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Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
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It COULD be.

But there have been widespread calls from many quarters to curtail school opening for some time. For a number of reasons - many economic, some seemingly ideological - the Johnson government has resisted this until it's suddenly panicked at the practically uncontrolled spread of COVID in London and the south east of England, which it's, perhaps conveniently, seeking to blame on this "new variant".

This was less than a week ago:

Government launches legal action against Greenwich school closures

The government has launched legal action against a London council over plans to close schools, using emergency coronavirus legislation for the first time to ensure face-to-face teaching continues until the end of term.

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, issued a “temporary continuity direction” to Greenwich council, demanding the immediate withdrawal of a letter issued to headteachers over the weekend advising them to close schools early and switch to remote learning amid rising Covid infection rates in the capital.

Although the government has previously threatened legal action, this latest move signals its determination to keep schools open in the run-up to the Christmas holidays and beyond. If Greenwich fails to comply the Department for Education can seek a court injunction

Greenwich and Islington councils had advised schools to close, except to the children of key workers and those classed as vulnerable, and switch to online lessons in the last few days of term to help slow the spread of the virus. The government has not yet launched legal action against Islington.


The coronavirus has throughout its course had a staunch ally in the useless Westminster government under Johnson. They're both dangerous. As a combination ...

No serious medical authority will be able to answer that question at the moment.

But these have been daily scenes on London over the past few weeks, so ...


3 days ago London Oxford Street was packed with people almost no masks, definitely no social distancing...Now, London enters Tier 3...and shops remain open...Doesn’t make sense this tier 3, does it?

The author of this article has no medical qualifications, his background's in economics.

There is a high incidence of infection in London and the south east of England at the moment, that's not in doubt. If you look at the scenes of vast throngs of shoppers in London's Oxford Street etc. in the last week or two and the pathetically shabby mixed messages from Johnson & Co. as they've continued to mismanage their response to the pandemic, it's hardly surprising.

Talk of a "Super Covid" in such scaremongering terms at the moment isn't much help and seems to be ahead of the medical research. Mutations in the virus have been logged around the world for some time, and a number of them appear to have made it more contagious. Here's a more sober article from 15 December:

What you need to know about the new variant of coronavirus in the UK

On 14 December, the UK’s health minister, Matt Hancock, told parliament that a new variant of the coronavirus associated with faster spread had been identified in south-east England. This has led to widespread concern, spurred by newspaper headlines about “super covid” and “mutant covid”. Here’s what you need to know about this new variant.

What do we know about this new variant so far?

It was first sequenced in the UK in late September. It has 17 mutations that may affect the shape of the virus, including the outer spike protein, according to Nick Loman at the University of Birmingham in the UK, who is part of a team that has been monitoring and sequencing new variants. Many of these mutations have been found before in other viruses, but to have so many in a single virus is unusual.

So it has a whole bunch of mutations, not just one?

Yes. To put this in context, however, the coronavirus is constantly mutating and there are lots of variants with one or more mutations. In fact, by July, there were already at least 12,000 “mutants”. The number will be higher now, though many mutations are rare and the viruses carrying them often die out.

Hang on, there are more than 12,000 variants of the coronavirus?

There are tens of thousands that differ from each other by at least one mutation in the genome. But any two SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses from anywhere in the world will usually differ by fewer than 30 mutations, and are regarded as all belonging to the same strain. Researchers instead talk about different lineages.

So what’s unusual about this one?

How fast it is spreading really caught the attention of researchers monitoring viral evolution. By 13 December, 1100 cases of the variant had been identified, mostly in the south and east of England, which is a lot because only a small proportion of viral samples get sequenced. “It’s the growth rate we are worrying about,” says Loman. “We are seeing very rapid growth.”

Are the mutations in this variant helping it spread?

We don’t know that yet. The variant is spreading faster than other strains in the same regions, but it isn’t yet clear why. By pure chance, some coronavirus lineages do spread more than others. For now, there is no clear evidence that this is due to these particular mutations. “At the moment, we don’t know if this is making a blind bit of difference,” says Lucy van Dorp at University College London.

How worried should we be?

It will take a combination of further monitoring and lab studies looking at the effect of the particular mutations present in this variant to find out if it really is more infectious. But so far, no mutation has definitively been shown to make any SARS-CoV-2 lineage more transmissible or more dangerous.


How a president can use Twitter


Joe Biden

When I think of climate change, I think about jobs. Good-paying, union jobs that put Americans to work, make our air cleaner, and rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.

Brexit stockpiling causing 10-mile tailbacks in Calais

Severe delays as businesses try to get goods into Britain before a potential no-deal Brexit on 1 January
The delays in crossing the Channel are causing acute problems in the UK. Honda and Jaguar have had to halt production temporarily because of parts shortages, and it emerged on Friday that Ikea had been besieged by complaints because of what it called “operational challenges” as shipments of its flatpack furniture are held up at clogged ports.
Eurotunnel said it believed delays on the British side would continue for the next three weeks. Its contingencies centre on the worst-case scenario of a no-deal Brexit involving up to 7,000 lorries queuing in Kent.
The delays have been matched by long tailbacks at the Eurotunnel, caused partly by a reduction in the number of ferries because of Covid and the number of empty lorries returning to the continent after their stockpiling deliveries. Queues sometimes stretching back at least five miles have formed almost every day for the past two weeks.
The drive to stockpile flows from the fact that customs, regulatory and agrifood checks will be introduced deal or no deal because the UK is leaving the single market. Further disruption is expected over the weekend in Kent with a live test of Operation Brock, the no-deal traffic contingency plan for the M20, put in place on Friday night.


There are also reports of 12-mile tailbacks into Dover today. This was the scene on 9 December:


Liam Jesson

Brexit hasn’t even happened yet and this was the queue for Dover - Calais sailings this morning ⁦@simoncoveney⁩ ⁦@BorisJohnson⁩ #BrexitShambles #BrexitReality ⁦@Nigel_Farage⁩

[Twitter video]

That clip works. So does this one:

"Perkins, I want you to lay down your life. We need a futile gesture at this stage to raise the whole tone of the war."

Is this COVID Derangement Syndrome or Brexit Derangement Syndrome?

Or do they overlap?



Gavin Williamson tells LBC the UK approved a Covid vaccine first because ‘we're a much better country’ than France, Belgium and the US.

[Twitter video]
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