The Whole of the Moon

Peter Fairbrother peter at
Tue Mar 17 04:07:24 PDT 2020

Last one, for now.

Please redistribute freely.

Peter Fairbrother

4- The Whole of the Moon

17 March 2020

The good news: the worst-hit (or first hit) countries are now stopping 
their coronavirus epidemics.

China has done pretty much stopped their epidemic spreading [1], in 
South Korea it is dying out [2], in Iran [3] and perhaps Italy [4] it is 
getting less of a hold, though it is a bit early to say in Italy's case.

How can we be sure of that? Simple. The daily numbers of new cases are 
falling in all those countries, reaching very low levels in China and 
South Korea.

They have all implemented strong isolation, and it is working for them.

In none of them have even one thousandth of the population become, or 
are likely to become, infected (though Italy may come close).

There is no known case where strong isolation is failing to stop the 

China and South Korea are considering restrictions on people entering 
their countries in order to prevent infected people bringing the disease 
in, as that is now their major source of new infections.

The bad news: the UK's present policy is still to delay the epidemic 
rather than try to stop it, allowing over 60% of the population to catch 
the disease at a projected cost of 400,000 UK deaths (UK Government 


So why does the UK government still insist strong isolation will not 
work for us?

It doesn't have to be very onerous. Something like this: schools close, 
as do universities, pubs, public gatgerings. Most people stay at home 
for perhaps 4 weeks.

During that four weeks we make a lot of masks, respirators and other 
protective gear. We prepare a very large number of tests. We prepare 
ventilators and people to operate them, and hospital and hospital beds 
in case the confinement does not work, though it should. We plan. We 
research the virus.

During the fourth week we test anyone who might have the virus. After 
the four weeks that number should be about one thousand.

It is estimated that there are a few tens of thousands of active virus 
cases now, at the end of the four weeks that should be around five 
thousand, many of whom will be in hospital and most of the rest will be 

After the first isolation period we implement mandatory testing if a 
doctor or trained nurse or a policy requires it, and mandatory 
quarantine if infected people do not self-isolate.

Medium-term we limit personal contact, wear masks, wash hands, bump 
elbows, supply handrub. We monitor all suspected infections and 
contacts. Schools stay closed until we know more, but people mostly go 
back to work.

Until we find a vaccine or cure or the disease dies out, we implement 
long-term restrictions on entry to the country - perhaps five days 
quarantine, with a test on the fifth day. That will not catch everybody, 
but it will probably catch enough people.

I suggest UK people already abroad should not have to pay for this, but 
for UK people leaving then re-entering and foreigners the cost should be 
included in the ticket price, a bit like airport taxes.

That will not be enough to stop the virus completely, but it will be a 
good start. We will by then have a better idea of which measures are 
necessary and which are not.  Perhaps one or two thousand people will 
die. We may have to repeat this, or bring in other measures - but like 
China, South Korea, Iran and Italy, if we persevere we will stop the virus.


But we have to implement strong isolation now - any delay will cost lives.

The Government's alternative is to let the virus infect 40 million 
people or so, just slowing it down a little. On the Government's own 
figures that will involve four hundred thousand deaths.

This delay policy must stop, now. We want to kil the disease, not delay it.


Suppose we try hard to stop the virus and it fails. We will have had 
time to prepare for the peak, time to build ventilators, time to train 
staff to use them, time to make masks, time to expand testing, time to 
provide more hospital beds - time to research the virus, maybe even time 
to develop a vaccine or cure.

But then suppose we try hard and succeed. It seems most other countries 
will succeed too, and the disease will wither away or remain at a very 
low level until a vaccine or cure can be found.

We know how to do strong isolation for infection prevention, and all the 
examples in other countries show where it has been tried it is working - 
we need to do it now.

We also need to drop SAGE, the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on 
Emergencies. Preferably from a great height.

[1] Daily New Cases
[2] Daily New Cases
[3] Daily New Cases
[4] Daily New Cases

Peter Fairbrother

Slogans for today:

Don't delay the epidemic, kill it.

Don't delay, kill the coronavirus.

Kill the epidemic, not the people.

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