Press Cave on COVID: ‘It’s a Journalist’s Duty to Question Lockdown’

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from 21st Century Wire:

So the logic of the latest lockdown is frying my goddamn mind. On a list of conundrums I can’t solve, ‘If a woman sits alone on a bench can she transmit a virus she probably doesn’t have?’ is now up there with, ‘If a tree falls in the middle of a forest, and there’s no one around, does it still make a sound?’.

Given three police officers were filmed arresting a woman in Bournemouth for sitting on a bench alone, they clearly thought they knew the answer. On initial inspection, there appeared to be two ways to interpret the footage. Either they had her bang to rights for a lockdown violation, or they were violating her human rights.

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However, since then, heroic feats of journalism have been performed — ‘Woman, 50, “arrested for sitting on bench” is Covid conspiracy theorist’. It turns out she hadn’t just been sitting on a bench; she’d walked along the beach with her elderly father picking sea shells, and (according to an ‘ex-friend’) ‘she was going around telling everyone that coronavirus was no worse than getting the sniffles and that it was an attempt to control us all’.

Reading newspaper reports on the state of the Covid-19 situation in London scare the bejesus out of me, so I do not for a second want to upset anyone. However, this bench situation took place in Bournemouth, so I am now going to do my job as a journalist, and try to establish the facts there.

The Bournemouth Echo stated on Monday that ‘the total number of people who have died with coronavirus in Dorset hospitals surpassed 450 [since the start of the pandemic], as eight more were confirmed.’

Regarding cases in Dorset, the latest data indicates: ‘849.7 cases per 100,000 people, with 3,359 cases confirmed in the seven days leading up to 12 January… taking the conurbation’s total since the start of the pandemic to 18,123.’

It is reasonable to suggest – if the virus is as virulent as the science currently suggests – that vastly more than 18,123 people must have been infected with coronavirus in the area. Nevertheless, as it stands, 2.5 per cent of those officially recorded as being infected have sadly died. But, given the population of Dorset is 426,516 (according to the 2018 census), of whom 450 have died, that means that just 0.1 per cent of Dorset’s population has died from Covid across nine months. Surely that is worth bearing in mind amid all the fear, and the actions it is fuelling, including the arrest of a woman sat by herself on a bench in Bournemouth.

After the first lockdown lifted, the cost of locking down was clear. The Bank of England announced that the UK was in the worst economic recession in 300 years. So you would think, during the third lockdown, that every single statistic the government issues to justify it would be crunched by a trained reporter, and printed on the same page as the death-toll graphs which are scaring the crap out of us.

Like the vast majority of people, I was not anti-lockdown in March. I was not even ‘lockdown sceptical’ until November, when I had a very serious wake-up call as regards my duties as a journalist. This was because the Mail Online fact-checked the claims of an NHS healthcare assistant who was standing outside Truro cathedral with a microphone having ‘publicly resigned after claiming she had “no work to do for three weeks” at the peak of the pandemic’:

‘The total deaths from these three hospitals in seven months is 76 people’, she said. ‘That’s about 10 people a month over the past seven months, and we have locked down.’ The Mail Online then looked into what she was saying as regards where she had been working, and NHS figures showed that ‘67 people died from Covid-19 at Treliske hospital between March and September… there were just four people with the virus receiving care at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust on October 29.’

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