Tag Archives: coronavirus

Weekly roundup

My Aunt &Uncle, their daughter & partner, her son & partner and their 2 children all tested positive for Covid this week despite the fact these three generations don’t live together. My Aunt is 76 and my Uncle 80. In addition, he is very overweight and already has a heart problem. It’s worrying. They both currently only have mild symptoms and so far neither of them feel particularly unwell but they only tested positive on Friday so it’s early days.

The number of Covid cases in the UK is scary. This map is from Public Health England and you can clearly see the number of cases per day now (around 26,000) compared to the height of the first wave of the pandemic in April when it hovered around 5,000.

The good news is the death rate is nowhere near what it was back in May as we have better ways of treating severe Covid infections. The bad news is we are seeing increasing numbers of Long Covid patients whose lives are being dramatically affected by continuing symptoms after contracting the virus. Personally I’m just continuing to self isolate (aside from seeing my parents, who are also self isolating), being religious about disinfecting my hands after I’ve handled the post, washing all my groceries with soapy water and social distancing whenever I have to come into contact with anyone 🙁.

Monday I felt absolutely dreadful. Very MEish and unwell. I hadn’t done anything to cause a flare in my symptoms so was worried and confused as to why I was feeling so crap……………………and then Aunt Flo arrived, which solved the mystery. There is no need to still be having regular periods at the age of 53. Zero fucking needy-ness.

Wednesday I had to take my Dad to Hexham for a pre-op assessment in relation to his upcoming hip replacement and we both enjoyed having a ride out. His appointment took 95 minutes but he had to go in alone, so I sat in the car with my flask and butties and practised a talk I’m giving this week. I didn’t get any strange looks as I demonstrated the length of my 9″ studio bulbs and animatedly talked to myself. The men in white coats did knock on the window though and ask me to step outside 😆.

My dog Bertie has had a herniated disc in his spine for years and occasionally has flare ups where he’s in considerable pain. I took him to the groomers on Friday to be clipped, who knows all about his issues and promised to be careful, but by teatime he was obviously in agony. Luckily I have agreed a pain management plan with his Vet so was able to increase his Gabapentin medication and give him a Tramadol, which eventually enabled him to sleep. These episodes are happening more and more as he gets older though which I guess is to be expected but is no less distressing.

Friday evening I’d arranged to have a Zoom cuppa with 2 friends from my old camera club. I’m loving Zoom. It means I can have a social life with none of the cost to my energy levels which physically meeting in person entails. Oh how I wish it had been available when I was isolated and bedridden for all those years.

This morning I’ve woken with a migraine. I woke with a migraine yesterday morning too and have had period pain since Monday despite the fact my actual period only lasted 24 hours. Endometriosis is the gift which keeps on giving.

I’m off now to have some infant Ibuprofen suspension and my breakfast in the hope it will subdue my stabbing head pain. The clocks went back an hour last night which meant I was up at 5.15am as Bertie didn’t get the end-of-British-summer-time-memo, so it’s looking like a long week while I try to wrestle both our body clocks into submission.

Be vigilant my friends and stay safe x

On the brink….

At the end of the first covid lockdown in August, our Prime Minister said that if the R rate (ie the number of people 1 infected person passes the virus on to) went above 1.0 he wouldn’t hesitate to go back into lockdown. Less than 2 months later the R rate is currently 1.6-2.0 in the north of England, yet a lockdown is nowhere to be seen. We economically can’t afford it. We’d rather let people die than close down the economy again. Tough choice. I get it. Though I probably wouldn’t get it if I died. Or my parents died. Or my best mate died just to keep my local pub open so everyone had somewhere to get pissed on a weekend when the pandemic is over. Just sayin’.

Instead, local areas are facing tougher restrictions, like closing the pubs at 10pm instead of 11pm (because the virus likes an early night) and not being able to mix in groups of more than 6 indoors (unless you’re in a pub filled with 100 people, all of whom are off their heads on drink and none of whom are wearing a mask).

The restrictions differ depending on where you live in the country and no-one understands them, not even our Prime Minister apparently. Consequently not everyone is obeying them, making them about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

Where I live in Cumbria, we are the only part of the North of England not on local lockdown. But it’s coming. It has to, because there is no ban on travel from nearby infected areas (fucking insanity!) and the virus doesn’t respect county line borders.

