Unlocking Lockdown

It has been quite some time since my last mutter about Coronavirus and lockdown, and quite a few things have changed. For starters some of the shops have re-opened and that was good news, however the inconvenience is considerable what with queues, people hiding behind masks and screens, mysterious arrows pointing in unwanted directions and of course the previously empty pavements suddenly swarming with people and I had to walk in the street on occasions to avoid large groups filling the complete pavement. I do however understand the need for things like this, it is the new normal I am afraid, until we can get a handle on this virus. Unfortunately I do suffer from poor hearing and many of these interactions are incredibly difficult for me. I even explored having a takeaway but would have to phone in my order and presumably hide until it was ready for collection. I tried to buy new safety shoes the other day too and sure as eggs are eggs so did everybody else in the shop (7 at a time please). I also attempted to buy a piece of wood for my bedside table but it was made so complicated that I did not go ahead with the purchase. I am afraid that I am not the only one in this boat, many people are just not going to visit the shops or even attempt social interaction. 

On my reading list this past week was a book about the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic and it made for interesting and chilling reading. More people died from Spanish Flu than the total number of cases and deaths from covid-19. While gravehunting in South Africa I noticed that a years deaths would take up roughly a page and a half in the cemetery register. However, when it comes to 1918 suddenly there are 4 or 5 pages just for October! The book I read had a chapter on South Africa and the Flu and it seemed to peak in Cape Town and the mines in Kimberley and Transvaal were badly hit.

“Writing in the Conversation Africa in March 2020, emeritus professor Howard Philips, a historian at the University of Cape Town, said South Africa was estimated to have been “one of the five worst hit parts” of the world.

Philips specialises in the social history of medicine and has written two books on the Spanish flu’s effects on South Africa. He told Africa Check that the official death toll released by the government in 1919 was 140,000 to 142,000. This was for 1918 and 1919.  But the unreliable way the figures were calculated meant this toll was probably low, Philips said.

“There was no comprehensive death registration system in South Africa in 1918. There was supposedly for whites, but for Africans in [the Cape province and Transvaal] there was no requirement to register deaths,” he said.”  (AfricaCheck.org)

In other news it was announced that Tewkesbury  has had no active Coronavirus cases since May 24. At that point there had been 182 cases up till then. Hopefully this will continue though because all it takes is one infected person to walk down the street or go to work.   

The numbers game continues. Worldometers reports the following: There are 9 622 238 Cases world wide with 487 339 deaths. The USA still tops the charts with 2 477 876 cases and 124 485 deaths. The UK has seen a slowing in cases and deaths and while still at number 5 has 307980 cases and 43230 deaths.  South Africa has been climbing the charts though, it is currently at number 18 with 11796 cases and 2205 deaths. These rankings are for total cases, and look differently when total deaths is considered.: USA – 1, Brazil 2, UK – 3, South Africa – 25. The situation in South Africa is very difficult because of socio-economic conditions and often incomprehensible regulations. A report at Mybroadband.co.za stated “Liberty Fighters Network (LFN) and Reyno De Beer will be arguing in the High Court today that they believe that since of this morning Wednesday, 24 June 2020, the lockdown regulations are unconstitutional and invalid and that effectively the Lockdown is legally over.” Naturally this will get fought out in the courts, and huge amounts of money will get spent and eventually it will probably be settled out of court and the only ones who benefit will be lawyers. 

And that is it in a nutshell. Today it is supposed to be 32 degrees outside but I suspect we missed most of the heat at work. I remember those 37 degree days in Johannesburg in Summer, and the thunderstorms that often used to build up, apparently we are in for some of those too tonight too. 

Till next time… stay 2 metres away.

DRW © 2020. Created 25/06/2020


Somewhere in June

We are now into June, and things are in a turmoil. The UK has lessened the lockdown restrictions somewhat but on one side people are saying the lockdown needs to go and others say it needs to stay. There is no easy middle ground that can ensure safety and normality at the same time. 

The numbers: Worldometers reports the following: 6,982,883 cases in the world with 402,273 total deaths. The USA still dominates the charts with 1,988,544 cases and 112,096 deaths. The UK is not doing too well either with 284,868 cases and 40,465 deaths. That is the second highest death rate in the world. South Africa has 45,973 total cases and 952 deaths and has slipped to number 24 in the total cases table. A number of reports are saying that the virus is weakening as it does not seem to be infecting as much as before, although that could really be a measure of how effective the lockdowns have been. 

