Dr Owain Williams By: Dr Owain Williams
Lecturer in IR and Human Security
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03 Apr 2020 : Liberal International Order

Trump flatly states he will not wear a mask, asking us to imagine him meeting with kings and dictators in the Oval Office wearing a mask. As if it is such a stupid concept that the man nominally steering a national response to a pandemic would not take necessary steps to secure himself from infection. But what would that look like! New medical guidance in the US now recommends, and very much just advises rather than instructs, that people wear masks in public, and not just for frontline staff. Yesterday saw continued equivocation in states such as Florida as to the need for lockdown, there being a surprisingly large number of states where that still is the case – things are open and approaching normal for haircuts and shopping and so on. It makes me really despair, but I am sure health-related professions and other essential service personnel must have their heads in hands on an almost minute by minute basis. Fauci and others, I really do not now what they are doing; playing some long game of attrition with an idiot POTUS. The US now has over 270,000 cases and a staggering 7,000 deaths. It seems that the real logic of wearing masks in public is to prevent the asymptomatic transmissions, and this has been a major worry since the Iceland study. There are of course other good reasons to wear a mask.

Increasing number of Tweets from the US of people who have lost loved ones and family. It is invariably people past their 1960s, but one stark selfy is a man next to his prone wife, as she is about to be intubated. She is in her 20s or 30s I would guess. Taking that photo: one can only imagine why he did so. To broadcast, document or remember- who knows.

In the UK a sunny weekend is forecast and the press is in full overdrive about keeping people in and away from the coasts and parks. Lee Jones also Tweets about hist street with people gathering to smoke and talk in the street. It is all bizarre behaviour. The summer is coming and this could just be the very simple trigger that people needed to take risks. There are photos her of huge gathering on Many beach, Sydney, the esplanade heaving with people taking in the sun.

Laurie Garret on fire today with a superb article. She writes on global health so fluidly. As she states, this will all boil down to a vaccine and one of the most extensive and intensive vaccination programs in health. But surely she can’t be suggesting eradication is possible. That would be too much surely? What seems to be the subtext is how we deal with COVID as a seasonal virus.

In the UK Johnson has extended his isolation period another 7 days. This seven day isolation period is now just nonsensical anyway. It seems vast majority display symptoms (if at all) in second week. I am sure Johnstone will not be missed. As nurses are beginning to die in the UK, Matt Hancock refers to a specific number of doctors who have died using the phrase ‘and some nurses’. Even if a mistake, this throw away phrasing is indicative of his values and that of the wider Tory Party. All papers in the UK are now in fullest outrage about the testing scandal and the lack of PPE. The pledge to carry out 100,000 tests a day is now 14 days old. We are managing just 8,000 in the UK. There is also international mask piracy being undertaken by the US, states and middle-men. Reports of masks being out bid and redirected mid flight to France and Germany. Solidarity is slipping fast, and the liberal international order looks in tatters.

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