Again we have not kept eyes on the ball. Boris is playing fast with facts and science whilst we have this discussion. And off course there will be a second peak and off course those who want to take whatever lesson there is to take will decide that the lockdown was wrong. But let us get something straight, the terminology.
Lockdown: what does it mean? In China it meant as Clark likes to point out, welded doors and people literally incarcerated. In France it meant that you had to download a form and fill it in before you went out of your house, stating the reason for leaving your house, and if stopped by the police, you could get fined if you have not filled a form or if your reason was not valid, these are just two examples. In UK it meant a mixed message, people can go out to supermarkets, only to buy essential things but this was purely voluntary. If you wanted to travel many miles for a walk, you could do so. If you were a PM, you shook hands with many people provided you then washed your hands whilst specifically singing ‘happy birthday to you’. If you are a government minister you could self isolate after having a positive test for the virus but then go to TV centre to mingle with others after one week. The lockdown was not really a lockdown.
Now what should have happened is what one would call a curfew. That is no body leaves the house for any reason whatsoever. They should have food and provisions delivered through specifically organised networks preferably through the councils, who appear to have had a minimal role in this crisis. In that way in 2 weeks you would have had a real sharp drop in R, but provided you also practised quarantining. Again we advocated self isolation if you had any symptoms. This means that you stay at home. If you live with others, you have to isolate in a room alone and use separate facilities, in order not to infect others. That’s OK if you live in a house with several ensuite toilets and shower rooms and perhaps even a kitchenette, but for most people, living in small flats, self isolation means sure infection for as many people as possible living in the same address. What we should have done is quarantining. That means anyone with symptoms should be tested and if positive, then transferred into an isolation unit, commandeered hotels would do, where they can be cared for their basic needs whilst those providing this care have adequate PPE.
If these were adopted, plus a vigorous contact tracing as happened in South Korea, the R would have been slashed to near zero in a very short time. And this is not just theory, it was demonstrated in China, after the epidemic was in full swing, in Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, before cases started to climb sharply, and in Taiwan in a semi preventative early stage. Bringing down R to the lowest level was the highest priority and had to be down quickly.
But we have now suffered the worst of both worlds, we will suffer a continued but rather wishy washy ‘lockdown’ which is open ended and with no clear exit strategy and will suffer both the worst health and economic consequences. And for what? Because the Johnson Regime does not want to spend money on PPE, testing, contact tracing and proper quarantine. Whether this is economic or ideologically driven or just sheer incompetence does not matter. Why introduce silly apps within even having adequate testing? Why trying to obtain ventialtors when you can’t provide PPE? In France, Spain and many other countries the government has provided face masks for the general population, delivered free. In UK we are still debating their virtues and being precious about them, and in any case they are not available.
So please let us stop this nonsensical theological discussion and get on.