Do I really need to spell out what this last pic is about? Mwahahahaha!
I bought all of these pretties from the little Vietnamese bakery in the Research shops [right down the end near the roundabout]. I was really impressed by the plastic screen installed in front of the cash register and the restraint of the two guys behind me. One was just inside the door – well over 2 metres from me. The second was outside the door, a safe distance from customer no. 1. And we were ALL wearing masks.
“Today is turning into a very good day,” says Meeks as she licks her chops.
Yes! I went shopping today. For the first time in over eight months. And yes, it was exhilarating. 😀
My little shopping expedition was also hot and sweaty because I decided to be daring and go for a walk first. Bad move. I parked at Bunnings and walked to Autobarn, a short hop…by car. What I’d forgotten was that most of the way to Autobarn was uphill, and guess who’s a wee bit out of shape?
By the time I’d walked back to Bunnings [wearing my surgical mask and one glove], I was literally dripping with sweat, and the inside of the mask felt like a wet towel. That said, the outside of the mask was quite dry, proving that it really does catch all those potentially toxic exhalations.
Anyway…one of the first things I saw inside Bunnings was a customer with his mask down under his chin, mooching around with a takeaway cup of coffee in his hand. After all the fear and stress of the last eight months, I totally lost it and told him off. He came back with ‘oh but you’re allowed to not wear a mask if your eating or drinking’. I politely suggested that he ‘eat or drink’ outside.
I know the restrictions have been eased, but this prick was deliberately abusing the privileges we’ve been given. I am so sick of selfish morons trying to find loop holes in rules designed to protect everyone. We’re virus free for the moment, but as South Australia discovered, all it takes is ONE idiot. Ahem…
Smarmy piece of shit aside, the whole setup at Bunnings was brilliant. One door to go in, a different door to go out, physical distancing lines painted on the floor leading to the checkouts. Staff all wearing masks and directing ‘traffic’. I felt quite safe, which is saying something. And I loved being able to select things for myself again. Online shopping is okay, but unless and until they make online shopping a virtual experience, it’s just not the same as being there.
Oh, and in case you’re all wondering what I actually bought? Well…I bought a trickle charger for the batteries that drive my fire-fighting pumps, a new 30 metre garden hose, a timer-tap so I can’t forget to turn off the tap, and a small sprinkler head to water the new veggie box.
Nothing exciting, I know, but I feel great anyway, and in a day or two I’m going to go out again to buy…bread. A beautiful Vienna with a crisp crust and a fluffy white interior:
The vienna has to be unsliced, of course, so we can pop it into a hot oven for a minute [to decontaminate] before slicing and smothering with fresh, cold butter….
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make us happy. 🙂
This is an important video for everyone to watch as Dr John Campbell explains about the adverse reactions recorded for the Pfizer vaccine. He then goes through the first peer reviewed paper published for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
As Australia has aligned itself heavily with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, it’s very reassuring to know that it is both safe and efficacious! Just as a matter of interest, Australians won’t be getting any vaccines until some time in March, 2021. As we have the virus under control [knock on wood], we can afford to wait.
Feels great to get some good news on the virus front for a change. 🙂
The lyrics come from a very famous Fifth Dimension song, but this is not a post about music.
It’s a post about Covid-19 and an update on its spread, and how to live with it. And guess what? Sunshine really does make a difference, in ways that are not immediately obvious.
First up I’m going to start with some research conducted by the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, Geelong, VIC, Australia. As some of you know, my state of Victoria is at the centre of the largest outbreak in Australia. And we’re not over it [completely] yet.
What the Australian study did was to measure the infectiveness of the virus – ON SURFACES – in a rather unusual way. As the UV in light is known to kill viruses, the researchers conducted their study on the virus in the dark. They also controlled the temperature of the environment in which the virus was studied. Their results are interesting to say the least.
The following is a direct quote taken from those results :
‘viable virus was isolated for up to 28 days at 20 °C from common surfaces such as glass, stainless steel and both paper and polymer banknotes. Conversely, infectious virus survived less than 24 h at 40 °C on some surfaces.’
For a more in-depth explanation of the study and what it found, please check out Dr John’s video.
For me, personally, these results are both good news and bad because we’ve been ‘isolating’ dry goods bought from the supermarket in the boot of the Offspring’s car. As the boot is dark, I immediately worried about how effective this isolation had been, especially as it’s been a cold winter here in Melbourne.