Last week, I rang my Mum for their weekly shopping list. “We’d like some loo rolls” she tells me.
“Er, didn’t I get you 9 last week?”
“Yes, but we want some more in case there’s a lockdown”.
“Mum, there isn’t a shortage of loo rolls and you don’t need any more”.
“There was a shortage of loo rolls during the last lockdown, so this time we’re stocking up!”
FFS.

Yesterday, we were talking about the 16,000 missed infections cockup which will inevitably lead to an exponential increase in cases. “And did you see on the telly all those people panic buying again?” Mum asks me, clearly frustrated, “it’s bloody ridiculous!”
And no matter what I said I couldn’t get her to understand that her bulk purchase of bog roll and UHT milk last week is panic buying and it’s because of behaviour like hers that the bloody shelves were bare during the last lockdown. It’s a self-fulfilling event.

Today I’ve done this week’s Tesco shop and there were only 3 types of loo roll available. My Mum has asked me for yet another 4 cartons of UHT milk and I’m delighted to say that Tesco said “not on your nelly!” and only allowed me to put 2 in my basket.

Far from bringing out the Blitz spirit and us all being “in this together” the pandemic has clearly shown that it’s every man for himself. Which makes me desperately sad.

I still don’t understand the whole bog roll thing. I could understand it if Covid-19 gave you raging diarrhoea but I’m fairly certain it affects your lungs, not your arse. Yet at my local Tesco this week there are 32 bottles of cough medicine and no Andrex 🤔. As Piers Morgan would say:

Covid-19: Second Wave

July 4th marked the end of lockdown in England (bizarrely, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different rules and timescales) with the re-opening of pubs and cafes. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that infection rates would rise once we all started to mingle and sure enough, with a lag of several weeks, confirmed cases of Covid have shot up in the past 14 days.

The official infection figures from the Government are inaccurate. Testing facilities are still inadequate (shame on you Boris Johnson) and there is talk of rationing tests to hospitals and care homes only, so we have no clue what the actual infection rate is in the wider population. The best data appears to come from the Covid Tracker app from King’s College Hospital/Zoe which has 4.3 million users and has been in situ from the very start of the pandemic, so I’ll quote data from that.

  • When lockdown ended on 4th July there were a predicted daily 25,748 cases of Covid in the UK. It beggars belief there were any cases!
  • Within 2 weeks this has risen slightly to 28,806 which was to be expected.
  • However, by the 4th September (8 weeks after the end of lockdown) cases started to rise in earnest and as of Wednesday this week (16th September) predicted daily cases have nearly tripled to 69,687 and are rising fast.
Source: BBC. Official figures. Actual figures almost certainly higher.

So what’s gone wrong? You only have to look at people’s behaviour to see why Covid is once again on the rise.

  • Not observing social distancing. I had someone reach across me in the supermarket the other day for some bread FFS.
  • Wearing masks incorrectly. How stupid do you need to be to wear a mask under your nose? And the amount of people who don’t ensure their mask fits correctly before venturing out leaves me mystified. Surgical masks are too big for me, so I tie a knot in the ear loops so that the mask doesn’t bag on my face and I don’t have to keep pulling it up.
  • Breaking the rules. My new next door neighbours are intelligent, church going folks who allowed 15 of their sons’ closest friends to meet for a party in their garden a week after lockdown ended. Let’s ignore the fact there was zero social distancing going on, and concentrate on the fact that until this week although you were allowed a gathering of up to 30 people these people were only supposed to come from two households. It did not mean you could have 30 random bloody strangers in your garden!
  • But the biggest factor by far was opening pubs and clubs. Young adults are reckless at the best of times, but when they’re drunk they will act in ways they wouldn’t dream of when they’re sober. It’s no surprise that the highest rate of new infection by a million miles is in the 20-29 age group.

