In the last couple of days I’ve seen three polls asking about government handling of the Coronavirus. There was a short Yougov poll shared between Sky and the Times on Friday (here), a much longer YouGov poll in today’s Sunday Times (here), and an Opinium poll for this morning’s Observer (here).

I should start by saying a little to what extent public opinion matters at all on a topic like this. In judging what the correct approach is, public opinion obviously weighs little if at all compared to the opinion of experts in epidemiology. However polls are not about finding the correct answer, they are about measuring what the public think, whether that is right or wrong, wise or foolish, and on other levels this does matter. We know the government are keen to stress they are following the scientific advice, but would they be blown off that course if there was widespread public dissatisfaction? We don’t know. Perhaps more importantly, many of the actions the government will take in the months ahead will depend upon the public’s willingness to get on board and follow their instructions, so public confidence in the government’s actions really will matter.

On the topline the majority of people approve of the government’s performance:

  • in the YouGov/Times/Sky poll 55% said the government was handling it well, 31% badly.
  • In the YouGov/Sunday Times poll 53% say they have a confidence in the governments handling, 40% do not.
  • In the Opinium/Observer poll 44% approved of the government’s reaction, 30% disapproved.

Overall these are positive findings. However there is a caveat. Asked about the amount the govt have done to respond the YouGov/Sunday Times polls dound 47% think have done too little, compared to 4% too much and 39% about right. Using a differently worded question Opinium found a similar breakdown of opinion (12% over-reacting, 41% under-reacting, 41% about right). In other words, while the public support the governments handling so far, there is some feeling they should now be going further (though given the government have been explicit that they will be introducing more stringent measures in future weeks it’s probably a good sign that there is public appetite for it… it would be far trickier if the public thought the government were over-reacting).

It’s also worth noting that Opinium found that only 36% of people trusted what Boris Johnson personally said on the issue of the coronavirus, a less positive figure than the government as a whole (in contrast 59% of people said they trusted Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Advisor – suggesting the government’s strategy of regularly flanking Johnson with Whitty and Patrick Vallance at press conferences may be a wise one).

Asked about specific changes that could be introduced there seems to be widespread support for a wide variety of measures. The YouGov/Sunday Times poll found majority support for a state of emergency, for travel bans, for food rationing, for cancelling large events. Opinium found similar. Asked about closing schools (perhaps the topic that has been discussed the most over the last week), Opinium found 44% of people in favour, 26% opposed – plurality support, but not the overwhelming backing they found for some other measures.


4,675 Responses to “YouGov and Opinium polls on the government’s handling of the Coronavirus”

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  1. Shevii

    Per the stats I’ve seen the number of people tested went up from about 9,500 on 6 April to around 13,000 on 7 April. The proportion of positive results went up, too, but this may be simply a product of the tests being better targeted as our understanding of the virus grows.

    Until the UK is able to expand the number of tests greatly, I wouldn’t pay a lot of attention to the number of positives. The total producing positive tests is still only 55,000 out of 232,000 people, but most sensible estimates of the total number who have been infected are in the range of 2M to 4M.

  2. Leftieliberal,
    ” To me, that says that Sunak will have to keep putting some cash into the economy as it recovers.”

    unfortunately there is the axe about to fall on the patient’s head wielded by the brexiteers.

  3. @Old Nat

    Does your name go into atutomod?? My innocuous reply to an earlier post of yours just won’t pass moderation!!

    All I wanted to say was that I agreed with your view that there will be enormous pressure to keep things as they are, warts and all, in the world that awaits us after the pandemic subsides.

    I’ll try that. More I wanted to say. If this goes through, it was probably the use of the phrase es*[email protected] [email protected] in my previous attemots and not your moniker!

    :-)

  4. @OldNat

    Bingo. You’re cleared!

  5. Jim Jam

    “We will establish a constitutional convention in opposition that applies that principle of federalism and a new settlement for the UK.”

    https://news.stv.tv/politics/starmer-scotland-should-have-more-powers-in-federalism-move?top

    It’s not that he’s a lawyer that matters. It’s that he is a politician! He has given an absolute commitment to setting up a discussion group where things can be discussed.

