Update

Apologies for the lack of posts – there has, of course, been plenty of regular polling on public attitudes towards the coronavirus, notably from YouGov, Opinium and Ipsos MORI… I can’t quite bring myself to dive into it though.

This week there was also the regular Welsh political barometer, ably dissected by Roger Awan-Scully here.


5,294 Responses to “Update”

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  1. ON
    “There is one,…

    It always surprises me that people can be so ignorant of the mechanisms that govern them, while simultaneously having strong opinions about the mechanisms of governance.”

    Good to know there is one (English Grand Committee) in which case why were you bothered about “the governance of England being conjoined to the governing institutions of the UK…”?

    I don’t think I do have particularly strong opinions about the mechanisms of government apart from the fact that they should be transparent. I admit to relative ignorance of the minutiae of the mechanisms, but so what? I’m interested in politics, but I’m also interested in football. That doesn’t mean I know much about the details of how the FA or Premier League conduct their business. And just to forlornly attempt to prevent another quibble, I am referring to the English FA and Premier League, but it’s just an example anyway.

  2. Pete B

    You appear to be unaware of the difference between the legislative and executive branches of government, as well.

    That would be akin to not understanding the difference between Association and Rugby football.

  3. ON
    “NB that SNP score ie 5% of the total GB vote (in Scotland only), means a total landslide for them ”

    That just shows what an insignificant part of the UK Scotland is.

    “You appear to be unaware of the difference between the legislative and executive branches of government, as well.”

    Words fail me.

  4. Pete B

    “Words fail me.”

    A bad workman always blames his tools. :-)

  5. news also saying more people ignoring government rules. Obviously don’t know how much this is media hype, but the headline is police risk losing control.

    where I live I noticed last week people sitting on public benches with please don’t use notices on them. This week people starting to sit on the beach. Which seems quite sensible since it was a lot quieter than the promenade. Although that was nowhere near breaking a 2m distancing rule (nor yet a WHO 1m rule). Also seemed to be less police presence. Fewer masks. few older people with walking sticks and those buggies.

    The report last week saying lockdown was pointless won’t have helped. It’s blindingly obvious that sitting on the beach or park is not a risk given reasonable spacing choice. People ordinarily space themselves out leaving 2m gaps, before all this.

    The problem is in the messaging. Keep telling people things which are obviously stupid and they will eventually refuse to obey. Whether the real death rate is 1% or 0.1%, it is far lower for youngest half of the population, while many will consider their personal risk is negligible and others consider it is acceptable. Johnson himself was rushing round shaking hands contrary to his own advice – and he got away with it.

    Sweden took a more sensible line of closing the high risk areas but otherwise just asking people to take care.

    Telling everyone to go to work on a bike….again risks making government a laughing stock. The economy of the south east and much of the uk relies upon medium and long distance commuting. Either we resume or bankrupt the uk. Nor can I see how closing down air travel can be acceptable financially. Just doing that and the readjustmentom it would create a recession.

    Unless government becomes more realistic I can see the whole thing collapsing. And then we end up with a wholly uncontrolled epidemic. Unless we have achieved herd immunity of course. This period of lockdown just gone could well prove to have been the honeymoon period, when people would have cooperated with an orderly epidemic achieving immunity, but they blew it by lockdown too soon. And so we will end up with a disorderly epidemic anyway.

    The fiasco over testing seems to be deepening, not least because of pretending that targets have been met, when they havnt.

    My sense is people are starting to think this is all nonsense and we just need to get on with life.

    Oh, and then we have the foolishness of brexit to contend with.

    On the VE anniversary this is quite bonkers. People fought and died for freedom, not house arrest.

    Unless the whole idea right now is to encourage revolt so as to reverse the fear message driving people into their homes… so we all rush back to normal.

  6. Danny

    “People fought and died for freedom”

    Yet another nationalist myth. Their government conscripted them into the armed forces, where they fought and died.

    What they were propagandised into thinking they were fighting for, wasn’t necessarily what they believed, or was the government’s aim.

    Those kind of slogans are used by every government to persuade the poor sods who they put in harms way.

    You don’t seem very different!

  7. “That just shows what an insignificant part of the UK Scotland is.”

