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February 3, 2021

UK government ignores advice to close borders to fight coronavirus strains – leading macroeconomic influencers

Approximately 11 cases of the South African variant have been detected in Britain and with no link to international travel.

Approximately 11 cases of the South African Covid variant have been detected in Britain and with no link to international travel. As the government ignores stringent measure to shut down borders, ministers have advocated rapid door-to-door testing for individuals aged above 16 years.

Richard Tol

Richard Tol, an economist, retweeted about ministers and the Tory MPs refusing to back Labour’s proposals to toughen the country’s defences against the Covid-19 virus strains, even after new cases of South African variants were found.

Experts opine that the UK government has left the country wide open to virus strains and ignored scientific advice again. Approximately 80,000 people tested for the South African variant after the government ignored the advice to close international borders.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) had warned weeks ago that the coronavirus strains could be contained only through hard-hit measures such as mandatory hotel quarantine for all travellers arriving into Britain or the complete closure of borders.

Although Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced limited hotel quarantine measures in the past week for travellers coming in from 30 high-risk countries, he over-ruled the idea of closure of borders. The government still does not have a timeframe to implement targeted quarantine arrangements.

Linda Yueh

Linda Yueh, an economist and author, shared an article on how India turns on the spending taps. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected India’s gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by about 11% in 2021, thereby recovering to pre-pandemic levels, after an 8% contraction in 2020.

The country is preparing to step up its capital investment and financial sector reforms in order to support a pandemic-induced battered economy. The Indian government is expected to borrow approximately $11bn from the financial markets over the next one year to fund a final capital spending push.

Nirmala Sitharaman, the Indian Finance Minister, believes that fiscal push follows concerns over the government being too restrained about the pandemic response. However, she claims that the country has been spending like others to fight the virus spread, otherwise the fiscal deficit expected at the end of the year would not have reached 9.5%, much higher than expected and above the 3.5% prediction made last year in February, before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

John C. Whitehead

John C. Whitehead, an economist, retweeted on economists studying the impacts of Covid-19 on sports and vice versa. Experts believe that professional sport has experienced severe shocks like other sectors from the global coronavirus pandemic, thereby leading to natural experiments.

These experiments or studies addressed pertinent questions such as how airborne viruses can spread in crowds, how crowds should respond to risks and new viruses, how the lack of crowds will impact social pressure and decisions, and how quickly betting markets will respond to new information.

The first study on Covid-19 spread during major sports events focused on North America. Researchers studied the effects of scheduling of NBA and NHL games during a 12-day period in early March 2020. The study evaluated the effects, spread and mortality related to the disease in the context of holding indoor, mass sports gatherings. The authors found that each of these gatherings, on an average, increased the number of cumulative deaths directly from the Covid-19 disease by 9% till the end of April 2020.

Another study looked at the impact of the English football matches that took place with crowds during the start of the pandemic. Authors concluded that despite of these games taking place outdoors, rather than the US indoor games study, the presence of large crowds during the matches led to an increase in the virus spread.

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