    Now, if that had been proposed 70 years ago …..

  6. @Alec

    “why do companies crowd our towns and cities with revolting looking office buildings when we’ve just proved people can work from home, save money on child care, and cut deaths and costs from communiting?”

    We proved people *can* work from home, we’re far from demonstrating that we can work anywhere near as efficiently from home or that a significant number actually want to do it.

    Certainly in my place a fair few are pretty fed up of it already, myself included, and I have one of the better setups at home, plenty don’t even have space for a proper desk/study area.

    I think we’ll see some wfh usage post this as companies who were reluctant to allow it will hopefully be less so now but i struggle to see some kind of wfh revolution happening, that’s very much futurist rubbish, as, frankly, are quite a few other of the post covid predictions flying about.

  7. “I think we’ll see some wfh usage post this ”

    er, meant increase, not usage.

  8. Actually talking of Sir Keir, I’m so happy he won (I joined the LP just so I could vote for somebody sensible – I’m firmly a member of the ABT tribe only).

    Some people say he’s boring, but if Boris is ‘interesting’ then we need someone as boring as possible.

    He’s also good at empathy. A bit of the Justin Trudeau about him, although not as slimey nor charismatic. Keir always looks concerned. I like that.

    Tories don’t do convincing empathy. Seeing Priti Patel trying to talk about poor and disabled people is vomit inducing.

  9. Lewblew

    “not everyone agrees with your viewpoint or hypotheses.”

    Of course not, and I didn’t suggest otherwise. However, looking at polling data in Scotland, on the desirability of various constitutional arrangements, and VI polling would suggest that your hopes are less well founded.

    Of course, things might change. Starmer might find that the Labour Party in England is enthusiastic about dumping Scotland, Wales and NI, as his convention considers their ideal structure for the UK.

    But VI polling in 2020 has (3 poll average) for Holyrood constituencies – SNP 51% : SCon 25% : SLab 15%.

    In the one Westminster VI poll of 2020 – SNP 51% : SCon 25% : SLab 16%.

  10. James E,
    ” most sensible estimates of the total number who have been infected are in the range of 2M to 4M.”

    The kings corona survey is essentially estimating around 8 million minimum.

    Shevii,
    “So where are these new cases coming from? Frontline people still working and catching public transport? Care homes, supermarkets, dustbin lids? People who had it at the start of the lockdown passing on to their partners at a later date?”

    I would think partners is very likely. Which of course will drop out of the figures in another week or so.

    To my mind supermarkets is a lot more likely than walking in the park – or even sunbathing. Care homes is going to be a permanent problem untill they all have it, and similarly a lot of medical staff will have got it. They are probably more likely than most to end up in the official figures because they stand more chance of being tested.

    But since we are still seeking herd immunity, there needs to be a certain amount of leakage to keep the new cases level up.

    corona survey has the number of active symptomatic cases down from 1.9 million to 1.4 million 1-8 April. The official number of cases is hopelessly too low because they have only tested a fraction of people with the virus. The total of current infections will be more than 1.4 million because of asymptomatic cases, which obviously people cannot self report. This might double or quadruple the total. And then to get the full total of all cases, you have to work out how many have already had it in the past.

  11. Danny

    “The kings corona survey is essentially estimating around 8 million minimum.”

    I’d understood that it estimated around 1.4M currently infected.

    Isn’t your figure of 8 Million based on your own estimate of most cases being asymptomatic ?

  12. James B

    “We proved people *can* work from home, we’re far from demonstrating that we can work anywhere near as efficiently from home or that a significant number actually want to do it.”

    I was talking to my son in the USA about this the other day.

    He loves working from home! But as he says, he’s an introvert and prefers to limit his social interactions anyway. As he works best late at night, that’s when he does the work. Some of his colleagues are morning people, and get up at 5am to do their work. With set periods during the day when they all have to be available to consult each other, it seems to work well in his company.

    During my time seconded to the local council, I found the amount of time that people spent socialising, rather than working, very surprising.

