December 22 2020

Panic is one of responses we never want to see, yet whenever there is a crisis, it’s the first response from many people. I remember many years ago, my late mother-in-law, who was a catering manager, learnt that there was going to be a world shortage of pepper. She brought up all the stock she could find, probably enough for a whole town for 50 years. You would think by the reaction to the Covid variant, most countries would have had more sense than to panic and react the way they have. This new variant has been identified here in the UK because we look for variants all the time. It is already everywhere, in all 4 countries of the UK, many countries in Europe and even in Australia. The closure of the border with France has caused a massive build up of lorries with their disgruntled drivers stuck at the Channel Tunnel and who are much more concerned about finding a loo to use than delivering their goods. The European Commission has asked France to reopen the border to freight and essential traffic to ease the chaos and prevent temporary shortages. Somebody I think from Sainsburys predicted there would be a shortage of salad foods and cauliflower if the blockade was not lifted. The media tonight shows masses of cauliflowers being brought up by panic- stricken shoppers. Some forty other countries have been asked by the European Commission to reopen their borders to Britain with immediate effect to allow at least essential and emergency travelling as well as freight. Meanwhile the Army are to go to the Channel ports to arrange mass testing of lorry drivers and if testing negative, they will be allowed to make their journey. Long distance lorry drivers usually travel alone on their lorries with a tiny sleeping area to use. They rarely have contact with other people, its quite a solitary existence so their risk of spreading the disease is minimal.

Tonight’s statistics confirm there is a need for concern but certainly not panic. The R rate nationally is rising again as predicted and is now between 1.1 and 1.2. 423,675 Covid tests have been done in the last 24 hours with 36,804 testing positive. In the last 7 days there has been a 61.2% rise in the number of cases and the rate has risen to 4.2/100k.

There have been a further 641 deaths in the last 24 hours, Tuesdays figure is always a bit higher as it reflects delayed reporting from the weekend, the deaths over the last 7 days have risen by 18% and the death rate is now 4.3 per 100k.

These figures need not and indeed should not cause panic . They are exactly what we expect in the present circumstances and are entirely due to people mixing too much and infecting one another. We need to respond by simply staying at home over Christmas as much as possible. I am sure immediately after Christmas virtually the whole country will be in Tier 4 and some hotspots will go one higher to a Tier 5. We could well face a complete travel ban of more than a few miles and curfews to get us to listen and stay at home. No one will become ill or die if they cannot eat cauliflower or even pepper with their Christmas meal.

Scotland has been moved into their level 4 from Christmas with an exception for the remote islands which are now in Tier 3.

York police have issued 55 fixed penalty fines to visitors to York from neighbouring Tier 3 areas. Surrey police similarly have issued fines to car drivers from Crawley mostly from Tier 4 areas.

The Courier DHL have had to suspend some parcel delivery services to Europe following the example of the Royal Mail.

The Prime Minister and his family plan to ring Christmas bells outside their home at 6pm on Christmas Eve. That’s fine if they do it from their own garden but as he lives in a Tier 4 area, to mix in public to do it, would break his own rules.

Covid is now found on every continent of the world with 36 appearing in Antarctica.

There is a warning from the Cambridge University, Medical Research Unit Biostatistics Unit that we could see up to 900 daily deaths in the UK by 1st January and up to 90,000 new cases per day. This statistic is not intended to cause panic but to help people appreciate they must stay at home until we can fight back with a vaccine. Masses more doses are on their way but we have just about used up the first batches without any problems. There have been some complaints that none of the vaccine has been made available to key Staff at the Royal London Hospital and others in East London hospitals run by Barts Trust. They were turned away because University College hospital staff were allocated all the supply.

If you can remember just one thing about this Christmas it has to be stay apart. It must and will be different, we can manage without salad, cauliflower or pepper, we will find it much harder to be without a loved one next year. Vaccine is coming, do not give up now. Share your burdens here, “a burden shared is a burden halved.”

Above all just stay safe.

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