4 May: The UK overtook the rest of Europe as the country with the highest number of deaths and the Daily Mirror asked, ‘How many lives lost because Tories ignored Covid-19 warning signs’?. Most of the other press and media are less critical of the Tories – as usual.

It was reported that Wales intends to join other countries who have moved to deny Covid-19 support to businesses based in tax havens

5 May: The United Kingdom recorded the highest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe, with more than 30,000 people dead.

6 May: Johnson announces there could be an easing of lockdown as early as the following week. Discussion also starts about some younger children returning to schools and nurseries on 1 June.

10 May: Boris Johnson confuses the whole country when he announces a change of slogan from ‘Stay at Home’ to ‘Stay Alert’.

11 May: It was reported that at least 47 teachers have died from the coronavirus. The right wing media begins a process of demonising teachers and their unions who believe that a return to school on 1 June would be premature and would put lives at risk.

12 May: The Government published: Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

13 May: Boris Johnson admits that 275 healthcare workers have died in a ‘deeply horrifying’ toll. Johnson said there have now been 144 NHS workers and 131 social care workers whose deaths involved Covid-19. Nevertheless Lockdown is eased on this day with many people returning to work.  Despite the fact that there is significant evidence of a link between passenger usage of the underground and the spread of airborne infectious diseases, such as influenza, the return to work meant that Londoners had no choice but to travel on crowded trains and tubes.  A 2018 study compared influenza-like illnesses (ILI) data collected by Public Health England (PHE) in London boroughs and found a correlation between the use of public transport and the spread of ILI.

The easing of Lockdown involves new advice and sending those people who are able to maintain social distancing, back to work. It is widely suggested that this is a strategy to enable the Government to shift the blame for our appalling infection and death rates onto the public; a new spike will be blamed on people not obeying the rules and not ‘staying alert’.

London Undergound
London Undergound

15 May: Liverpool City Council declared that they would not be reopening schools on 1 June as instructed by Boris Johnson several other Local Authorities joined the growing list of dissenting LA’s.

A minister announces that the government has only just started to recruit 15,000 call handlers and 3,000 clinical experts for its ‘test, track and trace’ scheme to control coronavirus. The army of ‘contact tracers’ were originally meant to start in mid-May in attempt to keep infections lower as lockdown is eased.

17 May: It was revealed that the Labour Party is drawing up ambitious proposals to rescue the post-coronavirus economy with a radical green recovery plan focused on helping young people who lose their jobs by retraining them in green industries.

18 May: Britain’s death toll rose by 170 to 34,636, the lowest increase since the lockdown began, with 3,142 new cases.

Also on this day, the UK’s biggest ever union meeting, organised on-line by the National Education Union, was attended by 20,000 people to listen to discussions about the proposed 1 June return to work of primary teachers and nursery staff.

Michael O’Leary comments on the Governments’s plan for a requirement for arrivals from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days. O’Leary of RyanAir, who plans to run 1,000 flights a day from July, said that it was likely that the quarantine plan would be dropped within weeks because people would refuse to abide by it.

“The 14-day lockdown has no credibility and I think will be eliminated by the time we get to the end of June anyway,” he said. “As the government puts more meat on the bones of an unimplementable, unmanageable and un-policeable 14-day lockdown, people will simple ignore something that is so hopelessly defective in favour of . . . some effective measures like face masks. Face masks are effective; 14-day isolations aren’t.”

Ministers announced that as many as 30 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine could be made for Britain by September under a deal between Oxford University and the drugmaker Astrazeneca.

19 May: The economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis is beginning to come into sight with the Office for National Statistics reporting that UK unemployment rose by 50,000 to 1.35million in the three months to March. As these figures capture only the first three weeks of lockdown, we can expect much worse to come. However, we already know that the number of claimants in April rose by highest number in 24 years from 856,500 to 2.097 million whilst a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies said recruitment almost dried up completely in the week the lockdown was announced.

The PM told Prime Minister’s Questions that 312 NHS and care worker staff have now officially died with coronavirus: 181 NHS staff and 131 social care workers.

Johnson also told parliament that it was right that care-workers should pay £624 every year to access NHS Services . For a care worker on the national living wage that would require working for 70 hours to pay the fee.

19 May: We were introduced to the Government’s Traffic Light System. which Johnson says will help the government decide how tough social-distancing measures should be:

  • Level five (red) – a “material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed” – extremely strict social distancing
  • Level four – a high or rising level of transmission – enforced social distancing
  • Level three – the virus is in general circulation – social distancing relaxed
  • Level two – the number of cases and transmission are low – minimal social distancing
  • Level one (green) – Covid-19 is no longer present in the UK – no social distancing
Traffic Light
Traffic Light

20 May: The University of Cambridge became the first British university to announce that all lectures will be conducted via a video link in the 2020-21 academic year. Anglia Ruskin and the University of Manchester already both announced that they would conduct lectures via video link for the first term. 

