Latest News

Having fun in Soho on Super Saturday

Some people had fun in Soho last night. But crowded streets inevitably led to a lot of alarmist nonesense. The story in the Mail about last night’s revels is headlined: “‘A second wave won’t be long in the making!’ Exhausted police officer predicts fresh Covid spike after ‘long late shift peppered with pub fights, drunken violence and drunken, drugged-up fools’.

A senior police officer has predicted a fresh coronavirus onslaught after confronted with “pub fights, drunken violence and drunken, drugged-up fools” last night.

Social distancing was declared to be in tatters today after jubilant drinkers called time on lockdown and descended on the nation’s pubs.

Cities across Britain were heaving last night on a scale not seen since Boris Johnson ordered bars to shutter over a hundred days ago.

Yeah, that won’t happen. Everything will be completely fine.

They Seek It Here, They Seek It There

Good piece by Professor David Spiegelhalter in the Observer about how misleading some of the headline figures are. This bit in particular Jumped out:

The Office for National Statistics has just reported that the number of people in England testing positive was previously decreasing but has now levelled off. There was some additional modelling, but the raw data comprised “swab tests collected from 23,203 participants, of which 12 individuals tested positive for COVID-19”. This small number of positive tests means there is great uncertainty as to current infection levels.

In other words, the virus has nigh on disappeared – that’s what “levelled off” means – particularly when you factor in the high number of false positives.

Is Merthyr Tydfil the Next Leicester?

Is the caged Welsh dragon’s imminent release about to be delayed?

My heart goes out to the residents of Merthyr Tydfil. According to the Telegraph, Covid cases have increased from 10 to 179 per 100,000, overtaking Leicester. Does this mean a local lockdown is imminent?

Probably not.

Health chiefs in Wales have said there is no evidence that the infections – linked to an outbreak at a meat plant – have spread to the community.

As a result, there are currently no plans to extend lockdown measures in the Merthyr Tydfil.

Public Health Wales has said the surge in cases stems from increased testing, after a cluster of 130 cases at the Kepak meat plant. Most of the positive cases were uncovered on the same day, leaving health chiefs hopeful that the outbreak can be stamped out.

Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants are due to re-open in Wales on July 13th. Let’s hope this doesn’t cause any delays.

Up the Junction

The cheery site that greets people as they emerge from Clapham Junction station

A reader tells me about the miserable experience of using Clapham Junction mainline station:

I just wanted to drop you a line to ask if you were aware of the passenger “new normal” experience that is now Clapham Junction railway station? Notwithstanding the face masks mandatory rule, which makes no scientific sense especially as the general masks act as an aerosol, when we alighted at Clapham Junction yesterday afternoon the scene was Dystopian with circa one hundred members of staff, all wearing masks and looking agitated herding passengers through the station. My partner and I are in our 40s and felt stressed and alarmed. For a child, the experience would have been frightening. I feel it’s got nothing to do with safety but Orwellian control – there’s an illogical one way system which means there’s only one exit which is the Grant Road end (if you know the area) which in the winter months is not well lit and funnels people under bridges to get round to St John’s Road.

The inconvenience of a detour I can live with but it was the experience of so many “officials” wearing masks and herding passengers through narrow underground walkways that was disturbing. And for who’s benefit? I wonder how the decision to enforce wearing of facemasks came about. If it was to encourage the use of public transport it will do the opposite. As with much of the last four months debacle the decisions are laced with political games, as we’ve seen with Sturgeon ordering masks to be worn in shops. The rate she’s going Scotland will be a third world country when this is over if making transport and the retail sector so unpleasant people keep their wallets firmly shut.

Once we finally got round to the station exit (as it was in saner times) we were faced with the view in the attached photo. Although Debs were in trouble Before Coronavirus, it just about summed up the calamity of this Government’s creation.

Double-Counting

A reader in Toronto has been in touch to flag up a possible explanation for the rising case numbers in southern and southwestern US states.

Your recent post about double counting of Pillar 2 tests in Leicestershire got me thinking whether that could be a factor in the recent spike in cases in the U.S.

So here’s a link to, for example, Johns Hopkins data for Arizona.

Among other things, the percentage of positive tests has been growing steadily and now stands at 25%. On the face of it, this is very alarming. It also doesn’t seem to pass the sniff test, as hospitals should theoretically be overwhelmed.

