Analysis comment

Video: expert microbiologist tells BBC audience – “handwashing doesn’t come into” preventing COVID-19 spread

Microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington

On Friday’s Any Questions on Radio 4, eminent microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington – former president of the Society for General Microbiology – told listeners that the government’s advice on handwashing is going to be ineffective in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus:

The professor said that he looked forward to a plunge in the number of food-poisoning cases as a result of more frequent hand-washing, but as COVID-19 is spread by people breathing in droplets breathed out by an infected person, that:

basically handwashing doesn’t come into it.

Pennington’s comments further underscore the growing conviction that the Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are not only out of their depth, but misleading the public.

Supermarket chains have already said that Hancock’s claims that the government is coordinating with them to secure supply chains is ‘made up’, while travellers returning from the Italian coronavirus hotspot have shown that they are being allowed free movement around the country without even basic checks upon their return to the UK.

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  1. I’ve said all along to people that handwashing/basic hygiene is only a part safety/preventative measure.

    Aerosol droplets from sneezing/coughing was ALWAYS the way other viruses were known to have spread, but for some reason in this instance it’s been played down significantly.

    de piffle and hancock couldn’t find their own arses with both hands and a torch; but I’m wondering why the CMO has made a big deal of the handwashing rigmarole.

    1. Acts like a placebo effect, makes people feel they can do something. The risk is they think they are safe when they are not.

      1. Indeed, but coming from the CMO is irresponsible if it’s incorrect advice, bordering on gross negligence imo.

        However, the kicker is the good hygienic practice, I guess.

        I expect the amount of food poisoning cases to reduce within the next feww weeks & months.

        Maybe that panicked the paper manufacturers into spreading rumours about bogroll shortages. Less people with the squits = less bogrolls sold.

        But that’s me being cynical, NOT paranoid. 🙂

    2. Toffee, the Johnson govt is incompetent in this and other important matters. No surprise. But, you are right. Proper hand washing is intelligent and excellent advice anyway. We will see the positive effects if the habit takes root.

      Pennington is wrong to say what he said as he said it. Droplets do get on hands from sneezes etc and transfer to all the things we touch. It is basic logic that proper frequent hand washing will REDUCE transfer. Yes of course other necessities have been neglected eg passengers moving about without clear guidance. The lack of clarity from the Johnson outfit is not a surprise as he is well known to be a chancer, charlatan and pathologically lazy. … oh and pathologically dishonest.., not through malice, he lies just for fun and his dad never bothered to instil a respect for honesty in his child… ie an irresponsible parent.

      But back to Pennington, no microbiologist, in full command of his faculties would say what he said in the way he did. In general many basic hygiene practises fall way below the mark, hence food poisoning, the vomiting bug etc. People may misinterpret his advice as “hand washing is a waste of time”. It is not.

      I also hear another “expert” yesterday, dismissing the usefulness of hot water in hand washing. He is wrong. I’v also read of another giving the impression that soap is not important. That is also wrong. It is important. I mentioned this in a reply to Joseph a few days ago. Water is actually NOT good at wetting on its own. We need soap to break the surface tension of the water, enabling it to make contact with the skin and contaminants, AND aid their removal along with dirt and lipids etc in a suspension of flowing clean fresh water. Then dry thoroughly with a CLEAN towel. … not some mucky towel or apron that Noah used in the ark. This is good easy hygiene for ALL times, not just these COVID ones.

      1. ps and to be clear, not withstanding my views above, the following i believe is cast iron accurate:

        “ Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are not only out of their depth, but misleading the public.

        Supermarket chains have already said that Hancock’s claims that the government is coordinating with them to secure supply chains is ‘made up’, while travellers returning from the Italian coronavirus hotspot have shown that they are being allowed free movement around the country without even basic checks upon their return to the UK.”

        We need urgently to treat the eradication of Tories, including those in our party with thought, planning, strategy and determination. And re our Labour Party and CLPs, just as we scrub below the finger nails as per a proper hand washing regime, we must scrub out those who are resistant to change. They are a virus to the spirit. They sap the collective motivation we need for deep change. It is amateurish, silly and incompetent to moan about the MSM while indulging the pathetic persistent drains amongst us. Those who indulge them are part of the problem and never a solution. The Holocaust and all atrocities are enabled by those who think it better not to rock the boat. Domestic violence persist often because the attitude is action will make the abuse worse. We need to speak up for what is right for the many, not maintain those happy to be guardians even of the cesspools of the few. They have no dignity, They offer nothing. We must out them now.

