Closing schools?

The Republic of Ireland and Scotland have closed their schools. The rest of the UK has not. I invite views on this.

I do not have a strong  view myself as I am not an expert on the virus and do  not have access to much of the  medical and statistical information about it.

The latest medical view I heard from the government is that the virus either does not attach to so many children, or if it does many remain without visible symptoms.  If many children do or will experience a mild or invisible form of the illness it may be impossible to know whether tested or not whether they have had the virus. The test apparently works better on people with symptoms. Medical opinion seems agreed children are the least likely to get a bad version of it and extremely unlikely to die from it.

The one plus from shutting schools is it prevents circulation of the virus between pupils and teachers in school. If the pupils off school continue to socialise with each other and with other adults a lot of this  benefit is lost. Only if they go home and stay at home would there be a major and lasting  reduction in their number of contacts and therefore in their vulnerability to picking up the virus.  If they already have the virus spending all their time at home might increase the chances of other family members contracting it.

There are several  negatives in closing schools. Many more adults will have to give up work and mind their children at home. These will include many nurses, doctors and other health workers needed to work in  the hospitals and surgeries to tackle the health emergency. Those who make a living out of supplying and providing contract work for schools will lose their income. Education, exams and training will be interrupted, disrupting the life chances of those facing early public examinations that matter.  

I am happy with the government’s decision so far not to close the schools. It is difficult to believe closing the schools would slow the spread much  or protect many more people. Limiting access to care homes and places where vulnerable elderly live might achieve more in limiting infections of those most at risk.

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235 Comments

  1. Hope
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Do not act too quickly. Teach in more open areas in schools like halls to keep,distances between teachers and pupils. Keep a balanced measured approach. Urge supermarkets to do more click and collect, and deliveries to doorsteps not in houses to keep shop workers safe and shops open.

    • Tepmurf
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      It is being reported that gatherings of 500 people will soon be banned. A school of 1,000 people is a mass gathering on a daily basis. Students and staff are physically close at all times. Students sit close together, work and play in groups close together, use the same toilets, eat in close proximity in canteens. At the start of every Autumn when students return to school there is always a surge in colds amongst students and staff. All it will take is one infected person with Coronavirus in a school for everyone to be exposed within a day. They will then go home and infect parents and grandparents. The government is behind the curve on this. Close the schools now.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        This country has a unique problem which makes it the polar opposite of China, and different from many others.

        There is great respect for the elderly in China by culture anyway. Since they are more susceptible to the virus, that concern would have helped efforts to suppress it there.

        There is no such tradition here, and worse still the referendum has generated considerable inter-generational resentment.

        With such division, I would not be at all surprised to see substantial numbers of the young – who are generally not seriously affected – wilfully spreading the virus.

        The referendum – the gift that keeps on giving.

        • SM
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          MiC – what rubbish! You have no way of knowing if total lockdown works in the long run, but of course you have to drag the Referendum into it. How would ‘the young’ wilfully spread this virus, do you suppose? Go round deliberately sneezing at anyone who seems to be over 50?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

            I don’t know – look out for young metropolitan arts graduates in the rougher branches of Wetherspoons, in those left-behind provincial towns maybe?

            But you are right. I doubt if Remain voters would ever behave so reprehensibly.

        • NickC
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

          Martin, Forcing the elderly to put their lifetime’s wisdom to one side and bow to the eagerness of the young for a authoritarian, dirigiste, empire, is not “respect” by definition. Suggesting the young should or could wilfully spread the virus to kill off the elderly is hardly respect either. In fact “by their fruits shall ye know them” is rather applicable to you sordid Remains.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

            In no way do I suggest that they should – see above.

            However, why do the Swiss weight the votes of the young in their referendums?

            Because they will be affected by the changes for the longest.

        • Fred H
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          you’ve excelled yourself.

      • NickC
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Tepmurf, The proximity of people happens in every part of society, not just schools. If it sensible to close schools, then every office and factory must be closed too, and all places of travel and entertainment. Then who is going to run the gas, electricity, water and sewage grids? And what about food distribution? How long will these closures last? A month? Everyone back to school and work afterwards? But then everyone will just catch the virus the next time round.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      No matter how far apart you keep the pupils being taught – they are all going in and out of the same door. And they will all group together at mealtime.

  2. Nig l
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Indeed. As usual the papers are stirring up trouble by publishing comments from shouty people with their own agendas who electorates have rejected. Messrs Stewart and Hunt spring to mind. Equally the BBC and others allowing a left wing professor to mouth off without pre warning viewers about his political leaning. In effect they are all worrying the public unnecessarily to promote their own anti government bile.

    I think you need to work harder to get your/this message on the front pages.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Thank goodness panickers like Stewart and Hunt didn’t get elected! Stewart was bragging on Twitter he had sleepovers at 50 homes just before he started on the latest ‘we’re all doomed’ Twitter storm, how many infections has he personally shared around. just go home boys and lock your doors tight for three weeks.
      Hunt is just a bitter man who is taking aim at the person who beat him, he’d be following exactly the same medical advice that Boris is if he had the top job.

    • Hope
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      All of whom strong remainers. The prof slating our country- dirty little country- after the referendum result! He should clear off his views no use the me. Hunt told us to go doctors before A&E, when his kids got ill. He took the straight to A&E! Treacherous Stewart defying will of public, he should never be in any public office you cannot believe a word he says?

      Remainers are again, using any excuse to undermine Brexit or those supporting Brexit, just like the current civil service with Patel and Miller with BoE governor.

  3. Ian Wilson
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    I, too, have no expert knowledge on this but I feel the government’s actions are sensible precisely because they have sought and acted upon the best available scientific advice.

    At the risk of digressing from a serious matter, by contrast ministers seem hell-bent on wrecking our economy over climate and zero carbon because they ignore professional advice from genuine climate scientists such as the Climate Intelligence Foundation (it’s hard to find their details on the internet as it appears unscrupulous interests have corrupted their website). Instead they listen to noisy pressure groups chanting pseudo-science, school-children, and the IPCC which is filled with political appointees and contains few scientists and even fewer specialising in climate. We must hope when coronavirus is on the wane ministers will learn this lesson and take more care over which scientists they heed.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      1) They are creating a mess based on what they think people want them to do.

      2) Said mess will be for others to clear up eg Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and the last economic crisis.

      3) Many of these groups are funded are appointed by government to tell government what they want to hear. That way they have an excuse to do whatever they want by creating a fake emergency that needs them to take measures. eg New taxes.

      Government = Theft

      • Robert Mcdonald
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        It is hardly worth commenting on bigotry such as your comment, especially as it falls at the first statement … if the government did what the loudest people wanted then schools would be closed immediately. Instead they have acted courageously upon the best scientific advice they can get .. they know they will be held to account, but still take the best informed course .. that’s called being a responsible government thinking of the country not their party.

  4. oldtimer
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Government policy in the face of Corona virus appears to be acceptance of the law of survival of the fittest. That seems rational to me (and I speak as someone about to turn 87). If this morning’s newspaper reports are to be believed treatment will be reserved for those with the best chance of recovery. This seems sensible. Some in the medical profession think everyone is over reacting to the virus. If they are right schools should stay open.

    • Helen Smith
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      I think Government policy is to allow the young and fit to get it, recover from it and provide herd immunity from it whilst us older types stay indoors out of harms way for a few weeks to emerge blinking into the sunlight when the worst is over.

      My favourite alternative would be for every country to work as one and shut down completely, eventually starving the virus of new hosts to infect, but that won’t happen.

  5. Cheshire Girl
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, there are very many ‘armchair experts’ airing their views. I refer to Question Time audience this week, and also the Media, who are happy to harangue the Government for its current advice.

    I understand that this is a very fast moving situation, and careful watching is necessary in order to know when to take immediate action. In my opinion, the Government is taking reasonable steps to try and deal with the situation, without causing mass panic. I believe they are being well advised by those who are experts in their field. I don’t envy them trying to cope with this, and I feel for everyone who is worried about the health of themselves, their families, and the wider community.

  6. Stephen Priest
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    I am glad that you do not have a strong view on this.

    The media is full of Self Proclaimed World Authorities on Coronavirus, even though most of them would not even have known what a coronavirus was a the start of the year.

  7. Mark B
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    For me this is driven more by fear than reason. Whatever happened to the, “Keep calm and carry on” of the past ? We use to be such a sensible nation, taking everything in our stride.

    Coronovirus in nothing like the Black Death or Spanish Flu. The death rates have been low and compared to the number of people injured and killed on our roads every week, tiny ! What has exposed us to is the fact that the government is headed by someone who really is not fit for that position. They are not inept or stupid, far from it. But they lack the vision and decisiveness that is so much a trademark of a good leader of government.

    I was shopping yesterday for a few basics. The shelves were nearly empty with people seemingly panic buying. Restaurants were nearly empty and there were fewer people on public transport. And things here are nowhere near as bad as Italy where, as I found out from others sources, people and society are slowly breaking down.

    So close your schools, stop your sporting events, wash your hands and, if we are lucky, shut down government. Much like those plagues and pestilences of ye old past, there is nothing we can do to stop what has happened before. Somethings never change. 😉

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Statistically it depends on how you look at this. If you look at outcomes as deaths versus recovery numbers in Italy, they are almost equal in numbers right now.

      Ref schools, it is just too early to know what should be done with certainty. Easter holidays are upon us in 2 weeks, so there’s an argument for hanging on to normal practice for now.

      For purely social events where the only loss is a one off financial one, and most attendees are 65 plus , it makes sense to postpone or cancel them.

      It’s a case by case decision where people attending or running them should have the opportunity to make their own decisions without fear or favour.

    • jerry
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      @Mark B; “Coronovirus in nothing like the Black Death or Spanish Flu.”

