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The problem with 'shielding' people from coronavirus? It's almost impossible | Devi Sridhar and Yasmin Rafiei

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29 mai, par Devi Sridhar and Yasmin Rafiei[ —]

Testing and tracing is the answer to protecting our most vulnerable – not trying in vain to ‘cocoon’ them away

In the last UK government report on coronavirus policy, the word “shielding” is mentioned 36 times. The UK, Sweden and the Netherlands have all shown much interest in this strategy of cocooning elderly and other vulnerable groups in their homes or shelters while attempting to reopen economies outside.

To date, shielding has meant asking the elderly, chronically ill, and others vulnerable to hospitalisation from coronavirus not to leave home, to avoid any face-to-face interaction, and to restrict human contact to the digital realm. What goes unsaid is that this strategy of shielding is distinctly western, and has not proven particularly effective at protecting these individuals. 

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For test and trace to work, the public needs to trust this government. But how can we? | Polly Toynbee

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29 mai, par Polly Toynbee[ —]

Boris Johnson has consistently sneered at health and safety, so when he wants to end the lockdown early we should be worried

The unlocking begins, as some schools open on Monday, as do outdoor markets and car showrooms, and households can meet in private gardens. Good news. But after his catastrophic delay in entering lockdown, how is anyone to know if Boris Johnson’s opening up will be any better?

He might be following “the science”, or he might be following fellow libertarians, such as the Spectator editor’s demand that “It’s time to restore liberty”, or the Sun’s “Ale meet again” pressure for pubs to open. The chief scientist pointed out yesterday that there are still 8,000 new cases a day; the infection rate, or R number, is still near one.

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Test and trace is no laughing matter, so don't turn it into a farce | Zoe Williams

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29 mai, par Zoe Williams[ —]

Matt Hancock may want to make a joke out it, but if the new measures are to be taken seriously, the health secretary has to act accordingly

Has there ever been a more unsettling sight than Matt Hancock, laughing? Nominally, it was because Kay Burley had asked him why test and trace was being rolled out so fast, when it didn’t appear to be ready. One minute we were calling him too slow, he wheezed. And the next we were calling him too fast! HAHAHAHA. Oh, my sides. 

Whatever it was coursing through his noisy face, it definitely wasn’t mirth. He looked as if he had been taught to laugh by the goats that had unaccountably raised him, and was trying it out for the first time. But that isn’t the question. “Will test and trace be ready?” isn’t even the question, since given any opportunity to outsource a complex and vital process to a monolithic and incompetent services company, the government will take it, and we have to make our peace with that. 

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Britain's double shame: coronavirus deaths and economic collapse | Simon Jenkins

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29 mai, par Simon Jenkins[ —]

Lockdown is likely to go down in history as the UK’s most costly policy failure of modern times

Quick. Open schools. Pull back the police. Roll out test and trace. Get the pubs working. Boris is in trouble. Help him out. Ensure daily good news.

Thank you, Dominic Cummings. Any pretence that lockdown is led by “the science” has always been rubbish. It has been an exercise in social control by an initially panic-driven government. However laudatory its aim, its execution has been driven by graphic predictions validated by highly selective science. Now it is hurting people and hurting him. This is politics. 

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If Boris Johnson is baffled by Britain's cruel migration laws he should change them | Satbir Singh episode download
29 mai, par Satbir Singh[ —]

Despite voting for it, he professed ignorance of a system that treats foreign-born workers and their families abominably

An hour into his hearing in front of parliament’s influential liaison committee on Wednesday, the prime minister is likely to have felt a moment of relief as the examination moved on from the scandals of recent days.

Then, an earnest, urgent question from Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham, brought Johnson’s attention to the plight of a couple in Timms’ constituency. The husband had lost his income during the Covid-19 crisis and the wife’s income was less than their monthly rent. With “No recourse to public funds” stamped on their visas, they were unable to access any support as they worked out how to make ends meet and provide for their two children (both born in the UK) and the threat of destitution hung over them.