    3. Decades of government by Tories and the other cheek of their backside, Blair = Third World diseases –

      One weak point of those who were supposed to support Jeremy was their desperation to defend WMD Blair, when they should have underlined the reason why Jeremy is different and brings real change. They adopted the wet unthinking responses because of the same defeatist individuals in my CLP. The few wets drown out clear dynamic thinking they actually say things like “we can’t do anything” about the Tory backside cheeks. Seriously. What effective company, or hospital, or any organisation allows a “can’t do” hesitant damp limp rot to fester???

      From top to grassroots we need to robustly expose the right wing infiltrators and build the confidence of those inclined to be WET. If the confidence cannot be built then we need alternatives. We cannot prioritise bending to the theatrics of BLATANT RACIST while this country faces TYPHOID.

      We must get our priorities and education right. We are not a social club. We are not some self soothing group for circular chatter and defeatism. We are the Labour party formed to lead this country for the benefit of ALL not just the 1% Those who are not for that, serve no useful purpose in our party. To feel we can “work around them”, “reform them”, “pacifying them” and if that fails, just ignore them, is lamentable folly.

      Challenge the wets and the parasites alike. Challenge those who are content to use their positions for some peculiar self interest … perhaps to become another counsellor, bag carrier, special advisor to climb the greasy poll of personal political ambition.

      Expose them. Flush them out let them take their virus to the Tories and Lib Dems where they belong and from whence they came. The Labour Party must not indulge them for one more minute, or we will have yet more Trevor Phillips, Hillary Benn, Hodges, Coyles, Austins, Owen Smiths, Lisa Nandys… We cannot go into another election with that type about. They are defeatist millstones.

  2. He’s pretty much right – just like other corona-viruses (the common cold, flu etc) – Covid-19 is very much an airborne virus, spread by droplets. Overheated, crowded places (tube, buses, some workplaces, some pubs, living rooms etc) are a much greater risk than hard surfaces, and transference via hands – though it’s a mistake to dismiss them entirely.
    It was no accident that when Florence Nightingale designed hospitals, over 150 years ago, they all had very large opening windows and balconies. Fresh air dissipates the droplets and dilutes those still around so it’s almost impossible to catch anything. Works for flu, works for TB, works for Covid-19.
    That’s why wearing an ineffective mask walking down the street is pretty stupid. And why stockpiling toilet paper is just weird.

    1. Sorry, let me clarify this – droplet and airborne are not the same, and Covid-19 is a DROPLET infection – closer contact required than AIRBORNE:

      “The main difference between airborne and droplet transmission is in the size of infected/contageous particles. particle, less than 10 micrometers, is airborne particles and more is for droplet transmission.

      Air borne transmission occurs when bacteria or virus especially travel on dust particles or small respiratory droplets that may be aerosolized when infected people cough or sneeze, cough,laugh, or exhale.particles like invisible smoke to considerable distance. There’s no need of closeness or contact.

      Droplet transmission occurs when one coughs,sneeze, contagious droplets from infected person can travel in air and contact another person’s conjuctiva,mouth or nasal mucous.

      Size of particles and distance between the infected and affected person is the main differences between airborne and droplet transmission.”

      This also means there’s some role for handwashing, as droplets may be spread to membranes by the ‘infectee’, not just a matter of inhaling.

      1. brill heenan, except proper hand washing with soap and hot water and thorough drying on a clean towel, is a significant adjunct to any proper hygiene anywhere anytime💧💧💧

      2. proper hand-washing is always good news. Worth pointing out that ordinary hand-washing gets rid of about 98% of bugs, while ‘antiseptics’ manage about 98.2. The thoroughness is more important than the chemicals.
        Tablet soap, however, is a breeding ground for happy bugs.

      3. Transient wind/gust speed will have from zero to a very strong effect on the distance droplets or particles of given size are capable of travelling.
        Stronger winds have been prevalent for some time, which will increase the range, whereas rain will tend to suppress it.

