Fṛm Đ Gardịn: How did Britain get its coronavirus response so wrong?

Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, speaks via video link during the official opening of the NHS Nightingale hospital in Birmingham. Photograph: Jacob King/AFP via Getty Images
Britn’z hlʈsecṛtri, Mát Hancoc, spīcs via vidiolinc jrñ ɖ ofiśl oṗnñ v ɖ NHS Nîtngel hospitl in Brmñm. Foṭgraf: Jecb Cñ/AFP via Geti Iṃjz

Hǎ dd Britn gt its c’roṇvîṛs rspons so roñ?

(Transcription of an article published in the Guardian on 19 April 2020)

Az ɖ wornñz grù lǎdr, Boris Jonsn’z guvnmnt wz dstractd bî Brexit. On tstñ, contacțresñ n iqipmnt-s’plî, ɖr wz a fełr t priper

Tobi Hlm, Ema Greym-Harisn & Robin MCi.

Súnde, 19 Epril 2020

Bî lêt Dsmbr last yir, doctrz in ɖ sntṛl Ćînīz siti v Wūhan wr startñ t wuri abt peśnts qoṛntīnd in ɖer hospitlz suf̣rñ fṛm an unyźl tîp v ńmońa.

Az ɖ misṭri-ilnis spred in wn v Ćîna’z mejr industrịl hubz, sm traid t worn ɖer colīgz t tec xtra cer at wrc, bcz ɖ dziz rzmbld Sars (svir akt rspiṛtri sindrom), ɖ dedli rspiṛtri dziz ɖt hd cild hundṛdz v ppl acrs ɖ rījn in 2002-03 aftr a guvnmnt cuvr-up.

Wn v ɖoz hu traid t rêz ɖ alarm, ɖo onli amñ a fy medicl-scūl clasmets, wz a 33-yir-old Ćînīz ofʈalmoḷjist, Li Wenłañ. Sevn ppl wr in îṣleśn at hiz hospitl, h sd, n ɖ dziz apird t b a c’roṇvîṛs, fṛm ɖ sem faṃli az Sars.

In rli Jańri h wz cōld in bî p’līs, reprimandd fr “spredñ rūmrz onlîn”, n forst t sîn a pepr acnoḷjñ hiz “misḍminr” n proṃsñ nt t rpit it.

Mni rli cesz wr linct t ɖ siti’z Huwnan sìfūd n freś prodys marcit, ẃć olso sold wîldlîf, sjstñ ɖt ɖ frst cesz wr cntractd ɖr.

The Wuhan hygiene emergency response team leave the closed Huanan seafood wholesale market on 11 January. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images
Ɖ Wūhan hîjīn imrjnsi-rspons tīm līv ɖ clozd Huwnan sìfūd holseilmarcit on 11 Jańri. Foṭgraf: Nol Selis/AFP via Geti Iṃjz

Sayntists wd dscuvr ɖ dziz hd probbli oriɉnetd in bats n hd ɖen pást ʈru a secnd spīśīz – in ol lîclihd, bt nt srtnli, panġlinz, a tîp v sceli antītr – bfr infctñ hymnz.

Bt ɖ infx́nz wr sn spredñ d’recli btwn peśnts, so fast ɖt on 23 Jańri ɖ guvnmnt anǎnst an unpresdntd locdǎn v Wūhan siti n ɖ srǎndñ Hūbei provins.

Tū wīcs lêtr, on 7 Febrri, Li, hu hd cntractd c’roṇvîṛs himslf, daid in hospitl fṛm ɖ cndiśn abt ẃć h hd traid t rêz ɖ alarm. H hd no noun unḍlayñ cndiśnz n left bhnd a wîf n yuñ ćîld.

Li bcem ɖ fes v ɖ mstirịs ny dziz. Ɖ stori v hiz deʈ n picćrz v him in a hospitl bed wẹrñ an oxijnmasc md mīdịhedlînz acrs ɖ glob, includñ in ɖ YC.

Ɖ wrld, it sīmd, wz slǒli bcmñ mor awer v hǎ līʈl c’roṇvîṛs cd b, ɖt it wz nt jst anɖr form v flu wɖ ferli mîld simtmz.

Bt ẃl YC sayntists n medicl rsrćrz wr bcmñ mor cnsrnd, n studiyñ ɖ evidns fṛm Ćîna, ɖoz amñ ɖm hu wr most wurid wr nt gtñ ɖer meṣjz ʈru t hî plesz.

Dstractd bî Brexit n rīśuflz

Ɖ Cnsrvtiv guvnmnt v Boris Jonsn hd uɖr mor imīɉt priokpeśnz at ɖ start v ɖs yir.

Jonsn wz stl bascñ in hiz jenṛl ilex́n s’xes last Dsmbr. Aftr h rtrnd fṛm a seḷbretri Caṛbiyn hoḷde wɖ hiz fiãsé, Cári Simndz, ɖ p’liticl weɖr fr ɖ prîm ministr sīmd t b set fer. It wz hunimūn tîm.Ʈri n a haf yirz on fṛm ɖ Brexit ref̣rendm, ɖ YC wz fîṇli abt t līv ɖ YY on 31 Jańri. Ɖ fîrwrcs n partiz fr ɖ big nît wr biyñ pland, ɖ seḷbretri 50p cônz mintd.

Mîndz wr srtnli nt on a dveḷpñ hlʈ-imrjnsi far awe, az Jonsn priperd t xplôt ɖ momnt v ɖ YC’z dparćr fṛm ɖ Yṛpiyn Yńn fr ol it wz wrʈ. “I ʈnc ɖr wz sm oṿconfidns,” admitd wn vri sīńr Tori last wīc.

Ɖ prîm ministr n hiz ćīf advîzr, Doṃnic Cumñz, wontd t mc an rli impreśn at hom in uɖr wez tù, az dmestic rformrz. Cumñz wz wejñ a wor on sivl srvnts in Ẃîthōl, ʈrowñ hiz weit arnd n dlibṛtli upsetñ ɖ Wsminstr aplcart.

