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We are now in Lockdown Day No. 4, Friday, March 27, 2020.

Following on from my previous post on the UK, yesterday, Imperial College London changed their estimates of coronavirus deaths. They have now been adjusted to be much lower: 20,000 deaths instead of 200,000+/500,000+ (versions differ). To put that into perspective, 20,000 is the number for a bad flu/respiratory illness year. The latter figure is akin to the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-1919.

Here‘s the ‘horrific Imperial model’. You can read informed Twitter thread summaries from Jordan Schactel, Jeremy C Young and Sam Coates.

The possibility of collapsing the economy must have finally dawned on Dr Neil Ferguson:

Risk that the economic hit of long-term lockdown could harm health more than Covid-19 is “very valid consideration”, says Ferguson.

Guido Fawkes summarises Imperial’s changes and the reasons for them. The article from The Times is behind a paywall:

The Times’ Chris Smyth explains Ferguson’s findings, namely:

    • Peak demand on ICU is expected in 2.5-3 weeks, and will then decline
    • Imperial estimates post-lockdown fatalities to reach 20,000, though “it could be substantially lower than that”
    • Only “large scale testing and contact tracing” will bring an end to the lockdown

The NHS capacity prediction has been based on the recently-seen NHS ICU surge and Monday’s lockdown.

The British government and Houses of Parliament used the 200,000+ figure to bring in lockdown and emergency legislation, the likes of which Britons have never before seen in living memory. It seems to be an historic first.

My friends and I suspected Imperial’s extreme estimate when their numbers first appeared. We never changed our minds, despite media and government hype.

This lockdown and the Coronavirus Bill are entirely unnecessary.

By the end, though, it doesn’t matter. The government will come up with an escape clause strategy. Imperial’s experts now say:

fatalities to reach 20,000, though they could be substantially lower than that

Plan on them being the latter.

Guido Fawkes’s readers commented on this. Comments below come from this thread on Imperial’s new numbers. Guido’s new commenting system has no hyperlinks to individual comments.

The figure of 20,000 is far lower than the 30,000 for the Hong Kong Flu in 1968 (emphases mine below):

I remember the Hong Kong flu in 1968. We kept calm and carried on. But we didn’t have Piers Morgan on TV then. In fact, we did not have much, if any, daytime TV at all. Life was much better then in many other ways too.

Precisely. No one then would have even thought of a lockdown or emergency legislation, even a Labour government!

It gets stranger, as both Houses of Parliament — the Commons and the Lords — are now hiring their own coronavirus experts:

One of Guido’s readers responded on this thread, saying that we still have very few facts about this virus. Colour him sceptical, and rightly so:

On the subject of the science behind the covid 19 disease. People need to ask 3 questions:

1/ Is there an electron micrograph of the pure and fully characterised virus? 2/ What is the name of the primary peer reviewed paper which the virus is illustrated and its full genetic information described? 3/ What is the name of the primary publication that provides proof that a particular virus is the sole causes of a particular disease?

Unless these three questions are answered correctly, there is no ‘science’ behind the covid 19 virus theory. It is just beliefs. And these beliefs are conveniently sacrificing the small businesses of this country, our freedoms and our lives. For the benefit of big pharma, and big government in general

Which is why there is no proof to back up those outrageous claims…Just saying.

Let’s drill down a little more into what the Imperial experts, led by Dr Ferguson, are now saying:

50% of people who died with CV – not of CV, with – would have died this year. For that, we wrecked the country.

Ferguson said, today, that between half and two thirds of the people who died WITH CV, not of CV, would have died anyway this year. That takes the deaths so far down to a level normally caused by cushions in a bad year. It puts the overall deaths expected smack in the normal range for winter respiratory conditions

You think that is worthwhile? Explain why. Explain in terms that my neighbour, nursing the remains of a business it took him 20 years to build, will understand.

I know other small business owners in the same situation.

Here are a few other business problems occurring during shutdown:

The problem is and this is live experience right now, it is every man for themselves. Customers aren’t paying legitimate contracts which is creating huge problems, and I guarantee that’s happening across the economy. Some companies are taking advantage of the situation, some simply can’t pay and no one wants to catch a falling knife.

This is going to ruin lots of people’s lives. Either through the virus itself or through this cure which will cause untold economic damage.

And most importantly profit and cash are the sustainability of a business. Without them there isn’t any business. And there’s no cash at the moment.

The experts advising No. 10 sold Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his top guru Dominic Cummings a pup:

The virus itself? If you’ve got it, chances are that you’re just feeling “under the weather” just like having a bad dose of the flu, you still go to the pub, restaurant and you certainly don’t stop going to the gym or the supermarket.

Ergo, the economy continues and nobody’s life is “ruined”.

Now, lockdown the country so that pubs, restaurants and gyms are closed.

The economy now grinds to a halt and everyone’s life is “ruined”.

I have enormous respect for Boris (particularly his Brexit efforts) but he listened to the wrong people when he chose to change course……trashing your entire economy is massively worse than the disease.

Just as President Trump said a few days ago:

That said, on March 18, Business Insider reported that, allegedly, Ferguson’s numbers reached the White House and associated medical experts, too. The same article states that Ferguson said he caught COVID-19:

‘Developed a slight dry but persistent cough yesterday and self isolated even though I felt fine,’ he tweeted on Wednesday.

‘Then developed high fever at 4am today. There is a lot of COVID-19 in Westminster.’

Westminster is the beating heart of the nation. It is home to the eponymous abbey church, Parliament, Whitehall (government offices) and more.

I checked Ferguson’s tweet to see what sort of responses he received. Most were supportive. These two, however, were interesting. Portcullis House is a government building in Westminster:

However, as stated above, the UK government will announce success when this is over:

… whatever happens the Government will claim that they saved us all. If it turns out to be a damp squib, the Government will say that their distancing policy saved us all. If it turns out to be more, the Government will say that they were right to run their policy, and it should have been heeded better.

Returning to the economy, the government changed the wording about working:

Ben Goldsmith, environmentalist and son of the late financier Sir James Goldsmith, tweeted:

O’Brien below refers to a left-leaning talk radio host, James O’Brien:

However, the controversy about going into work has a basis in fact.

The morning of Lockdown Day, March 24, a number of photos circulated on social media showing packed Tube trains in London. Good Morning Britain‘s co-host Piers Morgan took issue with the number of construction workers at building sites that day, especially those within close proximity of each other.

Construction workers weren’t only in London. They were also in the countryside working on the new high-speed rail line, HS2. They were not keeping the appropriate social distancing, which, since the evening of March 23 has been extended from one metre to two metres:

In closing, returning to the number of coronavirus deaths, see if this does not come true (a comment from this Guido Fawkes post):

the mortality rate is nowhere near 1%, nowhere near. The death rate of those undertaking treatment – as a whole – might approach 1% overall. But that is a small fraction of the infected. The Oxford epidemiological study published yesterday is probably about right. It looks at end figures and maps them back onto comparable curves – that suggests 70% of us have already had it. Ferguson today poohpoohed that but also accepted one key prediction – that death rates attributable only to this bug would be minuscule. We are not going to have 240k dead just because of this bug. Nor 120k, nor even 20k. We *might* see something like 8-15k additional deaths in end-of-life patients this year, which would otherwise have occurred next year.

That’s it.

I full understand flattening the curve, I understand every teensy bit of the government strategy – but it’s redundant. This is not a big deal.

No, it isn’t a big deal. However, we have to wait several more weeks to be proven correct.

————————————————————–

UPDATE — Ferguson says he hasn’t retracted his original numbers:

No comment other than to say: let’s see how things develop in the next several weeks.

As is true in other countries, the British government and media narrative is that we must have a lockdown to suppress the ‘sombrero effect’ — the rise in people needing medical care for coronavirus.

