Tag: Coronavirus

EU covid response: solidarity in action

Professor Juliet Lodge

Can the UK afford to ignore what the EU is doing on Covid-19? Or will it gradually try to join in with its ambitious plans for the future? Opening pubs at 6am was another U-turn for the government. But it didn’t deflect attention from it casually letting drop that the UK would participate in EU […]

Supplying PPE: the new Klondike?

Anthony Robinson

After revealing two extraordinary £108m contracts placed by the government for personal protective equipment (PPE) with companies that have no apparent experience or history of supplying such items, Jolyon Maughan QC seems to have uncovered two more. Providing PPE is becoming the new Klondike and the scandal appears to be getting dangerously close to the […]

Cheers lads! UK duo design app to rescue the British pint

Louise Houghton

Pub-loving entrepreneurs Tim Joyce and Justin Smith have launched a new app called Play It Safe, to help businesses keep their customers safe as they open up after lockdown. The app can be used by any business looking to quickly and simply trace visitors – pubs, restaurants, campsites, shops, museums, galleries, and many more. But […]

Local lockdowns signal further government chaos

Jane Thomas

As Leicester goes into lockdown, it’s a reminder of what a big week this is for Boris Johnson, culminating in so-called ‘super Saturday’ on 4 July when pubs, hairdressers, cinemas and restaurants reopen. It will come at the end of a week that will have seen summer holidays given the green light, after the government […]

Why we need a coronavirus public inquiry

Helen Davidson

An excess death toll of 66,000 is, of itself, sufficient reason to reflect on how the pandemic has been managed. The government says it will reflect but not yet and has made no commitment to how that reflection will happen. In the absence of any government commitment to an open, wide-ranging review, groups of scientists, […]

Johnson begs public to set an example for Cummings

Anthony Robinson

In what can only be described as a bizarre reversal of leadership, Boris Johnson this week essentially called on the British people to set an example to his most senior adviser Dominic Cummings on how to properly observe government guidance. He told reporters that it was crucial we “get this right” and appealed to the […]

Asylum seekers struggling with lockdown

Stella Perrott

The impact of coronavirus on people in the UK has been very uneven. We know that men, people who are black, Asian or minority ethnic, and those with underlying health problems or who are older, are at risk of severe illness and death. People living in the most deprived communities have been hit hardest. The […]

New travel quarantine rules too late for UK

Jane Dawson

Home Secretary Priti Patel, this week confirmed that almost all arrivals to the UK will be expected to isolate for 14 days. Three months into the lockdown, introducing a quarantine period now is too late. Back in March when the prospect of a UK lockdown still seemed the stuff of fiction, I was working in […]

Difficult conversations to have while we still can

Julie Barnes

“Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.” Michael Landon At the start of lockdown, Robert Peston, TV journalist, wrote an article reminding us that in these strange times of the coronavirus, we are being confronted with questions that we rarely want to face. How do we want to die […]

Hancock hauled over the coals by UK Statistics Authority

Anthony Robinson

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been rapped over the knuckles by Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority for providing figures on coronavirus testing that “are still far from complete and comprehensible.” In a letter dated 2 June, Sir David said the purpose of providing statistic was firstly to help understand the pandemic […]

This is no way to run a pandemic never mind a county

Jane Thomas

Government initiatives over the last seven days have been rather like the 82 bus – none for ages and then more than you can wave a stick at. Schools reopened. Outdoor retail such as markets and car showrooms in England allowed to open. Restrictions adjusted for those currently shielding. And people can now meet in […]

Brexit will take us from coronavirus to omnicrisis

Anthony Robinson

Coronavirus is first and foremost a health crisis but it will soon become an economic one – with the cost of Brexit about to be added. The Social Market Foundation (SMF), an independent think tank, yesterday launched a report that lays out the devastating impact of wilfully boosting a natural crisis with a man-made one. […]

Government announces (EU) funding for high street businesses

Jane Thomas

With the wealth of government initiatives in the last seven days, one can be forgiven for missing the announcement by High Streets Minister Simon Clarke of a £50 million pound fund to help kick-start high street businesses and other public spaces, such as beach fronts and promenades. The announcement was made on 24 May, with […]

What is wrong with this country?

