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France’s Rise in Infections Due to Increased Testing

The rise in infections in France hasn’t been accompanied by any rise in deaths

Yesterday the Government removed France from the “Green List” of countries you can travel to without having to quarantine on return, along with the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba. From 4am on Saturday, anyone returning from France will have to self-isolate for 14 days. The reason? Rising case numbers. There have been an additional 11,633 positive test results in France in the past week, with approximately 600,000 tests being done, the highest number of tests to date. (On July 25th, the French Government introduced free PCR testing without the need to get a prescription from a doctor.) But in every department the percentage of infected people is still below the 50/100,000 threshold that in France would trigger a local lockdown. In addition, there’s been no corresponding rise in hospitalisations or deaths (see above). That suggests the rise in cases is an artefact of increased testing and not due to an increase in the percentage of the population that’s infected.

Also worth bearing in mind that, according to Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson, the standard PCR test is an unreliable diagnostic tool because of false positives. When the number of tests climbs above a certain threshold, the data becomes very noisy. (See this article by the Bulgarian Pathology Association for a robust denunciation of the PCR test.)

And, to add to the overall picture of incoherence, the Government hasn’t removed Gibraltar from the “Green List” even though the number of infected people per 100,000 is higher in Gib than in France.

I wonder what the Government would do if holidaymakers returning from France just refused to self-isolate en masse? There are approximately half a million Britons currently in France. How many random spot checks can the Government realistically do?

Meanwhile, just to make it crystal clear that Boris doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing, he also announced yesterday that the easing of lockdown restrictions that were delayed 10 days ago will now go ahead, with weddings, sporting events and indoor performances being permitted from tomorrow. Although he also announced that the maximum fine for those breaking the rules would increase to £3,200. No but, yeah but…

As I said about Boris in the Telegraph 10 days ago:

When I think of his handling of the coronavirus crisis I picture a child behind the wheel of a racing car. He’s overwhelmed by the data constantly popping up on his dashboard, has no idea what any of it means, so just randomly presses different levers and pedals, spins the wheel as fast as he can, and hopes for the best.

Government Finally Removes Wrong Data From Dashboard

Yesterday I pointed out that the Government’s coronavirus dashboard was still using the old, flawed method of calculating the daily Covid death count. Today it has finally stopped doing that – some 29 days after Carl Heneghan and Yoon Loke pointed out the statistical flaw in the way that PHE compiles the data and 28 days after Matt Hancock announced an “urgent review” of the anomaly. Instead of the wrong data, the dashboard now says the deaths page is being “redeveloped”.

World Leaders “Copied Each Others’ Lockdown Measures” – New Paper

“Is Macron doing it? Yes, he’s doing it. What about Merkel? She’s doing it too? Okay, let’s do it.”

This will come as no surprise to lockdown sceptics, but a new paper for the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that world leaders simply copied each other’s lockdown policies back in March, without giving any thought to whether those policies were necessary or whether they’d do more harm than good. Yahoo! Finance has more.

Decisions on implementing lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic were based on what neighbouring countries were doing at the time, a new study has suggested.

In research of 36 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – including the UK, US and New Zealand – Swedish researchers examined when world leaders made decisions on issues like school closures and restrictions on internal travel.

They found that despite differences in the spread of the virus, countries mimicked each other in a short space of time, with around 80% of OECD nations implementing multiple measures within a two-week period in March.

The researchers said this was “striking” given the differences in the scale of the pandemic in each country, the preparedness of their healthcare systems and the makeup of their populations.

Author Professor Karl Wennberg, from the Institute for Analytical Sociology at Linkoping University, said: “We found that the decisions were not based on, or had a very weak correlation to, standard epidemiological indicators such as number of infections, number of deaths, intensive care capacity etc.

“A much stronger determinant was whether many neighbouring countries had already implemented measures.”

Worth reading in full.

Annoying Lockdown Experience

A reader in Bradford has been in touch to describe one of the daily annoyances they’re having to put up with.

We’d heard good things about a sweet shop in our village so we took our grandchildren (illegally, as we are part of Bradford District) to choose a milk shake. They each chose a £3 milk shake from the menu. A young lady then appeared at the hatch to inform us that they were only taking online orders for home delivery during the pandemic and gave me a leaflet with the web site. We went home and found the desired milk shakes on the web site. I had to register… that’s bloody annoying in itself. Then I find that the online price was £3.50 each, with a 50p service charge. £7.50 for two £3 milk shakes. But it got worse. On checkout I was informed that the minimum spend for home delivery is £8. So I added a bag of Chilli Chips that I didn’t want for £1. Total £8.50. And finally I discovered a £2 delivery charge. So I paid £10.50 for two £3 milk shakes.

Anyone fancy a bag of Chilli Chips?

Postcard From Thornbury

Thornbury High Street. Unfortunately, it no longer looks like this

A reader has sent a short missive from Thornbury, a beautiful village in South Gloucestershire that the local council is doing its best to ruin with pointless and incomprehensible Covid signage.

I live in South Gloucestershire. Thornbury is a nearby market town about 12 miles north of Bristol, a regular Britain in Bloom winner, home town of the inventor of Ribena and it has a castle which was once visited by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Thornbury had a reasonably thriving High Street before Covid. Now the council is at loggerheads with local businesses over its agenda to pedestrianise the High Street on the back of the virus and it has been accused of not listening and not consulting before introducing changes.

During a mid-morning visit to Thornbury I found that the High Street looked pretty desolate, spoiled by unsightly barriers, patronising signs and a couple of discarded face masks.

New council signs have been erected which demand that people wear face coverings in shops, yet omit to mention the existence of permitted exemptions. My husband and I went into a shop without facemasks and were treated normally. It’s clear from talking to a couple of locals that people don’t realise that there are exemptions. It’s also apparent that the council would rather people continue to remain unaware of them.

The survival of Thornbury High Street depends on how well shops can attract people whom the Government and council have made irrationally scared of Covid, while not putting off people like me, who want to support them, but find a visit to High Street a pretty dismal experience, thanks to the council.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Giving Up” by the Holiday Plan and “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask” by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A couple of months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re now focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of publicity. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

I’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Sept 30th to Oct 9th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card or just £2.79 from Etsy here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now over 28,500).

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work. If you feel like donating, however small the sum, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here.

And Finally…

Is it time to cancel Tony Benn? An eagle-eyed reader was flicking through Benn’s diary from 1968 yesterday and found the above incriminating entry: “I went home, collected Melissa, and took her to the Victoria Palace with Kirillin and most of his delegation to see The Black and White Minstrel Show.”

Time to assemble that pitchfork mob, Owen Jones.

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