COVID-19 Informer: Confusion in UK as Boris warns people to 'stay alert'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation on coronavirus. And it's not black and white.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation on coronavirus. And it's not black and white.

It was back in 2003 when the Australian government urged us to "be alert, but not alarmed" about national security.

it was after the September 11 terrorist attacks on 2001 and Bali bombings which claimed 88 Australian lives.

A 24-hour national security hotline was set up, we were asked to report suspicious items or behaviour, we all received a little explanatory book and a fridge magnet. The campaign cost $15 million.

These memories came flooding back this morning after learning the message in the England had changed to "stay alert".

No official mention of alarm, but there are bells ringing all over the UK as people try to make sense of PM Boris Johnson's latest edict. Losing the quite specific "stay at home" message in preference for "stay alert" has indeed prompted alarm and anger.

The vast majority of rules imposed on March 23 remain in place. Mr Johnson warned "this is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week."

Schools and all non-essential shops will remain shut until at least June, with pubs expected to be closed beyond July.

The "careful" changes to the rules will allow people to exercise more than once-a-day, sunbathe in local parks and drive to other destinations with household members.

Here's the rub - some of these changes also apply in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, but it is for those governments to decide exactly how to proceed.

Head-spinning yet? It's all a bit familiar, really. And the leaders of the devolved nations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales who had no warning of Mr Johnson's message are playing catch up.

"The message to people in Wales from the Welsh Government is to stay at home," the Counsel General for Wales Jeremy Miles said. "What we saw Boris Johnson give is a series of announcements aimed at an English audience and the position is rather different in Wales."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was equally adamant the message was confusing and called the slogan "vague and imprecise".

Meanwhile the situation in Brazil has hit next level acute as on Saturday authorities set-up a 400-bed field hospital inside the iconic Maracana soccer stadium.

Brazil is the sixth country in the world to see its death toll from the virus exceed 10,000. The others are the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who dismissed Covid-19 as a "measly flu", was called "perhaps the biggest threat to Brazil's COVID-19 response" in The Lancet, one of the oldest medical journals in the world.

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This story Confusion in UK as Boris warns people to 'stay alert' first appeared on The Canberra Times.