      But Covid-19 does appear to parallel the H3N2 “Hong Kong Flu” pandemic of 1968-9, were it has been unchecked there might even be parallels with the H2N2 “Asian Flu” of 1956.

      “The shelves were nearly empty with people seemingly panic buying.”

      Well yes people will panic buy… sorry, stock-up when told by the Govt/CMO they might well wake up tomorrow morning and find they (and their families) have to self isolate for at least 7 days, a LOT of people do not use on-line shopping so NEED to stock up, otherwise they’ll need to break the self isolation request/rule!

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, but how many toilet rolls do people need for a week? I’ve seen people going out with dozens of rolls. One of my neighbours came out with two packs of 9. Really? for one week. People are now selling these at a ridiculous price on the internet as they know there is a shortage. Disgusting behaviour.

        • Fred H
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

          I was taking the virus threat in my stride until I realised it must confine us to the toilet for days on end – when a large pack of toilet rolls will be required. That explains the panic buying.

        • jerry
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          @Fedupsoutherner; As many as they need, those with IBS will need far more than someone who suffers constipation!

          What about families, surely it depends on how many live in the household, when I was a child our household had my parents, my siblings, one of our grandparents and a family friend also logged with us for a time – yes we lived in a big house, we got through a lot of toilet paper too.

          Also don’t forget that the original advice was for 14 day self isolation, if someone only does a weekly shop that ideally requires a 21 day supply in case the person has to go into isolation the day before they would have done their weekly shop.

          As for profiteering via the internet, well yes it is disgusting, perhaps we need a temporary law to suspend such websites? But like wartime, such periods of national emergency will always bring out the very best in the majority and the very worst from a few.

          • NickC
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, You are exactly right about this.

  8. Roger Phillips
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    If schools are closed wouldn’t many working parents then rely on grandparents to mind the children thus increasing the risk of infecting elderly people?

    • Know-Dice
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Agreed…

    • Helen Smith
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Agreed

  9. Scrobs
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    The timing seems right, according to scientific research, and the press and BBC aren’t really helping by asking the wrong people about their ‘advice’. We don’t need to listen to what other countries are doing too much, we have a perfectly experienced scientific team here!

    Looking at the supposed ‘peak’, this will occur during the school holidays (in Kent anyway), in three weeks time.

    The decision to keep schools open is the ‘best’ solution out of a lot of other possibly imperfect ideas!

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      If, what other countries do results in a death rate there of only a tiny fraction of what it might be here, then do you think that we should be interested in exactly what they are doing?

      • Scrobs
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

        Interested, possibly, but how many ‘experts’ are there to offer their views?

        There has to come a time when someone actually does something, rather than sit on their hands.

        Data is changing so fast – hourly, that too many ‘experts’ will just muddy the waters imho.

  10. Brit
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Children will play with children whether the schools are closed or not. Try telling your young boy not to play with that bad little lad down the road and he’ll make him his best friend.

    Keep the schools open. If Scottish parents wish their children educated we should allow them to be bused into England. Their good teachers too. Perhaps our churches, mosques etc can find rooms, can suffer the little children to come unto them .

    Children should not have to suffer for the pranks of the SNP

    • jerry
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      @Brit; “Try telling your young boy not to play with that bad little lad down the road and he’ll make him his best friend.”

      Children play with those they are allowed to play with, it’s called parental supervisions!…

      “Children should not have to suffer for the pranks of the SNP”

      But nor should children suffer from political rants either.

      • NickC
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        Jerry, My children played with whoever they wanted to play with . . .

        • jerry
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

          @NickC; That follows, thanks for making my point for me, judging from the style of comments you post, unless you are being affected/inconvenienced you really don’t seem to care about anyone else…

          That said, I very much doubt you actually did allowed your children to play or go with who ever they chose!

          • NickC
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, You can’t have it both ways. Either I did or I didn’t. And in either case you wouldn’t know. Can you give an example of where I “really don’t seem to care about anyone else”? I suspect you are mixing up “care” with “bossiness”.

          • jerry
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; Oh stop trolling, no parent simply allows their child to go with ‘whoever they want’, unless of course they are unfit to be parents.

    • rose
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      When we saw Mrs Sturgeon grandstanding straight after the COBRA meeting, it seemed she was childishly trying to upstage the PM, get in first, and differentiate Scotland from England. It didn’t look as if she knew something the PM didn’t.

      It sounds from people who do know, as if children, though they may not display adult symptoms, are not thought to be superspreaders.

      • rose
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Of course if Mrs Sturgeon unnecessarily damages the Scottish economy, she know who will come to her rescue.

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Rose,, Sturgeon is always trying to be different from the rest of the UK. It gives her a sense of superiority and takes away the glare of failure over many other aspects of Scottish life like education.

      • jerry
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        @rose; It pains me to say this, as I really do not care much for the SNP never mind their leadership, but Sturgeon actually called this correctly.

  11. Lifelogic
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    I tend to think the government have servers under reacted and reacted too late. I think they will regret this in a couple of weeks time. Any delay, so as to allow the NHS to get better prepared (and to learn more on best treatment) for the deluge of patients that will surely hit them soon was surely worthwhile, regardless of the economic cost.

    Mortality rates in Italy are as high as 7% of positive tests. This is largely due to lack of property medical care as the hospitals simply could not cope. I do not imaging the NHS will cope either but the longer they have to get organised and get equipment the better.

    The approach of trying to bring the virus forwards to develop “herd immunity” early giving the NHS less time is a big mistake in my opinion. It might for example (in say six weeks time) be discovered that some anti-viral or other drug is very effective and reducing the death rate. So why bring the infection rates forwards just for economic reasons? We surely need far more ventilators, artificial lung machines and staff who can use them. How many do we have? How many more could be have if we had another 4 weeks for the NHS to get them?

    Special arrangement for the children of medical workers could clearly be arranged so that is not reason to keep schools open.

    We will see very soon will the UK death rate be under 1% or will it be the appalling rate of 7% as in Italy.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      During this extra time (that the UK could have had, had they reacted more aggressively) then we might find some other important ways of reducing the mortality.

      Why for example does it hit diabetics far worse. Is this just due to higher blood glucose levels? Might lowering everyone’s glucose levels with metformin or something assist everyone? Similarly for high blood pressure and drugs to control that.

      Is there some way of stimulating the activity of older immune systems so as to make them more like young ones for a short period. Is there some gas mixture that could safely be breathed in to the lungs to help reduce that lung infection and give the immune system more time to defeat the virus? All sorts of things might be known rather better had we delayed it more (as could have easily have been done in the UK).

      Delay would have saved many lives I suspect, even a few weeks of delay would have been valuable.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        Should people all start jogging or exercising more so as to improve their lung capacity and fitness before they might become infected, might this help a little to reduce mortality rates? Are people better of slightly over weight before the infection or slightly under weight?

        Surely the more delay we have the more we will know, the more geared up the NHS can be and the closer to an effective inoculation we will be too. I can see no reason for intentionally speeding up the infection, but the government seems to have other ideas. What is their logic can they tell us? Just economic I suspect, what price are they putting on a life in these calculations?

        There is a large difference between a mortality rate of 0.5% or one of 7%+ perhaps as many as 300,000 deaths prevented.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Actually here you’re correct.

        The problem is that the UK is delaying but we’re not being given information on how the USSR-based NHS is preparing. As an NHS “customer” I need to know:

        1 -How many ventilators and which other equipment is on order and when will they arrive?
        2 -How many NHS staff are being redeployed and trained into CV treatment and when will they be ready?
        3 -Where is the space for treating them being reserved? How much of it is ready and when will the remainder be ready?
        4 – What are the triggers for me to dial 111, get my close ones to hospital and where the hell should they go?
        5 – What preventive steps are the NHS taking to protect their staff from cross contamination and therefore prejudicing the treatment of patients?

        We need some sort of private citizen audit group to answer these questions and others NOW, before we hear of all the delays, cock-ups and so on in the NHS.

        • Iain Gill
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          “on order” is not good enough. we should requisition factories or whatever is needed to start making more of them immediately. start training medical staff who dont know how to use them how to do so. treat it like we need to make planes in war time, only this war is against a virus and we need more ventilators and other equipment.
          the lazy approach of accepting the capacity we already have in hospitals is not good enough.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

            Exactly it is a war cannot be that hard to rig up some ventilators using air pumps and similar can it?

      • SM
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        LL – you keep spouting your obviously uninformed opinions without apparently listening to what anyone else is saying. You have a completely ignorant faith in ‘lung machines’, ignoring the fact that they can introduce other fatal infections and can cause great physical distress to the patient. You want to improve your elderly immune system? Try exercise and zinc and Vit D and B supplements, it’s not rocket science.

        • Sir Joe Soap
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

          Unfair. Many questions about how to minimise this outbreak remain unanswered by the scientists, government and NHS. I pose some of these questions above, as does LL. Is it worth taking Zn and Vit D supplements for example, or are they a waste of time?

          • Lifelogic
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            Probably a waste of time (a bit like putting on your life jacket with a whistle and a torch then comes on in water just before the plane crashes)

            It gives you something to do and cannot do much harm!

        • fedupsoutherner
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          SM. A strict very low carb diet also results in weight loss and a reduction in glucose levels in the blood stream. Within a month people would see good results.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          It seems clear form medical experts in Italy that the lack of critical care facilities in Italy resulted in much of the higher death rate there of 7% rather than under 1% in many other places. I do not want this to happen in the UK.

          • anon
            Posted March 15, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

            Agreed.

            There are various approaches trialled in China.

            Mechanical intervention, ECMO and lung transplants.Using various anti-virals and drugs thought to inhibit the replicationof the virus. If you web search these they are almost all stock out.

            Some do look promising so the scientific community need to be re-purposed & incentivised in the short run.

            Trials could be ran on healthy volunteer individuals. Some given the “potential inhibiting drug” and others not and regular results followed.