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New Yorkers once sneered at the suburbs. Now the boot is on the other foot | Emma Brockes

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29 mai, par Emma Brockes[ —]

Blame it on coronavirus. Lockdown-crazed city-dwellers planning summer vacations are facing soaring prices

A few weeks from now, school lets out in New York, and the threat of an endless summer yawns open. For anyone who grew up in Britain, summer holidays in this city already seem absurdly long, stretching for almost 10 weeks from late June to September. This year, after months of lockdown, parents are looking ahead with something like desperation. No one wants to travel; every conceivable way to divert a small child has been exhausted; and the city is a sweatbox in July and August. With all the caveats in place about counting one’s blessings, the question remains: what are we going to do for the summer?

Like most major cities, New York hasn’t always had the greatest respect for its neighbours, those people who, in better times, came into town on a Saturday night via the bridges and tunnels. To say residents of New Jersey did not, on balance, enjoy an unfettered welcome from New Yorkers is an understatement. They were deemed too loud, too drunk, too high in number, and some of them pulled suitcases on wheels. Well, as they say: who’s laughing now? Nobody wants to come into the city any more, and for those who live here, the shoreline remains closed. Meanwhile, the beaches of New Jersey and Long Island are open.

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For years, the Tories have banked on impunity. Is their luck finally running out? | Andy Beckett

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29 mai, par Andy Beckett[ —]

The party has clung to power by flouting political norms, but in the Cummings affair it faces an angry and contemptuous public

Will the Tories get away with it? In many ways, it’s been the central question in our politics since they squeaked back into government in 2010. Ever since they used the power vacuum after that year’s hung-parliament election to quickly cobble together a coalition with the Lib Dems, the Tories have been careering from one narrow scrape to the next.

Related: Tory anger at Dominic Cummings grows as 61 MPs defy Boris Johnson

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Why is the BBC bending to the government's definition of impartiality? | Owen Jones episode download
28 mai, par Owen Jones[ —]

The row over Emily Maitlis could have been avoided if the corporation aspired to greater editorial independence

  • Coronavirus – latest updates
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  • Impartiality is a concept that is frequently lauded but rarely defined. It has long been hailed as a sacred guiding principle behind news reporting for the BBC. Impartiality is extolled not simply as a gold standard, but a religion. “The BBC is committed to achieving due impartiality in all its output,” declare the corporation’s editorial guidelines.

    The problem with impartiality as a standard for journalism is not simply that it eludes precise definition: hoisting it as your only standard sets a trap that is easily exploited by bad-faith critics who regard the reporting of unwelcome facts as self-evident proof of bias. What would constitute an “impartial” account of the government’s response to this pandemic? Does it mean that every report of Britain’s “world-beating” death toll must be accompanied by a reminder that ministers insist it is too soon to judge their record? Would it have been “partisan” to double-check Matt Hancock’s maths when he falsely claimed the government had achieved its testing target at the end of April? 

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    The Guardian view on easing the lockdown: putting politics before people | Editorial episode download
    28 mai, par Editorial[ —]

    Boris Johnson wants to lift the Covid-19 restrictions because of ideology and self-interest. The people deserve a more careful, evidence-based approach

    The United Kingdom went into the Covid-19 crisis as one nation. It seems likely to exit from the pandemic as several. At the outset, the UK’s different governments took similar approaches. Lockdown rules were observed by citizens in all parts of the country, with some infamous individual exceptions like Dominic Cummings. As the onslaught starts to slacken, however, differential approaches are likely to become more important. These differences have now been embodied in the radically contrasted announcements made in London and in Edinburgh this week about the next stage.

    In England, the government has always been keener to lift the lockdown early. The case for this has never been easy to accept. The virus has not been a lighter scourge in England. The driving force has been a volatile mix of ideology and window dressing. Boris Johnson and his ministers have announced arbitrary goals – often under short-term pressure – and have then battled, generally unsuccessfully and at human cost, to meet them. The approach has never been comprehensive, well explained or effective. Among the most shocking examples have been shortages of personal protective equipment, testing failures for nursing homes and the refusal to test at ports and airports.

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