Britain will experience MORE blockages in the future unless the government changes its “dangerous” stance

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Boris Johnson’s “dangerous” strategy against coronaviruses will lead to more epidemics and blockages, a panel of “SAGE alternative” experts warned today.

Independent scientists say the PM’s goal of flattening infections and ensuring the NHS is not exceeded until a vaccine is ready is “stupid”.

This is because GPs and councils have no idea how many people in their community are suffering from the disease due to the government’s “top-down” centralized approach, they say.

They are asking that local public health officials be given the powers and resources necessary to find, test and isolate patients and prevent further waves of viruses.

The independent SAGE group, led by former chief scientific adviser Sir David King, also criticized the new message “Stay alert”, saying it is ambiguous and confusing.

He wrote a scathing report with 19 detailed recommendations for the government to move forward.

In this document, the group of experts composed of 13 members:

  • Explode the government’s decision to stop testing and tracing contracts in March and “allow the epidemic to spread and strengthen collective immunity”.
  • Strongly criticize the “Stay alert” and “Check the virus” messaging, saying it is ambiguous and confusing.
  • Accuse daily government statistics of being “inaccurate, incomplete and selective” – ​​and say that the Statistical Regulatory Office should monitor the data.
  • Ask why the ministers abandoned handwashing and hygiene awareness campaigns and call for their implementation.
  • Require hospitals to stop sending COVID-19 patients to nursing homes.
  • Tell the government to remedy the disproportionate impact on the elderly and BAME communities.
  • Urge the ministers to promote the 14-day quarantine for people with symptoms instead of the 7-day one.
  • Warn that it would be “foolish” to bet on a vaccine soon, with possible “recurrent local outbreaks” for at least a year.
  • Urge ministers to give local public health teams the power and resources to track and trace each case – rather than being “bypassed” in favor of private companies.
  • Warn that the existing mathematical modeling of the critical reproduction rate “R” is “three to four weeks obsolete”.
Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the government, today organized a press conference with his group Independent Sage, criticizing the government's

Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the government, today organized a press conference with his group Independent Sage, criticizing the government’s “dangerous” strategy regarding coronaviruses

Speaking at a virtual conference this afternoon, Sir David said: “Since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, the government has told us that it is” following science “.

“However, in the weeks and months that followed, it became increasingly clear that this is simply not the case.

WHAT IS THE “INDEPENDENT SAGE” GROUP?

Decisions on the timing of the relaxation of social distancing rules will be informed by advice provided by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

But SAGE is coming under increasing criticism not only for its approach to transparency but also for the advice it provides.

Sir David King, the former chief scientific adviser to the government, has set up his own “independent” panel of experts – an “alternative SAGE”

He said the group was necessary because he feared government experts would defer to ministers and “not say what they think”.

When asked if that meant they weren’t free to speak out against the government, Sir David told BBC Radio 4 Today: “I think it is, Yes.

“I think there is a very big difference between the situation today and the situation as it was in 2010-2011, it is simply that the authorization to speak in the public domain has been modified.

“I think the main point I want to make is that an independent scientific advisory group must really be dominated by people whose income is not determined by the fact that they work for the government. “

In addition to Sir David, group members include Professor Anthony Costello, former director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Professor Allyson Pollock, former director of the Institute of Health and Society University from Newcastle, and Professor Gabriel Scally, a preeminent epidemiologist at the University of Bristol.

“We detect an ambivalence in the government’s strategic response, with some advisers simply promoting the idea of ​​flattening the curve or ensuring that the NHS is not overwhelmed.

“We find this attitude counterproductive and potentially dangerous. Without repression, we will inevitably see a more rapid return of local epidemics and we will be faced with the prospect of new partial or national closings. ”

“It would be foolish to bet on a vaccine soon – the government must prepare to invest now in decentralized local health systems. “

The report will be sent to the Prime Minister, the current science advisor and the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The report urges the government to give local health systems the power to run tests, track down and isolate policies amid the whiteness of England’s centralized approach to controlling public health.

Professor Allyson Pollock, former director of the Institute of Health and Society at the University of Newcastle, said at the conference today: “It is a riddle as to why contact tracing has happened arrested on March 12.