You only have to read our local Facebook noticeboard to see the attitude towards Covid of young adults. Each week, the FB page posts the latest news about coronavirus and each week hundreds of young adults post lots of these 😆. They think the whole pandemic is hilarious, a hoax or wildly exaggerated. Their most common comment is “yeah, the killer virus which you need a test to even know you have!”. Their level of ignorance blows my mind and even our Health Secretary is concerned. They’re aware that even if they catch Covid it’s unlikely to make them unwell, but the fact that while infected they are spreading to the virus to everyone they come into contact with is still not getting through. The R rate in some parts of the UK is now 1.7, which means that for every infected young person they are passing it on to effectively 1½ other people, who are in turn passing it on to 1½ other people, who pass it on to 1½ other people………….it’s no wonder cases are spiralling.

Even some leading medical minds in the UK have been downplaying the recent surge in cases, saying that although infection rates are up hospitalizations and deaths are not. You can forgive ignorance in young people, but not in the middle aged and certainly not when they are in positions of authority.

The UK has always been around 5 weeks behind Europe when it comes to Covid, so we only need to look at what’s happening in France, for example, to see what’s heading our way. On 13th September, France reported the highest number of daily Covid cases since the pandemic began in February. Both hospital admissions and deaths are rising sharply and doctors in Marseille revealed this week that the 70 intensive care unit beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients in the city and the surrounding Bouches-du-Rhone region were all occupied by Tuesday. The situation in Spain is even worse and they have now exceeded half a million cases, the highest in Europe.

Where the UK went wrong at the start of the Pandemic was in thinking that what was happening in Italy couldn’t happen here. Yet the UK has surpassed the Italian death rate by tens of thousands. To think that what’s currently happening in France and Spain won’t happen here is insanity. We’re not even in winter yet. The weather is still warm and dry and we are congregating largely outdoors. Everyone agrees that infection rates will increase once we are forced indoors with re-circulated air and social distancing becomes that much harder. My mind boggles as to where we’ll be by December.

Despite the fact that our Prime Minister stated at the end of lockdown that if the R rate went above 1 we would go back into lockdown, this will never happen. The R rate is 1.7 in some parts of the UK but he is putting money before lives and not even considering another lockdown because he knows the economy would once again grind to a halt. I can see his point, but what price life?

Various parts of the UK are in regional lockdown, or at the very least have increased restrictions. Glasgow and surrounds, most of the North East of England, Manchester and surrounds, parts of West Yorkshire and Lancashire, Birmingham and surrounds, south Wales……………come on now Boris! It’s lockdown by the back door for heavens sake. Restrictions on visiting hospitals and care homes has begun in many places throughout the country. There is also talk of a national lockdown during the school half term holidays, but it’s not children who are spreading the virus. It is, and always has been, the 18-40s. Stop them partying and half the problem would be halted in its tracks. But as the hospitality industry is a significant part of the economy, our government would rather keep pubs open and people dying. This despite the fact that problem drinking has increased massively this year and is going to cost the country a fortune in treatment in the long term.

The official death rate in the UK from Covid is nearly 42,000 however it is more likely to be nearer 60,000 and counting. How many people have to die before our Government gets a proper grip on this killer pandemic?

Weekly roundup

Since lockdown restrictions ended in June it feels as if the pandemic is over, masks aside, and as the cases where I live are now low we are all fairly complacent about the situation.  I can’t even remember the last time I talked to someone about Covid, which shows how not on our minds it is and social distancing seems to have been largely abandoned.

However, experts continually warn of a second wave.  The weather has definitely turned, it’s noticeably wet and cold, and as we dive into Autumn everyone is going to be stuck indoors together.  Children are finally back at school full time this week after being off since March and, while infection control measures are in place, kids are notoriously bad at following the rules.  My sister in law is a teaching aid and had only been back in the classroom for 3 days in the summer with a restricted number of students before she caught a cold.  And if you can catch a cold, you can catch the much more infectious Covid-19.

My niece is a police officer and she had to be tested for Covid this week after displaying symptoms.  Turned out to also just be a cold but who knows about the next time?

My parents’ behaviour worries me sick.  My Mum is at the highest possible risk of death from Covid infection, yet she and my Dad went to a packed supermarket this week because “it’s something to do” and both have long since abandoned washing their hands the second they get back home.  They also allow everyone and his dog into their home including my police officer niece who is working up close and personal with members of the public and has managed to infect herself with a cold virus, and Tesco delivery men who are visiting hundreds of other homes every day.  WT-actual-F?