Ẃl h md ɖ hedlînz, brīfñ abt hiz îoṇclastic ambiśnz, Jonsn wz pripẹrñ a big Cabiṇt rīśufl t asrt hiz ǒn oʈoṛti in uɖr eriaz nǎ Brexit wz dn n dustd.

Wɖ Lebr ifctivli līdrlis aftr its forʈ cnsektiv ilex́n dfit, ɖr wz litl opziśn t trubl Jonsn on eni frunt at ol – n srtnli nwn v not ascñ tuf qsćnz abt c’roṇvîṛs.

Ɖ prîm ministr dyli rīcast hiz cabiṇțīm on 13 Febrri – fîv dez aftr Li’z deʈ in Wūhan. H md big ćenjz bt unṣprîzñli rtend ɖ hiɖrtu sef per v handz v Mát Hancoc az hiz hlʈsecṛtri.

Boris Johnson speaking about the EU on 3 February. Photograph: Reuters
Boris Jonsn spīcñ abt ɖ YY on 3 Febrri. Foṭgraf: Rôtrz

In a sîn v ẃr prîoṛtiz le – n ɖ lac v cnsrn ɖt a ptnśl crîsis mt b hedñ ǎr we fṛm ɖ īst – Hancoc westd no tîm rcordñ a vidio v himslf grinñ wɖ dlît on rīśuflde.

H smact hiz rît fist intu hiz left pām seyñ h cd nt wêt t “gt cracñ” n ɖt h reliśt ɖ ćans t dlivr ɖ Tōriz’ maṇfsto proṃsz, rform sośl cer n impruv lîfsaynsz. N lastli, in a mor sombr vôs, h spouc v “dīlñ wɖ c’roṇvîṛs n cīpñ ɖ public sef” bfr adñ, az ɖ grin rtrnd: “Nǎ let’s gt bac t wrc!”

It z phps tù rli t cnclud fr śr ɖt Jonsn, Hancoc n ɖ guvnmnt’s intîr tīm v sạntific n medicl advîzrz wr còt aslip at ɖ ẃīl. Bt ɖ fact ɖt Jonsn n Hancoc ɖmslvz, in comn wɖ mć v ɖ Dǎnñ Strīt staf, wd g on t cntract ɖ vîṛs or sufr simtmz, frɖr sjsts ɖt ppl at ɖ top hd nt bn sfiśntli on ɖer gard.

Nǎ, 11 wīcs on fṛm ɖ frst cesz biyñ cnfrmd in ɖ YC on 31 Jańri – a pirịd jrñ ẃć mor ɖn 14,000 ppl (n probbli sevṛl ʈǎzndz mor wns cerhom ftaḷtiz r cǎntd) in ɖ YC hv daid fṛm Covid-19 – n wɖ ɖ cuntri in locdǎn, ɖ icoṇmi fesñ pṛloñd rseśn az a rzult, scūlz clozd, n no sîn v an end in sît – hard qsćnz hv t b asct.

W olrdi nǒ wɖ sm srtnti ɖt uɖr cuntriz, sć az Jrṃni, Sǎʈ C’rīa, Tîwan n Ny Zīḷnd, wl imrj fṛm ɖs crîsis hvñ pformd far betr ɖn ɖ YC. A fy wīcs ago ɖ guvnmnt’s advîzrz crasli sd ɖt fywr ɖn 20,000 deʈs wd b “a vri gd rzult” fr ɖ YC.

Az w fast aproć ɖt grim tali, mni xprts nǎ b’liv ɖ YC me cm ǎt v ɖs crîsis, ẃnvr ɖt me b, wɖ wn v ɖ wrst recordz on fîtñ c’roṇvîṛs v eni Yṛpiyn neśn. Wns ɖ fl tali z cǎntd, fy xpct ɖ numbr v deʈs t b b’lo 20,000.

Bî contrast, on Frîde, Jrṃni wz seyñ it ʈt it hd bròt c’roṇvîṛs larjli undr cntrol. It hd hd 3,868 deʈs, les ɖn a ʈrd v ɖ totl in ɖ YC (n Jrṃni’z popyleśn, at 83 miłn, z far hayr), hvñ cnductd wîdspred tstñ fr Covid-19 fṛm rli on, prisîsli az ɖ YC hz feld t d.

Hǎ, ɖen, dd it cm t ɖs? Hǎ dd c’roṇvîṛs spred acrs ɖ glob, promtñ difṛnt rsponsz in difṛnt cuntriz? Dd ɖ YC simpli fel t hīd ɖ wornñz? Or dd it jst dsîd t tec difṛnt dsiźnz, ẃl uɖrz setld on oltrṇtiv ax́nz t sev lîvz?

Ɖ wornñz gro lǎdr

Devid Nbaro, pṛfesr v globl hlʈ at Impirịl Colij, Lundn, n an envô fr ɖ Wrld Hlʈ Orġnîześn on Covid-19, sz wn ʈñ z fr śr. Ol guvnmnts wr wornd hǎ sirịs ɖ sićueśn wz lîcli t bcm az rli az ɖ end v Jańri. Ignṛns v ɖ denjr ɖt wz cmñ cn b no xks. Yt it wd nt b untl lêt Marć – lêtr ɖn mni uɖr cuntriz – ɖt Jonsn wd anǎns a cmplit locdǎn.

“WHO hd bn folowñ ɖ ǎtbrec sins ɖ end v Dsmbr n wɖn a fy wīcs it cōld a mītñ v its imrjnsi cmiti t dsîd f ɖs ǎtbrec wz a ‘public-hlʈ imrjnsi v inṭnaśnl cnsrn’,” sd Nbaro.“Ɖt z ɖ hîist levl v alrt ɖt WHO cn iśu, n it iśùd it on Jańri 30. It md it vri clir ɖen – t evri cuntri in ɖ wrld – ɖt w wr fesñ smʈñ vri sirịs indd.”

