China didn’t have time to plan coronavirus response but the UK did

PUBLISHED: 13:55 03 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:55 03 April 2020

Boris Johnson's cabinet meeting with his top team of ministers. Photograph: Boris Johnson/PA Wire.

Boris Johnson's cabinet meeting with his top team of ministers. Photograph: Boris Johnson/PA Wire.

One reader says those blaming China should look closer to home for who to blame over the response to coronavirus.

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Don’t blame the Chinese for being slow off the mark. They had no great warning and knew little about what was coming. However we did have warning and lots of information from China and we were still slow off the mark, so we are at least as much at fault.

Dudley Dean

Maresfield


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I agree with much of what Paul Knott writes about China and Covid-19 (“The shadow hanging over China’s recovery, TNE #188).

However, the world won’t forget that it was probably one of China’s cruel and filthy ‘wet markets’ that has brought humanity to its knees. You don’t have to subscribe to Trump’s crude “Chinese virus” xenophobia to see this.

China is everybody’s problem now. The so-called ‘international community’ has been in denial about China because it is perceived as a strategic partner.

One could argue that it is because of western arrogance that we know so little about such an important country. Everybody knows president Putin’s name, but how many have heard of president Xi? This has to change.

Will Goble

Rayleigh

The utter cock-up over ventilator supplies is a shocking example of political dogma taking precedence over the very lives of our people. We may have left the EU on January 31, but far from being excluded from the EU’s ability to buy ventilators preferentially and in bulk, this country is still entitled to participate in joint procurement right up to December 31 of this year.

After the shambles of claiming to have missed the EU’s emails about this, our government responded: “We are doing our own work on ventilators and we have had a very strong response from business. We have sourced ventilators from the private sector and international manufacturers.”

One might imagine they would be chasing up the nearest, most efficient sources of supply, but instead they turned to James Dyson, who currently does not produce ventilators.

As if the story weren’t quite enough already we now have a further claim, that over a week ago the Department of Health was offered 5,000 ventilators by the Nantwich-based company Direct Access. Matthew Hancock’s department turned them down.

Martin Sookias

Charlbury

Our government’s discovery that it inadvertently missed an email inviting it to join the first wave of EU procurement for ventilators reminds me of General Burgoyne’s discovery, in Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple, that the orders crucial to victory in the American revolution failed to be carried out because a letter didn’t arrive.

As a result, says Burgoyne, “England will lose her American colonies, and in a few days you and I will be at Saratoga with 5,000 men to face 16,000 rebels in an impregnable position.”

His aide Swindon: “I can’t believe it! What will History say?”

Burgoyne: “History, sir, will tell lies, as usual.”

Swindon: “My God, my God! we shall be wiped out.”

Marcia Saunders

London N10

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