So here’s an interesting disclaimer on the same page: “When states report the number of COVID-19 tests performed, this should include the number of viral tests performed and the number of patients for which these tests were performed. Currently, states may not be distinguishing overall tests administered from the number of individuals who have been tested. This is an important limitation to the data that is available to track testing in the U.S., and states should work to address it.”

So they’re as much as saying there’s double counting going on. And if people who test positive get retested until they’re negative, that would have the effect of artificially increasing both the number of “cases” and the “percent positive”.

The same page also has an admonition for states not to include antibody tests in their reporting. So if some states are doing that, that could also help to explain the rise in “cases” and “positive tests”.

Arizona is a more extreme example, but Texas and Florida are also showing strong increases in “percent positive” to 14% and 18% respectively.

Another problem with the data, in addition to double counting, is that not all of it is up-to-date. This story in azcentral has a rather bed-wetting headline, but contains this gem towards the end:

Arizonans have reported delays in getting tested and waits of as long as three weeks to get results. The daily cases reported are not all from the previous day’s results — they could have been tests conducted weeks ago

A Publican Speaks

There was a great interview with Hugh Osmond, founder of Punch Taverns, one of the UK’s largest pub chains, on Radio 4’s Broadcasting House this morning. Hugh is an arch-sceptic who regularly passes on his latest findings to me and which I reproduce in the daily updates.

I was alerted to this by a reader:

It was a breath of fresh air to hear the views of an intelligent Lockdown Sceptic being broadcast on the BBC – he says some pretty powerful stuff and is direct, well-informed and authoritative.

Somewhat amusingly, the host Paddy O’Connell starts to sound rather concerned, maybe even mildly flustered, that the clear and direct messages being transmitted by Osmond are flying in the face of the Received Wisdom of the bed-wetters at the BBC and so he tries to interrupt Osmond on a number of occasions to stop the flow of pointed remarks! But Osmond definitely succeeds in getting his message across.

If you haven’t heard it, then I am sure you will enjoy it and I am also sure your Lock-Down Sceptics audience will love listening to it.

You can listen to Hugh on Broadcasting House by clicking here and going to the 17 minute 54 second mark. The interview lasts about nine minutes.

Venetian Advice

After my request for travel advice yesterday – the Young family is heading to Venice in a couple of weeks – I’ve had a lot of emails like this one:

The thought of going on a flight dressed for a Russian chemical attack fills me with horror, I’m due to go to Venice in September and am thinking of driving, it’s a couple of days, but that can be part of the holiday, You can park in/near Venice, carry all the junk you want. And no masks! And all those French and Italian wine regions to stop in.

Round-Up

And on to the round-up of all the stories I’ve noticed, or which have been been brought to my attention, in the last 24 hours:

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few weeks 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. 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. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

Note to the Good Folk Below the Line

I enjoy reading all your comments and I’m glad I’ve created a “safe space” for lockdown sceptics to share their frustrations and keep each other’s spirits up. But please don’t copy and paste whole articles from papers that are behind paywalls in the comments. I work for some of those papers and if they don’t charge for premium content they won’t survive.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the last 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. It usually takes me several hours to do these updates, which doesn’t leave much time for other work. If you feel like donating, however small the amount, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here. (Please don’t email me at any other address.) I’ll try and get another update done on Tuesday.

And Finally…

Will snorkels soon be mandatory on Transport for London?

Good satirical piece in the always amusing Babylon Bee. The headline reads: “State Governor Mandates Everyone Wear Snorkels In Case They Fall In A Pool.”

U.S.—As governors clamor to follow the ways of SCIENCE and save lives in their state, one state Governor has read some very scary statistics from SCIENCE and decided to go the extra mile to protect the safety of his citizens. “Starting today,” he said, “All citizens of my state will be required to wear a snorkel at all times, both indoors and out. This will prevent thousands of tragic deaths resulting from people falling in their backyard pools. SCIENCE says we must do this.”

Every person in the state will be required to wear a snorkel, preferably paired with goggles, 24 hours a day. When pressed as to why they were necessary indoors, the Governor replied, “Hello! Sinks? Bathtubs? Showers? There are water hazards everywhere inside the house! We can’t be too careful! SCIENCE!”

According to the order, anyone caught without a snorkel will be required to pay a $15,000 fine or face eight years of jail time. Second offenders will be shot on sight. “We must do this to save lives and obey SCIENCE!! We are in this together,” the state Governor exclaimed before tripping on a microphone chord and falling headfirst into the press pool.