I didn’t write over the summer which was probably a mistake. So whats happened?
Well, in early Jul rates carried on falling. There were local lockdowns in areas around the country but daily new cases dropped to around 600 a day and deaths dropped to single figures. The government allowed pubs and restaurants to reopen, albeit with table service mandatory and rules about table sizes and separations. Schools also reopened with kids going back in mid August in Scotland. The government also began to encourage people to return to offices. Civil Servants were even told it was compulsory.
And inevitably, things began to change. Daily new cases began to climb and by mid August were back up above 1000 although deaths remained low. By early September rates were up to 1500 and by 12th Sept we were back up to 3,000 new cases per day. The seven day moving average is currently 3,500 and doubling every 7-10 days. Furthermore the R rate has gone up again. Nationally its now 1.4. And its spreading more and more amongst young people.
Even worse is the state of testing and track & trace.
The latter is a complete disaster: the first attempt to create an app was a total failure, partly because the Govt insisted on asking its chums in the private sector to write a “world beating” tool, rather than using the already-available tech that other countries are using. Why? Go figure. But I’m sure its coincidence that the head of the private service is literally best buddies with the Health Secretary, and they’re both directors of Cheltenham Racecourse etc. The govt then tried manually tracing via a national service. Also a failure, something like 50% of contact tracing failed, mainly because the central team did not have relevant local knowledge or information and took too long to act. Where local teams took over the success rate went up above 90%. (see here). They’re trying again in September with an app. Meanwhile up in Scotland they have already deployed a sucecssful solution using the shared tech. Ideology is literally killing people in England.
As for testing: thats also a farce. Demand is 3-4x larger than capacity according to the aforementioned Baroness chum of Matt Hancock. Boris reaction was to say that nobody could have predicted this. Er, mate, you sent schools, colleges, and workplaces back, you reopened bars and nightclubs. Surely even a fuckin clueless old etonian dickwad could have predicted that rates would rise and people would want tested.
Anyhoo, it turns out its not the field testing stations that are the bottleneck. The problem is that the govt decided to focus lab testing into four private mega-labs. So if anything happens at any of them, we immediatly lose 25% of capacity. You’d have thought that city boys would have known about concentration risk, but again i suspect ideology trumped sense, they wanted to shift public money into the pockets of a few big companies run by their chums rather than spread it amongst smaller labs.
So right now, PHE reckon rates are more like 10-15,000 per day and some estimates put it at 30,000. Predictions are by mid Oct it will be up to 100,000 new cases a day. At the height of the 1st peak, it was thought to be around that level.
Deaths remain low, partly because we are better at treating people, but also because its so far affecting more younger people. As soon as it gets back into the infirm and elderly things will go bad quickly.
So finally, today, the govt has admitted we are into the “second wave” and is considering actions. They don’t want another national lockdown becuase it will cost the govt billions and hurt their wealthy business chums, so they plan to keep schools, workplaces etc open. Bars will remain open too but with a curfew and in high risk areas they’ll only be allowed to sell takeaway.
Meanwhile daft, confusing and contradictory rules are in place. In many areas there are bans on gatherings of more than six, indoors or outdoors, except at schools, workplaces, bars, public transport, churches and sports events (so basically everywhere that people might gather in large numbers…). However you can literally walk over a postcode boundary and then its all fine apparently. Or eighteen of you can pile into three cars, drive to a pub just over the boundary and play sardines while snogging the barmaid.
At present 20% of the population of England are under these enhanced rules. London is likely to follow soon, and most of the country later in the week. Social bubbles are still supposed to be in force too.
Meanwhile people continue to behave like morons. Mary’s mum is in restricted area, but is still visiting Ant, picking up Emily from school, taking her swimming and taking her home, while John is visiting his brother Tony who works in a gym. The same is going on all over the place, with people treating the rules like they don’t apply to them.
I get that people want to return to normal. But thats just not viable. Come November, we are likely to have an even more severe problem than we did in March.
And this time, the government will do as little as it can.