A slight diversion to my usual output, though I could stretch a point and say this does have some relationship to work, the workplace and, by inference, the impact on the future of work.
Like, I suspect, the majority of people here in the UK, I’ve been dismayed by our Government’s handling of the Covid pandemic. I’ll accept they have been in uncharted territory, and I don’t think any government (with the possible exceptions of South Korea and New Zealand) will emerge from this pandemic with distinction. That said, I think many of the problems caused by the pandemic could have been predicted and, with a little common sense, could have been handled better. I don’t know if some of these poor decisions were due to blind faith in what the scientists were saying, or whether the science was right and politics took precedence. I do think that politicians have a duty to challenge the science, but I guess we’ll have to wait until there is a public enquiry into the whole shambles, where they will no doubt trot out the same line about “lessons will be learned“.
So, for prosperity if nothing else, here’s the chronology of Boris Johnson’s miss-steps:
TURN THE TIDE
Days before announcing a nationwide lockdown, Boris Johnson said that the UK would “send the coronavirus packing in 12 weeks“.
The reality was that the UK did pass the peak of the virus in 12 weeks after the prime minister’s address but infections are on the rise again after nearly six months.
In May, Boris Johnson claimed that the government would have a “world-beating” test, track and trace system in place by the start of June. He repeated the claim in August.
The reality is that NHS Test & Trace has reached 360,000 people so far, but the latest statistics show that only 69.2 percent of contacts are being traced. The lowest rate since the system was launched.
At prime minister’s questions in June Boris Johnson said that no country in the world had a functioning contact-tracing app. He repeated the claim a week later.
The reality was that at least 20 countries had contact tracing apps at the time, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Germany’s app had been downloaded more than 12 millions times. The UK still hasn’t launched an app, though we are promised it will finally arrive some time later this month (don’t hold your breath). If you want to delve into the gory details of where it all went wrong, this article should help.
In July Mr Johnson sad that “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures” throughout the pandemic.
The reality was that up until March the government’s official guidance stated that it was “very unlikely” that there would be infections in care homes. Inspections by the Care Quality Commission stopped at the outset of the pandemic. A policy of discharging infected patients from hospitals into care homes and a widespread shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) are thought to have contributed to the high death toll. To this day, I don’t understand why Johnson, his strategy group, the Cabinet and all of the scientific advisors suffered a collective lapse of common sense. As it turned out, most of the Covid-19 deaths occurred amongst the elderly in care homes between March and May. Predictable or what?!
At the present time, we’re told that R is anywhere between 1.3 and 1.7, with infections doubling every week. Several towns and cities where infections are most prevalent are in lockdown. From Monday 14th September, we cannot socialise in groups any larger than six. On the plus side, at least the message is clear for a change, but I wonder how many of us retain any confidence that the government, or its advisers, know what they are doing? Let’s just hope that we get a vaccine before any more miss-steps, but beware of believing any government announcement on when we can expect to see it. They don’t have a very good track record on delivery dates!
In the meantime, stay safe out there…..
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