Johnson’s speech announcing a new lockdown on Saturday reminded me of how Tony Blair deployed fear to justify drastic state action over foot and mouth disease, and – warning that Saddam Hussein’s arsenal put the UK “45 minutes from doom” – in support of the Iraq war. It is the same blind fear exploited in every debate on immigration, crime and prisons.
Plastic face shields are almost totally ineffective at trapping respiratory aerosols, according to modelling in Japan, casting doubt on their effectiveness in preventing the spread of coronavirus.
A simulation using Fugaku, the world’s fastest supercomputer, found that almost 100% of airborne droplets of less than 5 micrometres in size escaped through plastic visors of the kind often used by people working in service industries.
In addition, about half of larger droplets measuring 50 micrometres found their way into the air, according to Riken, a government-backed research institute in the western city of Kobe.
The coronavirus pandemic has peaked earlier than expected in many African countries, confounding early predictions, experts have told MPs.
Scientists do not yet know why, but one hypothesis is the possibility of people having pre-existing immunity to Covid-19, caused by exposure to other infections.
Prof Francesco Checchi, a specialist in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told MPs it was “broadly” true that coronavirus had not behaved in expected ways in African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan and Somalia.
Government figures have revealed that lack of money forced millions of people to go hungry or rely on food banks during the first few weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, with families and young adults worst affected.
Households with children, people with health issues and people aged 16-24 were most likely to either to skip meals or use food charities to feed themselves or their family in April and May, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) data showed.
The results are now in. Lockdowns are toxic for a world in which people travel to work on buses or commuter trains, spend eight hours with their colleagues at the office, spend their lunch hour doing a bit of shopping, and head off in the evening to the pub, the theatre or the football.
Britain is trapped in lockdown purgatory. In Liverpool, where I live, we are back to square one, with an “R” rate estimated to be hovering at or just over 1. That means the vast majority of people have been staying indoors, not sending their children to school, or seeing their friends and family for nearly three months, only to find that coronavirus, and the risk of transmitting it to others, is still in circulation. Now what?
In a blog post written last month, Mayer said she emailed Gill’s thoracic specialist to ask the question. “His response winded me,” she wrote. The consultant said: “It seemed to me at the time of Andy’s illness that we had not fully understood why he deteriorated as he did. Once we learned more about Covid-19, I thought there was a real possibility that Andy had been infected by Sars-Cov-2.”
Opponents claim exemptions to rules could mean great economic pain for little public health benefit
Senior social care leaders are calling on ministers to prioritise unlocking care homes amid growing concerns that mental health problems are contributing to the deaths of residents.
NHS England figures reveal some infections were passed on by hospital staff unaware they had virus.
Up to a fifth of patients with Covid-19 in several hospitals contracted the disease over the course of the pandemic while already being treated there for another illness, NHS bosses have told senior doctors and nurses.
Care home residents confined to their rooms and forbidden visits from loved ones are giving up on life and “fading away”, say staff and families.
“The virus won’t be the killer of these people, it’s the distress and fear of not seeing family that is doing it,” said one carer who asked to remain anonymous but has reported her concerns to the Care Inspectorate in Scotland.
The prime minister’s former business adviser Andrew Griffith – elected as an MP in December – has warned that every day the UK economy is in lockdown, and its competitors aren’t, means lost business.
“It’s easy to like lockdown if you are being paid close to the same to stay at home as you would to go to work,” says one MP. Another adds: “People like lockdown? Wait until the furlough scheme ends.”
A scientist at Public Health England said the in-house tests that have been in use since February are performing worse than commercial kits, which labs have been advised to switch to by the end of the month.
More than 20 hospitals in England have had to declare a black alert this week after becoming so overcrowded that they could no longer guarantee patient safety and provide their full range of normal services.
David Nabarro, one of the most senior public health experts at the World Health Organisation, said outbreaks of bird flu, which have killed at least 65 people in Asia, could mutate into a form transmittable between people.
“The consequences in terms of human life when the pandemic does start are going to be extraordinary and very damaging,” he said.
He told the BBC that the “range of deaths could be anything between five and 150 million”.
Study identifies Bill and Melinda Gates and Rockefeller foundations among rich donors that are close to government and may be skewing priorities