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We can’t go back to the status quo | Letters

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1er avril, par Letters[ —]

Dr Anthony Carew asks how our sense of solidarity and collective responsibility can be preserved after the Covid-19 crisis, while Norman McCandlish suggests establishing a National Care Service. Plus letters from Jill Mannion-Brunt and Graham Mytton

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  • I have lost count of the people I’ve heard say there must be no return to business as usual after the coronavirus crisis. Between them, Polly Toynbee (I’ve lived through plenty of social shocks – this time we must learn the lessons, 30 March) and Peter C Baker (‘We can’t go back to normal’: how will coronavirus change the world?, 31 March) review the gamut of optimistic and pessimistic scenarios for change. Baker concludes: “What happens next might depend on the optimists’ ability to transport such moments of solidarity into the broader political sphere.” Quite!

    Yet concrete suggestions as to how this should be done are thin on the ground. Mike Davis looks forward to the day when street protests resume and promises to carry a placard supporting nurses. Naomi Klein fears the biggest risk will be to fritter away these days of idleness sitting at home on our social media feeds. Yet Prof Adam Gearey (Letters, 30 March) sensibly points out that quarantining actually gives us the space to imagine a fairer, greener and more decent world.

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    Don't forget people with illnesses other than Covid-19 | Letter

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    1er avril, par Letters[ —]

    A woman whose husband has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer calls for a more compassionate approach to social distancing and healthcare

    We need to remember that people are still getting sick and ill from diseases other than Covid-19, and retain our care and compassion for those who do not fall in the current global pandemic priority spotlight.

    Last week, due to Covid-19, my husband was given a terminal cancer diagnosis over the phone. He did not even know he had cancer, let alone that it was untreatable. Due to Covid-19, he was told he would not be offered palliative chemo. Due to Covid-19, he cannot see or hug his loving and supportive family, and we cannot comfort each other together in the face of such devastating news.

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    Staying positive and helping each other in coronavirus Britain | Letters

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    1er avril, par Letters[ —]

    Vicky Wolmuth on having a positive attitude despite terribly sad daily news, and another reader on intergenerational assistance

    Re Francesca Melandri’s article (A letter to the UK from Italy: this is what we know about your future, 27 March), in my new life behind my front door, I am eating new dishes, I am cooking, practising the piano, exercising to videos on YouTube, calling and texting my friends, and getting jobs done that I rarely have time for. Unlike Italy, however, I appreciate that we in the UK are still able to go out to exercise.

    Despite the terribly sad news being brought to us daily, it is possible to have a more positive attitude – what an opportunity, for those of us who have not succumbed to the virus, to use our unexpected free time productively. Let’s make the best of what we have at present.
    Vicky Wolmuth
    London

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    A situation that’s gone beyond a joke | Brief letters

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    1er avril, par Letters[ —]

    It’s hard to spot an April Fools’ Day prank these days, writes Martin Freedman, while Mike Hoskin notes that it’s an appropriate birthday for Chris Grayling. Plus letters from John Foster and John Miller

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  • Boris Johnson hopes to improve the government’s message on public health by recruiting Isaac Levido: a man who was a key strategist in the Tories’ 2017 general election campaign and Zac Goldsmith’s attempt to become London mayor in 2016 (Johnson rehires election chief to sharpen coronavirus messaging, 1 April). If this is an April fool joke, it couldn’t be in worse taste. Sadly, I suspect it’s true.
    Martin Freedman
    London

    • I scoured the paper looking for an appropriate joke for All Fools’ Day and was despairing, until I got to the birthdays column and discovered it is Chris Grayling’s birthday. Is there a word for people born on the appropriate day?
    Mike Hoskin
    Hinton St George, Somerset

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    The root of my beard problem | Letters

    1er avril, par Letters[ —]

    Bob Andy | Jennifer Bate | Beard growth | Cricketing reads | Song titles

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  • Your obituary of Bob Andy (30 March) reminded of me of a series of graffiti at Hull University in the early 1970s that inserted great thinkers into song titles. In this case: Jung, Gifted and Black. Others included Hegel Don’t Bother Me, and By Durkheim I Get to Phoenix.
    Jonathan French
    York

    • Peter Dickinson, in his fine obituary of the organist Jennifer Bate (30 March), surely understates when he says that her husband George Thalben-Ball, was “somewhat older”. Jennifer Bate was born in 1944, George Thalben-Ball in 1896.
    Roger Mortimore
    Madrid, Spain

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    The Guardian view on governing in a crisis: level with the public

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    1er avril, par Editorial[ —]

    Politicians deserve some benefit of the doubt in extreme times, but to retain respect they need to be more candid about the challenges

    The creation of NHS Nightingale, assembling a 4,000-bed emergency hospital in just two weeks, is an important milestone. It is not fashionable to give ministers the benefit of the doubt, but the circumstances should allow the presumption of decent motive. They are trying to protect people. That does not make them immune from error, nor should it insulate them from criticism. It is possible to applaud government efforts without ignoring poor judgment.