Wel bfr ɖ end v Jańri, ɖ WHO hd bn tracñ ɖ growñ ʈret mînytli: 14 Jańri wz a ci de in ɖ spred v ɖ dziz ɖt wd bcm noun az Covid-19. Ɖ frst ces wz cnfrmd ǎtsd Ćîna, wɖ a wmn hospiṭlîzd in Tîland.

A WHO ofiśl wornd ɖen ɖt it wz poṣbl ɖt hymn-t-hymn trnzmiśn hd ocŕd in faṃliz v victimz – a sîn ɖt ɖ dziz hd ptnśl t spred far n fast – n, insd Ćîna, ofiślz wr qaytli tld t priper fr a pandemic.

Ɖr wz litl inṭnaśnl atnśn on ɖ de, ɖo, bcz Bêźñ’z dîr wornñz abt a pandemic wr md in sīcrit, n a WHO spocsmn róud bac fṛm hiz colīg’z clem.

Ofiṣ́li, Ćîna hd nt sìn a ny ces v ɖ c’roṇvîṛs fr ovr a wīc; ɖ ǎtbrec apird t b fedñ. It tc anɖr six dez fr Ćîna t pubḷcli acnolij ɖ graṿti v ɖ ʈret, tîm ɖt sayntists b’livd mnt a frɖr 3,000 ppl wr infctd.

Bt on 20 Jańri, ofiślz anǎnst mor ɖn 100 ny cesz n admitd ɖ vîṛs wz spredñ btwn hymnz, a red flag fr cnsrn t enwn hu wrcs on infx́s dzizz. Ɖ vîṛs cd no longr b cntend bî fîndñ ɖ animlsors v ɖ infx́n n dstroyñ it.

Tū dez lêtr, ɖ scel v ɖ ćalinj wz md clir t ɖ jenṛl public ẃn Bêźñ loct dǎn miłnz v ppl. Ol transport intu n ǎt v ɖ mtroṗlis v Wūhan wz cut of, an unpresdntd modn qoṛntīn ɖt wd cm at hyj hymn n ic̣nomic cost.

On 29 Jańri, ɖ YC wd hv its frst tū cnfrmd cesz v ɖ dziz. Ɖr wz litl sns ɖt Ćîna’z dlema n its aproć – śut dǎn lîf az w nǒ it or woć ɖ deʈtol spîṛl ǎt v cntrol – mt hv t b ǎr nîtmer wɖn wīcs.
In rli Febrri, Doṇld Trump anǎnst a ban on travlrz hu hd pást ʈru Ćîna in ɖ prīvịs 14 dez. Yṛp bgan foc̣st tstñ v ppl wɖ simtmz n travl hisṭriz ɖt linct ɖm t ɖ dziz, bt litl els.

Jonsn, it sīmd, stl hd Brexit n fri tred mć mor on hiz mînd. Eni hint v dṛcońn ax́n t fît c’roṇvîṛs ɖt mt hrt ɖ icoṇmi wz ɖ last ʈñ h wz enttenñ.

In a spīć on Brexit in Grenij on 3 Febrri, h md clir hiz vyz on Wūhan-stîl locdǎnz. “W r startñ t hír sm bizar ōtarcic reṭric,” h sd, “ẃn barịrz r gwñ p, n ẃn ɖr z a risc ɖt ny dzizz sć az c’roṇvîṛs wl trigr a panic n a dzîr fr marcitsegṛgeśn ɖt g bynd ẃt z medicli raṣ́nl t ɖ pônt v dwñ riyl n uņesṣri ic̣nomic damij.

“Ɖen, at ɖt momnt, hymaṇti nīdz sm guvnmnt smẃr ɖt z wilñ at līst t mc ɖ ces pǎrf̣li fr frīdm v xćenj, sm cuntri redi t tec of its Clarc Cnt specṭclz n līp intu ɖ fonbuɖ n imrj wɖ its clǒc flowñ az ɖ sūṗćarjd ćampịn v ɖ rît v ɖ popyleśnz v ɖ Rʈ t bai n sel frīli amñ ć uɖr.”

‘Hrd-iḿṇti’: YC gz it alon

Bî rli Marć it wz abundntli clir t mni acdemics n sayntists ɖt ɖ aproć biyñ adoptd bî ɖ YC wz marcidli difṛnt fṛm ɖoz foloud bî uɖr cuntriz. Fṛm Sǎʈ C’rīa t Jrṃni, guvnmnts hd invstd heṿli in xpandñ tstñ-cpaṣti fṛm ɖ frst wīcs v ɖ eṗdemic.

Hoñ Coñ, Tîwan n Snġpor hd bròt in cntrolz on travlrz fṛm infctd rījnz n strict contacțresñ t hlp unḍstand hu cd hv bn xpozd, inform ɖm n rqîr slf-îṣleśn. Fesmascs bcem wîdspred in īst Eźa, loñ bfr it wz rec̣mndd elsẃr.Tstñ n contacțresñ hz bn at ɖ hart v ɖ aproć advcetd bî ɖ WHO, so ɖt cuntriz cn istabliś hǎ trnzmiśnćenz wr ocŕñ, in ordr t brec ɖm.

Mni olso bròt in sm sośl-distnsñ meźrz, banñ larj gaɖ̇rñz, clozñ scūlz or xtndñ hoḷdez, n incurijd ɖoz hu cd d t wrc fṛm hom. Nn wr az xtrim az Ćîna’z śutdǎn, or ɖ Yṛpiyn n Americn locdǎnz ɖt wd folo.

Raitñ in ɖ Obzrvr last munʈ, Devi Sridhar, ćer v globl public hlʈ at ɖ Yṇvrṣti v Edinbra, notd ɖ dstñt YC aproć. “Rɖr ɖn lrnñ fṛm uɖr cuntriz n folowñ ɖ WHO advîs, ẃć cmz fṛm xprts wɖ decedz v xpirịns in tac̣lñ ǎtbrecs acrs ɖ wrld, ɖ YC hz dsîdd t folo its ǒn paʈ. Ɖs sīmz t axpt ɖt ɖ vîṛs z unstoṗbl n wl probbli bcm an ańl, sīẓnl infx́n.

