by Ian R Thorpe, 19 March 2020
Coronavirus: Some people are taking the concept of self isolation a bit too far
Picture source: Buzzfeed
Things have gone so far beyond what can be considered a rational response to an outbreak of a highly contagious but for most people relatively minor illness that I am starting to believe even the conspiracy theories I know I made up myself. Along with my fellow Boggart Bloggers I predicted weeks ago the current outbreak of the so – called coronavirus would see a massive hyping of the threat level leading up to an assault on our freedoms. And that is exactly what we have seen happening over the past week.
The first move was the cancellation of all sporting events and concerts, followed by the enforced closure of entertainment events and though all public gatherings have not quite been outlawed there is enormous pressure on organisers to cancel. Even the Glastonbury music and counterculture festival has been cancelled “to prevent people being exposed to coronavirus,” which is totally illogical, people who go to Glastonbury are exposed to at least a hundred diseases far worse than coronavirs whenever they use Glastonbury’s infamous toilet facilities.
A toilet at Glastonbury Festival (unfortunate the smell cannot be photographed)
In the last 48 hours schools have been closed and people urged to work from home. And people like myself who are aged over 70 have been warned that if we don’t place ourselves under house arrest (self – isolate they euphemistically call it,) for four months the ban on our enjoying any social activity may have to be legally enforced. Naturally we, being a generation that has lived through worse crises, have responded “Self – Isolate my arse.”
It’s only going to get worse of course.
The powers that the “Coronavirus Bill” being rushed through parliament will to give the state levels of power over individuals unprecedented outside of wartime. It is the most extensive encroachment on British civil liberties we have ever seen outside of wartime. In the event of the pandemic being as serious as scientists have warned the government will need some of these powers, but when has reality ever come close to the scale of catastrophe scientists warn of. Remember the Swine flu, Bird flu, SARS and MERS epidemics that were going to sweep the world, all occurred since the beginning of the curent century and are all but forgotten now, because the dire warnings, the attempts to stir up mass hysteria and the predictions of doom heralded only minor events with the dead numbered in hundreds rather than millions.
If we were facing anything like the level of threat governments, bureaucracies like The United Nations and the World Health Organisation, and the mass media are suggesting, some of the powers governments are giving themselves might be justified. But here are a few statistics that put the whole thing in perspective:
104,385 Seasonal flu deaths this year worldwide
537Seasonal flu deaths today worldwide.
8,988 Covid19 deaths this year worldwide
And here’s a statistic that will put the whole thing into prespective: worldwide, slightly over 4000 people die every day from tuberculosis. There’s no panic about that, nobody is screaming it the end of civilization as we know it, yet in the nine weeks since coronavirus reached Europe less than 5000 have died of corona virus, (a significantly smaller number than have died of seasonal flu in the corresponding period.
Bizarrely we also have our governments in the liberal democracies praising the government of China (where the disease allegedly originated after a genetically modified virus escaped from a biological weapons laboratory,) for effectively controlling the epidemic there. Official figures from the Chinese government claim there have been about 80,000 conformed cases and 5,000 deaths to date. But China is a socialist dictatorship run by an authoritarian, tyrannical bureaucracy. Only a fool would believe information released by the Chinese government.
Unofficial reports I’m hearing through my network of business contacts is that the Chinese government is lying through its teeth, the infection is still rampant in China, there have been upwards of 100,000 fatalities and many millions of infections, the stories of hospitals built from scratch being fully operational 30 seconds after work on the foundations is begun (OK, I’m exaggerating for effect, but you know what I mean,) are typical of the bullshit that always comes out of socialist governments to mask the fact that in a crisis bureaucrats (or CHIMPS as they are sometimes known, Completely Hopeless In Most Practical Situations,) never have a clue how to deal with the problems thrown up by a crisis.
The upshot of all this confusing, misleading and downright false information is that it is more more, not less, important to scrutinise what is going on. We must not be seduced by those soothing messages from the authorities that they have everything under control and so long as we obey orders the authorities will protect us. THEY HAVEN’T A FUCKING CLUE.
Many people will not like this process of questioning everything. Just as during a terror attack, they want firm assurances that there is nothing to worry about and everything will soon be back to normal and become irritated with those who ask the difficult questions and reveal that the people who are supposed to be in charge as as ill – informed as. The fact that those in authority do not like being questionedat makes it even more important that we question them and continue to question them. We have a right to be told how being stripped of certain civil liberties will help fight a virus about which little is known.
Yesterday the government published some guidance on what measures its coronavirus bill will introduce. That’s all we have for now, that and the news that the Labour opposition will support the bil in parliament. We’ll will be able to scrutinise the bill properly when the it reaches parliament in a few days time. The Prime Minister’s office expects it to get royal assent by the end of this month (March,). It’s being forced through quickly, for obvious reasons.
If you follow the link above, the government web site’s text makes for very challenging reading, bureaucratic gobbledegook is never easy, but it gives a sense of how bad the government thinks things could get, or at least wants us to think it thinks things could get. It’s all speculation of course, we have no idea how the disease will spread other that that supplied by “scientists” with their mathematical models. And as we have observed in the case of climate change, mathematical models usually predict the opposite of what really happens. (Anyone remember that hilarious episode a few years ago when a research ship on a mission to study the effects of sea ice melt in Antarctica was stuck for several weeks in ice the mathematical models insisted was not there.
Once of the more disturbing clauses in the bill concerns indemnity from legal redress in cases of for clinical negligence cases arising from NHS efforts to deal with the virus. That suggests an awareness of how grim things could become if the health service starts to buckle under the strain.
There will also be provisions for local governments to take over the death management processes in their jurisdiction if the number of deaths becomes too high for private funeral directors to handle. That would involve local authorities managing and streamlining the work of funeral directors, mortuary owners and crematorium owners.
This is not a normal government bill. These are not normal times. But are governments merely taking sensible precautions or is something more sinister going on.
The powers the government will give itself are extraordinary. “The bill will enable the police and immigration officers to detain a person, for a limited period, who is, or may be, infectious and to take them to a suitable place to enable screening and assessment,” the notes read.’
It will also allow temporary judicial commissioners (JCs) to be appointed at the request of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner which taken at face value does not seem bad. In fact it is the one of the most critical pieces of domestic legislation for national security and individual liberty. It creates the statutory basis for the use of the investigatory powers by the intelligence and law enforcement agencies, using warrants issued under the act. These warrants provide the agencies with the capability they need to protect national security and investigate and prevent serious crime. Fair enough, but it also paves the way for massive expansion of the mass surveillance systems already in place, particularly facial recognition technology. The Home Secretary, again at the request of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, will also be allowed to vary the time allowed for urgent warrants to be reviewed by a JC and how long they can last before they need to be reviewed. The maximum time allowed for a review will be increased to a maximum of 12 days (up from the current 3 days). So goodbye Habeas Corpus and probably the presumption of innocence and the right to trial by jury with it.
Maintaining national security capabilities at a time of potential widespread upheaval is critical and it is necessary to ensure that the powers to vary specific aspects of the regime are available to the government should they be deemed necessary, for example if there are fewer JCs available than usual.
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