In the UK, these are health service statistics (emphases mine):

Total number of GP’s = 35,000 (approximately)
Total c-19 cases at this date = 5,500

So we have over 6 GP’s per person infected.

Total hospital beds = 145,000 (approximately)
C-19 cases that require hospitalization (20% estimate) = 1100

And we have 131 hospital beds per C-19 hospitalization case or over 2000 per actual case.

Most coronavirus patients visiting hospital are given the usual advice (isolation, bed rest) and are sent home.

I know of a hospital that has diagnosed 21 cases of coronavirus: 19 patients were sent home, two were hospitalised and one of those patients, sadly, died. This hospital has 124 ICU (Intensive Care Unit) beds. After the first coronavirus victim died, only one of those beds was occupied (by the other coronavirus sufferer). The other 123 beds were still vacant. That was earlier this week.

Outside of London and Birmingham, there is no reason for panic.

The UK coronavirus death total as of March 24 is 422. The total UK population is approximately 65,000,000.

Therefore, the need for a) lockdown and b) emergency legislation remains dubious.

On Monday, March 23, Prime Minister Boris Johnson put us in lockdown at 8:30 p.m. while MPs were debating emergency legislation, the Coronavirus Bill, sent to the House of Lords that evening:

Boris’s five-minute address attracted at least 27m viewers on the main television channels — around a third of the population:

This is a likely outcome of both:

… We are now a totalitarian state.

This is how it works:

1. Minor breaches of draconian rules will result in further draconian rules.
2. Government will move to enforce their totalitarian authority with force.

Look for facial recognition and phone tracking to enforce breaches of the fear-warriors authoritarian state.

And in a year’s time look for the lack of accountability of those who have permanently damaged our economy

I hope that person and I are wrong.

However, we are not alone in our view. A prominent Conservative MP and Leaver, Steve Baker, voiced similar concern in his Coronavirus Bill debate speech. He believes that this could pave the way for a ‘dystopian society’:

Guido Fawkes posted a transcript of Steve Baker’s speech in full. Excerpts follow:

I will pay particular attention to amendments 1 and 6 and Government new clause 19, which relate to the expiry of these powers. When I got into politics, it was with the purpose of enlarging liberty under parliamentary democracy and the rule of law. When I look at this Pandora’s box of enlargement, discretion and extensions of power, I can only say what a dreadful, dreadful thing it is to have had to sit here in silence and nod it through because it is the right thing to do.

My goodness, between this and the Prime Minister’s announcement tonight, what have we ushered in? I am not a good enough historian to put into context the scale of the infringement of our liberties that has been implemented today through the Prime Minister’s announcement and this enormously complicated Bill, which we are enacting with only two hours to think about amendments

Let me be the first to say that tonight, through this Bill, we are implementing at least a dystopian society. Some will call it totalitarian, which is not quite fair, but it is at least dystopian. The Bill implements a command society under the imperative of saving hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of jobs, and it is worth doing.

By God, I hope the Prime Minister has a clear conscience tonight and sleeps with a good heart, because he deserves to do so. Libertarian though I may be, this is the right thing to do but, my goodness, we ought not to allow this situation to endure one moment longer than is absolutely necessary to save lives and preserve jobs.

Although I welcome new clause 19 to give us a six-month review, I urge upon my hon. and right hon. Friends and the Prime Minister the sunsetting of this Act, as it will no doubt become, at one year, because there is time to bring forward further primary legislation. If, come the late autumn, it is clear that this epidemic, this pandemic, continues—God help us if that is true, because I fear for the economy and the currencythere certainly will be time to bring forward further primary legislation and to properly scrutinise provisions to carry forward this enormous range of powers.

Every time I dip into the Bill, I find some objectionable power. There is not enough time to scrutinise the Bill, but I can glance at it—I am doing it now—and see objectionable powers. There would be time to have several days of scrutiny on a proper piece of legislation easily in time for March or April 2021.

I implore my right hon. Friend, for goodness’ sake, let us not allow this dystopia to endure one moment longer than is strictly necessary.

As I write on Wednesday, I am listening to Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament. Boris Johnson has assured us that the provisions of the Coronavirus Bill will be reviewed at three-month intervals, rather than six months. Having listened to the Lords’ debate on the legislation, I can state that the Lords came up with the three-month review — a positive development I had not expected.

On the first Lockdown Day — Tuesday, March 24 — Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the government’s daily update that a temporary hospital with 4,000 beds is being built. This is said to be at the Excel Centre in east London, near Canary Wharf:

His department is also seeking 250,000 voluntary workers to help with home deliveries to the 1.5 million persons receiving NHS letters this week telling them that they must stay indoors for 12 weeks. These individuals have chronic health conditions: e.g. cancer, organ transplants, certain heart conditions.

This update was also the first remote videoconference that the government has conducted from No. 10.

However, there might be good news ahead. While most Britons are at home until April 8, at least, an article in the Financial Times (paywall) says that many of us might already have acquired herd immunity. A Guido Fawkes reader on this thread kindly posted the link and a brief excerpt from the FT:

The new coronavirus may already have infected far more people in the UK than scientists had previously estimatedperhaps as much as half the populationaccording to modelling by researchers at the University of Oxford. If the results are confirmed, they imply that fewer than one in a thousand of those infected with Covid-19 become ill enough to need hospital treatment, said Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology, who led the study. The vast majority develop very mild symptoms or none at all.

But the Oxford results would mean the country had already acquired substantial herd immunity through the unrecognised spread of Covid-19 over more than two months. If the findings are confirmed by testing, then the current restrictions could be removed much sooner than ministers have indicated. Although some experts have shed doubt on the strength and length of the human immune response to the virus, Prof Gupta said the emerging evidence made her confident that humanity would build up herd immunity against Covid-19.

I certainly hope so. I fully supported the Prime Minister’s original measures of regular hand washing and self-isolation.

I do hope that Professor Gupta is correct and that the Oxford herd immunity results can be confirmed so that we can live once again as a free people.

Milton Friedman once said:

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.

Britain needs to be free to circulate, not stuck at home with minimal forays outdoors — or subject to historic draconian laws: a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

For the past few days, news of New York State’s coronavirus crisis has been updated daily by the BBC.

But do they have a crisis or not?

Does the United States have a coronavirus crisis?

American lawyer Robert Barnes has crunched the numbers and found them wanting:

In New York, it appears that things are relatively normal (see second tweet):

Is it worth tanking the economy for this pandemic?

Why aren’t we in a similar panic over other deaths?

Bubonic plague, thought to have died out centuries ago, is making a resurgence in California. Now THAT’s something to worry about:

The restrictions on personal and civil liberties will be problematic, mark my words.

Thank goodness that President Trump can see this:

Even so, there will be damage:

People will not look favourably on the panic created by politicians and the media over coronavirus:

They will begin to suspect something else is going on:

What about the flu season? Compare those tens of thousands of annual deaths with coronavirus:

Agree. It is pretty stupid to cripple Western economies for coronavirus.

Finally, though, people are questioning authority. Thank you.

By the time the coronavirus hysteria is over, there will be even less public trust of politicians or the media than there was before this started.

Good. May they be held accountable for frightening the public into submission.

It looks as if Italy might be readjusting its death rates from coronavirus.

China’s seem to have gone down. This is because they have no longer been reporting ‘mild’ coronavirus cases since February.

On Friday, March 20, 2020, Breitbart reported on the news that China allegedly had no new coronavirus cases that day (emphases mine):

The Communist Party of China triumphantly proclaimed on Thursday that it had logged its first day without a single domestic Wuhan coronavirus infection, earning the applause of gullible mainstream media outlets and its puppets at the World Health Organization (WHO).

