Letters: The lack of a coordinated response to coronavirus is proving costly

A pedestrian wears a face mask in High Holborn, central London
A pedestrian wears a face mask in High Holborn, central London Credit: pa/jonathan brady

SIR – Many have suggested that, if there is a slow and steady spread of coronavirus, the NHS will cope. A rapid rise in infections, requiring more intensive-care capacity, is of concern – in Britain and most other countries.

This is exactly why the widespread failure to follow the example of a few well-led countries a month ago is inexplicable. Entry should have been barred for those who had travelled to China within the incubation period. All residents returning from China should have been a subject to an enforced, supervised quarantine.

Most countries did not implement this and so the human, social and economic costs of the pending coronavirus pandemic will be greater than they needed to have been.

Damian Chunilal
Hong Kong

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appSIR – We are informed that testing kits for coronavirus are not available outside government-controlled facilities.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThis grip must not be suffered to persist: it evokes earlier government attempts to micromanage healthcare when collective infections loom. Doctors have patients to treat and not merely multitudes to herd.

Proper serological tests must be made available to bona fide laboratories throughout the land.

Dr Georges S Kaye
London SW7


SIR – If you are tempted to stock up on face masks, please don’t be surprised if hospitals have to start cancelling routine surgery when our supplies run out.

Dr Sarah A Pape FRSCEd
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app Longwitton, Northumberland

SIR – Given the apparently disproportionate public fear of coronavirus, it seems to me that the significant difference between the Sars outbreak and today is that, in 2004, social media was only in its infancy.

Richard Thwaites
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire


SIR – I must take issue with the suggestion that coronavirus is no 
more cause for concern than influenza.

Ultimately, that may well prove to be the case, but for people such as my husband, who has a weakened immune system, the current situation is incredibly stressful.

Patients with underlying health problems can be vaccinated against the flu. Not so coronavirus – or not yet, anyway.

Hazel Norman
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app Swanage, Dorset


SIR – I had occasion to take a friend to a major London hospital the other day for an outpatient appointment.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appDoors needed to be opened and lift buttons needed to be pressed – but I did not once see any hand get. Surely in a large hospital, and with the current coronavirus threat, this is one of the first lines of defence against contamination.

Susan Lister
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app West Horndon, Essex


Natural flood defences

SIR – Hedges, dredged ditches, meadows, small fields, dredged rivers, trees and shrubs have all but gone from the flooded counties (Letters, February 23).

These natural barriers and defences against flooding should be reinstated. In addition, a proportion of fields should be dug out to a good depth, the topsoil removed and replaced at the lower level, and then trees and shrubs should be planted so that, when it rains in future, floodwater will have somewhere else to settle.

Graham Swain
Clapham, West Sussex


2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appSIR – In France, many homes in flood areas are built with the ground floor half a storey above ground level, with the garage and utility rooms in the basement and bedrooms and bathrooms in the roof.

Peter Cast
Cuckfield, West Sussex


SIR – As a child living in Borneo, I watched with great interest as each year the monsoon brought floods to our town. Books used to float out of my uncle’s bookshop, sofas and chairs out of homes. Then someone had a light-bulb moment and built drains.

As water finds its way down, it is sensible to allow it to be taken away by efficient drains and rivers, rather than trying to stop it coming into homes.

Hilary Devenport


Woke Shakespeare

SIR – I have high regard for Gregory Doran as a sensitive director and Shakespearean scholar. It is some years now, however – and this precedes Mr Doran’s promotion to artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company – since the great Stanley Wells opined that the company was being run in the interests of actors and directors rather than audiences.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appMr Doran seeks to justify the company’s gender-blind casting. Nevertheless, I think even he might concede that his production of Troilus and Cressida, with a female Ulysses and Agamemnon, was not his finest hour.

Last year we were treated to a gender-flipped The Taming of the Shrew, which not even a summer Stratford audience found particularly amusing, and a ragbag of an As You Like It. Previous seasons have given us a Cymbeline – a queen, not a king, naturally – which made no sense, and a Macbeth with a totally miscast lead.

It would be liberating if Mr Doran could resist fashionable theatrical fads and promote productions that might actually engage rather than confuse first-time Shakespeare theatregoers.

Neil Henshaw
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app Preston, Lancashire


Ploughing on

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appSIR – Given recent stories on pubs (Travel on Sunday, February 23), the death of cash (report, February 23), and the imminent ban on fuel for open fires (report, February 21), may I recommend our local, The Plough Inn, in Little London, Hampshire?

