We ALL have personal responsibility for behaving in a way that would prevent any risk of further transmission of Covid-19, but who has political responsibility? Dr Joe Pajak asks.

First published in December 2020.

So, has the government managed this difficult issue regarding Covid-19 at Christmas effectively?

Of course Prime Minister Boris Johnson is right to indicate that we ALL have a personal responsibility (to act in accordance with the law and or within government guidance?). However, in this situation the stakes are so high. Surely government should act in accordance with its ‘prime’ responsibility, and be absolutely explicit in terms of what is required, to its keep citizens safe and the country secure?  

Jeremy Hunt, chair of the Commons Health Select Committee, is one of several MPs who have asked questions about the government’s guidance. He emphasised the importance of clarity during a pandemic, in his questions to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, today in parliament: “Of course, personal responsibility matters, but in a pandemic so does clarity.”

Mr Hunt then asked a question that millions will have on their own minds: “So, irrespective of the law and regulations, should we or should we not have indoor social gatherings with elderly, vulnerable family members?

Matt Hancock didn’t give a direct, yes or no answer, but said that people should “act with great caution in this pandemic, because it protects them, their families and their loved ones,” before adding that rules “are not a limit up to which we should push.”

So, as Christmas approaches, are the arrangements still a little too open, too open to interpretation, too open to misinterpretation?  

Today’s data in focus

Today’s data indicates the sad fact that a further 532 people have lost their lives in the last 24 hours   in the UK, while the number of deaths in the last 14 days is at 5,956.

Note: The data for deaths attributed to Covid-19, each following a reported positive test result for Covid-19 within 28 days of their death.

Today’s Government data indicate that there have been 274,529* new cases reported in the past 14 days, around 28% more than the 14-day figures reported a week ago on 10 December.

Today’s trendline chart, and headline UK Covid-19 data, are provided below:

UK Covid-19 headline data, reported on 16 December 2020:

  • 35,383* further positive tests (see note below)
  • 532 further deaths in the last 24 hours
  • 1,725 further hospital admissions (reported as of 13/12)
  • 18,009 hospital in-patients in total (reported as of 15/12)
  • 1,340 patients on ventilation beds (reported as of 16/12)

322 days after the first case was reported in the UK, 1,948,383 cases have been reported, together with 66,052 deaths.  

However, these data include only those who have died within 28 days of testing positive; other measures suggest the number of deaths is higher: 76,287 being reported as “the total number of deaths of people whose death certificate mentioned Covid-19 as one of the causes, registered up to Friday, 4 December 2020.”🔷

*Note: The number of new UK cases reported on 17 December 2020 includes around 11,000 previously unreported cases for Wales as a result of system maintenance in the NHS Wales Laboratory Information Management System.

Data source:

Dr Joe Pajak, Professional experience applied scientific research and development, then director of a national children’s charity, trustee of a disability charity, and governor of NHS foundation trust hospitals.

[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 17 December 2020. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]