“We were given two reasons – that it was not effective and that there were not enough resources.

“Contact tracing is the bread and butter of public health and must be done locally by local communities.

“It is a great disappointment that the government has not rebuilt [a team of tracers]. It is not difficult to find contacts, but it takes tens of thousands of workers.

Public Health England (PHE) had fewer than 300 employees to perform contact tracing in just nine regional centers covering 151 prominent local authorities.

As of March 12, when all community testing and contact tracing were stopped, PHE had contacted only 3,500 people, of whom about 125 were confirmed positive for the test.

Decisions about when to relax the rules on social distancing are informed by advice provided by the Government Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

But SAGE is coming under increasing criticism not only for its approach to transparency but also for the advice it provides.

Sir Davids has formed his own “independent” panel of experts to make his recommendations public and transparent.

He said the group was necessary because he feared government experts would defer to ministers and “not say what they think”.

When asked if that meant they weren’t free to speak out against the government, Sir David told BBC Radio 4 Today: “I think it is, Yes.

“I think there is a very big difference between the situation today and the situation as it was in 2010-2011, it is simply that the authorization to speak in the public domain has been modified.

“I think the main point I want to make is that an independent scientific advisory group must really be dominated by people whose income is not determined by the fact that they work for the government. “

In addition to Sir David, group members include Professor Anthony Costello, former director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Professor Allyson Pollock and Professor Gabriel Scally, a leading epidemiologist at the University of Bristol.

The panel called on the government to explain why the poor should risk their lives “to start the economy while the wealthy stay in the safety of their homes.”

He said the government should continue the leave program in its current form for workers who cannot be guaranteed safe working and transportation conditions.

The report also notes the risk of basing decisions on whether to lift the lock on an “R number” (the average number of people infected by an infected person) on the database, which he says have a lag of four weeks.

Boris Johnson was confronted with public frustration with his lockout exit strategy announced on Sunday evening.

The 13-minute televised speech was intended to outline the government’s exit strategy from the lockdown that has been in place since March 23, but it was not specified when people can visit family and friends.

There was also no indication as to whether people should wear face masks and how the British can go to work in areas such as construction when the schools are still closed and there is no there are no daycares in place.

Other questions remain unanswered: how can employers encourage people to return to work so soon without having seen the new directions proposed in the workplace and without having had the time to put in place new measures.

Concerns remain over whether workers will be allowed to refuse to go to work if they think it is not safe and why the government believes quarantine of UK arrivals will be effective now.

Meanwhile, questions remain as to whether people will have to park on crowded trains, buses and tubes to get to work if they don’t have a car or live within walking or biking distance.

The Prime Minister has said that more details on the roadmap will be released today in Parliament, but here is an analysis of ten questions that the public may still have as the eighth week of foreclosure approaches:

When can people visit family and friends?

Boris Johnson said nothing in the speech about when people could see their friends and loved ones. The British must avoid meeting with friends since March 16, a week before the complete lockdown of March 23.

But there are now signs that things are about to change. When asked if anyone could meet his parents in a park, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab told the BBC today: “Well, you could if there are two meters one the other “.

He added, “If, for example, you go to the park and want to – and you can be within two meters of each other – you could meet another member of your own household. “

Boris Johnson used this graphic during his briefing, with stage 1 for this week, stage 2 scheduled for June and stage 3 for July

Boris Johnson used this graphic during his briefing, with stage 1 for this week, stage 2 scheduled for June and stage 3 for July

But Mr. Raab has caused confusion today by suggesting that people can meet two parents such as parents in the parks while maintaining social distance, sending Downing Street to scramble to say that is not the case.

Raab said that under the new foreclosure rules, people can meet with different family members separately on the same day while maintaining social distance.

He told BBC Breakfast: “If you are in the park and you are two meters apart, we say now, and use your common sense and social distance, you can meet other people .

“The bottom line is that people want to go out, especially with this weather, especially I think for mental health and, frankly, the frustration that people feel if they are locked up too long for extended periods of time.