I’m still largely staying home and avoiding contact with people like the plague and have no intention of altering my behaviour any time soon.

On to other topics.  My downstairs toilet is leaking where the water inlet pipe meets the cistern.  It shouldn’t have been difficult to fix.   There’s an isolation screw on the inlet pipe which you can turn to shut off the water supply, which allows you to fix any issues.  Only mine doesn’t work.  Of course it doesn’t.  So now I’ve got to shut the water off at the stop cock.  Only my stop cock is old and prone to leaking, so I avoid touching it.  I’ll no doubt fix the toilet leak and end up with a much worse stop cock leak and have to get the plumber out.  FFS.  I need my new house to come along soon because living in a 300 year old cottage sounds romantic but is just a goddamn pain-in-the-arse money pit.

I checked my new online gallery this week and was highly excited to see that my photographs had been added to six different people’s carts 😮.  So I waited to get the email telling me I’d made my first sale…………….and it never came.  According to Google, up to 70% of all add-to-carts are abandoned before checkout.  Er, WTH?  I mean, I’ve occasionally put small items in my Amazon basket and then changed my mind or got them locally instead, but would I be doing that with a piece of art worth over £1000 it’s taken me ages to choose?!  So to all those people who add stuff to their online shopping baskets with no sodding intention of buying anything, spare a thought for the person selling and whose hopes you’re raising then dashing and use your Favourites or Wish List instead.

My stomach is rumbling so it must be time for breakfast.  I am currently as fat as a whale and am trying really hard to ‘be good’.  I spent the gross domestic product of a small nation on organic fruit this week at Tesco and only allowed one teensy tiny bag of Haribo Gold Bears into my basket (I need them for those days where a peach or a pear just doesn’t cut it 😉).  Why is it so easy to gain weight and so fucking difficult to lose it – answers on a post card please.

 

 

Mental Health & illness

Although this post is entitled “mental” health & illness I think the words “mental” and “psychological” should be banned if used in conjunction with the word “illness”.  The words “mental” and “psychological” imply we have some kind of control over the situation.  We just need to get a grip and be more positive.

I wrote a post recently about doing just that.  I’ve been feeling really down in recent months and needed to give myself a good talking to.  And it worked, because my ‘down-ness’ was not clinical depression or the result of new illness.  It was just ‘down-ness’ (for want of a better word).  I’d been through a lot of stress, was exhausted and had got stuck in a rut of negative thinking and feeling sorry for myself.  Changing my thought process, taking more rest and relaxation, and reminding my body that the acute stress (ie lockdown) was over and it could chillax was what was needed.

It’s a very different beast when we talk about mental health in relation to illness.  We should, instead, be talking about “brain” health & illness, which would be a much more accurate description.  There is an excellent video on YouTube from the neuroinflammation, pain & fatigue laboratory in Birmingham USA which describes the brain inflammation which results from illness, be it bacterial or viral:

Although the video talks mainly about depression & anxiety, you can add to the mix other so-called ‘psychological’ issues such as hallucinations (visual such as migraine aura or auditory such as tinnitus), sensory processing such as light, sound and/or touch sensitivity, ‘brain fog’, memory problems, confusion, information processing disorders, speech problems & dyslexia type symptoms.  In other words brain problems, including those of so-called ‘psychological’ origin like depression & anxiety.

Anyone with a chronic illness which changes their life beyond all recognition is going to be prone to depression and anxiety, especially if we suddenly have no income as we are unable to work.  It’s a normal emotional reaction, which is why this type of depression is called “reactive depression”.  That’s not what we’re talking about here though.  We’re talking about the brain symptoms associated with illness, of which there are several, and the video above does an excellent job of explaining why we have brain symptoms when we get a bacterial or viral infections.

These types of brain symptoms associated with illness aren’t going to get better with CBT or therapy.  That’s because they’re not emotional responses.  They are physical responses, over which we have zero control.

Most cases of M.E. start with a viral infection.   The brain mounts a pro-inflammatory response as discussed in the video and what should happen is that after a few days the infection is killed off and the brain re-sets back to homeostasis, ie normal.  But in M.E. that simply doesn’t happen.  Instead, the brain appears to mount an ongoing response.  The infection is dead, but the mechanisms which re-set the brain back to homeostasis don’t work and the brain still thinks the body is under attack and needs ‘help’.

