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“I’ll make something up” police officer suspended

Lancashire Police have suspended a policeman, quite rightly, after he was filmed ‘threatening to make something up’ so he could arrest a man for breaching coronavirus lockdown laws. Lancashire Police was forced to apologise for the unnamed officer’s behaviour after footage of the incident in Accrington was shared online. Tonight they have confirmed he has been suspended from duty with immediate effect and the force has referred itself to the police watchdog over the clip.  There have been widespread calls for the officer to be dismissed from the force and also prosecuted. There is no place in a modern police force for this type of officer, unless we really have moved into the parallel reality of a 1984 Police State, but it is yet another example of the failures in selection, training and ethics of the current British Police Force which this pandemic lockdown has brought into severe focus…. the great work being done by the vast majority of officers is being undermined, and the reputation of the police tarnished, by a handful of officers who during the Great Lockdown have become self appointed offices of the Ministry of Truth on Airstrip One.

Source : Daily Mail


Play the video here

Unlawful powers claimed by Cambridgeshire Police

Cambridgeshire Police officers visited a Tesco in Bar Hill – where they were happy to see “the non essential aisles were empty”. This is despite it being only a day since Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed that police had no powers to check your supermarket purchases. Cambridgeshire Police officers visited the supermarket just a day after Northamptonshire’s chief constable Nick Adderley said his force were only “a few days away” from introducing measures such as road blocks and searching shopping trolleys, as people continue to flout coronavirus regulations resulting in widespread criticism for claiming powers that don’t exist and causing Home Secretary Priti Patel to have to go public to slap down the Chief Constable’s suggestion, which she described as “not appropriate” and “without lawful authority at this time“.

faced a backlash for suggesting officers could search shopping trolleys if people kept flouting social distancing rules and it is disappointing that some Chief Constables are misinforming the public and police about their powers.

Similarly, Gloucestershire police have been illegally stopping customers of The Range in Gloucester, and illegally telling shoppers that their purchases of paint, a sat-nav, an Easter egg, a scratch card, bamboo fencing were not essential. This stems from a failure of the police to consider what is permitted travel.

Similarly other officers have said exercise is limited to 2 people, which is incorrect as it is limited to members of the household.

Permitted travel includes
– going to obtain basic necessities (note – not essentials) and the test of necessities is a subjective objective test, being in the determination of the shopper (subjective) as long as objectively that interpretation is reasonable;
– going to obtain supplies for the essential upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household (so if you have a legal obligation in the deeds of your property to maintain your fences, then buying replacement fencing is within permitted purposes, similarly so is buying a sat-nav (functioning), or an easter egg (necessity for Easter) or paint (maintenance)
– shopping for the vulnerable
– seeking medical assistance or collecting medicines
– donating blood
– travelling for purposes of work or voluntary or charitable services where not reasonably possible to provide those services from where they are living (Note that the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 don’t make the criteria of essential for those services (although also note that good practice would suggest that if it can wait, it should, although this is not mandatory);
– funerals.

You are also able to travel to fulfil a legal obligation (and this includes bit not exclusively attending court, satisfying bail conditions or to participate in legal proceedings). (Note the wording says that if you are contractually obligated to do so, you may travel – it does not say only for purposes linked to the legal system!).

Also note that if you share a garden, yard, stairway, garage, outhouse or common parts of a house, then you are within the household definition.

Yorkshire police were also illegally telling householders that they could not sit in their front gardens.

Government lockdown guidelines do not ban anyone from going into their garden. Whilst it is a good idea to maintain social distancing measures if a garden borders a public path or road, there is NO restriction on any use of the garden by its household (but use of a garden with non-household members infringes the law).

After the video was uploaded to Facebook, South Yorkshire Police issued an apology.They said that the officer in the video had been reminded of the lockdown guidelines. Alexander Stafford, MP for Rother Valley, said the officer’s actions constituted an “overreach” (which is code for “illegal”) and without authority).

