Tag Archives: China

About Poets: HANNAH LOWE

"House by the Railroad," Edward Hopper, 1925


The Guardian, 10 January 2019: "Coca-Cola influences China’s obesity policy, BMJ report says." Photograph: Peter Morgan/AP.

You’d think it unwise
To advertise anything
Based on lies
But you’d be wrong

For the truth, all along,
As I’ve seen many times,
Is that reality
Is based on lies.

So don’t be a dope.
Drink Coke!

Frank Poems: DEAR MR XI

NASA Science: Total lunar eclipse from Abu Dhabi

Please don’t undermine our moon.
What harm’s it ever done to you?!

You’ve got Tibet,
You’ve got Hong Kong
And now you’re set
Upon Taiwan.

But woe betide!
If you’re still not satisfied
And do decide on lunacide
The moon might not like it.
Beware the tide!


Fṛm Đ Gardịn: YouTube restores suspended account of Chinese vlogger reporting from Ukraine on atrocities

Ukrainian firefighters work at a scene of a destroyed building after shelling in Odesa, Ukraine, on Sunday. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP
Ycreńn fîrfîtrz wrc at a sīn v a dstroid bildñ aftr śelñ in Odesa, Ycren, on Súnde. Foṭgraf: Petros Giannakouris/AP

YTyb rstorz sspndd acǎnt v Ćînīz vlogr rportñ fṛm Ycren on atroṣtiz

(Transcription of an article published in the Guardian on Thursday 7 April 2022)

YTyb tecs ax́n a wīc aftr sspndñ Woñ Jīśien’z ćanl ẃn it rsivd a rport hiz posts cntend ‘sspctd vayḷns’

Rǒda Cwān in Taipei, Ʈrzde 7 Epril 2022

YTyb hz rstord ɖ acǎnt v a Ćînīz naśnl in Odesa hu wz cuṿrñ ɖ atroṣtiz in Ycren, a wīc aftr sspndñ ẃn it rsivd a rport ɖt it cntend “sspctd vayḷns”.

Woñ Jīśien, huz dêli Manḍrin vlogs dītelñ hiz lîf in ɖ Ycreńn siti md him an inṭnet snseśn, wz tmprṛli sspndd on Ʈrzde last wīc. In hiz vidio imīɉtli bfr ɖ sspnśn, hiz vidio śoud Ćînīz trnzleśnz v a vôs rcordñ v Ycreńnz spīcñ abt atroṣtiz cmitd bî Ruśn soljrz.

A YTyb spocsprsn sd: “Wɖ ɖ masiv volym v vidioz on ǎr platform, smtmz w mc ɖ roñ cōl on content ɖt z flagd bî ǎr cḿṇti. Ẃn ɖs z bròt t ǎr atnśn, w rvy ɖ content n tec aproprịt ax́n qcli, includñ rstorñ vidioz ɖt wr mstecnli rmuvd.”

Woñ, fṛm Bêźñ, bgan postñ dêli vlogs on hiz YTyb ćanl śortli aftr Ruśa’z inveźn v Ycren on 24 Febrri. “Tde z … I am stl in Odesa. I am stl alîv,” hiz vidioz bgin. Hiz dêli updets qcli drù mor ɖn 100,000 folowrz bt olso ɖ îr v Ćîna’z lījnz v naśṇlistic netiznz. Hiz ćanl sudnli wnt qayt last wīc.

Ɖ programr tld hiz folowrz on Twitr ɖt hiz apil agnst ɖ sspnśn wz rjctd last wīc. YTyb tmprṛli sspndz rportd acǎnts fr ptnśl vạleśnz fr wn wīc, ẃć me b xtndd t 90 dez f vạleśnz cntiny.

Woñ tld Redio Fri Eźa h dd’nt blem YTyb, bt ɖ “ultirịr motivz” v huevr rportd him, seyñ: “ẃr z ɖ vayḷns? I dd’nt includ fotoz [v vayḷns] in mî vidio.”

