In reality, the WHO in recent days and weeks have been urging governments to be extremely cautious about lifting lockdown and to only do so when certain conditions are met, most obviously very low numbers of new cases and sufficient capacity to keep the numbers persistently low by means of testing and contact tracing. It's been pointed out a number of times that if governments actually heeded the WHO's advice to the letter, very few countries in Europe would be easing restrictions just yet, including the ones that appear to have the virus under far more control than the likes of the UK. But that doesn't mean the WHO think that lockdown is a good thing in itself - as far back as March, Mike Ryan was at pains to point out that lockdowns were a "poor substitute" for breaking the chains of transmission by means of mass testing and contact tracing. Even that left him open to misinterpretation, because some people (including a troll on this blog's comments section) then claimed he was telling countries not to impose lockdowns, but that isn't what he meant at all. He fully accepted that once an epidemic was out of control, lockdowns were needed to take the heat out of the situation, but he also regarded that outcome as a sign of failure. The countries that hadn't failed were the ones that had suppressed the virus from the start and therefore hadn't needed to lock down - most notably South Korea.
The goal of the WHO is to move countries onto the South Korean path - which means once lockdown has calmed things down sufficiently, it should be replaced by a blend of 'test, trace, isolate' and more moderate social distancing. It may seem odd to mention Sweden in that respect, but in fact the Swedes have one part of the equation in place - the problem is that they've neglected the other. As Professor Neil Ferguson pointed out in the Unherd interview I linked to just before his fall from grace, the notion that Sweden have been letting the virus rip is a misconception - he described their strategy as "semi-suppression", with enough social distancing to reduce the reproduction rate of the virus quite radically. So that's all that Mike Ryan meant by his remarks about Sweden - he was pointing out that once it was actually safe to lift lockdowns, the social distancing measures that remained in place would probably look similar to what Sweden is doing now. But he certainly wasn't saying that it was a remotely good idea to jump to the Swedish approach before numbers are sufficiently low, or before 'test, trace, isolate' is ready to go. I haven't the slightest doubt that, if he'd been able to speak freely, he'd have been critical of Sweden for not properly getting on top of the virus in the way that its neighbours did. But the WHO don't make direct criticisms of countries in that way. Instead, they use positive reinforcement when countries are doing something right, even when that something isn't remotely sufficient. If you go back in time, the WHO posted tweets complimenting minor things the UK were getting right even during the herd immunity episode. And at one point Dr Tedros even complimented Donald Trump on his leadership. Limited praise for Swedish social distancing measures has to be seen in that context - it's categorically not a general endorsement of what Sweden have done, or more to the point what they haven't done.
It really is bitterly ironic when Iain peddles his fiction of a WHO U-turn with words to the effect of "it's hard to keep up with what they believe". In truth, the WHO have been a beacon of consistency and clarity since the start of the year. Countries like the UK that thought they knew better have fumbled around in the dark before concluding that "the science has changed" and that just by complete coincidence the science now says exactly what the WHO have been saying for months.
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I said in my iScot column a few months ago that the narrow defeats for the self-ID rebels in the elections for the SNP Women's Convener and Equalities Convener were actually moral victories that would make it very difficult for the leadership to press ahead with its plans - as long as the rebels didn't conveniently get out of the way by leaving the SNP. So I was disappointed to discover that Colette Walker, who lost to Rhiannon Spear in the Women's Convener vote by the slimmest of margins, is now the leader of a small breakaway pro-indy party called Independence for Scotland (IFS). I do think that's a major tactical misjudgement.
If people no longer feel the SNP represent their values, then I can understand them looking for a new alternative, but one thing that really is a nonsense is the idea that standing on the list means you're "not standing against the SNP". The SNP stand on the list in every region.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 9, 2020
I like her too, I think she's fab, but a party like this doesn't have a hope in hell of reaching the de facto 5% threshold without big name backing - and that means it'll either have no effect on pro-indy representation, or a negative effect.https://t.co/gR1R8g87IJ— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 9, 2020
The SNP won list seats in seven out of eight regions in 2011 - and that was the only occasion in history that they've succeeded in winning an outright majority.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 9, 2020
And here's the thing: you don't know how many constituencies the SNP are going to win until *after* the votes are counted. If I had a pound for every time someone told me in 2016 that "the SNP are guaranteed to win at least 65 constituency seats"...— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 9, 2020
I've said myself (and I've said it on the record twice very recently) that a party fronted by Alex Salmond could make it work. But the flipside of the coin is that *virtually nobody else* could make it work. A fringe party taking votes from the SNP is bound to be harmful.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 9, 2020
As deeply sceptical as I am about the wisdom of a new independence party, I must just note that the fact they've chosen the initials IFS means the BBC will be obliged by law to refer to them as "the respected IFS".— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 9, 2020
The BBC have rediscovered their sense of public service during this crisis by giving simple, objective information and advice to viewers. And that advice is: "stay home, protect the NHS and save lives, unless it's VE Day, in which case hit those streets and let's PAAAAAR-TY!!!!"— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 9, 2020
Oh I so want SNP politicians to bring up the BBC conga the next time a BBC Reporting Scotland presenter asks about the Scottish Government's 'confused messaging' in relation to the UK.— Johnny (@JohnnyDundee) May 9, 2020
Is Coronavirus sneaking around in a fake moustache and glasses? If we drop our guard, will it slip us a Micky Finn? What the hell is ‘stay alert’ supposed to mean? pic.twitter.com/8cUmAVBVL7— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 9, 2020
Apologies for retweeting JK Rowling - but just for once she really did have "the perfect response".— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 9, 2020
Stay Alert? What is that even supposed to mean?— Kirsten Oswald MP (@kirstenoswald) May 9, 2020
It’s a virus. It’s invisible. You can’t avoid Coronavirus by paying extra attention. #stayalert pic.twitter.com/vlswHKIw4J
I trust from what Nicola Sturgeon said on Thursday that the Scottish Government will be retaining "stay at home" and won't be replacing it with Johnson's idiotic "stay alert in case the virus jumps out of the bushes at you". The Four Nations lockstep on messaging has to end here.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 9, 2020
A number of us have suspected this: "Senior ministers have [claimed] some newspapers were pursuing an anti-lockdown agenda because of fears about sales."https://t.co/uwUcXK9qdc— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 10, 2020
One thing we've learned is that the evil right-wing press turn into Enid Blyton when at their most idiotic and irresponsible. "Hurrah! Magic Monday! Ra-ther! Jolly hockey sticks! Herd immunity for the hols, old thing!"— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 8, 2020