The truth is that either a) officers have been properly trained and should face disciplinary action for “over-reaching” or b) officers have been advised that they have powers that they don’t have and for that the Chief Constables, as responsible for Force training, should face discipliary action.

Whilst the media have portrayed images of people buying ice-creams, the truth is that if people are our legally taking exercise and choose to buy ice-creams from a shop that is legally open, they’re not breaching the law.

Police were spotted speaking to people on Brighton beach as they appeared to ignore the repeated warnings for staying at home although it is unclear whether the police were simply reminding people that Government advice was to stay at home or whether these were officers “overreaching” as there is at 10th April, no restriction on use of beaches or parks as long as social distancing is maintained.

Elsewhere in the country runners, walkers and cyclists were seen filling crowded pathways in Park, with little apparent regard for social distancing guidance and the police have the power if necessary to protect public health to determine that there is a general gathering of people in that public place and to issue dispersal orders and prohibition notices under s8 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2000

Self-isolation – part of Alien invasion

The Police may have been open to criticism for using drones to film walkers on the Derbyshire peaks, and for unlawfully telling sunbathers that they can’t sunbathe, but it seems they have learned their lesson as a lighter touch regime starts. (As at 6th April, there is no power to disperse you if you’re sunbathing in a park as long as you’re maintaining the 2m social distancing rule – and that means if you’re with your family, then your family must be 2m apart from everyone else. The draconian powers under the Civil Contingencies Act and the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984 do permit the PM, or the relevant Secretary of State to create a statutory power to prevent all park use or prevent sunbathing, but there is no sign of the Secretary of State taking this very controversial and courageous step.

Over the weekend a more tolerant attitude has emerged, as witnessed by ourselves in Broomfield Park, Enfield where the police were permitting park users to sit at least 2m apart and enjoy the sun, even though technically some of the park users sitting 2m apart were from different families and therefore “available for dispersal orders under the new law”. This is community policing at its best, encouraging park users to use gardens if they have them or if they don’t have gardens to permit them to use the park subject to social distancing being maintained.

The risk of transmission in an open park is very low because the virus struggles to survive in such conditions and as long as people who don’t live together do not exchange food (wrapped or otherwise) thereby risking transmission via the packaging or play with balls etc if they’re from different families.

The conspiracy theories about self-isolation being an alien takeover might have some slightly greater credence today following the video released by Sandford Police (see below)

A DALEK captured saying “All Humans must stay at home….All Humans must self-isolate ….By Order of the Daleks……..

Furlough Fraud

Furlough Fraud? Not a phrase you have heard of much? This is the latest scam being carried out by businesses where they send their workers home to be “furloughed” but expect them to carry out a full day’s work and then claim 80% of their salaries back from the Government’s new furloughed worker scheme…..and it is almost the perfect fraud for the employer as long as the employee keeps their mouth shut, because it is almost perfectly invisible.

Many retail shops have put all of their staff on furlough, because the government has forced them to close; however these same retailers have started to look at creating online businesses using the very same staff.

This is particularly prevalent in small businesses who already had an online presence and a retail outlet, because it is impossible for the HMRC to identify whether the retail staff (who often ran the online outlets from the shop). In some cases, the retailer has simply sent workers home and told them to start promoting the online business and others have been told to carry out work selling online, but if anyone asks to say that they’re not working and on furlough. In some cases there is already an online promotion bonus available so by being furloughed, the employee will earn more than normal, as the bonus will be paid after furlough ceases.

So how does the fraud work? Why isn’t it detectable?

The loopholes have become apparent because there are no checks on the firm’s turnover. If turnover drops dramatically in order to qualify for the scheme then the the furlough scheme works, but because the Government failed to properly plan for a pandemic and had to rush in measures, this was not properly considered. Instead the Government has tried to focus the public on the possibility of self-employed fraud.

