Rarely has the midwinter seemed so bleak. Lockdown has returned with a new intensity, Christmas is curtailed by official edict and around half the population is effectively under house arrest.
The Government justifies this draconian approach by warning that a dangerous new strain of coronavirus is ‘out of control’, to use the alarming phraseology of Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Tough action is said to be required because, according to the experts on the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), this novel variant could be 70 per cent more contagious than the earlier form of Covid-19.
‘This is the worst news,’ said a Nervtag spokesman yesterday, adding that ‘we really need to batten down the hatches to stop the spread of this strain’.
Yet, for all the grim rhetoric, I suspect that this escalating mood of crisis is unwarranted.
For in reality, there thus far is little hard data to justify the claim that, despite facing a more infectious strain, our country is in the grip of a particularly harmful new type of virus, nor the belief that ever-more authoritarian restrictions will be effective.
Read More: Is the mutant virus really out of control