        Taking the situation seriously is clearly critical. The question of whether Parliament should be closed was just discussed briefly on BBC News.
        Downing Street “not minded” to do so apparently.
        If government wanted to send the message that this is serious, closing Parliament would do it.
        So far China’s government appears to be in charge of the situation while ours seems indecisive, apathetic and ineffectual.

      4. “Transient wind/gust speed will have from zero to a very strong effect on the distance droplets or particles of given size are capable of travelling.”
        True, but not such a big issue, as wind would dissipate the droplets, reducing the risk of infection. It’s pretty hard to pick up an infection in the open; overheated front rooms are a huge risk by comparison.

      5. I think Johnson is going for his preferred option – do as little as possible and let the epidemic ride itself into a peak and then ‘disappear’ all the more quickly. Nasty but short. More deaths – but Hey! We all go in the End. Infinitely cheaper than testing and treating – and that only leads to some of the old buggers recovering, surely not good for government? That’s his personal theory he says. Uncanny the way it’s becoming government policy.

      6. agreed heenan. i wanted to add that antiseptics soaps are unnecessary, (but was trying to be brief … failed again😂 Like Pennington, none r without failings… anyway re antiseptic soaps: they are best avoided for general household use, and frankly a bad idea in general as it’s misuse as per all antibiotics, contributes to the development and proliferation of superbugs like MRSA. So in general and as now, normal liquid soap is best with the warmest flowing water then DRY on a clean towel.

        But even bar soaps stored properly so they don’t sit in a pool of water is useful… treat it as an extra encouragement to wash hand thoroughly for at least 25 seconds. Better also to download and follow the graphic step description of hand washing, in a mindful way rather than singing tunes. We need more mindful understanding of why we do things rather than mindless routine.

        Ps ps just heard Ash Sakar on Talkradio re Trevor Phillips’s suspension. Ash was BRILLIANT ➕➕➕ We need more of that quality. The only suggestion i would make is don’t allow presenters to interrupt your answers. Don’t allow presenters to dilute your point. Other than that, Ash Samar’s dispatch of the presenter, who works for the paper that slandered and insulted the Hillsborough victims, her responses were forthright, intelligent and considering the abundance of wet people about, Ash was magnificent!!! Happy Women’s Year !!! One day is not enough🌹🌹🌹

      7. Blojob making a big thing about “taking the right measures at the right time” and “different countries needing different measures.”
        The real difference is that our health service has been crippled by negative investment and understaffing.
        The Tories are probably hoping this crisis will help them justify selling it to US health insurers sooner and absolve themselves of responsibility.

        Epidemics start small. The smaller the problem the easier the cure. Tories are hoping the job will be easier in Summer because the Winter NHS bulge will be over – but the problem could be a hundred times the size by then and Summer has been at 100% of capacity for years – in Winter the NHS is at more like 150% of capacity.

        The Chinese went all out to fix the problem as soon as they recognised it and they seem to be winning. If it turns out the UK’s tiny population has proportionally more deaths than China how will the Tories blame that on Labour?

      8. heenan73 “True, but not such a big issue, as wind would dissipate the droplets, reducing the risk of infection. It’s pretty hard to pick up an infection in the open”
        Harder, but not impossible. As far as I’m aware the ‘viral load’ required to infect a person hasn’t been established, nor whether that load can be acquired in multiple exposures – possibly important given the number of asymptomatic sufferers there are thought to be.
        One victim infecting two results in a doubling – and doubling once a week, the most conservative estimate I’ve heard, results in 1.5 million by the Summer.
        I don’t think any infection paths ought to be neglected, and whether to continue to hold large-audience outdoor sporting events is currently being discussed so clearly I’m not alone.

    2. heenan, you can still see similar wards now at st Thomas’ facing parliament. in the old building now an annex. I’m not fond of Victorian architecture but i do find that one pleasing… poss because built with a purpose. The Victorian’s were quite impressive in their scientific curiosity but as inconsistent in their prudishness combined with their perversions…. v much like today’s Jonnie Tories today perversions that is.