Hecate

Something is rotten to the core when others no longer call the UK ‘plague island’ in jest, but take steps to shield their own countries from UK holiday makers: Greece was first, and Spain looks set to follow. You’d have thought that anyone would pause, look at what successful countries are doing and follow their […]

The legend that is Van-Tam

Louise Houghton

The daily coronavirus briefing has morphed into a propaganda show, with the government now using every opportunity to trail a good news story to distract us from the reality of their incompetence. Saturday night’s show was no exception and the culture secretary Oliver Dowden warmed our hearts by announcing that a third of all remaining […]

What the Premier League restart means for Yorkshire’s clubs

Sam Slater

And so it was announced that on 17 June football is coming home. Premier League football that is. Tentative steps taken to allow players to return to training last week, with club-wide testing in place, has allowed the next and biggest step of Project Restart to be taken. The news will come as welcome relief […]

Test and trace is another programme designed to fail

Helen Davidson

On 25 May Yorkshire Bylines published a piece on the government’s laissez faire approach to handling the crisis and its unwillingness to take decisive action until forced to do so. This followed a report in the Sunday Times about the government’s dithering over whether or not to implement a UK-wide lockdown. The paper estimated that […]

Yorkshire needs its own plan for Covid wave 2

Professor Juliet Lodge

There’s so much we do not know about the response to Covid nationally and in Yorkshire itself. According to the FT, the UK’s excess death rate (no paywall) now tops the world, with over 59k more deaths than usual recorded since the week ending 20 March. Despite this, and despite the lack of effective testing […]

The cost of dither and delay

Helen Davidson

On 23 May Jonathan Calvert, George Arbuthot, Jonathan Leake and Dipesh Gadher published an indictment of the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. The Sunday Times report examines the government decision-making process in the crucial three weeks from 2–23 March as the number of cases in the UK rose from 14,000 to 1.5m. The report […]

Kuenssberg’s impartiality under fire

Anthony Robinson

The revelations yesterday about Dominic Cummings’ apparent breach of the lockdown rules, travelling 250 miles to his parents’ home in County Durham while experiencing the symptoms of coronavirus, has sparked a flurry of activity on Twitter about the impartiality of the BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg. She has long been seen by some as too […]

Worrying Covid-19 statistics for Yorkshire and North East

Grace Pritchard

Yorkshire and North East have highest rate of transmission of Covid-19 The total number of Covid-19 deaths in the UK currently stands at nearly 36,000; it is speculated that the real figure, accounting for Covid-19 deaths in care homes, may be much higher. Nick Stripe, the head of the health and analysis and life events […]

An exhausted government, an exhausted civil service

Stella Perrott

As the government lumbers heavily towards its third ‘no-deal’ Brexit deadline, it has strongly asserted that there will be no extension to the transition period. Stella Perrott considers the government’s capacity to deliver a managed Brexit over the coming weeks in the light of the findings of the recent publication of the Institute for Government […]

Foodbanks in survival mode as Covid-19 causes spike in demand.

Jimmy Andrex

“A perfect storm.” That’s how Laura Chalmers, Yorkshire regional director of the Trussell Trust, who run 29 foodbanks in the county, describes the situation in Yorkshire.  According to a study carried out on the 28 March by the Food Foundation, 12 per cent of people nationally are feeding families by breaking the lockdown to go […]

Coronavirus and Kawasaki disease

Grace Pritchard

A toddler from West Yorkshire was left in intensive after being diagnosed with Kawasaki disease. This followed her apparent recent recovery from Covid-19, which she contracted five weeks ago. Scarlett Roberts, from Wakefield, was admitted to Pinderfields hospital with a high temperature and nausea and then transferred to an intensive care unit at Leeds Children’s […]

The Telegraph confirms Yorkshire Bylines story

Anthony Robinson

Ten days after Yorkshire Bylines published a story concerning the flawed computer code used by professor Neil Ferguson at Imperial College to model behavioural strategies for Covid-19, the Telegraph have written their own report: Modelling behind lockdown was an unreliable buggy mess, claim experts – essentially confirming the details. The Telegraph provides more expert evidence […]

Government U-turn in track and trace fiasco?

