April 13, 2020 at 4:03 pm #5880
Spain are reducing theirs, Denmark have reduced and France are expected to extend.
What will the UK do?
April 13, 2020 at 4:04 pm #5881
China is lifting its lockdown, and Covid cases are starting to rise again with visitors to the country along with asymptomatic Covid carriers. Its like a global game of whack-a-mole.
April 13, 2020 at 4:04 pm #5882
My guess would be another 3 weeks, with a *possible* slight tightening on exercise to bring “not driving to honeypots” into law so Police can enforce it properly. That said, there have been relatively few problems this weekend in comparison with last so I think the message is getting there.
April 13, 2020 at 4:05 pm #5883
I suspect another 2/3 weeks too. After that my feeling is that with London probably past it’s peak there will be a bigger focus towards the economy with possible enhanced shielding for those at risk.
The Welsh first minister is talking about Wales making its own decisions away from Westminster but I’m not sure how any of this will be enforceable in the real world.
April 13, 2020 at 4:07 pm #5885
One of the issues is that North Wales has a massive elderly population, particularly areas of the coast around Anglesey, Llandudno etc where people have come to retire.
April 13, 2020 at 4:10 pm #5887
I’d hazard a guess that’ll it’ll be extended with little change to the current lockdown situation. We need to keep hospitalised cases as close to max capacity as possible for as long as possible until enough of us have had it to prevent further signicant spread. Otherwise, it’ll just come back again and we’ll have to re-lockdown and double up on economic destruction.
With a bit of luck, they might soften it in a few weeks to keep the infection rate steady as we seem to be within NHS limits still so have some wiggle room. That could mean opening some shops again and hopefully clarifying the exercise situation so the BMC etc will soften it’s no climbing stance. As we’ve heard and I can also back up, hospitals are largely dead in most areas outside of the dedicated CV sectors and I reckon the medics who normally handle sporting injuries would be happy for something to be on with.
April 13, 2020 at 4:11 pm #5888
I fully appreciate the logic of the lock down but I never thought that it should have been on a national level. As far as I can keep up with this, the hospitals that are under pressure are mostly in London, Birmingham and in decreasing numbers other cities. Indeed I have heard some reports of hospitals in some areas only working at 32% capacity but I can’t remember where I saw that. In any case it should not come as a surprise to anyone that cities are affected far more seriously than the countryside and it may have been more beneficial to legislate accordingly. But that’s easy for me to say. I don’t have all the evidence, I do not have the experience and I’m not accountable. I might add that I find the media just as palpable as the Government in this regard.
April 13, 2020 at 4:13 pm #5890
The problem is that if you do it by city you’ve also got to stop people travelling. And the British people just won’t accept Army roadblocks at every bridge where you pass the M25, even if that would be logical.
April 13, 2020 at 4:17 pm #5893
But they are already asking people not to travel and to a large extent this is being accepted. I’ve heard a figure of 150,00 deaths due to the lock down quoted but I imagine that figure is no more reliable than the others that are being bandied about.
April 13, 2020 at 4:12 pm #5889
It has to be extended. It would be risky to lift restrictions before the numbers have declined or whilst PPE/testing/ventilators are in short supply. You have to wait until the NHS will be able to cope with the surge in cases two-three weeks later.
Maybe it should be phased back to work by day of week, industry sector or location to slow the rise of new infections.
April 13, 2020 at 4:14 pm #5891
Maybe it should be phased back to work by day of week, industry sector or location to slow the rise of new infections.
Not many sectors are actually mandated to close, pretty much only those which are “customer facing” and not all of those.
That being the case, any return-to-work (which I agree would come first) would necessarily include reopening of schools and potentially removing of the furlough scheme from some sectors/employers.
April 13, 2020 at 4:16 pm #5892
The problem for many retail businesses, and even more of service, is that if they open before there are customers ready to shop, a great many will be out of business in a month or two.
Few such businesses can pay staff (and overheads) for long, if there’s not much money coming in.
And most travel business have probably pretty much had it, unless they can remain suspended for quite a long time (perhaps a year or more?)