      1. … and they call them ‘nightingale wards’! Sadly, the balconies have been restricted use for years (they blame health and safety, but it was actually to stop smokers!), and the windows only open a few inches. And only one or two are still used as wards, alas. We’ve forgotten so much!

      2. Correct again heenan😊

        heenan73 09/03/2020 at 4:06 pm · ·”
        … and they call them ‘nightingale wards’! Sadly, the balconies have been restricted use for years (they blame health and safety, but it was actually to stop smokers!), and the windows only open a few inches. And only one or two are still used as wards, alas. We’ve forgotten so much!”

        A good eg of mindlessness snuffing out smoking for health and safety and keeping out fresh air! What a funny world we live in??? We are funny beings.

  3. The coronavirus manly kills the elderly and those with underlying serious medical conditions. Thus, the government is looking at the savings to be made in pensions, medical care and welfare payments.
    From the government point of view what is not to like? They have already won the General Election, they have a good majority.
    Plus, if necessary the cause of death will be recorded as: respiratory failure, heart attack etc, rather than coronavirus.
    Thus, on the record they would have dealt with the coronavirus admirably.

    1. I think we’re going to get sick (sic) of phrases like “serious underlying medical problems”. No doubt the Department would squeal ‘data protection guv!” to avoid saying what the underlying conditions are? Age no doubt is one but how about “had a chest cough in September”? The way it’s going with no attempt by the government to slow the spread most who die won’t have got so far as an actual test so it will be even easier to write them off. As we know from recent events in the UK hundreds of thousands can die ‘in excess from the norm’ without anybody noticing! The Three Monkeys trick is the oldest in British politics.

      1. Anyone with age, a heart condition, most cancers, breathing issues, smokers, … the list goes on … is at many times greater risk than a healthy young person – and men are at twice the risk of women, on the evidence so far (that might be because more men than women smoke / have smoked, too soon to know for sure).
        That doesn’t mean young healthy people are safe; just safer.

  4. It is very worrying that the government is putting out misinformation about the spread of this virus and that people travelling from areas of infection are not checked for the virus but instead are allowed to go straight into the community where they may pose a risk to others
    In my opinion its all down to resources- it is cheaper to tell people to wash their hands rather than do anything to tackle the spread of the virus.
    Also its about time events such as football matches were halted. It is crazy to bring tens of thousands of people together when we are on the brink of an epidemic. Cancelling matches would take guts and that is something which the government clearly lacks

  5. The Tory Government could run a P up in a brewery.
    First they told us face masks are ineffectual & won’t stop the virus and to use hand sanitisers & wash your hands regularly, now we are being told that is ineffective & the virus is airborne, so face masks would offer some protection.
    The Government must know this so why the hell are they still advocating washing hands as the prime protection.
    I’m very frightened as I’m elderly have chronic lung disease & just been diagnosed with heart failure, three
    things that put me at extreme risk..Why can’t they just come out and tell us the truth.. bloody incompetent Tories.

    1. I’m in a similar situation with 4 ticks on the danger boxes. It’s an ironic ending for the ‘luckiest’ generation in British history, the Baby Boomers, struggling for breath and telling the volunteer carer that you don’t need your bottom wiping although you understand it’s the only medical supplies s/he’s been given. And you would prefer he didn’t keep telling you that he’s older than you (93) and shouldn’t be there but had little choice once over 65’s had to declare whether they were economically active and if you admitted you weren’t then your pension requirements were reassessed. Johnson said it was only Right and Proper that the elderly who had had exciting lives fighting wars around the globe should now ‘give back what they took’. Even the 93 year old Carer will end your days by telling you how the hippies have had their comeuppance coming and now at last it has come; long hair weakens the brain he’d insist, making it sound just like the old days in Merrie Britain. And thank goodness he remarks British governments never gave into requests for suicide pills; ‘buggers like you have to suffer’ he’d insist.

  6. It always seemed likely that COVID-19 was spread by airborne droplets.
    I was willing to accept that it was hand-borne – my mistake was in assuming that even a Tory government would insist on good scientific advice before making such life-critical announcements.
    Now I wonder whether that new advice was intended to deflect criticism over inadequate stocks of face masks.
    Will we eventually learn that UK suppliers sold stocks at inflated prices to buyers abroad?
    How long did it take to manufacture and distribute gas masks to the whole population before/in WWII – and is the government completely incapable of emergency forward planning today?
    Apparently they have priorities other than our safety.