Then I realised that as neither one of us has become sick, the decon in the boot probably worked. A little later I realised why. The car is parked in the open so, although dark, the temperature in the boot would probably drop to about 5C at night and heat up past 20C during most of the day [the virus dislikes extremes of heat and cold]. Phew. Plus…masks have been mandated for most of this second wave so the chance of someone sneezing on my shopping before it arrives is that much less.
Keep all of that in mind as I tell you about the pandemic in Japan. A study conducted on working people in Tokyo found that despite the tiny death toll – under 2000 for the whole of Japan – close to 50% of those tested may have already been infected by the virus. For more on this please see Dr John’s video here or you can go direct to the study here.
There’s a lot to explain so I’ll try to keep it to the most important details. Firstly, the study was conducted during the summer months and the low death rate is partially backed up by data from the Western world where infection rates have also increased but without a corresponding increase in the death rate.
Doesn’t make sense, or does it?
If dark and temperate conditions keep the virus alive, the conditions in summer would do the exact opposite because people spend much more time outdoors…in the sunshine…with good ventilation. So even when they are exposed to the virus, their VIRAL LOAD is likely to be much less. And viral load determines how sick you’re likely to get.
But still, even taking the sunshine and heat and ventilation and viral load into consideration, why would the Japanese results be so extremely good despite no major lockdowns?
In Japan, the answer seems to be mostly cultural:
Wearing masks is normal.
Bowing instead of hugging or shaking hands is normal.
Not shouting and speaking quietly is normal.
Opening windows [good ventilation] is normal.
Supervised 14 day quarantine is strictly enforced.
And finally, obesity is very low in Japan. Obesity has been shown to be a major co-morbidity with the virus – i.e. you’re likely to get much sicker if you get the virus and you’re obese.
Putting it all together, cultural good practice means that the viral load is kept very low. And that means that the people who are infected are far more likely to have few symptoms, or no symptoms at all. Thus, lots of spread, but most people do not actually get sick, and those who do are much less likely to die.
If this is all true, and I think it is, then we here in Australia are going to get a reprieve over the summer months. Unfortunately, it also means that the northern hemisphere is going to be hit hard, again, especially as Western cultural practices make the virus so happy.
I can’t do anything about the northern hemisphere, but I can ask the people here in Melbourne two very simple questions:
Even if you don’t believe the pandemic is real, would it really kill you to wear a mask? Not just now, when the State government has mandated that all of us must wear one in public, but after? Couldn’t you err on the side of caution, if not for yourself, then for the sick, the elderly and the disabled?
Could you really live with yourself if someone you loved died, or developed a long term health problem because you put your convenience ahead of everything and everyone else?
Wearing a mask is such a small thing when compared to the horror of watching someone die.
This post is primarily for Australians because the Protect Scotland app does exactly what our own CovidSafe app was supposed to do… and doesn’t.
How do we know the Protect Scotland app works?
We know it works because it was developed by Apple and Google [at the 1:00 minute mark] together. This means that the relevant bits of both operating systems that are needed to make the app work, actually talk to each other.
The Australian CovidSafe app failed so spectacularly in the Victorian outbreak because Apple and Android [Google] couldn’t be made to play nice with each other. The media have been silent about this failure, despite the fact that the Federal government’s whole recovery plan post-March was based on the app being able to contact-trace infections without human intervention.
Do I trust Apple and Google to be honest about how much of our privacy they retain? Ordinarily no, not it a month of Sundays. But with this app? I suspect that the rivalry between these two companies is what will ensure that they keep each other honest. After all, if one company manages to sneak something in that gives them a long term financial advantage, that could spell disaster for the other company.
So, if mobile phones can be used to track and trace people infected with Covid-19, then it might just be possible to ‘live with’ the virus. Maybe. Technology aside, though, just because the app alerts people to the fact that they may have been infected, that’s no guarantee that said people will do the right thing and self isolate.
Human nature is the big unknown, and given what we’ve seen conspiracy theorists doing already, I don’t like our chances of getting 100% voluntary compliance. I fear that things will have to get a great deal worse before the knuckleheads acknowledge that there is a problem, and that they are it.