    I suspect the move to home working will depend on the kind of work being performed, the supervisory methods adopted, and the willingness of staff members to see work as something to be performed, as opposed to chatting with their pals!

  13. Re Covid immunity

    Do we have substantive evidence that recovered patients are immune to reinfection?

    That would seem to be rather an important thing to know.

  14. Old Nat – re immunity

    Hope this is some use:

    https://fullfact.org/health/coronavirus-catch-twice/

  15. James E

    Thanks.

  16. James E,
    “Isn’t your figure of 8 Million based on your own estimate of most cases being asymptomatic ?”

    It isnt my estimate of asymptomatic cases , but one reported by Iceland, China, Italy, cruise ships. But an equally large contributon is because if there are 1.4 million cases now and 1.9 a week ago, then there were also others now recovered who had it before. The survey figure is current active cases with symptoms. The government figure is total of all cases cumulatively including those recovered (supposedly).

  17. Is this the caravan convoy Bantams was talking about?

    https://twitter.com/stusykes/status/1247982830191349761

  18. We are pleased to reveal the name of the temporary hospital at the Principality Stadium, which has been named Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig, Dragon’s Heart Hospital.

    Bloody Welsh! Why can’t they celebrate a middle class English woman, like reasonable people do?

  19. Danny

    I asked you a day or two ago to provide evidence in support of your contention that the majority (indeed the vast majority) of Covid-19 cases were asymptomatic. You’ve quoted the names of various countries, but surely you are not claiming that the governments of this countries share your views? It would be interesting to read something with a scientific basis, if you can provide this.

    In the meantime, I would note that per the following link, it appears that the majority of cases originally believed to be ‘asymptomatic’ turned out to be pre-symptomatic:

    https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-what-we-know-so-far-about-those-who-can-pass-corona-without-symptoms

  20. Just out of interest since Coronavirus appeared has anyone heard anything from Farage…

    Funny how many of those so keen to give us easy solutions to what they said caused the problems are now so quiet!

    Peter.

  21. @James E -“Per the article linked above from the Lancet, the estimated time from contracting the virus to death is around 18 days.”

    Technical correction, but they actually say 17.8 days from onset of symptoms to death, which means c 23 days from infection to death.

    The paper from @Laszlo does give some interesting data though. On the downside, it’s a small sample, and from China, but on the upside, it’s real clinical case data.

    One of the interesting findings is overall infection fatality rate, which they suggest is 0.66%. If this is accurate, the UK currently has 7,000 deaths, and being pessimistic, if these increase at 1000 per day for the next three weeks that means there would be 28,000 deaths from existing infections.

    That would suggest current total UK infection numbers of 4.24m, or 6.5%. This isn’t a million miles from the Covid tracker app data. Whether deaths reach 28,000 in three weeks is debatable, so any more optimistic assumptions would serve to reduce the overall infection rate.

    Nothing in these numbers is certain however, although it is another bit of clinically based data that points to far lower infection levels than some of the modelling approaches have come up with.

  22. How lockdown changes your perspective!

    I’m quite excited at being able to get in the car tomorrow, and drive 20 miles to hospital to have a camera shoved up into my bladder.

    (I might pop into a supermarket on the way back, to stock up on some essentials, but don’t tell my daughter who has told me I’m grounded for the duration).

  23. @OLDNAT

    “But VI polling in 2020 has (3 poll average) for Holyrood constituencies – SNP 51% : SCon 25% : SLab 15%.

    In the one Westminster VI poll of 2020 – SNP 51% : SCon 25% : SLab 16%.”

    I’d say these are extremely strange and challenging times… Let’s not forget just a decade ago the SNP were 4th place in many Scottish seats with little more than 10%, behind SLD and even SCON, and in that 2010 election Labour won 41 of them. Things can change very quickly and I’d not like to assume SNP are going to stay flavour of the month.

    I’d also not believe any polls, any day of the week! Am I on the wrong site?

  24. @OLDNAT

    “How lockdown changes your perspective!

    I’m quite excited at being able to get in the car tomorrow, and drive 20 miles to hospital to have a camera shoved up into my bladder.”