    1. Totally agree.
      It wouldn’t surprise me if the lack of correct information & misinformation is intentional in the full knowledge that the COVID-19 will cause the death of the elderly with underlying problems, one way to cull who they see as a drain on their resources,I wouldn’t put it pass them.
      What a sad state of affairs that I or anyone else should think our government capable of this but I do 100%

  7. Also….The insistence on HOT water when washing hands.

    Unnecessary. Cold water is just as effective when used with soap. The hot water is only to remove any oils that may have accumulated on the skin which bacteria and viruses can live on

    ‘Hand hot’ is around 45c depending on the threshhold of the person. Bacteria & viruses can withstand that temperature.

    And remember…’Coughs and sneezes spread diseases’.

      1. In a previous life I used cellulose thinners to clean my hands. Still use petrol sometimes.
        Always washed them afterwards with fairy liquid in very warm water – cold water is better than not washing, but warm is more effective.
        As with most chemical reactions, heat helps.

  8. Maybe Johnson could demonstrate his confidence in his system by making several trips from Heathrow to say, Piccadilly grinning in his usual bovine way? Packed like sardines in the overheated steel tube that’s smaller than most sewage pipes. Fellow travellers may be from Milan. Watch out for any sweating more than most. I doubt if Johnson would do it; he acts the clown but I imagine his sense of self preservation is V highly tuned.

  9. Somewhat related. I hear that the recognised racist and bigot “Tommy Robinson”, has used the word for word the racist effluent of Trevor Phillips. It is interesting that for over a decade those dredging up stuff to suspend and expelled those who have fought racism when others stayed quiet…, it is interesting that only now they have mustered the courage to start cleaning out the nasty joke that is Trevor Phillips. Look at his record. A litany of insults to black and brown people and Muslims. Not once the pedophiles operating often on an industrialised scale has had the attention of Phillips. Not once has he pointed out the child sex abuse in Chaterhouse, Christ’s Hospital, Downside, Saint Paul’s, Cheetham’s, Eaton, to name a few. The Catholic Church, The Anglican church, riddled with child grooming and child sex offences for hundreds of years to date. Has Phillips commented even once on that? Jimmy Saville, Rolfe Harris… has Trevor Phillips ever considered those deserving his criticism? Prince Charles advocated STRONGLY on behalf of a rampant child abuser in the CofE. Has Trevor Phillips ever commented on the perversion of child sex exploitation at the heart of the Monarchy? With the recent highlighted Prince Andrew considering himself an honourable friend of Jeffrey Epstein and Epstein hosting a reception in honour of Andrew… Has Trevor Phillips ever lumped all the royal family as a social problem? All the same? Johnson said in relation to Andrew, that the Royal Family is beyond reproach re Andrew’s CLOSE friendship with Epstein. Has Trevor Phillips ever written on sentence condemning Boris Johnson, Prince Andrew, Jimmy Saville and thousands more? Has Phillips ever asked all who share their pigment and religions to speak out against their child grooming???

    No. No, because in my opinion, Trevor Phillips is the lowest of the low. He is prepared to crave the approval of certain wicked forces, at the expense of those he believes have little or no power. That he holds the position he does, is evidence of our sick society. At its core lies the most disgusting filth. It is late. But better late than never to expel Trevor Philips from the Labour Party. He and those he serves have no interest in stopping racists and racism. That “Tommy Robinson” plagiarises the words of Trevor Phillips and not Jeremy Corbyn, tell you all you need to know.

    We all need to make sure these facts drive out the lies and liars. Nothing is sacred for them. Nothing is too precious for them to destroy. They have no idea of what has true value. They value only money and cheap noisy fame. Dross and noise is what they crave. They crave dross and noise despite dross and noise being their very essence. And still they crave more from those who wish to keep the world just so.

    Enough of them. They have power because we give them. Stop giving them OUR power, and OUR votes. Those in our CLPs who refuse to act with resolve are not comrades. They are millstones around our necks. They are THE cause of every defeat, not the MSM, not the right wing. Just 5 or six vermin can bring down a whole ship. Trevor Phillips is a good start. Twatson, Benn, Cooper Khan, Hodge, Coyle … Ummuna has already jumped propelled by his self regard… GOOD RIDDANCE TO BAD RUBBISH.