    So insignificant, Westminster can’t release powers, hides the finances, and rushed North when a pre-referendum poll went Indy.

    Aye right. Population ain’t everything. The UK is 6th in the world (supposedly) in GDP, and Scotland is above average in the UK.

    Bangladesh, with 2.5x the UK’s population is somewhere around 40th. India is 5th. Next to India, the UK is insignificant, but I doubt you would agree with that statement.

  8. Correction:

    “Scotland is above average in the UK” … despite Westminster focussing the economy in the South of England.

  9. @Robbiealive, NearlyFrench, Carfrew etc

    I’ve been a petrolhead most of my life (still am to a degree) but I have become a habitual cyclist in the last couple of years.
    I cycle extensively around West London and thereabouts and rarely see the problems that others seem to. I am a fat old man but I have never once been abused by a fellow cyclist (though often enough by cars, white vans etc). I see people cycling on the pavement but 9 times out of 10 they are either on deserted pavements and/or are parents with small children. 9 times out of 10 from the remaining population they are going slowly and providing no threat to anybody, as the figures demonstrate.

    Cyclists frequently ignore red traffic lights, like pedestrians, with whom they have more in common than motorists (see Robbie’s statistics)
    And the experts tell me that 6000 people die every year because of air pollution. c 50% of this is caused by private motor vehicles; c 0% of this is caused by cyclists. 2 people die in the whole UK as a result of collisions with cyclists. Many people additionally become a burden on the NHS due to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and a myriad of associated problems and many of these die young. It seems completely mad to me not to promote cycling. This video was a powerful tool in my conversion (ignore the first 30 seconds) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDLb6biq39A

  10. @ALEC

    Breaking my usual habit of reading up to date before replying cos it’s late and there are pages of stuff ahead of me, so apologies if any of what you said has been picked up on and expanded upon in discussion with others during Saturday.

    I think we need to be careful in dredging up Ferguson’s previous ‘errors’ in a more general critique. The main points that the press seem to be going after him for is the FMD cull policy and the BSE modelling.

    I agree. I’ve done some very basic modelling myself recently to inform decision-making around my company’s use of the CJRS, and my projections for some of our businesses were way off, cos one or more of my assumptions didn’t apply to them or they changed their policy or I didn’t include factors that made them bigger outliers than most of our businesses.

    My directors understand that and are very happy with what I’ve done cos I projected within about 3% across the group as a whole. A director from one of the aforementioned businesses… it wouldn’t be fair or accurate of them to infer that I am bad at modelling because I was miles off for their business on this occasion. It might be fair of them to be rather sceptical of my numbers next time I project tho – isn’t it quite likely my modelling could have the same structural limitations that made me wrong for them and right for most other people next time too?

    And an analyst in their business who wasn’t privvy to projections and results in our other businesses would probably be very sceptical of my numbers next time – I made a prediction, it was totally wrong, why take me seriously next time?

    I think it gets even messier when dealing with things in the public domain, because there are questions of how what you project and advise will be reacted to, not merely whether you are right in the end or not.

    On the BSE modelling, effectively they are saying that with a brand new, completely unknown pathogen, Ferguson got the result right. 177 is between 50 and 50,000. The real criticism would be to question the use of a model that gives such a broad range of outcomes, to which the modellers would quite likely say OK, give us better biomedical data and we’ll improve the models.

    Not sure – I think that’s the fun criticism. Cos yes, how much future work would an internal pollster get if they confidently predicted the Labour Party would get between 1% and 65% in the next GE and then presented their invoice? The real criticism for me would be that he’s introducing to the public domain that scientists think this could be a catastrophic public health issue, rather than a very dangerous but incredibly rare individual affliction. It wasn’t, so in that sense he was clearly wrong. And I this is where I think it gets incredibly messy.

    In a really simplified situation, if your modelling suggests there’s a 10% chance of catastrophe, and a 90% chance everything will be fine… you have to warn that there’s a small chance of catastrophe don’t you? Even tho 9 times out of 10 you’re going to be Cassandra? And the politicians and the media and the public are all going to make different interpretations of what you say.

