Original title: Rotating around six airports in four countries, international students just fled the United Kingdom.
Boris himself urged in many speeches.
I hope that the NHS system will not collapse due to medical runs.
Many foreign students’ panic also originated from this
Escape from UK
the collective panic caused by the “herd immunity” in the . Our
reporter / Huo Siyi, Li Jing, Cao Ran, and
Wang Jingyi felt divided when waiting at Heathrow Airport.
In the queue for boarding, several Chinese were fully armed wearing protective clothing and goggles. In contrast, throughout the airport, no staff member wears a mask. This is London at 6am, March 20, 2020.
Time back to noon on March 8, Zhang Yanqiong boarded a plane flying from London to Colombo, and only 80% of the planes on the plane had a mask.
Over the past 12 days, the number of people diagnosed with new coronary pneumonia in the UK has risen sharply from 257 to 3,741, and the number of deaths has increased from 3 to 177. But at Heathrow, in a high-risk area with a high concentration of people, the state of the British seems to be static, in sharp contrast to rising numbers.
In Wang Jingyi’s view, this split not only reflects the difference in the importance of protection between China and the United Kingdom, but also reflects the profound impact of different government’s epidemic prevention policies on people’s perceptions.
When the British government proposed the concept of “herd immunity”, the accumulated anxiety quickly fermented into a collective panic among Chinese students. “The general emotions are anger, disappointment, and panic, and I feel incomprehensible,” Qu Fanfu, a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Cambridge, told China News Weekly.
As of 24:00 on March 21, Beijing had accumulated a total of 97 confirmed imported cases abroad, of which 30 were from the UK, ranking first. From the professional background of imported cases, there are 51 foreign students, accounting for 52.6%, more than half. Between the “delay” in the United Kingdom and “receivables and receivables” in China, international students chose to vote with their feet.
It is difficult to get a ticket to return to China.
Until March 10, Wang Jingyi had no plans to return to China.
Jingyi Wang is studying for her PhD in the Department of Chinese Studies at Cambridge University. This year is the second year. She had been looking forward to the 150th Anniversary Prom on March 13 and bought the tickets very early. At that time, around 300 cases were confirmed in the UK. A friend of her advised her not to go. According to British current policy, the whole situation will definitely worsen. She reluctantly refunded the ticket. For safety, she also refunded the Cambridge dormitory in advance and moved to a separate apartment with her friends.
Unexpectedly, the epidemic really went down sharply a few days later. Since March 10, the number of newly confirmed cases in the United Kingdom has been around 100 daily. The day before the dance, 207 were newly added. Previously, after two cases were first diagnosed on January 31, almost all of February, the confirmed cases in the UK had been single digits, and there had been no deaths. “Before the beginning of March, the confirmed diagnosis in the UK had been growing very slowly, so we were not too worried at the beginning,” Wang Jingyi told China News Weekly.
After refunding the ticket, Wang Jingyi emailed the college and suggested that the ball be rescheduled. “As a Chinese, I know what has happened in China in the past two months and hope not to repeat it in Britain.” She wrote in the email. The college replied that the national epidemic prevention department and the health department did not consider it necessary to cancel the large-scale event, so there was no need to panic, and the ball would not be cancelled, but disinfection hand sanitizer would be provided on the scene, and students with cold and fever symptoms were not required to participate. On the night of the ball, minimize intimate contact activities.
March 13th is a Friday. There has always been a “drink” tradition in Britain. As on every previous Friday, the young people in the bar are talking and toasting, and the college ball is the same. The difference is that this day Wang Jingyi moved into the apartment and started her planned “self-isolation” life. Others are dancing, she is hoarding food. 15 kilograms of rice and 100 rolls of toilet paper, which are the reserves of her and two other housemates in the next 3 months.
The ball was still going on, and Wang Jingyi felt at the time, “It is derailed from the whole world.” Also on this day, she received a call from her parents asking her to return to the country as soon as possible. After repeatedly weighing the risks of her studies, the risk of infection after returning to the country, and the risk of staying in the UK, she decided to return.