“We want to make sure that people can enjoy the outdoors more. But people have to be vigilant because the more we do some of the things we want to do, the more we just have to pay attention to this social distancing.

When asked if anyone could meet their mother in the morning and their father in the afternoon, he replied, “Outdoors in the open air, staying two meters apart, yes. “

Raab has caused confusion by suggesting that people can meet two parents such as parents in the parks while maintaining social distance, sending Downing Street to scramble to say that is not the case.

Should we wear face masks?

While the Prime Minister insisted that social distancing “must be maintained”, he did not mention the use of face covers in his speech to the nation last night.

But workplaces should receive new guidelines on how to become “safe,” which will likely include new rules on social distancing, wearing face masks, temperature controls, and maintaining hygiene.

Dominic Raab told ITV News that makeshift face covers “don’t really have much impact” on wearer protection, but that they can “provide progressive mitigation.”

He added: “Starting on Wednesday, in areas where you are concerned, you may be in confined spaces with other people … that we will encourage people in these circumstances to use a face covering. “

He insisted that medical grade masks be kept for health and care workers.

An academic who has supported the use of face covers for the general public has said that using masks – alongside handwashing – could help the public more safely break the lock.

Trish Greenhalgh, a professor of primary care at the University of Oxford, said: “The government has not yet taken a positive stance on face covers, which – in addition to washing your hands – is probably the only one public health measure that could allow us to relieve breakout more safely.

Babak Javid, an infectious disease consultant at Cambridge University hospitals, added: “As more workers return to work, measures that reduce transmission, such as the use of masks or masks when traveling and at work, especially indoors in difficult conditions that a physical distance can be difficult would be welcome.

“To have a substantial impact, the majority of the population should comply with the use of the mask.”

Johnson said last night that the fines for breaking the rules would increase, adding, “You have to abide by the rules on social estrangement and to enforce those rules, we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them. “

The old slogan

The new slogan

PM abandoned the slogan “Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives” in favor of a version “Stay alert” – which has a green border instead of red

How can people go to work when the schools are still closed and there are no daycare centers?

Construction and manufacturing workers are now “actively encouraged” to return to work starting Wednesday, though they should travel by car or bicycle rather than using public transportation.

However, children are not expected to return to school in England from June 1 – when the majority of high school students will not go to class until September at the earliest.

This therefore presents major challenges for parents who are not key workers. Schools and colleges closed to the majority of students, except children of key workers and vulnerable youth, starting March 23.

Boris Johnson said the start of June was the earliest possible date to consider the gradual reopening of the schools, starting with some of the youngest students in the first and sixth grades.

The Prime Minister said that by June 1, “we think we may be able to start the gradual reopening of stores and bring elementary school children back to schools, in stages, starting with the reception, the first and sixth year ”.

Questions were also asked about whether a person who has been put on leave and who can no longer return to work due to child care problems will continue to receive government support.

What other workers, other than those in industry and construction, should return to work?

The Prime Minister said last night that anyone who cannot work from home, perhaps those in construction and manufacturing, “should be actively encouraged to go to work.”

Johnson also said the government has put in place new guidelines for employers to make workplaces “Covid-secure”.

But there was no indication of when people in other sectors should return to work, the government said people should continue to work from home if they can.

Workers in certain parts of the hotel industry, including cinemas, park cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating, could be allowed to return to work if their businesses reopened in July with churches and mosques.

But Johnson said the move would potentially explode the virus if taken now – and warned that the second and third phases could be delayed by as much as several months.

Raab was asked today if the government’s new slogan “stay alert” means staying at home as much as possible, and he told BBC Radio 4: “Yes, but, for example … if you can work on home, you have to keep doing it.

“But there are vital sectors of the economy, like manufacturing and construction, where people can’t do their jobs from home.

“We must now emphasize that anyone who cannot work from home, for example in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.”

How can employers encourage people to return to work so early without seeing the advice and without having time to put in place new measures?

Boris Johnson called on everyone in the manufacturing and construction industries to return to work this week, but there are concerns for employee safety if social distancing is not maintained.

Union leaders said that all employers should prepare and publish risk assessments and indicate the measures they have taken to make work safer for their employees.

