Oh my Cron! It’s Omicron!

NHS advert - All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate for ten dates regardless of their vaccination status

All contacts of suspected Omicron cases? They don’t have to be confirmed now? We are sleep walking into a police state.

How severe are the symptoms from the new Covid variant, Omicron? According to the doctor who first detected it in South Africa, its symptoms are ‘extremely mild’. She accuses the UK – and now, by extension, much of the rest of the world – of ‘panicking unnecessarily.’

At the time of writing, fourteen cases of the new variant have been detected in the UK out of population of 64 million. As a result of just three of these, England has been returned to mandatory mask wearing by a prime minster and health secretary, Sajid Javid. The pair promised back in July that the lifting of restrictions would be ‘irreversible’. There were no provisos on this promise – no ‘unless another variant appears’ get-out clause. We were fools for believing them, this government of panickers, flounderers and trashers of civil liberties.

This time round Boris Johnson is imposing mask wearing while travelling on public transport, in hairdressers and shops and in a variety of other locales. The virus, however, is apparently unable to penetrate restaurants, pubs, cafes, cinemas and theatres so mask wearing is not required there. And quite rightly too. It should not be mandatory anywhere. Politicians and the scientists who advise them are well aware of the extremely limited way that masks protect others from the droplets in your breath.

A doctor explores the efficacy of masks.

Yet still they impose such a mandate, this time with a £200 fine for the first ‘offence’ of failing to wear a mask in the specified locations. If masks were effective, then Scotland, which unlike England did not dispense with them back in the summer, would have fewer cases of Covid than England. In fact, it has considerably more. Likewise Germany, which imposed the compulsory wearing of high standard FFP-2 surgical masks back in January. Meanwhile mask-free England (free that is until yesterday) has seen cases and hospitalisations falling.

Whenever I write about the pandemic – which some scientists now regard as coming to an end, despite the predictable winter increase in cases – I receive fewer likes than when I write about Christianity. That may be because I address the Covid situation primarily as it affects the UK. But it might also be because I question the received narrative; that we must panic, must wear masks to protect ourselves and others, must protect the health service that exists in reality to protect us. I’m no conspiracy theorist; as I’ve explained before, incompetence more readily explains governments’ actions this past two years. Crediting them with the intelligence and deviousness necessary to perpetrate a worldwide conspiracy is truly beyond them. But it is nonetheless alarming to see the extent to which they have deprived us of our civil liberties. Overnight, we can be imprisoned in our own homes if we are in contact with someone who suspects they may have Omicron and fined if we don’t, while not wearing a mask has become a crime. The police, having nothing better to do, say they will be hanging around England’s transport hubs and shopping centres to challenge and fine those not wearing face coverings.

Further indication that politicians really do not know what they are doing comes from their making available the booster vaccination to all over 18 year olds a mere three months after their second shot. Boris Johnson said yesterday that the booster will, while the second vaccination is supposedly still offering its own protection, ‘undoubtedly’ save them from Omicron (with its very mild symptoms).

Do we know this? We do not. Vaccine producers have begun tests to see if it so. Injecting all and sundry is merely more panic, not to mention a political ploy to make us think they’re actually doing something. They aren’t. Why are politicians surprised that the populace has lost all faith in them, does not believe a word they say and, when it’s not engaging in government and media induced panic, is ignoring their ever conflicting messages, empty rhetoric and false promises?

I have had my three shots, plus one for flu. The vaccine is demonstrably the most effective way of minimising Covid and the variants that have appeared so far. It may well be the only way. Nothing else we have done has held back the virus. Scotland now has what appears to be a home-grown version of Omicron, not one that came from outside the country (those masks really worked!) and even those countries that have undergone extreme lockdowns discover it’s among them once they re-open: Omicron has been found in the perpetually locked down Australia. Variants will be around for a long time to come. Governments cannot continue to impose sanctions every time a new one emerges. If they do, they and we will be playing this ridiculous circle game forever.