Those celebrating, in addition to disregarding the clear signs that the claim may not be true – like reports of Wuhan hospitals turning away residents with coronavirus symptoms, or a suspicious increase in “pneumonia” death certificates at funeral homes not counted as coronavirus – have failed to note that China made a significant change in how it counted coronavirus cases in February.

That month, the National Health Commission ordered doctors not to count individuals confirmed to be infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, but exhibiting no or “mild” symptoms, in the official count of coronavirus cases.

“The changes to the classification of asymptomatic coronavirus cases emerged on Jan. 29, in a set of guidance from China’s National Health Commission,” the New York Times reported in mid-February. “Health officials said that they would reclassify patients who had tested positive for the new coronavirus but did not have symptoms, and take them out of the total count of confirmed cases.”

The Times noted that China had “closely guarded the demographic details about the fatalities, creating uncertainty about who is most susceptible.”

The National Health Commission did not define what a “mild” coronavirus case looks like, in contrast to severe cases that would count in China’s official tally. A study published in China two weeks later found that as many as 80 percent of coronavirus cases are “mild,” suggesting that Beijing had suddenly decided to document only 20 percent of its coronavirus cases, if using the same standard that the Chinese researchers did.

Cue Barry Manilow, because, to most of the world, ‘it’s a miracle’. News of this appeared in January:

The decision calls into question China’s “milestone” announcement of no new cases, one of several proclamations of victory from the Chinese Communist Party. In January, about a week after telling the world the novel coronavirus existed, Beijing claimed a miraculous drop in the number of cases in Wuhan, the central metropolis where the virus originated.

Meanwhile, Italy’s coronavirus case and death rates have been rising.

Italy looks bad, and China is capitalising on that. Be sure to read the comments following this tweet:

If so, it is worth keeping in mind that many Chinese live in northern Italy:

On Saturday, March 21, The Telegraph reported that Italy says it has overestimated its number of coronavirus deaths:

It’s unclear how accurate this report is, judging from the replies to the tweet.

One thing is for certain, however. People are now beginning to wonder if all of us were sold a pup with the coronavirus hysteria:

Did China put pressure on Italy to recalculate their coronavirus deaths? Who knows?

How many of these figures can we trust?

These reports are going to get people’s backs up. Celebrities aren’t garnering everyone’s sympathies, either:

This leads to people being unhappy with confinement, curfews and other restrictions:

I agree. Open it all up.

Message to Boris Johnson and the Chief Medical Officer’s team — please go back to the original advisories on hand-washing and social distancing. This is a farce.

On Friday, March 20, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in his daily coronavirus update at 5 p.m. that all pubs, clubs, cinemas, restaurants, gyms and theatres would have to close effective immediately.

He also asked that people buy groceries ‘considerately’.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a number of government measures he was implementing to keep companies and workers afloat.

Although the Chancellor presented his spending proposals brilliantly, it scared me to hear the vast scale of them.

The economy will crash. Not only ours, but those all over the world.

Remember, whatever you hear or read in the media, 98% of coronavirus sufferers recover.

On March 5, an emergency room physician, Dr James Phillips, gave Fox News’s Ed Henry the same figure (emphases mine below):

“Most of us are going to get this virus. It’s undeniable. You won’t find a single expert out there who is saying that this is going to be contained,” said Phillips, who serves as the George Washington University School of Medicine’s operational medicine fellowship director.

“And, the more we learn about it, the more we see that the spread is going to be global and, for the most part, that’s OK because the data we know from China shows that roughly 98 to 99 percent of us are going to do very, very, well,” he told Henry at the time.

In the Mail on Sunday, on March 22, Peter Hitchens had an excellent editorial on the draconian measures implemented in the fight against coronavirus thus far: ‘Is shutting down Britain REALLY the right answer?’

Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

Hitchens began with a personal anecdote about a medical ailment he had which two doctors said required an operation. A third physician told him to cancel the operation and take a different antibiotic instead. He was correct. Hitchens writes:

Heaven knows what would have happened if Providence had not brought that third doctor into the room. I still shudder slightly to think of it. But the point was this. A mere title, a white coat, a smooth manner, a winning way with long words and technical jargon, will never again be enough for me.

With this in mind, he expressed his doubts about the partial lockdown in place since Friday afternoon.

I thought that the emergency legislation had already been passed. Ugh. He says it is up for the vote today, Monday, March 23:

And so here I am, asking bluntly – is the closedown of the country the right answer to the coronavirus? I’ll be accused of undermining the NHS and threatening public health and all kinds of other conformist rubbish. But I ask you to join me, because if we have this wrong we have a great deal to lose.

I don’t just address this plea to my readers. I think my fellow journalists should ask the same questions. I think MPs of all parties should ask them when they are urged tomorrow to pass into law a frightening series of restrictions on ancient liberties and vast increases in police and state powers.

Perhaps this is why I thought these unprecedented measures had already become law:

Did you know that the Government and Opposition had originally agreed that there would not even be a vote on these measures? Even Vladimir Putin might hesitate before doing anything so blatant.

We are at a crucial crossroads:

If there is no serious rebellion against this plan in the Commons, then I think we can commemorate tomorrow, March 23, 2020, as the day Parliament died. Yet, as far as I can see, the population cares more about running out of lavatory paper. Praise must go to David Davis and Chris Bryant, two MPs who have bravely challenged this measure.

Chris Bryant (Labour, Rhondda) is an ordained Anglican priest, although he gave up that calling for politics, partly because of his personal circumstances.

As I have been saying here the past week, shutdown measures anywhere are killing not only treasured civil liberties but also the free-market economy. Those are the two pillars of Western society.

Hitchens rightly points out our upcoming economic disaster:

It may also be the day our economy perished. The incessant coverage of health scares and supermarket panics has obscured the dire news coming each hour from the stock markets and the money exchanges. The wealth that should pay our pensions is shrivelling as share values fade and fall. The pound sterling has lost a huge part of its value. Governments all over the world are resorting to risky, frantic measures which make Jeremy Corbyn’s magic money tree look like sober, sound finance. Much of this has been made far worse by the general shutdown of the planet on the pretext of the coronavirus scare. However bad this virus is (and I will come to that), the feverish panic on the world’s trading floors is at least as bad.

Now on to our treasured civil liberties, being eroded one by one:

At first, Mr Johnson was true to himself and resisted wild demands to close down the country. But bit by bit he gave in.

Yes, and I am furious about that:

The schools were to stay open. Now they are shutting, with miserable consequences for this year’s A-level cohort. Cafes and pubs were to be allowed to stay open, but now that is over. On this logic, shops and supermarkets must be next, with everyone forced to rely on overstrained delivery vans. And that will presumably be followed by hairdressers, dry cleaners and shoe repairers.

How long before we need passes to go out in the streets, as in any other banana republic? As for the grotesque, bullying powers to be created on Monday, I can only tell you that you will hate them like poison by the time they are imposed on you.

I am sure my fellow Britons are aware that during the coronavirus scare, in France, you must carry a document — available online — that states your one destination on any particular day. There you are allowed to leave the house only once a day! And, yes, police DO check (source: RMC’s Les Grandes Gueules, all last week).

Is that what Britons want?

What about this?

Imagine, police officers forcing you to be screened for a disease, and locking you up for 48 hours if you object. Is this China or Britain? Think how this power could be used against, literally, anybody.

The Bill also gives Ministers the authority to ban mass gatherings. It will enable police and public health workers to place restrictions on a person’s ‘movements and travel’, ‘activities’ and ‘contact with others’.

Many court cases will now take place via video-link, and if a coroner suspects someone has died of coronavirus there will be no inquest. They say this is temporary. They always do.

If you doubt Hitchens or me, look at America’s Patriot Act — still going strong long since 2001! It’s nearly 19 years old!