“Ɖ plan, az xplend bî ɖ ćīf sayns’dvîzr, z t wrc twdz ‘hrd iḿṇti’, ẃć z t hv ɖ mjoṛti v ɖ popyleśn cntract ɖ vîṛs, dveḷp antibodiz n ɖen bcm iḿn t it. Ɖs ʈiyri hz bn wîdli yzd t advc̣t fr mas vax̣neśn fr mīzlz, mumps n rūbéla. Ɖ ʈncñ z ɖt, f most v ɖ popyleśn z vax̣netd, a smōl psntij cn g unvax̣netd wɖt cesz imrjñ.”

It wz nt jst ɖ YC huz poḷtiśnz n sạntific advîzrz wr, arğbli, slo t act in ɖ rli stejz. Uɖrz cuntriz, includñ Spen n Frans, wr còt ǎt tù, bt it wz Iṭli’z traɉdi ɖt alrtd Yṛp t ɖ scel v ɖ ʈret it fest.

Yṛpiyn guvnmnts n sitiznz wr forst t recn wɖ ɖ riaḷti ɖt in an ej v globl travl, ɖ ʈǎzndz v mîlz seṗretñ ɖm fṛm Ćîna mnt olmst nʈñ at ol. Ʈǎzndz v Brítnz wr hoḷdeyñ in Iṭli ɖ wīc ɖt it śut dǎn. Ɖe wr advîzd t g intu slf-qoṛntīn on rtrn, bt wr nt rejistrd bî ɖ hlʈ-oʈoṛtiz, nr wr ɖer contacts tráct.

Iṭli n ɖ YC hd bʈ hd ɖer frst ces a de apart at ɖ end v Jańri, bt cesz rouz fastr in Iṭli. Ɖ cuntri me jst hv bn unluci ɖt carịrz v ɖ dziz flù t its norɖn sitiz n sci-rzorts rɖr ɖn t uɖr Yṛpiyn capitlz.

Ẃtvr ɖ rīzn, cesz n ɖen deʈs startd clîmñ śarpli in norɖn Iṭli in lêt Febrri. Duznz v tǎnz wr loct dǎn fṛm ɖ 21st, bt in ɖ rest v ɖ cuntri lîf carid on az norml.

It wz sn clir ɖt ɖ probḷm hd nt bn cntend. On 8 Marć, ɖ prîm ministr, Jsepi Conte, qoṛntīnd 16 miłn ppl acrs ɖ norʈ v ɖ cuntri, n ɖ nxt de xtndd ɖ locdǎn t ol v Iṭli.

Russian biological warfare troops, called in by the Italian authorities, disinfect the Pope John Paul I care home near Bergamo. Photograph: Russian Defence Ministry/TASS
Ruśn bạlojicl-worfér trūps, cōld in bî ɖ Itałn oʈoṛtiz, disinfct ɖ Pǒp Jon Pōl I cerhom nir Bergamo. Foṭgraf: Ruśn Dfns Miṇstri/TASS

Ɖ meźrz sevd lîvz, bt cem tù lêt fr ʈǎzndz v Itałnz. Ɖ deʈtol ǎtstript Ćîna, n ɖ wrld lct on hoṛfaid az hospitlz wr oṿẃlmd, doctrz forst t ćūz hu śd hv a ćans on a vnṭletr n hu śd dî. On 11 Marć, ɖ WHO dclerd a globl pandemic. On 14 Marć, Spen wnt intu locdǎn, n ʈri dez lêtr Frans dd ɖ sem.

Bt in ɖ YC ɖr apird t b gretr rluctns t act dsîsivli wɖ locdǎnz: ɖ banñ v mas gaɖ̇rñz n ɖ cloźr v pubz n resṭronts. Ɖ guvnmnt’s sạntific n bhevyṛl-sayns advîzrz wr wornñ ministrz ɖt ɖ public mt riact badli t dṛcońn meźrz n wd nt toḷret ɖm fr loñ.

In an apaṛnt śo v dfayns agnst ɖ locdǎnrz, Jonsn n Simndz atndd ɖ Ñgḷnd v. Wêlz rugbimać at Twicnm on 7 Marć. Ɖ Ćlṭnm Fstivl, atndd ovr ʈri dez t 13 Marć bî 250,000 rês-gwrz, wz alaud t g ahd.

Śutdǎn: Jonsn ćenjz tac

Ɖ ton wz abt t ćenj. In a Dǎnñ Strīt presconfṛns on 12 Marć, Jonsn, hu hd sd a fy dez bfr ɖ frst YC deʈ ɖt ɖ dziz wz “lîcli t spred a bit mor” sudnli bcem ɖ dlivrr v grev wornñz.

Prīvịs tōc bî hiz advîzrz v avôdñ locdǎnz n dveḷpñ “hrd iḿṇti” hd bn baniśt n rplest bî a brūtl oṇsti. “I mst levl wɖ y,” Jonsn tld rportrz. “Mor faṃliz, mni mor faṃliz, r gwñ t lūz luvd wnz bfr ɖer tîm.” On 18 Marć – jst dez aftr Dǎnñ Strīt hd sjstd it wz nt on ɖ cardz – ɖ guvnmnt anǎnst ɖ cloźr v ol scūlz untl frɖr notis. Pubz n resṭronts wr ordrd t śut on 20 Marć. Ɖ YC hd cm lêt intu lîn.Wn formr cabiṇtministr last wīc dscrîbd ɖ ćenj v aproć az a “scrīćñ U-trn”. Jonsn n hiz ministrz wr nǎ, īvn mor ɖn bfr, tecñ cuvr bhnd, n advîs fṛm, ɖer sạntific n medicl advîzrz. Mni v ɖz advîzrz hd bcm incrisñli cnsrnd ɖt ɖ YC hd bcm ǎt v step wɖ uɖr cuntriz bcz v p’liticl rzistns fṛm ministrz t meźrz ɖt wd hit ɖ icoṇmi. Ɖ Obzrvr hz bn tld ɖt at līst tū sīńr guvnmnt’dvîzrz wr on ɖ brinc v qitñ bfr Jonsn swićt hiz aproć.