    Oh, good luck with that. Hopefully not a Polaroid or anything.

    You might find yourself Corona tested… A mate of mine had to go to hospital for some treatment for a non-Corona thing this week and got tested automatically. 3 swabs – at least one up your nose right to the back (which I didn’t even know existed). I think I’d prefer the Polaroid.

  25. Alec

    Thank you – quite correct that it would be circa 23-25 days from infection to death, not 18 days.

  26. Lewblew

    “I’d also not believe any polls, any day of the week! Am I on the wrong site?”

    Probably. Still, believe in your intuition if that keeps you happy.

  27. OldNat

    “Do we have substantive evidence that recovered patients are immune to reinfection?
    That would seem to be rather an important thing to know.”

    Seems an obvious thing to say but is it true?

    Does it inform any strategy?

    It strikes me that they all rely on a decent acquired immune response being maintained at least into the medium term and they’re all shafted (as, indeed, are we) if we can’t establish that.

  28. That’s a very lorry-looking convoy of caravans.

    Internet very slow tonight, both wi-fi and mobile data out and about (supermarket essentials, mein Fuhrer).

    Makes me wonder if the government are waiting to flick the switch and turn it off so that, as panic sets in, they can finally send Michael Gove out with an uzi to shoot everyone.

  29. Lewblew

    “they can finally send Michael Gove out with an uzi to shoot everyone”

    You may remember this Guardian cartoon ….

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/cartoon/2012/mar/16/1

  30. @ OldNat

    If you watched the computer animation they showed on’t tele earlier of someone coughing or sneezing in a supermarket you won’t go near one for the duration. The resultant droplets can travel in bulk into the next aisle, get a home delivery!

  31. @LewBlew

    “Finally, I think that this is the last trump for cruises. Cruise ships are like floating Petri dishes and I think there is a real chance that this pandemic will kill off cruising.”

    Yes, that one occurred to me too and was part of my general point about what all this may mean for the future of mass tourism. I know many people who really enjoy this form of holiday, so I’m loathe to condemn it out of hand, but my wife and have always been averse to trying it ourselves. Accordingly I’ve never experienced it beyond occasionally being in places where these vast floating hotels have docked and then disgorged 5,000 people, en masse, into a small port, swamping it completely. The local museums, shops, bars and cafes love it, certainly from a revenue point of view, but you can’t help feeling that the non commercial local population dread it, as do the tourists who are visiting these destinations in small numbers.

    I also remember a colossal cruise ship docking in Sydney Harbour when we were there last year and dwarfing everything in its immediate surrounds. Not good.

    Then of course, as you say, you have health risks that have been cruelly exposed by this pandemic. Not forgetting, in the past, outbreaks of food poisoning that have bedevilled cruise liners before too.

    They’ll be missed by the thousands who enjoy cruise holidays, but maybe the greater good for the greater number would be served if there are far fewer of them in the future.

    What does the future hold too for these gargantuan sized hotels in major resorts? There are a lot in Spain, and tourism is a major part of their economy, but will they be wondering now about encouraging these summer long vast congregations of overseas visitors in a world where the memory of coronavirus will be seared in the collective memory of the nation. Will the Spanish people want it back it after all this and will this force governments to think about limits. How many budget airlines will there be left to fly people? Will us Brits think more carefully about overseas travel?

    IUt may be all bets off for so many of our old ways, who knows?

  32. @ PeterS

    The South Koreans are investigating this very issue as they have 51 recovered coronavirus patients who have tested positive again. It has a lot of medical experts very worried.

  33. Some more on the misreporting of ‘asymptomatic’ cases:

    https://www.propublica.org/article/what-we-need-to-understand-about-asymptomatic-carriers-if-were-going-to-beat-coronavirus

    “… the WHO so far has found few truly asymptomatic cases, in which a patient tests positive and has zero symptoms for the entire course of the disease. However, there are many cases where people are “pre-symptomatic,” where they have no symptoms at the time when they test positive but go on to develop symptoms later.

