Peter North, 09/10/2020  

The Guardian has it that some hospitals in the north of England are set to run out of beds for Covid patients within a week, amid growing signs that the disease‚Äôs fast-unfolding second wave will seriously disrupt normal NHS care for a second time. Patients are being cleared out if they're good to go in order to make room - apart from a certain Richard North who remains in their care for a few days.

That Covid is back with a vengeance comes as no surprise at all. NHS Test and Trace has seen its worst week on record for the proportion of coronavirus contacts it managed to trace. For cases handled either online or by call centres, only 62.4 per cent of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.

For cases handled by local health protection teams, however, 97.1 per cent of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to September 30. It's exactly as we said in the very beginning. The job can only really be done by local public health authorities and if your test and trace system isn't performing then your chance of containing the virus are nil. Instead of looking at what actually works they're obsessed with hi-tech gadgetry controlled from the centre.

It's the Panavia Tornado all over again. They've taken a superficially good idea - a one size fits all common platform, junking all previous experience, thinking they knew better - and having committed to it politically will throw endless money at it until it does work. And like the Tornado, you eventually get something that does do the job - but long after it is actually needed - and the job it does could have been done cheaper, sooner with existing technologies if they'd just been able to admit that the initial assumption was wrong.

This is essentially how government runs - which is why I'm politically opposed to it running things. That it's now become a feeding frenzy for just about every corporate parasite in the game is also nothing out of the ordinary either. We're actually very lucky indeed that Covid is not as lethal as we initially assumed. Had it been so we would now be knee deep in the dead and looking at riots and revolution.

The question is now one of how long this incoherent shambles can be sustained. The rules change from day to day to the point where nobody knows or even cares what they are - and with every new raft of measures more jobs evaporate.

Perhaps a rising body count will keep a lid on dissent but I don't see it lasting after Christmas. If by then the government hasn't got a grip on localised test and trace we can safely assume it never will. January, therefore, marks a confluence of self-made problems for which the Tories have no answers. On just about every matter of national significance it is always the last to catch on and only ever realises its errors when it's too late to do anything about it. We cannot go on like this.

Also posted on Turbulent Times.

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