Letters: The relative risks of easing lockdown must be made clear to the public

Pedestrians wearing different face protections in the Southall area of London
Pedestrians wearing different face protections in the Southall area of London Credit:  Frank Augstein/AP

SIR – The Government has become a victim of its own success in persuading the public that the threat from coronavirus is enormous and all-pervading. In fact, the risk to most people is small and comparable to the many other risks in normal life that they accept readily every day.

Lifting the current restrictions will be difficult unless people are able to understand the risks posed to themselves as individuals and to their families. For example, reopening schools will be challenging, as many parents will refuse to send their children until convinced that they will be totally safe there (whatever that means).

2020欧洲杯网站Sir David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge, is a world authority; should not the Government commission him, as an independent expert, to put the relative risks of coronavirus in perspective for the public?

Jos Binns
2020欧洲杯网站 Camerton, Somerset


SIR – It is absurd for Baroness Altmann (report, May 4)2020欧洲杯网站 to characterise a possible lockdown extension for the elderly as “discrimination”. It is common sense to match the measures taken ought to the risks incurred. Older and infirm people are facing a much higher risk than the young and fit, and should therefore be treated differently.

2020欧洲杯网站I am over 70 and will gladly accept more isolation if the majority of the workforce can return to something like normality – particularly as this would help to counter the exploding national debt. Otherwise the younger generation will have to pay off that debt for many years after we’re gone.

David Heathcoat-Amory
2020欧洲杯网站 London W14


2020欧洲杯网站SIR – It is reported that a significant number of furloughed employees are reluctant to return to work. It is worth considering that for many people receiving 80 per cent pay for staying at home (rising in many cases to 100 per cent in the public sector), while saving on associated travel and childcare costs, leaves many financially no worse off than going to work. Staying at home may be the more attractive option.

Keith Whittaker
Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire


SIR – The new NHS contact-tracing app (report, May 5) is welcome, but not everyone has a smart phone, or, if they do, enough memory on that phone to download it.

Many pensioners and low-income families are in this group.

Unless the majority of the public can take part in the exercise, the data will not give an accurate indication of whether the app is reducing the rate of spread of the infection of spread of coronavirus.

Chris Barmby
Tonbridge, Kent


SIR – Three weeks ago I asked my wife for the time, as I have stopped wearing a watch. She replied: “Saturday”. On Tuesday I did the same thing, and her answer was: “May”.

Dr William A McFadzean


Obesity and the virus

Obesity makes people more at risk from coronavirus Credit: EFREM LUKATSKY/AP

SIR – We know that 90 per cent of deaths from coronavirus are in those with pre-existing health problems, but little has been said about tackling these problems before the next wave of Covid-19 infections.

2020欧洲杯网站For instance, obesity – with its complications of diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease – is one of the commonest co-factors. Obese patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 are 40 per cent more likely to die than other patients. Excess alcohol consumption makes the effects of obesity, such as high blood pressure, worse. However, blood pressure falls when alcohol consumption is reduced, and the benefits of weight loss on diabetes as well as general health can also be seen within weeks.

These are important issues for the Government to address in the battle against Covid- 19.

Professor Roger Williams
Institute of Hepatology
King’s College Hospital
2020欧洲杯网站 London SE5



More people are taking their daily exercise by cycling Credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY via Reuters

SIR – Each morning, while cycling to to fetch my paper, I frequently meet sleepy dog walkers in the road. A simple “ding-ding” in my best falsetto quickly alerts them to my presence. So far, I have not had to use my brakes or shriek at anyone.

Peter McPherson
Merriott, Somerset


SIR – When, while out on her bike, Patricia Jagger (Letters, May 4) encounters a family group with both a dog and a pushchair, surely the polite and sensible thing to do is to dismount and walk past them.

Frank Russell
2020欧洲杯网站 Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire


2020欧洲杯网站SIR – I find the almost universal prejudice against cyclists wearing Lycra both baffling and irrational.

Surely wearing clothes that are safe, comfortable and specifically designed for an activity makes sense. Do readers also despise horse riders wearing jodhpurs and hard hats, and hikers in boots and waterproofs?

Marwood Smith
Harrogate, North Yorkshire


SIR – Not all cyclists are like those encountered by Mark Allen (Letters, May 4). On one occasion, noticing that an overtaking cyclist had a bell, I called out: “Why didn’t you ring your bell ?” His rather sheepish reply was: “I thought it would be rude.”

Douglas M H Crook
2020欧洲杯网站 Cheadle, Cheshire


Lapses in biosecurity

Vendors wearing masks sell seafood at a market in Guangzhou, China Credit: /EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/ALEX PLAVEVSKI

SIR – It is far from short-sighted of President Donald Trump to call for an investigation into the potential escape of coronavirus from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, as Brian Worrell (Letters, May 42020欧洲杯网站) suggests. It is an unfortunate fact that dangerous viruses can and do escape from laboratories that enjoy the highest levels of biosecurity, through carelessness or pure accident. A British example demonstrates this.