            How many,how old, when where and how severe were the infections.

            This information is likely available in South Asia and may explain why some countries seemingly are better at managing this.

    • Oldsalt
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      LL-
      Agreed

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Interesting @LL that you are a large government interventionist at heart.

      Maybe you should relocate to the EU (;

      To date I think our government has reacted as well as it could. But only time will tell

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        I am not remotely a large government interventionist but as we have a dire, state run near monopoly NHS that is all we have. Had we not had this we would have had more money in health care and would have had far more capacity, medical staff and equipment.

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

          No we wouldn’t.

          The private sector would run it as just in time like the supermarkets.

    • Original Richard
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic : “Mortality rates in Italy are as high as 7% of positive tests.”

      Let us hope that the Italians have not tested their whole population and only those displaying severe symptoms needing hospitalisation.

  12. davews
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    We need to hastily stop the deluge of rubbish in the newspapers and other media who seem to be hell bent on scaremongering panic. I have serious worries about what is going to happen in our country (and others). Shut every event down, tell everybody with a little sniffle to stay at home not even to poke ones head out of the door, bare supermarket shelves etc. Life will soon not be worth living, and I hate to say this the suicide rate will sky rocket as many won’t see a need to live. And of course many businesses large and small will fail as there is not enough money from our government to possibly compensate them all (and nobody left in the civil service to administer it).

    • jerry
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      @davews; I do not see a “deluge of rubbish in the newspapers”, I see them reporting more or less what the Govt has said and obviously wants reporting, or perhaps it is the criticism of the Govt that you object to, such as those interventions from Mr Hunt and Mr Stewart?

      “Life will soon not be worth living, and I hate to say this the suicide rate will sky rocket as many won’t see a need to live.”

      Yet YOU accuse the newspapers of being hell bent on scaremongering panic… Get a grip, just because you can’t go and watch the Footy or what ever!

      • NickC
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Jerry, I think you miss Davews’s point. He was criticising the over-reaction, not advocating it.

        • jerry
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

          @NickC; If you thionk the Government has “over-reacted” I would hate to think what you consider an under reaction might be.

          • NickC
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, Where did I say the government has “over-reacted”?

          • jerry
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; I was being sarcastic.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        I would wager that pictures of empty supermarket shelves begets empty supermarket shelves.

        It seems impossible today to purchase any long life goods from my local sainsbury’s.

        I was off work on Thursday and went to Teaco to buy some lunch. The car park was filled to capacity which I have never seen at a weekend. Staggering

        • jerry
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          @NS; As I’ve said to others when people are being told they might need to self isolate for a week or more you can’t blame then for stocking up. The real problem is the just-in-time stock control we have these days, apparently some supermarkets carry no stock other than what is on display, even a delivery lorry breaking down can leave shelves bare.

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

            I don’t wholly disagree Jerry but who needs multiple packs of 18 toilet rolls for a week or multiple packs of 5 kg pasta or rice.

            The newspapers have driven the public’s stupidity by showing pictures of empty shelves.

            Go to your local Costco if you want to witness end of days behaviour

          • jerry
            Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

            @NS; It is not for 7 days, it is for 14 days (or it was originally, that message has stuck), and as I have also said before, if people are doing weekly shops that means they need a 21 day supply cupboard in case they and their household need to self isolate before their next weekly shop. Another thing to remember, most people know little about this virus but do know that many viruses can bring on stomach bugs too…

            As for Costco in the UK, they are a trade card only cash-n-carry, so the vast majority of people using Costco are either buying in bulk for business premises use (might explain the multiple packs of 18 toilet rolls) or buying to sell on from a bricks-and-mortar retail outlet, with perhaps some independent retailers being worried that the transport sector will fail, or that they themselves will have limited opportunity to visit the cash-n-carry to restock their own shelves, who knows.

            I totally agree with you on the stupidity of the MSM, but Govt must also share some blame, they should have
            foresaw the problem of people stocking up for 14+ days of self isolation before they announced the advice/instruction.

    • Jiminyjim
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Well said, davews. It has been worrying to see the mass insanity that seems to have infected our nation. The professor who is a Labour activist on Question Time on Thursday was completely hysterical and the BBC introduced him as if he was an independent Public Health expert. Everyone needs to calm down and reflect on on the very small numbers affected and the potentially catastrophic effect on both economic well being and mental health if we continue to react disproportionately. Besides, what are we going to do when a genuinely deadly virus arrives in a few years? The public will remember the hysteria in 2020 and fail to act. We must keep the schools open and grow a pair as a nation

  13. Sakara Gold
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    The rest of the world is closing their schools, universities etc. because they believe that it will reduce the spread of the Wuhan plague. Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong – having had experience of the SARS virus – have done do. By implementing such social distancing measures, closing their borders and aggressive testing and quarantining very early on they appear to have got on top of this virus.

    I do not accept that the “herd immunity” strategy is going to be effective, when 60% of the nurses/doctors get the virus they will be off work anyway. People will find child care – grandparents etc. I’m more worried about how the nation is going to deal with the millions of fatalities this strategy will produce

    The British public is not as stupid as the government seems to believe. The FA ignored the advice and cancelled football matches anyway. We need to take this epidemic much more seriously. Can’t we bring in experienced specialists from HK or Singapore to give us proper some help?

    • Helen Smith
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Read what you have just put, people will find childcare, grandparents etc., which group is at greatest risk here, it’s not children, it is the elderly, the grandparents, and you are breezily saying get the elderly to look after the children because they are too germy to be in school infecting each other, give me strength.

    • Oldsalt
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      SG-
      Agreed

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      When these countries that have shut down open up again the infection rates will soar.

      This virus is out of the box so unless the whole world stays at home for 3 weeks it will continue to circulate.

      Our newly interventionist @LL might suggest that the whole world shuts for 3 weeks but I don’t think it is going to happen.

  14. Lifelogic
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Sorry “severely” under reacted

  15. Dave
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    This government is acting reasonably in my view. The figures so far suggest that this virus is not particularly dangerous when compared to others and a wholesale shutdown of the economy could well be much worse than the disease.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      7% of those who have tested positive in Italy have died. This as insufficient critical care available so many were left to die – just how dangerous would you like it to be before acting to delay it?

      They keep saying “stopping mass gathering does not have a huge impact” – but any delay will save lives. If the politicians say yet again that 80% will suffer only minor symptom I will scream – 20% is a lot of people.

      It would be sad if this government is remembered for spending hundred of £billions on lunacy like HS2, Hinkley C, the war on plant food, tunnels past Stonehenge, renewables and the likes. Yet then they let thousands die because they have failed to provide totally decent critical care and other medical care for a few weeks to thousands in need. Or have failed to delay the infection to get time to gear up! What do ventilators and artificial lungs cost and how quickly can they be made?

      • Oldsalt
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        LL-
        Agreed

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        How long does it take to train someone to operate them?

      • Bob
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        @lifelogic

        ” they let thousands die because they have failed to provide totally decent critical care and other medical care for a few weeks to thousands in need.”

        Deaths from C19 will be mostly pensioners.
        The spin off effects for that will be:
        1. Reduction in state pension liabilities
        2. Reduction in social and medical costs for the elderly
        3. Boost to IHT revenue
        4. Boost to housing availability

        Where is govts incentive to provide better care for the elderly?
        Are we relying on their humanity? Good luck with that.

        As I said yesterday, my colleague’s wife is a district nurse and has been told not to wear surgical masks during home visits, as it may impair communications with the patients. Enough said.

        • anon
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

          Cold hard logic follow the money- like it.

          A Public enquiry on actions and recommendations made by individuals in power should start to be gathered now.

      • Bob
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        A shortage of medical supplies and hospital beds in Italy is forcing doctors to choose which corona virus patients to save — and they’re said to be choosing the young.

        • Fred H
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          relatives of you know who?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        I agree, Life Logic, but the kind of actions we would like cannot be provided by a country which has had successive governments fixated on rolling back the State. That includes the NHS.

        The private sector will not support a public protection agency with staff and materiale in reserve ready for this kind of emergency and not making any money for most of the time, but rather, costing it.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

          Would you have a huge number of people and buildings and equipment just sat there for decades waiting for an event like this one.
          From 1945 presumably.
          Just in case.
          Even a socialist country wouldn’t do that.

    • IanT
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      I do believe that the Government is acting on the basis of well informed medical and scientific evidence and advice. They have some appalling decisions to make – and I’m very glad it’s not me making them.

      This virus is not like others, in that it can easily spread – often undetected – and for many will have not have serious outcomes. However, for many older and infirm people it will most certainly have very deadly outcomes. The sooner that most of the (younger) population gain some level of immunity, the better it will be for the older community who cannot risk the same exposure.

      The best solution seems to be to cocoon ‘at-risk’ people but encourage normal life for those who may barely notice the virus or who (worst case) will spend a week in bed.

      IanT

      • Reaction Harry
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, a sensible comment at last!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          Not that sensible as you cannot really cannot really cocoon the vulnerable effectively furthermore the sooner more people catch it the sooner the NHS will be overwhelmed with people needing ICU best and will be unable to cope. Delay as long as we can and get the NHS ready so as to reduce the mortality rate as far as possible.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

            No, it wrongly implies that the notion, that societies cannot act on a collective will to provide for what they want themselves, is a Law Of Physics rather than a mere article of quasi-religious faith in the market.

            Take a look at e.g. Sweden’s contingency provisions.

            They are free of slavery to the Bottom Line, however, unlike the US and the UK.

  16. jerry
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Schools should remain open for the moment, although parents should be allowed to make their own decisions as whether to withdraw they children, as I do have problems with much of the Govts current advise given at Thursdays No10 press briefing.

    Yes children seems to be less affected but, as many point out, they can be super-carriers perhaps showing no symptoms at any stage of the infection, thus parents of those children who perhaps live in a household that includes someone within a high risk group could well feel they need to withdraw their child(ren) from school, they should be supported in that.

    • jerry
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      Two related issues;

      Regarding schools and the possibility of children being withdrawn from school, either because parents wish to do that or the school shuts, has the Govt talked to the BBC and others such as the OU about making and broadcasting educational programming that would allow education to continue at least on some level. Yes I know the internet is a better tool for this but the internet is not universal.

      More widely there should be a ban on non essential outside gathering, as has been widely reported overnight, the norm seems to be greater than 500 outdoors and greater than 100 people gathering indoors and here I’m thinking in terms of hobby exhibitions and most conferences. Those numbers should be for total expected attendance, not attendance at any one time, as Covid-19 appears to be able to live outside of a host for up to four days, thus it may well be possible for someone to spread their infection on day one but someone else become infected on day three of the event!

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        Jerry. Surely the area of a room must be taken into account when accessing if public events go ahead. 100 people in a very large room or arena would not be the same as 100 in a village hall. Mind you, if many people already have the virus but don’t know it then we are probably exposed to it alot more often than we think we are just going out and about doing our daily business.

        • jerry
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

          @fedupsoutherner; Not at all, unlike an open space in an exhibition people tend to crowd around the exhibits, you could have a 10,000 sq ft hall, 100 people but only two or three exhibition stands, and you’ll get the same contagion as the same event being held in a 100 sq ft marque.

          There are hobby discussion forums on the internet were exhibition organisers are minded to cancel but economically they feel unable to do so unless the Govts advice is to cancel or there is a ban, because that is the only way their event insurance will trigger. Until then all they can do is provide what ever hand sanitiser they can in the hope that a/. people will use it and b/. no one turns up knowingly or not whilst being a carrier.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      I agree with Jerry, parents may have a good reason to remove their children from school for two weeks before the Easter fortnight close down, for example, the child may have diabetes or a reduced immune system, the parent might or main childcare provider, a lower number of children self-isolating could have project work and revision set for them. I have a feeling schools will all close on Friday though through panic and pressure to do something.

      This is where the BBC could come into its own by providing lessons for each year group throughout the day. If the BBC can’t react that quickly perhaps Amazon Prime TV could.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        Could you really imagine the BBC (CBBC) educating young children on coronavirus ‘don’t worry just wash your hands regularly there hasn’t been any child deaths you’re not at risk’

        No the BBC would go for the headline doom and gloom reporting deaths around the world and how fast it spreading and what disasters await children

        • jerry
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

          @glen cullen; The BBC would be the obvious broadcaster, not necessarily the programme marker, and even if they were the programmes would have to comply with the National curriculum just as Schools broadcasting used to.

          There is nothing to stop ITV, Ch4 or Ch5 from offering their logistics, studios and/or channels etc, more difficult for the likes of Sky as they are not universal service platforms.

          In my other original comment I suggested asking the OU, they have 50 years experience of providing televised education, they might even have some suitable pre-made programmes that could be adapted for secondary and six-form college courses.

          I note the NI First Minster has suggested that school (in NI, but will it be any different elsewhere), once they shut, will be closed for at least 16 weeks…

  17. Brit
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Decades ago I feel I read some book which said there may be a possibility that words ( or bits of them with some meanings) can be transferred..somehow…via DNA.
    Of course I do not know. Sometimes yet it feels it could be true , for words have started springing to my mind automatically that fit too well for it to be Chance alone.

  18. Iain Gill
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Look at what Richard Horton editor of the Lancet has been saying on twitter. Far more realistic than those employed by the NHS religion.

    • jerry
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      @Iain Gill; Thank you for that, also being reported by the FT via Twitter too, Richard Horton (@richardhorton1) has confirmed what I thought whilst watching Thursdays No10 briefing, playing roulette indeed…

      I was far to angry yesterday to post here, I have an at risk parent, some of my customers are in at risk groups, it is quite possible (due to past occupational hazardous, leaving me open to COPD) that I might even be someone ‘at risk’ – but the govts idea is that 60% of people should simply be exposed to this virus, and the quicker the better, seemingly to protect the economy.

      Just because someone is employed by the Govt or the NHS, or even at Dstl, does not make them auto-magically “experts”, like climate science, theoretical modelling can be very wrong. Often simply common sense is the best expert.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Horton. Delay the spread as much as possible, prepare the NHS and other services as much as possible in anyway we can in the little time available. Find out what treatments can increase survival rates – as quickly as possible and get provision in place.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        Yes, that absolutely must be the approach.

        Also collaborate with science across borders. The Dutch are making notable strides as we write.

        It’s a pity that we have just left the most effective organisation in history dedicated to facilitating exactly this sort of thing, isn’t it?

        • Fred H
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

          so who out of the other 26 are facilitating the 27th ie the Dutch?

        • jerry
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

          @MiC; Oh do stop pushing irrelevant pro EU rhetoric all the time, membership of the political EU makes no difference, if the Dutch have useful data or research they will help via the WHO and it will be offered/given to whoever.

          By your warped logic, because currently the best data is actually coming out of China the UK and all EU27 states (never mind the USA, Australia, Canada etc) should all be swearing political allegiance to the PRC…

  19. /ikh
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    The science says ( absolutely ) that there is no way of prevent anyone from contracting
    covid-19. Everybody will get it, no ifs and no but’s. I am amazed that the media do not seem to understand this basic fact and propagate the idea that we can avoid infection. It is not possible.

    HMG is trying to move the peak so that the NHS will not be overwhelmed and critical care will not be so swamped that people will needlessly die. That is the only mitigation that HMG can offer. Doing anything unnecessary will simply damage the economy and harm people. Closing large meetings is unnecessary and will cause economic damage.

    Taking the precautions advised by the Chief Medical Office, washing your hands frequently and self-isolation for 7 days if you develop symptoms will effectively slow the progression of covid-19.

    Knee jerk reaction as proposed by many in the media and the public at large will simply increase the damage we will all suffer

    /ikh

    • jerry
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      @ikh; “Everybody will get it, no ifs and no but’s.”

      If you’re not exposed to a virus you will not catch it – FACT!

      There is a difference between mass immunisation, such as by the MMR vaccine, and allowing a live virus to create so called herd immunity.

      • NickC
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, If you think you, or anyone else, is not going to be exposed to the Covid-19 virus, you’re either a hermit, or you think everyone else is. This virus is highly contagious, can be transmitted without either donor or recipient being aware of it, and lives for days on surfaces. Nobody who inter-relates with others can escape it – FACT!!

        • jerry
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          @NickC; “This virus is highly contagious, can be transmitted without either donor or recipient being aware of it”

          Then everyone should simply remain in their beds and await the infection, seeing that (close) contact is not even necessary…

          But of course that would also crash the economy just as starting to minimise close contact by shutting cafes, pubs, offices and so on, never mind a Italy style lock-down.

          Heck, the govt admit that there won’t be 100% herd immunisation coverage even if their plan works, they talk about a 60% infection/immune level, they want it quickly so that the majority will hopefully has some immunity should the virus pick up again after the summer, this to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed during the 2020-21 autumn and winter.

          You can’t catch a virus unless you are exposed to it.

        • anon
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          Delay will be useful in saving lives- allowing people extra time to review affairs and maybe do things like finding a vaccine or similar.

          Life is finite: “No one gets out of this alive.”

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Not everyone will get it. Delay is still useful if it gives the NHS more time to gear up and spreads the demand.

  20. margaret howard
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    According to several reports in the later editions of last night’s papers a British baby was born with the virus. I can’t find any updates on this story. What happened and was it true?

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      MH. Yes, I saw this too but not sure if he was infected after birth or born with it. Is it possible for a baby to contract a virus while still in the womb?

      • margaret howard
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        fedup

        There is a follow up in the BBC article ‘Coronavirus: UK dead double in 23 hours’ which reads:

        “A newborn baby and its mother are among the latest new cases of the virus in England.

        Medics are trying to confirm whether the baby, who was tested at North Middlesex Hospital, was infected during birth or before, according to the Sun newspaper.

        Government advice is that there is “no clinical evidence” to suggest the virus can be transmitted through breast milk.

        “Infection can be spread to the baby in the same way as to anyone in close contact with you,” it says.

        Very worrying.

    • NickC
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Margaret H, You’ve got the “doom” you were hankering after. It’s just resulted from a virus, rather than Brexit. In fact it makes your (and other Remainers’) doom predictions look completely insipid and fabricated. You are like the boy who cried “wolf” too often.

  21. BeebTax
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Parents who want to withdraw children from school should be allowed to do so.

    As another contributor pointed out, individual circumstances vary. I’ve recently had a serious respiratory problem so will be in the “underlying health problem/high risk” category for at least a month. If my children were school age I’d be very concerned about the infection risk.

    Another issue: is there a government website with up to date information on current policy and advice? I can’t find one. There is a lot of conflicting and confusing information out there. If we’re to keep calm and not panic, then provide us with a reliable and unsensational source of information. The BBC is certainly not fulfilling that function, focussing rather on taking a dig at the government today over supposed U turns on Coronavirus policy.

    Reply Yes the website attached to the 111 service gives updates

  22. Dave Andrews
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    The people who are being affected are firstly those who travel, then those who meet with people who travel. So to keep safe, avoid both sets of people and don’t travel yourself.
    Rather than close down schools, shut down the airports and ports (to passengers not freight) and public transport. An infected person will leave the infection on surfaces he touches (handrails, door handles) ready for others to pick up. If you really have to travel, then when you see the message “hold on to the handrail”, don’t!

