Johnson’s latest lock-down easing comes when viral base in UK is far higher than it was when the lock-down first took place
Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday of further relaxations in the lock-down has received little critical examination in the media – presumably because even a cursory examination shows the recklessness, even madness, of any easing at all.
When Johnson first announced the lock-down, the UK had 74 deaths that day. Yesterday, the government announced 377 – five times as many:
Johnson and his apologists might argue that the deaths lag behind the curve of infections and accept his argument a downward trend justifies the relaxation – but this is also misleading.
Johnson claimed that there has been a ‘consistent’ reduction in deaths and new hospital admissions, but deaths reported in the last two days have spiked – almost 800 in just two days:
At the same time as deaths have shown a sharp upturn, hospital admissions – the truest indicator of the extent of the virus in the population in the absence of a blanket testing programme – are nearly double the rate they were when Johnson announced the lock-down:
Not only that, but the rate in many areas is rising – particularly in London – from a date that coincides with the incubation of infections transmitted when Johnson first eased the lock-down by ordering those who can’t work from home to go back to work:
The London rate of hospital admissions has shot up over the last week and is already the highest it has been in six weeks. The wider south-east and other areas are also showing signs of smaller, but significant upturns.
At a point when the UK demonstrably has a larger pool of infection than it had when he called it – and one that is increasing – he is telling us all that things have moved so far in the right direction that the lock-down can be relaxed.
And this is all before children start to return to school next week, which scientists know will lead to an increase – even if the government wasn’t telling teachers who have been in contact with symptomatic sufferers not to go home and self-isolate.
1.7% of the nation’s children, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics, live with people over 70 years of age – the most vulnerable to the worst effects of the virus. There is no room for doubt that the schools return will cause avoidable deaths, even without the new easings:
680,000 households with children going back to school next week means around 12,000 old people in new danger, even if there is only one old person per household – and the virus does not only kill the elderly.
Unite’s Howard Beckett, who has been one of the strongest in identifying the dangers and calling for appropriate action, summed up the significance of these numbers:
In the 1918 influenza pandemic, the second wave killed far more people than the first.
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