This week has also seen huge demonstrations in the world under the “Black Lives Matter” banner. The consequences of those demonstrations have been looting, mob rampages, and a number of deaths. It has also meant that large amounts of people have been in the same area and that could tilt the covid numbers significantly upwards. Unfortunately demonstrations rarely go peacefully and the looting of luxury goods shops does show a determined criminal element amongst those who are trying to protest peacefully. There is even talk of looters being bussed in and deliberate attempts to derail protests. Again the old fake news and social networking scenario rears its ugly head and I can already see the end result of that in my facebook feed. Unfortunately there has been a lot of vandalism of memorials and statues, the most significant being the London Cenotaph. Stupidity like that is guaranteed to cause a loss of support for any protest; the Cenotaph is seen as “Hallowed Ground” and any protest organisers worth their  salt would ensure that it is guarded against vandalism. I am afraid that in many cases vandals rarely respect anything. 

The vandalism of the Cenotaph comes at a time when we are commemorating the anniversary of the Normandy Invasion on 6 June 1944. You often see posts comparing the 1939-1945 generations to the “snowflake” generation that is currently shouting the odds from the comfort of their digital lifestyle.  As a former national serviceman I am against those who advocate a similar system for youngsters today. Civil service yes, military service no! 

In South Africa the lockdown regulations were declared unconstitutional and therefore invalid.  Justice Norman Davis found that both the level 3 and level 4 regulations are “irrational”. Naturally the government will appeal the verdict and this will drag on through the courts leaving lots of smiling lawyers and large amounts of money being spent. Schools in the country are due to reopen but that is being contested too. 

I am afraid there are no winners this week, it has been all conflict and turmoil wherever I look and even the weather has been lousy.  The next few days could see a spike in the numbers, and that is a bad thing. It was announced that masks would be compulsory on public transport and I bet that soon they will be compulsory everywhere. I am not a happy camper about that though as I do see even more discomfort from the Xerostomia that I suffer with. I wonder if I can get hold of a breath screen like Darth Vader had? 

I popped down to town this morning and quite a few things have changed. For starters there are all these red and white bollard thangs in the street, presumably to provide space for people to queue 2 metres apart. It is going to play havoc with the already chaotic traffic in town though, the roads are already narrow as it is. 

Three new additions have also made their appearance.

But one of the most important signs I saw was:

Yes it is true, shops are opening in the 15th and I just hope that they can survive long enough to become profitable. Unfortunately some will not make it through this difficult time, but others have adapted and even expanded to cater for takeaways, deliveries and social distancing. 

On the viewing front I am currently watching an anime called Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou and it is awesome. It is not the sort of anime that would garner massive viewership due to its lack of characters, fan service or contiguous story. It does however have amazing backgrounds and leaves more questions than answers. There are really only two characters in it and they are excellent. I love the post apocalyptic feel of it, and visually it is stunning. 

DRW 2020. Created 07/06/2020. 

Day 7356474

Yep, it is day 7356474 of our sojourn with covid-19, at least it feels like it has been 7356474 days. There have been a number of interesting developments since I last rambled about this so let us get it done with. From what I read at the Beeb many shops and businesses will be re-opening after the 15th of June and some schools may be re-opening on the 1st. However, it all depends on whether or not the criteria for re-opening is met or not. Unfortunately this is all uncharted territory and businesses will have to comply with a whole lot of rules before they can get back to work. The school issue is more complex though, but I cannot understand why they don’t keep them closed and then reopen them once the long summer holidays happen. It doesn’t affect me though so I am not overly concerned.

The numbers game:
Today Worldometer numbers are as follows: There are 5 601 521 cases worldwide, with 348 132 deaths.  The USA leads the log, with 1 706 226 cases and 99 805 deaths. The UK is still in top 5 with 261 184 cases and 36 914 deaths. South Africa currently sits at number 31 with 23 615 cases and 481 deaths. 

South Africa has moved to level 3 now although the Western Cape numbers may lead to it being reset to level 4. The big alcohol/cigarette ban is very contentious, and people are seemingly more worried about their smokes than they are about the people who do not have food on their tables. I read yesterday that the unemployment rate could rise to as much as 50% as a result of the pandemic. Unfortunately there are many strange rumblings afoot in the country, and the conspiracists are  having a  field day looking for ulterior motives. 

Talk about conspiracies; the whole Dominic Cummings lockdown break in the UK has been causing waves, with people questioning whether there was a set of rules for them and another for politicians. It is a valid point, and that is true not only in the UK but in the rest of the world  Personally I feel he should fall on his sword, you cannot tell people to do something and then do the exact opposite and expect them to listen to you ever again.   

On a personal note I was called up for a regular blood test by my local surgery, and frankly I was not in the mood to go there at this point in time and managed to get it postponed for 3 months. The fact is that it is really an unnecessary procedure given the situation we are in. Apart from that it is almost impossible to get an appointment that does not take me away from work. I would have take a days leave to have it done and frankly that is a bit of a waste too. Our department has been very busy for quite some time and getting time off is difficult. 

I did have a few other things to mutter about but naturally I have forgotten what they are so will end here and continue a bit later. However, be rest assured that I have all my ducks in a row.

On a side note.. today is my birthday so happy birthday to me!

DRW © 2020. Created 27/05/2020