Professor Juliet Lodge

The government seems yet again caught in trying to find its own makeshift solution for controlling the coronavirus pandemic. After abandoning the initial herd immunity strategy in favour of the World Health Organisation approach of test, trace and isolate that has seen much lower mortality wherever it was adopted, UK authorities seem on the brink […]

Our Plan to Fail: the UK Government’s Covid-19 relapse strategy

Helen Davidson

The government’s announcement of the publication of its 60-page strategy, Our Plan to Rebuild, for reopening the country, quickly turned a sensible and pragmatic approach to easing lockdown into an unnecessary scramble to rescue the government from another mess of its own making. Helen Davidson discusses how the indecent haste to implement the strategy coupled […]

Disagreement over schools reopening

Charlie McCarthy

With five working days left until schools are meant to reopen for nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children, doubts remain over their role in spreading the virus. This debate about children as vectors of the virus is becoming critical. Osama Rahman is director of analysis at the Department for Education (DfE) and chief […]

Testing the tests – false negatives and testing errors

Helen Davidson

Discussion about the number of tests completed each day continues unabated. In the meantime, the low rate of home testing kits being returned – and their error rate, which may be as high as 30 per cent – goes largely unreported. Based on accounts of people self-testing, Helen Davidson examines why the failure rate might […]

Trump launches Operation Warp Speed

Clarissa Leung

Fear “America first”, not Covid-19. “Don’t ask me, ask China” retorted the US President Donald Trump in a press conference on Monday after being challenged by Weijia Jiang, the Asian-American White House correspondent of CBS News, who questioned his “America leads the world in testing” statement and competitive approach to fighting Covid-19. In times of […]

“Boris is culling you” says Twitter

Hecate

Twitter’s verdict on steps to end the lockdown was swift and brutal. ‘Tory voters – at the next election – Stay home-Protect the NHS’. Matt Lucas summed up the ‘go out but not out out’ message as he mimicked the squeezed vowels typical of Johnson’s speech. Quips scoffed at “an entire cabinet of Graylings”, fiddling with the […]

The Cygnus Report on pandemic flu preparation – ignoring the advice

Stella Perrott

Following publication of the number of care home deaths due to coronavirus, much media attention has focused on the government’s response to concerns raised in 2017 in the Exercise Cygnus report(published by the Guardian on 7 May 2020). The report highlighted potential difficulties for the care home sector in a flu pandemic. Stella Perrott considers […]

Computer model used to develop government Covid-19 strategy allegedly “unusable for scientific purposes”

Anthony Robinson

Explosive allegations have been made by a programming ‘expert’ that the underlying code of the program used by Imperial College in London to model population behaviour in response to different Covid-19 measures, was itself deeply flawed and regularly produced different outputs when given the same inputs. The work at Imperial, done under professor Neil Ferguson […]

Dilemma for early years practitioners when schools reopen

Pam Jarvis

Vigorous discussion has now begun about how to organise the back to school process, with questions raised about full-time or part-time attendance, and which age groups are to return before others. One important concern that has not yet hit the headlines is the issuing of personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who work with very […]

PPE: the truth about your personal protection

Peter Robinson

The phrase ‘personal protective equipment’, or PPE, was unfamiliar to many before the current crisis. Builders wearing hard hats and high visibility vests were familiar, as were police officers wearing stab vests and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus. These sights are unlikely to raise comment. But now we see members of the public in gloves and […]

We need to discuss the way out of lockdown

Professor Juliet Lodge

The Government’s reluctance to discuss an exit strategy from Covid-19 suggests it’s trying to hide something, yet again. The public is getting fidgety and wants to know what strategies might surface. But we also want to protect our loved ones and prevent the collapse of the NHS. It’s not unreasonable to expect that when these […]

Face masks: Government U-turn by public demand

Nigel Young

Prof. Nigel Young explores how public ethics are influencing government coronavirus policies. The Government’s justification for recent sudden policy changes has been the public’s demand for action. This appears to be their preferred option when the policy would potentially have been unpopular if enacted by decree. So, rather than ‘following the science’, the Premier League’s […]

Yorkshire’s mental health agencies respond to the Covid-19 crisis

Jimmy Andrex

Covid-19 doesn’t have to infect you to affect you. As the side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic begin to manifest themselves in the form of anxiety and stress, recognition is growing of the toll this is taking, particularly on key workers. Organisations in the NHS, public health and the third sector – that reeled like […]

Funerals: rituals and grief during the Covid-19 pandemic

Jimmy Andrex

Improvisation has replaced ritual for those whose job is to help us at times of grief. Locked down, we are robbed of our perspective. Some things become invisible. A few days ago outside a funeral directors in Wakefield, there was a sparse gathering, mainly dressed in black. They loitered: maintaining social distance, but unsure; their awkward body language […]

Coronavirus: is it becoming the Brexit argument continued by other means?

