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Govt stops daily updates on COVID-19 spread. China gives real-time, detailed info

Tories attempting to make public responsible for battle against deadly virus – but reducing information available to it in stark contrast to Chinese approach

The contrasting approaches of the UK and Chinese governments to COVID-19 spread

The Tories have repeatedly attempted to cast the battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus as a public responsibility, with both Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock telling interviewers that it’s up to the UK public to do its part.

And yet the government has now decided to respond to a leap in the scale and rate of infections by ending daily bulletins on new cases. Instead, the Department of Health (DH) says it intends to publish a weekly update:

As of today, due to the number of new cases, we will no longer be tweeting information on the location of each new case.

Instead, this information will be released centrally in a consolidated format online, once a week. We are working on this now and plan to share on Friday.

Yet this is the diametric opposite of the approach of the Chinese regime, which in spite of its reputation for tightly restricting information available to its citizens is making live updates available to residents – not only about the location of all cases in the vicinity, but how recently they appeared:

The interactive map available to Chinese residents

Chinese resident Adam Rothwell described the system:

The Tories are priming the UK people to carry the blame for the spread of the virus while depriving them of information vital to the fight against it, in order to mask the true scale of the epidemic and keep people acting in ignorance.

The SKWAWKBOX reported this week on the government’s internal debate whether it should prioritise saving lives or protecting profits. It seems clear that the Tories, unsurprisingly, have come down on the side of profit.

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25 comments

  1. Will coronavirus demonstrate the superiority of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” when it comes to dealing with a major crisis?

    The pro-Chinese ruling class Morning Star (and Communist Party of Britain) certainly thought so in late January/early February. And for a while it looked as though they might have a point.

    In a piece entitled “The Planned economy vs the coronavirus” (30 Jan, republished from the US Stalinist paper People’s World), C J Atkins noted: “The World Health Organisation is praising the Chinese government’s quick response to the crisis… The scale of that commitment is now ramping up in a massive way – showcasing the ability of the country’s socialist state to marshal resources rapidly and efficiently in the service of public health.”

    A few days later (2 Feb) Morning Star Foreign Editor Steve Sweeney noted “China is set to open a new hospital in Wuhan to deal with the coronavirus today, just 10 days after construction began… Work began on the 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital on 23 January and Chinese state media said that the last brick was laid yesterday morning… It has an area of 25,000 square metres, and 1,400 staff will operate the facility.”

    It really did look as though China’s authoritarian, top-down system was dealing with the crisis with an effectiveness that a liberal western democracy would have found impossible. This looked like being a brilliant vindication for the Morning Star (which regularly carries uncritical reports repeating the regime’s propaganda) and the CPB (whose general secretary Robert Griffiths, calls himself a “big fan”of China).

    But strangely, since comrade Sweeney’s report on the near-miraculous creation of the 1,000 bed hospital in ten days – which was true, by the way – the Star had no more to say until a report this Monday repeating the regime’s claim that new cases were falling – the opposite of the truth, as it turns out.

    The explanation is not difficult to fathom: since late January, when the World Health Organisation and even some of the mainstream western media, were praising China’s “unprecedented” and “decisive” response, a new picture has been emerging:

    It turns out that although the first case of coronavirus was reported on 8th December, the Wuhan health authorities took over three weeks to issue a notice. Between 3 and 16 January, the authorities falsely claimed there were no new cases and no evidence of human-to-human transmission, the key driver of any epidemic.

    And even after that, on January 18, the city’s Baibunting district mass banquet was allowed to go ahead, further spreading the infection.

    It then emerged that a doctor, Li Wenliang, had warned an online chat group on 30 December, of a new illness spreading in Wuhan, only to be reprimanded by the police and made to sign a document stating that his warning constituted “illegal behaviour.” At least seven other medical professionals were warned over “rumour-mongering ” and “disrupting social order.”

