TOASTING urban life post Covid, the accuracy of tests and home working were the issues debated by columnists and contributors in the newspapers.

The Daily Mail

Ruth Sunderland said there was ‘an awful lot of rubbish’ being talked about the decline of towns and cities post Covid.

“Middle-class millennials who have fled their flat-shares to return chez mum and dad in the shires are bleating in lifestyle articles that they don’t want to go back to Stoke Newington,” she said. “And, after being locked down with the kids, well-heeled parents are resorting to property porn, fantasising about the vast country home they could buy for the price of their inner-city terrace.”

She said businesses were drawing up plans to let workers stay at home ‘forever’ but argued that there was one prediction to make about life post pandemic - ‘the urge to leave town will wear off.’

“When we’ve vanquished the virus, London and our other great cities will soon revert to teeming, maddening, exhilarating honeypots. Ivan Menezes, the chief executive of drinks giant Diageo, thinks so too,” she said. “Menezes is pressing ahead with plans for a new head office to house 800 senior staff in Soho, the bohemian, creative heart of London, and it has moved to new premises in New York.

“Sure, there would be cheaper office space out of town, but he believes a drinks company needs to be in the middle of life, near the theatres, cinemas and art galleries.”

She said the move was symbolic of a broader attitude.

“Menezes is betting that we will return to urban melting pots, congregate again in bars, cinemas and concerts, in cities replete with material wealth and the cultural variety,” she added. “There are three imperatives in facing down Covid-19. Saving lives comes first. Livelihoods second. But let’s not forget the third: emerging with lives that are sociable, rich in experience and worth living.”

The Guardian

Ravindra Gupta, professor of clinical microbiology and honorary consultant physician at Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases, and Dami Collier, a Wellcome Trust clinical research PhD fellow at University College London, said many working in the NHS had welcomed news that the government had purchased 90-minute Covid-19 tests.

If effective, they could allow for rapid, on-the-spot testing, they said.

“Rapid swab tests, called LamPORE, and 5,000 machines, supplied by DnaNudge, will soon be available in adult care settings and laboratories,” they said. “But there’s no publicly available data about the accuracy of these tests or how they perform, raising concerns about why the government has endorsed – and purchased - them.”

They said the developers of the test claimed they could complete up to 15,000 tests a day but warned ‘no real-world data is publicly available.’

“During the pandemic, the urgency that has produced valuable data has also led to the fast dissemination of research and equipment that isn’t subject to normal systems of evaluation, such as peer review,” they pointed out. “As clinical researchers, we went looking for information about these two new tests, and could find no data on either.”

There is no doubt they are exciting technologies, they said, but ‘in order to fully understand how the tests perform in a lab, pre-clinical testing should be rigorous.’

The Daily Express

Ann Widdicombe one of the most important questions about life post Covid was whether normalcy would ever return to working lives.

“Apparently, millions of Brits now actively prefer to work from home, saving significant amounts of both time and money by not commuting,” she said. “Employers benefit too, not having to spend a lot of money adapting premises to make them covid-safe. Indeed, they may decide they do not need such an investment in premises at all with all the lighting, heating, cleaners and canteen staff, to say nothing of business rates.”

She said most town centres relied on passing trade as people buy goods on their lunch hour or on their way home from work.

“ If we all start staying home the economy will undergo a permanent sea change,” she added. “The Government is now urging people to go back to work but why should they if they can do the job at home and employers are happy to have it that way? Resistance may prove as futile as King Canute’s.”