Hitchens returns to the theme of trusting experts, medical or otherwise:

There is a document from a team at Imperial College in London which is being used to justify it. It warns of vast numbers of deaths if the country is not subjected to a medieval curfew.

But this is all speculation. It claims, in my view quite wrongly, that the coronavirus has ‘comparable lethality’ to the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed at least 17 million people and mainly attacked the young.

What can one say to this? In a pungent letter to The Times last week, a leading vet, Dick Sibley, cast doubt on the brilliance of the Imperial College scientists, saying that his heart sank when he learned they were advising the Government. Calling them a ‘team of doom-mongers’, he said their advice on the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak ‘led to what I believe to be the unnecessary slaughter of millions of healthy cattle and sheep’ until they were overruled by the then Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King.

He added: ‘I hope that Boris Johnson, Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance show similar wisdom. They must ensure that measures are proportionate, balanced and practical.’

I fully agree. But all wisdom seems to have been thrown out the window now.

How I wish we could go back to Thursday, March 12, when we were given only the sensible advice on hygiene and social distancing: common sense measures.

Hitchens then goes into the stats for England’s annual flu/respiratory ailment deaths, which are far more in number than coronavirus deaths, even worldwide.

England’s population, by the way, is approximately 55 million:

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) tells me that the number of flu cases and deaths due to flu-related complications in England alone averages 17,000 a year. This varies greatly each winter, ranging from 1,692 deaths last season (2018/19) to 28,330 deaths in 2014/15.

The DHSC notes that many of those who die from these diseases have underlying health conditions, as do almost all the victims of coronavirus so far, here and elsewhere. As the experienced and knowledgeable doctor who writes under the pseudonym ‘MD’ in the Left-wing magazine Private Eye wrote at the start of the panic: ‘In the winter of 2017-18, more than 50,000 excess deaths occurred in England and Wales, largely unnoticed.’

There are other deaths every year, far more numerous than those from flu:

In the Government’s table of ‘deaths considered avoidable’, it lists 31,307 deaths from cardiovascular diseases in England and Wales for 2013, the last year for which they could give me figures.

This, largely the toll of unhealthy lifestyles, was out of a total of 114,740 ‘avoidable’ deaths in that year. To put all these figures in perspective, please note that every human being in the United Kingdom suffers from a fatal condition – being alive.

About 1,600 people die every day in the UK for one reason or another. A similar figure applies in Italy and a much larger one in China. The coronavirus deaths, while distressing and shocking, are not so numerous as to require the civilised world to shut down transport and commerce, nor to surrender centuries-old liberties in an afternoon.

AGREE!

Hitchens goes on to quote Dr John Ioannidis, a professor of medicine, epidemiology and population health, of biomedical data science, and of statistics at Stanford University in California:

He says the data are utterly unreliable because so many cases are going unrecorded.

He warns: ‘This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty about the risk of dying from Covid-19. Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4 per cent rate from the World Health Organisation, cause horror and are meaningless.’ In only one place – aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess – has an entire closed community been available for study. And the death rate there – just one per cent – is distorted because so many of those aboard were elderly. The real rate, adjusted for a wide age range, could be as low as 0.05 per cent and as high as one per cent.

As Prof Ioannidis says: ‘That huge range markedly affects how severe the pandemic is and what should be done. A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05 per cent is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational

Hitchens then looks at the projected inflated statistics — false — that have accompanied recent health scares:

The former editor of The Times, Sir Simon Jenkins, recently listed these unfulfilled scares: bird flu did not kill the predicted millions in 1997. In 1999 it was Mad Cow Disease and its human variant, vCJD, which was predicted to kill half a million. Fewer than 200 in fact died from it in the UK.

The first Sars outbreak of 2003 was reported as having ‘a 25 per cent chance of killing tens of millions’ and being ‘worse than Aids’. In 2006, another bout of bird flu was declared ‘the first pandemic of the 21st Century’.

There were similar warnings in 2009, that swine flu could kill 65,000. It did not. The Council of Europe described the hyping of the 2009 pandemic as ‘one of the great medical scandals of the century’.

The measures being taken right now are more lethal to Britain than coronavirus itself.

Hitchens says:

… while I see very little evidence of a pandemic, and much more of a PanicDemic, I can witness on my daily round the slow strangulation of dozens of small businesses near where I live and work, and the catastrophic collapse of a flourishing society, all these things brought on by a Government policy made out of fear and speculation rather than thought.

Much that is closing may never open again. The time lost to schoolchildren and university students – in debt for courses which have simply ceased to be taught – is irrecoverable, just as the jobs which are being wiped out will not reappear when the panic at last subsides.

He warns us about projections and extrapolations from notional experts. Will martial law stop the spread of coronavirus? Hmm, one wonders. Hitchens doubts it. So do I:

We are told that we must emulate Italy or China, but there is no evidence that the flailing, despotic measures taken in these countries reduced the incidence of coronavirus. The most basic error in science is to assume that because B happens after A, that B was caused by A.

He knows that his stance is unpopular, but feels it is necessary to speak up now:

There may, just, be time to reconsider. I know that many of you long for some sort of coherent opposition to be voiced. The people who are paid to be the Opposition do not seem to wish to earn their rations, so it is up to the rest of us. I despair that so many in the commentariat and politics obediently accept what they are being told. I have lived long enough, and travelled far enough, to know that authority is often wrong and cannot always be trusted.

I also know that dissent at this time will bring me abuse and perhaps worse. But I am not saying this for fun, or to be ‘contrarian’ –that stupid word which suggests that you are picking an argument for fun. This is not fun.

This is our future, and if I did not lift my voice to speak up for it now, even if I do it quite alone, I should consider that I was not worthy to call myself English or British, or a journalist, and that my parents’ generation had wasted their time saving the freedom and prosperity which they handed on to me after a long and cruel struggle whose privations and griefs we can barely imagine.

Of course, that was Sunday. Today is Monday.

I wrote this on Mothering Sunday. There were no church services yesterday. There were no synagogue services on Saturday.

The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Britons not to visit their mothers yesterday:

While he advised Britons to stop stockpiling …

… he also warned of more restrictions to come:

Why not give the weekend’s restrictions time to percolate through the population? We’ve only had a few days.

I despair. What will happen when the next pandemic rolls along?

————————————————————————————-

Monday update: This will be brief, as Parliament adjourned around 10:45 p.m. I’d been watching the Coronavirus Bill debate and committee stage debate since 4:00 p.m. with a break for dinner.

While MPs debated, between 8:30 and 8:35 p.m., we watched Boris announce that we are now in a three-week lockdown, effective immediately:

You can read more here:

But don’t worry. As in France, building sites remain open for work:

These are Tuesday morning’s headlines:

A sparse and generally well-spaced group of MPs ended their day as follows, with the third reading of the Coronavirus Bill passing without a formal vote (division), just:

‘All in favour, say Aye.’

‘AYE.’

Admittedly, there were dozens of amendments that all passed.

We shall see what the near future brings over the course of the next three weeks.

Only a week ago, life was so different in the United Kingdom.

Political pundits were analysing Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s first budget and Al Boum Photo won his second Cheltenham Gold Cup. Happy days:

That said, parts of supermarket shelves were empty for the second week running of toilet paper and pasta:

Last Friday — March 13 — Paul Waugh posted an article on BuzzFeed: ‘No, Boris Johnson Isn’t Behaving Like Donald Trump On Coronavirus’ (emphases in the original below, those in purple mine):

Central to the approach of chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance – and the entire team of advisers who sit on the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (whose acronym coincidentally suggests they are offering SAGE advice) – is the evidence that imposing drastic measures too early will simply mean inevitable ‘‘fatigue’ on the part of the public

One of the cruellest charges that some critics are making today is that the government is ‘putting the economy before lives’, that they are deploying a strategy to deliberately allow some people to die in order to get the overall numbers down. Their target is Johnson, but they should stop to think that they are also really targeting public servants like Vallance and [Dr Chris] Whitty.

