Truth be told, I spend far more time on Twitter than is good for me. I am also aware that I’m in a social media echo chamber, following people whose views more or less mirror my own take on life.

But every now and then, I wander into a conversation where the views are diametrically opposed to mine.

It’s an interesting thing to do from time to time and gives some insight into how other people are thinking.

Sometimes – only sometimes – I can see a certain kind of logic in what these people are saying but more often than not, it’s just gibberish with spurious ‘facts’ twisted to accommodate a certain, skewed narrative.

Take, for example, the ‘Boris Johnson has done a good job combating coronavirus and no one else could have done any better’. Yes, I have actually seen that on numerous occasions.
Never mind that not one fact supports that assertion. That is, of course, unless you think that 54,139 excess deaths between March 6 and July 10 is ‘doing a good job’ (government’s own figures).

Now we are constantly being told by the government that we are cutting edge, world leading and world beating.
Maybe, maybe not.

Let’s just look at another measure of the ‘success’ of Boris Johnson’s world-beating response to the Covid-19 pandemic: deaths per million of the population.

This is one statistic that reveals we really are world class and are leading the way, with only the mighty Belgium ahead of us. The stats show Belgium is out on its own with 859 deaths per million with the United Kingdom in a Champions League spot in second with 688 deaths per million.

That’s even ahead of Sweden that adopted a no lockdown, herd immunity policy from the start (and later admitted it had probably got the strategy wrong).

So despite being constantly told by the Twitter Tory zealots that ‘no one else’ could have done any better, ladies and gentlemen, I give you New Zealand with 4.5 deaths per million.

Ah, says the Twitter army, but you can’t compare New Zealand with the UK, it’s not crowded and industrialised like us. Maybe not but how about South Korea (5.79 deaths per million); Japan (7.89 deaths per million) or probably the most direct comparison Germany (110 deaths per million)?

Interestingly, it appears those Boris Johnson cheerleaders have now moved on to a new topic. After heaping praise on the government, they have now decided Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock have got it wrong about ordering us to wear masks in shops.

You will recall the government changed its stance on face coverings and backed it up with a £100 fine for failing to comply, reduced to £50 if you pay up promptly.

But there are now ‘anti-masker’ groups openly defying the regulations with the hashtag ‘nomaskselfies’ trending on Twitter.

I’m struggling to get my head around this and I’d really like to know what the motivation is.

Apparently, anti-maskers resist wearing facemasks either because they view them as ineffective, or because they see the order to wear masks an assault on their personal freedom.
Bizarrely, some people are even claiming that the masks themselves are dangerous.

The world of the anti-maskers is awash with all sorts of bogus claims that are intended to deny scientific advice.

My personal favourite are the theories that suggest they can kill people by starving the wearer of oxygen or make them breathe in dangerous amounts of exhaled carbon dioxide.

Tell that to intensive care staff who have had to wear full medical-grade N95 PPE masks for 12-hour shifts.

Of course, the rhetoric has been ramped up by the anti-maskers who routinely refer to them as muzzles and point out the fact that both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the British government initially advised against wearing them.

That, of course, is true. The evidence seems to indicate the governments was initially reluctant to recommend face coverings because it feared it would lead to a shortage of PPE for medical workers. Instead, the government suggesed they were ineffective at preventing transmissions and the sudden change in policy makes them sound inconsistent. But in this country, we should all be well used to inconsistent messaging from our government by now.

The fact is things change as we learn more about coronavirus and increased research into face coverings indicates countries with high mask wearing seem to have lower infection rates. In June, the WHO changed its advice after further research into aerosol transmission of the virus and the British government followed suit, partly in an attempt to give people more confidence to get out and about, spending in shops and boosting the economy.

My personal view is that the anti-maskers are just selfish, putting their own personal idea of ‘freedom’ ahead of the common good.

Interestingly, Holmes Chapel Comprehensive school seems to have got the mask message and have told students and staff they will have to wear a face mask when the school reopens in September.

They will be compulsory inside the school buildings, including classrooms and corridors.

The school is writing to all families setting out more details about changes in behaviour headteacher Denis Oliver said were needed to ‘keep our school community safe’.
Well done Mr Oliver, well done.

Written by our columnist, The Fly in the Ointment