Ɖ guvnmnt hz faund itslf unebl t iscep ɖ consiqnsz v a wîdr fełr t priper. Az hospitlz ʈretnd t b oṿẃlmd bfr ordrz wr gvn t masivli xpand cpaṣti, ministrz cem undr intns criṭsizm ovr ɖ lac v pṛtctiv iqipmnt fr frunt-lîn NHS staf, ovr ɖ lac v vnṭletrz fr peśnts in intnsiv cer, n fr a fełr t tst mor wîdli fr Covid-19, ptiklrli amñ NHS wrcrz.

Ɖ lac v priperidnis n instnsz v ceotic planñ hz śoct mni in n ǎtsd ɖ NHS.

Last wīc, Dr. Alisn Pitard, ɖ dīn v ɖ Faclti v Intnsiv-Cer Meḍsin, ɖ pṛfeśnl bodi fr intnsiv-cer practiśnrz, sd ɖ minimm spesif̣ceśnz fr ɖ guvnmnt’s ǒn homgroun vnṭletrscīm wd pṛdys mśīnz ɖt wd onli trīt peśnts “fr a fy aurz”. “F w hd bn tld ɖt ɖt wz ɖ ces… w’d hv sd: ‘D’nt boɖr, y’r westñ yr tîm. Ɖt’s v no ys’,” ś tld ɖ Fnanśl Tîmz.

Last munʈ ɖ guvnmnt míst a YY pṛkrmntdedlîn fr vnṭletrz bcz, ministrz sd, an īmeil wnt uņotist. Ɖ NHS hd sd 30,000 mor wd b nīdd, Hancoc rdyst ɖs t 18,000. Pitard sd hr faclti hd bn wornñ fr yirz abt a śortij v intnsiv-cer cpaṣti n intnsiv-cer nrsz in hospitlz.

Boris Johnson and partner Carrie Symonds with the England captain Owen Farrell at Twickenham on 7 March. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
Boris Jonsn n partnr Cári Simndz wɖ ɖ Ñgḷnd captin Own Faṛl at Twicnm on 7 Marć. Foṭgraf: Facundo Aŗizabalaga/EPA

Norṃli ć intnsiv-cer peśnt wd hv wn intnsiv-cer nrs in atndns ol ɖ tîm, ś sd. Nǎ ɖr wz wn nrs t six peśnts, olɖo uɖr staf hd bn rīdiploid t intnsiv-cer ynits t plug ɖ gaps, n ɖ ny sistm wz wrcñ bcz v hrǒic ef̣ts. Olɖo ś wz rluctnt t criṭsîz ɖ guvnmnt, ś sd ɖt f ɖ faclti hd bn lisnd t, “w wd’nt b startñ fṛm ɖs ples”. Jrṃni, ś pôntd ǎt, hz 29 intnsiv-cer bedz p’ 100,000 ppl, cmperd wɖ six in ɖ YC.

Ɖ Tori MP n formr hlʈministr Dan Pūltr, hu wrcs part-tîm in ɖ NHS, sd ɖt gvn ɖ inorṃti v ɖ ćalinj fesñ guvnmnt “it olmst sīmz roñ t b criticl”.

Bt h b’livz part v ɖ probḷm z ɖt inṣfiśnt advîs hz bn sòt fṛm xpirịnst NHS cliniśnz hu wd hv wornd v probḷmz wɖ PPI rli on, n v ɖ śortij v vnṭletrz n wd hv tld ministrz v ɖ rjnt nīd t tst NHS staf.

“An rli oṿrlayns on acdemic moḍlñ olso rzultd in a lac v xpirịnst fruntlîn NHS cliniśnz – in uɖr wrdz, ɖ ppl hu riyli unḍstand ɖ de-t-de ćaḷnjz ǎr hospitlz n hlʈsrvis fes – fṛm fīdñ intu ɖ iniśl Covid-19 ax́nplan,” h sd. “Ɖs hz maṇfstd itslf amñst uɖr ʈñz in ɖ slǒnis v pṛvîdñ adiqt PPI fr fruntlîn NHS staf n in ɖ lac v vîṛs-tstñ fr hlʈcer staf in ɖ rlịr part v ɖ ǎtbrec.”

Hǎ ɖ sayntists riactd

Ẃn ɖ invstgeśnz intu ɖ YC’z rspons t Covid-19 cm t b ritn, ɖr z wîdspred recgniśn amñ xprts ɖt ɖs lac v loñ-trm stṛtījic planñ wl b at ɖ sntr v it. So tù śd b ɖ nīd t enśur ɖt ɖ vyz v xprts r féd intu guvnmnt mor ifiśntli n wîdli. Ɖ prospect v a prīvịsli uņoun dziz spredñ caṭstroficli arnd ɖ glob n infctñ miłnz z, aftr ol, nt a ny wn.

Indd, mni wornñz hv bn gvn in ɖ past abt ɖ vîṛl denjrz fesñ hymaṇti. “Gvn ɖ cntińl imrjns v ny paʈ̇jnz … n ɖ evr-incrisñ cnctidnis v ǎr wrld, ɖr z a sgnificnt probbiḷti ɖt a larj n līʈl pandemic wl ocŕ in ǎr lîftîm,” Bil Gets pridictd sevṛl yirz ago. “N it wl hv ɖ impact v a ńclir wor,” h wornd, ẃl rjñ neśnz t start stocpîlñ antivîṛl drugz n ʈeṛpiz. F onli.Fr its part, ɖ WHO priperd – sevṛl yirz ago – a list v vîṛsz wɖ no noun trītmnts or vaxīnz, ilṇsz ɖt cd wn de trigr ɖt pandemic n cil hundṛdz v ʈǎzndz. Pṛspctiv cilrz includd nipā-dziz n laṣfīvr az wel az an eilmnt it simpli cōld “dziz X” – “a sirịs inṭnaśnl eṗdemic cōzd bî a paʈ̇jn cuṛntli uņoun”.

