It’s much cooler today so police forces shouldn’t have so much trouble monitoring the lockdown. As the death toll reached 10,600, the Government is again lambasted over the lack of PPE and tests, not to mention the absence of reliable stats on deaths in care homes and the community. To Matt Hancock’s assertion that it’s ‘impossible’ to get personal protective equipment to everyone that needs it ‘because the quest is to get the right PPE to the right people on the frontline at the right time to many millions of people across the NHS’, a doctor tweeted simply ‘It isn’t impossible.’
While deaths in UK hospitals rose to 11,329 today, Hancock also couldn’t give an update on the number of care home and community residents and NHS staff who have died. We’re told the Office for National Statistics is giving some information on the former (over 1,000 in England), stats only updated weekly, and statements from hospitals and workers’ families show the NHS staff figure is more than 30.). The Radio 4 PM programme featured a heartrending interview with care home manager, struggling with the admissions they are forced to accept from the public sector, maintaining staffing and lack of PPE. This situation draws further attention to the social care crisis in this country.
The Guardian reports that snapshot data from varying official sources shows that in Italy, Spain, France, Ireland and Belgium between 42% and 57% of virus deaths have been in homes, according to the report by academics based at the London School of Economics (LSE).
The government is under fire on another front, having admitted that only 1.4% of businesses enquiring about its corona virus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) have so far been successful. Heaven knows what those business owners must be going through. This is the trouble with trumpeting great-sounding schemes without necessarily thinking through and implementing the infrastructure to effectively roll them out.
A decision about extending the lockdown has to be made by Thursday because that’s when the regulations covering England need to be reviewed. It’s thought inevitable that the lockdown will be extended – necessary but with severe effects on the economy and people’s mental health. Polling organisation IPSOS Mori is reporting increased anxiety, depression and sleep difficulties in half the UK population.
The Guardian reported that over this holiday weekend, when highways would usually be busy with holidaymakers, traffic on some major roads fell by as much as 86%. But this drop has encouraged some to drive at ‘extreme speeds’, like the one doing 151 mph on the M1. Elsewhere, a scuba diver and a family drove more than 200 miles for a fishing trip and people visiting second homes in Wales are reportedly sending luggage via couriers to prevent detection, prompting police to wonder about ‘that level of cunning’.
On the European front, we learn that France is continuing the lockdown for several more weeks and Spain is allowing some people back to work.
Meanwhile, in other news, broadcaster Chris Packham said he will continue his fight against the construction of HS2, which environmentalists say is leading to irreversible destruction of ancient habitats and woodlands. The High Court dismissed his application last week for an urgent injunction to halt construction work, arguing for a judicial review of the government’s decision-making process in relation to the £106bn high-speed railway. Such pieces raise the interesting issue of what’s not being reported due to wall-to-call corona coverage.