    On the FMD outbreak, again there has been a concerted campaign within the farming industry (very like that on bTB in it’s origin and construction) to target the government and scientists in order to avoid the livestock industry having to face up to it’s structural problems around hygiene and disease management. [The initial attempt, still cited by many poorly educated farmers, was that the outbreak was started by a rambler throwing away a ham sandwich…Everyone was to blame except sloppy farmers].

    Yeah that annoyed me at the time, especially with all the stuff that came out about systematic moving of animals and ignoring of rules until the outbreak was Real.

    Again, the accusation was that Ferguson was too pessimistic, and on the back of his modelling, a 24/48 hr contiguous cull policy was introduced.
    [EOR snip]
    Basically the Ferguson FMD model advice was based on overly pessimistic parameters, but it did work, although the benefits were relatively marginal compared to other approaches with more limited culling.

    Just for readability, cos these are the points I wanted to respond to, not disputing or dismissing what you said in between! Basically, I thought he was also instrumental in the decision to cull within 3km instead of 2km, substantially increasing the scope of the cull, and that this had been later regarded more widely as based on flawed/superceded assumptions?

    However, in an uncertain and fast moving situation, the risks of under culling were far greater than the risk of over culling.

    Yes, and someone qualified who is re-examining his data and conclusions might well conclude that with the knowledge and data he had that he did the right things. Whilst ministers who needed a steer from him might be a bit frustrated that he wasn’t more use. And someone on the outside might wonder why a guy who said maybe 50,000 or 150,000 deaths about a complete non-event is even being taken seriously.

    This is pretty much precisely where we are with CV19. Ferguson has used an overly pessimistic IFR. With novel pathogens, this always happens. Serious cases are identified much earlier, so the initial IFR is always higher.

    Indeed. It’s predictable with this kind of modelling, and it’s predictable with him. So, rational and intelligent non-axe-grinding people will ask, why did the government not adjust for that and dial his numbers down to something more realistic? Don’t answer that straight away cos I’m going to try to myself after your next bit :-)

    But would we ask the policy makers to take a punt on the real IFR number, or do we expect them to use the best available data and err on the side of caution? We can rebuild the economy later – we can’t resurrect the dead.

    That’s another really key thing. What is a government to do with the 10% chance of catastrophe I mentioned above? They can’t play the odds, it makes no sense. Indeed, within certain bounds probability makes no sense when you’re dealing with a unique event. Whether a unique catastrophe is 20% likely or 60% likely makes no difference, as a government you have to prepare for it either way. You can’t make 1/3rd of the preparations in the 20% situation and say it’ll all come out in the wash.

    That’s why the perception of accuracy is different to just being within the bounds of the model’s projections. You know if you put a high upper bound that you’re effectively compelling government to act on it, they almost can’t not do so. And if reality keeps turning out way lower than the scenario you prompted action by floating, then that’s on you to a degree too. You might still have been statistically and ethically right to do it, based on the information you had at the time, but in that kind of role I don’t think you have the luxury of relying just on that. If what you do keeps having bad outcomes because you don’t have enough information to do it properly at the time you do it, then that’s no fault of yours, but it suggests what you do is maybe too flawed to be a key voice in decision-making.

  11. ON (@Danny)
    “Yet another nationalist myth. Their government conscripted them into the armed forces, where they fought and died.”

    My father joined up voluntarily in 1938 as did many others when they saw what was happening. This is a particularly tasteless comment.

  12. @VARIOUS

    Since we’re all going anecdotal on cyclists;

    I’ve been running almost every day as my permitted exercise since this surrealism began.

    I spend a lot of time running in roads now, cos it’s the easiest and safest way to socially distance the pedestrians and the people who are gardening on the edge of their property, There are so few cars that I can do this almost all the way each day, in a major midlands city, even on arterial dual carriageways at many times.

    And yet, still the cyclists on the pavement. Around here at least they are almost always youngish male adults. Why they think they need to be on the pavement when there are virtually no cars on the actual roads is an interesting question and one they should be asked without recourse to “normal times” stats.

  13. Alec/Edge of reason,

    “But would we ask the policy makers to take a punt on the real IFR number, or do we expect them to use the best available data and err on the side of caution? We can rebuild the economy later – we can’t resurrect the dead.”