Other businesses which operate from offices using mobile phones and email have moved workers to work from home, with no major impact to the business but have then woken up to the furlough scheme and officially told their workers that to avoid redundancy (which wouldn’t happen in fact) that they have been furloughed. They’ve then been told that they need to keep servicing their clients whilst at home. Cleverer companies have said that you only get paid 80% of your salary unless you fully service your clients (i.e. no change to work, except that you’re working from home) when you keep your full salary. To the outside, the company looks as if it is being nice to workers by paying them their full salary- but in fact, they’re only paying them 20% of the normal salary and yet the company isn’t suffering at all.

Send your staff home. Get 80% of the salary. Then get them to work online where the sales are hardly affected …..and boom….your profits increase dramatically, because your wage bill has dropped from £500,000 per month to £100,000 per month. OK, even if you suffer a 10% fall in purchases, you are still many thousands of pounds better off. ….all paid for by the taxpayer.

Thanks Rishi

Immunity certification gets closer

As we reported last week, the idea of immunity certificates has got closer to adoption.

Britain could roll out coronavirus ‘immunity wristbands or certificates’ for people who have already fought off the deadly infection under antibody testing scheme. Britons who have already have fought off the Covid19 could be given ‘immunity wristbands’ or “certificates” or the equivalent as a phone app. The difficulty with low tech immunity wristbands is the very high risk of forgeries being sold on the black market to allow self-employed to get back to work. Hi-tech wristbands with ID Chips embedded or phone apps utilising QR codes which allow officials to decode the QR code and see who the QR Code was issued to are not thought to be as open to fraud.

Health Secretary  Matt Hancock admitted Number 10 was looking at the move at a Downing Street press conference tonight when he said “We are looking at introducing something like an immunity certificate or a wristband that says “I’ve had it and I’m immune and I can’t pass it on and I’m highly unlikely to catch it”.

Antibody tests are the only ones that can tell if someone has ever caught the deadly infection, and the so-called “murky evidence” about whether immunity prevents a second reinfection  is due to overseas report, mainly from China and Japan that a handful of patients who tested positive subsequently caught corona or who tested as positive, then were released from quarantine as clear, subsequently tested as positive again. One set of about a hundred tests from China showed that around 14 per cent of coronavirus patients tested positive a second time. The vast majority of researchers and immunologists believe this is down to unreliable tests or people bribing their way out of quarantine and are optimistic that people who have had Covid19 are subsequently can become immune to the virus, and can’t be infectious. Most scientists believe the evidence for immunity is convincing and some even claim that it could be life-long as was the case with Spanish Flu.

An antibody test is one which tests whether someone’s immune system is equipped to fight a specific disease or infection. For example, if someone catches COVID-19, they will develop COVID-19 antibodies and store versions of these antibodies in the immune system so that if it comes into contact with that same virus again it will be able to fight it off straight away and the virus can’t get a hold to make that person ill or infectious. To test for these antibodies, medics or scientists can take a fluid sample from someone – usually blood – and mix it with part of the virus to see if there is a reaction between the two.  If there is a reaction, it means someone has the antibodies and their body knows how to fight off the infection – they are immune. If there is no reaction it means they have not had it yet.

This compares with the PCR Test (a polymerase chain reaction test or infection test) which aims to pick up on active viruses currently in the bloodstream. A PCR test works by a sample of someone’s genetic material – their RNA – being taken to lab and worked up in a full map of their DNA at the time of the test. This DNA can then be scanned to find evidence of the virus’s DNA, which will be embroiled with the patient’s own if they are infected at the time. The PCR test is more reliable but takes longer, while the antibody test is faster but more likely to produce an inaccurate result. There is also an Antigens Test which tests for antigens which are parts of a virus that trigger the immune system’s response to fight the infection, and can show up in blood before antibodies are made. The key advantage of antigen tests is that it can take several days for the immune system to develop enough antibodies to be picked up by a test, whereas antigens can be seen almost immediately after infection. Antigen tests are used to diagnose whether the patient has flu or Covid19 and is carried out by using swabs.