  23. Christine
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I’m in Spain and I’ll explain what’s happened here. The virus is mainly in the Madrid area. They closed all their schools. Families have travelled to the Spanish holiday resorts to escape it thereby spreading the infection. Now in the whole of Spain all schools, bars, restaurants have been closed. There is panic buying as people in the hotels have nowhere to eat. Consider the consequences of closing schools. Don’t bother coming to Spain or following their course of action.

    • Helen Smith
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Good post, the idea that children will hibernate in the house is for the birds, they will be out in the shopping precinct infecting the elderly.

    • Oldsalt
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Christine-
      Madrid should have been quarantined.
      Failure to anticipate consequences of actions.

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        @Oldsalt. In that case perhaps London should be too.

    • Christine
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      People now told to stay home and only go out for emergencies. All the beaches have been closed. Half the town is now in the supermarket panic buying, spreading the virus faster than before. This is the madness of not thinking things through. Keep calm in the UK and follow your Government’s advice. Arrange home delivery of food for the elderly and vulnerable.

      • Christine
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:22 am | Permalink

        Having closed the restaurants, bars and beaches in Spain, some holiday makers in Benidorm are now buying beer from the supermarkets and congregating on the promenade. You can’t legislate for fools.

  24. MarkLeigh
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    AFAIK, the concept of herd immunity is well established in virology.

    Given the absence of a vaccine, and the need to maximise health care resources for the vulnerable, it seems to me HMGs approach so far makes sense.

    The biggest impact has not yet been really picked up in the MSM (other than reporting the various stock market indices) – the global economic shock.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Yes. I suppose the real debate is whether UK should (or even could) operate a total lockdown strategy like South Korea to stop the virus spread this time with the risk that there has been no vaccine produced in time to control the next wave which is likely this winter and so a total lockdown would be again required, or whether to attempt to manage it via herd immunity this time so future waves are ineffective. I am not in a position to judge this, though it seems lots of media commentators and journalists apparently are.

    • NickC
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      MarkLeigh, I very much agree with all your points.

  25. mickc
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    So far the thing has been a MSM feeding frenzy with dramatic headlines and few real facts. But, of course, we don’t have a MSM which actually does investigative journalism.

    Nowadays the thalidomide scandal would have gone uninvestigated, unreported and buried under climate change hysteria. The BBC website has an article about child rape gangs and how the police and social services failed; no mention of failure, indeed collusion to suppress the truth, by the Fourth Estate.

    • forthurst
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Pure hypocrisy coming from an organisation that itself worked actively to suppress the truth. We haven’t forgotten.

    • NickC
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      MickC, Indeed. Everyone who uses the internet knew about Covid-19 well before the MSM woke up.

  26. Alan Jutson
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    The government policy appears to be based upon medical science, with a management plan that is progressively flexible, if people want to make their own decision about keeping themselves at home, and not to circulate, then that is as it should be, their own choice.

    Many of the public appear to expect the Government to solve the crisis when there appears to be no medication available at the moment, that will actually treat the virus.
    There seems to be a reluctance to explain this to the people complaining.

    Those in intensive care appear only to be given help with oxygen.

    I think the presentations given by Boris and his medical science professionals have been well put together and seem to make sense, just because other Countries are doing something different, is not a reason in itself to change policy.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      I think there is medication which can in some case assist with the more severe cases who have to be hosptalised, I am not an expert (I’m not even on Twitter !) but I have seen some papers from South Korea for example discussing treatments. No doubt as part of future steps in their plan HMG are already in contact with the relevant overseas experts.

  27. villaking
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Sir John,
    I agree. With so many expert epidemiologists like Nigel Farage voicing against the government and people like Lifelogic completely failing to understand the government’s plan, it must be very hard not to yield to populist opinion. For once I see Boris exercising some proper leadership. There is a strategy, it makes sense, the peak of curve will be pushed out and be flatter. I never thought I would say it but I am pleased with the government’s calm, well informed tactics. Many will die, it is unavoidable (and Farage will say he told us so), but I think when we look back we will see that Britain’s unique approach was the right one

    • NickC
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      Villaking, Don’t be silly – Nigel Farage is not pretending to be an epidemiologist. He is merely voicing his opinion, just as you are doing.

  28. ukretired123
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t ” prevails.

    Whatever this is a great opportunity to facilitate the use of online teaching which ” the Blob” have been resisting for years and would help improve standards bringing them into the 21century. You never hear this from the SNP and others – All you hear about is cuts etc so depressing given that Britain has led innovations in this area like the £25 raspberry pi designed for teaching children and improving education with sales of 30million in the last 8 years!

    • ukretired123
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      I forgot to say “mostly worldwide sales” because third world countries can’t get enough of them.

      Many solutions are literally under our nose but we overlook them!

    • hefner
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      My grandchildren in Devon have had raspberry pi computers in their last two years of primary school. And they even had exercises in making them work from the different bits and pieces (not so many of them) to understand what the various parts were doing. The explanation for such a brilliant scheme is that the lady teacher is computer geek in her spare time. So it might be the exception that proves the rule.

  29. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    It is strange how some European countries have closed their borders. Doesn’t Schengen free movement apply now?

    • margaret howard
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      What a stupid posting. If you must find somebody/someone/something to shake a stick at, find something worthwhile.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Good question I believe defence of the UK is still a duty of the government therefore they should have systems in place to protect and test legal / illegal visitors and immigrants to the UK

  30. Matt
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    The problem is that most of the kids will go to grandparents.

    I’m sorry to offer a link here but it’s worth everyone’s attention. As to why saving business is about saving lives and the need to manage this virus (as the government is trying to do) rather than trying to stop it.

    Let’s carry on as normally as possible and keep gramps (and other vulnerable people) as isolated as possible for a while.

    It might be better to close down minor surgeries rather than schools.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Matt. Our surgery is already saying that in the near future they will be carrying out appointments on a video phone if we agree. I have said yes. The less I have to go into a doctors surgery the better.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        FedupSoutherner

        Already happening in our area, Face-face appointments nearly impossible unless you require examination after a phone consultation.

  31. George Brooks
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    The government is doing a good job and it would look and appear even better if it was not for the media scrambling for readers and viewers. The editors are all doing a rotten job as they try to build up fear and panic buying. However it is fair to say that if they didn’t do this they would be fired by their bosses and shareholders.

    It appears very few children are going down with the virus and if and when they do it seems to be mild so the schools should remain open as this will help to keep many key workers in the NHS doing their vital job.

    Right at the beginning we were told that measures would be rolled out as the virus spread. Also as we will not get a vaccine for several months we have been told that it would be an advantage if 50 to 60% caught the virus as it would help build our immunity for the future.

    We have a team of very bright people working on this crisis and they should be allowed to continue to flatten and move the peak towards the warmer weather and we don’t need clowns like Ed Davey trying to score political points

  32. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    All that air travel cancelled – St Greta might even break into a tiny tiny smile.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      bigneil. Perhaps we will see an improvement in the climate. That would make her actually grin.

    • margaret howard
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      bigneil

      See my posting above! Not really a time for cheap sarcasm.

  33. agricola
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    You ask us to make a judgement that few of us are qualified to make and which you admit to being open minded about.

    If as most of us have read , children are less susceptible to the serious effects of the disease that is a good thing, but are they less likely to be carriers who can infect others. Confining children to home would be a very difficult one even if it freed up our roads at school commuting times. It would place an insuperable burden on parents who continued to work. Children up to the age of 16 cannot be left to their own devices without serious risk. At school collective discipline can be applied to limit the spread, at home it can go out of the window.

    I think everyone needs to understand that we are dealing with an almost unknown. Time may reveal all. Decisions have to be made based on what we do know and even if those decisions are imperfect with hindsight , they are better carried through with resolution. If one good can come of this it is that politicians learn to live with the science and do not get carried away with political expediency. We might then get a sensible response to global warming.

  34. Norman
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    As you imply, it appears most children, who may only get a very mild infection, do not sero-convert, so testing will give unreliable results.
    I think the decision not to close schools is exactly right, as long as we realize there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy. It would be wise to allow some children who are frail or immunologically to stay at home, and for the parents to home-school them for a few months. Such parents probably already cater for such eventualities.

    • Norman
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Sorry, should read ‘immunologically compromised’.

  35. Caterpillar
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    The Govt and its advisers have been abundantly clear about the reasons for the strategy, that the outcomes will be bad, but their remain many unknowns. It is time that those politicians with an axe to grind or advantage to take (I won’t name them but we know who they are), the media that keeps publishing unhelpful and distracting rubbish, and interviewers who do not ask the questions to clarify exactly what and how we should act but throw blame, mistrust and confusion – all these people need to realise that they will be making the strategy harder to implement. Bluntly their behaviour will be adding further to the death count, if they carry on the Govt strategy will break the axe grinders will say celebrate their victory, but what will happen will be worse than it otherwise would be. (The strength of the PM, CMO and CSA under the media and political onslaught whilst dealing with this crisis is remarkable. I hope they don’t throw up their hands and walk away).

    • Caterpillar
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      On schools the CSA has been clear on the balance, has clearly contrasted the role of schools in cases of flu epidemics compared with the current coronavirus. It is also obvious when (if) we reach the stage of families self-isolating that will include specific children away from school. The Govt has also been clear that at sometime it may be appropriate to close, but the timing is important.

      Perhaps there might be some more guidance given to shools, if not already, on teachers and children who.fall into vulnerable categories.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      And finally…

      I am glad there are psychologists on the Govt advice team on this. I think some of the axe grinders are falling into some common risk based cognitive biases

  36. formula57
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    When a school finds one or more of its attendees has corona virus, what then? Closure with a recommendation to self-isolate for a period or remain open to allow everyone the privilege of acquiring herd immunity? Will that be enough to stave off law suits for negligence etc.? So are we only a week or so away from mass school closure anyway?

    As for herd immunity, I would urgently like to hear from the chief medical advisor about the prospects for second wave infections being more virulent (as happened with the Spanish Influenza pandemic) amongst those previously infected.

