This blog raises some questions and seeks your thoughts. Contrary to the assertions of a  couple of my recent correspondents I do not have a view of what is the right course of action for the UK authorities to take, and this piece does not offer a solution to the problems posed.

Let’s begin with the way the government is proposing to handle this.  Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer is an epidemiologist who has studied contagious diseases. He will lead for the government in keeping us informed of how many cases there are, what the current state of knowledge is concerning the virus and its transmission, and progress with diagnosis, testing and a possible vaccination in due course. He will also give advice on how government and private sector should respond to contain and defeat the virus.

Most of us who are not  medical experts will listen carefully to him. I have also taken advice from two doctors so far on this issue, and have talked to my local NHS General Hospital about their response.

To yesterday Chris Whitty  has reported 19 cases in the UK, all thought to have been caught outside the UK. The latest four come from Italy, Tenerife and Iran, showing the spread of the disease worldwide.

The Secretary of State will announce governmental decisions based on the advice, and will be responsible for informing Parliament, passing any  necessary legislation and ensuring the NHS has the resources needed for its role. The Chief Executives of the NHS in England and the devolved Administrations will be responsible for planning for contingencies, providing sufficient capacity for patients, and balancing resources should numbers escalate substantially.

Whilst the politicians will lean heavily on the professional advice, they ultimately will have to make crucial and difficult  judgements. As Chris Whitty has said recently, a policy like closing all schools or cancelling lots of sporting events and entertainments might be needed, but they do not yet know they would be a good idea. As the CMO said  “We do not know yet. We need to find that out. … How likely are they to work? What’s the evidence? What’s the cost?”

The problem for both the experts and the politicians is that they do not know enough about the virus. Will higher temperatures kill it off as they do many flu strains? How long does it rest in someone without symptoms, and how catching is it from that person? Is it true it little affects young people?  Can we believe the Chinese numbers implying they are gradually getting in control of it in Wuhan at the centre of its  genesis?  Is the death rate the same or lower than conventional flu, or is it worse?

Current advice is to self isolate and to ring 111. It is also to wash hands thoroughly and frequently as a likely route for infection. Are there additional measures which could usefully be taken to try to prevent further transmission?

How far should a free society go in banning flights from affected locations or requiring people who may have been in contact to be isolated for 14 days?

Current policy also hinges on tracking contacts of anyone confirmed as having the virus. What happens when someone with it has been on the tube or attended a football match?

All this shows that the response is a matter of judgement. Currently governments and experts seem to be relying to a considerable degree on the World Health Organisation, who are spreading information and helping co-ordinate work on this infection. I wish them all well in researching it more thoroughly so we do know exactly how it is transmitted, and can produce a vaccination to ward it off.

Meanwhile the government will also need to weigh the practical consequences of any advice or regulations they bring in. Closing all schools means many parents having to stay at home to look after children. Imposing more movement restrictions and flight cancellations has an economic cost. If safety clearly requires it then it should be done, but Chris Whitty’s questions about efficacy and cost need answering before any such decision. There is also the issue of fairness related to efficacy. Is banning a play or sporting event fair if we are not banning conferences or demonstrations? Parliament itself could be a good way to spread the virus but presumably we wish  to keep it meeting.


  1. SM
    February 29, 2020

    I think that everyone – and that means EVERYONE – has a duty not to spread panic about this serious situation. All too many individuals love drama, and all too many media outlets follow suit and will be seeking to place blame anywhere and everywhere.

    Perhaps all of us should remember the saying: hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

    1. Cheshire Girl
      February 29, 2020

      I agree. However the media is the worst. The BBC and Channel 4 spend lots of time every day , interviewing Doctors and giving out information that has been given dozens of times before. Then they have the cheek to ask, ‘should we be panicking’, when they themselves are stirring things up daily!

      It is up to everyone to try and avoid catching this, and passing it on to others. as advised, there are simple things that can be done.

      And another thing, can the media stop the constant interviews with people in quarantine abroad, who all too often, complain that the Government is not doing enough, and that they should be flown home, whatever the danger to the general public here in the UK.

    2. Lifelogic
      February 29, 2020

      Nothing much you can do and so not much point in panicking. It does however look like it will infect a high proportions of the population and kill a good many of those it does infect. Let us hope we can find some methods of helping those worst affected people survive long enough so their immune systems can fight off the virus.

      The government are just using weasel words. What is the governments best estimate of the % of the population likely to catch it? And what is their estimate of the % of those who are likely not to survive this.

      A problem that is about a billion, billions times easier to predict fairly accurately than the average temperature in 100 years time – but ministers seem very coy on the former and very certain on the latter. Clearly they are either scientifically illiterate or lying. They keep telling us how well prepared the NHS is. I cannot believe that many people think this is remotely likely!

      1. DennisA
        March 1, 2020

        kill a good many of those it does infect.

        No evidence for “a good many” any more than there is for AGW average temperatures in 100 years as you so rightly point out.

      2. Martin in Cardiff
        March 1, 2020

        Diligent, learned scientists accept the difficulty that you describe, even if you do exaggerate.

        However, their main objective is not to do that, so your post, yet again, is a Straw Man.

        What they have done, is to deduce that the risk of such a temperature rise being unacceptably great is far too high for humankind to sit back and to do nothing.

        That is quite different, and far wiser than your caricature’s misrepresentation.

    3. Hope
      February 29, 2020

      JR, the Govt put in place better quarantine measures for foot and mouth than this current disease! Quite appalling. Look at the Civil Contingencies Act and Local Risk Registers, plans for spreading diseases are planned for.

      Govt will balance economic meltdown through panic which leads to riots for food etc against a few hundred thousand dying based on current statistics. The latter will be the govt. choice, albeit it will not publicly say so.

      Hancock should be sacked. Slow to act to prevent this disease coming to the U.K. If it was the Govt strategy to slow the risk (per minister on TV today) because NHS under peak demand during winter and it is thought disease is slower to spread during summer then action should have been taken much earlier. Previously Hancock on TV gave a defeatist reply that it was inevitable so there was no need to stop planes arriving here! Idiot. It begs the question from each reply: Which policy or strategy is the Govt following? Both replies contradict each other!

      2,000 lost arriving from China when it was first reported! Even yesterday we saw homemade videos of people arriving at Heathrow from infected parts of Italy without any checks whatsoever!

      Then we have the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants the Home Office admitted losing and is continuing to do so! The debate about the Permanent Secretary at the HO is unnecessary he should have gone a long time ago!

      Porta cabins should be available at every hospital car park and major GP center to act as vetting centers to prevent such places being shut down, not to do so reduces capacity to treat for all health issues. There are many hazmchem portable units available throughout the country. They could be set up around the country and used as vetting centers.

      Reports from China dogs spread the disease. Councils to increase stray dogs and put them to sleep along with deliberate culling of urban foxes. Sentimanetallity has no place at this time.

      It strikes me the govt has failed its duty to keep us safe and continues to look clueless. Sounbites do not save lives. Wake up.

      Ah well, the NHS wasted £34 billion on a computer system- no sackings or censures of senior people at NHS England- just give it another £34 billion!

      1. jerry
        March 1, 2020

        @Hope; The last thing we need at the moment is this issue, some say crisis in the making, being hijacked by people trying to further their political & personal hatred wish-list. I would suggest banning humans from kissing and hand-shaking long before any need to cull the wild and domestic animal populations!

        Why would there be any food shortages, well at least not of the necessary staples of life, the UK survived WW2 without the sort of panic you suggest and that was at a time when the supply chain was literally under attack. I’m not saying there won’t be issues, but nothing that should cause the panic you suggest, so long as panic is not sowed…

        As for the Health Sec. Hancock has, on the Marr show this morning, mentioned why restricting flights from infected areas is unwise, his advisers apparently called it the Maginot Line effect, infected people simply go around the restriction, apparently Italy banned direct flights from infected parts of the world but they now have a serious outbreak.

    4. Barry
      February 29, 2020

      Excellent comment.

      Titles such as “There is nothing irrational about the coronavirus panic – it will change the world as we know it” in the DT do not help. Arguably irresponsible, IMO.

    5. Narrow Shoulders
      February 29, 2020

      Correct – how many of those spreading hyperbole and headlines are regularly washing their hands?

  2. Mark B
    February 29, 2020

    Good morning

    I read somewhere, and someone else pointed this out, that current government advice if are coming from abroad and think you have the virus, is to self isolate. As that person pointed out, that means the government’s best advice to stop the spread of the virys is, after you have boarded a plane, entered the country and travelled on public transport, is to stay at home. Whoever thought that up must really be proud of themselves.

     Parliament itself could be a good way to spread the virus but presumably we wish  to keep it meeting

    And they say every cloud has a silver lining 🙂

    Seriously. The first thing we should have done is to stop air travel from infected countries. It is not the Black Death but just over one hundred years ago we suffered the Spanish Flu, and that killed millions ! So no need for complacency.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 29, 2020

      If I though I had it I would certainly not stay at home and risk giving it to my wife and children!