    Then, of course, on Friday 7 February Dr Li died of the virus. It was front page news in most bourgeois papers while in China social media has been awash with posts mourning the death of a martyr. It wasn’t even mentioned in the Morning Star.

    The Chinese authorities are terrified of anger spilling onto the streets. Hundreds of millions of users on China’s Twitter-like Weibo have shared pictures of Dr Li and the words to ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?’, a song about revolution from Les Misérables.

    On past form the government will blame local officials and sack a few sacrificial lambs. But the real problem will remain – the lack of free speech and the absence of a civil society capable of exposing corruption and efforts to bury bad news.

    But there is some good news: the Morning Star’s Steve Sweeney reports that the government has developed the Wuhan Neighbours mobile phone app which means:

    “If you need to see a doctor, your community will arrange a car to send you to the hospital through volunteers. At the same time, the system will track your progress: hospitalisation, treatment at home, discharge, death, etc.”

    1. Yes – it pays to look at history. If China hadn’t been in denial at the start, things might look better.

      1. As is usual with you RH,your stupidity is a perfect match for your arrogance.

      2. I was there when it kicked off and I’m not sure it was denial. The virus was well installed before anyone realised it was something different. Then the Wuhan authorities played it down to protect their own positions. When the national government took over there was openness and responsibility.

        My son is just about to return next week. He will be met in Hangzhou by the police who will seal him into his apartment for two weeks. That’s how seriously they take it there.

    2. Extraordinary how you can spend so much breath attacking a socialist country whilst ignoring the pathetic response of HM government. I can only conclude that whilst I clean pig sheds for a living, your needs are presumably met by said HMG.

    3. Jim Denham.You betray your right wing bias early in your anti Chinese bias by trying encourage belittle a Country you hate.You use the word Comrade to attempt to insult,but to many of us its a term of Friendship,loyalty and “Solidarity” .You are little more than a propoganda troll and you should be ashamed of your twisted rambling and attacks upon fellow strugglers against a terrible virus thats killing young and old out here in S.east Asia.

    4. Wow!

      Here’s a tip Jim. Just condense all of that into “Private finance is better than public”

  2. Maybe I’ll get to see Tory heads on spikes along the Thames before I die after all.

  3. China is a relatively civilized country – Britain is not, at least not these days (the UN special rapporteurs’ reports on torture, human rights and poverty should be enough to determine that).

    On R4’s Today programme this morning Legal and General’s CEO Nigel Wilson (a County Durham man) was asked about the company’s latest profits (£1.8 billion including a premium of £155 million gained from people dying earlier than expected).

    The interviewer saw the opportunity to bring up Coronavirus. Nothing to do with a one off virus, retorted Wilson, far more to do with the worrying trend of the past 20 years that has seen life expectancy for poorer people in some of the bigger British cities dip to 58 whilst for for richer people it is 85.

    Immediately afterwards Tory MP Danny Kruger was asked to comment on the decline in community values, trust in you neighbours etc. Kruger identified the closure of a quarter of pubs and a quarter of all libraries in the last 20 years as partially to blame. Bizarrely, Kruger was not able to identify his own party as one of the culprits. Once again the interviewer brought up Coronavirus as if it had anything to do with the issue at hand.

    A little later someone from the NSPCC came on to tell us that the number of children in Britain contemplating suicide was increasing at an alarming rate.

    20 years? 20 years – 10 of which were New Labour and 10 of which were Condem. Now we can look forward to at least 5 years of the Eton arsehole and his gang of intellectually inferior stooges. A quarter century plus the almost quarter century before the millennium of almost ceaseless attacks on working class people. All the years in fact since the defeat of the world’s first and most successful socialist state.

    Those people who stabbed Labour in the back, or who defected, because they were beholden to other interests (be they those of the USA, Saudi Arabia, Israel or big corporations), those who tried to reverse the 2016 referendum result, those who supported almost any war that was proposed, those who refused to speak out against the stupid war on drugs, those who despite being elected on a Labour ticket carried out austerity policies, those whose noses have been stuck in the trough of the House of Lords, Commons or EU, those who attempt to distance themselves from genuine socialist projects – warts and all (China, Cuba, Venezuela etc) – you have some serious questions to answer.

