I’m not sure a strategy of escalating measures is appropriate in the circumstances. It seems to me that what is required to deal with coronavirus is drastic preemptive action rather than reacting to a worsening situation. Why, for example, only ban gatherings of over 500 people. Is infection less likely to spread in a group of 499 than in a group of 501? Surely, on average, the same percentage of people will be infected. if the infection rate is 60% then in a gathering of 1000 people 600 will contract the disease. Two gatherings of 500 people resulting in 300 new infections each give exactly the same outcome. It does nothing to stop the spread of the disease.
Fortunately, a combination of good sense and fear is likely to more effective as it deters people from assembling in groups of any size. Self-isolation after symptoms are in evidence also does nothing to stop the spread of the disease as it is, by definition, a measure taken after the disease has already spread. What stops a pandemic in its tracks is a total cessation of any physical contact or proximity between individuals initiated the moment the virus is detected in the population. This may not be practicable. But the precautionary principle would require us to take this ideal as our starting point and scale back only when and to the extent cannot be avoided.
Escalating towards the most effective measures in response to data about the spread of the disease cannot be effective as you will always and necessarily be acting too late. It’s not epidemiology. It’s just good sense.
So why isn’t it happening? What other reason than political cowardice?
The UK Government is arguably further behind the curve than many other governments. But I see no cause for smug superiority while our own First Minister makes idiotically contradictory statements in which she claims “all possible steps” are being taken then immediately refers to steps which are not being taken as a matter of choice.
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