As beautifully explained in the video, when we are under attack from viruses or bacteria we are made to feel ill (‘malaise’) and exhausted so that we are forced to rest, which allows the immune system to use all our energy and resources to mount a decent defence against the invader.  The invader is killed, the immune and brain response subsides and we start to feel better.  Only in M.E. the immune and brain response doesn’t subside despite the fact the invader is dead, and we continue to feel utterly exhausted and ill.

I firmly believe that M.E. is easily cured.  Not treated, cured.  I don’t believe it’s a complex illness which differs between people.  Quite the opposite.  I believe it’s a simple immune & brain response to an invasion.  The differences in severity of M.E. is easily explained by the severity of the immune & brain response, as explained in the video.   The type of invasion, ie infection such as glandular fever or meningitis, mould exposure, immunization etc. is irrelevant because the brain & immune response is the same regardless.  It just gets stuck turned on and if we can find a way of turning it back off we would be cured.  Simples!

Only, of course, the immune and brain response isn’t simple at all.  It’s a massively complex and orchestrated response, which is why it’s taking such a long time to crack.  But crack it we will and in the end it will be a one drug fits all cure – I believe that wholeheartedly.  There has to be a way of breaking the cycle and telling the brain and immune system to stand down.  We don’t know what that is yet, but one day we will.  And as I’ve said before, if Covid-19 produces “post Covid M.E.” in a significant number of people we stand a much better chance post-pandemic of finding the answer than we did pre-pandemic.

I used to apologise all the time for my brain symptoms.  I used to call myself “dippy” and “stupid”, feel embarrassed by my forgetfulness and confusion, and constantly berate myself for not being able to cope in the world.  Then I had a light-bulb moment.  I am ill.  My brain is injured by my ongoing immune response to a non-existent invader.  I wouldn’t apologise if I’d broken my arm, so why should I apologise for having a broken brain and immune system?  I have no control over the situation any more than I would have control over a broken bone.  So now I tell people I have a brain injury, which I do, and I make no apologies or excuses for it.

Covid-19 antibody research

I was recently approached by Imperial College London in association with the NHS & MORI to take part in Covid-19 research.  I had been chosen at random to self-test at home for Covid antibodies so that a picture could be formed nation-wide on infection rates.  Obviously I was happy to take part and a testing kit was sent to me in the post.

You are given an antibacterial swab, a cotton wool ball, a plaster, a finger prick stick, some solution and a little device which looks like a miniature pregnancy test.  You wipe your finger with the swab, use the prick stick to obtain a large blob of blood, place this on the tester, add some solution and wait 10 minutes for the result.

Covid test kit

Unsurprisingly I tested negative for Covid antibodies, which means I have not been infected by the virus.  I knew I hadn’t as it would undoubtedly make me sick as a dog.  It’s somehow still reassuring to know for sure though, although the literature tells me the test is not 100% accurate.  If I’d had Covid antibodies other lines would have appeared on the tester.  You have to take a photo of your tester and upload this to the research website, then fill in a questionnaire about your habits before and during lockdown, any symptoms and some demographics.

Covid test result

I may be approached again in a few weeks to be re-tested, though I expect the same negative result as I’m not going anywhere or doing anything to put myself at risk of infection.

Post-Covid M.E.

After the SARS outbreak in 2003 an estimated 15% of people who contracted the virus continued to have health problems months, or in some cases years, after the initial infection.  As another Coronovirus, there is concern that the same will happen with Covid-19.

Already, a significant proportion (estimates between 25-40%) of people who contract Covid-19 are continuing to suffer ill-health even after tests prove they are no longer infected by the virus.  CNN presenter Chris Cuomo is one such Covid survivor who is still having problems months after infection, which he discusses on his Twitter feed here.

Post-viral fatigue syndrome is fairly common after infection and can continue for several months, particularly after viruses like Glandular Fever (aka Mono) or Flu.  Symptoms eventually resolve without medical intervention.  The fact that Chris is back at work and exercising proves he’s not particularly unwell, though I’m not dismissing his ongoing issues in any way.