    (The medical explanation (iirc) is that if the virus mutates (as often happens) the structure of the changes in the body that create immunity upon the first infection then act no longer as blockers but pathways to the virus in mutated form when infected a second time.)

  37. DOMINIC
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Politicians love a crisis. They embrace them like a mother would a lost then found child. We’ve been living through a period in British politics in which procuring pretexts for oppressive legislation has become quite normal. Hate Crime legislation is a prime example of pure Reichstag politics.

    The C-19 virus is a gift to those who yearn to see the powers of the State to assert control is ramped up. Once those powers are in place, they’ll never be revoked. Power begets power.

    Closing down schools does at least provide children with a period of freedom in which their young and fertile minds aren’t being exposed to social engineering and progressive indoctrination from poisonous London-Centric activist groups that have now infected the very corridors of power. From Stonewall to the socialist NUT, all hell bent on taking control of the process of education

    C-19 is the least of our worries. Crazy spending programs by western governments have pushed many nations to the brink of financial collapse. Their embrace of Keynesian ideas (big politics) and their move away from the normal rules of fiscal governance will eventually push us over the cliff

  38. Roy Grainger
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Schools should be closed when it will help stop the spread of the virus. With so few cases currently (10,000 in the entire country estimated) that isn’t now. I assume individual schools will close as and when staff or children at the school show symptoms, and later all schools will close when the virus is more widespread. The downside of closing schools:

    1) Key workers who are parents – including the obvious ones but also those in food distribution and so on, will be absent from work
    2) Workers will arrange other childcare options, using available (high-risk) grandparents to look after multiple children is the obvious way
    3) Children will socialise with each other outside school and in the general community anyway

    So, I am OK with the current strategy. Other European countries strategies are not notably performing better than UK at this point – Ireland closing schools for only two weeks seems particularly odd, surely if you believe it is effective you should close them for months ? Why not ?

  39. a-tracy
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    As people aren’t being tested now in the U.K. unless they’re serious enough to get taken to hospital, could we just have the number of people in hospital with this virus and where in the Country so we can see in advance the spread and make our own informed decisions.

    • hefner
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      On the http://www.gov.uk website, look for ‘Number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and risk in the UK’
      Once there go to ‘confirmed cases in each local authority and NHS region’.
      There are two versions of the file, one for desktop, one for tablets (and possibly phones).

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        They have of course made it more “interesting” – when it first started it was an alphabetical list where it was easy to find where you lived.

        No it is graphical and sorted in ascending order which makes finding your own locality more difficult

        Someone made some money on web design but it was better as it was.

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

        Hefner, this doesn’t give the information I’d prefer. The numbers won’t be correct because we stopped doing so many tests. The only numbers of those infected I’d like are those being treated in hospital at the moment and how many are recovering?

      • dixie
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        That dashboard would be useful if it stayed up to date. Unfortunately, Gov says not to call 111 or GP but self isolate for 7 days, so such individuals would not appear in the stats ..

        So are recorded cases only those serious enough to go to hospital?

  40. hefner
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    While not recent (2012), a very interesting paper in Intensive Care Medicine Journal, 38, 1647-1653 ‘The variability of critical care bed numbers in Europe’ by A.Rhodes et al. (www.link.springer.com).
    Reading this it becomes clear why for now the UK Government prefers a ‘collective immunity’ policy. In 2012 Germany had 29.2 ICU beds per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Luxembourg, Austria, … in 10th position Italy with 12.5, France (12th position with 11.6), … the UK (24th position with 6.6 ICU beds per 100,000 inhabitants). At the time, the average of the EU28 was 11.5.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Hefner. That’s really made my day.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        Fedupsoutherner,

        Aside – in developed countries there is no correlation between number of ICUs and life expectancy at birth (that again was a 2012 result, not sure if there have been any changes).

    • forthurst
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      hefner, I don’t follow your logic; if the much vaunted NHS has far fewer ICU beds than Germany which has an apparently low mortality rate so far, why would not the government be seeking to reduce the number of prospective patients according to the availability of resources? That would mean employing extremely stringent controls to avoid spreading the virus. As to ‘herd immunity’, this is normally achieved by mass vaccination not by mass exposure. In consequence the government policy should be one of rigorous containment to close down clusters and to prevent spread and to inaugurate mass vaccination when a vaccine becomes available which is likely in a matter of months.

      • hefner
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        You are reading too much in my original post as strictly speaking it was just a statement of facts without any further addition. The only possible point that I had originally not made explicit was why the number of ICU beds in the NHS was only about half the EU28 average (in 2012). Otherwise I roughly agree with the rest of your comment.

  41. Time Lord Community
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    If they close they would not be able to smell the scent of daffodils in the school garden. One can overdo it though. We like them for they feel like Spring and Happiness, a real tonic.

  42. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I’m struck and dismayed, but not surprised, that the MSM are taking the line that other countries are doing the right thing and our government is wrong. The presumption as usual is that we as a people and as a nation must always follow others; they have even asked directly why are we not following Ireland’s lead. There are reports that the strict quarantines are having a beneficial effect in places but my guess is when these are lifted the virus will get going again.

    That’s what being tied to the EU has done for us. Weakened our spirits. We must regain self-confidence and belief and self reliance.

    I fear that Boris is going to weaken under the pressure.

    And no, we should not close the schools.

  43. Polly
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Yesterday I linked a most interesting hypothesis which appeared in the British Medical Journal relating to ACE inhibitors as a potential risk factor for fatal Covid-19.

    https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m810/rr-2

    The Daily Mail has published an article in lay terms which might make the subject easier to understand……

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8108735/Medicines-high-blood-pressure-diabetes-worsen-coronavirus-symptoms.html

    ”Medicines taken by 6.6million people with high blood pressure and diabetes could raise the risk of deadly coronavirus symptoms, scientists claim
    ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers may lead to worse illness
    Patients should not stop taking their medication unless their doctor says so
    The pills increase amounts of an enzyme the coronavirus uses to infect the body
    Experts said patients with high blood pressure or diabetes should be monitored
    Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor? ”

    Polly

  44. NickC
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    JR, Without a vaccine Covid-19 is going to circulate whatever the government does. What people have actually decided to do (in most cases) is to stock up on food (and supplements like vitamin C and zinc), and avoiding unnecessary or optional gatherings.

    It is the classic scenario – “Minister, we must be seen to be doing something. Closing schools is something. Therefore we should do it.” Closing schools will not prevent the spread of the virus. So the government would have to be very adept at deflecting the ensuing political criticism.

    • forthurst
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      The government is not doing anything to stop the spread other than exhorting people to wash their hands regularly and self-isolate if they experience a cough or high temperature. Whilst children are at school, they will certainly spread it to each other and thereby to all at home. If a local cluster develops then all the local schools should be shut also. In areas where there are clusters, then the schools may be needed for quarantine/isolation or hospital overflow.

      • NickC
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Forthurst, If schools are shut Covid-19 will still circulate through the rest of society, and thus into homes and to the stay-at-home children.

        • forthurst
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          The issue is whether closing schools would reduce the rate at which the virus was transmitted between unrelated individuals not whether it would stop it entirely.

  45. Andy
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    The Johnson-Cummings government has lost control of the situation. Shoppers are panic buying. Large events are being cancelled by the organisers. Companies have sent workers home. Head teachers are shutting their schools.

    The economic hit will be massive. There will clearly be a global recession- and we in the U.K. have the double blow of the self-induced Tory no deal Brexit coming soon to fatally undermine already damaged businesses.

    There is also a deep irony that Tories who have spent decades deriding and insulting experts – be it on climate change or Brexit – now tell us to listen to experts.

    Coronavirus will kill thousands in this country. Maybe tens of thousands. Maybe more.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      The Tories have not spent decades insulting experts what are you talking about?

      Michael Gove did certainly say we had had enough of experts who have been proven so wrong in the past. And on the issue he was talking about at the time – the likely consequences of a vote for brexit – Mr Gove has been proven absolutely right, and the ‘experts’ he was referring to have been proven wrong.

      On most subjects – global warming doomsday forecasts for example – there are experts on both sides of the argument.

      But you don’t like experts you don’t agree with. Read prof mody’s book on the euro as I told you to do – there’s an expert you won’t like, but who’s likely to be right.

      • Andy
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        On the contrary. I read lots of expert opinion I disagree with. You prefer the safety of a blog you agree with – an echo chamber. Try reading contrary opinions. It will help you.

        Incidentally Gove has been proven consistently wrong. And on both Brexit and man made climate change the vast majority of experts believe you are wrong,

    • Robert Mcdonald
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      The “experts” you refer to were those who made speculative predictions based on dubious, now proven, false facts. The government is using science based on real facts not fantasies.

      • Andy
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        Which predictions, and by which experts, have been proven false?

        • Robert Mcdonald
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

          Every economic expert forecast has been wrong, particularly those forecasting doom and destruction if we voted to leave. None of the forecasts were based on other than speculation founded on incorrect “expert” assumptions … Carney being just one among many.

    • NickC
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Andy, You’ve spent so long whinging about Brexit that when a real economic hit comes along you have no superlatives left. You were told that supply chains were global, and not confined to your creaky EU empire, but you refused to accept our expertise (some of us have imported and exported). Now you’ve found out the hard way.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Cummings has disappeared in a flash, hasn’t he?

  46. Helen Smith
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I’m a Lollipop lady, I would say 20% of children are brought to school by their grandparents. If schools are shut these grandparents will take on child minding duties. We will be putting the most at risk cohort at risk if we shut schools so I’m totally against it until someone can persuade me differently.

    • NickC
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Helen Smith, I agree.

      • anon
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        The 20% above are exposed doing dropping off and during contact and waiting at the school gates.

