Letters: Will the country ever be given the chance to learn to live with Covid?

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Passengers at Westminster wear face coverings - Martin Pope/Getty Images
Passengers at Westminster wear face coverings - Martin Pope/Getty Images

SIR – Boris Johnson has put the country on alert once more, warning that there may be fresh Covid restrictions and even another lockdown (report, September 15).

Chris Whitty, meanwhile, is spreading doom and gloom, suggesting that the NHS could be overwhelmed again, even though it never was.

Who saw this coming? Everyone – and we are sick and tired of not being allowed to get on with living our lives. This virus is here to stay.

Simon Crowley
Kemsing, Kent

SIR – The Prime Minister said that the ending of lockdown would be “irreversible”. So much for that.

Already he is telling us what “might” happen in the autumn: compulsory masks, working from home and the possibility of a further lockdown.

Experience suggests that this is not a case of “might” but “will”. The technique employed is simple but effective: give people time to get used to the idea and they will accept it without question when it is finally implemented.

Surely it is time to end this farce. The entertainment and hospitality industries have only just reopened and cannot survive another hit.

David Lane
Birmingham

SIR – It was somewhat disingenuous of Professor Whitty to compare last September’s Covid figures with the current ones.

In 2020, many people had prematurely died of Covid in the spring and summer, so the figures on last September’s graph appear low.

As for case numbers, far more testing is now taking place, which inevitably means there are more cases, but most of them are not resulting in serious illness.

Fiona Wild
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

SIR – At Tuesday’s briefing the Prime Minister delivered the usual mixture of ambiguous graphs and lots of words. My conclusion: nothing has changed, and he is sitting firmly on the fence.

Boris Johnson is the consummate politician: he makes a big noise without committing to anything. While I appreciate that this is how politics normally works, it’s not what we need right now. What we need is a leader who will set a course and follow it.

Steve Petherbridge
Blyth, Nottinghamshire

SIR – I applaud Boris Johnson for making preparations for winter in good time.

Any sensible leader must be ready to tighten the rules if necessary: we all saw how fast the delta variant spread last year.

Geoffrey Brooking
Havant, Hampshire

SIR – Could the Government at least give us a bit more notice before it decides to cancel Christmas this year?

Keith Chambers
Brockenhurst, Hampshire

Williamson out

SIR – Over the years I have seen many politicians try to fill the role of Education Secretary and most have been indifferent.

Gavin Williamson, however, was particularly poor, and the only surprise about his dismissal yesterday was that Boris Johnson had been so slow to remove him.

Mick Ferrie
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall

SIR – Dominic Raab is no longer Foreign Secretary, having failed to satisfy his boss.

However, he has been transferred to three other positions including Deputy Prime Minister. Does any company reward failure in this way?

Phil Wall
Cassagne, Haute-Garonne, France

SIR – Congratulations to Liz Truss on her well-deserved promotion to become Britain’s second ever female Foreign Secretary. Boris Johnson has shown initiative in his reshuffle.

Dominic Shelmerdine
London SW3

Green submarines

SIR – The news that Britain is to develop hydrogen-powered driverless “green submarines” to carry freight around the country (report, September 15) is unlikely to have our truck drivers and seafarers reaching for their periscopes any time soon.

Both cargo-carrying and hydrogen-powered submarines have been around since the First World War. Today, the German and Italian navies operate Type 216 hydrogen-powered submarines. However, in an interview with the Today programme, the chief engineer of the manufacturer Ocean Waves revealed that his submarines could carry only 21 tons of cargo, equivalent to one standard 20-foot container.

Given that Type 216 submarines are estimated to cost €280-560 million each, or about double the cost of a 24,000-teu (20-foot equivalent unit) containership, the economies of scale require some thought.

Captain Peter J Newton
Chellaston, Derbyshire

Democracy, SNP-style

SIR – Nicola Sturgeon says that, since Scotland has only six Tory MPs at Westminster, Scots did not vote for the current British Government, and therefore policies are being forced on us against our will.

This from a First Minister who has led a minority government since 2016 and gone into a coalition in all but name with a party that polled 35,000 votes in the last Holyrood election.

Is this Scottish government one for which the majority of Scots voted?

Jennifer Wagstaff
Ellon, Aberdeenshire

SIR – A wise old Scot once told me: “You know the population of Scotland is roughly the same as that of Yorkshire.”

Perhaps if we kept that in mind when discussing Scottish independence, it would help to keep things in perspective.

Ian France
Penrith, Cumbria

An accountable NHS

SIR – Your Leading Article (September 15), discussing hospital capacity, makes for sobering reading. All the more reason to proceed with NHS reforms, in order to cut the long waiting lists.

