In the early stages of the corona epidemic, Boris Johnson missed five crisis decisions from the British cabinet. The British Prime Minister has also ignored scientists’ warnings about the virus and ignored calls for health workers to wear protective clothing. That reported The Sunday Times Sunday.
In a long, detailed article, the Sunday paper describes how the British government “sleepwalked” to the corona crisis that is now gripping the island. Johnson initially showed little interest in the impending doom. During a Brexit speech in Greenwich, he said that if a pandemic broke out, the UK would stand as a Superman. By not proceeding to a lockdown and bravely accepting the corona blow, the island economy would flourish.
Two months later, Johnson fought for his life in the ICU of a London hospital.
The United Kingdom already came up with pandemic plans ten years ago, but these were never implemented due to cutbacks and preparations for a No Deal Brexit. Singapore copied the plans and implemented them, with the result that the city-state was less affected and the schools could simply remain open. Typical of the complacent attitude of the British government was the decision at the end of February to export protective clothing to China – items that are now in dire shortage.
In early January, an Edinburgh expert sounded the alarm, but was not heard on Downing Street, where all attention was focused on the upcoming Brexit. When it became known a few weeks later that the virus had also turned up in other countries, the nuclear ministers met for a so-called Cobra meeting, intended for matters concerning state security. The prime minister himself was notably absent. He did have time that day to attend a Chinese ambassador’s New Year’s reception.
Johnson also missed out on the subsequent four COBRA meetings. He spent much of the time in the two country houses owned by the British Prime Minister. There he was busy with Brexit and personal affairs: finishing his divorce and preparing for his marriage to Carrie Symonds. Measures such as stopping flights from Wuhan and other affected cities in China were not even considered. Commercial laboratories’ offer to test extensively was rejected.
Because a vaccine against the coronavirus was far from being in sight, the government decided, partly on medical advice, to embrace the principle of group immunity. After models showed that this could lead to up to 300,000 British deaths, that strategy was abandoned in panic. The alternative was a lockdown, which has been in effect for almost four weeks now and threatens to wreck the economy. Johnson himself, and some of his ministers, experienced the serious consequences of the virus.
While the mainland countries one by one unlock the locks, the British people remain under house arrest. The government has been out of control in recent weeks due to Johnson’s absence, but the prime minister will return to work next week. London does not yet seem to have any idea how to reverse the lockdown, although the Minister of Education expects schools to finally reopen on May 11.
The number of Britons who died of corona-related diseases in the hospital was 15,464 on Sunday, the fourth highest number in Europe. Five doctors and nurses died.