    2. Hope
      February 29, 2020

      Areoplanes do not just go between two countries for travelers. They do round robbins and no one knows before boarding where the aircraft has travelled in the previous few days! The aircraft do not appear to be clinically cleaned before each use, just a clearing of rubbish.

      We saw how the security services tracked the plane with polenium following the assisination of a Russian in London. I wonder what the trail of the aircraft from disease hotspots would look like?

      Buried among the bad news this week was the latest immigration figures. Cameron said publicly about ten years ago “no ifs or buts” about reducing immigration to tens of thousands. Good article in Con Woman today about the true immigration figures and what might happen with the new mass immigration policy of the govt!

      The U.K. Population is increased by about Million people every three to four years. About 80 percent from immigration. It is clear from the figures over the last ten years the Tory govt. has repeatedly lied to get in office. 70 percent of the public still view it as a major issue. When health issues are at the forefront, like Corona virus, this will impact on the public view of the govt and its deliberate dishonest mass immigration policy. Another idea for JR stop the Tory govt mass immigration policy it would help free up the NHS! Simple.

  3. Ian Wilson
    February 29, 2020

    I lack expertise on this, but my feeling is government’s actions are sensible. I also have wondered if higher ambient temperatures will help and in this respects Southern Hemisphere statistics should soon answer the question.

    At all costs I feel we need to avoid over-reaction in instantly closing schools and workplaces,or worse still locking people on a ship or hotel, as economic damage will soon become crippling. Is the virus really worse than a bad ‘flu outbreak? I read on a scientific site 16,000 deaths (I think US statistics) have occurred since September from ‘flu.

    1. Stred
      February 29, 2020

      High temperatures in Singapore didn’t help much.

  4. Lifelogic
    February 29, 2020

    Surely there is little that can now be done as the virus is well established and essentially out of control. People will either catch it and survive, catch it and die or not catch it at all.

    We should however certainly use it as an excuse to cancel some expensive and anyway idiotic things like COP26, HS2 and all the duff, expensive and pointless university degrees and other pointless government activity (at least 50% surely is).

    You ask “Can we believe the Chinese numbers implying they are gradually getting in control of it in Wuhan?” Well obviously not. Jeremy Hunt does seems too. He pointed out that China have got on top of it with less than 5% getting it. He also said. “If I was going to choose a country in the world to be in when there is a pandemic, I would choose the UK because the NHS is very, very good at preparing for these situations.” Surprising that he knows so little about the NHS and other health care systems after being Health Secretary for several years.

    What is needed is to find a way of giving those badly infected medical treatment that gives them the best chance of survival. This without them not infecting medical staff or others. Since this might need perhaps ten times the number of beds we have in the NHS it could be rather a challenge. Measures to delay the spread of the virus will give the NHS a little more time to prepare. But how far do you go trains, buses, tubes, flights, large offices, canteens, cafes, concerts, schools, universities almost anywhere people go ………are all likely to be places the virus will spread well.

    We see from the chap who returned from Singapore via the French alps to Brighton that it spreads very easily even before you know you have it. Two people who caught it were apparently health workers.

    Thinking that the warmer weather on the way will save us seems rather wishful thinking. We have problems in places like Tenerife and Palermo after all.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 29, 2020

      Self isolation by those most vulnerable to the virus those with other health conditions and the elderly seem to be one on the few things we could usefully do.

      1. Matt
        February 29, 2020


        Everything else seems futile. Including the advice to keep washing hands.

      2. fedupsoutherner
        February 29, 2020

        Can we really be sure that people would self isolate anyway. Knowing how irresponsible some are they are just as likely to take 2 weeks off work and enjoye themselves whilst pretending to self isolate. I think if we are going to catch it we will catch it whether at home in the UK or abroad on holiday. We have to try and live with this until a vaccine is available. Perhaps it might encourage the Chinese to clean up their markets and the way they keep animals whilst waiting for slaughter. Then again I think hell will freeze over before this happens.

        1. Matt
          February 29, 2020

          You miss the point.

          Self isolation of those at risk BEFORE they become infected.

          The averts the need to crash the whole economy. (Which will kill lots of people including those who could survive Corona.)

          If a vulnerable person refuses to self isolate and dies subsequently – well… their choice.

          1. Martin in Cardiff
            March 1, 2020

            You suggest allowing the disease to become endemic among the less vulnerable.

            That would mean permanent apartheid.

      3. Lifelogic
        February 29, 2020

        Must be lots of empty caravans in places like Norfolk currently that suitable for isolating people for a few of weeks.

    2. Lifelogic
      February 29, 2020

      I have never been that keen on all this multiple cheek kissing, hugging and such greetings as they do endlessly in France, Italy and indeed various parts of Southern England and all luvvies. Perhaps it would be a good plan to drop all this and drop indeed hand shaking too.

      Stick perhaps to ay-up mate, wotcha?, how goes it?, hi there, hello, what up?, ay up chuck? …….. rather quicker, safer and far less pretentious?

    3. John Waugh
      February 29, 2020

      This could be a good time to arrange a video conferencing system for COP26 .
      In the event that the predicted 190 world leaders plus 90,000 attendees cannot meet in one location due to infection dangers or other safety considerations then video conferencing must be the answer .It seems a bit out of date in todays world for such a junket still to be happening and how could anyone guarantee the safety of 190 world leaders in one place . It is extremely unfair that the police have been tasked with this .
      If a video conferencing system could be established then we would be in the position to say – put your money where your mouth is and stop all this jetting around .
      Apparently the UK government could be picking up the policing bill . £100 million will be nowhere near enough to cover policing plus all the other bills from what i have been reading!

      1. Lifelogic
        February 29, 2020

        Just cancel it! It is very expensive and clearly pointless. We have heard more that enough drivel from deluded alarmists.

  5. Pominoz
    February 29, 2020

    Sir John,

    The existing worldwide restrictions on travel and trade to curtail transmission of the virus are, in theory, understandable. However, it is quite evident that the battle is being lost. In other words, pandemic delayed, not prevented.
    Round One score: Corona Virus 1, Humankind 0.

    As these restrictions are having the most devastating effect on world trade and stock market confidence, it is, perhaps, worth considering whether the potential harm to mankind is worth financial catastrophe. It is early days, but it appears that Corvid 19 is not another bubonic plague and is possibly not even as harmful as Spanish or Asian flu when similar restrictions were not imposed. Until an effective vaccine is available, some deaths are inevitable, but, I ask whether the draconian measures imposed, now likely only to delay the inevitable, could well be more harmful overall than simply allowing ‘nature’ to take its course.

    It appears that those most likely to succumb – the elderly or those already weakened by a medical condition will, indeed, succumb sooner or later. Even for these, the projected death rate for those infected is not frighteningly significant and is minimal for the young and otherwise healthy. The effect, therefore, of loosening restrictions is likely, overall, to be beneficial to continuing world trade and will, no doubt provide great comfort to the Andys of this world who see the elderly as simply a financial drain on the younger generation.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 29, 2020

      Indeed, I suppose some of the elderly who are not working are a financial drain, but then many of them have saved up to provide for themselves (despite the excessive taxation and pension mugging). Many will pay 40% IHT too on death. Also many of them do valuable work in helping children and grandchildren and trying to educate the usually woke and snowflake young so they become rather wiser.

      Andy even has the cheek to call me old, though I am expecting about another 20 years of productively and profitably running my various businesses. Coronavirus and God willing? Not that I believe in any Gods or religions of course. Not even the Greta one.

      1. Bob
        February 29, 2020


        ” …some of the elderly who are not working are a financial drain… Many will pay 40% IHT too on death. “

        So the govt sees their survival as a financial liability and their death as a financial benefit?
        No wonder the NHS said they would be left to perish! 😱

    2. Narrow Shoulders
      February 29, 2020

      Can you imagine any government, let alone this one which is already being framed by the left as uncaring, spin that the financial implications of closing down trade (the rich) is to great a risk so we expect some people to die. And what if you and yours are one of those deaths?

      No I think at present the measures being taken are ineffective overall (while slowing transmission) but reassuring to the public.

      1. Pominoz
        February 29, 2020


        Agree that the current measures are to try to reassure the public. In reality, the spread of the virus is already inexorably underway. I already have no option but to face the prospect of catching the virus sooner or later.

        As one of the ‘not so young’ I still remain optimistic that I and those close to me would be able to survive. If not, then that is a matter which is entirely out of my hands.

        Relaxation of measures will, politically, be disguised so as to avoid panic of the masses, but will, I believe, occur in the not too distant future.

  6. Javelin
    February 29, 2020

    In the Daily Mail today “THEY should pay!’ British taxpayers’ fury as £20m bill for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s security falls entirely on UK after Canada refuses to pay it after Megxit”

    Average person pays £5000 in income tax.

    £20,000,000 / £5,000 = 4000

    4000 people each year go to work and graft to pay for these two people. By definition 2,500 people is the maximum size of a village. So it’s a small town working and grafting to pay for these two hypocrites to preach to us about how to live our lives whilst making millions for themselves.

