Nicola Sturgeon is too cautious when she says “half-measures often don’t work”. Half measures never work against coronavirus. She is mistaken when she talks about us being on a journey out of lockdown. That is not our direction of travel at all. She is correct, however when she recognises that we are “at a very perilous point” on that journey. And that is where we are destined to stay.
No system based on reacting to what the virus does can possibly work because it’s addressing a situation which has already changed. By the time the measures come into effect, the virus has moved on. This is especially true considering the patently ridiculous notion that you can give people several days notice of the restrictions.
You cannot possibly stop the spread of infection by reacting to the spread of infection. It is a logical nonsense. You can only stop the spread of infection by being ahead of it. Infection travels along chains. A link in the chain has to be broken before the infection reaches it if it is to be prevented from travelling any further along that chain. Track and trace is supposed to tell you where the virus is going to be. But track and trace can only provide information about chains it identifies. What about all the other chains?
Because there is no way to identify all potential chains of infection or know where all potential chains of infection might lead, stopping the spread of infection requires that you assume the chains of infection are everywhere and lead everywhere. Every individual is a potential link in a potential chain of infection. Which leads to one face-slappingly obvious and totally inescapable logical conclusion. If everybody is a potential link in a potential chain of infection then every individual must be the break in that chain.
Every individual in the population must be the most effective break they can be. That means starting from the measures that make you a 100% effective break and working back to the livable point as close to that as you can get – while trying all the time to get closer to that 100%. This must be sustained until the virus is eliminated from the population. It ceases to be a problem only when there is both nowhere it can come from and nowhere it can go to.
Which brings us to the other flaw with this tiered local lockdown system. Eliminating the virus completely is only theoretically possible in a population that is completely isolated. None of the populations involved are isolated to anywhere near a sufficient degree to prevent transmission across the notional border between populations in a high risk area and its neighbours in lower risk areas.
Like water, the virus – or rather infection by the virus – flows downhill. It will tend to flow from areas where the largest proportion of the population is already infected to places where hosts are (statistically) more readily ‘found’. (This is NOT purposeful behaviour. We use metaphor to describe the behaviour of viruses and genes in populations because we lack the language to describe it any other way.)
Isolation is the key. As much isolation as can possibly be achieved and sustained. At every level of population and, most importantly, starting with the individual. If you want an appropriate slogan for the effort to combat the spread of Covid-19 then try this,
BE THE BREAK!
Every single one of us needs to be the best break in the chain of infection that we can be. There are only three rules,
- DON’T LET THE VIRUS GET TO YOU FROM ANOTHER PERSON!
- DON’T LET THE VIRUS GET FROM YOU TO ANOTHER PERSON!
- DO THIS ALL THE TIME FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES!