There’s too much emphasis on testing, we also need better diagnosis to control the spread of coronavirus

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Thursday 17 September 2020 18:49
People queue up for a coronavirus test in London
People queue up for a coronavirus test in London

The NHS Test and Trace situation is now quite farcical. We can only expect it to get worse. It is plain silly to put so much emphasis on a test. Infected people who are asymptomatic can’t or won’t get tested or give a false negative result. The current test and trace system will not control outbreaks.

We need a broader concept of diagnosis by trained professionals. Testing is part of diagnosis not a replacement. Risk factors and key symptoms can be immediately assessed by phone. Advice can be given immediately and then modified when and if laboratory tests become available. Community and individual factors can be assessed. Contacts could be traced early if appropriate. This works well in Germany now.

We need to move power, information and resources to local public health services and our brilliant GPs. We need to see the massive investment in novel private services for the massive mistake it has turned out to be.

Dr Bing Jones

On behalf of Sheffield Community Contact Tracers

Faulty system

Having recently tried to get tested for coronavirus in Glasgow, we were told that the whole UK appointment system had stopped working. This suggests that there is a centralised UK-wide system for appointments driven no doubt by yet another faulty algorithm. 

How else can you explain why people are being offered tests in locations hundreds of miles from home or worse still how people in Twickenham can magically get an appointment if they pretend they live in Aberdeen? As this government seems hopeless when getting involved with computers, how about using some of the thousands of people who are currently not working to operate a manual system on a local basis.

Geoff Forward


Trump impunity

How long before Trump claims those hurricane-flooded southern cities should have been managing their drain clearance better, in view of his pronouncements on the west coast infernos? And obviously he merely misspoke when he substituted “herd mentality” for “herd immunity” as the Covid solution: the word his awesome brain cell was grasping for was “impunity”.

Rick Biddulph


XR extinction

As a climate change movement, Extinction Rebellion has little impact.  What appears to be a group of predominantly white middle-class activists, flaunting Covid-19 restrictions and common sense, by preventing people for whom the need to stop carbon emissions is subordinate to their desire to provide support for their families getting to work, is simply an act of selfishness.  

That they do it in one of the least polluting capitals of the world, and in one of the countries that is most liberal with protests, and with a police force the most scrutinised for behaviour in the world, makes their “rebellion” rather pathetic.

If they wish to prove their dedication to their cause and make a real impact more people would listen if they attempted the same protests in Beijing, Moscow, Delhi, and Islamabad.

Matt Minshall

Brittany, France

UK does not have enough testing capacity, Boris Johnson admits

Bottom of the class

Poor Gavin Williamson, he has absolutely no idea how testing works. He obviously thinks that by giving every school 10 testing kits before the beginning of term he will be making a difference, and helping to combat the virus. Unfortunately, he is not very good with numbers.

Nick Bell


Failed experiment

Now that the furlough scheme is about to end there is much discussion about which jobs should continue and which are those that society can manage without.

Many of us saw the harrowing programme about species loss that was broadcast on television recently, and narrated by the wonderful David Attenborough.

These two issues are closely related. In the last six months we have discovered what is important and what is not. We need healthcare workers, carers, educators and providers of food. We can do without many of the things that are sold on our high streets.

A fundamental requirement of capitalism is selling for profit. Materials are taken from the earth, modified by the application of carbon-emitting power or cheap-as-possible labour. They are then introduced to potential buyers by advertising, which often uses celebrity endorsement, cutesy cartoons, humour etc, which are irrelevant to the product. Much advertising is essentially mendacious. And the buyers are thus persuaded to buy goods which they have been encouraged to want, but did not need. Consumerism thereby increases environmental damage.

Unless developed societies can be persuaded to accept that capitalism in its unbridled form is a failed experiment, mankind will continue to wreak further havoc on planet Earth, to the detriment of not only other species but also ourselves.

Susan Alexander

Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire

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