    Let that sink in.

    1. Chris S
      February 29, 2020

      I have great respect and affection for Prince Harry but always thought he should ha e vontinued his army career where security would not be such an issue. Unfortunately, his present predicament has been brought about by decisions he and his wife have taken.

      It is clearly wrong for Canadian taxpayers to foot the bill for the couple’s security and, if they are no longer to be working Royals, equally unacceptable for English taxpayers to pay for it. Yet they must be protected.

      The only sensible solution seems to be for Prince Charles to fund the security in full. He certainly has the income to do so.

      1. Hope
        February 29, 2020

        Harry and Meghan are adults who made an informed choice. Therefore they should pay the bill, same as other celebrities they like to mix with, not the taxpayer as they chose to leave public life and stop being part of the working royal family. They are not doing anything for the country.

        Just imagine the police officers will need to travel back to see their families. They are not permanently based in Canada. Not only a cost but imagine the beloved carbon footprint Harry and Meghan are making. each time the officers fly back in addion to H and M traveling add another three or for people. Hypocrites does not adequately describe their words and actions. He wants to be ordinary Harry, let him foot the bill. His dads income is from us from land we allowed him to keep. No more tax free perks for ordinary Harry. That was his choice.

        1. treacle
          February 29, 2020

          “They are not doing anything for the country.” It is worse than that. With every press release, every report leaked through their Canadian and American friends, every flight on a private jet, every speech telling the rest of us what to do, and every attempt to cash in on their connection with royalty, they are damaging the monarchy, and therefore damaging the country. They should be cut off without a penny. The best we can hope for is that we never hear of them again.

        2. Narrow Shoulders
          March 1, 2020

          I disagree (reluctantly). Their celebrity friends do not need security because they came from the British monarchy and would be seen as a massive wound inflicted by extremists. Their friends’ security requirements are as a result of success not being who they are.

          As a country we can not compromise the safety of our monarchy (even retired monarchy) so we have to shell out. Tony Blair still gets security (and a pension) because he has served the country. So it should be with these two.

          I would like to see them voluntarily give up a percentage of their post tax income as a contribution.

    2. Lifelogic
      February 29, 2020

      £20 million PA that is too. So we could probably save this number every year if spent well. Indeed putting the money into sensible medical research, vaccines, deterring people from smoking, over eating or over drinking might save many millions of lives. We have about 22K excess winter deaths due largely to people being unable to afford the (expensive by design due to the alarmist religion) energy and keep warm.

    3. BJC
      February 29, 2020

      I’m of the view that one of their business ventures should be a security company. That way, they can train their own protectionteam and satisfy their desire to make obscene amounts of money. Win/win!!!

    4. agricola
      February 29, 2020

      Tell me , did you risk life and limb in Afghanistan for your country. If so I apologise. In practical terms there are ex special forces organisations that could fill the role very effectively. Ultimately the UK government is responsible. If things turned nasty , the UK government would not be forgiven. I am not privy to how much the Royal Family earn for the UK in monetary or prestige terms or how much they hand over but there should be enough spare to fund the necessary level of protection.

      1. Hope
        February 29, 2020

        Many military veterans get a rough deal from the state including lack of housing. No comparison I am afraid to say with Harry.

        How much did tha taxpayer give for Frogmore House when they could have stayed at Kensington Palace but they did not like that! Even though it would be cheaper for the taxpayer- for security and a host of other issues. Spoilt adults need a lesson in life.

    5. Alan Joyce
      February 29, 2020

      Dear Mr. Redwood,


      £20,000,ooo for say 50 years = £1,000,000,000 0r £1 billion!

      1. hefner
        February 29, 2020

        Very relative: £1 bn over 50 years for Harry and Meghan’s security, about £100 bn of (potential) value wiped out from the FTSE in the last ten days.

    6. ukretired123
      February 29, 2020

      Exactly and reports of Harry booking out a full 1st class train carriage for security or corona virus avoidance going to an eco-conference in Edinburgh is just …………

    7. Fred H
      February 29, 2020

      Why should Canada pay anything for their security, travel etc?
      But then, the costs of the ‘extended Royal family’ need to be curtailed, and ideally borne out of the ‘subsidence allowance ‘ some of the family receive.
      Prince Charles has substantial estates and income, as does the Queen- who both contribute to the attraction of this country in tourism etc.
      However, as in many families’ circumstances, the rather better off find themselves footing the bill for the less fortunate family members. It should apply here.

    8. Martin R
      February 29, 2020

      You are right. This is a truly appalling situation. If this feckless pair want to opt out of royal duties, waving to the adoring plebs, or whatever it is their job entails, then we should not be forced to pay millions to finance their antics while they are having the time of Riley abroad. Yet again the ordinary people of this country are powerless to prevent themselves being fleeced. If the future king wants to finance them let him do so, he has money by the million thanks to being permitted to engage in unfair competition with businesses forced to pay corporation tax while he pays none.

    9. formula57
      February 29, 2020

      Taxpayers should step back from being senior funders in this case. It will be a difficult decision etc. but one that is right for us so let’s do it now.

  7. Javelin
    February 29, 2020

    Covid spreads by by cleaving the a protein called furin, like hiv, ebola, dengue fever, it’s useful to see if there are any flavonoids (foods) which slow this down.

    You can search the online medline website for “ furin flavonoid” to find which food will slow down the virus replicating in the body. There are a few that have been found, including luteolin, kaempferol and quercetin found in onions onions. Which all sound very fancy but really just refer to vegetables.

    However you have to eat these as a preventive because overall it slows down the virus from maturing and multiplying. That might give your body time to respond. Which explains why a healthy diet helps.

    Luteolin can be found in celery, broccoli, green pepper, parsley, thyme, dandelion, perilla, chamomile tea, carrots, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary, navel oranges, and oregano

    Kaempferol can be found in green veg including kale, beans, tea, spinach and broccoli,

    Quercetin in onions.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 29, 2020

      Well I have most of those regularly anyway, not so keen on chamomile tea though.

    2. Fred H
      February 29, 2020

      encouraging advice – I already enjoy regular doses of Broccoli, carrots, spinach, kale – but do baked beans count? 🙂

      1. Lifelogic
        February 29, 2020

        No baked beens are far too sweet – I would go for a nice traditional french cassoulet or similar. Raymond Blanc recipe was very nice last time I made it. But perhaps it means french beens, string beens or broad beens!

    3. Helen Smith
      February 29, 2020

      A useful and positive post, thank you, I’m taking a Vit D supplement, every little helps.

  8. agricola
    February 29, 2020

    Being no better informed than yourself the best I can suggest is awareness and being prepared to react as necessary. To date based on press reports I am not overly impressed with our response to the situation on the cuise ship in Japan or the hotel in Teneriffe. A more proactive response would have encouraged more confidence that we were up to speed.

    1. jerry
      February 29, 2020

      @agricola; “based on press reports I am not overly impressed with our response”

      Would that be publications such as the BMJ or the MSM, give that one is published to impart expert knowledge and the others are published to make money for their publishers…

      After all, as @Ian Wilson points out (not that you would know it from the average MSM reports), it is still highly likely that the standard seasonal Flu will kill more people worldwide than the current Coronavirus strain.

      I think Corporal Jones (the local Butcher) might have the most sensible advice, outside of that given by the medical profession!

      1. Martin R
        February 29, 2020

        On published stats for infections and deaths the mortality rate from coronavirus is somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 %. Flu is around 0.1 % by comparison. Coronavirus appears to be at least as contagious as flu as well, if not more so.

        1. jerry
          February 29, 2020

          @Martin R; I was asking @agricola for the source, not so much the figures, any repository virus that lacks an effective medication based response is a danger.

          My problem is how are people are going to decide what is informed information and data, and what is not, worse still, just pure speculation.

          For example I see the DM is today Headlining their print edition with a article that suggests Emergency Laws, a 1in10 UK infection rate, and even a tented morgue to be set-up in Hyde Park, amongst other ‘facts’, now the basis of this DM report might well have come via an off the record briefing with a Whitehall or CMO insider, on the other hand it might be nothing more than sensational nonsense designed to sell copy, who knows – other than the DM editor…

          Perhaps the the first ‘Emergency Law’ should be proper press regulation, to sort the chaff from the wheat, to stop disinformation. If this virus is as serious as some suggest should the MSM not be on a war type footing, if for no other reason than to stop unnecessary panic.

          As for those figures, how does the likely pattern of Coronavirus infection/survival compare to the known pattern from the “Spanish Flu” 100 years ago?

          1. Martin R
            March 1, 2020

            Regulating the press in such a way is far more likely to end up with the state using it to silence dissent rather than blocking disinformation. It is the state that is the main source of disinformation in general anyway.

          2. jerry
            March 1, 2020

            @Martin R; Nonsense, you appear to be confused between press censorship & press regulation, the two are not the same.