    “Most of the people who were thought to be asymptomatic aren’t truly asymptomatic,” said Van Kerkhove. “When we went back and interviewed them, most of them said, actually I didn’t feel well but I didn’t think it was an important thing to mention. I had a low-grade temperature, or aches, but I didn’t think that counted.”

    The WHO sent a team to China and visited community centers, clinics and hospitals, and transportation hubs. Through their data collection, the team found that about 75% of people who were initially classified as “asymptomatic” went on to develop symptoms, she said. This matches up with the CDC’s findings at the nursing facility in Washington. Of the 13 positive patients who initially reported no symptoms during testing,10 later developed symptoms.”

    https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf

  34. @ON

    Short term immunity is surely a guarantee if you survive as it’s the mechanism by which we recover from such things!

    “He loves working from home! But as he says, he’s an introvert and prefers to limit his social interactions anyway. As he works best late at night, that’s when he does the work.”

    My present company is pretty similar amongst the others either I’ve worked for or know others who work for engineering consultancy in mostly being de facto relaxed about flexible working but not backing it up hugely from a policy perspective which means the majority work fairly much as fits them but with some scattered pockets of traditionalism about where teams are led by some old stick in the mud, hopefully that will get some resolution post this. Obviously those involved in supervising or managing site work etc have more reasonable grounds for having to stick to a constrained work routine.

    My general impression from those I currently work with was if they weren’t already home working then they’re finding it pretty challenging for reasons including:

    -wanting to keep work/home separate
    -focus/mindset/distractions
    -lack of space for a decent work setup (2 decent sized screens is pretty much a minimum now), for those in HMOs (more junior staff) or families without spare rooms this isn’t exactly an easy thing to sort out.
    -social element – yep people do spend some time chatting.

    As such I’m suspecting increases in wfh as a result of this to be relatively muted, more people who wanted to but couldn’t will be allowed to, but I’m not seeing a huge demand from most.

    For me it’s combination of 1,2 and 4. I’m far less introverted than I used to be and while I do have nightowl tendencies I also like seeing daylight and I find the 15min cycle to an (ugly?) office a way to keep myself to some sort of routine. Also as much as I enjoy my job I do like to keep the work mostly at work, not at home.

  35. @ Crossbat11

    No cruising? I like being one of the 4000 being disgorged onto a tiny atoll in the Indian Ocean where there’s standing room only on the beach.

    Being serious we’re pretty convinced we contracted coronavirus in the Caribbean, probably in Barbados or Grenada. The best way to stop this is to stop people buying and eating wild meat in China and any other country that allows it. A nice leg of Pangolin cooked for 30 minutes in the oven at 200 degrees……..no thanks.

  36. Bantams

    Thanks for the advice. From what you say, it would seem to make sense to require everyone to wear a mask, when in a store etc, to minimise transmitting disease.

    I’ve had actual influenza twice – in the 1950s and 1960s – and have no wish to repeat that experience in an even worse form.

    But, if there is only limited immunity from having been infected previously, my options would appear to be getting it, or becoming a hermit.

    Neither of these is an attractive proposition for my remaining years.

  37. @Bantams
    Remember to include the mince pies and turkey in the next available slot

  38. @ Steve

    We’ve got a home delivery booked with Morrisons on the 13th……….I’m not going to tell you which month though :|}

  39. James B

    “Also as much as I enjoy my job I do like to keep the work mostly at work, not at home.”

    But that might just be learned behaviour in a society that has chosen to require people to go outside the home, to a special place, to work. Rather a 19th century model.

    In earlier times, working from home was the expected model, whether you were an agricultural worker, or a textile worker. “Cottage industries” of the 18th century, and earlier, types have largely been replaced, but that kind of societal model may be found to be more beneficial in future.

    Leaving home to work may become, once again, restricted to specialist trades where it is essential.

  40. OldNat

    My wife doesn’t tell our daughter of she has been to the shop to buy some essentials, because she would be scolded.

    It seems to be a pattern (my wife is almost 70 years old).

    I still don’t have a set of routines (apart from walking the dog at 3:10 pm for 1.5 miles), but trying to implement them. I find it helpful when others set some routines, e.g. “Can we have a virtual meeting at 11 am on Friday”. My mood definitely improves then.

