On Friday 31st January 2020, ‘The Times’ newspaper ran a story about UK health officials scrambling to trace people who had come into contact with two Chinese tourists who stayed at a York City hotel. These were the first confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, COVID-19 in the UK.
Exactly the same day; Friday 31st January 2020 ‘The South China Morning Post’ reported that Singapore will close its borders to all new visitors from mainland China, including foreigners who had visited the country in the last 14 days.
Sunday 22nd March 2020, The Mail online reported that flights from Italy, Iran and China, the countries with the largest death tolls from Coronavirus were still landing in the UK bringing with them up to 7,500 passengers a day.
Monday 23rd March 2020 Emperor Johnson had the audacity to address the nation on television and “ORDER’ a lockdown. In his address he stated that people can only shop for basic necessities, should limit exercise to one form a day, restrict travel only to and from essential work and that you should stay at home. HOUSE ARREST in other words.
As of writing the UK death toll is: 1,789
As of writing the Singapore death toll is: 3
These facts show a startling difference in the two countries attitude to the Coronavirus and attitudes to public safety. WHY didn’t the UK government act sooner to stem the flow of potential carriers into the country instead of now locking down its own citizens?
Emperor Johnson has ‘very politely and like the gentlemen he is’ asked the British people to forgo their Human Rights. Around the world, and happening right now in Indonesia, governments are doing the same. We are being told, stay home, saves lives, save the health services, watch meekly as our economies are decimated and millions of lives are ruined because some health experts “THINK!’ but they can’t be sure, that the Coronavirus is a modern Spanish Flu.
Obviously any loss of human life is tragic, but when it is noted that over 98% of cases have underlying conditions and the age of those mostly affected is over 70, then perhaps a new approach is needed.
Case Fatality Rate (CFR)
The media constantly report the Case Fatality Rate (CFR), as if it is the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR), which is unknown because we don’t know accurately in any country how many people have been infected. This is an important difference. CFR is the number of people who have died, divided by the total number of people diagnosed with the disease. To get the IFR you need total deaths and total cases.
Italy has the one of the oldest populations in Europe. Seasonal flu epidemics always hit Italy very hard. In the 2016-17 Influenza season 24,981 deaths were attribute to the disease. It has been demonstrated that COVID-19 is particularly dangerous to the very elderly and to those with comorbidities. This is why CFR varies so widely from country to country.
Italy has been on total lockdown and still they are one of the worst affected countries in the world. It is true to say that all Novel viruses (those not seen before) are of particular concern and the Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 is no different. It is a serious threat to health that should be taken seriously, but not at the expense of economies, jobs and people’s long term security. This is a medicine that is worse than the disease as Trump said.
Other pandemics have happened throughout recent history and governments have never in unison closed down their economies and industry and told their citizens to stay at home, while they use their Government reserves and print debt to bail out the very economies they are ruining.
A different approach then must be considered that allows for public health to be protected and proportionately to the risk as it presents itself in quantifiable data. As of writing just over 40,000 people have died from COVID-19 directly or for comorbidity reasons.
We live in a world of 7.8 Billion people. 40,000 equates to 0.0005 of the world’s population. When you look at the figures like that and realise that people are always dying from a multitude of causes and governments can’t possibly stop the world every time a virus appears, then you start to wonder why they are all doing it this time. Is this virus truly so deadly. If that is the case, then why don’t the figures bear this out.
Death is part of the rhythm of life and the inevitable journey for us all. What is important on this journey is the quality of life and the peace and security we can enjoy. What nearly all governments are doing right now, herded like lemmings by a voracious media is putting millions of people lives in economic jeopardy, either deliberately or for an agenda that they are not sharing with us.
Knowing what we do about the COVID-19 and the fact that it will spread, regardless of what governments do, then surely the best way forward is trace and quarantine, and not on-mass house arrest and destruction of economies and peoples livelihoods.
Clearly identifiable is that the older the population, the more destructive the virus is to that population. Those with impaired immune systems are also far more at risk. Would a measured approach then be of more long term benefit.
Those 70 years and older should be advised to practise more extreme social distancing until vaccinations and treatments are developed. Those beneath this age should be educated to practise good sanitary habits, and just like in Indonesia, Japan and Singapore; wear a face mask when you are sick, and not to prevent sickness.
No reliable data exists on the spread of Coronavirus in asymptomatic individuals but through most viruses this is typically low.
In Indonesia a tiny percent of the population are over 70 years of age. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take precautions and protect the vulnerable, but in such a young country, I believe it would be unwise to turn off the engine of the economy. More harm than good will be achieved.
In the UK Boris Johnson has actually contracted COVID-19 and I am certain we all wish him a speedy recovery. I am also certain that he will be back in full force shortly. A healthy man shrugging off a virus.
This is normal. COVID-19 is a nasty virus, especially to the old and infirm. It should be treated as such and precautions taken. Nothing, however, about this virus currently merits the Draconian measure taken and the hysteria whipped up by a compliant media.
On this April 1st, let us not be fools and give away our freedoms based on the edicts of autocrats, and without any public consultation. This is not government. It is fealty. The right to liberty and public assembly should be protected vigorously. The right to movement also is important, although the UK has yet to pass this into law.
I am certain Boris Johnson means well. I genuinely believe he wants the best for the UK as President Jokowi does for Indonesia. But in both cases, and that of COVID-19, could it be that the Emperor has no clothes?
“Disclaimer: The author takes full responsibility on the content of this opinion and is also not part of the PinterPolitik.com editorial responsibility.”