COVID-19 : The penny just dropped with government what we’re really facing

6th March 2020 / United Kingdom
COVID-19 : The penny just dropped with government what we're really facing

As at 1 am 05.03.19 there were 87 cases of Coronavirus recorded. England’s chief medical officer announces that a serious UK coronavirus outbreak is “almost certain” with “some deaths” expected. He also said it is unlikely the UK would “escape” a major hit, which could last for up to several months. “With all epidemics, what happens is they start off very slowly and then they gradually gather momentum and then they suddenly go up relatively fast.” The Department of Health said three of the new cases in England contracted the virus in the UK, raising fears that community transmission may now be taking hold.

But now there seems to be some panic inside the corridors of power. A piece in the FT sums it up but here is a large chunk of comment from the FT regarding the COVID-19 outbreak:

Andrew Bailey, the incoming governor of the Bank of England, said on Wednesday that it was very likely the central bank and UK government would soon need to provide bridging finance to small companies to help them deal with coronavirus.

Under questioning at the Treasury committee, Mr Bailey insisted he would not just be a “safe pair of hands” at the central bank, but would also act quickly to mitigate crises. He said it was already pretty clear “we are going to have to provide some supply chain financing so that the effects of the [coronavirus] shock are not damaging to small and medium sized firms,” he said.

“We’re going to have to move very quickly to do that,” he added, highlighting that the BoE’s response should not be limited to traditional monetary policy tools of changing interest rates.

Setting out his attitude of BoE independence, he said, “we must act in a co-ordinated manner [with the government] and can’t let out independence get in the way of that”.


Richard Murphy from Tax Research UK says there is a lot more to this statement that needs understanding. He says:

  • First, it says that there is an awareness in the Bank, if not in the Treasury, that we’re facing a crisis.
  • Second, it says that extraordinary measures will be required.
  • Third, they only see that as an SME issue: apparently, people are inconsequential and will not need help.
  • Fourth, since individuals and SMEs do not hold accounts with the Bank of England very clearly this must mean that the interventions will come from support to other banks.
  • Fifth, if traditional monetary policy is not the limit then the very strongest hint that QE is on the cards has been given.
  • And sixth, the conventional rules laid down by neoliberal dogma are going to be thrown aside: the charades of that policy will be exposed as the shams they have always been and that the Bank has, and always will, work with and for the Treasury.

This is significant: it is the first sign that there is awareness of the crisis that we face.


The government is now entertaining using special powers if needed. The Times reports that Parliament may be suspended for five months.

The government have stated quite clearly that their ‘stretched‘ scenario is based on 1 in 5 or 20 per cent of the workforce being infected and out of action. This conflicts with a Downing Street ‘Battle-Plan” report that warns up to 80 per cent of the population could get infected.

The following numbers are, of course, hypothetical but assuming the lower number of 1 in 5 being infected (not 80 percent) across the population, the numbers are still alarming.

Taking this lower number  (1 in 5 being infected of the total population), that’s about 13.2 million people . The mortality rate is reported around 2 per cent (although the actual rate appears to be closer to 3%) – this would mean over 250,000 people succumbing to the virus. However, the death rate is much higher for those aged over 60 than it is for the general workforce whose average age is much lower.  But even if this number was halved again, that’s still over 125,000 in morgues all over the country. All of that is expected to happen inside 2020.

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The military has confirmed it is now “ready to backfill” for the police “as and when” required. confirms – “It is understood that authorities may need help in keeping public order.”


The difference between SARS and COVID-19

SARS was caused by a new coronavirus that had never been found in people before. In 2003, a total of 8,096 people in 29 countries got SARS and 774 of them died. MERS-CoV infected 2494 individuals and caused 858 deaths worldwide to date.

Health professionals around the world worked together to successfully contain the SARS outbreak in 2003 and by early 2004, the outbreak had completely disappeared with no cases reported since.

In six months, the global SARS outbreak cost the world an estimated $40 billion.The cost of coronavirus is already massively higher.

COVID-19 has infected (as at 04.03.20) 95,000 and killed 3,200 in 70 countries. It is still in the early stages of the infection cycle. It took 8 months for SARS to reach its peak and then fall quickly thereafter.



Right now, health workers around the world are going through; 89 million masks, 76 million pairs of surgical gloves, 30 million gowns and 3 million litres of hand sanitiser – a month. The WHO has asked production of these items to be increased by 40%.

One of the world’s leading experts on coronavirus epidemics, who played a major role in the Sars outbreak in 2002-03 – works closely with other leading scientists such as counterparts at Imperial College London and Oxford University. He confirms that between 60% and 80% of world population is likely to get infected (source) – albeit, as he says, this may come about in waves of infection over time. At a 60% infection rate of world population, 4.6 billion would still leave 92 million dead.

Initially, TruePublica had said in this report “It is reasonable on those numbers that the trajectory for COVID-19 will infect 400,000 and kill around 12,000 people worldwide – however, the expectations seem to be about double that.” Clearly, this number could be dramatically higher.

Governments in the West are working on scenarios they can cope with. The chain of command is based on protecting the economy first as this affects political outcomes – people come last.

There will always be an element of action based around protecting the economy before people and politics before people.

We do not have inside information and up to the minute facts and we are not the government. None of the newspapers or broadcasters is in that position when it comes to matters such as these and propaganda will play its part in the UK as it does on any major current news event.

The right way to consider this is to take the view that 1 in 5 of the people you see around you are infected and that in the vast majority of cases, this is not much different to a flu virus – if that. Symptoms can be very minor. However, think about the elderly and physically vulnerable as they are more at risk. From there, the rest is unknown. Completely ignore click-baiting nonsense from rags like the Daily Mail – (like this report, debunked by FullFact that washing underwear in a certain way will somehow combat the virus) – and social media.



It should be said though, the numbers we have used are very much on the optimistic side and numbers of known infections are always at least a week or two behind the reality. As one TruePublica reader has just pointed out:

a lot can happen in 14 days at exponential growth – eg: 2 (infection rate) to power of 14 = 16,384. People are only taking action now after first death, which is normally after 21 days from initial infection and a lot can happen in 21 days at exponential growth – eg: 2 to power of 21 = 2,097,152.”

The coronavirus is known to be passed on through the spread of viral particles through coughing and sneezing.

There is now some evidence that the new coronavirus can spread through feaces as well (source). A small study of the stool samples of those diagnosed with COVID-19 found that viral particles in those stools looked viable under a microscope. “This means that stool samples may contaminate hands, food, water, etc.,” the China CDC wrote in the report. For instance, if a person didn’t wash their hands after touching a surface contaminated with infected stool residue, there’s a chance they could become infected if they touch their eyes, nose or mouth with their hands.




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