Bojo's scary tactic a successful jolt

Editorial | Mary Ma 25 Mar 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's messy hair may have deceived many into thinking he's not a seasoned politician.

Don't be so sure. The "herd immunity" theory he put forward at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis was truly scary. So frightening, in fact, that thousands of overseas students scrambled for tickets home even though airlines charged them extortionate fares for economy class seats.

In hindsight, the exodus of students may have eased the burden on Britain's National Health Service.

No wonder some skeptics speculate that Johnson's "herd immunity" strategy was just a conspiracy, with the steps clearly laid out from the very beginning.

Johnson is no more "Bojo the Clown" as many Brits had called him. As he announced a de-facto lockdown on the UK in a live televised speech on Monday evening, the forex market reacted positively to the ban on non-essential movements and public gatherings of more than two people. Sterling rose against the greenback and euro.

That might have been because his peers on the other side of the Atlantic or English Channel have not yet been fully conscious of the crisis.

US President Donald Trump was evidently scared by the collapse of Wall Street and vowed to reopen America to business after the current shutdown that is freezing human and economic activities in key states like California and New York.

If Trump is adamant that he should behave like an ostrich burying its head in the sand, European leaders have also so far failed to catch up with the curve - let alone staying ahead of it.

The fear is that Britain could soon become the next Italy if the number of new cases continues to inflate at the current speed.

It's estimated that, if society fails to maintain social distance, infection will increase exponentially to disrupt the public health system.

Britain is reported to be about two weeks behind that of Italy.

The latter announced 176 new deaths in week 10 of 2020; Britain announced 166 deaths in week 12.

If the virus spread in Britain tracks that of Italy, the death toll will rise sharply very soon. If every household follows the instruction to stay home, the rate of increase hopefully will be greatly reduced in time to avoid the spike.

Compared with Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Bojo was probably the first to wake up - but he should have risen earlier to prepare the nation before local outbreaks occurred.

The BBC reported that doctors, nurses and hospital workers started receiving additional supplies of personal protection equipment, including surgical masks, gowns and gloves, yesterday after screaming for help for days.

Nonetheless, they are still in short supply.

It's extremely puzzling that people across Asia and Europe view the wearing of masks with starkly opposite protocols.

Perhaps Johnson should also ask his medical advisors to compare the infection rates between populations wearing and not wearing masks to convince himself and scientists around him that it would be wiser to ask Brits to put on masks which - like keeping social distance - can make a lot of difference.

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