After this crisis plays out, we will find out just whether the government’s approach has achieved the lower numbers of deaths it is aiming for. It’s essential that everything it does is scrutinised and when mistakes are made for them to be rectified. But right now, the worst thing would be to accuse scientists and their fellow public servants of anything like bad faith.

In fact, one of the most significant things Vallance said today was this: “We should be prepared to change our minds as the evidence changes. We cannot go in with a fixed plan that is immutable.” He’s ready to change tack, as long as there is evidence to do so.‌

That day, Emeritus Professor Ian Donald from the University of Liverpool, posted a thread on Twitter:

Professor Donald did not have long to wait. On Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson began updating the public daily by instructing us not to visit shops unnecessarily. Not only that, he told us to avoid pubs, restaurants and the theatre.

Parliament is similarly affected:

How true.

Nadine Dorries MP and her 84-year-old mother are recovering well from coronavirus:

Her mother took care of her:

I agree with Ms Dorries’s mother as to what the fuss is about.

On Wednesday, Boris and Health Secretary Nick Hancock separately announced us that schools would be closed to all pupils and students on Friday afternoon March 20, except to children of ‘key workers’ and those who have a social worker assigned to them. Good grief.

Churches and synagogues are closed to public worship. This is the Church of England‘s statement:

Churches should be open where possible but with no public worship services taking place. Prayers can be said by clergy and ministers on behalf of everyone and churches should consider ways of sharing this with the wider community. See more below on digital resources that are under development and currently available.

For pity’s sake!

At least something Brexit-related got done this week:

Meanwhile, HuffPost UK was looking for more staff:

Because of hoarders, supermarkets still have empty shelves. This NHS worker cannot do her weekly shop. I feel for her. I had the same experience:

I fully agree. Even now, there are no limits on buying where I shop.

The following videos were taken at Tesco. Someone was bulk-buying bottled water. WHY?

The online supermarket, Ocado.com, shut down on Thursday. It is expected to return on Saturday. They should have limited the number of items per customer:

Access temporarily suspended to Ocado.com

Like all supermarkets, we are working round the clock to keep up with high demand and make sure all of our customers get what they need at this time – especially those more vulnerable and in isolation.

As a result, we have made a decision to temporarily suspend access to Ocado.com for a few days in order to make some changes to our service. This will allow us to better serve our customers, particularly the vulnerable and elderly.

We are fully booked and at full capacity, and will be delivering to over 170,000 households in the next four days. If you have a delivery booked for Thursday or Friday, cut-off times for editing these orders have already passed, but your driver will still arrive as expected.

We will soon contact customers with orders for delivery from Saturday onwards with details of how to edit their orders, and all customers will be able to access the website again from Saturday.

We are very sorry to cause any inconvenience. We’re managing a simply staggering amount of traffic to our website right now and more demand for products and deliveries than we can meet. Our first priority has to be to keep our service up and running and to play our part in feeding the nation.

I’d also like to take this chance to thank our amazing drivers and warehouse staff who are working tirelessly to deliver groceries to as many people as possible in these uncertain times. Their dedication and hard work is truly amazing.

Thank you for your patience and understanding at this unprecedented and challenging time.

Melanie Smith
CEO, Ocado Retail

Today — Friday, March 20 — the aforementioned Emeritus Professor Ian Donald tweeted:

The government decided some time ago not to invoke the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and is pushing ahead with new, emergency legislation — our version of the dreadful Patriot Act:

What is the government thinking?

All Western governments are doing this, however.

That doesn’t make it acceptable, though.

This is the reality of the situation — even in Italy:

As for the West’s love affair with China, it’s got to stop:

Draconian measures — and France will probably extend theirs (source: RMC) — for coronavirus are like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Sign me DISGUSTED.

The other day, I entered into an exchange with a WP blogger, prognosticatasaurusrex, or Prex, for short.

He writes at politicalprognosticator.

This is what he had to say about much of the worldwide reaction to coronavirus, which a talk radio show in France has called ‘draconian in restricting people’s freedom of movement’.

Why is this? I have also had several conversations offline about this. My friends and I do not understand the general panic.

What Prex has to say sums it up perfectly.

We exchanged comments on an excellent coronavirus thread, ‘Of Exponents and Viruses’ at the Q Tree.

I said, in part:

Some might also say this is groundwork for controlling populations worldwide and how various countries react …

This is the text of his first comment, which he has kindly allowed me to post in full:

Church, IF they succeed in doing this just ONCE, we will see it over and over again. I call it the sky is falling narrative or the boy that cried wolf. As we know, it did NOT end well for the boy, as eventually the woodsman (We the people) IGNORED the boy’s cries (the MSM) and the wolf (Trump?) came and ATE the boy.

My GREATEST fear is that this will, as I predict, turn out to be NOWHERE near as bad as the MSM and Cabal are hyping it to be, and then, sometime in the future, after a man like Trump, we WILL get hit by a REAL killer, and the people, using the old axiom fool me once, will IGNORE it, and they we will have a TRUE, and not manufactured crisis.

There was simply Z E R O reasons to jump the shark like we are and continue to do so, calm, common sense, and CAUTION would have worked, probably even BETTER.

Instead we have a 100% MSM induced spate of market fluctuations, panic buying, hoarding, price gouging, and unnecessary closures.

IF I am right, we have all been exposed to this for weeks if not MONTHS. The facts that they CONTINUE to skew the numbers, and HYPE the panic, over the one facility, in WA state, was red flag #1 for me.

Then, they NEVER talk about the % of ALREADY RECOVERED, red flag #2. Red flag #3, is they ALWAYS talk about the WORST possible case “exponential” projections, or the “curve”. They NEVER take into account EARLIER first introduction, the preventative measures ALREADY taken, and the basic differences between a country like the US and the other hotbeds like China, Italy, and Iran.

Let’s highlight those, just a few. What is the BASIC quality and condition differences between here and the other spots? Do we have JAM packed population centers with little sanitary or BASIC hygiene? NO, although some areas in some of the dem controlled cities are getting there, they are still like the Starship Enterprise vs the Minnow from Gilligan’s Island in terms of conditions, facilities, infrastructure, etc. Think ZERO sewers as a START, then think communal water supplies, UNTREATED, used for more than just drinking.

Then, let’s talk healthcare. Try as they might, the left have STILL not been able to destroy the American healthcare system, the BEST in the world. Even places like South Korea, and Taiwan, despite what the MSM will tell you, cannot TOUCH our facilities, personnel, or levels of care. Want PROOF? Do the South Koreans, Chinese, and Iranians keep their students in house in their countries? NO, why do you think that is, if they were so advanced and good and better than us? No, my friend, they send their BEST and BRIGHTEST right here in the good old USA. Our ONLY failing here, thanks to dems like Clinton and Obama, is outsourcing our medical equipment, supplies, and pharmaceutical production to China, and THAT, is about to change, change big, and change QUICKLY.

Then let’s look at response and government actions. The Chinese, and the South Koreans, as well as the Italians, did not ACT until there was ALREADY a serious condition, they ALLOWED the virus to spread like wildfire BEFORE taking drastic action.

In the US, despite the impeachment distraction, despite MSM and dem protestation of “racism”, and despite dem obfuscation, indifference, and interference, Trump took bold decisive action in stopping ALL travel to China in January, once the world found out the lie China had been spewing.

I submit we were all already exposed at that time, but, Trump’s actions stemmed NEW influxes, maybe new mutated strains, from entering, and that gave us VALUABLE time to get ahead, and we, I believe are WAY ahead, despite the hype.

