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Coronavirus: What went wrong?

Summary:
There will be many investigations of what went wrong with the UK response to Coronavirus (COVID19).The answer is straightforward: the UK failed to control its borders.As early as the first week in February some people who had been skiing in France brought back COVID19.  This was the start of the UK epidemic.Other countries were imposing border controls but the UK Government left our borders wide open and imported 20,000 cases of COVID19 before the lockdown.  These 20,000 cases created at least 50,000 further infections. A third of all UK COVID19 cases (by May) were imported or infected by new arrivals right at the beginning of the epidemic in February and March.The initial UK epidemic was fueled by millions of travellers from overseas.  In evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee

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There will be many investigations of what went wrong with the UK response to Coronavirus (COVID19).

The answer is straightforward: the UK failed to control its borders.

As early as the first week in February some people who had been skiing in France brought back COVID19.  This was the start of the UK epidemic.

Other countries were imposing border controls but the UK Government left our borders wide open and imported 20,000 cases of COVID19 before the lockdown.  These 20,000 cases created at least 50,000 further infections. A third of all UK COVID19 cases (by May) were imported or infected by new arrivals right at the beginning of the epidemic in February and March.

The initial UK epidemic was fueled by millions of travellers from overseas.  In evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee Patrick Vallance said many of the cases came from the “high level of travel into the UK”. “One of the things that it looks like very clear is that early in March the UK got many, many different imports of virus from many different places,” "Those places were particularly from European countries with outbreaks. So we see a big influx of cases probably from Italy and Spain looking at the genomics of the virus in early March, seeded right the way across the country. Whether that was people returning from half-term, business travellers or not, we don’t know. But a lot of the cases in the UK didn’t come from China and didn’t come from the place you might have expected, they came from European imports and the high level of travel into the UK at that time.”

It is now apparent that the unrestricted influx of people into the UK prior to the lockdown included  20,000 people who had COVID 19 infection.  Despite as much as a third of the whole UK epidemic being composed of people who entered the country and those they immediately infected, the scientific advice was that these would have little effect.  The advice was clearly wrong.  Why was it given?

According to the Withdrawal Agreement the UK is still obliged to obey the rules regarding EU Free Movement of People until 2021.  The EU only amended these rules on 30th March.   The UK has always been a sucker for obeying EU regulations.  Another factor is that the scientists giving the advice on the outbreak make their reputations and careers from international conferences and meetings, they are not independent advisors.  The scientific advisors also tend to be pro-EU (for instance Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Advisor is firmly against a No Deal Brexit because he believes it will affect scientists adversely).

The role of the EU in the failure to close borders explains why the Remain press are finding it hard to quickly and clearly point the finger of blame.  The desire to keep borders open is the reason that the EU allowed the spread of the disease.

Coronavirus: What went wrong?

Once the government had been advised that closing borders was not an option it was left with "herd immunity", as Lord Bethell put it on 26th February: "Creating some kind of herd immunity, whereby a large proportion of the population has had the virus and is therefore inoculated, is clearly the objective." (Hansard).

We are now left in the crazy position of a severe and continuing epidemic when countries that closed their borders such as S.Korea, China, Austria, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand etc.have stopped COVID19 in its tracks.

It is interesting to compare the EU countries that defied the EU and closed their borders with the rest of the EU. Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia all closed their borders in a timely fashion (See EU Observer).  Germany and Spain closed borders after severe outbreaks.  The number of new cases on 7th May in the countries that closed their borders are: Czech Republic 3, Cyprus 6, Denmark 145, Hungary 39, Latvia 9, Lithuania 5, Poland 307, Slovakia 16.  These are new cases per day, not deaths, and the numbers are small enough to allow testing and tracing of contacts to take over from lockdowns.

We must not let the pro-EU press and broadcasters recast the history of COVID 19 as anything other than the truth: it was open borders with the EU that killed so many of us.

If we do not eradicate COVID 19 from the UK we will be a pariah state and we will be unable to travel to most of the world which will have removed COVID 19 entirely.  It is ironic that the dearest wish of the "experts", that they should be allowed to continue their international careers, is looking unlikely to be achieved if we obey their "herd immunity" strategy and do not eradicate COVID 19 from the country.

8/5/2020

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