  41. I don’t want to elaborate too much on methodology (the Lancet article as @ Alec rightly said is based on clinical evidence). But just in case.

    1) we are working with different sets (infected and uninfected) and each set we have subsets (such as tested, untested, asymptomatic, heavy symptoms and so on).
    2) in order to make a reliable prediction we need to be able to estimate the size of the sets and do the analysis in-sets.
    3) Then we can do a cross-set analysis, but it has to preserve the identities of the sets.
    4) The problem is – we have (with a range of error) the size of positive tested, the size of positive tested with heavy symptoms, the size of positive tested, heavy symptoms dead in hospitals, but it doesn’t allow us to make an extrapolation from it to the total size of the relevant sets and subsets.
    5) so we are using a scenario approach with assumptions built in. This is perfectly legitimate, but in news reporting this tends to disappear.
    6) Politically introducing measures for best and worst scenarios are not really acceptable, so the scenarios are mediated by available resources and this dictates the measures introduced.
    7) While probably the underlying figures of the sets are stable (although not the knowledge of them), the resources are more dynamic, thus political measures are constantly re-evaluated but not on the basis of the underlying data, but on the basis of data presented and the evaluation of resources.

    So, while we have an academic debate, there is also a political debate, and the two cross-reference each other creating some fuzziness.

  42. Laszlo

    That seems an excellent summary of the interplay between the sets of research thinking and political thinking.

    On the political side, the decisions on how and when to relax lockdown would be of critical importance.

    Great kudos can be achieved by liberating voters from excessive restrictions – but killing off their nearest and dearest by getting it wrong, would be disastrous.

    For the medics, decisions are perhaps simpler. They just focus on how to keep people alive.

  43. @crossbat11

    Re. Cruises… Wasn’t me who said that! I’m originally from Southampton so wouldn’t say a word against the cruise trade. I remember gazing out to sea at the QE2 when she sailed off into the night about 10 years ago with a tear in my eye…

    Doing away with shipping wouldn’t do our local politicians any good either. The Tory one for the dodgy half of the city, Royston Smith, apprehended a sailor toting a gun and was awarded the George Medal.

  44. @Bantams

    “Being serious we’re pretty convinced we contracted coronavirus in the Caribbean, ”

    So there’s no truth then in the rumour that you caught it from that infected tiger you encountered whilst on a safari excursion in India, having disembarked from your cruise liner in Mumbai?

    Social distancing recommendations being that you should keep at least 500 metres from the animal and avoid at all times any temptation to pose for a selfie with your head in its forced wide open jaws.

    :-)

  45. ON
    “But, if there is only limited immunity from having been infected previously, my options would appear to be getting it, or becoming a hermit.”

    Don’t they have the flu jab in Scotland?

    “In earlier times, working from home was the expected model, whether you were an agricultural worker, or a textile worker. ”

    A lot of nailmakers and chainmakers in the Black Country were home-based into the 20th century.

  46. @Lewblew

    “Re. Cruises… Wasn’t me who said that! I’m originally from Southampton so wouldn’t say a word against the cruise trade. I remember gazing out to sea at the QE2 when she sailed off into the night about 10 years ago with a tear in my eye…”

    You’re quite right and my apologies. It was LeftieLiberal, not you.

    Please extend my apologies to the good people of Southampton!

  47. James E,
    “I asked you a day or two ago to provide evidence in support of your contention that the majority (indeed the vast majority) of Covid-19 cases were asymptomatic. You’ve quoted the names of various countries, but surely you are not claiming that the governments of this countries share your views?”

    If you have been reading this thread, then you already know all the sources of this information. Others have already posted them.

    “In the meantime, I would note that per the following link, it appears that the majority of cases originally believed to be ‘asymptomatic’ turned out to be pre-symptomatic:”

    You mean where it says “Redfield on Tuesday told NPR that “we have pretty much confirmed” that “a significant number of individuals that are infected actually remain asymptomatic.”(appears to be referring to 31 Mar statement)

    It does say that a WHO report published in February says “found few instances in which a person who tested positive never showed any symptoms. ” At that time the chinese were telling them there werent any?