However, for a proportion of patients who develop post-viral fatigue syndrome their symptoms don’t resolve and if they fulfil the diagnostic criteria (which seems to differ depending which country you live in – a disgraceful state of affairs) they may be diagnosed with M.E. (wrongly also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).

Why am I saying “wrongly known as CFS”?  The term CFS implies that the main symptom is fatigue and that is NOT the case with M.E.  The characteristic hallmark feature of M.E. is post-exertional malaise (known as PEM).  Normal activities such as having a shower, making a meal or walking the dog, make you feel ill not just tired.  It’s a fluey, achy, poisoned feeling (I personally get a really sore throat after activity) exactly the same as when you’re coming down with a virus and separates M.E. from other diseases which have fatigue as a major symptom.  I can’t stress how important this differentiation is and it drives M.E. sufferers insane when the main symptom of their disease is listed as being fatigue.

I’m not saying that chronic fatigue isn’t a major symptom of M.E.  It is.  But it’s also a symptom of loads of other diseases!  What separates M.E. from almost any other disease, however, is PEM.  In fact, my “malaise”, ie feeling ill, isn’t confined to post-activity – as I’m sitting here propped up in bed typing this I feel truly poorly.  My throat is sore, my head is thumping, I feel nauseous, my whole body is aching, my eyes are burning…….and it’s only 7.30am and I’ve just had 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I have felt like this every single day of the past 26 years after I contracted meningitis while on holiday in Africa.  In fact, I was bedridden for a decade following my virus and nearly died from organ failure.  M.E. isn’t a trivial disease where the sufferer feels tired and brain fogged but still manages to work full time, go to the gym or care for 4 kids.  I wish it were.

Diagnosing M.E. should take a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 6 months.  This gives any simple, and common, post-viral fatigue chance to go away and also gives Doctors time to rule out other causes for a patient’s symptoms.  Which is why it’s puzzling me that anyone is currently being diagnosed with “Post Covid M.E.”.  In the West, Covid-19 started infecting the mass population in early March and we’re only in July.   It’s wayyyy to early to be diagnosing M.E. in anybody.

In addition, most hospitals have been closed to non-emergencies so having tests to rule out other causes for post-Covid symptoms hasn’t even been possible.

M.E. isn’t some dustbin diagnosis for anyone who feels fatigued following a virus.  It’s going to annoy the crap out of me if people who have post-viral fatigue after Covid infection say in 6 months time that they’re recovered from M.E.  No.  You didn’t have M.E. to start with and it’s insulting to the millions of M.E. sufferers around the world who have been battling this potentially life-threatening condition for years to say you share their disease.  You don’t.

Having said all that, it may be that in a few months time there will be a percentage of patients who have had Covid-19 who do fit the criteria for M.E. and while I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone it could be the silver lining which comes from this horrendous pandemic.  M.E. patients (an estimated 16 million of us worldwide and that’s a conservative figure) have been battling for decades to get our disease recognized and if a significant proportion of post-Covid patients around the globe develop M.E. there will no doubt be more research taking place in the next 12 months than has been done in the previous 30 years.

As someone whose life basically stopped at the age of 26 when I had everything going for me (I’m now 52 and still sick) I pray that the Covid pandemic finally gives us some answers.

Our Strange New World

My dog, Bertie, gets fatty lumps – some breeds are just prone to them.  They’re not dangerous and he doesn’t seem bothered by them, so the best advice is simply to leave them alone.

However, he developed one on his chest during Lockdown that seemed a bit different to the others.  It was firmer and seemed to be attached more to the underlying tissue, both of which were worrying signs that this one could be more serious.  So now lockdown is virtually over I made an appointment to take him to the Vets for a lump check.  It was totally bizarre.

For a start, the Veterinary Centre doors are locked and you have to stand outside and speak to the receptionists through an open window.  Then you have to go back to your vehicle, or stand under a Gazebo which has been erected on the garden area, and a Vet comes out to see you.

My Vet decided Bert’s lump should be inspected via needle aspiration, so she took him inside the building and came out 10 minutes later to say that thankfully all was fine.  It appears to just be a cyst and isn’t infected, so she suggests we do nothing unless it gets larger or starts to bother him.