It takes only cash, no cards, and has firmly resisted the temptation to become a gastropub, serving only baguettes, which are delicious and huge. Members of staff greet you like an old friend; the open fire roars and dogs and walkers are welcomed. The beer is superbly kept.

The pub has survived 30 years of ups and downs, including an armed robbery, so let’s hope petty legislation and tax hikes don’t finish it off.

Fiona Burgess
Little London, Hampshire


Electric car pitfalls

SIR – Baroness Randerson has drawn attention in a House of Lords debate to the difficulty of moving electric cars when they break down, as they cannot be towed and so have to be put on a low-loader.

We often read about motorway jams lasting several hours, and such delays would result in many electric cars running out of power. How are these vehicles to be recharged or removed when stuck in a tailback extending many miles? If all lanes – including the hard shoulder – are full of vehicles, a logistical nightmare arises.

The more one considers these potential problems, the less likely it seems that the era of battery power will ever come to practical fruition.

David Bray
Godalming, Surrey


Millennials in church

SIR – Madeline Grant’s column about millennial atheists attending church resonated with me.

As a teenager I enjoyed studying the Gospels and the history of the Bible, but found the idea of going to church ridiculous. Now, however, at the age of 30, I am getting married in my local church in April. I did my own research into the readings that I wanted, which led me to take an interest in the Gospels again. This, in turn, sparked my interest in church attendance, and I made it one of my New Year’s resolutions to go a few times a month.

I have found it really enjoyable. I love hearing the sermons and singing hymns. The great thing about churches is that there is always one nearby, and they are always welcoming. I miss it when I cannot go.

Hannah Evison


SIR – I’m happy for Madeline Grant that attending Sunday Mass has had a positive effect on her life, but there are many ways for millennial atheists to lift themselves from social isolation and build a sense of belonging.

Clubs and societies are a wonderful opportunity to meet new people: book clubs, running societies, dog walking groups. Joining a gym allowed my brother to get out and about, and voluntary work helped me find my equilibrium. I’ve been at the same charity shop for nearly nine years.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appHowever, I won’t give church a whirl for the same reason I won’t give my local mosque or synagogue a whirl: I can’t support something I don’t believe in.

Emilie Lamplough
Trowbridge, Wiltshire


Why football has taken VAR a step too far

Fans at a match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium Credit: michael regan/getty images

SIR – Followers of rugby must scratch their heads at the horlicks football is making of the review system (Sport, February 23).

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe primary problem is that the referee is a powerless spectator in the process. He does not instigate it and has virtually no control of the outcome. The VAR (video assistant referee) man is miles away from the ground. The spectators are completely in the dark.

In rugby the referee controls the whole thing. He calls for it and can see it on the big screen, as can the spectators. He then makes a judgment in collaboration with the man controlling the technology, along with his touch judges. It nearly always works. When will football learn?

John Taylor
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app Purley, Surrey


SIR – The fact that the debate over VAR decisions now dominates sports coverage – as opposed to the footballing skills or human errors that led to the need for referral to VAR in the first place – surely demonstrates that VAR is not working and should be scrapped.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appFootball is, at its most basic level, a game – the primary aim of which is to entertain. Long breaks in play, questions over the length of one player’s toenail against another’s and never-ending discussion over the rights and wrongs of a particular decision are not entertaining.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appSport, football included, involves human beings, all prone to making errors – and this contributes most to the entire viewing experience, warts and all.

Ian Hammond


Inheritance tax denies a basic human impulse

SIR – Inheritance tax (Letters, February 23)2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app is at odds with one of the most powerful and justifiable of human instincts: to protect your children and get them safely launched in the world.

I was depressed to read that HMRC is investigating the use of family investment companies (FICs) as one means of reducing inheritance tax liability. How much better if HMRC focused on reforming and simplifying this hated tax to a level that would obviate the need for such manoeuvres.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appUnder the current, complex regime, it is terribly difficult for middle-income parents to guess at their future spending on care, and balance this with the considerable incentives to give money to their children now. Many don’t have enough money for both courses of action, yet our kids’ needs are immediate and significant.

Those of us in our seventies don’t want to anguish over this all the time: it certainly doesn’t add to the “joys” of old age. The £325,000 nil rate band is wildly out of date; the housing allowance is complicated and only the super-rich can afford the advice and structures needed to avoid this tax.

Lauren Groom
Salisbury, Wiltshire

Letters: The lack of a coordinated response to coronavirus is proving costly