April 13, 2020 at 4:18 pm #5894
Business might not be mandated to close but a lot of us have because there is no realistic way to keep the employees safe, on top of that in the maintenance service sector most of our customers who are open won’t let anyone through the gate unless it’s an emergency.
Personally I’m hoping that this carries on for at least 4 more weeks or even better until the end of May. Unlocking too early in my opinion will do more damage to the economy when the inevitable second lock down comes and will really demoralise the public at large.
April 13, 2020 at 4:19 pm #5895
In the absence of a medical solution (vaccine, treatment etc) the way to release lockdown is to base it on age. There is very limited risk to those in age groups 20-50 who happen to be the most economically productive cohort. These are also the child-rearing ages meaning you could re-open schools as well.
Despite being outside that range, I’d be delighted to see that large and productive group released. I’ll happily stay locked down along with those older and theoretically more at risk.
April 14, 2020 at 3:55 pm #5904
I agree, I was saying to my wife the other day if they kept everyone over a certain age bracket indoors and let everyone else get on with things we could get a huge chunk of the economy back online with minimal additional risk of deaths.
It wouldn’t be without some pain, we’d have a lot of people off sick etc but it has to be far better than having the whole workforce off.
April 14, 2020 at 3:57 pm #5906
Not just oldies. I think you might need to pick a given level of obesity as it appears to significantly increase the risk in youngsters. Good luck with telling the police they need to patrol with a bmi chart.
April 14, 2020 at 3:59 pm #5908
I was going to add maybe people with health issues as well but as you say it would be hard to police. So maybe as a general idea say over 60 by law and then anyone else who’s scared about catching it should probably keep up social distancing on their own judgement.
But the general idea would be to get as much of the economy moving again as possible with minimal additional deaths. Basically getting the most bang for your buck in a money/health balance.
April 14, 2020 at 4:00 pm #5909
An aerobically fit 60 year old, training 4 or 5 times a week, rested pulse in the 40s is likely a lot better equipped to cope with some respiratory challenges than a fat 30 year old, with 70-80 pulse, high blood pressure, weak immune system and border line diabetes. Whose the real potential burden on the nhs? Yeah I know, it would probably mean quite a few police and nhs workers fall into this bracket.
April 14, 2020 at 4:05 pm #5912
That’s a massive can of worms isn’t it. Should the tax payer pick up the tab to keep the said 30 yr old at home safe or should they be fed to the virus and take their chances due over indulgence in crisps, fags, chocolate and booze?
April 14, 2020 at 4:05 pm #5913
I think the best we can hope for is a doctor won’t be punished for giving people the news they are obese.
April 14, 2020 at 4:07 pm #5914
one of the tenets of ministerial appeals for social cohesion and compliance is “we’re all in this together”. Whatever their failings I think they understand that that any feeling of “together” would quickly disappear rather quickly if they sectioned society like that
April 14, 2020 at 4:08 pm #5915
But it’s acceptable to label pensioners and given medical conditions as vunerable. What is wrong with adding being 10, 15, 20 kgs overweight to that list of vunerable? Provided of course that hospital statistics indicate weight is a factor.
April 14, 2020 at 4:10 pm #5916
Has anyone labelled “pensioners” as vulnerable? First I’ve heard and I’ve been drawing state pension for two years . Maybe the postman lost my letter.
April 14, 2020 at 4:14 pm #5918
The guidelines say the old and vulnerable, so being old makes you vulnerable? Play on words perhaps. My point being you could be healthier than many half your age.
April 14, 2020 at 4:12 pm #5917
Because being a pensioner is just part of life, everyone grows old (hopefully). Being 20kgs overweight (medical reasons notwithstanding) isn’t part of life. That’s part of not taking ownership of your own health and then expecting the state to pick up the pieces.
In 2017/18 there were over 710,000 hospital admissions with obesity being the primary or secondary diagnosis. It’s about time people are given a frank reality check, you need to look after yourself and stop overburdening the NHS with conditions that are of a result of your over indulgent lifestyle.
April 14, 2020 at 4:24 pm #5921
Maybe the line shouldn’t be age?
Rested heart rate
Body fat level
Etc. Measure the risk factors that make folk weaker, not just their age.
April 14, 2020 at 4:25 pm #5922
Healthy people still die. Their immune systems still weaken. Their organs still weaken until they fail.