Unditŕd, Woñ crietd a ny YTyb ćanl t cntiny hiz dêli updets. Hiz ny acǎnt, crietd last Ʈrzde, hosts a six-de strīc v vidioz n hz olrdi garnrd 34,000 folowrz. Folowrz postd meṣjz v rlif on hiz ny ćanl. “I admîr yr curij,” wn rout.

Dspt hiz loyl folowñ, Woñ’z s’port fr Ycren ćefs wɖ ɖ naṛtiv ɖt Ćîna z inforsñ on its sitiznz bac hom. Ćînīz stetmīdia hz rportd atroṣtiz in ɖ tǎn v Būća rlịr ɖs wīc az a “śo” ɖ Ycreńn sîd wz ptñ on fr ɖ wst, n larjli portrez Ruśa az a victim in ɖ conflict.

Ɖ sspnśn foloud wīcs v haṛsmnt v hiz faṃlimembrz in Ćîna n ɖ dliśn v hiz WiĆat acǎnt in mid-Marć. “Ẃt r y scerd v? Z mî vôs riyli ɖt teṛfayñ?” Woñ sd in a vidio adresñ WiĆat’s dliśn v hiz acǎnt.

Instroduction to Ñspel

From Portuguese: MILITARY EFFICIENCY (A little Chinese story), by Lima Barreto

[My translation of the short story Eficiência militar (Historieta chinesa) by the Brazilian writer Lima Barreto, which was first published in the Careta newspaper in Rio de Janeiro in 1922]


Li-hu Ang-Pô, the Regent of Canton, which was part of the Chinese Empire – “the Celestial Empire” or “the Middle Kingdom,” as it was called – had noticed that his army didn’t look at all warlike; nor had it demonstrated, in the most recent manoeuvres, any great military aptitude.

As everyone knows, during the ancient Chinese regime, the powers of the Regent of Canton were akin to those of an absolute monarch. He governed his province as a kingdom inherited from his parents, and his word was law.
The only restriction on his powers was the obligation to pay a hefty annual tax into the treasury of the Son of Heaven. The latter was comfortably ensconced amongst dozens of wives and hundreds of concubines in the mysterious imperial city of Peking but was invisible to the great masses of his people.
Having realised what a miserable state his army was in, Li-Hu Ang-Pô, the Regent of Canton, began to wonder what he should do to raise the morale of his army and make it more like… more like an army. As a result he doubled the soldiers’ rations of rice and dog meat; but this greatly increased the military expenditure of the kingdom; so, to mitigate that problem, it occurred to him – or rather, it was pointed out to him – that all he need do was double the taxes on fishermen, potters, and collectors of human manure (one of the main occupations in the labyrinthine city of Canton).


After a few months, he decided to test the success of the measures he’d introduced to enhance the pride, enthusiasm and martial vigour of his trusty soldiers. This took the form of general manoeuvres that would take place, when the cherry trees came into blossom in the spring, on the Plane of Chu-Wei-Hu – “Happy Days Plane” in our language. So, in due course, about fifty thousand Chinese soldiers, comprising infantry, cavalry and artillery, set up camp on the Plane of Chu-Wei-Hu under silk tents – silk being as common in China as canvas is here.

The commander-in-chief of that extraordinary army was General Fu-Shi-Tô, who’d begun his military career as a rickshaw-puller in Hong Kong. Indeed, he’d been so competent at that trade that the English governor had taken him for his own exclusive service.
The latter fact gave the General exceptional prestige amongst his countrymen because, although they generally detest foreigners – especially the English – they nevertheless respect the dreaded “red devils,” as they call the Europeans.
Having left the service of the British governor of Hong Kong, Fu-Shi-Tô could have no post in his own country other than general of the army of the Regent of Canton; and once appointed to that post, he immediately showed himself to be an innovator, making improvements both to troops and to ordnance – in recognition of which he was awarded the solid gold medal of the Imperial Order of the Dragon. It was he who replaced the cardboard cannons of the Cantonese army with those of Krupp, earning billions of taels in the process by way of commission, which he shared with the Regent. The French firm Canet wouldn’t have been so generous, which convinced him that Krupp’s cannons were better. So it’s clear that the ex-servant of the governor of Hong Kong knew a thing or two about artillery.