They also asked that sanctions be imposed on rogue employers and demand that the government invest in health and safety inspections.

Business leaders have said that their practical questions need to be answered to boost the economy – and whether the government’s program to pay the wages of workers on leave will be extended beyond the end of June.

Johnson is expected to reveal new directions to Parliament tomorrow for employers to make workplaces “safe for Covid” – but it is unclear what that means and how it will be defined.

There are also concerns that any subsequent increase in Covid-19 cases in the workplace will be monitored.

And questions were asked about whether the Health and Safety Executive will have more resources to check the health and safety of workers.

Do workers have the right to refuse to go to their place of work if they think it is not safe and will they be protected from sanctions or dismissals?

The Prime Minister told Britain to “stay vigilant, control the virus and save lives” as he laid out his “road map” to new normalcy in a speech to the nation yesterday.

But UK’s largest unions have told him they would not recommend the return of their millions of members to work unless the government guarantees that “the right policies and practices are in place to make the workplace sure ”.

It also raised questions about whether workers will be protected if they fear returning to their workplace due to a perceived lack of security.

Executives from Unite, Unison, General, Municipal, Boilermakers and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers said that a significant number of their members died while doing essential work during the pandemic.

They wrote in a letter, “After years of cutbacks, the government must increase funding for proactive surveillance and the enforcement of health and safety regulations. And we need a public information campaign so that rogue bosses are punished.

“The labor movement wants to be able to recommend government return to work plans. But to do that, we need to make sure the ministers have listened and that we stay safe and also save lives at work. “

It is not yet clear whether Mr. Johnson thinks workers and unions should be consulted before any return to work.

There are also questions about whether a person working in manufacturing or construction should protect the shielding – and whether they should be taken care of.

Restrictions can be relaxed when the transmission rate -

Covid alert levels

Restrictions can be eased when the transmission rate – “R” – is well below 1 (left). It is currently between 0.5 and 0.9. The alert level graph (right) assesses the severity of the pandemic, having dropped to 4 in the past few months, but is now approaching 3

Will people have to crowd crowded trains, buses and tubes to get to work if they don’t have a car or live within walking or biking distance?

Workers in sectors such as construction and manufacturing are now “actively encouraged” to return to work, even if they will have to travel by car or bicycle rather than traveling on public transport.

However, Boris Johnson has given no indication as to whether people who do not have a car or who live within walking or biking distance from work will need to use public transportation.

There is concern that the rail network, particularly the London Underground, will quickly become overcrowded if a reduced level of service continues as workers start to return to the office.

Passengers at Canning Town railway station in East London this morning as commuters travel on the London Underground network

Passengers at Canning Town railway station in East London this morning as commuters travel on the London Underground network

Will people be prevented from accessing public transportation because of the two-meter social distance rules – and how will it be controlled?

Boris Johnson said people who can’t work from home will soon be actively encouraged to go to work instead of being told not to go unless they have to. But they should avoid public transportation if possible.

However, there was nothing in Johnson’s announcement last night regarding what those who will eventually take public transportation will face in terms of improved social distancing measures.

These could include strict queuing systems in place outside stations to make sure trains don’t get too busy and commuters can keep their distance from each other.

There have also been calls for hand sanitizer dispensers at all stations and for all commuters to wear face masks. But it is unclear how all of this will be controlled – and what will happen, if any, to people who flout new rules.

Some transport networks may follow the policies implemented by UK supermarkets which have introduced queuing systems and one-way aisles to limit interaction between customers and staff.

There are also concerns about how social distance on public transport will be monitored, although Oyster and contactless card readers at underground stations will provide Transport for London with precise figures on the use of the underground.

How the government’s DefCon-style five-step alert system for the UK coronavirus epidemic could work

Why does the government think quarantine for arrivals to the UK will be effective now, when it has not introduced such a measure before?

Prime Minister said it would be “soon time” to introduce a quarantine period to prevent Covid-19 infection from abroad – but there are questions as to why was not done earlier.

Speaking to the nation, Johnson said, “To prevent re-infection from abroad, I point out that it will soon be time, with significantly lower transmission, to impose quarantine on people entering this country. by plane.

