As UK Covid cases rise, new insight into the debate over lockdown restrictions back in March

I've obtained this email from Govt's Chief Scientific Adviser

Vallance says he "argued stronger than anyone for action for lockdown" but received a "telling off" from senior officials
The "telling off" was from the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and the Cabinet Secretary

The email, obtained via FOI request, appears to be a discussion about a Sunday Times article on 23rd May, criticising the delays in announcing a full lockdown:

thetimes.co.uk/article/three-…
Unclear when the "telling off" occurred. Scientific advisors did call for "additional social distancing" on 16th March, but a full lockdown was announced on 23rd March

It's now thought cases soared in that period

news.sky.com/story/coronavi…
Department of Health says there were no delays in ordering a lockdown, and the Govt followed the advice of scientists

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More from @SecKermani

17 Jul
**Update on "Excess Deaths" in Pakistan**

June 2020 saw significantly higher burials in Karachi govt graveyards than any other month in the past two years

The rise is likely due to some undetected Covid deaths & people not getting treated for other diseases

Data ⬇️

@uszahid
Burials:

June '18: 1,767

June '19: 2,375

June '20: 3,594

One imp caveat - there were only a small number of officially recorded Covid burials (118) in these Karachi graveyards in June, far fewer than the total number of official Covid deaths (around 800)
So some of the "excess burials" will also be of patients who were officially recorded as dying from Covid, but whose families hid the death certificates from graveyard officials

We were told that does happen at times
Read 9 tweets
5 Jul
*Important* new insight into rise in unexplained deaths in Pakistan during the coronavirus pandemic from official data we've obtained:

Lahore, June 2019: 1,744 registered deaths

Lahore, June 2020: 3,723 registered deaths

Lahore, June 2020 official Covid deaths: 487

w/@uszahid
In Karachi, we got figures for burials in 32 government graveyards

June 2019 - 2,375 burials

June 2020 - 3,594 burials

June 2020, official Covid burials (in these graveyards) - 118
Caveat: An official told us some families hide their Covid death certificate from graveyard admin because of stigma, so it's likely more than 118 of those burials were of officially confirmed Covid deaths

There were approx 729 recorded coronavirus deaths in June 2020 in Karachi
Read 10 tweets
5 Jun
I've spent the last week speaking to doctors from major hospitals across Pakistan.. All of them were really worried that the country's healthcare system will soon be overwhelmed by Coronavirus patients, after seeing a substantial rise in cases since lockdown was eased 2 week ago
In Karachi, official data shows there is only a handful of ICU beds for Covid patients free across all dedicated hospitals, some days as few as 3... That's for a city of around 15 million people
New Covid hospitals are being built in Karachi, but that pressure explains - in part - why local officials there have clashed with Imran Khan's government over whether or not lockdown restrictions should continue. His argument of course - that poor people would suffer too much
Read 9 tweets
1 Dec 19
Just back from a trip to the village in Pakistani Administered Kashmir the #LondonBridge attacker Usman Khan's family originally came from... He was born in the UK and all the evidence I've seen clearly shows he was radicalised in Britain, but I wanted to find people who knew him
The village is outside the city of Kotli - quite a pretty drive, the white capped mountains in the background are across the Line of Control in Indian Administered Kashmir... Usman Khan was convicted in the UK in 2012 of planning to set up a militant training camp here
We met a man who lived next door to Usman Khan's family home... He remembered Khan visiting as a teen, and they would often discuss religion together... He said Khan was angry with perceived Western injustices in the Muslim world but he tried to convince him to respond peacefully
Read 5 tweets
12 Aug 19
I was meant to cover the #Hajj this year for the BBC, but logistical issues / tensions in Asia meant I couldn’t.. still I wanted to share with you the beautiful story of one pilgrim.. this is Talib Jan, a poor shepherd from northern Pakistan: He saved up for 6 years to go on Haj
Talib Jan is from the Diamer region, I’ve been there and it’s beautiful, but also very remote.. in his whole life he had never once left the mountains around his village... we met in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad as he prepared to fly to Saudi. It was his first time away from home
I asked him if he was afraid to be getting on an plane to a faraway country? He told me the first time he saw a picture of the Great Mosque in Makkah he was terrified, and was sure he would get lost.. but then local religious scholars had reassured him God would look after him
Read 8 tweets
10 Aug 19
Just back from a trip to Pakistan Administered Kashmir... Amongst the ppl I talked to was a former jihadi fighter... He told me he was born in Indian Administered Kashmir, but at the age of 15 witnessed a mass rape by Indian security forces, and that's what led him to fight...
I asked what he would do, if he were a 15 year old now, in IAK: "I would make the same decision as I made back then... but the young people nowadays are much tougher... they will bring death to India"
He said he understood the pressures on Pakistan that meant they could not get militarily involved, and why they had taken action against groups such as LeT / Jaish... But others seemed more frustrated... Might not be easy for Pakistan to manage fighters if violence worsens
Read 6 tweets

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