Az t ɖ most lîcli nećr v ɖt mstirịs vîṛs, most moḍlñ asymd ɖt dziz X wd b flu-lîc in bhevyr, sz Dr. Josi Goldñ, ɖ eṗdemicslīd at ɖ Welcm Trust. Aftr ol, influenza hd cōzd so mni dedli globl ǎtbrecs in ɖ past. Az a rzult, a lot v invstmnt wnt intu mcñ influenẓvaxīnz in preṗreśn, ś sz. “Bt hv w bn ʈncñ abt dzizz uɖr ɖn influenza ɖt mt bcm pandemics? I d’nt ʈnc w hv. Ɖr hz bn a riyl gap in ǎr ʈncñ.”

Ɖen cem ɖ apiṛns v Covid-19 – cōzd nt bî a stren v influenza bt bî a c’roṇvîṛs – in Nvmbr. Iniṣ́li, onli a fy cesz wr hîlîtd, a trend ɖt bgan t ćenj rli ɖs yir wɖ a rîz in numbrz v infctd il ppl.

“Ɖ rport ɖt riyli grabd mî atnśn cem ǎt in mid-Jańri,” sz eṗdīmioḷjist Pṛfesr Marc Wŭlhǎs at Ednbra Yṇvrṣti. “It sd 41 cesz v ɖs ny rspiṛtri ilnis hd nǎ bn dạgnozd in wn smōl eria v Ćîna, arnd Wūhan. N ɖt set ɖ alarm belz rññ fr m.”

Fr Wŭlhǎs, ɖ clustr v cesz in wn ples śoud ɖs wz nt a matr v a fy ppl scatrd arnd Ćîna picñ p an oceźnl infx́n fṛm an animl sć az a bat or a ćicn. “Forti-wn cesz in wn smōl eria at ɖ sem tîm cd nt b xplend ɖt we. Ppl r nt picñ ɖs p fṛm animlz, I riylîzd. Ɖe r acć̣li spredñ it t ć uɖr. It wz olrdi hedñ ǎt v cntrol.”

Ywn Birni, hed v ɖ Yṛpiyn Bîoinf̣matics Insttyt, part v ɖ Yṛpiyn Mleklr-Bîoḷji L’boṛtri, in Cembrijśr, olso notd ɖ sgnificns v ɖ ny dziz at ɖ tîm. “I prizymd, at frst, ɖt ɖs wn wd olso brn itslf ǎt, probbli smẃr in Eźa,” h sz.

Hiz rīẓnñ wz stretfwd. Ɖ ǎtbrec v Sars ɖt apird in 2003 in Ćîna wz cōzd bî a c’roṇvîṛs n cild mor ɖn 10% v ɖoz it infctd. “In fact, it cild or hospiṭlîzd so mni v ɖoz it infctd, ɖ ćen v trnzmiśn fṛm wn prsn t uɖrz wz cut. It wz tù līʈl fr its ǒn gd. So I ʈt ɖs mt hapn wɖ ɖs ny dziz. Bt it trnz ǎt Covid-19 z mć mîldr n inc̣paṣtets fywr indivijlz, so ɖr z no cut in its trnzmiśn. Ẃn ɖt bcem apaṛnt – arnd mid-Jańri – I bcem vri wurid.”

Ɖen ɖr wz ɖ infx́snis v ɖ ny vîṛs. A prsn wɖ Sars jenṛli starts t dsple simtmz bfr ɖe infct uɖr ppl. Ɖt mcs it mć īzịr t cnten. Bt ɖs wz nt ɖ ces wɖ Covid-19. Rli deta fṛm Ćîna – agn rlist in Jańri – śoud ɖ vîṛs wz biyñ spred fṛm ppl hu wr dspleyñ onli ɖ mîldist simtmz, or in sm cesz no simtmz. Ɖs wz mcñ ɖ cndiśn vri dificlt t trac, sz vroḷjist Pṛfesr Joṇʈn Bōl v Notñm Yṇvrṣti.

The County Oak Medical Centre in Brighton was closed on 10 February after a member of staff was infected with coronavirus. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images
Ɖ Cǎnti Oc Medicl Sntr in Braitn wz clozd on 10 Febrri aftr a membr v staf wz infctd wɖ c’roṇvîṛs. Foṭgraf: Glin Crc/AFP via Geti Iṃjz

“At ɖt pônt I riylîzd ɖs ǎtbrec wz gwñ t b vri sirịs,” h add. “I snt a twīt t a colīg in Ostreła. It simpli sd: ‘Ɖs wn z ǎt v ɖ bag proprli’. H snt wn bac agriyñ wɖ m.”

Arnd ɖs tîm, Pōl Nrs, Nobel lorịt n hed v ɖ Fransis Cric Insttyt, rcōlz atndñ a confṛns ẃr h met Marc Wolṗt, hed v YC Rsrć n Iṇveśn, ɖ orġnîześn ɖt fundz a vast slîs v Britiś sạntific rsrć.
“H hd jst rsivd a txtmesij fṛm a colīg abt ɖ ǎtbrec n w startd t dscus ɖ impḷceśnz,” Nrs rcōlz. “It dd nt tec s loñ fr s bʈ t riylîz ɖs wz gwñ t b vri sgnificnt. It tc anɖr tū or ʈri wīcs t cnfrm ɖz wrst firz – bî mid-Febrri.”

Bî ɖs tîm, Birni hd riylîzd ɖ vîṛs hd a riyl stñ in its teil n cd cōz sirịs ilnis amñ ɖ eldrli n ɖoz wɖ uɖr unḍlayñ sirịs eilmnts. “It wz haf-trm n I wz on hoḷde wɖ mî peṛnts. Ol I wontd t d wz t gt ɖ hoḷde ovr n ɖen gt ɖm bac t ɖer hǎs in ɖ cuntri ẃr ɖe cd cīp ɖmslvz îṣletd.”

