Covid-19 Archive

Podcast script - Monday, May 25, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise itís Monday 25th May and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast. It was a great privilege yesterday to deliver the final tulips from Bloms to our vulnerable households. This time the chiller really is bare and we have come to the end of the season.

These tulips have been more than just flowers, they have been a beacon of joy and hope for the Village during the emergency. They have brought smiles to the faces of those who have been suffering most as they have shielded themselves from the virus. They have also enabled me to visit all these households and check for certain that they were ok during the crisis.

Sadly this week was a reminder that the normal tragedies of life continue. One of our clinically isolating residents lost her adult son to a heart attack and two other households suffered hospitalisations from existing conditions. Delivering a little ray of brightness to them yesterday was the least I could do.

For the rest of us, those tulips were a great start to VE Day and allowed us to run the tulip arranging competition in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. The Village rallied to the cause and dug deep, with donations of over £1,700. Who knew that tulips could be so powerful? So a big thank you from us all to Chris, Elaine, Michael and Amanda for all they have done.

Weíve still got one big event left which will hopefully close our emergency as we take those steps back towards the new normal, what ever that is.

The Community Events Team is running ďPeteís Keyworker Scarecrow CompetitionĒ Judging will be on Saturday 13th June but we need entries registered by 5th June. So letís push the boat out and show how creative weíve all become during lock down.

Now Iíve spent the last two days sticking my neck out and being really critical of the Governmentís response to the crisis. Yesterdayís Sunday Times published a detailed investigation which unfortunately confirms my analysis in full. Iíll post a link to the article in the newsletter. It makes grim reading.

However, we are where we are and we now need to work our way out of this mess. The current strategy seems to be all about adapting our lives to live with social distancing and isolation until we find a cure or a vaccine. So essentially we need to accommodate the virus and spend billions more doing so. But this is somewhat reminiscent of the appeasement policies pursued by Chamberlain in 1938 before the Second World War. We canít beat Hilter so we need to learn to live with him. It was a bad policy then and it is a bad policy now.

Living with the virus condemns over 1 million people to permanent isolation. It will wreck thousands of businesses that are not viable with social distancing in place. Millions of young people will have their social lives ripped apart. Holidays abroad will be a nightmare and all the gains made on the environment will be thrown away if everyone abandons public transport. Surely there must be a better way?

Well I think so. We are tackling the wrong problem again. We shouldnít be living with the virus, we need to eradicate it. And I think it is possible if we get our collective act together. And please donít say it is too expensive Ė weíve spent billions so far and got no where.

The Office of National Statistics estimates that between a quarter and a half per cent of the country has Covid-19 now. That means that over 99 and a half per cent donít have it. So realistically they should be completely free to go about their business as normal, provided that we can make it safe for them to do so. But as far as is possible we need to guarantee that they wonít become infected.

Itís just common sense Ė we should be chasing down the infected half per cent and putting them and their families into mandatory quarantine until they are free of the virus, not locking up the rest of us.

So here is how. Itís all about targeted testing. And I donít mean the antibody tests that are being trumpeted about, to show who has had the virus. I donít care about that. There is no guarantee that infection gives you long term immunity anyway. All that matters is who has it now. I want to know who they are and I want to avoid them.

We already have a 75 minute Covid-19 test that can reveal results in just over an hour. A 20 minute minimally invasive test started trials 3 days ago. This is the key to getting us out of permanent lock down.

We need to introduce a virus passport for everyone in the country that wants to rejoin society. The virus passport will show if are virus free and when you were last tested. The passport will expire. The expiry date will depend upon what job you have. Doctors, nurses, dentists, hairdressers, beauticians, podiatrists all need to be tested daily. They are potential super spreaders. They need to be clear before they start work in the morning. A 20 minute test whilst having morning coffee is no big deal.

People attending surgeries, clinics, hospitals or salons, similarly need to have a validated virus passport with a negative test confirmed that day. All of these locations are potential super spreader locations with the potential to infect vulnerable people. If you want a haircut, go to a test centre an hour beforehand, get your passport revalidated and then you can go in the salon.

For all other businesses, locations and events we need a risk based approach which can be statistically modelled. Schools may be able to do weekly testing. Line up the children and teachers on a Monday morning and validate their virus passports once more. Teaching can then safely happen without social distancing problems. If we find that kids are picking up infections by the end of the week, then we move to Monday, Wednesday, Friday testing.

For an outdoor sports event, you could be barred from attending unless you have a passport validated within the last week. For an indoor concert, we would be more strict and require revalidation in the last 24 hours.

Similarly for a pub. The staff might be validated every couple of days and the customers might be asked to show a passport validated in the last 3days. The exact times would assessed by careful modelling and analysis of infection rates.

Shops will need careful modelling but similar principles apply. And here in the Village, I would love to know that anyone entering Church or the Village Hall had a virus passport less than a week old.

If you are found to have a positive test, then you and your immediate household need to be isolated. We donít need to trace your contacts as they will soon be caught by the system the next time they try to do anything. However, we must ensure that the infected donít leave the house, not even to walk the dog. We recruited an army of 750,000 NHS helpers at huge expense and most of them were never called upon. These people can be reactivated to walk the dogs and do the shopping of the houses locked down.

On public transport where cashless ďtap and goĒ facilities are in already in place, you wonít be able to get on a bus, train or tube unless you have a valid virus passport. In reality you wouldnít even get into a railway station.

So what might the objections be and what about practicalities?

Well for a start what form would a passport take and how can be it be made mandatory?

A smart phone linked to a virus passport database and a personís identity is all that is needed. The passport would then show real time when you were last tested.

What about civil liberties, wouldnít that mean identity cards for all? Well most of the population already have a driving licence or passport. If a person doesnít have ID and they want to go anywhere or do anything, then they have a simple choice. Get valid ID or do nothing.

What if they donít have a smartphone. Well given the billions wasted so far, I am happy that the Government supplies a basic smart phone to anyone that hasnít got one.

We eradicated smallpox from this planet, why are we dithering again with Covid-19? The only long term viable solution is to trace those infected before they interact with and infect others. And this can only be done at the point of interaction, not after the fact, like the present approach to track and trace.

In South Korea, one infected man going to 5 bars in one night, infected nearly 100 people that night. The effort to track and trace contacts was huge and very embarrassing as they were closet gay bars. My point is why was he allowed in?

Of course this would be a huge change in our lives but so will permanent social distancing. I would rather accept regular testing than have to dance around everyone for the rest of my life.

But then again what do I know? I am a grass cutter.

Thank you