    It would appear this is a more recently accepted fact? That being the case, it is perhaps not surprising if experts have been making the wrong decisions? (but they dont seem to have here, the Uk started off talking about herd immunity and only seems to have stopped because it was unacceptable from a PR point of view). The scottish medical officer didnt seem too worried about the risks if lockdown wasnt adhered to.

    Alec,
    “One of the interesting findings is overall infection fatality rate, which they suggest is 0.66%.”

    One of the interesting findings in general is that death rates seem to be falling as more information comes along. Thats is what you might expect since it relies on an accurate tally of cases, which can only increase.

    Bantams,
    “The resultant droplets can travel in bulk into the next aisle, get a home delivery!”

    Supermarkets saying that is not possible. But equally, if we want to maintain transmission in a comtrolled way,it is isnt desireable either.

  48. @ Crossbat11

    No, the Golden Triangle is actually the shape of a nice piece of paneer.

    So you’re suggesting I was the one what infected the tiger? How very dare you!
    It was the missus but don’t tell her I told you.

    @ Danny / OldNat

    In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by running supercomputer simulations of how pathogens like COVID-19 spread in spaces like grocery stores.

    The researchers hailed from four different organizations: Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Helsinki. First, they modelled a space with aisles between shelves, emulating the design of a typical grocery store. Then, they introduced human figures, one each in two adjacent aisles.

    Then, they made one of them “cough,” spraying a cloud of aerosol particles smaller than 20 micrometers in front of them. The researchers observed how these particles – which move along air currents or linger in the air instead of sinking – moved throughout the simulated space.

    Three of the organizations (Aalto, VTT and the Finish Meteorological Institute) conducted the modeling independently given a set of starting conditions. They all came to the same conclusions: after the coughing, the cloud of particles spread substantially through the area, eventually diluting itself over the course of several minutes. Based on this, the researchers concluded that the airborne particles could infect other shoppers during those crucial minutes, well after the coughing person had walked away.

    The researchers say that Puhti – which was made available “at very short notice” – allowed them to complete their initial results and visualizations within a week. Now, the researchers are planning to continue work on the models, refining them and using them to answer broader questions about the behaviour of aerosol particles.

  49. Germany are still way behind us but their death rate is unfortunately starting to build up a head of steam. It was up to 333 yesterday, a rise of over 50% on the day before, also the highest previously. One million tests done so far but 85 million in the population and they are struggling to ramp up. It shows that, despite having great testing labs already in place at the start of the infection, the scale of this disease is unprecedented in modern times and they may still end up somewhere near us in death rates when we get to the end of this.

  50. Bantams,
    “In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. ”

    Yes, I still find it faintly amusing, though I dare say that will wear off. The reason for my amusement is the contrast to how everyone was behaving previously. The situation hasnt changed since before government pronouncements. It is certainly true the government propaganda machine has been seeking to create a sense of paranoia.

    This is probably an unfair comparison of behaviour as I doubt it was the same people. The very cautious are probably still very cautious, and those with a real reason to be very cautious may nonetheless need to be out. Not least because they quite literally cannot get food deliveries.

    I heard some doctor from Hong Kong discussing masks. Seemed to reckon, yes they worked to reduce spread from an infected person, but not so much to protect yourself. There also seemed to be an issue of buildup of general pathogens on a mask you are wearing, so it isnt good for you, you might catch something else. On the whole he seemed to think that in an enclosed space they helped a little bit, but outside wasnt really worth it. So in reality it is marginal, and then there is the difficulty of effecting it for millions of people. Rather more useful to provide high quality protective clothing for the professional services.

    “Germany are still way behind us but their death rate is unfortunately starting to build up a head of steam.”

    Maybe the death rate is going to end up fairly consistent across countries? And proportional to the total cases (whatever that really is). No one has eradicate the disease, so its a question of clocking up the cases at a slower or faster rate until we become immune, and therefore having a longer or shorter period of disruption depending how fast we do this.

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