    It appears clear that the Covid-19 virus spread faster and wider than might have been the case, because Downing Street underestimated the risks and moved too slowly to a regime of mass testing, by which point materials were harder to procure. Shortages of personal protective equipment, for which health and social care workers are now desperate, arose from a failure to anticipate demand weeks ago, or even years. A pandemic was listed among disaster scenarios for Whitehall contingency planning long before the current outbreak. Yet testing, isolation and quarantine – basic public health interventions – were barely on the ministerial agenda.

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    The Guardian view on art in the time of coronavirus: labours of love

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/franceplay episode download
    1er avril, par Editorial[ —]

    The solitude of lockdown has coincided with blue skies and spring sunshine. Artists like David Hockney can keep us connected

    As Britain went into lockdown last week, it did so in dazzling sunshine. Spring was announcing its arrival as an entire nation headed indoors. This sad, unseasonal hibernation seems against nature, but already it is generating its own intense kind of artistic energy.

    As we sit separated, windows have become sites of reflection and, in a way, release. Tracy Emin, who made her name through minute and unsparing scrutiny of her private landscape, has published a daily diary. It features an image of the artist submerged beneath suds in the bath, knees pointing to the brilliant blue sky framed in the glass before her. “I’m going to climb out of my horrible little hole,” reads part of the accompanying entry, “and I’m going straight towards the sun.”

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    Policing under coronavirus: the real test is yet to come | Martin Kettle

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    1er avril, par Martin Kettle[ —]

    As the pandemic wears on, how long will we allow ourselves to be policed by consent?

    At the end of The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler’s detective Philip Marlowe bids farewell to his readers and to the characters in the novel. “I never saw any of them again – except the cops,” muses Marlowe. “No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them.” Chandler was expressing a wider truth. In the words of the British criminologist Robert Reiner: “Welcome or unwelcome, protectors, pigs or pariahs, the police are an inevitable fact of modern life.”

    Especially, we are again learning, in a national emergency. The Coronavirus Act 2020 has given a ratchet to three of the most persistently controversial themes in British policing history: police powers, police discretion and police coordination. All three are back in the spotlight in the Covid-19 lockdown. But this week’s arguments, prompted in part by the former supreme court judge Jonathan Sumption’s warnings about the growth of a police state, are only the start. The real test for the policing of the pandemic is yet to come.

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    A public inquiry into the UK's coronavirus response would find a litany of failures | Anthony Costello

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    1er avril, par Anthony Costello[ —]

    Any self-respecting pandemic crisis team should have realised the importance of mass testing from the outset

    • Anthony Costello is a former director of maternal and child health at the World Health Organization

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    Will the inevitable public inquiry into the UK’s Covid-19 response pin the blame on a few scapegoats? I hope not. Britain’s failure to move quickly and effectively is the symptom of a more comprehensive system failure. More than three months after the virus first appeared in Wuhan, England and Wales still lack the necessary testing capacity and surveillance infrastructure to shut down the epidemic. Crucial frontline workers are still doing their jobs without adequate personal protective equipment. Public Health England (PHE) seem unable to increase the daily number of tests in line with European neighbours. As other countries acted swiftly to contain the epidemic, the UK appears indecisive and delayed, shifting late in the day from a controversial herd immunity strategy to a lockdown. History won’t look kindly on Britain’s response.

    We must ask at least five far-reaching questions about how our health system deals with a pandemic. First: who’s in charge? Many actors have been involved in devising a response to coronavirus – Downing Street and its advisers; Cobra; the Department of Health and Social Care; NHS England; PHE and its Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh counterparts; the National Institute for Health Research; the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty; the chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance; and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (UK Sage). Coordination appears chaotic. I’ve reliably been told that leaders across these various bodies often don’t know what each other is doing.

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