The line is complicated but age is still a factor.
April 14, 2020 at 4:02 pm #5910
60 is far too high an age limit. 30 perhaps?
what are your own health issues before you sentence the rest of us?
A modest proposal for me is that locking up is best kept for those wanting to lock up other members of the population, criminal detentions excepted
April 14, 2020 at 4:21 pm #5920
I’ve just looked at some number and there are roughly 15.5m people in the UK over 60, the CV death rates are as follows
60-69 = 3.6%
70-79 = 8.0%
80+ = 14.8%
Now looking particularly at the over 70’s the annual natural death rate is about 8%, rising to over 10% once you pass 80. The ones CV takes is mainly made up of the weaker of their number with ongoing health issues (i.e. the ones most likely to die that year anyway.) So as to how many additional deaths we’ll have within the elderly population, we’ll just have to wait and see but it doesn’t look like a lot really.
Maybe 65 would be better, or even 70, If I was playing it safe, I’m sure someone in the civil service can crunch the number proper but the principle is you shield the most at risk while allowing those at a much lower risk and of an economically productive age to get on with life and the minor issue of funding this massive bailout. Those under lockdown will just be under something a tad stronger than now, food and medical stuff gets delivered to their doors (divert all supermarket deliveries plus maybe DHL to this duty) for 1 month or so until the virus has circulated the younger population and died down again then they can come out.
What’ll likely happen though is they’ll just start gradually lifting lockdown for all in a few weeks to keep it fair, rather than by area or age and it’ll just flare up again anyway. One way or another it will spread through the population, it’s just finding the least painful way to let it happen.
April 13, 2020 at 4:22 pm #5896
I hope the government will have enough sense to decide the current restrictions must be continued.
I can’t see anything in the number of cases or the opinion from a number of sources that we have yet to hit the peak which indicates the restrictions should be relaxed.
April 13, 2020 at 4:23 pm #5897
I really cannot see how the present situation can be lifted. we have reduced the spread and kept numbers down to a level where it appears the hospital capacity is dealing with the numbers. (although not managed to provide those tasked with care the ppe they needed). If the virus is still out there the minute we start to move around ‘business as normal’ surely it follows the people who are asymptomatic will cause new cases to appear in the population? Unless I am missing some facts?
April 13, 2020 at 4:24 pm #5898
I think that we should continue as we are until after the last bank holiday in May.
Ive seen somewhere that there’s plans to un lockdown London first as they’ve ‘peaked’. Disaster in my opinion if we get hoards of infected travelling the lands.
I would consider reopening schools in June but with no bus travel so you go to school at your nearest school. Not sure how that would work in paper though.
April 13, 2020 at 4:25 pm #5899
It’s misleading to say that London has peaked.
At the moment, there are strong signs that it is peaking under the current conditions.
Change those conditions by releasing the lockdown too much just now, and it’s very likely to rise sharply again to a new, higher peak.
Pretty much whatever is done next, until there’s an effective vaccine, there are other peaks coming in the future – this is just (hopefully) us arriving at the first one.
April 14, 2020 at 3:50 pm #5900
It isn’t easy to put a price on life, but I guess it has to be done at some point. However lifting too soon and then a bad second wave might be more disruptive to the situation than being restricted a bit longer and then back to normal.
April 14, 2020 at 3:52 pm #5901
There already are standard figures for this which are used to determine whether specific road safety measures are good value for money or not. People find it distasteful, but in a capitalist society it’s impossible not to do it.
April 14, 2020 at 3:53 pm #5903
That decision was already made by most countries in January, flights could have been stopped and borders closed. Or even in February.. a given amount of death was considered acceptable to keep the world travelling. It’s only when estimates started to throw out quite serious numbers that governments shutdown and quarantined as they knew losing 250,000 people wouldn’t go down well with voters.
April 14, 2020 at 3:52 pm #5902
I think the longer they wait, the smaller the second spike. But there’s no rulebook and with a 3 week lead in period, approximates and estimates are as good as it gets.
I expect international travel bans will remain for much longer and there should even be regional limitations.