Li-Hua Ang-Pô’s army had been camping for over a month on Happy Days Plane, when the Regent decided to go and inspect the manoeuvres before conducting the final review.

Together with his retinue, which included his brilliant hairdresser Pi-Nu, he set off for the beautiful plane, fully expecting to see manoeuvres befitting a genuine Teutonic army. He was imagining glorious victories and how his profitable position as almost-king of the rich province of Canton would be secured for ever. With a powerful army at hand, no-one would dare to try and oust him.
When he arrived, he observed everything attentively and with curiosity. At his side, Fu-Shi-Tô explained strategies and tactics with a breadth of knowledge indicative of someone who had studied the Art of War between the shafts of a rickshaw.
But the Regent wasn’t happy. He’d noticed hesitancy and lack of élan in the troops, lack of speed and accuracy in the manoeuvres, and lack of obedience to the commander-in-chief and the officers; in short, instead of an army that should have been able to threaten the whole of China – should it wish to oust him from his comfortable and profitable position as Regent of Canton -, instead of all that, a decided lack of military efficiency. He pointed this out to the General, who responded thus:
“Your Most Excellent, Venerable, Powerful, Gracious and Celestial Highness is right; but those defects can easily be put right.”
“How?” asked the Regent.
“Simple! Our current uniforms are too similar to the German. We’ll make them more like the French, and that will fix everything.”
Li-Hu Ang-Pô pondered for a few moments, remembering that time he was in Berlin, the banquets the court dignitaries of Potsdam had laid on for him, the welcome he’d been given by the Kaiser and, above all, the taels he’d received via General Fu-Shi-Tô… It would be ingratitude on his part; but… He pondered a bit more until, finally, he barked out an order:
“Change the uniforms! Immediately!”


(The following biographical details have been translated from the [now defunct] Casa Lima Barreto website.)

Afonso Henriques de Lima Barreto was born in Rio de Janeiro on 13 May 1881 and died in the same city on 1 November 1922. The son of a typographer at the National Printing Works and of a state-school teacher, he was of mixed race. He was taught at first by his own mother, who died when he was seven. Through the influence of his godfather, Viscount Ouro Preto, an imperial minister, he completed his studies at the Pedro II National School, from where he went, in 1897, to the Polytechnic with the intention of studying to be an engineer. He had to give up his course, however, in order to become the breadwinner at home, after his father – bursar at the Colony for the Insane on Governador Island – himself became mentally ill in 1902. In the same year he had his first work published in the student press. The family moved to the Rio de Janeiro suburb of Engenho de Dentro, where the future writer decided to take part in a public examination for a vacancy in the Ministry of War. He came second but, because the first-placed candidate withdrew, he was able to take up the post, which he did in 1903.

Because his salary was only small, the family moved to a modest house in the suburb of Todos os Santos in which, in 1904, he began the first version of his novel Clara dos Anjos (Clara of the Angels). In the following year he began his novel Recordações do escrivão Isaías Caminha (Memoirs of the Clerk Isaías Caminha), which was published in Lisbon in 1909. He also published a series of reports in the Correio da Manhã newspaper and commenced the novel Vida e morte de M. J. Gonzaga de Sá (Life and Death of M. J. Gonzaga de Sá), which was not published until 1919. He participated in the Fon-Fon magazine and in 1907, together with some friends, launched the Floreal magazine, which survived for only four numbers but attracted the attention of the literary critic José Veríssimo. During this period he devoted himself to reading, in the National Library, the great names of world literature, including the European realist writers of the period; he was one of the few Brazilian writers who became familiar with the works of the Russian novelists.