    Historically many times the exact opposite view has ruled. People all die and are replaceable. The economy must be protected at all cost in lives.

    It is incredibly decadent of us to believe life is more important than money. Only a rich man confident he will remain rich can say that.

    It is an incredible error to place life first. The only justification for doing so is a clear understanding that the security of the state has already been guaranteed, and so we can afford the luxury of spending a vast sum to add a small amount to the life expectancy of a few.

    I see no evidence anyone has tallied the cost of halting the economy, either in money or lives. Already the death toll from non function of the nhs is rising. It will be accompanied in future by an economic death toll, and at the rate we are going which will require many more car journeys, an environmental death toll. This current policy of lock down is one of national suicide.

    At the moment, the handling of this epidemic looks set to destroy the western economic model. Why do they keep trotting out epidemeologists rather than economists?

    Regarding cattle culls. I seem to remember that a vaccine for foot and mouth is available, it was just considered more cost effective to cull. The polar opposite of our approach to covid.

  14. OLDNAT

    “Yet another nationalist myth. Their government conscripted them into the armed forces, where they fought and died.”

    That may be true of a minority, but by and large, certainly from people I know and have known during my long life and who fought in both WW’s,your comment is just not true.

    I think it is just another of your anti-nationalist myths. Strange coming from a Scottish nationalist, or do you actually secretly believe in the togetherness of the UK?

  15. oldnat,
    “Yet another nationalist myth. Their government conscripted them into the armed forces, where they fought and died.”

    That is true and there was a mixed response. but I think you are guilty of imposing modern day humanitarian illusions on a public then well acquainted with the importance of warfare and inevitability of death. Scotland would have fared worse under nazi control than Westminster. We didn’t fight for universal freedom but the immediate territorial and hence economic interests of England, and at that time these would have been seen much more aligned with those of Scotland.

    I grant you this was a ‘prisoners dilemma’ situation, that it would have been far better for Europe to have formed a common market and common foreign policy and addressed the rest of the world from that position of unquestionable power. But we couldn’t manage it and paid the price. History seems to be repeating on that front, just as we will pay a huge price if we have falsely assessed the cost of trying to keep a few extra people alive a bit longer.

  16. @ oldnat

    My late father had to train a replacement as he was in a reserved job as the manager of a chemical company vital to the production of oil.
    He joined up just in time to be flown to Europe to replace one of the many dead junior officers after D day.

  17. According to Wikipedia (I know,,…) roughly eight million people served, at one time or another, in the UK forces in WW2 – that includes Indian, Palestinian and other non-UK citizens serving, particularly in the army, so the number of UK citizens serving is rather less than that.

    1.5 million UK citizens were conscripted during WW2 – therefore the large majority of UK citizens joining the forces were not conscripted (presumably therefore serving as volunteers or were already serving in September 1939).

    I hadn’t taken on board just how large the RN was relative to the other services, with well over three million serving at some time during the war.

  18. My father was also in a protected occupation; nevertheless, as a long-standing and committed pacifist he insisted on going before a Board and declaring his beliefs.

    My mother was furious apparently, as she had to put up with all the ‘white feathering’ and unpleasantness of being the wife of a ‘conshie’ while he toured around the west country doing his job.

    Sadly he died when I was too young to have even a memory of him, let alone a proper understanding of how he thought and what he believed.

  19. @EoR – great post.

    I don’t really disagree with anything you’ve said.

    What you have made me move onto is t consider what models actually are, and I suspect this is really where the problem is. You referred at several points to ‘predictions’, but perhaps that’s the mistake that is being made? Models are scenarios, more than predictions, where you try to calculate outcomes from various input assumptions.

    That effectively brings us into the realms of risk management, which you discussed. In terms of public policy decisions, uncertainty is a very difficult thing to deal with, and voters and politicians don’t like uncertainty. Unfortunately, it’s now feasible to judge models without accepting uncertainty.

    Modellers who get it wrong are therefore criticised, whereas perhaps we should instead focus on understanding the limitations of modelling and understanding the management of risk. Your 10% chance of a catastrophe idea sits right in the centre of this, and indeed, is at the heart of risk management techniques.

    Interesting stuff though – and no one used caps lock!