    Those who abandoned Labour in order to sabotage socialism with a human face such as Woodcock, Gapes, Field, Berger, Lesley, Umunna, Smith, Watson, Campbell etc.

    Those who stayed in Labour in order to sabotage socialism with a human face such as Hodge, Mandelson, Blair, Adonis etc.

    J’accuse!

    1. China is a relatively civilized country – Britain is not”

      Britain’s ‘civilisation’ has been eroded massively by the Tories.

      But the comparison with China (neoliberal authoritarian state capitalism with massive inequality) as being ‘relatively civilised’ is barminess on speed. The sort of warped disproportion that tars the left with the charge of being a ludicrous joke.

      1. Comrade, We have previously seen your preposterous defences of the bourgeois-imperialist EU – it is you who are a joke – you don’t even start to address the points about inequality made by (a capitalist like) Nigel Wilson. China’s socialist model wouldn’t necessarily be my cup of tea but the important thing is that it is a socialist system and therefore should be debated/discussed in a fraternal way (ditto Cuba and DPRK). Thereafter there are national liberation movements and states struggling towards socialism (South Africa, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Vietnam, Laos, Dominica, etc.) Britain is one of the world’s main imperialist powers (one that has just decisively rejected a socialist programme thanks to people like you) and humility on the part of lefties who think they can lecture non-european communists and socialists is well overdue. Any other attitude places you firmly in the opposite camp, a waste of space, an enemy of progress and a mere irrelevant footnote to history.

      2. RH whats the hell is wrong with you and your moderate twisted rambling on a World virus that will kill the innocent in there thousands and you want to point score?

      3. “China (neoliberal authoritarian state capitalism with massive inequality)”. What utter rubbish! You need to go there. Be there, and stop listening to the propaganda. There is so much wrong with that sentence that I would need an hour to counter it.

      4. Yet that’s nowhere near accurate.

        Their poverty and illiteracy rates are all but gone. The homeless are not ignored, instead given a job and housing (no one left behind).

        Whilst some parts of me dislike being controlled, I can see benefits of the Chinese system. It makes you behave, and by that I mean live decently. Don’t pay your debts? Then no travel for you. Should you be allowed to go on holiday when you owe someone? And what’s the difference between them and us? Aren’t you aware of five eyes? Or how they circumnavigate the rules in order to spy on their own citizens.

        Neoliberal?!?! You clearly don’t have the first idea about China, it’s system or it’s people. In fact, you don’t even know what neoliberal means, and that’s dangerous…

        (For the record, a neoliberal is someone who believes that the markets rule, and governments should butt out. Does that sound Chinese?) We are the neoliberals…(guilt by association)

        Here’s an example. You’re walking through a Chinese city and you become thirsty. You see a vending machine and decide to buy a bottle of tea. Two bottles are available 500ml and 1L. They are both the same price.

        The westerners cannot believe their luck, and go for the cheap large bottle. On account of it being a bargain. The Chinese take the smaller one, because they don’t need the bigger bottle. You can only drink so much to quench your thirst. (Very neoliberal…)

        So, if this gulf is apparent in purchasing bottled drink, how wide do you think the gulf is elsewhere in society?

      5. Oh dear, oh dear! How to turn Skwawkbox into a bit of a joke!

        Capitalism bad. One Party state capitalism good. FFS! ‘Socialist’, my Aunt Fanny.

        And if you want to throw ‘imperialism’ into the mix as justification – just remember that China is actually one big empire, with imperial treatment of its subject parts. The justification of ‘better roads and orderly governance’ are just like the ones used by Britain.

        Yes – headline economic growth has been spectacular as China has crammed development into relatively few years – but as to inequality – I know it’s a pretty high bar, but China actually has a higher level of inequality than the UK.