I then had to queue again at the window to pay, which is OK on a day like today when it’s dry and relatively warm (I use the term loosely 😉 ), but what the hell is going to happen in Autumn when it’s freezing and chucking it down?  The same can be said for shops.  We’re currently queueing for miles to get inside, which isn’t too bad when it’s 17C but what happens when it’s 7C?

There is emerging evidence that immunity to Covid-19 can be lost in just a few short months, leaving people who have had the virus open to re-infection – just like the common cold.  So unless a vaccine is found we’re all still susceptible to getting the virus and there are no guarantees that second time round you’ll recover as well as you did first time round.  I genuinely think the world has changed for the foreseeable future which is a shit, and scary, thought and really quite depressing.

However, at least my furry child’s lump is nothing serious so I am hugely relieved and thankful, and he can keep me company while we’re in lockdown for the next 5 years until a vaccine is found!

 

Covid-19: lockdown relaxation

Money creation is being put before lives.  There is no doubt about it here in the UK.  I understand that we can’t take care of our citizens if we go bankrupt so it’s a stupendously difficult decision for our Government, but the facts are still the facts.  People are literally being sacrificed to save our economy.

Many countries are now starting to relax Lockdown and the UK have followed suit, but it’s completely the wrong course of action here because we are in a totally different position to most other countries.  In Germany, one of the world leaders in their response to Covid-19 and with 20 million more residents than Britain, there are under 400 daily confirmed cases of the virus.  In Italy, one of the worst affected countries in the world and with an identical population size to Britain, daily confirmed cases of the virus are under 200.   In stark contrast, the UK confirmed daily cases stand at around 2,000 and in reality there are an estimated 8,000-9,500 cases of daily new infections (sources: Office of National Statistics & the Zoe/King’s College Covid-19 tracker app).  To even begin to think about ending lockdown here in Britain is insanity.

The main difference in the countries who have succeeded most in restricting the spread of Covid-19, such as South Korea, appears to be in the rigorous testing, tracking, tracing and isolating of infected individuals.  This is of utmost importance now that lockdowns are relaxing so that outbreaks and hotspots can quickly be identified and quashed.  The British government announced that a “world beating” TTTI  system would be in place by 1st June which is when lockdown restrictions began to be relaxed here in the UK, yet it is nowhere in sight and it was leaked this week that it may not be ready until September or even October!  By which time thousands of more people will have died and the virus will be endemic in our society.  Which is fine if you are young and unlikely to suffer badly from being infected and catastrophic if you are elderly or have an underlying health condition.

We still, still!, aren’t testing anyone flying into the UK from abroad.  We knew about the pandemic in China as far back as January, and the catastrophe unfolding in Italy at the start of March, yet did nothing to secure our borders against infection.  As I type that I’m shaking my head in disbelief, not least because nothing has changed.  We are going to ask people entering the UK with symptoms to self-isolate, but not actually test them, track them or enforce quarantine.  Without question, we should be banning anyone from the USA from coming here due to the country’s out of control infection rate (over 25,000 confirmed new infections per day, though that number is likely to be ¼ of the true figure source: Our World in Data) but that might upset Trump so we won’t.  We’ll let more British people die instead.

Having let people back out on the streets, most other countries are insisting on face masks being worn to mitigate the spread of infection.  Except the UK.  We’ve been told for the entire duration of the pandemic that face-masks don’t stop you catching the infection so are pointless (no mention of the fact they reduce the spread of infection), when the reality was that we simply didn’t have enough face-masks and priority was given to NHS staff.  This, of course, excluded residential and home care workers, who have gone down with Covid-19 in their hundreds, and those working with the public such as shop and transport workers, hundreds of whom have now also died.  It’s a national scandal.  Independent scientific evidence shows: “The use of face masks was protective for both health-care workers and people in the community exposed to infection, with both the frequentist and Bayesian analyses lending support to face mask use irrespective of setting.”  (source: systematic review of 172 studies on Covid-19, MERS and SARS by the Lancet, 1st June 2020).  In a U-turn, the British government are now making the wearing of face-masks by everyone using public transport mandatory……………..but not until 15th June, when lockdown ended on 1st June.  Why are they letting the public infect each other in close proximity on trains and buses for over 2 weeks?!  It’s reckless at best and insanity at worst and I simply don’t understand their logic.