COVID pandemic: Doctors sue French government for criminal negligence

With thousands of dead and 29,155 confirmed COVID-19 cases in France, and thousands of health-care professionals infected, six doctors dead and other issues, anger against the government among the public, workers and medical staff is mounting. Like the UK Government, , the French government downplayed the disease and deliberately withheld critical information from the public In response, hundreds of health-care professionals are filing a suit charging top officials with criminal negligence – the only saving grace for the French Government is that they didn’t also bury a report as damning as the Cygnus Report. Could this spread to the UK, lawyers are still flipping through the precedents of ministerial responsibility and liability and the possibility of misfeasance in public office.

The French scandal erupted after ex-Health Minister Agnès Buzyn spoke to Le Monde, blaming Prime Minister Édouard Philippe for not calling off the March 15 first round of municipal elections, the second round of which has since been canceled, and for downplaying her warnings on the pandemic. It appears the interview was an attempt by Buzyn to shift criminal responsibility off her shoulders and onto those of Philippe and French President Emmanuel Macron. Minister Buzyn was apparently following events in China and an English-language blog reported on 20th December that a strange pneumonia was sweeping through China and claims to have alerted the French general health directorate. On January 11, Minister Buzyn claims to have sent a message to the president and on January 30, warned P.M. Édouard Philippe that elections could probably not be held.

Corona is a ticking time-bomb for many Governments

Buzyn made clear that top French officials knew and hid the fact that by not calling for a lock-down to stop COVID’s spread, they were exposing themselves and others to mortal danger. Some claim that by early January, airports should have been closed or passengers subject to immediate quarantine.

When she left the health ministry to briefly run for Paris mayor, Buzyn admitted that she knew a tsunami was coming and was just thinking of the coronavirus. We should have stopped everything. Travel. Public Meetings.

This comes at a time when Ministers in the UK are accused of knowing since 2014 or 2016 that the biggest risk to the UK was Pandemic and that rather than planning for the inevitable Pandemic, the Government continued to maintain the NHS at minimal levels of staffing and equipment and entirely failed to adopt the warnings about PPE, ventilators etc in the Cygnus, Black Swan and other Pandemic Exercises and instead hid the report under a highly classified top secret marking.

The French public are angry about the coverups. They say quite understandably that when there was a nuclear threat in the 1970s, there were regular practices in schools and localities but no consideration given to Pandemic planning. Buzyn’s confession had terrified the Macron government and its allies.
Macron has complained “Why is she saying this now, when it is too late? Does she not realize that she is raising the criminal liability of both herself and the other people she is claiming she warned?” and Mélenchon proposed to drown the scandal in an “information session” of the National Assembly, yet again trying to bury the difficulties that will inevitably rain down on Governments in Europe after the Corona lockdown abates. This will be coupled with a concern about delays in closing borders due to the European open Borders and Schengen policies.

In fact, across Europe, the entire political ruling elite of all leanings has been repeatedly responsible for decades of austerity that devastated health systems, in favour of prestige projects, such as HS2 in the UK. Accusations are being made that Macron’s politically motivated inaction in the early weeks of the Pandemic was criminal just as aim is being taken at Downing street influencers such as Dominic Cummings as well as politicians for not taking the politically unpopular and politically risky steps of protecting the nation against the inevitable pandemic tsunami. As late as early March, government spokespeople were comparing COVID-19 to the flu and insisting that workers should not confine themselves at home and that herd immunity would appear and only the vulnerable and those living with the vulnerable should isolate, only to be bounced later into changing the policy when it was far too late. Prior to lockdown, wildcat strikes erupted across Italy and tens of thousands of industrial workers walked off the job in France and across Europe, forcing state officials to grudgingly approve confinement measures.

As the death toll has mounted among the population and health staff, growing anger and disillusionment with the Macron government has pushed health-care professionals to file suit against Philippe, Buzyn and other officials. Several hundred doctors and health staff represented by the lawyer Fabrice di Vizio have filed a suit to the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), which has jurisdiction to investigate high crimes by top officials.

