THE cancellation of summer, protecting the rainforest to prevent pandemics and lessons to learn from abroad were the topics debated by columnists and contributors in the newspapers.

The Daily Mail

Richard Littlejohn said that thousands of people are now frantically cancelling holidays to the Med – with some even turning straight back after the Government announced travellers from Spain faced a 14-day quarantine.

“Be fair, though. Ministers only had nine days to make up their minds,” he said. “Evidence of a second Covid spike in Spain didn’t emerge until the week before last. It was late on Saturday afternoon that they went into full Corporal Jones mode, pulling the plug with just five hours’ notice. Don’t panic!”

He said the news had come out of a clear blue sky, in contrast to the weeks warning about mandatory face masks in shops.

“Maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised by the U-turn on holidays in Spain. It’s typical of their incoherent response to the pandemic,” he added. “Joined-up government? You must be joking.”

He said that after having bailed out British Airways to the tune of £300 million and given EasyJet a loan, they had now ensured no one will risk flying to Europe for the foreseeable future.

“That could prove the final nail in the travel industry’s coffin,” he warned. “Having allowed ‘non-essential’ retailers to reopen, they have made shopping such an unpleasant experience — through the insistence on face masks — that few people can be bothered.”

“Doesn’t anybody ever think through the potential pitfalls and obvious contradictions of their scattergun ‘emergency’ measures?

“Maybe they were locked in their online Zoom bubbles for so long, they lost the ability to see the bigger picture.”

The Guardian

Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit group dedicated to analysing and preventing pandemics, said an innocuous human activity, such as eating wildlife, can spark an outbreak that leads to a pandemic.

“In the 1920s, when HIV is thought to have emerged in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, scientists believe transmission to humans could have been caused by a bushmeat hunter cutting themselves while butchering a chimpanzee,” he said. “In 2019, we can speculate that a person from south-west China entered a bat cave near their village to hunt wildlife for sale at the local wet market. Perhaps they later developed a nagging cough that represents the beginning of what we now know as Covid 19.”

Globalised networks of travel and trade mean that pandemics spread faster, he said.

“Most pandemics begin in the emerging disease hotspots of the world; the edges of forests in regions such as west Africa, the Amazon basin and south-east Asia,” he said. “A great acceleration of human activity has dramatically altered our planet’s landscapes, oceans and atmosphere, transforming as much as half of the world’s tropical forest into agriculture and human settlements.”

He said a third of diseases were a product of rapid changes in land use. “Our current approach is to wait for outbreaks to start, and then design drugs or vaccines to control them. But as we’ve seen with Covid-19, this approach isn’t good enough.”

To prevent future pandemics we need to reassess our relationship with nature, he said.

“This should begin with reducing the rampant consumption that drives deforestation and wildlife exploitation. As we rebuild our economies after the coronavirus pandemic, rather than returning to the system of unchecked consumption that brought us Covid-19, we have an opportunity to green our economies.”

The Daily Express

Stephen Pollard said we are over one peak of the virus but who knows what is to come, as the situation in Spain has shown.

“Just a month after Spain ended its state of emergency, cities such as Barcelona, Zaragoza and Madrid are having a surge in new infections – leading to the imposition of quarantining for holidaymakers,” he said. “France, too, is seeing large increases again with more than 1,000 new cases every day. And in Germany infections are now at a two-month high.”

We should not behave as if we are over the worst, he said.

“While the lockdown is rightly being gradually eased, we cannot return to normal life until there is either a vaccine or reliable treatment.We have to be prepared for sudden changes, whether that’s local lockdowns or the overnight imposition of quarantine for arrivals from Spain.

“We have to accept that this will not be a normal summer.”