France’s health minister promises to transform its entire health service with “radical measures” to ensure staff are no longer underpaid or overworked.

Dr Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, told the Guardian that she did not “want to draw a doomsday picture but I think we have to be realistic” that a second wave of coronavirus is almost guaranteed in Europe and that, “the virus is around us, circulating much more than January and February.” She also estimated that immunity was anywhere between 2 and 14 per cent in European countries.

The Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg conforms that MPs will return to Westminster on 2 June.

Boris Johnson pledges that the government’s coronavirus track and trace system, which comprises an NHS app and 25,000 contact tracers, will be ready by 1 June

There were 2153 cases confirmed in Cumbria at 6.30pm on 20th May

  • 238 Allerdale (rate of 244 per 100,000)
  • 556 Barrow (828.2)
  • 481 Carlisle (443.8)
  • 262 Copeland (382.9)
  • 99 Eden (187.2)
  • 517 South Lakes (494.6) 

(secondary source:  Fiona McCredie, Head of Health Protection, 21st May 2020)

2020 Deaths Registered where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate

Deaths

Rate
(per 100,000 population)

Allerdale

52

53.3

Barrow

69

102.8

Carlisle

84

77.5

Copeland

45

65.8

Eden

27

51.1

South Lakeland

122

116.7

Lancaster

53

36.7

21 May: Just one day after Keir Starmer announced that he would be tabling an amendment to the immigration bill to exempt NHS and care workers from the immigration health surcharge, the Government made a humiliating u-turn and scrapped the NHS fee for overseas NHS staff and care workers, who were due to pay £624 a year from October.

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan is considering banning passengers without a face covering from tubes and buses next week.

Bereaved families call for an inquiry as they believe there is a cover-up and threat the UK Government is already trying to cover up its failings.

22 May: Priti Patel announces International travellers could face spot checks and £1,000 fines if they fail to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in the UK under measures to guard against a second wave of coronavirus.

22 May: The Daily Mirror and The Guardian break the news of Mr Cummings’ trip to Durham. This issue of Cummings’ movements is covered in another story on this site entitled ‘Dominic Cummings Moves in Mysterious Ways”.

23 May: The Times reported that Coronavirus infections across Britain increased by an estimated 200,000 to 1.5 million in the nine days before lockdown while the Johnson dithered over how and when to act. Johnson was initially reluctant to agree to a lockdown but his advisers changed his mind at a crucial meeting in Downing Street on the morning of Saturday, 14 March yet the lockdown was delayed until 23 March.

26 May: 26 senior UK academics and health administrators send a letter to Downing Street about how public trust in the Government has been damaged by Cumminsgate.

Extract from the letter printed in the Observer.

“We are in a public health crisis unprecedented in living memory. We have written to the prime minister because we are very concerned for the safety and wellbeing of the public. There is ample evidence that effective epidemic control requires the public to trust and respect both the messages and the messengers who are advocating action. This trust has been badly damaged by the actions of Dominic Cummings, including his failure to stand down or resign in the public interest, and Boris Johnson’s subsequent unwillingness to remove him.

As lockdown is eased, public trust and high compliance is essential to reduce the risk of a second spike in infections and deaths. It is vital for all people in positions of power to follow the rules with the same discipline as the rest of the population. The public also needs to see that the necessary infrastructure and effective systems are put in place rapidly and effectively.

A national track and trace scheme is a major undertaking. This makes it even more crucial that there is complete transparency about likely time scales and the risks associated with the strategy and plan. The public mood is fragile and unlikely to cope with another over-optimistic target-based strategy that goes on to fail.”

27 May: 40 Tory MPs are now calling for Dominic Cummings to be sacked.

Deaths in the UK with a positive test result (27 May) 37,837

Deaths certificates mention Covid-19 (15 May) 45,231

Deaths over and above normal for this time of year (15 May) 59, 297

28 May: The Government announced the launch of England’s contact tracing system which starts today. This track and trace process involves a team of 25,000 contact tracers will track down people who have been near someone infected with coronavirus and ask them to self-isolate for 14 days from the time of contact with the infected person. This should mean that national lockdowns can be replaced by individual isolation and more localised (schools and workplaces) or regionalised lockdowns.

29 May: The Government begins a series of measures to gradually ease the lockdown with an announcement that groups of six will be able to meet outside from Monday 1 June, provided they observe social distancing. However, it is not clear that the five tests for ending the lockdown have truly been met, or that they can be reliably maintained. 

30 May: The Government announces a return of competitive sport from Monday 1 June.

However, it was reported that there have been 215 new deaths bringing the total with a positive test result to 38,376 whilst there continues to be around 8,000 new infections every day. WHO statistics show that this is the fifth highest in the world and SAGE advisors are suggesting that it too early to ease lockdown – but the Government ploughs on.

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