  20. @Danny

    “My sense is people are starting to think this is all nonsense and we just need to get on with life.”

    If older people want to ignore the advice and go out to the beach in their mobility scooter, there’s a little bit of “at your own risk”. We’ve heard a lot of older people like Humphreys, Bakewell et al demanding to be let out and not “discriminated” against.

    “Oh, and then we have the foolishness of brexit to contend with.”

    An overwhelming democratic decision. Commenting upon which is the business of this site. Foolish to you, democracy to me.

  21. JIM JAM

    ‘re NHS returns to Care Homes _An article in ST today about a CH taking 2
    ” negative” residents back . They both died ofCV19

    Reported this policy started by NHS March 17 to shift out 15k patients !

    A National scandal _ worse than Sweden’s herd immunity effect on their
    Care Homes.

  22. POLL ALERT Opinium latest:

    https://www.opinium.co.uk/public-opinion-on-coronavirus-5th-may/

    Easing lockdown measures wording (Q19) has been improved but is being misreported as no one is expecting anything to reopen as normal regardless of the situation on 8May (which is past tense already!)

    The 3rd options is the “realistic option” and plurality in every category except nightclubs (and a tie for stadiums)

    New infections have already started to go down and limitations on number of people will be a certainty so, the “net” number should be 1 – “should not re-open until a vaccine is available”. That would cover the realistic roadmap of different categories that (paraphrase) “should reopen soon but with ongoing restrictions”

    So ranked in order of “should reopen..”, net:

    Offices: 82%
    Non-essential shops: 80%
    Schools: 78%

    Shopping Centres: 62%
    Restaurants: 47%
    Pubs: 41%

    Cinemas: 24%
    Stadiums: 13%
    Nightclubs: 0%

    NB I’ve split them into three groups to show the likely “phasing”

    PS As mentioned more recently I’ve changed my view slightly on the need for plurality of public opinion for each measures and above now shows the urgency for Boris to start the phased gradual move to a “new normal” – the tide has turned!

  23. @Danny – “Historically many times the exact opposite view has ruled. People all die and are replaceable. The economy must be protected at all cost in lives.

    It is incredibly decadent of us to believe life is more important than money. Only a rich man confident he will remain rich can say that.”

    Ahhh! At last! I can understand where you are going wrong.

    You think there is such a thing as ‘the economy’, that this can be philosophically divorced from people.

    That’s a huge mistake on your part. What you aren’t grasping is that we are the economy – the economy is nothing more or less than that. No health = no economy.

    This is said as a (relative) poor man who could potentially lose quite a lot.

  24. @Colin – presumably at some point we may get research showing just how much of the care home crisis was caused by the NHS policy.

    If so, we may be able to draw some conclusions about what the success of the lockdown might have been, if the movements of people between the NHS and care sector was handled properly.

  25. Q20 also interesting if you adjust for the Real World.

    A lot of 65+s wouldn’t feel comfortable working in an office (but a lot of those of working age would).

    For pubs then no one over 18 can currently use them anyway but we certainly don’t want a “surge” and packed pubs also open to the most at risk using then when they do eventually reopen. Currently all age groups would be net uncomfortable but it moves from 15% to 51% as you go the age groups. Perfect if you want to limit the numbers and avoid the most at risk using them – voluntarily!

    IMO we need to take advantage of the ongoing concern and start a “voluntary” reopening soon. The longer we stay under “prohibition” the higher the risk of a break down in behaviour and a mass surge once things like pubs are finally reopened.

    Moving back to “persuasion” with the expectation of folks being able to continue to abide by social distancing will avoid a 2nd wave (but will keep up a steady current skewed to the least at risk groups). Delaying the inevitable is just killing more of the most at risk, more of the economy and more likely to create a large 2nd wave in the Autumn/Winter :(

    PS No one will be forced to go to the pub! This approach works because those most at risk should choose to stay away – which is what the polling suggests. I’d personally bring in age ID and use the ‘Warwick” approach but I respect that is not Boris’s thing (Stanley wouldn’t like it). “Strong communication and clear advice” is the next best thing.

  26. Sorry folks, but this is pretty pathetic.

    The Sunday papers are reporting that the ‘Stay at Home’ slogan is being replaced with ‘Stay alert…’.

