Tag Archives: pandemic

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.

 

Covid-19: confused.com

Either my one functioning brain cell is socially distancing itself from the rest and thereby not allowing rational thought, or there is a lot of confusion surrounding the pandemic.  Here are just a few of the mixed messages we’ve received from our government:

  • We should STAY HOME, unless we have to go out.
  • We should only make ESSENTIAL JOURNEYS, which includes riding a bike for 10 miles.
  • We must WORK FROM HOME.  Unless we can’t work from home, then we can go to work.
  • Only ESSENTIAL SHOPS are open, which includes non-essential off-licenses.
  • Cafes and restaurants are CLOSED, apart from the ones that are open and doing take-outs.
  • It’s OK to eat takeaway prepared and delivered by someone who hasn’t used gloves or a mask and may be infected, just so long as they leave it on the doorstep.
  • There are no food shortages, apart from all the items you still can’t get at the supermarket.  Or online.  Or basically anywhere.
  • There is no risk from pets, though we’re not sure about the Covid-riddled cat in Belgium or the dogs in Hong Kong.
  • The main route of transmission is by air droplets, or possibly aerosols.  But also surfaces but mainly indoors, or possibly outdoors if it’s dry, or wet.  Or on packaging, but only for 24 hours.  Unless it’s plastic then it’s 4 days, or is it 5?  Possibly via dogs.  Or cats.  Or bats.  We don’t really know.
  • There are no tests for care homes or health workers.  But there are tests for cats and dogs.  And rich people.
  • Masks should not be worn by the public, apart from in America, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina & Morocco where they must be worn by the public.  In Germany they should be worn, or shouldn’t be worn, depending which way the wind is blowing.
  • The virus doesn’t affect children, unless they die from contracting it.
  • The virus mainly affects the elderly, though more middle aged people end up in intensive care unable to breathe.
  • The main symptoms are fever and a cough.  Apart from when there is no fever.  Or cough.
  • You can have the virus with no symptoms.  Or be contagious with no symptoms.  Or contagious before you get symptoms.  We’re all basically fucked.
  • If you get sick don’t visit your GP.  But if you are sick, still visit your GP.  Or phone 111, but don’t expect anyone to answer.
  • Don’t visit the health centre if you are vulnerable or self-isolating.  But come and collect your prescriptions because we’re not delivering.
  • The army of local volunteers, shopping for and visiting elderly and vulnerable people haven’t been security checked, but none of them will con or rob you, apart from the ones that con or rob you.
  • You can’t visit your elderly, vulnerable parents even if you stay 2m away but you can chat to a total stranger in the street, from 2m away.
  • Keep moving when you exercise, apart from when you’re standing and chatting to total strangers you meet in the street.
  • It is vital that hospital staff nursing covid patients have adequate PPE.  It is not vital that home care staff nursing covid patients have adequate PPE.
  • There is no shortage of PPE for hospital staff, apart from when there isn’t enough PPE for hospital staff.  There is no PPE for care workers, we’re not even going to lie about it.
  • As of today, there were 87,022 cases of the virus in the UK.  But that doesn’t include people who weren’t tested, which is basically everyone, so who the fuck knows?
  • As of today, 13, 917 people in the UK have died from the virus.  But that doesn’t include anyone who died at home.  Or in a care home.  And there are no post mortems, so no-one knows who died of what.  So, basically, who the fuck knows?
  • It will be at least 18 months before there is a vaccine, but we will lift lockdown next month.  Maybe.  For some people.  We don’t know who yet.  Or some businesses.  We don’t know which yet.  Vulnerable people should stay at home until they die of old age.  Or boredom.  Or shrivel through lack of sunlight.
  • We’re all in this together.  It’s just that some of us, like health and care workers, are more in it than everyone else.