    But TRUE COMRADES, do look around your CLPs. There are a few too many amongst us who if they are not infiltrators, they act like them. Either way they are not comrades. They are a drain on time, energy, effort, progress and meaningful change. There is an easy test you can employ. Ask them for concrete suggestion of how we transform. They will be unable to give any of substance. Don’t name them, describe their despicable characteristics. They will recognise themselves and react with an energy they usually reserve to covertly support the right wingers. They fool some, just as Trevor Phillips has by claiming the are against racist. While being a virulent racist. And another test, just as with Trevor Phillips, test them by observing their inconsistency and incoherence. They are racist when they fail to be consistent. They are consistent only in their inconsistency. They and their right wing masters have a quality we must copy. They are determined. We must be a hundred times more determined to keep the vision of Jeremy Corby alive. Any obstacle to that is an obstacle to transforming our country.

    1. We need a large Conspiracy trial with at least a dozen defendants some of whom will have waited months and even years to get into Court. Instead of ‘15 cab drivers of Pakistani origin’’ we could have ‘30 public school teachers’ or ‘conspiracy of 40 Priests’ all of whom will be of British origin thereby half way to proving some sort of conspiracy was going on. When you see them lined up in the Dock you know it’s true, Conspirators! Half will plead guilty because they’ve spent their time on remand and that of course brings down the other half; every guilty plea goes to show there was a conspiracy, doesn’t it? The mass trials of Ill educated Pakistani cabbies who have girls in their early teens harassing them at night for all sorts because their care homes don’t even try to keep them off the streets is a disgrace. The sentences handed down are often barbaric. It’s very much part of racist Britain. It’s how the District Governor would have reacted 100 years ago.

  10. Stop jumping on partial information in order to make a narrative. Hugh Pennington is a distinguished microbiologist, but not the only source of information.

    The WHO report, based on the evidence to press is quite clear. Note Point 2 :

    “For the public

    1. Recognize that COVID-19 is a new and concerning disease, but that outbreaks can managed with the right response and that the vast majority of infected people will recover;

    2. Begin now to adopt and rigorously practice the most important preventive measures for COVID-19 by frequent hand washing and always covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing;

    3. Continually update yourself on COVID-19 and its signs and symptoms (i.e. fever and dry cough), because the strategies and response activities will constantly improve as new information on this disease is accumulating every day; and

    4. Be prepared to actively support a response to COVID-19 in a variety of ways,including the adoption of more stringent ‘social distancing’ practices and helping the high-risk elderly population.”

    1. RH, have you read my post and have you read the Point TWO you quote? Here is your point two again:

      “ 2. Begin now to adopt and rigorously practice the most important preventive measures for COVID-19 by frequent hand washing and always covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing;”

      Reread mine if you wish. Spot the essential similarity of sound advice.

      Pennington has taken leave of his faculties. He is a microbiologist yes, and a human being, not the Angel Gabriel 🔴🔴🔴

      1. Apoligies for not referring to it – I was just getting pissed off with the major infection by the ‘Doh!’ social media syndrome. 🙂

        Your last sentence is spot on. Pennington, as I remember, does have a history of contrarian hyperbole, despite his genuine scientific expertise.

      2. Yes RH. no prob. We r all fallible, even this present Pope man … at least one was a woman… anyway he has long dumped the papal infallibility “attribute”.

        And just look at me, otherwise a perfectionist to the point of paralysis, yet every post is full of the most embarrassing typos. But life is odd. In trying to avoid the quest for perfection by avoiding checking, because i’m convinced that an infinite parade of errors and points for improvement. Result? Press post, then immediately see a glaring error or five!!!

        But back to Pennington. He really must start reading and clarify his “miss speak”. Sometimes we know what we mean in our minds but forget the broad audience who may miss the point… run away with a splinter of what was said, leaving the wood behind. Then horror of horrors, stick a million people with the splinter… on social media especially.