ALL these things and MORE, like the fact that Italy and China have some of the OLDEST populations in the WORLD, and this virus is VASTLY disproportionate in its effects on the elderly, a STRANGE curiosity. This virus basically discriminants AGAINST the young, and hones in on the elderly, red flag #4. Normally it is the very old, and the VERY young that are affected by viruses, NOT in this case. The instances of INFECTION, not mortality, are 1% or less in teens through infant, a BIG outlier from norm.

So, in closing, thanks for the reply, I am trying to EASE the fears with calm, reasoned FACTS, not projections. IMHO, we jumped the shark on the closings and cancellations, BIGLY. We should have STARTED, if we were going that route, to have the elderly and infirm curtail their exposures, not the young and middle aged, of which 80% show little or NO symptoms. there was simply NO reason to go full “outbreak” level panic here, yet.

The hype leads to disinfo. The disinfo leads to fear, the fear leads to PANIC, hoarding, and panic buying. The panic COULD lead to civil discord, looting, and worse. It was STUPID, and not on Trump’s end, on the people that supposedly work for him like RR’s sister [Rod Rosenstein’s sister Dr Nancy Messonnier of the Center for Disease Control, CDC], and some of the other health “officials” He rightly, finally, got CONTROL of the message, at least at the federal level thanks to the task force. Now it is local and state health “officials” like the twit in Ohio, spreading hysteria by GUESSTIMATING. WTF. She SHOULD, rightly, be fired, and SHOULD lose her medical license.

The FIRST rule of a crisis situation is to REMAIN CALM, and NOT panic. In an active shooter situation, usually, those that keep their cool, SURVIVE, those that PANIC, sadly, die.

Calm, and reasoned allows people to THINK, and not react, or OVERREACT. Hopefully, in a few days if not weeks, we WILL turn the corner, I think it will be shorter rather than longer.

One last thing. The MSM hype, AGAIN they ALWAYS over reach. They CANNOT continue the stoking to defcon 5 of 24/7 hysteria, breathlessly reporting NOTHING but covid 19. People are ALREADY saturated with it, they are growing TIRED of it, especially with no sports, and little movies to go see. Soon, they will simply TURN IT OFF. Do you know what happens then? I will bet my gopher suit that this “crisis” will suddenly, miraculously, END. If you cut off either the oxygen or the source of a fire it DIES.

Prex gave me permission to publish his comment (emphases in purple mine):

Feel free, I WANT people to NOT panic (what the Cabal want); this is getting ridiculous, when they start closing restaurants and bars, the next thing is a curfew. There simply is NO need for this, at least not at this time. This is their dry run, after Trump something like this will be MUCH worse. We the people need to get and STAY informed, and start MAJOR pushback on the insanity. Caution is one thing, sequestration is QUITE another. Remember we have FEWER than 70 deaths, and 30 of those were in ONE spot, not one state, not one city, one BUILDING.

This is akin to shutting down the country of Legionnaires disease…think on that.

Again, feel free to post ANY of my comments here, or my blog, just link me as proper credit…you know the deal. I would suggest sharing mine and Steve in CO’s running thread, it is quite informative if I do say so myself! Thanks, Prex

He then added this:

I would suggest taking in a post by Jim Hoft on the Gateway Pundit, he is BASICALLY, proving my point. It is about the MSM openly LYING to us all about the ACTUAL death rate of covid 19 vs the seasonal flu. He has an interesting take that dovetails with my theory. Basically, the REAL numbers of flu deaths here NOW are 10 % of the REAL documented cases. 22000 of 220000 documented cases. For Covid 19 it is 3.4 % for the REAL documented cases, including the OUTLIER of the one facility.

The reason the CDC can state that the Flu mortality rate is .1% is that they are ESTIMATING that there are 36 million infected here in the US with the flu, and THEN extrapolating the REAL deaths out of THAT number 22000 of 36000000. That my friends is what we call GIGO.

Why this is IMPORTANT. IF they can estimate the flu numbers, because they KNOW the spread, they KNOW the gestation, why can’t they do the SAME with covid 19?

They have NEARLY the same sample size WW 178000 vs 222000 for the FLU here. They KNOW the mortality rate WW is 3.8%, 5786 of 178000. So why didn’t they ESTIMATE the numbers of infected and compare and extrapolate like they did the flu? Answer: because it would show that covid 19 is NOT more virulent than the common flu, and there are a LOT more cases than we are being told (#’s of infected withheld?) They KNOW the #’s from China, to the size of the city to the reported dates (gestation), and they KNOW the amount decesased AND infected. If you do not trust China, how about South Korea? They have ACCURATE info, and it is MUCH less than reported.

In short my friend, we are being BAIT AND SWITCHED on the numbers to create PANIC.

EX a: estimated # of flu infected vs ACTUAL mortality to get .1% mortality

Ex b: Actual #of known infected vs ACTUAL mortality to get 3.4- 3.8%.

These two are NOT like comparisons, not even CLOSE, and it is IMPORTANT to see that they are using actuals vs ESTIMATED to get the higher numbers. IE comparing apples to apples in covid 19, and apples to ORANGES in the flu.

The question is WHY can they not extrapolate the numbers in covid 19 like they do with the flu?

Answer, they do not want a panic over the flu, it is something people are USED to, has been around, and therefore even with the TRUE number, would not panic.

Covid 19 is NEW, and “unknown” and can be used to spread the panic desired. When one factors in the avg age of infections, serious infections for BOTH, and the factors in that 8 of 10 in covid show mild to NO symptoms, you start to REALLY see the agenda.

We are being MANIPULATED, folks.

Then he rightly pointed the finger at leftist mayors and governors in the United States:

We are being manipulated, and leftist mayors and Governors are doing what they ALWAYS do, overreach. They are closing restaurants and bars, and now daycares..WHY? children are basically NOT affected. Answer because this is a TEST, a TEST of just what they can get away with before we the people say ENOUGH.

Time for some lawsuits, testing the Constitutionality of this. Then, the states and cities would have to PROVE actual danger, NOT projections. I hope you see now why I so vehemently went against the exponential projections, I KNEW they would be used against us for an AGENDA, damned if I wasn’t right.

The left will CONTINUE to infringe, and spread panic, till something pops, it will not take long, I give it 3 weeks TOPS. Hopefully, there will be enough SANE people, and Trump, to put a STOP to this through pushback. Plus, I believe they CANNOT keep up the hoax, and, yes, folks, it is a HOAX because of its PURPOSE, for much longer, they will NOT be able to fool the people much longer and fuel the hysteria. People will soon see, that they nor NO ONE they know is infected, and THEN the pushback starts.

The virus is real, but it is being made into the Spanish flu, and it is NOWHERE near that. May God have mercy on us all if a REAL killer comes a calling after this FIASCO by the MSM.

I IMPLORE President Trump, please for the love of the country, RESCIND the Obama EO that permits propaganda to be spewed. FORCE these people to report the TRUTH and NOTHING but the truth, and that includes lying by omission.

Many people are just now coming to where I have been for over 2 weeks, pissed off, and it will get MUCH worse if they do not quit openly LYING and spreading hysteria, let alone infringement of life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness. All in the name of a crisis, and “public health”. My considerable rear end. The numbers do NOT bear out the reaction.

EX A. 69 deaths of 330000000 =.000000020990 %
EX B 3300 cases of 3300000000= .00001%

Now tell me again why we are in lockdown and PANIC?

Projections and exponential projections coupled with HYPE. Nothing more. These are FACTS, not projections.

I fully agree more with those sentiments. I hope that you do, too.

Prex has more on his site in ‘Corona-steria’.

We have never seen anything like this in living memory.

Based on what Prex and SteveInCO say, governmental response has been over the top.