But soon she found out that it was impossible to book a ticket at all, and a direct flight was no longer possible. The second or third turn ticket was always cancelled after booking. In the end, through a ticket service that her father knew, she finally bought a 30-hour ticket, which only required two transfers. Compared with others, she was lucky enough. She has a friend and has not yet bought a ticket.
“We are really very collapsed. The decision to return to China is already very difficult and will delay a lot of things, but later found that returning to China is even more difficult.” She said with emotion.
Zhang Yanqiong bought the ticket earlier. She had planned to return to her hometown of Baoshan, Yunnan, via London from Shenzhen on March 24. On March 6th, Shenzhen Airlines said that the flight was temporarily suspended, and the earliest could be changed to March 29, one day before her visa expired, but there was no guarantee. Worried that if she was cancelled again, she would be trapped in the UK, so she decided to refund the ticket and buy it again, and return immediately.
At that time, there were only 144 confirmed cases in the UK, and there was no widespread panic among the international student group, but after searching, she found that non-stop flights had risen from 3,000 to 4,000 yuan to nearly 30,000 yuan with very few tickets. There are still many first and second rounds, but many are in countries with severe epidemics such as France and Spain, and the risks are very high. In the end, she bought a flight through Colombo, Sri Lanka, two days later through an agent she knew from a friend, entered Shanghai, and then transferred to Baoshan.
When London Heathrow Airport was about to take off, Zhang Yanqiong suddenly received the flight from Colombo to Shanghai was cancelled. The airline helped her search for alternative routes. First from Colombo via Bangkok to Shanghai, and the flight was cancelled a few minutes after the change. . It was changed to Shanghai via Singapore, and the operation clearance was cancelled. The last option is to fly to Shanghai via Kuala Lumpur, but stay for more than 20 hours. At that time, less than half an hour before take-off, she had not yet passed the security check and had agreed to “speed of life and death”. At the gate, the flight attendant was holding a countdown timer like 10, 9, 8, 7, … as soon as she stepped into the door, the flight attendant pressed it. The hatch was closed, but it seemed to open another “box”, and Zhang Yanqiong immediately started a “magic trip” to four countries and six airports.
“I counted as an earlier group of returnees. Two or three days after I started the quarantine, the Boris government held the first outbreak conference. After the” herd immunization “policy was introduced, the number of international students returning to China surged.
“China News Weekly” learned through various “return groups” that in the two weeks from March 10 to March 22, especially after March 16, at least hundreds of international students “escape” from the UK, they robbed Tickets, study the entry and exit policies of various countries, find up-and-coming routes, and make connections in different countries across five continents. In the process, many people are still in transit due to temporary changes in policy.
This “return fever” lasted for more than ten days. Recently, as airline tickets have become more difficult to buy, UK’s epidemic prevention policy has turned positive, and returning students have begun to decrease. Of the newly confirmed overseas imported cases in Beijing on March 19, five were from the UK, and the number fell to two on the 23rd.
The front-line quarantine staff working at the Beijing New International Exhibition and Distribution Center recalled to China News Weekly that from the week of March 16th, it was obvious that the number of international students entering China had increased. In the previous week, the average number of international students who entered China was a single digit. There were at most two or thirty people, but the number increased to one or two hundred people a day in the second week, many of them from the UK.
After 30 hours of flight, at 3:30 pm on March 21, Wang Jingyi finally returned to Hangzhou. Worried about flight cancellations, fear of being infected, dare not go to the toilet, eat and drink on peaks, and disinfect alcohol on the toilet seat, she described her experience as “escape,” “always fearless.”
Despite all the hard work and the risks involved, “this epidemic has indeed led many international students to turn to believing in China more and believing China’s current approach.” Wang Jingyi told China News Weekly.