            There was press descent during WW2, in fact one Mr Michael Foot (then editor of the Evening Standard) made a very cutting speech during 1942 in support of the Daily Mirror, when the latter had been threatened with censorship/closure because the paper had been critical of the Churchill wartime Govt.

            As for Govt. disinformation, so what if it prevents mass panic or worse. Any problem with such govt behaviour will exist only after the emergency passes, if the disinformation continues.

            As I quipped, surely far better we hear from Corporeal Jones than Private Frazer…

      2. agricola
        February 29, 2020

        I should explain my disquiet concerning the situation on the ship in Yokohama. A ship has an air conditioning system supplying every cabin and public area. Very important in warm climes if you are in an inside cabin. If the system on that ship can supply completely sanitized air no problem. However if it is just circulating warm or cold air you have a real problem. Same applies to an aircraft cabin, an almost guaranteed germ distributor. Hotels in hot places suffer the same problem. Those chastised for laying out in the sun were maybe safer than those tied to their rooms. As to the efficacy of masks, it is all down to design and materials and very specifically what the mask was designed to do. Mask is a very loose term.

      3. agricola
        February 29, 2020

        The British Medical Journal (BMJ) is a peer to peer journal not a press document. It is not published for those not in the various professions within medicine.

        As to the flu/coronavirus comparison, it is early days yet. Will increased temperatures kill it off or strengthen it. We can take precautions against flu with an annual injection.Do those who die from it do so because they havn’t had the jab. Where are the figures. CV is having a free run at the moment so until we create a jab it is early days to judge how big a long term threat it is.

        As you say the popular press tend to feed on it as they do with anything else dangerous or dramatic. If you can understand articles in the BMJ you are likely to be better informed.

        1. jerry
          March 1, 2020

          @agricola; Replying to both your follow-up comments.

          “The British Medical Journal (BMJ) is a peer to peer journal not a press document.”

          Not sure what your point is, the British Medical Journal is the place for reporting medical research and official facts etc, just as “The (London) Gazette” is the official publication of record for Court, Govt. & business bankruptcies etc.

          Reporting complex medical matters is no different from reporting complex financial matters, would any MSM publication report that a PLC had gone bust without checking the official record, I would hope not…

          Back in 2007-8 many people had no idea what derivatives, sub-prime loan or even what the deficit were, it was the task of the MSM to act as translators, between complex and everyday language.

          “We can take precautions against flu with an annual injection.”

          Again not sure what your point is, many reports seem to suggest that strain of Coronavirus is not transmitted as an airborne infection (but through close contact with the carrier, be that a person or a surface), hence the advice to wash our hands frequently, and desist from hand-shaking too I assume.

          The comparison between Coronavirus and Flu is that both are respiratory infections, not their methods of transmission, in other words the survivability once infected.

    2. Alan Jutson
      February 29, 2020


      Masks would seem like a reasonable idea, but we are informed by medical professionals that they do not offer protection, but all medical professionals and testers wear them, and hazard suits and eye goggles to protect themselves, why if they do not work ?

      Some accurate information and consensus of opinion would help !

      1. margaret
        February 29, 2020

        In 1971 there was a serious outbreak of flu. I was working as a young student Nurse at Ancoats hospital Manchester. I went into a side ward and put a mask on whilst in the room. I caught the virus and was ill for 3 weeks, the patient died , but the Nurses who put the masks on outside the door were not affected. My mistake.

      2. formula57
        February 29, 2020

        Re masks, I learn that the N95 and N100 type work but breathing is made less than easy and fitting has to be correct (which apparently even professionals can get wrong often enough). Also, protocols around removal and refitting have to be adequate, clearly. The eye goggles protect if an effective seal with the skin is ensured (i.e. no gaps).

        The masks more typically on offer are considered ineffective as after some 15 minutes of wearing they will become sufficiently moist to facilitate virus passage. Prior to re-wearing, the masks need to be made virus-free but cleaning in solvents may easily damage the mask fabric to provide holes through which the virus may pass. Accordingly, the non-infected typically gain little protection.

        Those infected and exhibiting symptoms ought to wear masks suitably padded to substantially contain distribution of droplet and aerosol emissions.

    3. Bob
      February 29, 2020

      According to the DM:

      ” ‘Treating the elderly would be sacrificed if coronavirus overwhelms UK’: NHS would prioritise critical care for those most likely to survive rather than most vulnerable patients, senior doctors admit
      • Under protocol dubbed ‘Three Wise Men’, some patients would go without care
      • That is if the UK gets overwhelmed by coronavirus – as European cases rise
      • Medics also rubbished claims that the NHS is equipped to deal with the virus “

      All rather predictable but nonetheless disappointing.

      1. forthurst
        February 29, 2020

        Critical Care bed occupancies for both adults and children are running at about 80%, so it may be deduced that the NHS has targetted this figure. I assume when they computed this number they took into account their ability to deal with a pandemic in which deaths are caused by pneumonia for which a critical care bed is essential to improve survival chances.

        It is obviously too late to add capacity to critical care but possibly not to ensure that the NHS has more oxygen and masks available than some dweeb in the ministry computed as ‘needed’ then there is the possibility of treating patients in ordinary hospital beds and at home.
        There also needs to be more protective clothing for health workers than ‘needed’.

        The Tory party should probably contact private hospitals to determine the availability of critical care facilities which could be bought.

        1. jerry
          February 29, 2020

          @forthurst; If this is a serious pandemic there will be no private hospitals, or shouldn’t be, just as there wasn’t in wartime, and the pharma’ industry etc. would also be under direct Govt control.

          1. Cheshire Girl
            March 1, 2020

            On Question Time this week, Lord Bird(Big Issue) said that all medical facilities must work together, including private hospitals, clinics etc.

            I agree with this. There must be no empty beds anywhere that could be used. It must be a concerted effort if we are to stand a chance of defeating this.

      2. agricola
        February 29, 2020

        The DM should please some of our elderly hating trolls. I wonder if their parents know what they have given birth to.

        The Chinese reacted rapidly with 7 day 1000 bed hospitals so we the 5th largest World economy should have no problem if required.

  9. Javelin
    February 29, 2020

    Something to seriously ponder. The last 3 recesssions were not triggered by economics but non Western ideologies.

    2001 – Twin towers 9/11 – by Islamic extremists.

    2007 – Credit Crunch – by US left wing politicans passing the Acorn Act giving mortgages to Americans who couldn’t afford it and defaulted.

    2020 – Covid-19 – by Communist Chinese eating wild animals as part of China Number one propaganda.

    1. Javelin
      February 29, 2020

      The thing is the reaction to all of these is that the system is broken so there needs to be more Government to control the issue. Whether it is security checks for 9/11, mortgage checks for the credit crisis and now medical checks for viruses.

      I put it to you that there are lots of broken parts of the system all the time and that letting the natural consequences continue would also fix the system. In the case of 9/11 the Islamic threat would be neutralised. In the case of the credit crunch banks would have gone under and mortgages would have been dealt with. In the case of covid19 we would all become immune.

      These events say more about humans need to control their world than let nature take its course.

    2. forthurst
      February 29, 2020

      Islamic Extremists had nothing to do with 9/11. The Credit Crunch was caused by Wall Street bankers selling derivatives which they knew were fraudulent and the large scale purchase of Credit Default Swaps by those who were not exposed to a debt default risk. The Chinese do eat bat soup. The criminals responsible for 9/11 to initiate wars in the ME are still at large and so are those who wrecked our economy for personal gain.

  10. Stred
    February 29, 2020

    If Boris thinks that the NHS will cope marvellously and that washing hands will ward it off, he is showing his usual lack of technical understanding. There are not enough beds and respirators and the isolated passenger on the ship caught it via the air con or food. The virus can survive on surfaces such as key pads and food packaging. Planes are notorious for blowing viruses in passengers faces. Crowded trains could have been designed to infect passengers.
    I just cancelled a trip to a lovely place abroad and, as I am vulnerable with a poor lung function, am self isolating with a pile of food.
    Our Eurovision entry this year is called My Last Breath.

  11. Roger Phillips
    February 29, 2020

    I would have thought that anyone returning to the UK would have at least past this on to fellow travelers having been sat in the same plane for several hours breathing the same air?

  12. ian
    February 29, 2020

    You can catch C19 multiple times. its bid.

  13. /ikh
    February 29, 2020

    Hi Sir John,

    I think you are asking most of the correct questions.

    However, higher daytime temperatures do not affect most viruses. It is increased level of U.V. light. Most of the evidence available so far suggests that covid-19 is not air transmissible. It appears to be touch transmissible. People who have the virus touch their nose or mouth and then touch surfaces that other people the touch can transmit the illness.

    Given the widely reported suggestion that covid-19 is transmissible many days before becoming symptomatic makes quarantine is pretty much pointless. Covid-19 will spread throughout the population no matter what the Government do IMHO.

    I am concerned that a lot of money is going to be spent on an exercise that is futile and completely pointless. As King Canute demonstrated on a beach with the tide.