April 14, 2020 at 3:56 pm #5905
I’m doubtful that it’ll be lifted in three weeks. The risks are so great, and the huge sacrifice made so far could be nullified. A case of one step forward and two backward. We’ll just have to wait and see.
April 14, 2020 at 3:58 pm #5907
My guess is that the start of the new academic year will provide a natural break point when, providing that things over the rest of spring and summer don’t go pear-shaped, things can start to go back to a new normal.
The old normal is history, I’m afraid.
April 14, 2020 at 4:16 pm #5919
Going off on a related tangent, a/the problem with hoping that herd immunity may be a part of the solution, is that it requires circa 96 percent of the population to become so, which runs the risk of several million people dying from covid during the process. I’ve come across 8 million as an estimate. Thinking about the revenue generating potential among the people who may die, and the costs of caring for them, a ‘proper lock down’ rather than the one we currently have, might be the cheaper approach and less damaging, but I don’t know enough about the figures involved. It seems awfully that we’re in the worst kind of middle ground at the moment, in strangling the economy and not doing quite enough to stop the spread.
April 14, 2020 at 4:27 pm #5923
I was wondering if lifting some restrictions, but keeping in place some movement restrictions would work to some extent.
Ok to travel for work but not for holidays/socialising. Along with a ban on gatherings and compulsory face masks in confined environments such as shops, some workplaces.
I also like lifting based on age, hadn’t thought it heard of that before. If some fit 70 year olds want to take their chances, that is up to them. The age restrictions could just be strongly advisor, unless the NHS was becoming overwhelmed, when it might have to be compulsory.
April 14, 2020 at 4:29 pm #5924
I think it’ll last until the end of the summer.
April 14, 2020 at 4:30 pm #5925
Unless the vaccine is known to be close by then, or the death and infection rates stay as they are now, what would the benefit of that be?
At least to start with the plan was stated as being to move the peak away from the 19/20 winter.
With no vaccine and all this remaining an awful balance of keeping the numbers below NHS collapse then you have to ease the restrictions as soon as you can, otherwise we have done nothing much but create a worse situation in the winter of 20/21.
How you release the restrictions is the even more tricky bit. As a society in normal times we aren’t brave enough to differentiate according to choices people make to damage their own health, by smoking for example, so I cant see us making those choices now.
Age has an impact on outcome clearly, but population density has a far far bigger impact on transmission and therefore actual numbers of deaths.
So a staged release of lockdown, probably from mid or late may involving a range of different restrictions in different locations. For example the mandated wearing of face masks (the appropriate ones) on all public transport, issued by the transport provider.
No, I am not sure any of the above is correct or of any value.what the heck do I know.
April 14, 2020 at 4:32 pm #5926
Maybe lockdown release has to come from a different angle. Those who can reasonably work from home continue to do so for the foreseeable future, even after kids go back to school. A restructuring of office culture.
Every week that passes, economics and national debt will have more influence over release policy.
April 14, 2020 at 4:33 pm #5927
Easing lock down is code for letting more people get it.
Will be experimental to start with. How people, virus reacts etc. So I would think death rate will be brought down to make people feel good. Say 600 a day, and then held there. Lots of explanations of how it goes down slower than it goes up. Macron is doing that now.
Problem will be if death rate reaches unacceptable level. What that is I don’t know. A thousand a day doesn’t seem to cause panic, so what would, 5000? And what then?
Since stamping it out is now impossible here, does that condemn 1.5 million super vulnerable plus the very aged to confinement until there is a vaccine? And how is it going to work when some countries seem to be stamping it out and others not?
April 14, 2020 at 4:36 pm #5928
Problem will be if death rate reaches unacceptable level. What that is I don’t know. A thousand a day doesn’t seem to cause panic, so what would, 5000? And what then?
If they let it rip through retirement homes whilst strongly keeping the focus away from those numbers by keeping them out of the daily briefings…
Since stamping it out is now impossible here,
It’s not impossible but it’s getting ever more improbable by the day
does that condemn 1.5 million super vulnerable plus the very aged to confinement until there is a vaccine?
That’s my take, although I don’t assume a vaccine will necessarily be effective enough, nor that the virus won’t mutate faster than vaccines can be developed. Which I why – above the staggering death toll – herd immunity seems like a dumb idea to me.
