing made of the ‘Nightingale’ Hospital opening in an exhibition centre in London, again, why was this not considered when the pandemic was likely weeks ago and only gets opened during the second week of a lock-down, 30th March
  • why wasn’t it considered a good tactic to have all potential covid-19 positive patients in the same facility, and one could be created for this is major population centres before the outbreak started to take hold?
  • ‘an echo-cardiographer doing a cleaning job in a hospital’, 31st March – what are the 700,000 plus ‘volunteers’ supposed to be doing if a skilled medical practitioner is doing such work?

British citizens abroad

  • UK government criticised for being last to attempt to bring British citizens back to the UK when the countries they had been travelling in started to lock down
  • complaints about poor information and lack of preparedness in various countries – probably an extension of the hands off approach the British government has had with citizens ion other countries which has developed over the year
  • ‘solve’ the problem by throwing money at the issue
  • ‘we are being kept in the dark’, ‘if they are doing something why don’t they tell us?’ – common complaints of British citizens stranded in other countries which are going through their own lock-down
  • £75m to be spent on rescue flights to bring British citizens back to the UK, 31st March, are these commercial rates being paid to private companies

Coronavirus Act 2020 – and the potential dangers of a locked-down society

‘Guidance’ to the act – official government website

Or the whole act in HTML format

  • ‘there’s a danger of the UK sliding into an authoritarian state’, Lord Sumption, Former Justice of the Supreme Court, 30th March
  • Derbyshire Police and the Peak District – ‘We are finding our way’. Read seeing what they can get away with. (31st March)
  • giving up liberties which are hard to recover – refer to Patriot Act in USA and 11th September 2001
  • what happens on streets when there’s no one there – reports of more break ins and burglaries in quiet town centres as there are few people around (31st March)
  • danger of legislation being snuck in and important reports getting lost in the coronavirus noise
  • 2020 UK Housing Review by Chartered Institute of Housing, reports, among other things, a huge increase in the numbers in temporary accommodation. This puts more than £1.1 billion into the hands of private landlords
  • Child poverty numbers rise by 100,000 in 12 months

‘It is a strategy that could pave the way to end the lock-down. The NHS is preparing to release an app that alerts users if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.’

The Telegraph, Front Page AM, 1st April

Quote of the week

‘But, overall, I tell you, the private, free enterprise system has been worked like nobody has seen in a long time’

Donald Trump, President of the USA, in a clip on the BBC Radio 2, 00.00 news on 29th March.

This had competition from the country will be ‘back open by Easter’ by the same person on 24th March.

Exit Strategy

A short one this, there still isn’t one!

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