        *Of course* it’s all propaganda. 🙂 –

        … Reality propaganda…. which involves not being suckered by either the UK state or the Chinese version.

        “Whilst some parts of me dislike being controlled … ”

        Indeed, NVLA – for most of us it’s the part known as ‘the brain’.

        And indeed, St. Joseph of the Slogan (pot and kettle in rambling terms), I am indeed a Blairite.

        … an Eric Blairite. He sussed this sort of nonsense a generation ago when Uncle Joe was the icon on the altar, and everything was excused.

        Pigs and Men.

        You’ll be telling me in a minute that the Cultural Revolution was just a bit of an inconvenient hiccup and all is now hunky-dory,

        Still – we’ll never know, because stuff like ‘open selections’ and other Parties than the ruling clique won’t be on the scene any time soon, will they?

        And labrebisgalloise –

        “We have previously seen your preposterous defences of the bourgeois-imperialist EU”

        You haven’t, except in your head. What you haven’t been able to understand is the rejection of simplistic Toytown nonsense that leaving the EU will lead to a socialist paradise – rather than what we’ve got – the actuality of right-wing dominance and subjection to the US. Do try to stop hearing voices – you’re really not Jean d’Arc.

        Meanwhile Becky will make all better here as guaged by her performance last night. 🙂

        That’s the trouble with religion and its ‘angels and devils’ (or ‘devils – therefore angels’; black/white etc. simplifications about ‘*the* other camp’) – it doesn’t stack up. Ir’s about delusion – not politics.

      6. @RH

        For a while I thought you were a troll (and a poor one at that) I know now that I gave you far too much credit.

        Imperialism? That is the text book definition of the United States. And it’s vassals (us and others) are it’s dogs (I could be ruder, but I’m sure even you get my point). Take the deal with the Taliban. A ceasefire that lasted less than 24 hours. And there’s nothing in that treaty to protect domestic troops. It was an internal Afghani affair. Or how about Turkey asking for humanitarian aid and being offered ammunition instead…

        The whole point of China is that we will live in a multi polar world. Where bullies will be forced to think twice. A world where consequences have to be intended. That’s much better than today’s world. It’s already happening with Russia, and it’s great. It’s great for everyday folks of all countries who just want to live their lives peacefully. We will skip the obvious battle over public/private finance.

        Oh, and on the subject of RLB. She’s toast. Didn’t you catch any of her train crash last night? PFI lawdog. Her excuse was “Everyone was doing it. It was my job” This is known as the Nuremberg defence. My moniker covers it all. I’m just here for general chat, to laugh at fools and to see how many more punches in the face Labour can dish out before they die off

  4. Get Brexit done ! yess that is all , Tories getting brexit done the Tory way , yessssss sooo satisfying .
    What NHS you say , unable to cope you say , ahh simple just shut down any bad news , keep the plebs in darkness and feed em with shite .
    A week is a long time in politics …..
    Brexit Britain , done …. in ……

    such a success

  5. We were told that Whuhan airport was closed but it was not.
    Please get a grip.
    You sound like the daily express.

  6. The history of COVID-19 won’t be written for a while yet, so neither will that of the effectiveness of China’s response vs. Britain’s.
    China has much that should shame it but much to be proud of.
    The UK has much that should shame it too, and maybe not so much to be proud of.
    The Chinese have never forced the British population into drug addiction at the point of a gun and they’ve never made war on us or our next door neighbours because their leaders feared their own population might prefer our political system.

  7. Something to stir the pot bill gates had bought a virus lab in Africa old bill states he wants the world population taking down a peg hmmm. This virus how why it spread is it just another part of the take of aktion T4 has it rolls along culling the stock through benefits denial another part which will render hell to those whose families who will have it yet to ponder about well has long has man looks after each other then we will prevail but to fight amongst ourselves is pointless it’s allows those who will steal rob plunder our wealth while we fight amongst ourselves yes my English is poop but one must learn to help to nature and look after those who need it

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