Tag Archives: lockdown

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?

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.

 

Weekly roundup

The good news is that the weather has been gorgeous this week.  The bad news is I spent 3 days with a migraine and could barely open the curtains let alone go out in the sunshine.  FFS I’m so over the whole head pain thing.

It was my bestie’s birthday, which she spent largely alone as her partner is still working.  We usually always go out for lunch and this year had also booked to go to a comedy show, which we were both looking forward to cos we never go anywhere.  “Not to worry”, I thought, “I’ll send her a nice gift instead with a funny card to cheer her up” and I pay extra so that it will arrive on her Big Day.  I check my account and it tells me it’s been delivered, phew, only when I ring said bestie she hasn’t got it.  FFS.  It arrives the day after, but that’s not the same as getting it on The Day is it, especially when your birthday is already a bit shit.

My Mum will be 80 in the next few weeks.  We’d planned a family dinner out, which I know both my parents were looking forward to because it’s rare all of us get together, but of course that won’t happen now.  You can’t get turning 80 back so it makes me really sad that such a huge milestone won’t be properly celebrated, particularly when none of us thought she’d ever reach that age due to her health.

The grocery delivery saga continues.  I’ve had a weekly shop with Tesco for over 20 years.  I started when I was bedridden and I still really struggle to visit a supermarket – so much mental stimulation hurts my poorly brain, not to mention the physical effort of bag lifting, plus it’s a 54 mile round trip to my nearest Tesco supermarket so it’s not like I can just pop in for some milk.

Several years ago when my Mum became wheelchair dependent I also registered my parents address under my account (they don’t have access to the internet) so that I can also do a weekly shop for them and have it delivered to their house.  This meant that during the lockdown my parents were fine for groceries and I could shop for my very disabled, confused and elderly friend in the next town who lives alone with no family near, as well as another vulnerable older couple who also have no family near, in with my weekly order – we’re just managing to stay under the 80 item limit.  I then deliver these groceries to them myself.

At the start of lockdown, though, every man and his dog started clammering for home grocery delivery and it quickly became impossible to get a slot.  However, you can register shielded people for priority slots on the government’s website but I made the mistake of saying my parents didn’t currently need help with shopping – it was true, because I was shopping online for them.  The consequence was that she wasn’t listed as needing priority shopping deliveries.

Then Tesco, in their wisdom, reduced deliveries to 1 per household and because Mum is registered under my account it wouldn’t let me deliver to her house at all.  FFS (I seem to be saying that a LOT lately).  So I would have to get her shopping delivered to my house and take it through to town afterwards, which is fine but it meant I then couldn’t shop for my disabled and vulnerable elderly friends due to the 80 item limit 😦  And, yes, I know you can get a tiny box of essentials like bread and milk delivered by volunteers but it’s not the same as a £50 shop is it?

I rang to explain the situation to Tesco and they said there was nothing they could do.  So I emailed the CEO of Tesco, whose minion did reply………saying there was nothing they could do.  Which is bollocks, they fucking own Tesco and can do whatever they like!

Not to be deterred, I registered Mum for her own account on the Tesco website (some supermarkets like Sainsburys aren’t allowing new customers to register, but Tesco still are).  I then went on the government’s website and re-registered my Mum, this time saying she needed help with shopping.  I then rang Tesco again, and explained my Mum was on the shielded list and should have access to priority slots but was told that because it was a new account she couldn’t have them and there was nothing they could do.  Really?  Like…..REALLY?!  They could check my account and see that my parents have been having weekly deliveries for 7 years!  This is the way Tesco thanks me for 2 decades of loyalty to their company.

So I register her with Morrisons and get a non-priority slot without a problem!

However, this morning my Mum (aka me) gets an email from Tesco to say “hurrahh, the government has told us you are being shielded so you now have access to priority delivery slots!”  So I go online and sure enough get her a slot for this Thursday!!  There are no other slots available when I try to book for May, but it’s a start.  I can’t use my delivery saver plan on her account so she’ll have to pay for delivery, but it’s not like anyone cares at this point.

The government are saying they are doing all they can to help the vulnerable, but actually our lives (which are already difficult on a normal day) are being made so much harder in legions of ways.  I might do a post about that at some stage.

To cope with all the stress, and due to my migraines giving me a ravenous appetite which I can’t control, this week I have eaten my own body weight in Pringles and Haribo gummy bears.  In several months time, when lockdown is lifted for the vulnerable, I’ll still be housebound.  It’s not that I won’t be allowed to leave the house, it’s that I won’t be able to leave the house because I’ll be too fat to fit through the front door 😉