  11. Well if the Tories are targeting the elderly that’s the house of lords wiped out and half the PLP.

    1. And the potentially difficult Old Tories who are slowly beginning to cotton on that Johnson is as crazy as Cummings.

  12. So stand up at PMQ’s and ask why this racist PM and his cheap and nasty Tory party are lying to us about everything
    To maintain parliamentary standards Uncle Festa is going to have to have all of his statements cleared through fact check Joel and rubber stamped by the speaker

  13. Here a selection of headlines from today’s Mirror. Do we have reason to worry?

    Government warns coronavirus will spread in a ‘significant way’

    Fourth person dies in UK from coronavirus as number infected rockets to 321

    UK isn’t set to cancel sports matches today despite coronavirus crisis talks

    Stock market drops 8% – worse than 9/11 over oil price war and coronavirus fears

    Boris Johnson heckled as ‘traitor’ as he finally visits flood-hit community

    Are those in the North & Midlands who decided ‘in their infinite wisdom’ that the best way to lodge a protest at being left behind was to not to vote for the party that had a comprehensive plan to rejuvenate their communities with good quality training and jobs and instead voted for a government that had been in power for nearly a decade and who had callously ripped their communities apart with austerity suffering from buyers regret yet.

  14. Heard two estimates of ‘doubling’ times of the infected today – one expert thought four days, another thought a week.
    380 was today’s figure for those infected I think.
    Double that once a week for the twelve weeks until the start of Summer and it comes to 1,556,480.
    Obviously one has to deduct the slightly ill, the recovered and the deceased from that to estimate the extra burden on the NHS, but it still won’t be pretty if it follows the predicted path.

  15. Has Keir expressed his position on hand washing or is he within the rules not to have expressed any opinion ?

  16. CH4 News

    ‘The most frightening disease I’ve ever encountered’

    That was the assessment of Dr. Richard Hatchett, who is working on the front line to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 Coronavirus. When we spoke to him on Friday, he said it wasn’t crazy to “compare this to World War II”, saying: “The World Health Organisation is using those kinds of terms… They have seen what this virus is capable of doing.”

    In an extended interview, he told Cathy Newman: “I’ve been working on epidemic preparedness for about 20 years, completely dispassionately without elevating the temperature or speaking hyperbolically. This is the most frightening disease I’ve ever encountered in my career, and that includes Ebola, it includes MERS and it includes SARS.”

    He explained: “I think the most concerning thing about this virus is the combination of infectiousness and the ability to cause severe disease or death.”

    Dr Hatchett advised the Bush and Obama White Houses and has now received more than £20m from the UK government to develop a vaccine for the new virus.

    You can watch the full interview here.

    1. Seemed an honest assessment to me.
      While watching it I was thinking about where I could best volunteer.
      I thought of delivery driving for any supermarket that would go non-profit for the duration.
      Water, power and information I can’t be much help with, but food deliveries are going to be essential to minimise infection in busy warm supermarkets. I can do that.
      It’ll be a quick and easy route with everyone at home – and this is one time leaving a package outside and leaving quickly will be welcomed.
      Plastic packaging is going to be essential – cardboard is way too virus-friendly and plastic can be washed.
      Young people with kids absolutely have to stay home with schools shut so there’s going to be a labour shortage. People are going to get ill and be unable to work so lists that volunteers can add their names to need to be started now I think.
      There might have to be compulsion at some point but why not volunteer?

      1. It would be interesting to know what safeguards the supermarkets are going to put in place to stop their delivery drivers inadvertently contracting and/or spreading infection and does the government intend to enforce preventative bio precautions for all delivery drivers.

      2. Steve, I think you must be picturing a driver knocking on a door, waiting for a reply and getting a signature and I don’t envisage any of that.
        Toot the horn and leave it on the doorstep – the self-quarantined are obliged to be at home, goods are ordered online or by phone and pre-paid by card or voucher.
        I think flame-shrunk Visqueen or pallet wrap (Like super thick clingfilm) around the parcels will not only kill any stray virus but allow the parcel to be easily disinfected by the recipient.
        Driver wears gloves, no contact whatever between driver and customer or anyone else.
        Householder unable to contact help leaves notice on front door, driver relays message and address by phone.

      3. Hi David – What I was actually envisaging was precautions not altogether dissimilar to what you’ve outlined. My question was are the supermarkets and the likes of Amazon prepared (or at the very least preparing) and will the government be mandating that adequate but proportionate precautions are taken.

      4. I wouldn’t think the Government will do anything, leaving it up to private companies, charities and individuals to do their best. It’s a hard right administration that certainly doesn’t believe in compassion or any humane instinct. Mass death will be a shake up but it’s a very private and non political thing. They’re confident there will be no trouble. Anyway it shows how tough they are. As has been such a feature of our history, we all know Tories ARE bastards!

      5. No idea what preparations the ‘government’ is making Steve, all I’ve done so far is emailed the BBC…

        [BBC could begin to make up for the anti-Labour bias by passing this on:
        There is possibly going to be a need for volunteers in this crisis.
        That is going to require organisation locally and publicity nationally.
        Your local radio stations could play an important part.
        I suggest a national drive for volunteers on your News channel, volunteers to register with your local stations.
        I’m old but would be perfectly capable of delivering supplies from supermarkets or other centres of supply to people self-isolating.]

        Odd… I sent the wrong draft – the other was considerably more direct than that.

        I thought first of the Salvation Army since it already has food banks but then thought maybe that food gets too much handling for a situation like this.
        Supermarkets, whether they’re commercially involved or press-ganged by government, have among the best national and local distribution centres.
        All the infrastucture is there – the workers are going to be the problem. Old singletons like me are perfect for this.

  17. Assuming that together the supermarkets in any given area already supply just about the whole population of that area I’d be surprised if they could manage with many fewer workers than in the normal course of business, except for perhaps some customer-facing roles.
    I don’t think any supermarkets have surplus staff these days.
    Shelf fillers can load vehicles instead but they’ll need help – it’s heavier work.
    Checkout workers could presumably work as effectively with online or government food voucher purchases but deliveries will require massive expansion, clearly – probably to the extent of commandeering vehicles.
    Delivery and emergency vehicles could end up among the very few on the road until the crisis is over.

    The government is trying to delay such measures – I’m certain that’s a mistake and intended to avoid panic – home deliveries could take weeks to get right so best begin planning and practicing early.
    If kids are hungry parents will hijack delivery vehicles to feed them as a last resort, whatever the consequences.

  18. My understanding is that there are now 2 mutations of the coved 19 virus called S and L. L the mutation is highly infectious, is less than 0.3 microns or something like that in size- hence it penetrates the eyes and masks are useless as a barrier unless they are military grade.
    The L mutation is spread via aerosol level vapour which can waft up to 20 m from its source, especially if aided by air conditioning, which means you can catch it even if in a different room a short distance from the source, say in an office.
    Washing hands can. Still help if you touch surfaces recently infected by droplets/ vapour from breath of an infected person.
    UK has allowed a bunch of tourists from Northern Italy over the last 3 weeks to enter the UK with no screening, unlike the measures taken by Russia who have medical checkpoints for all passengers coming from high risk areas. So the assertion of the UK having a containment phase is false, they are waiting for the duration phase,

  19. Italy lock-down but international flights to & from only just stopped! British Gov’t allows the pandemic to spread by playing Pontius Pilate. Commerce must continue.

    1. In infection terms, we’re about 12 days behind Italy.
      No need to close the shop yet.
      Acting too soon has its risks too; for example, surviving 14 days isolation won’t be easy, make that 21, 28, and it’ll fall apart.

  20. I think the worry that this virus is a mutated virus jumping from animal to human then mutating again.Whats to stop a second or third wave next year which from what I have learned would be far worse that would kill off millions like the Spanish flu virus of the last century.IN many ways our modern living and a Non government makes for a very dangerous future.Hopefully people realise soon that its down to us to work together as friends and family to overcome this virus and the effects of a shambolic Tory boy non government.Utterly disgraceful and very much the nature of the beast

  21. Much as I admire China I do think their government and others might now consider banning the eating and medicinal use of wild – and endangered ffs – animals and the live markets that apparently enable viruses to move between species.
    Live markets keep different species in closer proximity and for longer periods than would ever occur in the wild.
    Humans acquiring immunity through such close contact appears not to be the case.

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