As both sides of the Covid restrictions debate put their cases to either end or extend it is clear that any choice will cause an outcry from someone.
The steady increase in new case numbers is ammunition for the extenders while the low hospital admissions and deaths encourages those hoping for an end to the restrictions. With five days to go until the decision day for England the current favourite looks to be a compromise that lifts some of the restrictions but keeps the politicians in control – and in the media spotlight. So most likely indoor venues such as theatres and cinemas will re-open as planned – but with face masks as a requirement until a further review in another five weeks.
Despite this easing overseas travel will remain problematic – since so many destinations are not ready to accept foreign tourists. An issue that the UK media seems to have gone quiet about in recent months. In fact many British sun-seekers seem oblivious to the conditions in their chosen destinations.
Some anti-government figures have expressed opinions that the UK Covid death toll is the worst in Europe because of government mishandling of the response. And it is true that 127,854 UK deaths is a shocking total. But after some digging into the international statistics the actual wider data is eye-opening.
Italy is recorded with 126,767 Covid deaths just one place behind the UK in the available statistics. While France is two places lower with 110,137 deaths reported. So in total reported numbers the UK is the worst nation in Europe. However … UK death statistics include cases where Covid was not the actual cause; a different approach to many other countries’ health stats.
If instead we look at deaths per million of population the national positions are much different. And the European counties with the worst figures are –
Bosnia and Herzegovina 2,902/million
San Marino 2,647/million
North Macedonia 2,624/million
So relative to population the UK is far from being the outlier in Europe. It would, of course, be far better if the UK was more like New Zealand – with just 5/million!
At least our vaccination programme has mitigated the consequences of infection and greatly reduced the death rate. With almost 60% of the population (77% of adults) now having at least one dose the mass rollout of vaccine has broken the link between infection and serious illness. A programme that has also been successful employed by Gibraltar, Malta, Isle of Man, San Marino and Jersey, amongst others, to cut the risks for both the locals and tourists. In Gibraltar they have gone so far as to have vaccinated more than 100% of its population – by extended its coverage to the EU workers that commute in from Spain.
So will the UK nations be allowed the opportunity to exit from the Covid emergency powers? Or is that old observation that governments take emergency powers but never fully give them back still holding true? We shall soon see …