And how is it going to work when some countries seem to be stamping it out and others not
It ends with a very changed world that’s going to pose new problems. New Zealand – who have almost eliminated it now – require a 14 day stay in a government run quarantine facility for anyone travelling in to the country. That’ll kill almost all tourism and business travel but their fast and decisive action protected their population and leaves all of them alive to work together to mitigate the downstream problems.
April 14, 2020 at 4:37 pm #5929
There is no vaccine yet, testing is unreliable, so countries have to presume we are stuck with it, rather than pin hopes on future possibilities. Keeping deaths below 1000/day looks good numerically. But the final figures in 2 or 3 years aren’t likely to differ that much, regardless of release method.
Economic damage and national debt could vary hugely though. Not to mention the general moral and will of the population.
April 14, 2020 at 4:37 pm #5930
I think NZ will find economic work arounds in time, other countries which depend more heavily on tourism like Thailand are likely to suffer much more.
April 14, 2020 at 4:38 pm #5931
I don’t actually think there is a strategy. I think they are winging it day to day. I don’t say that as a criticism, I just think that you have people of average ability, at best, scientists and politicians alike, up against something new.
First they were in denial, that’s normal, crossed their fingers and hoped for the best. Now they don’t actually know if they are trying to stamp it out or manage it. The disease is basically not that well understood. The ramifications of different strategies, ecomically and medically, in the round when it is over and done with are completely unknown.
So the strategy if there is one, is to manage it as much as possible, to buy time to learn more about it, pray for a vaccine and give the appearance, rightly, that they know what they are doing. All the time hoping the death rate doesn’t go off the charts and the economy doesn’t completely collapse. Tricksy.
April 14, 2020 at 4:40 pm #5932
Spain are reducing theirs, Denmark have reduced and France are expected to extend. What will the UK do?
Well it seems to be working in the regions, less so in London so stick with it for now gathering data is my guess. Given the economic support package underpinning the ‘lockdown’ can’t easily be managed regionally (for a number of reasons) I’d expect in perhaps a week or so if there is any change we’ll all be new getting rules tailored to improving the situation in London, likely focused on reducing public transport use and risk there plus further restrictions on economic activity to reduce the number of journeys made. Possibly also closing parks and beaches as a sop to the press/public to nip off sunbather stories which erode our social cohesion.
I wonder if as the situation stabilises the regions will be called on to provide surplus capacity to London, either by moving wards wholesale or patients. That won’t go down well in the newly blue red-wall.
I can’t see a significant easing of restrictions until there is essentially no community transmission and the ability to verify that on an ongoing basis. Since we’re not testing anywhere near enough to know that there’s a big lag built in we’re measuring any success two weeks after policy intervention, nothing is going to happen fast unless we get better data. Since any easing likely means switching off the broad-brush economic life support we have now that also needs to be replaced by something more targeted or we need to be confident we have few enough cases and good enough mitigation in place that we’re out of the woods for long enough to properly justify re-opening businesses rather than simply lumbering them with costs before closing them down again in a month.
April 14, 2020 at 5:06 pm #5933
Figures produced by a COVID sub committee suggested that more people could die as a consequence of the lock down than the virus itself. Hospitals are finding for example that people who previously would have presented with heart conditions and other conditions are not are not turning up at A&E. What I don’t understand is why the media is happy to show one set of modeled projections but not another.
April 15, 2020 at 4:15 pm #5955
My impression is that a lot of people are scared that the lockdown may be lifted relatively soon and would prefer it to be kept in place (despite the economic damage) for at least another month. It may be that non- Covid / secondary deaths rise but this may be a hard argument to sell after all the vivid images that have been seen and stories recounted by those working in ITUs. It is going to hard to go from a scary narrative to one which suggests it is safe to start resuming normal activity.
Once lockdown is lifted, it would be very difficult, I suspect, to reimpose it again if there were to be a surge in cases in say August.
Lifting it area by area would seem hard in such a relatively small and densely populated country.
Tough choices lie ahead.
April 15, 2020 at 4:40 pm #5975
Any decision worth its name has to be made before all the required information is to hand.