Anthony Robinson

Brexit continues to be the unseen thread that runs through everything happening in this country, even coronavirus. The pandemic has somehow become a proxy for Brexit and for some people it is the continuation of the European campaign by other means. Brexiteers are clearly worried about the impact Covid-19 might have on the government and […]

Chapel FM’s Shopping Forecast helps locals get their daily bread

Jimmy Andrex

How Seacroft’s Shopping Forecast is helping locals get their daily bread. Tesco Extra has plenty of everything today. Except flour. How do we know this? Because every day, Elliott Moon from East Leeds FM’s Keeping a Distance, Staying Close programme asks locals to text and phone in while they’re shopping. In fact, the other day, […]

Home education in a pandemic – how we de-schooled almost overnight

Charlie McCarthy

School’s out for summer – or is it out for longer? In the space of just one weekend we de-schooled our country. What does this mean for the future of education? In ‘De-schooling Society’ (1971) Ivan Illich, the philosopher critic of the institutions of modern culture, put forward a series of suggestions for learning for […]

Peers call for a public inquiry into the handling of the COVID-19 crisis

Stella Perrott

Fifteen senior peers, including Chris Patten, Bob Kerslake and Helena Kennedy have written a letter to the Financial Times calling for a full public inquiry into the UK’s handing of the coronavirus crisis. They argue that the public but particularly “health and care professions, the medical science community and those who have lost loved ones […]

Does a Sheffield think tank have the remedy for the coronavirus crash?

Jimmy Andrex

Universal Basic Income. At last year’s G8 summit, those three words were the big story. They came from UBI proponent Rutger Bregman, whose Taxes! Taxes! Taxes! speech was all over social media. UBI is a simple idea. You address inequality and poverty by giving every adult free money, with no conditions. That’s it. Coronavirus has brought UBI […]

Green New Deal training event goes online in lockdown style

Jimmy Andrex

Lockdown. 2020’s word of the year. The word that sent us into a toilet-roll stockpiling frenzy. The word which has brought the entire world to a standstill (apart, it would seem, from football in Belarus). Lockdown, which began the week before the first national organising training of Green New Deal UK. One might expect a […]

Easter Bunny visits Wakefield foodbank

Louise Houghton

“Individually we are one drop, together we are an ocean!” Ryunosuke Satoro (Japanese poet) What a strange Easter weekend we’ve all had. With everything that’s happening in the world today, it would be all too easy to focus on the constant stream of tragic stories, negativity and division. We could spend each day reporting our […]

The Bubonic Plague – lessons for the modern age

Stella Perrott

In 1347, the bubonic plague swept through Europe arriving on the UK’s shores in 1348; possibly caused by marmot fleas which transferred to rats as it moved from Central Asia to Crimea in about 1343. A secondary strain, pneumonic plague was transmitted from human to human through infected droplets, much like the COVID-19 virus today. […]

Scientific authority, whose data counts?

Stella Perrott

The scream of the motos struggling up the hill taking their owners to work suddenly stopped and even the dogs were instantly silenced, with no passers-by to bark at as the Spanish lockdown was introduced. It was immediate, and immediately enforced with loud hailers touring the streets telling people to stay inside. Police patrolled the […]

How will the lockdown and Brexit affect tourism in Yorkshire?

Charlie McCarthy

Yorkshire faces up to three winters in a row I always enjoyed history lessons at school. One of the lessons that made the greatest impression on me was the struggle farmers faced throughout history to gather enough harvest and make it last through to have enough to start again the following spring. Winters were lean […]

UK COVID-19 Strategy: Did the experts get it wrong?

Anthony Robinson

In the middle of this terrible coronavirus pandemic, spare a thought if you can for embattled Health Secretary Matt Hancock, coming in for criticism because of our limited testing facilities. He and Dominic Cummings are blamed, but on this issue, if not on many others, they are almost certainly innocent. Hancock was only carrying out […]

COVID-19 crisis: UK dogma vs EU solidarity

Professor Juliet Lodge

Why isn’t the COVID-19 crisis presided over by a committee of the wise, people experienced in international politics and crisis management? The easy answer is blinkered attachment to confrontational party politics and the associated dogma. The evidence from our closest European neighbours shows that collaborative, consensus-seeking politics works. The Dutch government called on a previous […]

Coronavirus and Brexit: double austerity on steroids is coming up

Anthony Robinson

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently warned that the economic shock from the present coronavirus pandemic was already bigger than the financial crash of 2008–09. It means we are almost certain to be looking at another ten years of austerity at least, but this time on steroids. Angel Gurría, OECD secretary general, […]