        School buses or taxis & alternatives can be arranged for these duties. School days can be extended longer lunch and playtimes or other activity, maybe a pm meal.

        Elders & risk individuals need to distance.
        Until our critical ICU resource is in excess of the demand.

  47. rose
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    As I have said before, what HMG is saying, advised by distinguished and internationally experienced doctors and scientists, makes sense and gives confidence. They are explaining what they know, as they find it out, clearly. Unfortunately, there are legions of Lord Haw Haws sowing confusion and chaos, mainly through the broadcasters but also through the press and internet. I just hope discipline does not break down altogether.

  48. BJC
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Government needs to work with facts and provide a measured response to the hysteria whipped up by those with little knowledge and who certainly don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. A measured response does not mean there needs to be an automatic reaction to outside pressures, à la the “climate crisis”. We were never going to be able to prevent the spread of this virus without immunity or a vaccine and there has never been a right or wrong way to deal with it, so speculation that a different approach would be more effective is just that, speculation.

    “Herd immunity” is a standard response to viruses and accepts that most of us will succumb and, hopefully, build immunity. Finite resources can then be channelled to protect the more vulnerable. Schools should already be adapting their working practises to provide adequate time for thorough hygiene measures and will probably need to consider temporary larger classes at some point. The “vulnerable” in schools are probably the teaching staff. On the matter their closures, children tend to “herd” more than adults, so this could take a naturally contained situation and spread it to the wider community, rapidly impacting the economy and the NHS.

    Off topic, the total lack of leadership or any coherent policy on this pandemic from the EU Middleman, has been a stunning embarrassment. They had a unique opportunity to promote the “benefits” of their Single Market ideology, proving their worth and justifying their existence. All they’ve done, however, is turn Europe into a pariah and reinforce the belief they do nothing that individual nations can’t do for themselves. Italy has even entered into a bi-lateral agreement with China to secure the medical supplies the Single Market doctrine should have provided! Single Market? Pah!!!

    The good news this morning is that we could have a vaccine by June.

  49. William Long
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I have been impressed by the way that the Government’s reaction has been based on scientific advice and not the jerk of every knee. I wonder what evidence is the basis for Ms Sturgeon’s divergent policy?
    Regarding school closures, it is hard to see that these would lead to children being kept apart from each other for very long, and as I saw pointed out in a newspaper yesterday, it would be very likely that if kept at home they would be looked after by their grandparents, by definition probably of a vulnerable age.

  50. John Probert
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    The government has missed the window of opportunity for containment

    Whilst the Germans order 10, 000 more ventilators we do very little

    Being led by the data means you are always behind the curve

    No common sense has been exercised by the government

    • Caterpillar
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Huh????

      Data is used for continuous validation of models so that you are ahead of the curve and able to time interventions for best effect. This has been communicated clearly by PM, CSA, CMO, it is just that media and others are causing lack of clarity.

      • John Probert
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        This is ahighly infectious virus that we know nothing about

        That means time is critical

        The data was available from China & Italy

        The warning signs were there

        The Government continues to take little action with poor capacity
        available from the NHS
        How many ventilators do we have ?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          Remember how the Right so often mockingly parroted Reagan’s words? “…The most terrifying words in English are “I’m from the Government and I’m here to help”…”?

          Well, you all want someone from the Government to help you now, don’t you?

          Too bad – you voted to roll back the State and all its instruments again and again, and got exactly that.

          There is almost nothing there to do what you want now.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

            Nonsense
            the State is bigger now and is spending more now than ever before.

  51. David Boland
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    As at present there have been 148,051 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide of which there have been 5543 deaths.

    A recent statement (February 2020) by Public Health England about seasonal flu said:

    “The average number of deaths in England for the last five seasons, 2014/15 to 2018/19, was 17,000 deaths annually.
    “This ranged from 1,692 deaths last season, 2018/19, to 28,330 deaths in 2014/15.”

    It seems to me that the Government has concluded that the effects of the coronavirus are unlikely to be worse overall than seasonal flu. In these circumstances it makes sense to take extra measures to try and limit infections among vulnerable groups, while letting the rest of the population look after itself.

    The Government may not yet be ready to admit to this conclusion – as a hostage to fortune – but they may want to assuage public anxiety by closures and other similar measures, at least for a few weeks until public sentiment has become accustomed to the presence of coronavirus in our midst and there is perhaps less anxiety about it. This would make sense.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      If the virus becomes endemic then the vulnerable – and they are very many – will be forced into permanent reclusion.

      Furthermore, most people will grow old and become vulnerable in turn.

      Failure to try to extinguish this epidemic is utterly inexcusable. I think that a new Crime Against Humanity by omission – if it does not already exist – should be created quickly, so that the guilty can be arraigned in The Hague.

  52. Bent Tower
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I bet all the Remainer MPs, 50s of them who left the UK on Brexit to avoid bread rationing and no medicine are sorry they left now, especially the ones settling in Italy. I bet their families are not smiling either who were dragged with them. They’ll get used to it.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      It depends how old they are really, doesn’t it?

  53. glen cullen
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I can remember the days when at school you had to show clean hands before lunch, could we re-educate students to show clean hands before every lession and test every student daily for high temp etc make part of daily routine

    Don’t close schools…next it will be all to easy to close trains, motorways etc

  54. red robin
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Was NHS collected blood checked for the Virus? If so , how?

  55. JM
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    I think that schools should remain open. If they close who is going to look after the children? Probably grandparents – the generation most at risk. Surely the best approach is that all of working age and below who have no respiratory problems should carry on life as normal. Anyone who is elderly or who has a respiratory problem should seclude themselves for the duration.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      The duration will be the rest of all time if it becomes endemic.

      Are you incapable of the simplest of reasoning?

      • Edward2
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        Odd how epidemics from years ago have disappeared.
        Are you capable of the simplest of reasoning?

  56. BillM
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    It is a given fact that the vast majority of those who died from Corona virus are aged. Many over 80 years. I have not read of any deaths amongst school age children.
    This is good reason not to shut down our schools. Furthermore, closing their schools the pupils will be free to meet with their friends and adults all day long or do the naysayers really believe the kids will self-isolate themselves?
    Until it is proven otherwise the Government should allow schools to remain open for business BUT tighten up on the screening at Care homes.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      The closure of schools is to stop children from spreading the virus each other and then TO the vulnerable.

      What is the matter with you?

      • Edward2
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        Martin
        Read the post below from Tom Lillis.

  57. Ignoramus
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    What a mixture of ignorant comments and sensible ones. Just like being in the pub…

  58. Lorna
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    “Only if they go home and stay at home would there be a major and lasting reduction in their number of contacts and therefore in their vulnerability to picking up the virus”
    Therein lies the problem .Keeping children at home unable to meet with friends for two to three months is challenging maybe impossible .
    That is a lesson Italy learned as groups of children were to be seen gathering on streets and parks ,confident that as young people they were in no danger
    They then returned to homes where grandparents were often standing in for working parents carrying the virus
    Keep,them in school at least you know who,their contacts are !

  59. Tom Lillis IV
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I was in local government in the US during the period around 9/11. We redid all of our disaster planning as you might expect. During the anthrax/contagion drills it became clear that closing schools was quite literally the _last_ thing to do. It seems counter-intuitive; the first inclination is to want to keep children safe. But as we reviewed it became clear that schools are the best (or least worse) place for children. The problem is that when you close a school the kids don’t vanish – they go to 1 of 3 places (at least in the US) – all problematic.

    1 Day Care
    Professionals and other parents will send dismissed kids into some type of day care. These facilities are less professionally run than schools. The will be less fastidious about hygiene and less informative about developments. In many cases the local school *is* the family’s contact with local gov’t/public health services.

    2 Stay home w Parent
    Most children will wind up staying at home with a parent. This causes great economic stress both to the family and the general economy. It also can take key players out of action when the parents are or support public health actors such as nurses and police.

    3 Stay home with Grandparent
    This is the worse scenario. Instead of a handful of kids getting the virus which means they stay home, drink liquids and watch “Paw Patrol” you have a large number of a high risk group being stressed and exposed to the virus.

    Institutional precautions can be taken within the school system to minimize child/teacher infections. And the school itself acts as a reassuring transmission belt of information to and among parents in the community. I remember thinking at the time that this would be a “hard sell” politically. I had hoped that we wouldn’t be tested in my life time.

  60. Martin C
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Dr John Campbell gives regular updates on CoVid 19 on YouTube. Yesterday, he pointed out that while children get very minor symptoms (which is good) they are highly infectious to others prior to the onset of symptoms and for 7+ days thereafter. Many children use public transport to get to school. If the intention is to prevent the spread of CoVid 19 to minimise deaths amongst the older community, then schools need to be closed and lessons need to be put on line.
    See:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTFk34nhoI&t=1289s

    • Martin C
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      As well as public transport, children also go into shops and fast food establishments on their way home, as well as socialising through the weekend . . .

    • Robert Mcdonald
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      What makes you think children will stay at home and not take public transport to get to see their mates, their play outings or their sweets or McDonalds if schools were closed. The schools where parents at least will know they are at.

    • Stred
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Please view the video by Dr Campbell of today’s date 14.3.20. He points out that the British government line is completely contradicted by WHO recommendations and, as previously stated, children are likely to pass the virus to a large proportion of the other pupils who will then pass it on to their families. This is likely to speed up the pace of the pandemic. A number of other scientists and clinicians have said the same.

      If the children do wish to have grandparents or perhaps parents with compromising conditions, they should not go to school or play with friends and then pass on the virus. Parents who work on health care should be supplied with child minders in this emergency.
      If the government wishes to look after all of the population and delay the peak of the epidemic, it should copy S.Korea.

      • NickC
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        Stred, Why are children more likely to be infected than any other group? The answer is: they’re not. So closing schools on their own is pointless. Either everything is closed – work, travel, entertainment, meetings, shopping, etc – or none.