When all is said and done, outside of China, Iran and Italy, it is likely that less than 1% of various nations’ populations will have died.

Meanwhile, every year, there are tens of thousands of deaths from influenza and respiratory illnesses in each Western country every year. On average, 1%-10% of populations die in each of those countries from those ailments. The percentage varies among countries. In England, it is around 1%.

Then, let’s talk about the much higher percentage rates of death from heart disease, diabetes, obesity and the like.

Yet, our leaders are obsessing over coronavirus?

I do not know how much people can push back on this at the moment. However, if you are healthy and your government allows it, keep patronising local shops and restaurants. Otherwise, they will go under. That would be very bad for the owners, their employees — and the economy.

Just keep in mind what is happening right now, because this is not the last pandemic we will ever see. Far from it. And, what sort of restrictions on freedom of movement will we see then?

Last week did not afford me the time to write about the latest coronavirus news in Britain.

This is by no means comprehensive, just a few highlights.

Personal update – London

I had the pleasure of going up to London for lunch twice in the past fortnight, travelling by train and Tube.

I saw only two people in masks in total. On my first trip, it was a twenty-something woman in a designer mask in black that complemented her equally black ensemble beautifully but probably did nothing for her health.

On my second trip, last week, I saw a twenty-something woman wearing a white clinical mask.

Only one person seemed concerned (see below). No one seemed ill.

Both lunches were out of this world. Both dining rooms were full of people having a grand time.

Hand sanitiser was available at the bars in both establishments.

On the way back from London late last week, I overheard a telephone conversation between a train passenger and a relative of hers (dialogue paraphrased, ellipses indicate other person talking):

I have some good news. My manager said that my colleagues and I can work from home until next Tuesday …

Well, there’s someone in my department coughing up green goo, and I don’t want to get that …

Yes, I know that God loves us …

Yes, I know that God loves us, but we still have to be cautious.

Local update

Locally, things have been hit and miss in the shops over the past week.

The week before last, panic buying started. When I went to the shops that Thursday and Friday, there were no loo rolls left. In all the many years I have lived here, I have never seen half an aisle empty. Last week, there were cheapo own brand loo rolls.

Similarly, there has been no soap gel for hands during that time period.

Last week, the same shop had been entirely emptied out of pasta.

I overheard the following exchange between two customers. I don’t know where the man works, as I’d not seen him before:

Woman: So, how’s business these days?

Man: Bad. No one’s coming in.

Woman: That’s not good, is it?

If you’re healthy, please continue to patronise your local establishments. The coronavirus could be the economic death knell for some of them.

A friend of mine went to the local pharmacy, said there was a long queue of people stocking up on various items, with one woman clearly in a panic over the fact that there was no soap gel for hands, nor any paracetamol.

Now, if people had not panic bought, there would have been loo roll, soap gel, hand sanitiser and paracetamol — enough for everyone!

On Friday, my far better half and I went together to the butcher and the fishmonger.

The butcher said that people had been panic buying, but he wasn’t running out of anything. His displays were full.

The fishmonger reminded us that he also delivers, provided we ring 24 hours ahead of time with our order.

Nationwide update

On Wednesday, March 11, the British government announced that we were moving out of the Containment phase into the Delay phase.

It was probably the right time, given Good Morning Britain‘s co-presenter Piers Morgan’s rage earlier that day:

That evening, Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, said he was committed to keeping Parliament open for business. He also did not want restrictive conditions imposed on Britons for too long a period of time:

The victim who died before those two lived just outside of London. He was also elderly, aged 80, and had underlying health conditions.

Have you noticed this, though: we never get any names or details about the fatal coronavirus cases, especially among the elderly. What were they doing when they caught it? If they were at home or in a nursing facility, then a visiting health worker or one of the staff must have passed it along?

Anyway, back to Nick Hancock:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson posted an interview on behavioural psychology with the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries. I almost didn’t watch it — ‘nudge’ psychology — but it’s actually quite helpful:

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, tweeted:

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, made an announcement:

That night, ITV’s political editor Robert Peston broadcast his weekly late night news programme, which was quite good. I’ve included the video below. Nadine Dorries is a Cabinet member:

Throughout all this, the Cheltenham Festival, a huge fixture in the National Hunt racing calendar, took place last week, ending on Friday, March 13, with Al Boum Photo winning two Gold Cups back to back. Cheltenham attracts around 250,000 people every year during the festival:

However, things were less sanguine a few hours away in London as Parliamentarians began to self-isolate and/or submit to testing (e.g. Nadine Dorries) for COVID-19:

It was up to 17 by Saturday.

Latest guidelines for Britain

There have been new developments with regard to football fixtures and travel:

However, there are problems in southern parts of Spain, too, with bars, beaches and other places being closed.

There are now plenty of other travel restrictions that other countries have imposed.

There will undoubtedly be more restrictions this week, as per ITV’s Saturday night news on March 14. These two news items were also reported. My condolences to family and friends of the deceased:

These are the latest health guidelines for Britain. Fortunately, for now, they are quite similar to the preceding ones:

If you are REALLY worried (not the worried well), do not go to hospital. Instead, dial 111 for advice:

This video from LBC (radio) is a fascinating moving graph that shows the development of COVID-19 in various European countries, including the UK, between mid-February and March 10. Italians went to hospital, which is why we mustn’t do likewise:

The following is also good advice. Know how and why we must WASH OUR HANDS:

I agree.

Boris and our medical experts will come out as winners in a few months’ time:

In closing:

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.

Medical experts from various governments around the world have told us that coronavirus is here to stay for the immediate future.

The UK, France and the US took additional steps this week to delay its spread.

I did not have time to write about those developments today, or my last two trips into London, so will delay those until next week.

For me — and for the government — the 2020 budget was the highlight of an otherwise rather grim week.

Budget speech

On Wednesday, March 11, Britain’s new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Patel, delivered his first budget and the first one that the UK has had since the autumn of 2018.

Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury Boris Johnson appointed Rishi only four weeks ago. He is our first Hindu Chancellor.

Rishi’s predecessor, Sajid Javid — the first Muslim Chancellor — has the sad distinction of having served the shortest period of time of any Chancellor in the past 50 years. He was asked to fire his special advisers, which he refused to do, so he resigned. Under normal circumstances, he would have delivered the 2019 budget last November 6; as an election was taking place on December 12, it was postponed to 2020. He came up with a budget, much of which Rishi Patel presented on Wednesday in the House of Commons.

Funds will go towards the work required after the ravages of the winter floods and, now, coronavirus:

On a subject that has been raging among left-wing women for the last few years in papers such as The Guardian, the Chancellor announced that tax on sanitary products will be abolished once the UK leaves the EU at the end of this year. Former Labour MP Paula Sherriff should be happy.

I watched the Chancellor’s presentation, which was excellent, every bit as good as Ken Clarke’s in the early 1990s and Dominic Lawson’s in the late 1980s:

He even worked in a joke or two. When he announced that he would be removing VAT from books, he quipped about the Shadow Chancellor’s — John McDonnell’s — ‘little-read’ (little red) book on economics. Even McDonnell had to laugh:

The Chancellor ended a ten-year-long period of austerity under the Conservatives, freezing almost all existing duties, except for tobacco, and pledged spending hikes. Labour should be happy:

Analysis

Political pundit Guido Fawkes gave his view of the budget, ‘Big State “One Nation Toryism” is Back’, which refers to the Prime Minister’s top adviser Dominic Cummings (emphasis in the original):

The headlines will focus on the £30 billion debt-fuelled stimulus package, “only” £12 billion of which is in response to the coronavirus. The coronavirus gives cover for the big state ‘One Nation Toryism’ that many in Downing Street have always wanted. Dominic Cummings is not a tax-cutting, free market loving, state shrinking, right-winger.