That’s when you look at your options based on their probability and consequences. In this case, the probability of a widespread outbreak in the UK may (or may not) have been low but, given what was known from China and Italy, it was far from negligible. The consequences were clearly very bad.
Having assessed options that way and decided not to go into lockdown, I’d expect someone in the room to ask “what if we’re wrong?” Given how uncertain everything was I’d have thought that this question would have made everyone worried.
All of this is basic “how to make a decision when you don’t know as much as you’d like” stuff. It doesn’t work brilliantly when faced with very low probability, very high consequence events. But, while the current UK outbreak might have had a vanishingly low probability six months ago, the chances had risen markedly by late February 2020.
I assume all this happened numerous times but I can’t see that it was taken seriously by the person at the top – he was still shaking hands *and telling us that it was ok* when Italy was already locking down large numbers of people. By the time the “decision” to lock the UK down was made it was actually no longer a decision – it was forced on them by events. That’s not leadership, in my judgement.
April 15, 2020 at 4:41 pm #5976
Hindsight is a great thing really …
April 15, 2020 at 4:43 pm #5977
I agree and we can argue about when would have been the right time to start taking this thing seriously but the ongoing omnishambles about testing suggests that there’s a deeper problem.
This morning the latest of a succession of people in a position to offer testing facilities (iGenomix I think) was on R4 complaining that he had responded to a government appeal for help, had proactively called them again weeks later, and has still not had a sensible conversation with anyone in government who had a clue about any of the technical details of what they wanted. He said they could do exactly the same test the government has approved but that the company supplying the kits (my company, I think he means) has been told only to supply government testing centres, not private sector labs.
The level of organisational incompetence and technical ignorance is startling. I can’t help thinking that when members of a government are selected purely on the basis of their zealous support for a single policy and undying loyalty to a particular leader irrespective of whether they have any other knowledge or talent whatsoever, this is the sort of chaos you might expect. On the evidence so far, I’d exempt Rishi Sunak from this – he looks comparatively competent, although, to be fair, that’s a pretty low bar currently.
There really seems to be no-one with any real decision-making authority who understands, or is capable of being made to understand the difference between NHS testing facilities and private sector laboratories, between an antigen and an antibody, between a drug and a vaccine, between active infection and seropositivity, or indeed, between their arse and their elbow.
April 15, 2020 at 4:44 pm #5978
Should the government publish an exit strategy now, as requested by Keir Starmer, or should they wait as long as possible to see how other countries fare?
April 15, 2020 at 4:45 pm #5979
No. It’s a political trap, a hostage to fortune and serves no practical purpose. The public doesn’t care what the exit strategy is, it cares when it is, and there is probably more informed interest near term in seeing how it goes for Austria, Denmark and Spain.
April 15, 2020 at 4:48 pm #5980
Businesses and the self employed are very much interested in an indication of what’s going to happen with regards exit strategy, I personally have some serious choices to make with regards work and finances as are many people I know, painfully and blindly drifting into bankruptcy is where we’re at.
after some initial very late but decisive action, we’ve ended up drifting, we’ve extended lockdown and it looks like that’s going to carry on doing that, but there is no action to mitigate this in the cities, such as opening up golf courses and school grounds so people can deal with the extended lockdown.
non of the gaps in the initial aid package have been plugged, it is also vital that options are discussed and the government is held accountable not just by the opposition but expert bodies (Don’t forget it was the imperial college report that was partly responsible for the UK abandoning its ill thought out herd immunity plan)
April 16, 2020 at 12:36 pm #5984
I don’t see how this idea being floated of sending 20-29 year olds back to work would work, because the vast majority of businesses are voluntarily closed either because they don’t feel it’s safe to operate (e.g. some takeaways) or because there’s little custom to make it worth it (e.g. business hotels). Similarly, those businesses that can do home working will no doubt continue to do so where it’s workable to reduce risk exposure to themselves (i.e. the risk of COVID19 spreading through their entire workforce, meaning they *can’t* operate – my employer for instance mandated work-from-home before Boris did). You can’t lift something that hasn’t been applied in the first place.
I suppose you could sort of engineer it by withdrawing furlough from those age groups but keeping schools closed, but I think that would bring uproar.
Regionalising it may make more sense.
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