Microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington
On Friday's Any Questions on Radio 4, eminent microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington - former president of the Society for General Microbiology - told listeners that the government's advice on handwashing is going to be ineffective in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus:
The professor said that he looked forward to a plunge in the number of food-poisoning cases as a result of more frequent hand-washing, but as COVID-19 is spread by people breathing in droplets breathed out by an infected person, that:
basically handwashing doesn't come into it.
Pennington's comments further underscore the growing conviction that the Boris Johnson and
Health Secretary Matt Hancock are not only out of their depth, but misleading the public.
Supermarket chains have already said that Hancock's claims that the government is coordinating with them to secure supply chains is 'made up', while travellers returning from the Italian coronavirus hotspot have shown that they are being allowed free movement around the country without even basic checks upon their return to the UK.


Skwarkbox has its own missionary intent to rubbish this neoliberal Tory misgovernment - I share their anger - but it's important to keep looking for the overall truth. There is a balanced - if provisional - truth out there. When I read the comments that were posted under the post, I became convinced that Professor Pennington has presented a scientific understanding that  needs to be communicated to all of us immediately. Droplets containing the virus pass from the infected person through the air or through being picked up by touch on contaminated surfaces. This apology of a government has failed to emphasise the critical factor of proximity to the infected person. However, the Professor seems to be downplaying the role of handwashing - it is an important part of the armoury of self-protection.   

Skwarkbox carried a clip this morning of the PM talking about a 'theory' that was being discussed (by whom? - the 'experts'?) that we should just let the virus have a free run and claim its victims and then we can move on. What we needed was a more balanced approach. Did he really say that? Yes, he did. We share the fate of the USA; we both have mad leadership. 
Below, Paul - a contributor to the Comments feed - captures that underlying madness, although the PM's position is I think more nuanced than Paul suggests; and then David nails the underlying horror of the consequences of ten years of Austerity and Privatisation policies for the NHS, rendering it unfit to deal with the present crisis; and finally Zube delivers some science for our consideration: