Comment by NI First Minister exposes Tory lie of ‘following the science’ – and guilt of more needless deaths
The Conservative government has not changed its guidance on the wearing of face masks – and has constantly claimed, whenever challenged about any of its decisions or changed decisions, that it always ‘follows the science’ no matter how contrary or strange those decisions have been.
But a throw-away comment today by Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has revealed that the government’s SAGE committee – the group of scientists advising the government on its response to the pandemic – has already changed its advice and now says that face masks should be worn in public, in settings where social distancing is difficult, such as supermarkets.
Irish broadcaster RTE carried the news:
Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill said they are encouraging members of the public to wear face coverings when moving in confined spaces…
Ministers had calls with Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today, and will take part in a Cobra emergency response meeting on Sunday.
The First Minister added that specialist advice from the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) had concluded “on balance” to recommend the use of face coverings in circumstances where social distancing is not possible.
Ms Foster did not say how long ago SAGE reached this conclusion, but it’s clear from her statement that the Tories are well aware of the change – and have not passed on new advice to the public, even though SAGE clearly now thinks it will protect the public.
More than a week ago, the BBC reported that:
On 18 April, more than 100 doctors wrote a letter to The Times saying they were “alarmed at official inaction over the need for the public to wear homemade face masks”.
So medical experts have been alarmed for weeks, even months – and went public with their concerns more than a month ago.
The issue of why SAGE and the government ignored the advantages of wearing masks in public for so long – especially when countries such as China and South Korea made it mandatory long ago and have eliminated domestic transmission of the coronavirus – raises the question of how many more people have become infected and how many more lives have been lost because of the delay.
But now that SAGE has finally ‘concluded’ that masks are a good idea, why are Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock still leaving the public unprotected days or even weeks later?
Johnson has already been accused of costing an additional 60,000 lives across the course of this pandemic ‘spike’ by his slowness to act. But now he is heaping guilt upon guilt – and cannot claim that he is ‘following the science’.
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