Helen McArdle, real journalist, driven by a desire to inform the public and by a corporate pay package, thinks no care homes in these East Asian countries can teach us, well really Nicola, how to do things properly.

Aren’t journalists expected to be skeptical especially about such claims? A mere sociologist, I thought, instantly, let’s see if that’s true once we have a wee dig around.

I feel sure the facts will not be easily found, so this will be only a starter. I feel equally sure that some friends of this blog will be on this like a pack of demented truffle hounds.

I shouldn’t be the only one surprised by claims. In March, Park Chan-kyong of This Week in Asia wrote:

New clusters of infection have emerged in South Korean nursing homes, complicating the country’s fight against the Covid-19 outbreak, as experts warn that hundreds of substandard long-term care facilities could serve as hotbeds for the contagious coronavirus. More than 200 cases have been reported in these senior-care facilities, mirroring outbreaks reported in Italy and parts of the United States, such as the states of Washington and Florida. “We’ve been warning all the time about nursing homes and other mass-residential facilities,” Kim Dong-hyun, the president of the Korean Society of Epidemiology told This Week in Asia. “This is a worrisome situation that complicates the country’s campaign against the virus.”


In can find no sign of Park Chan-kyong returning to his theme but 200 cases among the elderly and no deaths. Were they moved out quickly and counted elsewhere?

In Hong Kong, there were similar concerns about the lack of quality care homes:


So how on earth did they manage no care home deaths? There are clues in the presentation by Professor Terry Lum of Hong Kong University to a UK Parliament select committee, two days ago, of how they did it there.

Much revolves around dedicated quarantine centres and practices that may chill your blood a bit if your remember we’re talking about elderly, vulnerable people often with multiple conditions including dementia. Confirmed cases were put in these centres for up to three months and all their close contacts for 14 days. As Lum puts it, they were ‘highly vigilant.’

Here’s a thought, were the proven and suspected case moved so quickly out of care homes that their deaths would then be counted as in the centres and not in the care homes?

Here’s another thought, what trauma was inflicted upon those quarantined and on their families and what collateral damage was done to their mental health?