In 1910 he was a juryman in a trial that condemned some soldiers involved in a student’s murder, an incident that came to be called ‘The Spring of Blood’; as a result he was passed over when it came to any possibilities of promotion in the secretariat of war. In the space of three months, in 1911, he wrote the novel Triste fim de Policarpo Quaresma (The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma), which was published in instalments in the Jornal do Comércio, for which he wrote, and also in the Gazeta da Tarde. In 1912 he published two instalments of the Aventuras do Dr. Bogoloff (The Adventures of Dr. Bogoloff), in addition to little humorous books, one of them printed in the O Riso magazine.

Although alcoholism was beginning take hold of him, it did not prevent him from continuing to work for the press and, in 1914, he commenced a series of daily feuilletons in the Correio da Noite. In 1915 the A Noite newspaper published his novel Numa e a ninfa (Numa and the Nymph) in instalments, and he began a long phase of work with the Careta magazine, writing political articles on various topics.  In the first months of 1916, the novel Triste fim de Policarpo Quaresma appeared as a book, together with some notable short stories such as ‘A Nova Califórnia’ (New California) and ‘O homem que sabia javanês’ (The Man who Spoke Javanese); these were warmly received by the critics, who saw Lima as a true successor to Machado de Assis. He began writing for the political weekly A.B.C. After being hospitalised in July 1917, he delivered to his editor, J. Ribeiro dos Santos, the manuscript of Os Bruzundangas (The Bruzundangans – Bruzundanga being Lima’s satirical name for Brazil), which was not published until a month after his death, in 1922.

He applied for a vacancy in the Brazilian Academy of Letters, but his application was not even considered. He published the second edition of Isaías Caminha and, subsequently, the novel Numa e a ninfa in book form. He started publishing articles and feuilletons in the alternative press of the period: A Lanterna, A.B.C. and Brás Cubas, which published an article of his showing sympathy for the revolutionary cause in Russia. After being diagnosed with toxic epilepsy, he was pensioned off in December 1918 and he moved to another house in the Rua Major Mascarenhas in Todos os Santos, where he lived until his death.

At the beginning of 1919 he ceased his collaboration with the A.B.C. weekly, because he took issue with an article it published criticising the blacks. He published the novel Vida e morte de M. J. Gonzaga de Sá, which was personally edited and sent for typing by the editor Monteiro Lobato; this was the only one of Lima’s books to receive such standard editorial care and for which he was well paid; it was also well advertised, being praised by both old and new literary critics, such as João Ribeiro and Alceu Amoroso Lima. At this time he applied once more for a vacancy at the Brazilian Academy of Letters; on this occasion his application was accepted, but he was not elected, although he received the permanent vote of João Ribeiro. Under the title of ‘As mágoas e sonhos do povo’ (The People’s Sufferings and Dreams), he started publishing, in the Hoje magazine, weekly feuilletons of so-called ‘urban folklore’ and he entered into a second phase of collaboration with Careta, which lasted until his death.

From December 1919 to January 1920 he was hospitalised in consequence of a nervous breakdown, an experience recounted in the first chapters of the memoir O cemitério dos vivos (The Cemetery of the Living), which was not published until 1953, when it was issued in a single volume together with his Diário íntimo (Intimate Diary). In December 1920 Gonzaga de Sá was short-listed for the literary prize of the Brazilian Academy of Letters for the best book of the previous year; it received an honourable mention. In the same month, the short-story book Histórias e sonhos (Stories and Dreams) was published, and the manuscript of Marginália (Odds and Ends), comprising articles and feuilletons already published in periodicals, was delivered to his friend, the editor F. Schettino; the manuscript was lost, however, and the book did not come to be published until 1953.