The “pandemic immunization” controversy
among Chinese students studying in the UK began on March 13. The previous day, the number of confirmed cases in the United Kingdom reached 562, and since then it has climbed at a rate of more than 200 new cases per day. But the numbers are not the direct cause of panic. The “last straw” is the “herd immunity” policy put forward by Patrick Valence, chief scientific adviser of the United Kingdom on March 13, in an interview with the media, and mentioned for the first time that the infection rate may be Reached 60%.
There are 66 million people in the United Kingdom. If 60% of them are infected with the new crown virus, that is about 40 million people. “Because the vast majority of patients are mild, when more mild patients are infected with the virus, the spread of the epidemic will be slowed down in case it makes a comeback next winter. At the same time, it will also help protect the most vulnerable people.” Valan Si added: “I think it (New Crown) is very much like an annual virus, and it will be transmitted seasonally every year.”
Zhang Yanqiong remembers that on March 13, her WeChat circle of friends spent the entire day discussing “groups” Immune. ” International students generally believe that this is an extremely irresponsible act by the British government to each individual.
Just the day before, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held the first epidemic briefing and proposed that the UK’s epidemic prevention should enter the second stage of “delay”, which caused widespread public doubt.
Boris pointed out that the “stay” policy is to delay the onset of the peak of the epidemic and minimize the loss to society. He said that if the outbreak could be delayed a few weeks later, the British National Health Service (NHS) would be able to afford more, and as the weather warms, fewer and fewer people with common respiratory diseases will give New crown patients make more beds. At the same time, there is more time to study vaccines.
Boris bluntly stated that the right measures must be taken at the most appropriate time to maximize the effectiveness of the policy. The “suitable” measures at this stage include isolation of mild patients at home for seven days, elderly people over 70 years of age and people with serious health problems not to take cruises, and try not to travel internationally.
On the same day, a total of 15,113 cases were diagnosed and 1,016 died in Italy, breaking the number for the first time. Spain, France, and Germany each broke 100. Adjacent to Britain in France, President Macron issued a television speech that night, announcing that all schools have been suspended since March 16, and said that “the new crown pneumonia epidemic is the worst health crisis in France in nearly a century.”
However, Boris emphasized at the outbreak conference that, according to scientists’ recommendations, the cancellation of large public events such as sports events will have little effect on the spread of the virus, and that the UK will not close schools now, “we need to emphasize this repeatedly.” He also suggested that if people find that they have symptoms, try not to call the emergency number, it is best to check the information online first.
In response, John McDonnell, the Labor ’s shadow minister, immediately mocked: “Johnson has also“ self-isolated ”himself and his responsibilities.”
Former British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt pointed out that, like Thailand and Singapore These countries that have succeeded in controlling the epidemic have adopted severe “social segregation” measures in the early stages of the outbreak. It is worrying that Britain does not take such measures as school closures.
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal, also warned of the British government’s strategy. He believes that everything that happened in Italy is the reality that Britain will face in a few weeks. The government was not prepared for this and did not make the public aware of the reality. He also said that the British government was “playing roulette with the public.”
In fact, on March 13, when Valance proposed the “herd immunization” policy, he also pointed out that Britain was now Italy after four weeks, and there could be a thousand deaths by then.
Yin Zhiguang, director of the World China Studies Center at the School of Humanities of the University of Exeter, pointed out that the focus of the “delay” policy is to conserve resources rather than proactive diagnosis and treatment. The Boris government wants to extend the growth curve of the epidemic from the perspective of “guaranteeing the economy”. The logic behind it is that if there are only a limited number of beds in the NHS, if there are too many patients in the short term, medical runs will occur, causing The NHS collapsed, creating social panic.
“This is an economic protection plan, and the anti-epidemic plan is only part of it, but it is not a crisis management plan,” Yin Zhiguang said.