It appears that most voters who opted for Conservative candidates last December do not mind an increase in spending. David Jeffery, writing for UnHerd, examined the British Election Study which canvassed 32,177 participants who responded after last December’s election.

As Jeffery, a lecturer in British Politics at the University of Liverpool, says, voters are saying No to the post-Brexit aspiration of making the UK Singapore-on Thames. Last December saw a surprising number of Labour constituencies going Conservative. Those previously impenetrable constituencies are known as the Red Wall.

One would think that this study would show a stark difference between Red Wall and more conventional Conservative voters. Not so.

Both groups are rather close — with minimal percentage differences (from less than one point to four points) — with regard to self-identifying on the political spectrum, concern for the working classes, spending and national debt. Jeffery concludes (emphases mine):

For all the talk of the Red Wall budget, Red Wall Conservatives are not so different from other Tories. Although they are slightly more wary of environmental regulation and take a more favourable view of redistribution, Conservative voters as a whole think austerity has gone too far, want to see more money spent on key services and accept that this means fewer tax cuts and no budget deficit. This is not what we’re typically told Conservatives want, and with his first budget Sunak should show he’s listening.

The Chancellor got that memo loud and clear.

Paul Goodman, who heads the website Conservative Home, says that the Chancellor adopted much of what Labour wanted in the budget. That said, the main difference is this:

we’re not in hoc to a hateful ideology; are more pragmatic; more business-friendly; more sensible; better – at least as politicians …

A People’s Budget from a People’s Government,” the Chancellor perorated. There you have it. Not a Thatcherite one from a Conservative one – or even a plan that is recognisably Tory at all, at least by the standard of recent years. The voice was the voice of Sunak, but the hands were those of Vote Leave.

John Glen MP (Salisbury), also writing for Conservative Home, provided more details about the intended spending plans this year. He said they are achievable:

The ambitious capital budget announced yesterday by the Chancellor can be achieved with relatively modest increases to the deficit as a percentage of GDP. And at a time of record low interest rates with no sign of increases on the horizon, it is an appropriate moment to avail ourselves of this opportunity to upgrade the country’s infrastructure and to make the economy more productive.

We do not yet know what the full impact of coronavirus will be. But the Budget leaves us well prepared to tackle its short-term challenges as well as helps shape the long-term trajectory of the economy through capital investment and the reduction of regional imbalances.

And, finally, Robert Halfon MP (Harlow) wrote in his article for Conservative Home that we desperately need to start upgrading our ‘social infrastructure’:

The immediate goal? Aside from addressing the economic challenges presented by the coronavirus, there will be a commitment to ‘level up’ across the country. Manifesto pledges on rail, roads, energy, broadband and freeports; all are enormously welcome and will go some way to connecting left behind places to the opportunities that others routinely enjoy.

But, if this cash injection is to get the UK going again, we must also invest in ‘social infrastructure’. It is the people of the UK that will bind physical infrastructure to economic growth, not the other way around.

In its broadest sense, social infrastructure is investment in people. In its most transformative form, it allows disadvantaged individuals to overcome entrenched social challenges and turn their lives around.

I had no idea the UK had so many social problems until I started watching BBC Parliament on a regular basis. Even Conservative MPs agree that additional money must be given to various social programmes for retraining, improving education and fighting drug addiction. Of course, the NHS comes into this equation, too.

Additional information

You can read the Budget in full here. My fellow Britons might wish to check out the Budget 2020 calculator to find out how they will be affected.

In another historic moment, Dame Eleanor Laing, the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee and Senior Deputy Speaker, was the first woman to preside over the budget presentation. In this short and interesting video she explains her role and the purpose of the budget presentation:

Afterwards, in giving the response for the opposition, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, looking characteristically grumpy, read his poorly-written text which referred to Ms Laing as Mr Speaker instead of Madam Deputy Speaker. Sad.

More on the coronavirus developments next week.

On the back of exploring what’s on Episcopal priests‘ minds, I am crossing the Atlantic, returning to the UK, to explore what Anglican priests are thinking about.

I will continue both series.

The Revd Marcus Walker, serving in the Diocese of London, deplores the bewilderment and criticism surrounding the recent group photograph of Mike Pence and his coronavirus team in prayer.

Note that they are not praying in public, as detractors have said. Press photographers happened to be present for the meeting.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer has such a prayer, which can be said during the Litany. Highly useful during the coronavirus scare:

In the time of any common plague or sicknes.

O Almighty God, who in thy wrath didst send a plague upon thine own people in the wildernes for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron, and also in the time of King David, didst slay with the plague of pestilence threescore and ten thousand, and yet remembring thy mercy didst save the rest: have pitie upon us miserable sinners, who now are visited with great sicknes and mortality, that like as thou didst then accept of an atonement, and didst command the destroying Angell to cease from punishing: so it may now please thee to withdraw from us this plague and grievous sicknes, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Marcus Walker later located his ‘jumbo book of State Prayers’ and noted the following shift in emphasis in them from the 18th to the 19th centuries:

Turning to the opprobrium heaped upon the American vice president and his team, this is what Mr Walker and his readers tweeted:

Nor do I.

The Revd Giles Fraser, formerly a Canon at St Paul’s Cathedral and current Rector at the south London church of St Mary’s, Newington, told the readers of his online magazine Unherd how he has changed the Communion service during the coronavirus outbreak (emphases mine):

I have a cough. I have had it for weeks. A deep hacking affair that brings up nasty thick greenish goo. It’s not the virus — I haven’t got a high temperature or any other symptoms. But it is dramatic enough to clear the seats next to me on the tube.

In church on Sunday, too, I could feel the anxiety radiate out from my coughing away behind the altar into a twitchy congregation. We have suspended sharing the peace for the time being. Instead of shaking hands or kissing, we wave at each other. So, too, we have decided to take communion in one kind only — that is, we share the bread but not the common cup of wine. And in this context, the symbolic handwashing the priest performs before the Eucharist is no longer simply a ritual act. It feels like a necessity. Cleanliness is next to godliness.

As one of my posts explained last week, the Cup can be suspended during health emergencies under a) the Doctrine of Concomitance and b) the 1547 Sacrament Act.

The Doctrine of Concomitance says that Christ’s substance in the Eucharist cannot be divided. The bread and the wine are both the entire real presence of Christ.

Giles Fraser and one of his readers helpfully tweeted about both:

Someone responded — possibly an agnostic — taking to task Christians who are panicking over the coronavirus. He has a point:

It amazes me how those who pontificate so much about life thereafter being so wonderful succumb to panic at the thought of death. Just a pause for thought. The Lord’s supposed to be our protector but only if it means it protects us from death. Come on religious people! Get a grip.

I don’t understand it, either.

On that note, and from a Catholic perspective, Dr CC Pecknold, a professor who also writes for First Things, tweeted about the plague in Venice between 1630 and 1631:

Exactly. However, that is what stubborn secularists, such as those criticising Mike Pence and his coronavirus team, refuse to understand. Christians pray for guidance and relief during troubled times.

There was more to the conversation. Someone was disappointed that the Peace had been suspended in his diocese:

How true.

In closing, after the plague had left Venice, the citizens of that city built a magnificent church in thanksgiving:

Would this happen now were, heaven forfend, the coronavirus to become an epidemic? No. Not at all.

More’s the pity.

In Italy, churches are closing their doors for the next few weeks:

This church in Rome is open but has taken additional precautions:

Meanwhile, let’s continue to pray that we may be guided in the correct practical direction during this pandemic and ask the Lord for it to harm as few people as possible.

I do think these health disasters are ‘come to Jesus moments’. Is anyone out there listening, including some notional Christians? Or are we all going to panic?

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