England has highest death rate

The COVID DIARIES – 123 30th July

Data showing the effect of the coronavirus across Europe has shown that England had the highest levels of excess deaths.

It is the first time the Office for National Statistics has compared mortality rates in different countries to measure the impact of the pandemic.

The data – which allows comparisons between 29 European countries and treats the four nations of the United Kingdom  separately – shows that the cumulative death rate at the end of May places England ahead of Spain as the worst-affected country. 

Fears for second wave

The COVID Diaries – 122 29th July

Hopes among the scientific community of reducing Covid-19 deaths to zero in England are fading, raising fears that the disease will not be contained as we go into winter and there will be a second wave similar to that being experienced in Europe.

A strategy to eliminate the virus in England, similar to the zero Covid-19 infections target set in Scotland and Northern Ireland is promoted by the Independent Sage committee of leading scientists and medical experts and Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the chair of the British Medical Association

Double shock warning

The COVID Diaries – 121 28th July

Analysis by the London School of Economics has found that Brexit will deliver a double shock to the economy, with business conditions worsening for those sectors that have survived the impact of coronavirus and lockdown measures.

“Our analysis shows that the sectors that will be affected by Brexit and those that are suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown are generally different from each other,” said Swati Dhingra, an economics professor who co-authored the report (quoted in The Guardian).

Global deaths now exceed 650,000

The COVID Diaries – 120 27th July

The world-wide death toll from Covid-19 has reached 650,029, and over 16 million cases have now been confirmed.

Hotspots in Asia, Europe and the Americas have seen surges in the numbers infected resulting in new restrictions, targeted lockdowns and compulsory requirements to wear masks.

Australia has seen its deadliest increase since the start of the pandemic, Hong Kong is experiencing record daily numbers and Spain’s caseload has tripled in the last fortnight.

However, the United States is still the country with more cases and deaths, with 147,143 fatalities from the virus and the number of cases is still rising rapidly around the country.

Holiday plans in chaos

The COVID Diaries – 119 26th July

The imposition overnight of 14 days’ quarantine on people arriving from Spain has thrown the holiday industry into chaos. Holidaymakers have been warned the government could impose similar measures on other countries in order to stop the spread of coronavirus – with travellers unlikely to be given much warning if further quarantine measures need to be enforced.

Summer holiday plans for British tourists have been thrown into disarray, and fears raised among those travelling to other European countries that they could face a similar turnaround at a moment’s notice.

Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV

The COVID Diaries -118 25th July

Over the last few days President  Donald Trump has been fixated on a cognitive test he claims to have aced in an effort to prove his mental acuity. Many suggest that the President of the United States should focus on something important: suppressing the coronavirus and setting up a rigorous system of testing and tracing.

Bragging about the test, Trump told an interview with Fox news: “It was 30 to 35 questions. The first questions are very easy. The last questions are much more difficult. Like a memory question. It’s, like, you’ll go: Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV. So they say, ‘Could you repeat that?’ So I said, ‘Yeah. It’s: Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.’”

And this man is the President?

Second Spanish wave?

The COVID Diaries – 117 24th July

A government expert in Spain has said the country may be in a second wave of coronavirus.

Spain’s health ministry reported 971 new infections in a one-day period on Thursday – the biggest daily jump since the country’s lockdown ended. Over a two-week period, the rate of contagion has tripled. It is reported that the virus has spread to the general community in the large cities of Barcelona and Zaragoza.

Getting worse?

The COVID Diaries – 116       23rd July

From tomorrow face masks will have to be worn in shops and supermarkets in England under new rules which have been criticised as being very confused.

At the last minute, the government confirmed that the masks will be required in shops and takeaways if people intend to take their food and coffee away – however customers will be allowed to remove them if sitting down to consume food or drink bought on site.

Meanwhile Public Health England has added Luton and Blackburn to its watch list due to high infection rates. Further lockdown-easing measures such as the reopening of sports centres have been postponed in both areas.

Tests and PM both fail

The COVID Diaries -115  22nd July

The Guardian has reported that the government’s flagship test-and-trace system is failing to contact thousands of people in areas with the highest infection rates in England, raising further questions about the £10bn programme described by Boris Johnson as “world-beating”.

Local leaders and directors of public health are demanding more control over the tracing operation amid concerns that their ability to contain the virus is being put at risk.

Meanwhile Johnson scored a spectacular own goal at today’s Prime Ministers question time. In response to his accusation that Kier Starmer of having “more flip flops than Bournemouth beach” when Starmer pressed him on the lack of action regarding weaknesses in Britain’s national security, Starmer replied “This is the former columnist who wrote two versions of every article he ever published.”

This was a reference to the infamous article which Boris Johnson wrote in 2016 outlining why he’d decided to campaign for leaving the EU. Rather embarrassingly, it turned out that Johnson had written a backup article outlining why he’d decided to campaign to remain in the EU, calling into question his motives for campaigning for Brexit.

Russia cover-up?

The COVID Diaries – 114   21st July

Boris Johnson has been accused of giving the Kremlin the green light to meddle in UK politics after throwing out the recommendations of a long-suppressed report which found it is “the new normal”.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has judged it “credible” that Russia tried to interfere in the Scottish independence referendum as part of an effort to influence political life in the UK.

Now Members of Parliament have told the Prime Minister to order an assessment of “potential” Russian meddling in the BREXIT referendum. The government “did not want to know” if there been interference in the 2016 vote – and had “actively avoided looking for evidence”, they said. However, the government quickly rejected the call for a further investigation.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey has called on the Prime Minister to reveal the Russian donors to the Tory party believed to be named in the classified section of the report. “I believe the public has a right to know whether Russian money is buying influence in the Conservative Party,” Davey says.