2020欧洲杯网站In 2007 there was a minor outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Surrey. This was traced to a laboratory at Pirbright, where the Institute for Animal Health was permitted to keep the virus. Investigations revealed that underground pipes carrying laboratory effluent had been damaged by tree roots. In his report on the incident, Professor Brian Spratt concluded that it was likely that contaminated effluent had leaked from the broken pipes and then spread.

The British Government, as well as those in other countries affected by Covid-19, must press for a full and independent inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus by those laboratories in Wuhan – the origin of the outbreak – that are known (report, May 4) to have been examining this terrible disease.

Patrick Darby
2020欧洲杯网站 Malton, North Yorkshire


In need of deliveries

A delivery driver for Ocado online supermarket delivers a shopping order Credit: Nick Potts/PA

SIR – My recently widowed daughter, aged 44 and with three children under 10, is having difficulty getting a supermarket delivery slot.

She shopped with the same supermarket during her husband’s three-year treatment for cancer and had a regular delivery slot. She is not classed as vulnerable as she is fit and able, but right now she cannot get out to the shops. I am sure she is not alone in this sort of situation. We, her parents, are unable to help as we live in Devon and she lives near London.

Plenty of two-parent, stay-at-home families are taking up precious delivery slots. Surely one of them could collect the shopping and leave spaces for the more needy.

Frances Fray
2020欧洲杯网站 Kingsbridge, Devon


Slipping in unnoticed

2020欧洲杯网站SIR – Since the start of lockdown, 15,000 people a day have been entering Britain without having to be quarantined (report, May 4) because it hasn’t been deemed necessary by the Government’s scientific advisers.

I was a research chemist for 45 years and can thus understand the concept of “follow the science”. However, given the lack of transparency from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), I find it very worrying that we should be following such a mantra while much of the country remains in self-imposed isolation.

Peter Towndrow FRSC
2020欧洲杯网站 Grazeley Green, Berkshire


Hatch and dispatch

SIR – Your fine obituary (May 5) of David Twiston Davies, former Daily Telegraph obituarist and letters editor, could have added his core belief that newspapers’ marketing experts were invariably a menace.

In the early Nineties the paper (for which I then worked) was advised by expensive management consultants that it would perish unless it appealed more to youthful readers. Of particular concern, averred these experts, was the obituaries page. “It needs to feature younger people,” they concluded. Twisters loved that.

Quentin Letts
2020欧洲杯网站 How Caple, Herefordshire


The polymath who made vaccination possible

French artist Gaston Mélingue (1840-1914) painteds Edward Jenner giving the first vaccine Credit: Bridgeman Images

2020欧洲杯网站SIR – It would be a shame if Dr Edward Jenner’s house were to close (.

A polymath, Jenner was one of the most remarkable academic physicians of his time. His contribution to the acceptance of immunisation had several aspects. He conducted the experiment that proved what many others suspected at the time – namely, that inoculation with a virus (vaccinia, or cowpox) conferred immunity.

His observations on the life of the cuckoo, published in 1788, and in particular the original observation that it was the cuckoo hatchlings that evicted their nest mates, resulted in his election to the Royal Society. It undoubtedly gave him the platform from which to argue his case effectively, which he did so doggedly in the face of determined personal and professional attacks over many years.

It was indeed Jenner who introduced the term “vaccination” in 1798 to describe the process, but in a letter to his friend Richard Dunning, a surgeon in Devonport, he credited the latter with coining the word: an act of generosity which, by all accounts, was typical of the man.

Denis Wilkins FRCS
2020欧洲杯网站 Liskeard, Cornwall


Lacking guidance, our clergy rely on ingenuity

A banner in tribute to the NHS outside St Paul's Church in Belfast Credit: Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

SIR– Charles Moore points out that the current ban on ringing church bells is to include V-E Day (Notebook, May 5).

It is, of course, true that commemorations on a national scale cannot now take place as planned. However, all over the country there will be many local and private events, at which social distancing will be properly enforced, to remember the joy and relief that was felt 75 years ago. With its silenced bells, the Church of England risks becoming still more invisible and irrelevant to national life.

2020欧洲杯网站Our clergy have shown tremendous initiative in their use of modern communications technology to keep in touch with their congregations. It is a great pity that our archbishops and bishops appear to lack the imagination required on this great occasion.

Richard Feldwick
2020欧洲杯网站 Wickford, Essex


SIR– With very little national publicity, Roman Catholic priests in cathedrals and churches throughout Britain and abroad have been providing much-needed spiritual comfort with live-streamed daily services from the start of lockdown (Letters, May 5).

In our church (Our Lady of Lourdes) in Rottingdean, our parish priest has even turned his hand to flower arranging – thus ensuring that the altar is always looking beautiful.

Liz Hopkin
Rottingdean, East Sussex


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