In Febrri, sṗradic cesz v Covid-19 wr apirñ rnd ɖ cuntri, rcōlz Tom Wñfīld, a cliniśn n infx́s-dziz xprt best at ɖ Liṿpul Scūl v Tropicl Meḍsin. “Ɖz wr cesz ɖt hd bn bròt intu ɖ cuntri, mnli fṛm Ćîna or Iṭli. Ɖen ɖr wz an ǎtbrec in Braitn [n a numbr v uɖr cesz wɖt foṛn travl] n I riylîzd ɖt ɖ vîṛs hd istabliśt itslf in a cḿṇti ɖr. It wz a trnñ pônt.”

Britn wz stl dwñ qt wel in cntenñ ɖ dziz bî tstñ, tresñ contacts n setñ p qoṛntīn fr ɖoz sspctd v biyñ infctd wɖ Covid-19 at ɖs tîm. “Ɖen, in Marć, ɖ guvnmnt dsîdd t abandn ɖs aproć n śift fṛm cntenñ ɖ dziz t dleyñ its progres,” sz Wñfīld. “I wd riyli lîc t nǒ ẃ ɖ dsiźn t gv p tstñ n contacțresñ wz tecn.”

Mni uɖr rsrćrz olso qsćn ẃ ɖ guvnmnt tc so loñ t riact t ɖer wornñz. “Part v ɖ trubl wz ɖr wr uɖr vroḷjists hu wr seyñ ɖs wz gwñ t b lîc Sars or flu n ɖr wz nt tù mć t wuri abt,” sz Bōl. “Bt Sars hapnd in 2003. Ɖ wrld z mć mor cnctd nǎ ɖn it wz ɖen. Mor t ɖ pônt, Covid-19 wz olso mć mor infx́s ɖn Sars. N so it startd apirñ in lots v uɖr cuntriz.

“Phps sm v s śd hv got p in frunt v BBC Nyz n sd y lot òt t b petṛfaid bcz ɖs z gwñ t b a pandemic ɖt wl cil hundṛdz v ʈǎzndz v ppl,” adz Bōl. “Nn v s ʈt ɖs wz a ptiklrli cnstructiv ʈñ t d, bt mbi wɖ hîndsît w śd hv. F ɖr hd bn mor vôsz, mbi poḷtiśnz wd hv tecn ɖs a bit mor sirịsli.”

“Ɖr z no qsćn ɖt w wr inṣfiśntli priperd,” Nrs sz. “W hd bn wornd a fy yirz ago ẃn rports md it clir ɖt ɖ YC wz nt redi t combat a mejr flūpandemic n w dd nt tec p ɖt wornñ. Az a rzult, w wr còt ǎt.”

H n mni uɖrz se an inqîri intu Britn’z Covid-19 priperidnis wl hv t b hld at sm pônt bt stres ɖt ɖs śd nt b startd untl ɖ crîsis hz bn dlt wɖ in ɖ YC.

Pṛfesr Iyn Bôd, a formr ćīf sạntific advîzr at ɖ Dpartmnt fr Invîrnmnt, Fūd n Rṛl Aferz, agriz. “Ɖr z a gret denjr ɖr wl b a lot v lcñ-bac wɖ ɖ beṇfits v hîndsît n pǒcñ fngrz v blem,” wornz Bôd. “Bt ẃn y r in ɖ midl v ʈñz y hv t mc a lot v vri hard 50-50 dsiźnz, n smtmz y mc ɖ roñ cōl. On ɖ uɖr hand, ɖr z no harm in mcñ śr ɖt w lrn az mni lésnz az w cn.”

Ɖ lésnz fṛm ɖ rest v ɖ wrld …

Boris Jonsn, aftr hiz ǒn bruś wɖ deʈ at ɖ handz v Covid-19, wl prizyṃbli no longr tec ɖ guñ-hǒ attyd t ilnis ɖt h olwz hd. A formr Tori ministr sd: “F Boris hd eni sns h wd tec cntrol v ɖ inqîri n līd it.”

Wn cncluźn ɖt xprts r olrdi drw̃ z ɖt it wz ɖoz cuntriz clos t Ćîna, wɖ meṃriz v Sars, or culćṛl tîz t ɖer nebr, ẃć wr mć fastr t act in rspons t Covid-19. Phps most noṭbl in its s’xes wz Tîwan. Closli linct bî ic̣nomic n culćṛl tîz t mênḷnd Ćîna, Tîwan cd hv bn at hî risc v a mejr Covid-19 eṗdemic. Turists n biznis-ppl travld reğlrli bac n fʈ.Bt hlpt phps bî hvñ an eṗdīmioḷjist az vîs-prezidnt, ɖ guvnmnt set p a gold-standd reźīm v tstñ n contacțresñ ɖt mīnz ɖt nirli ʈri munʈs on fṛm its frst cnfrmd infx́n, it hz rejistrd fywr ɖn 400 cesz n six deʈs.

Tîwan’z xtnsiv tstñ n ʈura contacțresñ r prisîsli ɖ cnd v ax́n ɖt ɖ formr hlʈsecṛtri Jeṛmi Hunt z dmandñ bfr ɖ YC locdǎn z liftd. Hunt pônts ǎt ɖt it z wn v ɖ isnśl cndiśnz set bî ɖ WHO t avôd a secnd wev rzultñ fṛm an īzñ v rstrix́nz.

Hoñ Coñ, ẃć olso sufrd fṛm ɖ Sars crîsis, olso muvd rli t infors qoṛntīn n sośl distnsñ, az wel az wîdspred mascwẹrñ, n tde hz rejistrd jst ovr 1,000 cesz n onli for deʈs.

