Our world has changed dramatically over the past two weeks since my last article as the country tries to deal with Covid-19. The four pronged policy employed by the government of Contain, Delay, Research, Mitigate is a sequential plan to get the country through. All parts of that plan are now in operation, with what we are experiencing in the changes to our normal lives heavily on the second part, the ‘Delay’ part of the strategy.
Whilst most infected will experience mild symptoms, for some the effects are serious requiring respiratory assistance in intensive care. It might never be known how many have been infected, hence the urgent need for a post-infection antibody test. This will be a game-changer as it has to be assumed that once infected and recovered, immunity is there, and with it the likelihood to pass on infection gone; those people not only hold the key to finding a cure, but can re-enter the workplace and assist others who must remain in isolation and avoid infection altogether.
The ‘Delay’ phase is fundamentally important as it has to be recognised that the number of intensive care beds are finite within the NHS and the entire world currently has huge demand for the same resources of PPE equipment, ventilators and medicines.
This is why social distancing and isolation are so important, so that the demand curve can be flattened allowing the NHS to cope with the number of cases at any one time. I have likened the spread of infection across the country to a blob of treacle on a plate. It spreads out slowly with London clearly where the treacle has landed. We are fortunate in Thanet to be surrounded by sea and have a relatively low interaction with London due to distance and geography. Hence we are currently a week or two ‘behind the curve’ and with adherence to rules could avoid the worst if we all do the right thing. This does not mean all life freezes.
The guidance is to stay at home and work from home wherever possible. This doesn’t work for many types of job; this can continue at the workplace but with extreme care to keep distance from colleagues and exercising care when interacting with customers. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to frontline healthcare staff and to retail and other sectors keeping the wheels of supply turning as best they can.
‘Research’ – we can but imagine the amount of work going on around the world is huge. Old fashioned measures of using plasma from those through the infection are being looked at so that antibodies can be transferred to those unwell to fight off the virus. All existing drugs commonly used for other diseases are being trialled with the hope that one or a mix will be effective. There is then the work to find a vaccine which will succeed over time but is not with us yet.
Finally – ‘Mitigation’, this is the huge amount of money being poured into the economy to support those temporarily laid off from employment or in self-employment, and to give cash grants to smaller businesses with rateable premises, with more help to those businesses in the hospitality sector, a really important one to the South Thanet constituency. The amounts of money involved is truly unprecedented. The bulk of the numerous emails I am receiving are from those asking how these support measures will work.
All information, evolving rapidly is on the .gov website and is the primary source of updated information. Networks, both national, local and voluntary are rapidly being set up to get food, supplies and prescriptions delivered to the vulnerable. My office is very much involved in this effort. There are constituents stuck abroad in far-flung places. I am working with the FCO to get support hopefully leading to repatriation with mercy flights as necessary.
It is difficult to forecast how long this will all last and I will not hazard a guess. Keep well, be safe and sensible and we will come out the other side.
As a GP I have looked on in despair, along with many other NHS doctors, nurses and care staff, at the abysmal response by the government to this pandemic. There isn’t enough protective gear for staff in and out of hospital, there is very little testing and a dangerous shortage of beds across the NHS- 17,000 beds have been cut since 2010. The government was alerted to this risk two months ago. Instead of implementing WHO guidance of test, test, test, trace contacts and isolate, the infection was able to spread widely. The drastic cuts to NHS staff, beds & public health over the past 10 years has been exposed by this virus, and people have been put in danger.
This govt was aware in 2017 of the consequent if a pandemic. Nevertheless, it chose to ignore a request by the NHS for a stockpile of PPE, on the grounds of expense.
The money they are pouring in is our money, not there’s.
I only hope and pray that this government and future ones learn a valuable, costly lesson from this and start looking at formulating contingency plans for future crises be it another viral outbreak or flooding or even from a global catastrophic risk and start stockpiling equipment and resources as soon as this pandemic is over.
Corect me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall that Mr Mackinlay was one of those Tory MPs who cheered in exultation when they won a vote against a +1% pay rise for nurses, paramedics and firemen last year but voted themselves an 11% increase at the same time. The hypocrisy of these people now calling our nurses and other front line staff against this pandemic heroes (which they are) is truly nauseating.
Correct Winkle – he and Roger Gale both voted to stop the pay rise
May’s rant of “Strong and Stable” whilst at the same time cutting spending on the NHS and reducing the police by 20,000 in addition to doing absolutely nothing about pandemic warnings she [May] should be prosecuted for negligence in public office. The sooner we can all be tested the sooner we can all get on with life.
