The rising numbers of cases of Ebola is alarming. I am confused as to why the precautions to prevent the spread of this incredibly infectious virus are so different from those that would be adopted in the case of animal diseases. In the latter case we would see bans on movement of livestock from affected areas and other countries would prohibit the import of any animal or possibly affected product.
In this case the only precaution to prevent spread into the UK is a questionnaire which will almost certainly be ineffective and in any case will be applied too late to prevent infection of airport staff, other passengers and local health workers.
Is it not time to prevent any movement of people in and out of any country having several cases in the general population, except in exceptional cases, and then after a period in quarantine?
Britain must be a likely place for Ebola to occur, given that we have decided to allow our airports, particularly Heathrow, to be used a transit points for travellers from all over the world. The risk of disease transmission should surely be taken into account when considering whether this role should be expanded even further by the building of additional runways.
The profits of the airlines and the airport operators should not take precedence over the health of the local population.
The Government has decided that there is sufficient risk to introduce Ebola screening on UK arrival. This implies that airline and other staff are exposed to that risk in transit.
What about the duty of care their employers owe them? What about the risk to passengers? Furthermore, aircraft may need special disinfection measures before reuse.
There needs to be much more rigorous screening, perhaps quarantine, before people are even permitted to leave high-risk countries, particularly for their own good.
Giles du Boulay
Lying-in-state for a murderous king
The discovery of the remains of King Richard III has done nothing to dispel the fierce controversy surrounding his reputation (“Richard’s car park bones to be reinterred, after three days lying in state”, 15 October).
Despite all the protestation of the king’s “Ricardian” enthusiasts, it remains the consensus among historians of the period that Richard seized the throne illegally, arranged the judicial murder of Lord Hastings and was almost certainly guilty of having his nephews murdered in the Tower. His remains are of valid academic interest but holding an elaborate funeral procession followed by a lying-in-state for a murderer is quite inappropriate.
Still, at least now that we know where his grave will be, arrangements can be made to dance on it.
Dr Sean Lang
Senior Lecturer in History
Anglia Ruskin University
It is to be hoped that amid the pageantry and prayers that will accompany Richard III to his second grave there will be some remembrance of the men who were put to death to facilitate his becoming, as the Ricardians love to put it, “an anointed king”.
His sister-in-law’s relatives and associates Rivers, Vaughan, Grey and Haut were executed, apparently without trial, and their bodies dumped in some pit in Pontefract more nameless than a Leicester municipal car park. Lord Chamberlain Hastings was beheaded at a moment’s notice on Richard’s direct orders.
His nephews, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, escaped with their lives only in the imagination of Richard III’s ardent fan club, which constantly reminds us that Richard was, as medieval kings go, a benign ruler, a sort of grandaddy of the welfare state. Might not these latter good deeds have been inspired by a guilty conscience?
No excuses for Boko Haram
Professor Garry’s claim (letter, 15 August) that removing girls from their families against their will is normal in Northern Nigeria comes dangerously close to providing an excuse for Boko Haram.
The decision to marry off a girl is made by the family; and these girls’ families had taken the decision to educate their girls beyond marrying age (15). Furthermore, they came from mainly Christian families, who would not have consented to marrying their daughters to Muslims, or indeed to having their girls sold as concubines, fifth wives or slaves.
Thus, even if Boko Haram had conscientiously thought that these girls ought to be married, they must in conscience be consistent and defer to the families’ rights in this matter, which they did not.
Furthermore, if they were so conscientiously Muslim, why have so many of the girls been raped? Does not Islam forbid rape?
Culture is not a genuine explanation for this behaviour. It was kidnapping, rape and religious intolerance on a massive scale, and so for the kidnappers there should be not the tiniest excuse or the slightest mercy.
Stretford, Greater Manchester
When teachers had to take an oath
Brian Dalton, in his letter of 13 October, is rightly contemptuous of “oath-taking” by teachers. If this is the best idea that Tristram Hunt can bring back from Singapore, educational policy in this country has a mountain to climb.
As a teacher in southern China for many years, I was routinely asked to take such “oaths” and always refused. Foreign teachers were often asked to write “codes of conduct” for themselves, and at one stage to organise “self-criticism” groups, as though Mao Zedong were alive and well, and we had failed to quote passages from his little red book to an appropriately ardent and heartfelt standard.
Such suggestions were always made after pupil misconduct, where Chinese management seemed ineffective, or after some other crisis where management sought to deflect blame and change the subject.
“See how you foreigners can improve yourselves,” was a routine dodge I well recall. Is this really what we want here?
If Mr Hunt regards a “Hippocratic oath” as remotely relevant to education in this country, I suggest he start by taking one himself.
Something beginning “I do solemnly swear to get a grip...” should do.
Unfair to denounce Nigel Farage
Ukip does not stigmatise people who are HIV positive (letter, 14 October). Ukip is very sympathetic. However, we have a National Health Service, not an international one. The NHS is in dire straits with a £30bn black hole and cannot afford to treat the whole world.
Similarly, Ukip does not demonise Eastern Europeans. We do not have the room and the infrastructure for 250,000 extra people every year. Also, with the EU open-door policy other countries outside the EU including our Commonwealth cousins are discriminated against and cannot come here.
Ukip believes in an NHS free of charge, but other governments have allowed privatisation on a large scale, such as PFI arrangements from the Labour Government, which has saddled our children and grandchildren with a debt for years to come.
Ukip believes in low taxes, especially to take all those on minimum wage out of tax altogether.
Nigel Farage is not a populist. He has worked tirelessly and given up his life to get the country out of the undemocratic and corrupt EU. Whatever people’s views on this, we have never had a say since 1975. He is a conviction politician. Why should people denounce him? We used to have free speech in this country.
I find it somewhat baffling that Mr Farage, while slating “Westminster parties” and “Westminster politicians” seems to be straining every nerve and sinew precisely to become one of them.
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Smoking ban in the wrong place
What a pointless suggestion from Lord Darzi, to ban smoking in parks. I have never been inconvenienced by smokers in the vast open spaces of our public parks, where I can easily avoid them.
If Lord Darzi would like to become a genuine do-gooder, why doesn’t he propose a ban on smoking at bus stops, where it is almost impossible to escape from the noxious fumes emanating from those recalcitrant baddies?
I think kitchen appliances do talk to each other, even before the “internet of things” arrives (letter, 14 October). The pot has been calling the kettle black for years.
Church Minshull, Cheshire