    The Scottish FM has tweeted – “The Sunday papers is the first I’ve seen of the PM’s new slogan..” and says Scotland won’t be changing their slogan, the Welsh FM says this morning that he does not know what the UK PM is going to announce tonight. UK Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick the government would like a ‘coordinated response’.

    This is totally shambolic. You can’t call for a united response and then not tell anyone else what you are planning.

    We are once again veering into dangerous levels of incompetence at the very top of UK government here.

  27. Colin – and care workers like your granddaughter at greater risk than they believed and had been willing to take for the job.

    I think the Public and are entitled to know who decided on, and who acquiesced with, that decision on March 17h and subsequently.

    Am so grateful to my sister and brother in law for taking my parents in.

  28. Spiegelhalter on TV just used the same stat I have been quoting of risk rising approx x2 for every 6-7 years older you are. He also described this as essentially a disease of over 75s.

    He seemed a little upset at being miss quoted by politicians

  29. The NHS order to shift ‘bed-blockers’ to care homes was not necessarily the wrong approach.

    However it needed to be combined with rigorous testing of each potential transferee for COVID.

    We couldn’t do this because:
    – we had failed to develop sufficient testing capacity to test the 15,000 transferees alongside those entering hospital and suspected of having COVID
    – govt instruction at that time was to limit testing to only symptomatic hospital in-patients.

    The failure to ramp up testing capabilities in late Feb/early March has come home to roost in spades – we put ourselves in a position where we simply could not test even a fraction of the people that we needed to test, nor did we properly assess the priorities for testing.

    WHO ‘test, test, test’ were absolutely right, and we were totally wrong on this one, until public opinion forced a change of approach…

  30. Starting the new slogan with “Stay alert” does seem rather weak to me when we are still needing social distancing.

    If I could guide the English thinking I would put “Follow advice, Control the virus, Save lives”.

    As for the shambles described above of no proper consultation between nations, words fail me.

  31. Alec,
    “That’s a huge mistake on your part. What you aren’t grasping is that we are the economy”

    no. see spiegelhalter quote that this is a disease of over 75s. The working population is largely unaffected by the effects of this virus. The economy has been deliberately halted so as to protect the productively inactive.

    “The Sunday papers are reporting that the ‘Stay at Home’ slogan is being replaced with ‘Stay alert…”

    Clearly government has concluded stay at home is no longer a credible position. Not only was it discredited by study as ineffective, the circumstances it was imposed have changed.

    however circumstances in scotland and Wales might justify a stiffer response. Seems circumstances in different areas of England would benefit from local rather than single national policy.

    Difficult for government to admit it was a mistaken step.

  32. and I hope Williamson and Boris have read the findings in CQ7 of Opinium poll!! Plurality of support across all scenarios.

    7pm we’ll find out…

    NB realistically nothing before 1Jun and then “partial” but “partial” covers a wide range of possibilities.

  33. There always a lot of Caveats in the number who have caught Covid-19. Firstly if the death rate is 1% then it is assumed that X100 number of people infected. However I would have thought that the the most vulnerable who are living in care homes and those being treated in hospitals for other conditions are more likely to contact Covid19 due to its prevalence in those places. So for instance if you selected a random person the death rate could be 0.6% but in effect 2-3% of people infected with Covid die because those most vulnerable catch it.

  34. @Charles

    I think that the long-standing mantra ‘you don’t need vitamin supplements if you eat a balanced diet’ is partly to blame for neglect of the effects of sub-clinical vitamin deficiencies. I have noticed though that the GPs on the BBC Breakfast Programme are mentioning vitamin supplementation more often now than they did at the beginning of the epidemic.

    Thanks also for the BGS advice link; it doesn’t really surprise me; if you go back a few years you see exacly the same sort of attitude expressed in the Liverpool Care Pathway https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23698071

  35. Just on the earlier WW2 points and as many people have more time than usual (to read), Angus Calder’s book, The People’s War, is still one of the outstanding works on the social history of 1939-45.

  36. Hello all

    Looking forward to Boris addressing the nation this evening st 7pm.