Please self isolate Craig.Do us all our favour in our period of need.I shall not mention the amount of hubris expanded by this and other Govts in the last 2 decades, but I for one can do without all the homilies from you.
When there is a review of what happened I expect fingers to be pointed in all directions as in the case of Grenfell,but I am afraid you are sitting on the hot seat this time.
Exercise Cygnus back in 2016 warned the government that far more ventilators were needed, urgently. But Jeremy Hunt did not do anything about it. Anyone can look this up themselves, just search for ‘Exercise Cygnus’. Ventilators are crucial, otherwise doctors are forced to make decisions about who will get to live or die.
No government could have known this would happen in 2020, but governments did all know a pandemic was likely. Some prepared for it; ours didn’t. The current situation would have been very hard to prevent entirely, but these poor decisions from the top will make it quite a lot worse.
Early this year, and as March progressed, much more could have been done, and sooner. Communities in many cases acted ahead of government instruction, as the govt dragged its feet.
Now the govt is trying to cover its mistakes by blaming the few people who didn’t follow the rules as soon as they went into effect. We should not allow them to deflect the blame. Some people may have behaved badly, but do not forget that many, many more have been doing the right thing long before our leaders put it into effect. The mixed messages from those that are meant to lead, here and abroad, didn’t help. Is it any wonder that some flouted the rules when less than a fortnight earlier those in top jobs said that it was no worse than ordinary flu.
Now Craig says “this does not mean that all life freezes” – isn’t this another confusing mixed message? If we are asked to ‘Stay Home, Save Lives”, how does that fit?
Not confusing at all, it is truthful & encouraging.You don’t want all of us Tories to be cryogenically frozen, do you? Think of the cost to the NHS!
There are numerous reasons why people do not need to ‘stay home’ not just because you are a ‘key worker’.
Just wondered if you have ever said anything positive instead of critical?
A four thousand bed hospital has been created in a week in London.
Here in East Kent they have dramatically increased the number of critical care beds, but that gets criticised too by some people.
Is it realistic to think that huge amounts of beds, equipment and so on, is kept on standby indefinitely for ‘black swan’ events? Only to find that when they are needed they are out of date or not functioning.
The messages have been very clear, the problem is people are reluctant to follow them. Like people having karaoke parties for 25 people.
I’m sure a lot will be learned from all this.
There has been an amazing effort on many fronts and we should applaud it.
One of the problems (in addition to the loss of 17,000 beds under this govt) is that the messages have not been clear.
At first, we were urged wherever possible to avoid going to the pub. What sort of message was that?
Then, two weeks too late, a much more strict message came out about social distancing. One which the PM and the SoS for Health clearly have ignored.
What sort of message is that?
Yes, kit goes out of date. So do fire extinguishers. So you monitor and replace them.
Bulls**t and more Bulls””t. Still what do you expect from our MPs. They both voted for austerity, with their famous mantra that “difficult decisions” had to be made while handing out tax cuts to big companies. We reap what we sew, can’t wait to see who the government will go for to get our money back. Any one want to try???
Thy are all a joke do cuts all over the place but always line there own pockets with bigger % pay rises dont have a large pay rise put your money into NHS and other useful places where thy are trying to help the needed
I agree with Sandra’s comment. At this time too much negativity and attempts to score points just won’t help at all, and will make no positive impact. It’s an amazingly difficult situation for everyone involved. Indeed, some testing kits ordered by UK gov. turned out to be contaminated with the virus a news report says today. Much better to suggest positive things we can all contribute to. Fear and negativity lowers the immune system. Positivity does the opposite. This is a cross party effort now, and everyone should contribute in whatever way they feel called to with a positive sprit. Most detractors could not do any better themselves.
” Fear and negativity lowers the immune system. ”
Things like ” Indeed, some testing kits ordered by UK gov. turned out to be contaminated with the virus…”
What puzzles me is why anyone should vote Tory, let alone for Mackinlay, and his sidekick, Gale! They vote and cheer to cut nurses pay, which it effectively was, and are now pouring Billions of pounds of our money into the pockets of their big business pals pockets, who salt it away in off shore coffers! This money will have to be paid back, at a cost to more cuts in public services! Don’t forget in 2008 the Tories paid out some one Trillion pounds of our money to their business friends over more than 10 years of austerity, after their Banker friends gambled our money away!
Its obvious these cuts are having a massive effect on the lack of Personal Protection Equipment for front line medical services as a result of these cuts, and Johnson has been exposed as the bumbling, blustering, lying conman he really is!
“Mitigate” as the final item says it all. This stage is normally about planning and reducing all risks and should include both human and financial risk mitigation.