Despite the controversy over the Health and Social Care Levy Bill, the extra money should indirectly improve the system, as well as enabling some waste and bureaucracy to be tackled.

No one can tell how much it will ultimately cost. Every area of the country will need to be assessed for the resources required by clinicians to treat patients promptly, thus reducing waiting lists. Some of the 30,000 NHS managers, assisted by clinical staff, should be responsible for this and for providing a truer estimate of its cost.

NHS leaders must be made accountable to the public, and more medically qualified people should be put in key positions.

Dr Ramon Gardner
Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge

How the Battle of Britain changed everything

SIR – Lt Col I R Bercham (Letters, September 15) is right about the crucial role played by sailors in the Battle of the Atlantic, which took place from the first to the last day of the European conflict in the Second World War.

It is, however, natural that the Battle of Britain is held in such high regard – for it was the first time Hitler’s all-conquering war machine had failed. Unlike the Battle of the Atlantic, this was not just down to the bravery of young men; it was the result of major government investment in aerial defence and very effective forward-planning by the Royal Air Force.

The training and equipment programmes of the late 1930s enabled the RAF and the Observer Corps to defeat a superior force with a sophisticated secret early-warning system, sufficient high-performance aircraft, and highly trained and motivated young men. Looking through my father’s logbook from the time, I see that he and his colleagues were protecting convoys as well as engaging enemy bomber formations.

It took the Royal Navy nearly three years to counter the submarine threat in the Atlantic. Had the RAF been as unprepared in 1940, the Battle of the Atlantic would have been much shorter and our lives irretrievably altered. This is why the Battle of Britain remains so important.

Incidentally, if casualty statistics must be used as a comparator, more bomber than fighter aircrew were lost during the Battle of Britain in their attacks on German invasion preparations – like the sailors in the Atlantic, forgotten heroes all.

Dr Michael A Fopp
Soulbury, Buckinghamshire

SIR – It was originally argued that the Battle of the Atlantic was won by more and better escorts, convoy tactics, the increasing range of aircraft, and escort carriers in mid-Atlantic. Then, after decades of silence, we were told that the war was won by Alan Turing and the Bletchley Park codebreakers.

I asked a long-retired admiral which was more important. He replied that, without the physical resources, they could not have used the code-breaking; and without the intelligence, the ships and aircraft would not have known where to look.

When shall we see a book which tells the whole story of the battle that draws the two strands together?

Mike Keatinge
Sherborne, Dorset

A condiment that really cuts the mustard

An advertisement for Colman's mustard - Alamy
An advertisement for Colman's mustard - Alamy

SIR – Philip Styles (Letters, September 15) wishes modern mustard had more welly. He should try mixing Colman’s powder with Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce.

Clive Williams
Wrexham, Denbighshire

SIR – Mr Styles simply needs to switch his allegiance to French mustard. Moutarde des Pompiers will indeed have him calling for the fire engine.

C J Fletcher
Stanton St John, Oxfordshire

Decorous dining

SIR – As teenagers in the 1920s, my mother and her two sisters attended a small formal dinner (Letters, September 15) given by their parents.

The main dish was crown of lamb, each rib end of which was topped with a decorative miniature paper chef’s hat. To my grandmother’s astonishment, the wife of the guest of honour ate not just the meat, but the hat as well – so my grandmother glowered at her husband and children until they too ate their paper hats.

The dinner was a great success.

Richard Longfield
Weston Patrick, Hampshire

SIR – Some 55 years ago my wife and I invited guests round to thank them for their assistance at our wedding. We decided to serve meat fondue (all the rage then) and, as I was a chef, it was left to me to prepare all the sauces to go with the strips of raw fillet steak.

We assumed everything had gone well until, on leaving, one guest said: “That’s the first dinner party I’ve been to where I had to cook my own food.”

We haven’t heard from them since.

Gray Wilson
Crowle, Worcestershire

SIR – I remember the moment at one dinner party when a large crash came from the kitchen.

Not a word was said as the hostess carefully removed the spoon and fork from everyone’s place.

Stuart Asbury
Sutton Waldron, Dorset

Gourd old days

SIR – I thank Dave Alsop (Letters, September 15) for his marrow recipe. It brought back wonderful memories of my Aunty Lily’s Mock Goose. A stuffed marrow, it was sliced lengthways – one half filled with a stuffing of choice and the other with sausage meat.

It was then baked in the oven.

Richard Stewart
Bridlington, East Yorkshire

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