Throughout the pandemic, Scotland has been seen as doing well. It has lower coronavirus infection rates and a strong leader at the helm, with Nicola Sturgeon projecting clear messaging very much of the non-mixed variety. But now we find Scotland’s infection rates aren’t much lower than England’s, even with tighter restrictions in place. So why now is it all going so horribly wrong?
From my viewpoint, it appears to be the government’s intransigent position that the schools and universities are to remain open at all costs. We live in Glasgow and are hearing firsthand stories of friends and family testing positive, all with a link to a local school. None of the school outbreaks make the headlines. In this second wave of Covid-19, will Scotland be an example of how much worse things will get? Scottish schools restarted three weeks ahead of England.
The NHS is trying to address these backlogs but a second wave will surely knock them off course and the same will happen after the second, third and future waves until such time as we have an effective vaccine. Until then, there is a real risk of Groundhog Day as each wave is contained at the expense of other medical conditions and ever-increasing suffering and deaths from these untreated conditions.
In the past, we treated certain conditions, like TB, polio, and scarlet fever differently. We had separate specialist fever and isolation hospitals and sanitorium for long term recovery. Can we afford to simply wait and hope a vaccine eventually arrives? Or is it time to look at how we dealt with contagious diseases in the past and see if this could form a model on how to live with Covid-19 and future pandemics while maintaining the NHS?
Patients with Covid-19 would be kept away from general hospitals and referred directly to the Nightingale hospitals and other regional dedicated hospitals. It would allow the rest of the NHS to treat other conditions, thereby reducing the overall death rates and levels of suffering within the general population.
Ross on Wye
Foreign Office travel advice
Excellent Editor’s Letter by your travel correspondent Simon Calder (Government’s mismanagement has made a mockery of Foreign Office’s travel advice).
When he says “they have lost all power to the cult of destruction at the heart of government”, is he referring to Dominic Cummings? The government rather makes a mockery of “take back control”.
It was refreshing to read Ben Chapman’s article on the housing bubble (“We’re heading for a housing crash – and Boris Johnson just made it worse”) – a change from how house prices are normally reported.
He ascribed the problem mainly to the banks creating money and pumping it into property, but they can only do that with the connivance of society, egged on by politicians and the media. Even otherwise reputable sources like The Independent regularly report in glowing terms when house prices rise and with dire warnings when they fail to do so.
Housing is a necessity of life, like food, warmth and clothing, but no one rejoices if the price of food, fuel or overcoats go up – quite the reverse. So why delight when housing is made more even more unaffordable?
The intrinsic value of a house doesn't increase. Prices only go up because someone is willing to pay more for the same underlying value, doing so with the expectation that someone else will pay even more, like a giant Ponzi scheme.
But it can’t go on forever because there is a limit to the fraction of anyone’s wealth that can be tied up in housing. And when the bubble does eventually burst it will wreak enormous pain and social damage on those who were sucked in last.
Held to account
Before Tony Blair became prime minister, there were two sessions of PMQs each week. Shouldn’t, in the circumstances, this custom be revived so that Johnson can be more closely questioned?
We are now getting advice from Prince George, passed on by his father, on the climate crisis. Last month, Prince William took his son to watch grouse hunting, so I hope Prince George will make a speech giving his views on that.
Princess Beatrice, Prince Andrew and Prince William have all attended Davos, the World Economic Forum, to guide world leaders. Could I suggest that they send Prince George to the next one?
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