My sister-in-law is a teaching aid in a primary school.  Certain age groups of children were encouraged to start back at school on Monday this week (1st June).  By Friday my s-i-l had caught a stonking cold, despite strict social distancing measures in the school and rigorous hygiene precautions.  Which shows just how easily regular viruses spread, let alone a virus as highly infectious as Covid-19.

When the easing of lockdown was announced by the Government 10 days ago, they also said that the R number (ie the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average) must be kept below 1 and if it went beyond that strict lockdown would be re-introduced.  Yet here in the north west of England, the R number this week went up to 1.2 and it has not even been mentioned!  Instead, the Government are amalgamating figures from all over the UK which brings the R number to around 0.9 (still perilously high but below the magic 1).  However, these figures are not a true picture of the regional variations in infection rates.  The south-west (Cornwall, Devon) for example has always had relatively few cases, currently 778 infections a day, but the north-west and Cumbria in particular which is where I live has had the highest number of cases in the country after London and still has 4,170 infections a day.  When you bare in mind that Cumbria is the largest county in terms of landmass in England yet is the 2nd most sparsely populated, infection spread here should have been amongst the lowest.   Ending lockdown here and allowing an influx of tourists to the Lake District from all over the UK is absolutely and utterly bonkers and will cause preventable deaths.

It appears that if you’re chronically ill, old or northern the Government doesn’t really mind you dying – you are collateral damage in a war to save the economy.

 

Covid-19: the New Rules

We all want the lockdown to end.  Our economy is suffering and we’re frustrated and fed up of the isolation.  However, we realise that the pandemic is far from over – in fact in some areas the curve has barely flattened let alone begun to subside – and so we, the public, know it’s too soon to leave our homes.

Our wise-Leader-with-the-permanently-dishevelled-hair, however, disagrees.  He is putting money before lives and has begun “slowly and gradually” to faze out lockdown.  We now have New Rules to follow:

  • We should continue to WORK FROM HOME.  Apart from those that can’t work from home who should be encouraged to go to work.
  • We can TRAVEL as far as we like, so long as it’s not to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and isn’t on public transport.  So basically in our cars.   The garages are shut so FFS don’t break down and whatever you do don’t have an accident and end up in a Covid-19 riddled hospital, but other than that cars rock.
  • We can do neither ^ until WEDNESDAY.  Cos Wednesdays are magic days when the virus isn’t spread.
  • We should continue to STAY HOME.  But we can leave home to exercise, travel, work and socialize.
  • The over 70s are no longer VULNERABLE and can go out as normal so long as they socially distance.  Praise be, it’s a miracle!
  • Non-essential shops will remain CLOSED.  Except off-licenses cos they are still essential, obv.  Oh, and now garden centres cos they are essential too, obv.
  • We can MEET UP with 1 person not from our household, but only in a public space and only if we stay 2m away.  But we can’t meet up with a family member in their garden, even if we stay 2m away  – the air in gardens is different to the air on pavements outside gardens, obv.
  • We should wear FACE MASKS when in confined public spaces.  But they don’t protect us from catching the killer virus.  But they do protect us from passing on the killer virus.  Masks that only work one way – interesting 🤔
  • Soon, we will quarantine anyone flying into the UK from abroad.  But not the French or the Irish cos they don’t harbour the killer virus.
  • Wait……you mean we haven’t been quarantining people flying into the UK yet?!  Interesting 🤔
  • Soon, 5 year olds can go to school because they are notoriously good at staying away from other children, washing their hands and not touching stuff.  But 14 year olds have to stay home cos they can’t be trusted.
  • The way to control the virus is now to track and trace via the NHS app.  That would be the app no-one has yet.
  • The Government are depending on us to “use our common sense” even though our Prime Minister isn’t using his, and the police stopped a couple from travelling 600 miles to the Lake District this weekend from London because they wanted “a loaf of bread”.
  • The police will be fining people who break the rules, even though The Rules aren’t laws so aren’t actually enforceable.

The New Slogan:

BE ALERT – because the country needs Lerts.

CONTROL THE VIRUS – you mean the invisible virus we can’t see, smell, touch or taste?  I can’t even control my dog.

SAVE LIVES – always preferable to killing people I would have thought.