    1. Bob
      February 29, 2020

      “I am concerned that a lot of money is going to be spent on an exercise that is futile and completely pointless.”

      The money should be invested on creating isolation IC wards with oxygen so that the NHS can abandon their “three wise men” policy and give people the care that they need.

    2. forthurst
      February 29, 2020

      All the evidence points to COVID19 being transmissible via aerosol as well as surface contamination and droplets which explains why it is far more virulent than SARS.

  14. Chris S
    February 29, 2020

    We are currently on holiday in Calfornia, near Sacramento, the State Capital where one case has been reported. We have decided to cancel a visit to the city as a precaution but the risk of us meeting the unknown source of the infection, or another infected person would seem very low.

    We have implemented hand washing and a no physical contact policy but beyond that, there are few other options. We are due to return to San Francisco, return our hire car and fly to LHR on the 10th March. The riskiest part of our journey will be the airport and flight home. When we arrive at Heathrow we have a prebooked taxi back to the hotel where our car is parked. We can then drive home having made minimal contact with anyone. If by then, self-isolation was to be advised, being retired, this would be easy to do.

  15. Me
    February 29, 2020

    Sky News is just now featuring some article on child obesity. It would be a very good idea to take them off the air immediately until all is well.
    and then review their company’s usefulness

  16. Dave
    February 29, 2020

    The lack of action from government is appalling. We should be closing borders and urgently starting UK based manufacture of critical medicines and other vital items. We need a total rethink on how our economy and society is run. Even if this pandemic fizzles out the disruption to supply chains will be massive and the reliance on one country to supply so much of our vital goods is exposed as huge folly. The globalist creed has made the world one large breeding ground for disease and we may well pay for it big time.

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      March 1, 2020

      What right does the UK have to force other countries to retain our returning citizens because they may have an infection?

      Try to think.

  17. oldtimer
    February 29, 2020

    The Chinese Centre for Disease Control has published data on the mortality rates according to age and according to other medical preconditions. If you are under 60 it is relatively low, <2%. If you are over 80 (like me) it is c15%. If you suffer cardiovascular disease the mortality rate is c10%. They list other conditions with rates between 5-10%. Our solution is to eat well, avoid crowded places and practice a degree of self isolation to the extent practical.

    I think the real problems will come if there are serious supply shortages of essentials. The government needs to think through contingency plans to deal with potential insolvencies in the business community. This includes not only businesses involved in the production and supply of essential medicines and foodstuffs but also business more generally on which the economic activity of the country actually rests.

  18. Chris Dark
    February 29, 2020

    I agree we should have taken more action on stopping flights from infected countries. There have been people transported in buses in which the drivers have not been wearing protective clothing….why? One cannot take chances with either bacteria or viruses, they are microscopic forms and have the capability to literally travel on the wind (viruses are much smaller, by the way, not seen through normal light- microscopes). As for vaccines, these take time to develop and then test….I hope we are not about to witness a rushed vaccination of the country’s population without proper testing. Viruses are capable of surviving in adverse conditions by a kind of sporulation, so if the weather is too hot or too cold for them, they can get by….we can’t rely on warmer weather to clear the risks.

  19. Robert McDonald
    February 29, 2020

    I am about to go on holiday in Tenerife. To a Hotel about a mile away from the H10 hotel in lock down. If I could cancel and not lose £2000 I would, in fact I still may do so as I am afraid ! However, why don’t holiday travel agents allow people like me, both of us fit but well over 70, to say sorry I’m too scared to fly on my holidays and let me cancel. An overreaction possibly, but no one knows do they ? and surely the less travel abroad the better in the circumstances.

  20. margaret
    February 29, 2020

    Yeas Javelin I am recommending these vegetables along with an all round healthy diet also.We are told that there are many who are affected only mildly which makes me think how many cases have gone unrecognised yet still continue to proliferate in other hosts.This may be in the UK. By now I am sure there will be enough serum to analyse and I do not know but imagine scientists are working hard with the specimens.In the meantime I continue to follow Nurse Nightingale’s recommendations of well cleaned and disinfected areas etc.

  21. Sakara Gold
    February 29, 2020

    Without being an epidemiologist it is possible to make a number of observations about the novel coronavirus, firstly and most obviously it is extremely contagious. An unfortunate who is infected – but without any symptoms – can spread the virus to many people (the “super-spreader”) who will then pass it on to others, who will also do the same and so very quickly a large cluster of cases will appear which may overwhelm local health provision.

    Secondly, we really know very little about this virus, but it appears that it is mutating as it passes from person and so there is a risk that it may develop into a much more virulent form causing a higher fatality rate. The MERS coronavirus outbreak in Saudi Arabia a few years ago eventually had a 50% fatality rate.

    Thirdly, the cruise ship held in Japan has developed an inordinately large number of cases, one assumes that the Japanese enforced basic quarantine procedures and so the evidence would seem to show that the virus can spread without contact i.e through the air – possibly the ship’s air-conditioning system. If so, this is hugely worrying and if the virus can do this our NHS hospitals will quickly become centres for the transmission of the illness.

    The WHO has been consistently behind the curve, refusing to designate it a “pandemic” when patently it is – modern communications have allowed it to spread throughout the globe in less than three months. The Chinese regime is the largest contributor to the WHO’s budget by far and may be influencing their pronouncements.

    I think we should be looking at how the Singapore government has apparently brought their epidemic under control – they closed their borders and aggressively tracked and traced their cases. We are a densly populated country and the government should seal our borders immediately, before the “novel” coronavirus takes a firm hold here. The alternative – of a 70% infection rate with 500,000 deaths – (as predicted by recent leaked government documents) is too ghastly to contemplate.

  22. Richard1
    February 29, 2020

    The govt should also start to think through the potential global political implications and their impact on the U.K. one of them is that Corvid19 is quite likely to do so for president Trump (who has, idiotically, described it as a democrat hoax, it is reported), what the financial crisis did for the candidature of John McCain. What would a Sanders presidency mean for the U.K.? He’s likely to be highly protectionist so a trade deal may become less relevant, he is likely to allow rogue states like Iran to run riot with impunity, and he is likely to hammer Wall Street – so we should make sure London is well placed to host the economic refugees.

    The impact on China and all the trade links there is impossible to predict.

  23. Polly
    February 29, 2020

    Brits should have introduced mandatory temperature screening at airports weeks ago.

    They didn’t, and still haven’t… but they should.

    “Hazlemere” shows it’s out now in the general population so containment looks too late anyway.


    1. formula57
      February 29, 2020

      Note the “mandatory temperature screening at airports” where it operated was being done for show, not for medical reasons.

  24. ukretired123
    February 29, 2020

    Hopefully the silver lining in this is to make folks realise how lucky they are to have good health and count their blessings and wake up to what is important in life.
    Having lived in Africa in the 1970s and known how lucky we are by comparison it puts into perspective some of the nonsensical ideas floated by the media today.

    Priority is given to trivia today instead of what is important.
    It is high time to ban all biological weapons and get the world leaders in to bang heads and take collective responsibility for this human disaster as this is just the top of the iceberg of such weapons as Novichok and Polonium from Russia.

    1. steve
      February 29, 2020


      Except that as far as we know this had nothing to do with biological weapons.

      When this story broke, the western media dropped a clanger by informing us that the virus came from Chinese food production….remember from where and how the world got H1N1, SARS ?

      Now they don’t mention it.

      Perhaps some other country is embarrassed by the way it treats animals, and they’d prefer we didn’t know what goes on.

  25. Edwardm
    February 29, 2020

    I do not wish to see more harm caused by this virus or any other disease than can be helped, but…
    My guess is that the spread of the disease can only be slowed by restrictions on gatherings, but ultimately it will not be stopped. How effectively and for how long can restrictions be kept in place? Those who avoid infection initially may succumb when restrictions are lifted.
    Slowing the spread of the disease may help the medical services and the economy to cope better, but any attempt to totally prevent the spread may eventually end in failure.

    Would this make an argument for less travel by public transport and more travel by car ?

    Is there any advice on if there is anything we could do to fortify ourselves in advance in order to ameliorate the effects of the disease?

  26. Ill wind
    February 29, 2020

    The Virus may help governments and health services throughout the world in showing statistics that deaths by cancer and diabetes have drastically lowered through their hard work and conscientiousness. Knighthoods by the bucket load!
    Actually it is their normal method of showing they are scientifically capable.They do not have a clue

  27. glen cullen
    February 29, 2020

    Pure hysteria we need to put things in perspective
    31 deaths of influenza flu in the UK in 2019
    0 deaths of coronavirus in UK 2020

    live worldide number at

  28. Alan Jutson
    February 29, 2020

    Not a medical expert in any way, but it would seem to me that keeping people in so called quarantine, all in one place, but still allowing them to mix in community areas is an absolute daft idea, as in these conditions 14 days is needed for everyone from the last person to be diagnosed before anyone can be released.