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Di Vizio said that his clients were suing based on Article 233, part 7 of the Criminal Code, which stipulates: “Anyone who voluntarily abstains from taking or launching measures that would allow, without risk for himself or third persons, for fighting a catastrophe that could threaten physical persons is punished with two years in jail and a 30,000 euro fine.”

Di Vizio pointed to the growing anger of health staff as they discovered that the government’s various assurances about protective equipment like face masks were lies. In echos of the UK, the complaint alleges that the government told them at the end of February that the masks would arrive, but delayed emergency measures such as using the army for distribution because it would focus attention on the running down of the health service.

Some of the anger is that French firms producing face masks had orders from the British government before the French Government placed orders resulting in lack of availability. Many pandemic specialist doctors say that they have for many years been telling the French authorities that there would be a problem with PPE, ventilators, intensive care beds. (Did someone mention Cygnus again?).

A fight to hold government ministers accountable for their actions in the COVID-19 pandemic has wide support in the working class and this is spreading to the middle classes with polls show that 70 percent of the population does not believe that their government has been telling the truth about the pandemic and prior planning for it; however the task of holding them to account cannot be left to the courts, but will also be the subject of a series of very public and wide reaching and very damaging public enquiries. In France, the General Inspectorate of the Health Administration concluded in its report that health protection was subordinated to economic considerations and political party dogma. Just as there will be a material backlash in China against the secretive PRC, so workers in Europe and internationally are faced with the challenge of struggling to ensure an effective fight against the disease, and as this panic and struggle turns to anger, they will take revenge on a political and financial aristocracy that was responsible.

After weeks of dis-information that masks don’t work, professor says “wear masks!”

After being repeatedly told by the Government that wearing masks doesn’t stop transmission, and despite millions of people in Asia where rates are dropping wearing masks, ….we now find that “The British public’s failure to wear facemasks is hampering our efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus”. heads should roll in the Government after this crisis is over.

So masks may actually provide protection if most people are wearing them, but there may not be enough to go around

KK Cheng, a professor of public health at the University of Birmingham, has finally broken ranks, rubbishing the official Government line about masks saying “Official advice not to use the masks, which are ubiquitous in Asian countries that have already controlled their outbreaks, means we are ignoring “a perfectly sound public health intervention. If each of us had a mask to wear, I just can’t see why transmission would not be reduced, ….If I had to go on the underground I’d use a scarf, handkerchief, anything to cover my mouth.”

and what of the apparently greater number of men dying?
Women have a stronger immunological response due to X chromosomes and the responses that women take will be stronger in their immunological response because the X chromosome contains the coding that maps for anti-viral protein production. This makes their immune systems stronger, but it could also be that statistically men wash their hands less often and are higher risk takers, for example 50% of Chinese men smoke compared with 2% of Chinese women and this will skew figures in China.

It is a matter of orthodoxy at the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) that surgical facemasks are of no benefit in the corona fight as far as the public are concerned and officials have long taken the view that paper masks do not protect against viruses and as a consequence the UK does not hold emergency stocks of them. This contrasts with Asia where there is material support in health departments and amongst the public for the use of masks on the basis that the mask protects everyone else from the wearer and therefore there is an understanding in the public that you wear a mask to protect others and that it is your duty to do so.

On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – a long standing ally of Whitehall in the no-mask camp – announced that it was about to change its advice, and that “…..surgical masks should be used, not for personal protection, but to protect others from Covid-19“.

If the UK had listened to China and not sought to protect itself from criticism that it had not ordered emergency supplies for population-wide use, could the use of masks have slowed the spread of the pandemic in the west? Were our public health officials blindly following dogma in the face of evidence?

Rumour is that Gordon Brown in 2009 wanted the UK to hold a stockpile of masks. The same issue arose in 2009 during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic when the virus was breaking out of Mexico and heading towards Europe and officials in the DHSC, with no specialised training and without the benefit of any scientific data supporting their case, could only look at the question of masks from the perspective of the individual. and despite the fact that since the victorian times, it has been known that the mask protects the patient and not the wearing doctor. In fact, masks provide little protection from viruses which are airborne and can create a false sense of security but this is largely due to them being ill-fitting and needing regular adjustment, causing wearers to touch their hands to their faces and need regularly replacing because they create a potential magnet for germs. – Yet this is a false premise as evidenced by the fact that UK doctors and nurses are so angry about not being provided with enough proper FFP3 respirators.