  37. @ Colin/Jim Jam

    Your story on discharges to care homes is shocking. I’d put a big full stop after my comment other than to query whether this is the one reason why hospitals were not “overwhelmed”.

    I’ve seen this myself in normal times- my mum had a “failed discharge” when it was obvious the day she was released that she would be back again and was back several hours later going through the whole admissions process again. I’m sure they either needed the beds or were under some target to treat and discharge people within a set time.

    None of this excuses a shockingly bad decision on discharge to care homes without adequate testing or to create some sort of half way house that provided an NHS equivalent of semi self isolating for 14 days with regular testing allowing for false negatives. I just think there may have been pressures and bad decisions caused by the need to keep hospitals functioning.

    It would be a mistake to automatically assume hospitals weren’t in fact overwhelmed and then criticise any bad judgment call on that basis.

  38. @alec

    “We are once again veering into dangerous levels of incompetence at the very top of UK government here.”

    Indeed.

    The Scottish FM said on Thursday (IIRC) that there had been no consulation from the UK Government about Johnson’s plans and announcement, that two meetings of COBRA had been cancelled and one was scheduled for today (Sunday) but that she had just heard that the UK PM had requested a conference call for Tbursday afternoon with the three FMs.

    It would be easy to see this as a deliberate attempt to undermine the devolution settlement still further especially given the attack lines which the Scottish Tories have been deploying in recent days. More
    Ikely, it reflects deep divisions in the UK Government and between the UK Government and its backbenchers and consequent indecision.

    On the subtance of the new message for England what does “Stay alert” actually mean in terms of practical action. Stay alert for what? Bojo’s invisible mugger? Stay alert for asymptomatic carriers of the virus?

  39. It seems the new slogan is to begin with Stay Alert.
    The First Minister of Scotland has said this is confusing and Scotland will stick with Stay Home.
    Does she think the Scots are half wits?
    In any event, it doesn’t matter, Scotland is a small part of the country and my mate “mad jock” Fraser who lives in Aberdeen says people listen to the London presses much more than the Sturgeon things at lunchtime.

  40. New thread alert.

    And it’s an absolute cracker!

  41. “On the substance of the new message for England what does “Stay alert” actually mean in terms of practical action. Stay alert for what?”

    Indeed. No amount of alertness can tell us who is or is not carrying the virus until they develop clear symptoms.

  42. @ Danny

    I actually agree with you that some of the rules are silly. There is nothing wrong with people seeing their parents, grand children, grand parents if they keep to the social distancing rules. Nothing wrong with sitting on a beach or park under similar circumstances or going for exercise more than once a day for an hour (other than in built up areas where there is space rationing).

    However I think these rules were brought in mainly so that things could be policed and prevent breaches of regulations otherwise everyone would have had an excuse for being out. Also, as I said before, one person sitting on the beach is fine but 2,000 isn’t so how can you police over capacity?

    The government messaging over the last week has been very poor, again because a lot of it has been filtered through via on or off the record comments in newspapers. The indication was that today was going to be a big announcement from Johnson and then gradually throughout the week rowing back on this to the point that tonight is likely to be a damp squib. But it has given people the expectations that things were going to be relaxed and anecdotally there seem to have been many more people breaking regulations.

    While I understand your key point about economy over deaths (and the argument that this causes less deaths in long term) I don’t really understand your practicalities of this. Hospitals were mostly at capacity and my comment to Colin & Jim Jam made me feel that actually we were beyond capacity but avoided the scenes we saw in Italy. Had we followed Sweden then very probably we would have been over capacity.

    You also mentioned falling behind on other non Covid-19 treatments. This would only have been worse had we gone full herd immunity as you keep suggesting. The hundreds of thousands of deaths predicted without these measures would have made this worse.

    The jury is still out on Sweden and about any approach and no one can really say one approach has been better until many years later, but I just think that it’s not about having a big plan but just keeping our health service able to cope- indeed one of the key 5 tests- probably number 1.

  43. Just a piece of advice for the extreme Britnat unionists given recent posts:

    “Nasty attacks demean your points of view and show an insecurity.”

  44. hugo: Hello all

    Looking forward to Boris addressing the nation this evening st 7pm.

    I think we can get it in Scotland too.

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