A section of O Cemitério dos vivos was published in January 1921 in the Revista Souza Cruz, under the title ‘As origens’ (The Origins); but the work remained incomplete.  In April of that year he went to the little town of Mirassol in the State of São Paulo, where a doctor friend of his, Ranulfo Prata, who was also a writer, tried to put him together again, but in vain. With his health badly undermined, he turned into a sort of recluse in his little house in Todos os Santos, where friends came to visit him and where his sister Evangelina looked after him devotedly. Whenever possible, however, he would embark on another walk through the city he loved, keeping reading, meditation and writing for home, despite the constant presence of his father’s madness, which got worse through a series of crises.

In July 1921 Lima applied for a vacancy in the Brazilian Academy of Letters for the third time, but he withdrew his application for ‘entirely personal and private reasons.’ He delivered the manuscript of Bagatelas (Trifles) to the publisher; this book was a collection of his principal journalistic work from 1918 to 1922, in which he analysed, with rare vision and clarity, the problems of the country and of the world after the 1st World War. However, Bagatelas was not published until 1923. In November 1921 he published, in the Revista Souza Cruz, the text of a speech ‘O destino da literatura’ (‘The Destiny of Literature’) that he had been due to make – but had not managed to do so – in the town of Rio Preto, near Mirassol. In December he began work on the second version of his novel Clara dos Anjos, which he finished the following January. The manuscript for Feiras e mafuás (One Thing and Another) was delivered for publication, which did not happen until 1953.

In May 1922 the magazine O Mundo Literário published the first chapter of Clara dos Anjos, ‘O carteiro’ (The Postman). His health was declining steadily as a result of rheumatism and alcoholism amongst other things, and Lima suffered heart failure and died on 1 November 1922. They found him holding the copy of the Revue des Deux Mondes – his favourite journal – which he had just been reading. Two days later, his father died. They were both buried in the São João Batista cemetery, in accordance with Lima’s wishes.

In 1953 a publisher issued some volumes of his unpublished works. But it was only in 1956, under the direction of Francisco de Assis Barbosa and with the collaboration of Antônio Houaiss and M. Cavalcanti Proença, that all his work  was published in 17 volumes; these comprised all the novels mentioned above and also the following titles that were not published during his life: Os bruzundangas, Feiras e mafuás, Impressões de leitura (Literary Impressions), Vida urbana (City Life), Coisas do reino de Jambon (A Report from the Kingdom of Jambon), Diário íntimo, Marginália, Bagatelas, O cemitério dos vivos and two further volumes containing all his correspondence – both letters sent and letters received. In the following decades Lima has been the subject of many studies, both in Brazil and abroad. His works, particularly his novels and short stories, have been translated into English, French, Russian, Spanish, Czech, Japanese and German.  He has been the subject of doctoral theses in the United States and Germany. To mark the centenary of his birth in 1981, conferences were held about him throughout Brazil, resulting in the publication of innumerable books, including essays, bibliographies and psychological studies of the author and his works. There is currently a growing interest in him among new Brazilian writers, who see him as a pioneer of the sociological novel. His literary production, which is vast in view of his early death, is gaining him – quite rightly – more and more distinction.

Translator’s note: In an obituary for Lima in the Jornal do Brasil on 5 November 1922 , Coelho Neto – who had given the oration at Machado’s funeral in 1908 – described him as:

one of the best novelists Brazil has had, who observed things with the power and precision of a microscope, and who wrote with magisterial assurance, describing ordinary life like no one else has done. Just as he was neglectful of himself, of his own life, so was Lima Barreto neglectful of the work he constructed, not seeking to correct its defects of language, presenting it just as it flowed from his pen, without the necessary revision, the indispensable polishing, the definitive final touch which a work of art needs. Despite everything, however, what has remained to us of this man is worth so much by way of observation of life and depiction of characters that the rough edges cannot destroy the beauty: sometimes they compromise it here and there but only in the same way that a wall with stains and cracks can affect the harmony of a fresco, but cannot negate the magnificence of the painting.

Despite the nit-picking, this might be considered gracious in view of the virulent criticisms made of Coelho Neto by Lima.

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