    Keeping 3000 people on a cruise ship and calling it quarantine is an absolute nonsense, especially when all cabins are on the same air-conditioning system and the transmission we are told is airborne. !
    Anyone who has been on any sort of cruise above 7 days knows that coughs, colds, norovirus or whatever other common infection which is bought on board, spreads around the ship readily, almost no matter what precautions you take.
    Likewise public transport, overloaded buses and trains, too many people, not enough fresh air.
    You can only take sensible common sense precautions unless you want to change your way of life completely, but I am afraid far too many people still do not listen to such advice, and I still see many going to a public toilet and leaving without washing hands, and also see many cough into their hands (at least they covered their mouth) but then touch a handrail or door handle soon afterwards.

    Thought the new NHS system of taking mouth and nose swabs from people whilst still in their car an excellent system, but we will still have fools turning up at A&E un announced !

    Not sure about warmer weather killing it off given where it originated from, and where its striking most.

    The avoidance of crowded areas and enhanced basic hygiene is perhaps the only real hope, until a vaccine is developed.

  29. Gareth Warren
    February 29, 2020

    It is good to have a logical discussion on this, and you already seem to be addressing the right problems.

    Firstly the biggest problem right now is not what we know, but do not know.

    Here we are told it is under control in China and the numbers are falling, as the Washington post noted the numbers seem suspect with silliness like 600 being announced in a province and only 400 in the country. I also see levels of chlorine possibly associated with crematoriums spiked higher.
    Here the other data such as pollution monitoring feels more reliable, it confirms the industry has shutdown. I also question the death rate being fixed at 2.1% never varying, and it even goes down immediately with number of reported cases with no lag.

    Iran too seems unbelievable, they seemed to at first only notice deaths.

    Other cases have appeared around the world, but it seems to spread oddly, here I do believe it seems likely an escaped research virus – not sure if it helps. But we lack basic info how it is transmitted – could it be by handling manufactured goods?

    I do think we are doing the right thing, we should cancel crowds from infected regions while the match goes ahead. On healthcare I heard the NHS were performing some random testing, this seems an excellent idea since it improves training, gets us better data and properly funded supplies the healthservice better.

    I think we need to prepare for importing less from China, I believe this is a healthy change in the long term.

  30. formula57
    February 29, 2020

    Wide-scale spread cannot be prevented (only delayed) so mitigation measures might avoid material disruption to daily life but considerable economic harm is inevitable.

    The NHS will not be able to treat all serious cases needing hospitalization: the Secretary of State has no hope of making resources available whatever his budget.

    The Government knows the foregoing and is thus remiss in failing to prepare the people mentally for what is to come.

    (The WHO (main responsibility identifying pandemics) is alone in not knowing there is a pandemic raging now!)

  31. bigneil(newercomp)
    February 29, 2020

    Turkey has announced it is going to let more refugees into Europe – another route for any disease, just like those in Calais. It only takes one to spread it.

  32. Martin R
    February 29, 2020

    Flights from China at the least should have been stopped weeks ago and they are still coming in. Madness.

    Thanks to the mass immigration policies followed by this and preceding governments for decades now public services are stretched to breaking point and beyond to cope with millions who never paid in to finance them through taxes. Hospitals are overwhelmed already with patients treated in the corridors and have been for years. Now the brown stuff is going to hit the fan because it is seemingly inevitable that millions will be infected and there will simply be nowhere to treat them. Time to get real and drop insane vanity projects such as HS2 and the even more deranged Zero Carbon madness, and start to prepare to build facilities in double quick time to try to cope.

    1. Fred H
      March 1, 2020

      flights from Italy seem to be the problem now showing itself.

  33. Fred H
    February 29, 2020

    from Sir Philip Rutnam’s statement of resignation:

    ‘I hope that my stand may help in maintaining the quality of government in our country, which includes hundreds of thousands of civil servants loyally dedicated to delivering this government’s agenda. I will make no further comment at this stage.’
    hundereds of thousands …dedictated to delivering this government’s agenda! Really?

    ‘was to protect the health, safety and well-being of our 35,000 people.’ That’s an awful lot of people. Doing what I wonder?

    1. Hope
      February 29, 2020

      I think this is linked to remainers targeting people who are key to delivering Brexit. He fails to mention his record of failure in Transport, Windrush, illegal immigration. Rudd was cleared because civil servants gave her the wrong advice, why was he not sacked then?

  34. Martin in Cardiff
    February 29, 2020

    Most of the questions that John asks are answered – with qualification – on the WHO site.

    So far it appears that:

    Covid – 19 is about ten times more lethal than ordinary flu.

    It is fatal to only about one in five hundred under forty, but to one in six in those over eighty.

    Men are twice as likely as women to die of it, and smokers similarly compared to non-smokers.

    However it cautions that in China men smoke more than women.

    There are no reports of fatalities amongst children under ten.

    It appears to be very effectively contagious for specific molecular reasons.

  35. Richard1
    February 29, 2020

    Off topic but science related: nowhere on the BBC is the death of the great Anglo-American physicist Freeman Dyson being reported. Perhaps because it would involve a discussion of the inconvenient fact that this eminent scientist thought that the current hysteria over global warming is scientific bunkum. Undoubtedly he was in minority in his views – but the claim that anyone who doesn’t buy into the ‘climate emergency’ is a fool or a knave is made absurd by people such as Prof Dyson.

    1. Northern Lass
      February 29, 2020

      I agree!

    2. APL
      February 29, 2020

      Richard1: “nowhere on the BBC is the death of the great Anglo-American physicist Freeman Dyson being reported.”

      The BBC isn’t a news operation, it’s a propaganda operation.

      If the story doesn’t fit its propaganda narrative, it’s ‘memory holed’.

  36. DavidJ
    February 29, 2020

    I was surprised when returning from SE Asia a couple of weeks ago not to be checked in any way or even questioned about the origin of my journey. So it seems that nothing is being done to prevent the import of this disease.

    We will have to wait and see if government has been neglectful in its lack of response.

  37. Jan Hoggarth
    February 29, 2020

    Very interesting article here about the Spanish Flu and how public information was managed, or mismanaged. Can we trust the government to do better than this?

    1. formula57
      February 29, 2020

      @ Jan Hoggarth – a worthwhile read, thank you.

      I see the author John Barry says the most important lesson from 1918 is to tell the truth, attributing the collapse of morale then and the beginnings of society disintegrating to people being unable to believe what they were being told officially.

  38. Krishna Siva
    February 29, 2020

    ” Imposing more movement restrictions and flight cancellations has an economic cost.”

    I am under the impression that THIS was the aim of Coronvirus media hysteria, er to abate climate-change.

    John like most politicians can exercise joined-up thinking, but they do not exhibit such traits, ‘cos its more poltical-expedient to be duplicitous.

    Read REAL agenda of coronavirus virulence in the media etc.

  39. BOF
    February 29, 2020

    Perhaps one positive of Coronavirus will be a wake up call for UK (and Western) business and industry to not rely so heavily on Chinese manufacturing. They need to remember that it is not a good idea to put all ones eggs in one basket.

    Mr Trump has done an excellent job in repatriating manufacturing to US.

  40. Marian Newman
    February 29, 2020

    England’s Chief Medical Officer is an epidemiologist who has studied contagious diseases. –

    An Expert ? Should we not be asking a random collection of people what they reckon ?

    1. Mark
      February 29, 2020

      First you have to tell them that their choices are between dying of hypothermia or dying of starvation. I suppose adding corona virus might seem an alternative.

  41. John McDonald
    February 29, 2020

    Dear Sir John I am happy to be a named person making an assertion that you had a view on what is the right course of action for the UK authorities to take.
    You made it very clear that the Chinese action in isolation did more damage to the economy and did not prevent the spread of the virus. It was reasonable to conclude you do not support isolation as a preventive measure. That was all that was asserted, not that you had general advice to give on behalf of the government concerning the virus.
    I have to say that any advice from any Government/Health Authority at the global/country level is driven by politics. It is now very difficult to believe in governmental advice or direction. Recent wars, the rush for diesel cars to reduce CO2, Brexit and climate change are but a few examples of government advice.
    Sadly one has to collect what information is presented and make up one’s own mind what should be done with the help of common sense

    Reply Not my view! I do not know how effective any given isolation approach may be and want to know more about transmission etc. As the CMO says there needs to be an evidence base for closing* things

    1. Lifelogic
      February 29, 2020

      If only one person has it and you know that they have it and you can isolate them – Then isolation is a great plan and would work very well.

      We are however not remotely in that happy position. People can spread it to 10+ others even before they know that they have it. Thousands must be in this position. The cat well out of the bag already.

    2. John McDonald
      February 29, 2020

      Hi Yes, the stable door approach. The Titanic has to sink before more life boats are provided as a standard. I see we now have a case in Berkshire. We are not told the general area so people can take extra precautions in that localised area.

      Perhaps the CMO can tell us what evidence she/he requires to close a school, shut a supermarket, close a GP’s surgery, close a Church, avoid an area etc.