Yin Zhiguang also said that this logical surface is correct. If the speed of detection and diagnosis is slowed down, social panic can be reduced, and the daily economic and living conditions can be maintained as much as possible until the government passes through this flu season. But one premise is that the British government is betting that the severity of new crown pneumonia is constant. “This is just trying to keep the hallucinations for as long as possible.” The
cover up the ears and fact is that two days after Valence proposed the concept, the British Health Secretary Matt Hancock pointed out that “herd immunity” is not the government’s goal. Non-policy is just a scientific concept.
NHS is overwhelmed.
Whether “herd immunity” is a scientific concept or a policy, the fact is that the British NHS is completely unprepared for the new crown epidemic.
This medical service system led by the Thatcher government in the 1980s was once recognized as a model for universal medical care in European welfare states, and was essentially public medical care at public expense. However, over the past decade, NHS funding has been reduced year after year due to the increase in the population, the aging of the United Kingdom, the immigration problem, and the policy orientation of the Conservative government in the post-financial crisis with austerity as the core.
The Cameron government has reduced its social health budget since 2011. In 2014, the NHS invested only 23% in general practitioners, a six percentage point decrease from a decade ago. Former British Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed her determination to “end the fiscal austerity” and announced that she would provide 20 million pounds a year to the NHS. At that time, some Labour Party people said that 20 billion yuan was far from making up the NHS’s hole for decades.
The direct consequence of budget reductions is a reduction in beds.
Data from the World Economic Cooperation Organization show that the UK has only 2.6 hospital beds per 1,000 people, one-fifth of Japan’s, lower than Italy’s 3.2 and China’s 4.3. In terms of the number of ICU beds per capita, in 31 European countries, the United Kingdom ranks only 24th, equivalent to only one quarter of Germany and one tenth of the United States.
NHS intensive care unit (ICU) doctor Tim Cook wrote in early March that the current ICU bed occupancy rate in the UK has exceeded 90%, and the new burden of new crown pneumonia on beds not only lies in more severe patients, but also When treatment measures are taken for the symptoms of pneumonia and renal failure, aerosols will be generated, which requires early intervention of ICU beds, which further exacerbates the bed gap.
“The challenge of the new crown to the British ICU is huge and very urgent.” Cook said that according to current statistics, 30% to 60% of the population in the UK will be infected with the new crown. Of these, 1 in 7 infected people may need hospitalization. Among these patients, one in five patients may be critically ill and require intensive care equipment.
According to the analysis from Edge Health, during the peak period of the epidemic, the gap in ICU beds in the central part of England will reach 2900, and at least 1,900 additional beds in the South West need to be added to meet the minimum requirements. 6 times increase.
In addition, according to the British Guardian, there are only 15 extracorporeal membrane oxygenation devices (ECMO) in England. The NHS has long said that if more than 28 patients require ECMO, the NHS system could be in trouble.
Yin Zhiguang pointed out that as early as the 2009 influenza pandemic, the NHS’s ability to treat was severely tested. At that time, under the influence of the lobbying force’s budget for the privatization of the NHS, the government’s continuous reduction of public health, and the Brexit that began in 2016, the already overwhelmed NHS was under tremendous pressure to reduce staffing and capital.
Some doctors and nurses have also had strikes in recent years due to long working hours and low pay. Many financially capable British families are also unwilling to wait for the NHS to wait long and find it difficult to receive a specialist’s treatment. They choose to take out private medical insurance. The NHS operating under this pressure will naturally have a hard time playing a role in the face of this new crown epidemic.
Qu Fanfu, a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Cambridge, told China News Weekly that the peak of the epidemic in the United Kingdom will certainly break the ceiling of the NHS’s medical resource capacity. The advantage of China’s system is that it can concentrate national resources in one place, which the British cannot do.
On March 21st, the Boris government stated that the NHS and private hospitals have reached an agreement that nearly 20,000 qualified medical personnel will join the NHS medical system, and more than 8,000 new beds, nearly 1,200 ventilators and other intensive care facilities will be added. Right of use.