A man in Wuhan on 10 February, the 19th day of the transport lockdown. Photograph: Getty Images
A man in Wūhan on 10 Febrri, ɖ 19ʈ de v ɖ transportlocdǎn. Foṭgraf: Geti Iṃjz

In lêt Febrri, Sǎʈ C’rīa lct lîc it wz on a tṛjectri t dzastr, wɖ ɖ hîist numbr v cnfrmd cesz ǎtsd Ćîna, n numbrz rîzñ rapidli. Bt aftr ɖ cuntri’z frst infx́n, ɖ guvnmnt met medicl cumṗniz n rjd ɖm t start dveḷpñ c’roṇvîṛs tstcits on a masiv scel.

Ɖ rzults wr impresiv. Ẃn ɖ eṗdemic hit, it wz redi t dplô larj-scel tstñ. Its meźrz alaud Sǎʈ C’rīa t bcm ɖ secnd cuntri t flatn its c’roṇvîṛs crv, wɖt ɖ swīpñ śutdǎnz v ssayti n ic̣nomic activti ɖt Ćîna hd paynird n ɖ wst wd b forst t adopt.

Ćîna’z xpirịns śd hv pṛvîdd a grim tmplet fr wstn cuntriz t yz t priper. Ɖ spīd wɖ ẃć Wūhan’z crîsis hd intnṣfaid śoud ɖt a reḷtivli advanst medicl sistm cd b swomt. Wɖn ʈri wīcs ɖr wr ovr 64,000 ppl infctd n 1,000 ded.

Ɖ pliz fr hlp fṛm Wūhan’z rezidnts n doctrz wr t b ecoud bî ɖoz fṛm Iṭli a fy wīcs lêtr, n sn aftr ɖ YC.

Lc bac ʈri munʈs, n in Ćîna ɖr wr nt inuf tsts t wrc ǎt hu hd c’roṇvîṛs, ɖr wz nt inuf pṛtctiv iqipmnt fr medicl staf trītñ peśnts, n ɖen, sn, trajicli ɖr wr nt inuf hospitl bedz n vnṭletrz fr sic peśnts. Ɖz r xacli ɖ ćaḷnjz fest bî oʈoṛtiz fṛm Ny Yorc t Rom, Lundn t Mdrid.

… n ɖ uɖr cuntri ɖt dd’nt lisn

F ɖ YC hz sirịs qsćnz t ansr, ɖ cuntri ɖt so far hz sìn ɖ wrst v ɖ ǎtbrec, ɖ Ynîtd Stets, wz slǒist v ol t act. Trump fr munʈs ignord, pleid dǎn or laid abt ɖ ʈret pozd bî c’roṇvîṛs, līvñ indivijl stets t act yṇlatṛli az it bcem clir it hd olrdi tecn hold on YS sôl.

On 17 Marć parts v Caḷforńa iśùd “śltr-in-ples” ordrz, ifctivli a locdǎn. Bî ɖ end v ɖt wīc Ny Yorc Siti hd olso śut dǎn, alñ wɖ a duzn stets, n ɖ mjoṛti v ɖ rest v ɖ cuntri hd pt sm rstrix́nz in ples. Onli fîv stets hd fy or no cntrolz.Ɖr hv nǎ bn nirli 700,000 cnfrmd cesz in ɖ YS n ovr 33,000 deʈs; acćl numbrz r lîcli t b hayr fr bʈ. Ɖ icoṇmi hz olso bn devstetd, wɖ mor ɖn 22 miłn ǎt v wrc az bizṇsz c’laps or śrinc undr ɖ stren.

The US was slowest of all to act, but Donald Trump is preparing to lift restrictions already. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP
Ɖ YS wz slǒist v ol t act, bt Doṇld Trump z pripẹrñ t lift rstrix́nz olrdi. Foṭgraf: Alix Brandn/AP

Trump insists ɖ YS z trnñ a cornr, n hz traid t blem – amñ uɖr targits – ɖ WHO fr felñ t fŭli rêz ɖ alarm, n hz stript it v its YS fundñ.

Ɖr hv srtnli bn qsćnz abt ɖ orġnîześn’z stroñ prêz fr Ćîna n ɖ xcluźn v Tîwan, ẃć me hv cntribytd t ɖ dle in recgnîzñ hymn-t-hymn trnzmiśn wz ocŕñ. Bt it bgan dêli brīfñz on 22 Jańri n hd dclerd a globl hlʈ-imrjnsi bî ɖ end v ɖt munʈ.

Ẃl iniṣ́li scepticl abt Ćîna’z distnsñmeźrz, it rjd uɖr cuntriz t adopt ɖm wns ɖr wz evidns ɖe wr wrcñ. It wornd abt śorṭjz v PPI ovr a munʈ ago, n sins ɖ bginñ v ɖ ǎtbrec hz rjd cuntriz, includñ ɖ YC, t “tst, tst, tst” t cnten ɖ vîṛs – a straṭji foloud bî olmst ol cuntriz ɖt hv manijd t s’pres it.

A sīńr Ẃîthōl sors wɖ dīteld nolij v ɖ YC’z rspons n ɖoz v uɖr cuntriz sd: “Ɖ fact z ɖt ɖoz cuntriz hu ń a lot abt Sars qcli sw ɖ denjr. Bt in ɖ YC ɖ attyd amñ poḷtiśnz n olso sayntists wz ɖt it wz riyli jst sm form v a flu. Ol ɖ guvnmnt’s pandemicplanñ wz best on a flu-s’nario. N ɖen it trnd ǎt t b smʈñ difṛnt n far, far wrs n ɖ rspons wz cmplitli inadiqt.”

N w r gwñ t b livñ wɖ ɖ consiqnsz fr a loñ tîm. D’nt xpct a vaxīn t cm t ɖ resk in ɖ śort trm, sz Nbaro. “Fr ɖ fōrsiybl fyćr, w r gwñ t hv t fînd wez t g abt ǎr lîvz wɖ ɖs vîṛs az a constnt ʈret t ǎr lîvz. Ɖt mīnz îṣletñ ɖoz hu śo sînz v ɖ dziz n olso ɖer contacts. Oldr ppl wl hv t b pṛtctd. Ɖt z gwñ t b ɖ ny norml fr s ol.”

Instroduction to Ñspel

 

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