Figure that UK residents can be fined for gathering in a group of three in the park across the road, but can legally travel to Tehran or Moscow if they reckon it’s essential (though the Russians might not let you in). Coronavirus is raging in Moscow but Russians can fly to Heathrow for a bargain next week.
For seven weeks of lockdown people have been flying straight in without even a temperature check. Though Healthrow just announced it will trial some thermometers and ask people to wear masks. Bravo, eh?
The idea of keeping people in their homes but letting planes come and go is so bizarrely strange it didn’t even occur to me.
The US appears largely the same
The good news is this explains why the UK is stuck in Viral-Neverland, with cases not declining, despite the lockdown. It’s something that can be fixed. The bad news is that Brits have been wasting weeks in lockdown running to stand still, instead of crushing the curve.
The awful news is that it says something dreadful about the health advice Boris is getting. The rot run deeps in the hallowed institutions.
In the UK, 18 million people arrived from Jan 1st to March 22. Of those only 273 people were quarantined. That explains, right there, why the UK dug such a huge hole for itself. Since then, flight traffic has continued, albeit at only 1% or so of normal levels, because nearly every other country on Earth closed borders, and most passengers don’t want to fly. That is still 10,000 people arriving every day in the UK with no mandatory quarantine at all. Like four Ruby Princesses cruise ships every single day. This alone explains why the UK is stuck in the same hole week after week.
UK Travel advice recommends not travelling unless it’s essential (as decided by the traveller) and advises travel insurance (which possibly no one is selling). On return it asks people to stay home for 7 days and “and only go outside for food, health reasons, daily exercise or work if you absolutely cannot work from home.” In Australia everyone flying in is escorted to a hotel, prevented from leaving, and fed and monitored for two weeks. That’s a quarantine.
Sir Patrick Vallance wanted Herd Immunity for the UK, but officially that suicidal policy was junked, so what gives — is the UK on a “silent Herd Immunity” plan?
Jamie Grierson, The Guardian
Vallance said that studying the genomics of the virus had allowed them to determine the origin of cases brought into the UK.
Arrivals into the UK have plummeted by as much as 99% on some routes but the country has been described as an “outlier” in its approach to border controls during the crisis. The only measures being taken at the border are the use of posters, digital displays and leaflets with information about the measures in place.
The Home Office has insisted that the scientific advice showed that placing restrictions at the border would not have had a significant impact on the spread of the virus in the UK.
“Scientific Advice” is the great abrogation of responsibilities. Once the virus had spread and it was too late to stop it — then it’s possible that the extra infections might not make much difference, but when the nation is in lockdown at great expense, surely priority one is to limit the flow. And not just because of its a soul destroying symbolism. The extra cases keep the tally stubbornly flat, looking like a failure, demoralizing and disincentivizing, and making the lockdown longer…
The open borders madness explains why the United Kingdom wallows in an extended constant infection rate. Why pay the pain of the lockdown while allowing people to bring back the virus? It’s as if London is dooming itself to lockdown until the whole world clears the virus first.
The places with open borders will be the last places on Earth to get rid of the virus
According to the BBC on May 5th “When will the lockdown end and how?” the UK lockdown has dropped the Ro from nearly 4 down to about 0.7 (as eyeballed of the graph below from the much maligned Imperial College. A college headed by the even more maligned Neil Ferguson, Grade A hypocrite, caught for visiting his lover while telling the nation not to). Assuming that the R0 calculation of Imperial College is correct (below), the UK Daily Infection rates ought to be falling and “tracking to zero” like most of the rest of the world. Any number below one is a winner.
Though I can’t find the source document for this graph, and it is suspiciously, unnaturally, square, with a very modeled look about it, despite the headline.
But how important are the flights?
The additional load of new incoming passengers with infections could easily be the difference between the UK daily infections shrinking or not.
If 1% of passengers are infected on take-off as they head toward the UK, by the time they land, that may be 3% infected on touchdown (I can’t find any data on flight Ro — can anyone else?) So that would mean 300 new infections arriving every day in the UK. It doesn’t sound like much when there are 5,000 new infections reported every day, but those 300 could infect 200 more in the next 5 days (let’s assume they adopt the lockdown practices and same Ro of the UK as soon as they arrive, so an Ro of 0.7, as per the graph above). Those 200 will infect another 140 and so on. In the end, the 300 infected passengers arriving each day will cumulatively add a load of around 900 cases before the chain extinguishes itself. It could be a lot more if flights are mainly coming from countries with poor infection control (like the US, Brazil or Russia). And flights, by definition, will be coming from places with poor infection control. All the nations that are trending to zero will have closed their borders, and they won’t want flights from the UK.
And if a city should really go pear shaped, there aren’t too many places a person would want to escape too. London might be too infected for most of the world to want to fly to, but in the worst hot-spots on Earth, it might still look better…
As infections spread in the poorly controlled parts of the world, the load will increase. (And if flight traffic is 3% of normal as suggested by some, then overseas infections will be bigger).
In other words, 67 million people are living under expensive and strict lockdown conditions, and the thing stopping that from eliminating the virus are the 10,000 or so people who arrive daily without quarantine. How does any science advisor justify flying in new cases daily? How does any policy-maker explain holding the nation to extended ransom week after week just so a few people can arrive without the hassle of a two week mandatory quarantine?
For people who want strong borders, this is the biggest chance to get them since WWII. Where are the sovereign battlers who want border controls?
After searching, I found readers in the UK didn’t need medical degrees to be baffled at why flights were still arriving at Heathrow.
But where were all the medical advisors?
Save the economy, set up proper quarantines.
If we get rid of the virus — everyone can get back to work.