  42. Wait and see!
    February 29, 2020

    Please republish your article JR in one month. It may be all is quiet then.
    Recall the “bread rationing” threat by Remainers.
    Have Remainers or the media mentioned the threat made for many many weeks?
    Have Brexiteers apart from myself alone, even on social media made any reference at all to it? Even to make fun as one might expect? No.
    Does not that strike one as odd? It should.
    So please publish your article JR in one month. Maybe no one will reference the details, if I am right, except perhaps in misty conversation
    Just a theory I’ve got.

  43. Lynn Atkinson
    February 29, 2020

    Surely grounding flights is an easy one for our Green Government? And to cheer everyone up, Bubonic Plague (the Black Death) is endemic in Natal, South Africa. So just because it’s there does not mean that everyone catches it.

  44. Helen Smith
    February 29, 2020

    I not sure that closing schools is necessary, I do think we should be seriously curtailing flights and trains in and out of the country, and requiring those fcoming in to self isolate for 14 days. A bit of disruption whilst we purge the country of the virus will be far less costly than letting it take hold.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 29, 2020

      It would not do much to help now. Quite a large number of people in the UK must already be infected but do not yet know it. They will be infecting many more every single day. On public transport, at work, at the doctors, clubs, bars, airports and all sorts of other places.

  45. Narrow Shoulders
    February 29, 2020

    This disease is coming to the UK – it is probably already here and the NHS is likely to be swamped with cases in the next two months.

    Looking at the charts 15-20% of infections have severe symptoms and 80% have mild symptoms.

    What would be really useful and reassuring for the public to know is what constitutes mild symptoms? Is it the same as a bad cold or more like a bout of flu which wipes one out?

    Are severe symptoms a bad dose of flu which requires bed rest and fluids for most or does it require a ventilator in a hospital? Or is it the critical cases which require a ventilator.

    Having this explained fully will reassure the population greatly but mild, serious and critical does not help.

    1. forthurst
      February 29, 2020

      Mild cases do not require hospitalisation. Of the 20% that require hospitalisation, 6% require critical care beds.

  46. Everhopeful
    February 29, 2020

    I think that the last pandemic was in 1918.
    We know why that happened….mass movement of troops.
    Ah…so lessons were learned?
    Not on your Nellie.
    Who will cry tears over the constructive dismissal of a civil servant the likes of whom have presided over open borders etc.??
    Nary a one!

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      March 1, 2020

      We now have the mass movement of people for other reasons, and which dwarfs that of troops in WWI.

      Those reasons appear to be utterly trivial however – mainly the augmentation of people’s virtual personas with endless selfies against different backdrops on their social media.

  47. Iain Gill
    February 29, 2020

    In these internet days I have direct first hand access to what the top doctors are saying on twitter, YouTube, etc. That together with my first hand experience of the lying that the NHS gets up to. So I don’t need journalists and government publicity to inform my views, except to spot the obvious differences with what the top doctors are saying.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 29, 2020

      Indeed well I estimate that perhaps 25% of the population might catch it and perhaps 10% of them might end up with a serious pneumonia or other conditions needing expensive and complex treatment. We also know that the NHS is already over full and has no capacity for an additional 1.5 million serious and infectious patients over the next year or two. Plus many of those infected will be NHS workers too.

  48. The Prangwizard
    February 29, 2020

    We should be banning flights from China Italy South Korea and Iran for starters and anyone from those countries warned not to travel to here. Any arriving should be stopped and sent back. But I suppose ‘not the done thing, old boy’ is the thinking that prevails.

    1. steve
      February 29, 2020


      Exactly, and I’d like to know what plans government has to invoice China for the expense it has caused to the British taxpayer.

      Why should we be expected to fork out for protecting ourselves from a virus caused by them because of the filthy and inhumane way they treat animals.

      China caused this, China should foot the bill.

  49. Matt
    February 29, 2020

    There is a huge economic threat to life as great, if not greater, than the virus itself.

    Surely it must be easy to identify those in mortal danger and be the least worst option to quarantine them rather than whole districts.

  50. JimW
    February 29, 2020

    Greetings from Thailand, on the doorstep of China. 40 case, no deaths, majority recovered. Literally millions of Chinese in Thailand for Chinese New Year 5 weks or so ago. Inconceivable that a lot of Thais ( and other visitors) did not get the virus, but it must have been very mild. Thais will tell you that flu comes from China every year.
    Thailand is warm/hot at 85F plus, fairly humid, with lots of UV and IR from the sun. Flu-type viruses do not like these conditions.
    The numbers from China can be taken with a bucketful of salt, however one comparison is perhaps of significance. The Chinese estimate that 650,000 people to date have been close to and in contact with a person who is recorded as confirmed with the virus. Total deaths are a little over 2,500.
    Whilst all this has been going on over 100,000 people across the globe have died as a consequence of contracting the flu which has led to serious illness.
    If you landed from Mars and people asked you what would you be concerned about, I think our martian friend would want a flu jab.
    Covid-19 can be added to AGW as symptoms of an increasingly unhinged world.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 29, 2020

      Well we shall see, but about 25% on the cruise ship developed it and of those about 1% have died so far. They were an older population than average but even so it might mean rather a lot of deaths – even just in the UK.

      25% of 1% of 60million is 150,000. Even adjusting for age and (perhaps) better medical interventions (so divide by perhaps 3) gives 50,000 is still very, very high. The tragedies at Hillsborough was 96 deaths and Grenfell 72. So 300 times more than two combined.

    2. Richard1
      February 29, 2020

      Let’s hope you are right

  51. Iain Gill
    February 29, 2020

    Government telling us all to use hand sanitizer gel and guess what all the shelves of all the shops have run out. Let’s see what their contingency for that is, betcha the shelves remain empty.

    1. Stred
      March 1, 2020

      The gels are anti bacterial. They don’t kill viruses.

      1. John E
        March 1, 2020

        This is wrong and needs to be corrected. The gels ARE effective against almost all viruses including flu viruses.
        The major exception is norovirus which they don’t work against because it doesn’t have a lipid coating.
        Follow the NHS advice – wash hands frequently with soap and water or use a sanitiser gel.

      2. Iain Gill
        March 1, 2020

        Don’t matter, it is indicative of poor contingency plans by those on the state payroll paid a lot to worry about this.

        Hand cleanser and face masks already not available, and hardly anything happened here so far.

      3. Fred H
        March 1, 2020

        and if we are serious we would use 0ne-use plastic gloves when out and about – to be binned on return.
        Touch is likely to be as contagious as air-borne.

  52. ian terry
    February 29, 2020

    O/T: It has been announced that the University New South Wales Sydney under the leadership of Emeritus Professor Heinrich Hora after 40 years of research has set up a company HB11 which will be the first commercial fusion company to produce hydrogen via lasar – boron fusion.

    This country has gone down the turbine solar generation route with obscene subsidies from the government and the green taxes levied on the energy bill payers. We have the CCC wanting to stop the use of gas heating in new properties and other knee jerk reactions to try and make the government and the country look green whilst all the while our competitors are full steam ahead burning coal.

    For those who have tried to raise the awareness of the downside to intermittent renewable power we have been subject to scorn and derision. It looks like the UK will have missed the opportunity to become a world leader. Situation Normal. The money wasted on renewable intermittent energy in subsidies alone would have financed the research on inventing a credible base load alternative to nuclear power. Companies like JLR can use their existing engines to adapt to hydrogen, perhaps saving thousands of skilled professional jobs. It was always said leave it to the engineers and scientists to solve the problem of reliable base load energy and power for all types of vehicles and even aircraft.
    Once again the UK has been beaten to the finishing line. One can only hope that the government fund a research team of politicians and engineers to go to UNSW and investigate the opportunity of at least trying to support the research and become an active partner in the whole project. The boat has slipped its moorings but it is not too late to make the leap to get on board.

  53. APL
    February 29, 2020

    JR: ” passing any necessary legislation ”

    With the Civil contingencies act still on the statute book. What extra legislation could you possibly need?

  54. hefner
    February 29, 2020

    From John Hopkins Center for Systems Science & Engineering « Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by John Hopkins CSSE »

    and Worldometer’s COVID-19 case tracker

    These two sites appear to track the infection by countries with updates every few hours.

  55. Rhoddas
    February 29, 2020

    As an aside I see Philip Rutnam Perm. Sec. of the Home Office has resigned with a vitriolic resignation letter now public. If he doesn’t agree with incoming Government Policy (as approved by the recent General Election) then by all means resign and stand for election himself and argue the case cogently.

    We live in a democracy, disagreements are normal and healthy, but by obstructing newly approved policy and delaying implementation is rather ‘gross misconduct’. Ministers need to follow HR processes and if Civil Servants (unrepentant Remainers) refuse to perform normally expected duties, then Ministers/SpAds should document and follow the disciplinary processes – viz verbal/written/final warnings and out the door.

    Good luck we hope it works out for you!! The lefty remainer courts will of course try to compensate their fellow remainer plaintiffs – so some joined up planning needs to occur there too.

