Dr Owain Williams By: Dr Owain Williams
Lecturer in IR and Human Security
View profile and Diary

16 Mar 2020 :

A very quiet weekend but I did go for a walk. People in pubs, bars and cafes. LSE went online today and hopefully that will be the start of it. I think Sheffield has gone online too. I must book the flight. I told Kylie that I would leave by Friday at the very latest (that is the 20th). That could be too late in truth but university still open. We are being very open about it but are both very nervous. South Africa has introduced a state of emergency today and of course it will be a nightmare in the townships. Trudeau has locked down Canada except for the US border. Mass lock downs in Guatemala, Malaysia and so on. British government has finally woken up to it. I think, again, this will be the end of Johnson. It is clear from the Imperial College paper I just scanned through (by Neil Ferguson and co) has shifted the thinking massively. It seems that the best science had not factored in health system being overwhelmed, the limits on ICU and ventilators, The graduated herd immunity approach would result in mass infection and the “health system… being overwhelmed many times over”., No treatment for acute cases would, as his happening now in Italy, mean triage and rationing and death. The paper is blandly titled but estimates or models 500,000 deaths in the UK and 2,2 million in the USA. Oh my lord. I don’t understand any of the maths but the message is clear. We need to get a serious grip on this now. Social distancing and closures are urgent and we need PPE, ventilators and testing. By this evening’s press conference Johnson looks genuinely serious and sombre. People will die (no shit) and the impact on the economy will be colossal. Parliament erupts about testing with may and Hunt leading the charge.

Press conferences will now be held every day. It is now chaotic and Ashton has been proven right and so have many others. We have 1370 cases in the UK That is still relatively low and we can get a handle on this. I have decided to leave tomorrow and get on Skyscanner. There is a weirdly cheap Emirates flight via Dubai and Melbourne. I feel as if I have a sore throat. but speak to Marty and she thinks she has one too. So does everyone apparently. Feeling really tense and nervous about flying. I manage to buy one packet of soluble paracetamol from Superdrug – nothing else left. No masks or hand sanitizer. Trump announces his support for a 15-day period of social distancing in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. New York is looking very bad as is California and Washington state. Trump told state governors that for medical equipment, "we will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves...”The Dow lost nearly 13% today the third-largest one-day decline in 124 years.

Joanie and Edie both withdrew from school today prior to inevitable shutdowns. I’m relieved. Kylie and me are in contact daily. I have a very sad goodbye with Edie and Tom, lots of unspoken love and everything. But they are big kids and will be together with family there. They have also prepared. I went into deserted office for final lockdown. Emma came in and we sat apart and basically said goodbye for at least 6 months. Her son is also sick with all the symptoms, I hope he is ok. University is today moving toward online provision. In effect we will shut. I hope to work here again with new and lovely colleagues. Strong community and I am sad to leave.

Tedros today criticizes countries for not testing – it is clear who he is referring to. WHO is getting message out and I am impressed with what they are doing. In the UK we have only tested 44,000 people to date, and we had 171 new cases today.

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