SIR – As a person with long experience in chemical and biological defense, I am amazed at how this country has handled the threat of coronavirus.
Effective screening is the only way to deal with the problem early. Since the period of time between the infection and the onset of symptoms is between 10 and 14 days, we could expect that there will be an explosion of victims, perhaps within the next two weeks. National official advice and publicity has been lacking.
Finally, the appropriate measures for general public protection and, above all, for decontamination are lacking. There is a lot of military experience available on lethal chemical and biological attack. This competence will not be found in the National Health Service.
Sqn Ldr Philip Congdon RAF (retd)
SIR – Between fate and darkness, new reported cases of coronavirus in China have fallen to double-digit numbers. This should demonstrate to the rest of the world that large outbreaks can be controlled through rigorous, effectively implemented measures.
The question in Britain is: will we be able to implement and adopt these measures?
SIR – I was baffled to read your report (March 9) that dozens of flights arriving from coronavirus hotspots, including Milan, could land in Britain without checks.
Professor Chris Whitty, English Chief Medical Officer, says that Italy “was the first country in Europe to ban flights from China and also examined airport controls.” However, examining the procedure is very different from implementing it. As Rory Stewart, the candidate for mayor of London, a “heartless” approach will simply aggravate the problem.
SIR – Rory Stewart suggested that the government should immediately ignore the advice of medical and scientific experts and nearby schools.
Stewart is clearly trying to draw attention to strengthen his mayoral offer, but suggesting that politicians should make decisions that fly in the face of expert advice is ridiculous.
SIR – The suggestion that older people should self-isolate ignores the fact that this group is supporting the current workforce.
Many grandparents gather children at school and intervene to provide assistance when the children are sick, in addition to covering days and holidays.
SIR – In the case of widespread self-isolation, one thing is fundamental: identify those who are elderly, alone or “invisible”.
Some will have no experience of online shopping and many may not be able to afford the £ 40 minimum shopping for deliveries to supermarkets. Who will ensure that food reaches them?
Iwerne Minster, Dorset
SIR – Jeanna Gallagher (Letters, March 9) is perplexed about the wholesale purchase of stuffed olives.
I suggest that you read about your function, “13 ways to boost your body to keep coronavirus at bay,” released on the same day. This recommends a Mediterranean diet, “rich in fruits and vegetables of different colors”, which “will give you the best chance of obtaining the great variety of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that your body needs to fight infection”.
Long Sutton, Somerset
SIR – Written on the back of a van seen locally: “No toilet paper rolls are stored in this vehicle overnight”.
K M Jones
Budget and SMEs
SIR – I hope our excellent new chancellor has rejected the idea of measures aimed at reducing the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) or eliminating aid from entrepreneurs.
In several ways, both are responsible for the success of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which now account for over 90% of employment in the UK. The EIS took off only after the tax incentive was increased from 20% to 30%. Today, entrepreneurs’ relief generates more tax revenues than their tax costs. The Enterprise Investment Investment Scheme also allowed SMEs to hire talented managers, in competition with companies that can offer larger pay packages.
Fortunately, the conservative manifesto acknowledged the success of the EIS in supporting SMEs and included a commitment to continue.
Lord Flight (Con)
President, EIS Association
SIR – Once again there are calls to change the law of succession in equals (report, March 9) on the basis that the male birthright is “unjust” and (as Lord Fellowes states) a consequence of “absurd and obsolete” rules .
The laws governing aristocratic heritage are not, and never have been, understood as “just”. If it is not right for a man to prefer a woman, how can it be right for an older daughter to prefer a younger one or vice versa? Is it right that a lady can become a countess or duchess by marrying a hereditary peer, while a man is denied such an opportunity?
The aristocracy originated in the archaic tradition, whose origins are rooted in historical circumstances that reflect another era. Archaism largely provides its romantic charm, while arbitrary changes designed to foster individual ambitions affect the roots of the system itself.
The only true and absolute fairness would be either to abolish the aristocracy entirely or to make everyone a lord or lady. The huge overweight House of Lords suggests that the latter course prevails.
A link to Ireland
SIR – Report (March 6) that Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, believes that a deadline of 2030 for a new tunnel under the Irish Sea would be “attainable”.
He may want to consider that the £ 6.8 billion of Lower Thames Crossing was first proposed in 2009. Now it’s 2020, work has just started and in the meantime the daily queues on the current A282 Dartford Crossing are getting longer more.
SIR – How can you think that a bridge or tunnel between Northern Ireland and Scotland is a sensible idea?
I’m not a big fan of HS2, but surely the money would be better spent on extending the line further north, where people and companies will benefit.
SIR – Living in the depths of Somerset, our best way to get to London for a little culture is by train.
Advance tickets purchased through a railway app are of great value, but if you need to cancel a trip, they are non-refundable. They can be changed on a different date, but only if the replacement tickets are booked before the original travel date.
Since we travel infrequently, we usually don’t know when we’ll want another set of tickets. Certainly a better system would be to credit the value of the tickets – minus the modification fee – to the app account, to be used against future purchases. At present, we generally lose the full ticket price simply because we are not regular users.
The current law on assisted death does not work
SIR – Victor Launert (Letters, March 7) warns that assisted death could put elderly or vulnerable people at risk, but I believe that this legislation would introduce greater protections for society. As a police and crime commissioner (PPC) for Dorset, and having been appointed head of the CCPs nationwide on the issue of suicide, I can see the significant dangers that the current law poses, and I echo the demands of Lord Carey ( Letters, March 6) for a government investigation into these issues.
The ban on assisted dying only pushes him underground and overseas, forcing people to die prematurely with insufficient controls and counterweights to prevent abuse or coercion. Law enforcement officers end up spending their limited resources to investigate family members whose motives were purely compassionate. The status quo simply doesn’t work and this week I will share these concerns with the secretary of justice. I join this Maureen Hogg, Durham’s CCP widow Ron Hogg, who formulated a powerful case for a change in the law on assisted death before his death from motor neuron disease last December.
Police and crime commissioner for Dorset
SIR – Lord Carey seems to believe that what a majority favors equates to what is right.
Christians must stick to the traditional teachings of the church on the sacred value of life and speak sensibly in our secular society. Going against solid family values and respect for life can have an attractive “liberal” appeal, but the unwanted consequences are far from liberating.
The end of life must be managed so that people die without undue suffering. Most doctors know how to ensure this without the need for a change in the law.
Shell shake serving strangely pale eggs
SIR – Shoppers are advised to buy white eggs – rather than brown ones, as they are laid by more docile hens (report, March 9).
In the early 1960s, almost all commercially available eggs were white. I remember one occasion when a patient from Northern Ireland, who was staying at St. Thomas hospital, refused her hard-boiled egg for breakfast because the shell was white and not the brown she was used to.
Judith du Boulay
SIR – My little flock of free range Warren hens lays beautiful brown eggs, shows no aggression and are as docile and friendly to each other as they are to humans.
Music for my ears
SIR – Correspondence relating to Sir András Schiff’s views on the state of music education (Letters, 10g) reminded me of the great conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, who said: “The British may not like music, but they love absolutely the noise it makes. “
The best possible taste
SIR – Before I retired, I was a beginner and I was in my London office for almost six mornings. After two hours of work, he went to the local oily spoon (Letters, March 9) for full English: eggs, bacon, sausage, toast and a couple of cups of tea.
I’ve been doing it for 25 years. It prepared me well for the day and I never had any negative effects.
Letter to the editor
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