In fact, the epidemic is a great test for the Johnson administration. In addition to the promised Brexit that may continue to be delayed under the influence of the epidemic, the collapse of the NHS caused by the epidemic may also make his previous efforts a waste.
Earlier, in the mobilization of the Brexit referendum, Brexitists promised voters: Britain used to pay 350 million pounds to the EU every week. After Brexit, the government can use this money to subsidize the NHS. Therefore, when the NHS resources were so stretched, the Johnson administration was “slowing” the peak of the epidemic, and it was also delaying public dissatisfaction caused by the NHS collapse.
Boris himself urged in many speeches that he hoped that a medical run would not occur and the NHS system would collapse. Many students’ panic originated from this.
Wang Jingyi also told China News Weekly that in the UK, many wealthy people go to private medical institutions, and the registration fee will cost more than 100 pounds because the NHS requires an appointment and the waiting time is too long. A common way to seek medical treatment in the UK is to add money to a private hospital if you can’t survive a serious illness, and go to the NHS for a minor illness.
Wang Jingyi’s father asked her to return to China immediately after seeing the “herd immunity” policy. He said that 60% of people were infected and that medical resources would be paralyzed by then. Why the early mortality rate in Wuhan was so high was the paralysis caused by the medical run, and Britain is likely to repeat the tragedy.
A survey by NHS in 2015 showed that the proportion of patients who were ill but could not get general practitioner consultation increased from 8.85% in 2011 to 10.91% in 2014. One out of four patients had to wait a week or even after making an appointment. It will take longer to see the doctor.
From “Delayed” to “Contained”
On March 16, Imperial College of Technology released a new research report. The report shows that under the “delay” policy, the spread of the epidemic will slow down, but it will still cause the run-up of medical resources. The report predicts that ICU bed demand during peak periods will be eight times higher than the capacity of the UK medical system, which could eventually cause 260,000 deaths in the UK.
“This includes not only patients who have died from infection with the new coronavirus, but also other patients who cannot receive normal treatment due to excessive NHS stress,” the report wrote.
Conversely, if blocked, ICU demand will fall from its peak approximately 3 weeks after the intervention. The report believes that, although there are still many uncertainties about the effectiveness of the policy, this strategy is most likely to ensure that ICU demand remains within the capabilities of the medical system, and the total number of deaths in the UK will fall to about 20,000.
On the night of the report’s release, the Johnson administration adjusted this previously controversial “delay” measure, and the UK’s epidemic prevention policy began to shift from “delay” to “containment.”
Analysts point out that, as one of Boris’s core think tanks, Ferguson’s terrible predictions of deaths and the collapse of the NHS in his report made him “have to start paying attention.” As of March 16, the cumulative confirmed diagnosis in the United Kingdom has reached 1436 cases, with 55 deaths. It can be clearly seen from the epidemic growth curve that, starting on March 12, it entered a period of steep climb.
Since last week, the Johnson administration ’s anti-epidemic policy has been escalating.
On March 16, Johnson announced that he had upgraded from “home quarantine” to “family quarantine.” If family members develop symptoms similar to the virus, it is recommended that family members stay at home for 14 days. In addition, for the first time, he suggested avoiding bars and clubs, staying away from cinemas and theaters, and no longer supporting mass gatherings.
On March 18, Boris Johnson, who had repeatedly stated that “the closure of the school would be of little help in controlling the epidemic”, finally announced that schools in England would be closed on March 20, after the Scottish and Welsh governments had suspended classes.
On March 20, Boris announced the closure of all entertainment venues in London, including bars, restaurants, gyms and cinemas. Only takeaways could be retained and the “recommendation” was upgraded to “mandatory.” The ban will be enforced for at least 14 days.
On March 23, Boris announced that “the country was closed.” All citizens are required to go out only when they buy necessities, medicines, seek medical treatment and go to work. All non-essential stores are closed and public places are forbidden to gather more than two people. He even announced full hosting of UK rail services to ensure that rail services remained operational during the outbreak. The policy will last for three weeks.