  61. John McDonald
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately we now have to make up for the stable door approach adopted by Government (I do mean the Conservative party as such) in the first place. We did not learn from China nor Italy. We are still not carrying out any checks at Gatwick and Heathrow Airports and people are still going off on cruises and entering the country from anywhere every day. The first thoughts of politicians was the economy not lives. In some ways the country is fortunate that the virus tends to kill off the old like me. So if you close the schools who will look after the children and where will they go ? Schools are defined groups that can be monitored and in some ways isolated. The problem is the parents and carers of the children who will infect the children and then the children infect each other and then spread it outside the school. Sometimes the risk comes from the children having been on holidays to areas of risk as was the case with the Holt School. This was badly controlled but luckily we may have got away with it. Unless the 4 cases as of yesterday reported for Wokingham are not linked with the school.
    So on balance best not to close a school unless the virus is identified at the school. Better to spend time during the school day testing the children for the virus. Also strict controls on who can visit the school. A more isolationist school program, no assembly, extra strict hygiene measures. Time spent on this by teachers and reduction in teaching subjects.
    Closing the school will reduce the number of Grandparents which is a factor to be considered.
    A lot of grandparents are already in the front line and cannot sensibly be isolated from their grandchildren. So what is the objective of closing a school ? It’s the parents that need to reduce their general random interactions with unknown contacts.

  62. Diane
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I think I’ve reached the point where I am beginning to switch off. Maybe I’m not alone. I believe the Government is correct in not having closed schools yet. The Media output is at saturation point & Government bashing by the usual suspects continues. Cue more of the disparaging library photos… Add to that all the ‘experts’ on line, down the pub, at the bus stop …. Individuals listening to all of this complain they are confused which is but not wholly, understandable. The Government is accused of all sorts & not being in control. It in itself cannot control & has, to my simple mind, been handled as well as it can be. I too saw the appalling spectacle on this week’s QT and the panel member expressing his ire. Over the last week or more there have been many others from medical / professional bodies in support of measures to date
    We all have our part to play and need to allow those able to guide us to do so but adapt & change according to what is needed in & considered to be in the best interests of this country and yes, making U-Turns if necessary ( DT today – B.J’s U-Turn ! …) Mutual support is called for at all levels.

  63. oldwulf
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    The diversity of opinion on this site suggests that the Government will be “wrong” whatever it does. I suggest we let them get on with it and, if they mess up, those of us who are still standing can vote them out.

  64. ian
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I can not see how the NHS can be ready for C19 with so many bed blockers still held in hospitals.

  65. ian
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Arm every kid with Disinfectant. Dettol kills C19 dead.

    • Fred H
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      and how many kids will add it to their mates’ or enemies drink bottles?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        They’re not often like you were, Fred.

        • Fred H
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

          a despicable stupid remark – usual childish and insulting remark. When I was at school drink containers were not allowed in – but then your ignorance shows again…..

          • margaret howard
            Posted March 15, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

            Fred H

            “and how many kids will add it to their mates’ or enemies drink bottles?”

            ” When I was at school drink containers were not allowed in”

            Why? Because of what kids like you might do with them?

  66. Robert Bywater
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Nobody really knows but my opinion for what it’s worth is that the British “herd immunity” model will turn out to be the best alternative. It seems to be more scientifically sound than just locking everyone up. We are doing this experiment in two places: England (with Ireland and Scotland as the control experiments) and Sweden, doing the same as England while Denmark is on total lock-down. On verra, as the French say.

  67. josephine
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    The herd immunity is unknown I did hear something that has made me feel quite uncomfortable regarding this approach and this was in relation to The Spanish Flue in 1919 The virus migrated and those that had already survived the first round were more at risk with the migrated version as it had changed so much and there immune systems went into override and consequently many younger fitter people did not survive the second wave

    I am not qualified in medicine or science but did here a comment from someone in WHO that stated that the herd immunity approach and we do not know how this virus will behave.
    On closing schools health workers children should be able to attend school and it could be. Choice for parents. Those that do not attend could do online lessons and could be made not to socialise with other children.
    I am very much aware that I could infect other people if I have the virus so I am behaving in a way that I would if I had the virus . i am not socialising with anyone that I know that could be at risk I am being very careful about washing my hands and using tissue and hand gel when I am out.

    • ed2
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      As far as I am concerned, even Rory Stewart raising the idea of “herd immunity” and not being shouted down is enough reason for me to never vote Conservative again. Sorry John, I do like you though.

  68. Paul Freedman
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I don’t feel we should shutdown any schools unless there is a proven case of coronavirus in that school and only then should it be shut down until everyone is tested and then they can return. The reason for the emphasis on testing is because of the success of the South Korean approach to the virus. It is heavily focused on testing (and also isolation until recovered). Because of this, the latest statistics show their total cases have peaked at about 8,000. As of Friday they had tested 250,000 people and by comparison the UK 32,000 and the US 14,000. So I would only close schools on a case-by-case basis and I would up our testing to South Korean proportions very soon

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted March 14, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Germany has also not yet closed schools (apart form one province which shut hem yesterday) And yet Germany seems to be enjoying an incredibly low mortality rate.

      What are they doing with their treatment that we can learn from?

      • Paul Freedman
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

        There is a low mortality rate everywhere (about 1 to 3% depending on the country) but the daily increase in cases for almost all countries is about 33%. That will be continuously compounding each day. Currently, that rate is more or less the same for Germany, UK, Iran, Italy, France, US etc. The only 4 exceptions are S Korea (due to effective mass testing and isolation), Japan (but there are doubts if the data is reliable as it may not include all confirmed cases), Singapore and Hong Kong (they had limited numbers from the outset which was easier for them to manage but they did act effectively with quarantine). Everywhere else in the world is currently increasing at about 33% daily. The best conclusion in my opinion is the S Korea approach. They too were initially at the 33% daily rate and got on top of it in just 20 days and the coronavirus impact has stabilised there (since last Friday). Please use the below link for the best coronavirus tracker tool that I’m aware of (from John Hopkins University)
        https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

          Thanks but Germany has only 8 deaths for 3000+ cases.

          Are Germans more hardy than everyone else or are they treating patients differently.

          I am not looking at the spread but the outcomes.

      • mancunius
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 12:10 am | Permalink

        I find that claim surprising. Just looking at the latest figures, Germany has 4599 reported cases, i.e. 0.0055% of its population (=5.5 per thousand).
        The UK has 1140 cases, i.e. 0.00175% of its population (=just over 1 per 1000).
        So the German incidence percentage rate as of now appears to be 3.142 times higher than in the UK. Not much for us to learn there so far.

        It is far too early to start comparing or playing international virus-results football. For a start, we know too little about the exact stage of the epidemic in the various countries, nor how reliable the reporting is in the various countries. (For example, when recording the cause of death, local and national medical practice can vary considerably according to custom or legal restriction.)

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

          They have had far fewer deaths so they are either able to keep patients alive for longer or are successfully treating.

          I would like to know what they are doing that is different. I am not keeping score, I am curiois

  69. cornishstu
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Well they do have a good idea with what has worked in china though they had to go OTT due to the initial delay. The problem I see with UK approach is that we will get to0 large a peak which swamps the system which will result in unnecessary deaths through lack of medical intervention. The WHO has given guidelines based on advice from the best in the world, one hopes, and we are not following it. If each infected person can infect just 2 more the exponential rise is phenomenal, the old tale of the grain of rice doubling up on each consecutive square of a chess board springs to mind. IMHO the more we can slow the infection rate the better and so give the medical services a better chance of coping they too are going to be hit and be reduced in numbers.

  70. Martin C
    Posted March 14, 2020 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Corona Virus: Why You Must Act Now

    https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca

    This is one of the best summaries I have seen so far.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Indeed that site look about right to me. The “the very well prepared for this crisis” NHS will clearly be overwhelmed and many will die for lack of proper medical care, ventilators, ECMO and similar. Probably within about 14 days.

      Why on earth are they not clamping down much harder now (or indeed weeks ago) to give the NHS more time.

  71. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    You are absolutely right that closing schools would be dumb. Yet Mr Varadkar is not only closing schools in the Republic but is demanding that Northern Ireland does the same. With every passing day it becomes clearer that the Republic covets our territory and views the Good Friday agreement as a ratchet mechanism to diminish differences between north and south and drive a wedge between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

    There are two phrases constantly uttered by Republicans that expose their attitude:

    “The island of Ireland”. This is a geographical entity, not a political one, and we should never tire of reminding him of this.

    “The peace process”. There is either peace or there isn’t. Constant use of this phrase implies that republican violence will restart unless there are repeated concessions to republican nationalism. These include dual language road signs, Gaelic being the first language of well under 1% of the citizens of the north.

  72. Mark Kennedy
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    World Health Organisation disagrees with UK approach. The hard facts are China, Singapore and South Korea are the models that have worked and WHO tell us we should look to.

    I and my family are not experiments with the Herd Immunity where health care professionals and scientists utterly disagree with this silly approach. Do what works and save the lives of thousands or hundreds of thousands and the millions world wide. If you survive there could be permanent damage to your lungs to get this herd immunity because it needs a large number to have the virus – a number not understood or proved what could provide this Herd immunity – its a massive risk to thousands and thousnnds to their lungs future health. Get Real. it will damage you.

    We are not a computer model or method for survival of the fittest. I am and my family are self isolating with my son off school. I stick two fingers up at the government’s approach and schools so get lost who think otherwise.

    Boris and these two advisors and the future of this government is on the line and I and millions others will not accept this approach.

    I hope this message is loud and clear

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 21, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Hope all the doctors, nurses, supermarket workers, delivery drivers, food suppliers, warehouse workers, don’t all take the same approach as you Mark or you’ll starve.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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