Care homes are totally to blame for all the coronavirus deaths. It’s their fault for following government advice

Mark Steel
·5-min read
Reuters TV
Reuters TV

Much of the world is puzzled as to why we have had so many people die in care homes in Britain. So it’s a relief to know the prime minister has worked it out: it’s because the care homes “didn’t follow the correct procedures”.

They did it themselves, the idiots. They probably served up bowls of coronavirus instead of custard, and told residents if they had a tickly cough, they should relax in the bath while cuddling an electric fire.

And yet Boris Johnson offered clear guidelines, such as, “you can’t catch the virus by shaking hands with infected people in care homes”.

If only they’d followed that advice, and asked the most infected people to rub themselves up against the other residents, and maybe organised naked Greco-Roman wrestling tournaments for maximum bodily contact, they’d all have been fine.

Another clear guideline was to announce that elderly patients in hospital who tested positive could be admitted to care homes.

Then how did the care homes interpret that? They thought it meant elderly patients in hospital who tested positive should be admitted to care homes. That’s the trouble with some people, they don’t know how to follow simple instructions.

Some people have criticised the government for pouring infected people into care homes, but Boris Johnson replies this isn’t fair, because this happened before we realised how the virus works.

This makes sense because back in April who could possibly have guessed that the people who might spread the virus were people who had the virus? It’s all very well being clever with hindsight, but until then, lots of us thought the people most likely to spread the virus were people who didn’t have it, or perhaps it was people who didn’t exist like characters out of books, or maybe it was cartoons or people in dreams who have the face of a guinea pig.

Luckily this deadly advice was aimed at a sturdy section of the population, the elderly who are too frail to live at home and are all squashed next to each other, so it couldn’t do much harm.

As well as the obviously infected, other hospital patients who didn’t have coronavirus symptoms were sent back to care homes without being tested. The government instruction was: “Negative tests are not required prior to transfer of patients back to care homes.”

So the care home staff interpreted that as meaning negative tests were not required prior to the transfer of patients back to care homes. They should have realised this was a crossword clue. The next instruction was probably “Russian Queen mixes violin with panda juice perhaps (7,4,2,6)”.

In fact the care homes would have been better off if they’d been given guidelines by the people who issue instructions for putting together an Ikea bookcase, such as “Attach 89-year-old B to walking frame pinion ratchet F folding in up towards back nodule virus-preventative symptom bracket Q”.

Boris Johnson now excuses the policy of sending patients back into the care homes without being tested, saying: “We didn’t know you could carry the virus without having symptoms.” But one month earlier the government’s own scientists insisted people could have the virus without showing symptoms.

Maybe the government didn’t have time to listen to all those boring announcements from scientists. On and on they went, every day, about flattening curves and keeping two metres away – you can’t expect a prime minister to take notice of all that twaddle while he’s got a pandemic to sort out.

Instead of following boring science, Johnson has been clear all the way along. Four weeks before we had to shut everything down, he stated we shouldn’t shut anything down, as we could become the “Superman” of Europe. That’s the way to explain things, with fun language anyone can follow.

If only the rest of Europe had followed his lead. Instead of waffle about washing hands and staying indoors, Angela Merkel could have said: “This is an extremely serious situation. But we will be like the Incredible Hulk – we can punch the virus and lift a car up and drop it on its head, let’s see the weedy French match that.”

There is a consistency to the government’s attitude. A few weeks ago, Matt Hancock told us the reason there wasn’t enough protective equipment in hospitals was the staff were changing it too quickly.

If the government ran a restaurant, and one night every single customer died of food poisoning, it’d say: “It’s the idiots’ own fault. That fish was meant to be danced on, not eaten.”

Even now, the guidelines are beautifully pointless. Only a handful of people are wearing face masks because the guidance on wearing them is you can wear one if you fancy it, in the same way you can wear a waistcoat if you like, it’s up to you.

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It all depends on this week’s fashion. Their instructions might as well involve Matt Hancock saying: “Hi, this is your weekly briefing so let’s see what’s in and what’s for the bin. First up, masks, UGH, they are SO June. They belong with shoulder pads my darlings, rip them off, feel free to cough.”

Rishi Sunak doesn’t even pretend: he’s pictured serving up food without wearing one. There will probably be a government guideline to waiters: “We advise against masks, and suggest if you are going to spit in someone’s food, try and do it on the potatoes as the gob will blend in with the butter to make a smooth paste.”

Then, when 7,000 diners drop dead, Boris Johnson will say: “Is it any wonder when these idiots didn’t do as we said? Honestly, this country doesn’t deserve me.”

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