What the papers have said in the week ending September 26th
To add to our worries
- The wonderful Lady Hale, now retired from the Supreme Court, took the government to task for misusing emergency powers to rule without parliament https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/20/parliament-surrendered-role-over-covid-emergency-laws-says-lady-hale
- Undaunted, the Prime Minister’s personal advisor is bent on breaking away from the rules on data which protect individuals in Europe https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/sep/25/dominic-cummings-data-law-shake-up-a-danger-to-trade-says-eu
Small wonder that the rest of the world continues to look on in disbelief.
The coronavirus is most certainly still with us.
- As a world-wide phenomenon it is wreaking fear, damage and death https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/22/weekly-number-of-new-coronavirus-cases-at-highest-level-says-who
- And in England, rising numbers of cases, hospital admissions and deaths have led to the introduction of more stringent rules to limit social contact between people. Working from home is again being encouraged.
All this is presented as being in line with advice from medical experts who should know, but there are differences of opinion amongst the experts. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/sep/22/scientists-disagree-over-targeted-versus-nationwide-measures-to-tackle-covid
- An open letter from Professor Trisha Greenhalgh and signed by 22 other highly qualified and distinguished experts, broadly supports the new rules which limit people’s freedom in the cause of containing the virus.
- On the same day Professor Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, and 26 other highly qualified and respected experts wrote cogently from a different perspective, and with a different conclusion.
‘Our view is that that the existing policy path is inconsistent with the known risk-profile of Covid-19’.
Current policy they say is predicated on an aim to suppress the virus and anticipate an effective vaccine but: ‘This objective is increasingly unfeasible … and is leading to significant harm across all age groups, which likely offsets any benefits’
‘Instead, more targeted measures which protect the most vulnerable from Covid, whilst not adversely impacting those not at risk, are more supportable. Given the high proportion of deaths in care homes, these should be a priority’
- Both letters make more points in detail, but the divergence of views and advice is clear. For now the government is taking the country along the path of across-the-board restrictions, with known consequences for the health and well-being of many citizens of all ages
- Care Homes – identified as requiring priority attention – see the downside of protection which denies families the chance to be together
- It takes away the will to live https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/23/covid-ban-on-care-home-visitors-risks-premature-deaths-experts-warn
- And some homes are seeking to counter this by inviting families to live in the home, with their relative, for free https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/23/relatives-invited-to-move-into-care-homes-in-england-amid-covid-lockdowns
- Research in Japan suggests that face shields are of no use in reducing the spread of droplets https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/22/face-shields-ineffective-trapping-aerosols-japanese-supercomputer-coronavirus. Face masks are effective
- The adverse effects of lockdown and restrictions on the economy are projected to continue https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/sep/22/uk-recession-expected-continue-until-spring-covid-19-surge
- A third of newly qualified nurses are leaving the NHS because of the stress of life with illness and poor working conditions https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/sep/23/growing-numbers-of-nhs-nurses-quit-within-three-years-study-finds
- Excess deaths in people’s own homes continue, although the number of deaths in hospitals and care homes from all causes has fallen below the five year average. The concern is that some of these deaths would have been avoided in normal times https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/24/10000-more-deaths-than-usual-occurred-in-uk-homes-since-june
- There are fears for the City of London as workers are to continue working from home – meaning there is no use for the elaborate infrastructure which used to feed and drink them, provide their clothes, manicures and hair-does, and entertain them. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/sep/23/no-one-here-covid-19-city-london-shops
- Supermarkets are rationing some items ahead of further restrictions. Toilet rolls are again cited as most sought after https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/sep/25/tesco-sales-covid-rationing-toilet-roll-flour
- But wonderfully, B & Q, having seen profits soar during the restrictions, has returned money given to them as furlough payments https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/sep/22/bq-screwfix-covid-furlough-pay-kingfisher-shares-sales-profits
Real science of Covid is finding that
- deaths are most likely amongst patients who lack type 1 interferon– a genetic or acquired failure of their immune system https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/24/genetic-immune-defects-may-impair-ability-fight-covid-19
- And Finland researchers have demonstrated that trained sniffer dogs can identify people with Covid – cost less than some alternatives, and havea cuddly side https://eastdevonwatch.org/2020/09/27/what-costs-far-less-than-100bn-can-detect-covid-19-and-is-cuddly-too-owls-readers-know-the-answer/
Ageism and sexism: women in the media run the risk of being discarded in favour of younger women, more so than their male counterparts
- But pharmacists show respect for grey hairs https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/23/how-small-stitches-have-tied-us-in-knots
- The world’s richest 1% (Income over £128,000 pa) have a carbon footprint larger than the poorest 50% https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/21/worlds-richest-1-cause-double-co2-emissions-of-poorest-50-says-oxfam#:~:text=Greenhouse%20gas%20emissions-,World%27s%20richest%201%25%20cause%20double%20CO2,of%20poorest%2050%25%2C%20says%20Oxfam&text=The%20wealthiest%201%25%20of%20the,2015%2C%20according%20to%20new%20research.
- A quarter of the people with the highest income in the UK came to this country as adults: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/sep/20/about-a-quarter-of-the-uks-top-earners-are-migrants-data-shows
- The village of Aberhosan was losing its broadband connection every morning at 7am. It took time to trace the problem to an elderly television which was switched on at 7am for breakfast news – and wrecked everyone’s broadband. Problem now solved https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/sep/22/the-old-telly-that-brought-down-a-welsh-villages-broadband
Religion has not made many headlines this week
- but a former Russian policeman who believes himself to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ has been arrested for extracting money from his cult followers https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/22/cult-leader-vissarion-reincarnation-jesus-arrested-siberia-russia
- And we learn that Salisbury Cathedral was relocated from Old Sarum after monks had complained that the weather conditions were too taxing outside the town https://aleteia.org/2020/09/24/800-year-old-document-shows-popes-response-to-disgruntled-clergy/
The hazards of food faddism were confirmed by the death of a man in his 50s who was eating large amounts of black liquorice: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/24/man-licorice-dies-massachusetts
Unexpected findings from studies of a drug used in cancer treatments raise the possibility of treatment for Multiple Sclerosis https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/sep/25/ms-treatment-step-closer-drug-shown-to-repair-nerve-coating-trial-multiple-sclerosis
Justice: The Financial Conduct Agency has, at last, ruled that insurance companies must not charge loyal customers higher rates than new customers. This is a triumph for fairness and good sense which is likely to benefit older people www.theguardian.com/business/2020/sep/22/loyal-insurance-customers-should-not-pay-more-says-fca
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court of Justice has died age 87 and still in post. She remained true to her religious beliefs https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/23/ruth-bader-ginsburg-thousands-expected-pay-respects-judge-lies-in-repose
Sir Harold Evans – a fearless, great and campaigning newspaper editor has died. One of his contributions was to champion the cause of victims of thalidomide The Observer view on the formidable career and legacy of Sir Harold Evans | Observer editorial