“And it is thanks to your efforts to reduce the R and the number of infections here, that this measure will now be effective. “

Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed that quarantine measures would not apply between France and the United Kingdom “at this stage,” said a joint statement.

But which consumer group? Travel has warned that a quarantine imposed on people traveling to the UK would add to the confusion of Britons trying to understand their future travel plans. The situation was described as “chaotic”.

Johnson did not mention arrivals by sea, and did not say whether this would include passengers on internal flights to the United Kingdom or flights from the Republic of Ireland.

However, The Times previously reported that travelers from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will be exempt from quarantine.

The plan has also been reported to impose a 14-day quarantine, and Airlines UK said the government has told it the plan will be in place by the end of the month or early June.

Government official said quarantine is “a few weeks from now,” adding: “What scientific advice tells you is that when national transmission is high, imported cases represent a small amount of the overall total. and make no significant difference to the epidemic.

“However, this can change when the rate of household transmission of infection is low and people arrive from countries with higher rates of infection. “

How and when will the government get to the point where it can make sure that hundreds of thousands of people are tested every day?

Boris Johnson a déclaré hier soir que la Grande-Bretagne faisait de grands progrès en matière de tests, déclarant: «  Si nous voulons contrôler ce virus, nous devons disposer d’un système mondial pour tester les victimes potentielles et retrouver leurs contacts.

«Alors que – tout compte fait – nous testons quotidiennement des centaines de milliers de personnes. Nous avons fait des progrès rapides dans les tests, mais il y a tellement plus à faire maintenant, et nous le pouvons.

Mais il y a des questions sur la façon dont le gouvernement vérifiera le niveau des tests, le secrétaire à la Santé Matt Hancock ayant raté son objectif de 100 000 tests pour chaque jour de la semaine dernière.

Bien que M. Hancock ait atteint l’objectif à la date limite du 30 avril, ses fonctionnaires sont soupçonnés d’augmenter les chiffres ce jour-là en incluant des dizaines de milliers de tests à domicile inutilisés.

Cela vient du fait que les ministres ont admis qu’ils devaient envoyer 50 000 tests de coronavirus en Amérique pour traitement suite à un problème dans l’un des grands laboratoires britanniques.

Les échantillons auraient été transportés par avion vers une installation dans un État du sud des États-Unis la semaine dernière après une «défaillance temporaire» dans un laboratoire britannique.

Quand le système judiciaire reviendra-t-il à la normale?

La seule référence de Boris Johnson au système de justice pénale était que les gens «  doivent obéir aux règles sur l’éloignement social et pour appliquer ces règles, nous augmenterons les amendes pour la petite minorité qui les enfreint  ».

Il n’a pas mentionné les procès devant jury, mais il est apparu aujourd’hui que ceux-ci reprendraient en Angleterre et au Pays de Galles à partir de la semaine prochaine, près de deux mois après avoir été suspendus dans le cadre des mesures de verrouillage.

Le Lord juge en chef Lord Burnett a décidé que de nouveaux procès avec jury seront autorisés dans quelques tribunaux à partir de la semaine prochaine – avec des dispositions spéciales en place pour maintenir l’éloignement social et d’autres mesures de sécurité.

Tous les nouveaux procès avec jury ont été suspendus le 23 mars en raison de la pandémie de Covid-19 et des travaux sont en cours depuis lors pour rechercher des options permettant de mener des essais en toute sécurité.

Les premiers tribunaux où de nouveaux jurys seront assermentés comprennent l’Old Bailey à Londres et Cardiff Crown Court.

Public Health England et Public Health Wales ont été impliqués dans les dispositions détaillées suite aux recommandations du Jury Trials Working Group, présidé par le juge Edis, qui comprend des représentants de la profession juridique et de l’ensemble du système de justice pénale.

D’autres tribunaux du Royaume-Uni sont en cours d’évaluation dans le but d’augmenter progressivement le nombre de cas lorsque cela est sûr, les installations de chaque site étant «  soigneusement étudiées  » conformément aux directives de sécurité.

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