Very Naughty Children

Remember when you were a child in primary school and the whole class was kept in at playtime because one or two individuals couldn’t behave themselves? Remember how unjust that felt? You’d done as you were told, as had most of your classmates, and yet there you were, stuck inside while other groups played out. All because of the actions of a few. When I became a teacher myself I vowed I would never do this to whole classes of children. Those who couldn’t behave would be the ones to face the consequences of their actions, not those who had. To the best of my memory, I kept this promise.

The sense of injustice I felt as a child when I was punished because of others’ misdemeanours returned this week, when UK health secretary Sajid Javid threatened the entire country with a Christmas lockdown if more eligible people didn’t take up their Covid booster jab. The ‘booster’ amounts to a third shot because, it turns out, the effects of the first two vaccinations last only six months. I have my booster booked for tomorrow. And yet, having done the right thing for myself and others, I could still be faced with the prospect of having Christmas curtailed because, according to Sajid Javid, too many people have been naughty children and haven’t done as they were told.

If this is the case, might it not be because the populace as a whole has grown tired, not to mention altogether sceptical, of politician’s promises about Covid?

       ‘Lockdown for three weeks to flatten the peak of the epidemic’ we were told by the Prime Minister in March 2020.

       Lockdown again, for a month, in November 2020, this time to protect the NHS.

        Stay locked down for over six months.

     Keep your distance, wear a mask, get tested – with which we all complied – and we’ll stop the infection from spreading.

       Get the injection and we’ll soon see off this pandemic;

       Get a second and save grandma;

     Vaccinate your children and erm… we’ll soon see off this pandemic (again).

      Get the booster jab and you can have Christmas. (What will it be after another six months? ‘Have your fourth shot or we won’t let you go on holiday’?)

While these measures may have been effective (the fact we’re still being threatened with lockdowns might suggest otherwise), the means by which we have been coerced into compliance has been through blackmail and bullying. Only a couple of days ago, NHS chief Amanda Pritchard claimed that hospitalisations are currently 14 times higher than they were this time last year. This was a lie. They are considerably lower, as the government’s own data shows. (Regrettably, Ms Pritchard neglected to mention that the NHS itself has been responsible for the deaths of about 11,600 people who caught Covid while in hospital for other ailments.)

I’ll be having my booster and I’ll be having Christmas too, regardless of what an authoritarian career politician and inept NHS chiefs tell me. If we have learnt anything as a result of the pandemic about those who govern us it is that they really do not have the first idea what they are doing. Nor do they know how to manage people. Bullying, blackmailing and punishing the whole class because of a few naughty children is not the way.

Facts & Figures

The average age of death in the UK is around 82.

The average age of vaccinated people dying from Covid-19 is 85.

Most Covid deaths are of people with five other underlying causes.

The majority of hospitalisations are of unvaccinated people.

The majority of people in Intensive Care Units are unvaccinated.

The statistics tell us Covid cases are on the increase in the UK. These scientists tell us they are about to decrease.

NHS executives Matthew Taylor and Amanda Pritchard argued last week that the government should impose restrictions on the populace to ‘protect the NHS’. These are the same executives who have done nothing since last winter to better prepare the service for this winter.

Taylor and Pritchard are paid in the region of £255,000. Regional NHS executive posts are advertised with salaries of between £220,000 to £270,000 a year.

The restrictive measures that executives want to bring in for England are already in place in Scotland and Wales. Covid rates in Scotland and Wales are increasing at a greater rate than in England.

Health Secretary, Sajid Javid said this week that the Booster programme in the UK had slowed due to a reluctance on the part of those eligible – the over-65s whose second shot was 6 months ago – to have the booster. They should, he said, book their booster on the NHS online booking system.

Many of those eligible report that the online booking system will not allow them to book a booster shot online. The online system refers them to an NHS telephone booking system. The telephone booking system refers them to the online booking system.