Corona-antibody health pass under consideration if tests are reliable to allow holders to resume work and travel.

Eight in ten people are now following the government’s coronavirus advice, according to the latest polling.The exclusive Savanta poll for the daily telegraph  found that 83 per cent were following most or all of the lockdown rules, with half (51 per cent) of the population now said to be self-isolating. This is 15 per cent up on this time last week and although around half of people are now consistently working from home when they wouldn’t ordinarily – the figure hasn’t dipped below 40 per cent since last Saturday (March 21), we need those disobeying 17% to continue the spread of the virus so that herd immunity can be achieved without overwhelming the NHS.

Iceland, in line with some other nations, have tested many of their population and found that many of them have already had corona without even knowing it. Corona reached Iceland in February 2020, with 1,135 cases at 31st March, of which 173 have recovered and 2 have died. Iceland with a total population of 364,260 is showing that the infection rate is 1 case per 357 inhabitants which is one of the highest in the world, though this is attributed to more tests have been carried out per capita in Iceland than any other country. The response to the pandemic by Icelandic health authorities has focused on early detection and contact tracing and social distancing measures such as an ban on assemblies of more than 20 persons. As a member of the Schengen area, Iceland is restricting unnecessary travel by persons who are not citizens of the EU, the United Kingdom or the EFTA countries into the area but has not made other formal restrictions against international or domestic travel. Icelandic health officials have used voluntary home-based quarantines for all residents returning from defined high-risk areas and virus testing as the primary means of preventing transmission within the community. Icelandic health officials have tested a proportionately high number of arriving passengers from high-risk areas for COVID-19, with the hope that early detection of infections will prevent their spread.  crucially — the testing also includes people who show no symptoms of the disease. Their effort is intended to gather insight into the actual prevalence of the virus in the community, compared with most countries who are most exclusively testing only symptomatic individuals. Early results from tests indicate that a low proportion of the general population has contracted the virus and that about half of those who tested positive are non-symptomatic, meaning that they have met the virus and didn’t even know, most of the remainder had only very moderate cold-like symptoms.

Mass testing on the scale adopted in Iceland is unlikely to be feasible across larger countries, but in Italy, localised testing has occurred and has provided evidence revealing that a significant portion of those who catch the disease do so with no or mild symptoms — and confirmed multiple pieces of research that have shown that spread occurs largely via individuals who don’t display symptoms. In the small northern Italian town of Vo, one of the communities where the outbreak first emerged, the entire population of 3,300 people was tested — 3% of residents tested positive, and of these, the majority had no symptoms. The population was tested again after a two-week lockdown and isolation. Researchers found that transmission was reduced by 90% and all those still positive were without symptoms and could remain quarantine.

Tests have found that for every confirmed case of the virus there are likely another five to 10 people with undetected infections and that these often milder and less infectious cases are behind nearly 80% of new cases. Analysis of data from China as well as data from those returning on repatriation flights suggesst that 40-50% of infections are asymptomatic or have a mild reaction similar to influenza. Current models suggest that infectiousness occurs more quickly in symptomatic individuals and that they are more infectious than asymptomatic ones.

The World Health Organization has urged countries to test more suspected cases: “You cannot fight the fire blindfolded, and we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected”. The real solution is to test for the antibody, because if you have the antibody you’re no longer capable of being infectious and you can then resume life as normal as you can’t spread it.

