These are from Carl Baker, a statistician in the House of Commons library, showing the current spread of Covid in England.
Earlier I said in Scotland people who leave the house to exercise have to start their exercise from their front door. Sorry, that’s not quite right. The level 4 guidance says: “Travel no further than you need to reach to a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a socially distanced way.”
But it is true of Wales where the lockdown guidance says: “You can leave home as often as you like to exercise as long as you do so from home.”
I’ve corrected the earlier post. (See 10.04am.)
Last night, before publication of the latest death figures from England and Wales, Sky’s economics editor Ed Conway published an excellent article putting the 2020 death figures in context. He also summarised his findings in a Twitter thread starting here. “On almost every metric, the mortality change in 2020 was disastrously bad,” he says.
This chart illustrates how total deaths have been higher than in any year since 1918, when the UK had to deal with the first world war and the flu pandemic. But the population was much smaller 100 years ago, and in relative terms deaths have only fallen back to 2003 numbers, Conway says.
But excess deaths are at their highest level since 1940, Conway says.
And, using an age-standardised measures of excess deaths, the picture looks even worse; it has been the worse year since 1929, when there was a financial crash and a flu epidemic, Conway says.
Last year was the deadliest in a century, with almost as many fatalities documented in absolute terms in England and Wales in 2020 as at the height of the flu pandemic in 1918.
More than 608,000 deaths were recorded, with 81,653 attributable to coronavirus, last year according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
April was the deadliest month for the virus in 2020, with more than 33,000 fatalities accounting for almost a third of the deaths attributed to the virus in the UK to date. More than 1,000 people died in the UK on 23 consecutive days during the month, at the height of the pandemic’s first wave.
The death toll is second in absolute terms to the record set in 1918, when 611,861 people died at the peak of the flu pandemic in England and Wales. However, the mortality rate was higher in 1918, when approximately 38.4 million people lived in England and Wales, compared with 59.4 million today.
Here are the main points from Dame Cressida Dick’s interview with the Today programme.
- Dick, the Metropolitan police commissioner, has said that she would like to see the rules about what is and is not allowed during the lockdown in England clarified. She said the restrictions could be “complex” for the police to to understand, as well as for members of the public. Asked if she would like to see the law or the guidance, clarified, she said:
That is certainly something that government could consider, absolutely.
Asked again if it would be helpful to the police, she replied:
I think it would depend how it is done. With all these things, the devil is in the detail. But anything that brings greater clarity for officers and the public in general will be a good thing, of course.
Dick was responding to questions from the presenter, Martha Kearney, who was asking specifically about the law and the guidance relating to what exercise is allowed away from home. She linked this to the controversy about whether it was right for Boris Johnson to exercise on Sunday in a park seven miles from his home in Downing Street.
- Dick said she viewed local exercise as starting and ending at home. Johnson did not break the law with his bike ride on Sunday because people are allowed to leave the home for exercise and the law does not say they have to remain within a certain distance of home. But the government guidance says people should “stay local”. There would be nothing unusual about a cyclist ending up seven miles away from home, but Downing Street has not said whether Johnson set off from No 10 or whether he was went to the Olympic Park by car to start his exercise (although No 10 sources say, even if he did, that would be allowed). Asked for her definition of local, Dick replied:
I would just say that people need to try to stay local. For me, a reasonable interpretation of that is that if you can – I appreciate some people can’t, but if you can – go for your exercise from your front door and come back to your front door. That’s my view of local.
But some people will need to get in a car to get over three dual carriageways to get to where they’re going to walk dog. It is complicated, I understand that.
In Wales people who leave the house to exercise have to start their exercise from their front door. When asked about Johnson specifically, Dick said she would not comment on an individual case. But, in what seemed a reference to what Johnson did, she said: “It’s not against the law, that’s for sure.”
- She said she did not think the police needed “the power of entry” (ie, the right to enter people’s homes) to help them enforce the lockdown rules. In fact, she said she had argued against this. She told the programme:
We don’t have the power of entry, and in fact when I’ve been asked for my advice over the last year now I have said that …. I think we can deal with most of these things [breaches of lockdown rules] without that power. And, secondly, I don’t think the general public want to know, or fear, that the police are going to come barging through their door for what might potentially be a misunderstanding, or a very, very minor infringement.
- She said in the last 24-hours the Met had issued more than 300 fixed-penalty notices for breaches of lockdown rules. “That’s quite a lot, and I think it will have an impact,” she said.
The Office for National Statistics has released its latest death figures for England and Wales. It has tweeted the main findings.
Good morning. Ministers are still mulling over whether to tighten certain lockdown regulations – the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg has a useful guide to the main options here – but they are still hoping that they won’t need to, and that instead the power of persuasion, using messaging to get people to limit their social mixing even more, will work.
One part of the message is that the NHS is under unprecedented threat, and that we’re close to the point where if you needed to go to hospital, you might not get looked after properly because beds, staff, equipment and oxygen are all in short supply. That’s why Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, was on the airwaves yesterday.
And this morning another part of the message is being amplified; if you don’t obey the rules, you’re increasingly likely to get nicked. This was implicit in a statement issued by the Metropolitan police last week. But just to make the point even more bluntly, Dame Cressida Dick, the Met police commissioner, has been out this morning, with an article in the Times (paywall) and an interview on Today. In her article she says:
It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus. We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines.
We will still be engaging, explaining and encouraging but those who break the rules or refuse to comply where they should without good reason will find officers moving much more quickly to enforcement action.
I will post more from her interview shortly.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Boris Johnson chairs a virtual meeting of cabinet.
9.30am: The ONS publishes its weekly death figures for England and Wales.
11.30am: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, takes questions in the Commons.
12pm: Downing Street is due to hold its daily lobby briefing.
12.15pm: The Scottish government is expected to hold its daily coronavirus briefing.
Around 1.30pm: Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, makes a statement to MPs about defence support for the Covid response.
Politics Live is now doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.
If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.
From The Guardian -
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