London: Names have been tumbling out from the top and Britain waits for more by the day, by the hour even. Prince Charles tested positive, now Prime Minister Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock have also tested positive? Who’s next? Which is to say, who all next. Because more there inevitably will be.
That much arises from the direct logic of infection. These leaders are known to have met and seen to have met many others within that narrow circle of royalty and governance. The names that have emerged are necessarily celebrities. Evidence is now emerging that this virus is hitting a very wide number of people who take the lead in governance within that narrow circle at the top.
The incidence of coronavirus in London is very much higher than in the rest of Britain. The latest toll lists 14,579 confirmed cases of the virus in Britain, of which London has 3919, so close enough to a third of all cases in Britain are in London alone. This is the tally of just those tested positive on being brought to a hospital. The real incidence of those infected is believed by the government to be 10 to 20 times that number.
Within Britain the concentration is in London, and within London it’s in and around Westminster area, home to Buckingham Palace, the houses of parliament, and about all government ministries and departments. Just Westminster area has listed 189 cases brought to hospital – and it is not certain that this would not include Prince Charles or Boris Johnson because they were not taken to hospital.
The statistics stand as pointer. Consider that the numbers tested positive at hospitals currently stands at a national average of 22 per 100,000 of the population. In Westminster local area it’s 86.1, well above four times the national average. Only Southwark and Lambeth within London have more cases than the defined Westminster council area, but these are areas adjoining tiny Westminster – you might even call all this a wider Westminster area.
And this is the area very many times more hit by the virus than any in Britain. By government figures, and its projections arising from those figures, thousands are affected already. These would include necessarily many more people running the government than we have heard of yet.
The pattern speaks of an irony tending towards the macabre because it’s the people within this little area, the rulers both political and bureaucratic, hit hardest by the dubious decisions they have taken for the country. Those decisions have plunged Britain deep into the grip of coronavirus with the worst yet to come. And none more than Prime Minister Boris Johnson – as both person and as policy-maker.
Demands have been made repeatedly over the last couple of weeks for Boris Johnson to expand testing for the virus. They arose first after junior health minister Nadine Dorries announced March 11 that she had tested positive. She was at a reception at the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street a couple of days earlier. The PM refused emphatically to be tested - and announced that decision with typical dismissal of critics.
Conceivably the passage of two weeks and more suggest that he may not have been infected by Nadine Dorries directly. But she would certainly have infected some others at that reception, and any of multiple chain reactions would have led on to the Prime Minister himself, if not from Nadine Dorries, from others within that party circle. These infections would extend both through persons and through time. In refusing to be tested all along, Boris Johnson stands directly responsible for infecting others; it’s hard to see how he hasn’t.
Everyone hopes these will not include his pregnant partner Carrie Symonds. Pregnant women have been advised to be particular strict in distancing. Presumably the Prime Minister will now practice social distancing better at home than he has in public.
The PM appears to have failed both in his personal capacity and as PM to have ensured a distancing discipline in time. Britain lost precious weeks in containing spread of the virus. The government made the incredible announcement earlier that it would not encourage social distancing, never mind bring any lockdown, because it wanted to delay the peak in infections. Meanwhile, the virus multiplied as a consequence of that delay as of course it would.
Anyone on the street could see that the virus is not going to pick its peak in consultation with the government, and that official policies would in fact push the peak higher. In short, kill more people. It took severe warnings from a battery of leading scientists to convince the government of the obvious and to eventually backtrack. The government wasted further time issuing advisories rather than enforcing a decision.
Boris Johnson’s policies as leader have done to Britain what he has personally done to those around him in Britain – placed everyone around at risk. The person and the policy-maker are, after all, one.