In China, they’re giving people Green Health cards via their phone apps which allow people to go back to work and to travel internally as essential workers; however many countries are Looking at Corona Antibody carriers being given phone-app passes which verify an antibody presence and therefore no carrier or infection risk, with built-in security to allow officials to scan the QR code and see that the green-light Health card has actually been given to that person because it displays their photo and name, but only to authorised officials. This is something that is under active consideration in the UK and with the proviso that if you don’t want to carry the green-light Corona Health card, then you have the right not to but then you must continue to obey the lockdown, and coupled with a huge fine for carrying someone else’s green-light Health card. The app would allow users to remove it from their phone after the crisis is over. The concern in the UK is whether there are enough officials to check people out and about and carrying the card; however it is also thought that a volunteer group. like the NHS volunteers, could be created from Green Corona Health card holders (who are not at risk of catching corona or passing it on).

South Korea, one of the countries first and worst hit after China, quickly put in place the most aggressive testing regime in the world after a cluster of a few dozen cases in early February exponentially ballooned to almost 5,000 cases by the end of that month. The country now has the ability to test about 20,000 people a day. A diagnosis takes about five to six hours and patients usually get results within a day. 268,000 South Koreans have been tested for the virus — about one in every 200 citizens, according to South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha.

After surpassing 8,000 cases, the number of new cases is now smaller than the number of those fully cured. The South Korean foreign minister told the BBC that testing was key. “Testing is central because that leads to early detection, it minimises further spread and it quickly treats those found with the virus,” she said. “That is the key behind our very low fatality rate as well.” The data from South Korea is in stark contrast to countries like the UK, where there is currently no community testing of people with symptoms self-isolating at home. The government is under mounting pressure to do more.

Did Mrs May & Jeremy Hunt bury the warnings of Pandemic Exercise Cygnus in 2016?

Ministers from across government were seated, ashen faced, in the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR) as epidemiologists from Imperial College London were showing details of an epidemic that was enveloping Britain after the first cases of the virus had been confirmed in south east Asia two months previously. Britain reported its first cases, imported from returning travellers, a few weeks later and now there was widespread and sustained domestic transmission in the UK and the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared a global pandemic. However it was not the pandemic itself that was causing those gathered in Whitehall to grimace but the nation’s woeful preparation, the fact the NHS was completely underfunded for the event and so stretched under normal operations that it could barely cope before the pandemic. The peak of the epidemic had not yet arrived but local resilience forums, hospitals and mortuaries across the country were already being overwhelmed.  There was not enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for the nation’s doctors and nurses. The NHS was about to “fall over” due to a shortage of ventilators and critical care beds. Mortuaries were expected to overflow, and it had become terrifyingly evident that the government’s emergency messaging was not getting traction with the public and that an economically ruinous lockdown would be needed. The only significant difference between the test drill and the pandemic we now face is that Cygnus was assumed to be the H2N2 influenza virus, while Covid-19 is a coronavirus. Both spread rapidly and kill by causing acute respiratory illness.

Current News?….No, this was a 2016 drill. Code-named Exercise Cygnus and involved all major government departments, the NHS and local authorities across Britain and which showed gaping holes in Britain’s Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR) plan ….and the question now is whether the report about what to do was buried by Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt.

The Original report from 2014 entitled Pandemic influenza response plan (here) and the Pandemic Influenza Strategic Framework (here) were reviewed in 2016 as part of Exercise Cygnus . Exercise Cygnus was a simulation exercise carried out by the British government in October 2016, as highlighted in the Powys Pandemic Report  to estimate the impact of a hypothetical influenza pandemic  on the UK and the exercise showed that the pandemic would cause the country’s health system to collapse from a lack of resources, with Sally Davis the then Chief Medical Officer, stating that a lack of medical ventilators and the logistics of disposal of dead bodies were serious problems. As of March 2020, the full results of the exercise remain classified. At least the papers such as New Statesman and the Telegraph are baying for blood even if the Labour opposition is nowhere to be seen. (See the LBC interview here). This tied in with Exercise Black Swan which states that “a new influenza pandemic continues to be recognised as one of the six Tier 1 risks to the United Kingdom in the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015

Why isn’t the report being declassified? The Cygnus exercise was described as a sobering experience.