  56. steve
    February 29, 2020


    “This blog raises some questions and seeks your thoughts.”

    Ok, I think there needs to be screening at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Euro tunnel. There also needs to be media exposure of the filthy conditions that led to this virus. Clearly lessons have not been learned from H1N1, SARS etc.

    However to be honest I get the feeling the British media, particularly the BBC, is using this story to avoid reporting on important subjects such as the latest threats against our country from the EU and ungrateful France.

    I am waiting for news of Boris Johnson giving the french led EU a thorough humiliation, and am sick & tired of hearing about bloody coronavirus, it’s all you see on every news channel.

    Well JR, Sir, you did ask for my thoughts.

    1. Harryagain
      March 1, 2020

      The latest thing. The french want Napoleon III back (buried 147years ago in Farnborough.)
      You couldn’t make it up!

    2. Iain Gill
      March 1, 2020

      It would be quite easy for the regulators to mandate that the percentage of air recirculated in airlines cabins was reduced. Its a simple little knob to turn, usually kept at high levels of recurculation to reduce fuel costs, but that swishes the germs around the cabin more.

      Stuff like this should be getting serious consideration.

  57. formula57
    February 29, 2020

    Thank you Sir John for writing about Coronavirus whilst sparing us from a load of flannel like that which invades too many official and public pronouncements worldwide.

    I am astonished that some commenters adopt the view that Covid19 is not much distinguished from influenza and hence not a serious threat when information is widely available and knowledgeably interpreted, about infection rates (R0) and spread, case fatality rates, lack of herd immunity, absence of a vaccine, asymptomatic infection, incubation period, repeat infection and other factors.

  58. Iago
    February 29, 2020

    It is eye-rubbingly daft that flights have not been banned.

  59. Rhoddas
    February 29, 2020

    PostScript… In summary a privileged remainiac (Dulwich college, Cambridge Uni and Harvard) white male behaving in an wholly inappropriate way towards an elected Minister, who also happens to be both female and ethnically not white.

  60. UK Qanon
    March 1, 2020

    CORONAVIRUS – Organic or purposely released.

    Etc ed

    Reply Your story has been comprehensively denied

    1. UK Qanon
      March 1, 2020

      Your choice but do not live in denial

  61. hardlymatters
    March 1, 2020

    Steve..humiliation you talk about is only hours away but am afraid that it is the UK that is going to be brought to ground..for sure there will be no cherry picking allowed no Canada plus plus on offer or anything like it.. but only talk about the level playing field and Fish vs Financials..and if we persist then WTO rules is the only other outcome. Our choice

    1. Robert McDonald
      March 1, 2020

      No choice there .. WTO it is, and we will benefit both by being on rational trade terms with the world and able to be financially better off from the trade imbalance that exists, and will continue to exist, with the 27.

  62. Mike Wilson
    March 1, 2020

    When you have a genuine epidemic of a highly contagious and potentially fatal virus, there is no such thing as a free society. We all have to act for the greater good. My worry is that the government will put economic factors above potential human cost. Would you rather have a job or be alive. As always the business owner will fare best, staying in his big house while their workers all huddle together passing the virus around.

    1. Roy Grainger
      March 1, 2020

      As a first steop the government could maybe take control of the newspapers to stop them peddling scaremongering nonsense about this virus simply to sell more copies ?

    2. Al
      March 5, 2020

      If the government wants to deal with coronavirus by shutting down gatherings, it also needs to make sure the visitors are compensated, and the organisers don’t lose out e.g. by making sure insurers pay out.

      Recent news is that the London Book Fair has been cancelled, and the organisers have given no information on refunds for exhibitors and attendees. The main question asked on Twitter and elsewhere is whether any will be provided, as the coronavirus is considered “force majeure”.

      While larger publishers like the big six can handle the loss, smaller ones, charities, and authors (many of which paid extra for a specialist extra day focused on their rights issues) cannot.

  63. LinJ
    March 1, 2020

    There’s no doubt that ‘minor injury clinics’ should be re-opened. If you’ve got a cut that needs treatment, A&E is not the place that you should have to go. Imagine the pressure that would be taken off A&E (and used to be) by re-instating these drop-in clinics in each community.

  64. Ian @Barkham
    March 1, 2020

    The question is really how soon do ‘we all’ want coronavirus contained and eliminated.

    The almighty elite talk of 14days isolation should we have symptoms. That of course doesn’t answer why those that isolate for 14 days still show symptoms and go on to catch it within a 28 day window.

    Sir John now there is a confirmed case in your constituency, and tomorrow morning a few thousand of your constituents will be piling into metal tubes, spending 1hour & 5 mins packed tightly together heading for Waterloo, how does that contain and stop the spread? There is no guarantee that out of the thousands that just ‘one’ isn’t a carrier.

    As the rest of the country I don’t have a practical answer. At the moment the only logic is if we all avoid contact with others and the outside world for a month it will just die out. That is not going to happen. So we have to stomach that 20% of us are going to catch it and 10% of those will die.

    It is a fingers crossed moment and just hoping with the change in seasons heading into spring it fades.

    What government would last if these figures were replicated on our roads?

    Reply The primary school with a case is not in my constituency

    1. Ian @Barkham
      March 1, 2020

      My appolgies. It is the confusion of Wokingham & Wokingham it’s not sure of itself. Although trainwise for most comuters it is the same railway trains from the same station.

  65. DennisA
    March 1, 2020

    This yet another thing down to “Climate Change”
    “While COVID-19 took the world by surprise and rattled global markets, it offers a potential warning of what lies in store as zoonotic diseases proliferate at greater rates due to climate change”

    More likely down to the constant movement of climate scientists and their followers around the world, usually to exotic places, (but not this year, Glasgow).

  66. John E
    March 1, 2020

    This is wrong and needs to be corrected. The gels ARE effective against almost all viruses including flu viruses.
    The major exception is norovirus which they don’t work against because it doesn’t have a lipid coating.
    Follow the NHS advice – wash hands frequently with soap and water or use a sanitiser gel.

  67. a-tracy
    March 1, 2020

    I think there needs to be some serious questions asked to Northern Italy, why did they ban flights from China? Did they know they had an outbreak of this virus and didn’t want to close their own lucrative half term ski industry (blow the repercussions to our schools, parents, doctors) , just how many of our cases are linked now to this half term ski holiday?

    Also isn’t it time the government recommend
    a) less hugging, kissing and handshaking of acquaintances for a fortnight? Longer?
    b) more cleaning staff on public transport for a fortnight
    c) make it clear what symptoms people have that should immediately isolate themselves until tested, I can only guess: fever 🤒 what temperature? Sneezing every hour with temperature? Cough only when combined with x

    We need to know!

  68. Iain Gill
    March 2, 2020

    NHS facilities need single cubicles with 2 door entry / exit with area between corridor and room for two or more staff to put on & take off protective clothing & wash hands. How many hospitals have no such provision? How many such rooms are really available?
    Ask the health secretary how many single cubicles it has with 2 door entry system with an area between the corridor & room for 2 staff to donn & doff & dispose personal protective equipment. Ask him what he is going to do about it.

  69. TooleyStu
    March 2, 2020

    Corona Virus.
    It has been ‘weaponized’ by a complicit media.
    For an agenda.
    None of this hysteria is for the benefit of ‘mankind’ or for our health or safety.
    Corona will be used to massively reduce your personal freedom and liberty, whilst supporting the largest land and financial grab you will see in your life time.
    And most will welcome it, even demand it.
    I am angry/sad/disappointed in equal measure.
    “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  70. Mark C
    March 2, 2020

    My wife works at one of the Italy/ closed schools.
    The VIPs there have been shut in a room for a ‘virus crisis’ meeting.
    Thieous a potential way to infect everyone simultanously, leaving the establishment leaderless.

    Would such reckless behaviour persist should a truly lethal disease arise?

  71. Iain Gill
    March 2, 2020

    anyways thanks for covering this topic john

  72. Iain Gill
    March 3, 2020

    we should abandon the centralised phlebotomy clinic model used in many towns. having all the sick people in town travel to one location to cross infect each other with whatever they have always was a stupid idea. medics requesting blood test can take the blood there and then themselves. this also avoids lots of extra time off work for the patients so will be a net gain for the economy.

  73. Jan
    March 4, 2020

    Can the government be clear about good hygiene? and require good cleaning of public and business surfaces? Also make sure buildings without 100% fresh air with any density of the public check with thermometers all who enter. The mask is going to work: it prevents transmission before it is detected. Simple really. Make the mask ‘cool’. You could ask Singapore and Hong Kong – whatever they did – it’s working- Japan may be ok due to the actions of people (good hygiene and masks as normal) and whatever you do- don’t do what China did, that was a colossal failure.

  74. nervskada i ryggen
    March 6, 2020

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment.
    I do think that you ought to write more about this issue, it might not
    be a taboo subject but generally people do not discuss these
    topics. To the next! All the best!!

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