In the meantime? Maybe Australia should buy the Protect Scotland app for those who actually give a flying fruit bat about their fellow human beings.
Meeks [My thanks to Dr John Campbell for alerting me to the existence of the Protect Scotland app].
There was quite a bit of talk on Twitter yesterday about new research showing that children do get infected with Covid-19 and do infect others. For more information I went to Dr John Campbell’s Youtube channel and discovered a video addressing this very question:
During the video, Dr John looked at research submitted to the JAMA network. If you click on the JAMA network link and scroll down to the very bottom of the screen, you’ll discover that JAMA stands for the Journal of the American Medical Association:
So what’s the bottom line of this research? Basically it says that children over the age of 5 have the same viral load in their nasal swabs as adults and therefore have the same ability to infect as adults:
Children from 0 – 5 were found to have a much higher viral load, meaning that they were much more infectious:
To state the bleeding obvious, this means that kindergartens and pre-school childcare MUST be closed if we’re to stop the spread of the virus. It also means that school age children are spreaders of the virus too. Given how impossible it is to maintain social distancing in school settings, this means schools must be closed as well.
Finally, although children tend to suffer less from the virus, there hasn’t been enough research done on the effect of the virus on children with co-morbidities – such as auto immune diseases. In my world, this means keeping children with asthma etc., away from any setting where they’re likely to be infected with covid-19. Better safe than very, very sorry.
Meeks here. As many countries, including our own, battle an up-surge in Covid-19 infections, one thing is becoming increasingly clear – the suppression model is just not working. As soon as lockdowns are relaxed [to save the economy], the virus surges back up again. If we had some effective tools to use against the virus, things might be different, but the truth is that we have nothing.
Remember that mobile phone app we borrowed from Singapore, PM? You know, the one that was going to keep track of everyone we came into contact with and then alert us if one of our contacts became infected? I think you called it CovidSafe, the app that was going to allow us to have our cake and eat it too.
Bad news, PM. The CovidSafe app failed, in large part because Apple phones and Android phones couldn’t or wouldn’t co-operate with each other. When the outbreak began in Victoria, the app was useless. It’s still useless, and as far as I know, no country has managed to develop one that actually works the way it should.
The failure of the CovidSafe app in Victoria has meant that the authorities here have had to track and trace every single contact manually. The backlog of untracked contacts is now in the thousands, one reason the Premier, Dan Andrews, has had to impose the harshest restrictions yet. These restrictions have seen the introduction of a nightly curfew and the shutdown of everything that is not [very] strictly essential. Workers in essential industries now have to have a permit to go to work.
These draconian restrictions became necessary, PM, because the virus has spread too far in the community. One reason for this spread is that the virus has many vectors [pathways] of spread available to it:
the most obvious vector is person-to-person contact – hugs, kisses etc. This is where social distancing comes in.
the next most important vector is the air. This is where masks come in as they greatly reduce the amount of virus being released into the air and being breathed in from the air. The virus spreads in the air via :
large droplets – e.g. when someone coughs or sneezes. These large droplets fall to the ground, or a surface, very quickly so are relatively easy to deal with.
aerosolized micro droplets that hang in the air for quite some time. In confined spaces such as public transport, or shopping centres where air is recirculated, these micro droplets can spread the virus very quickly.
next in line are surfaces. Both large and micro droplets can survive on various types of surfaces from a few hours to a few days. This is where hand hygiene is vital. If you touch something that has active virus on it and then touch your nose, mouth or eyes, the virus could easily enter your body via your own hand.
If we were all altruistic, compassionate people who practised strict social distancing, strict mask wearing, and strict hand hygiene until a vaccine arrived, we probably could have our cake and eat it too. Thailand has managed to do just that. Unfortunately, most Western countries are not like Thailand. We don’t seem to have the necessary sense of community responsibility. I’m surprised no one on your staff mentioned that to you, PM.
Anyway, as I’m sure you know, PM, Covid-19 has a number of incredibly powerful tools in its arsenal:
it has victims who are hell bent on spreading it to others
it has multiple vectors [pathways] for getting inside its victims
and it has THREE secret weapons :
it is infectious for 2 – 3 days before symptoms appear,
in many people, the symptoms are so mild, they don’t even know they’ve been infected,
and there are some people who never get symptoms at all, not even mild ones, yet these asymptomatic people* are infectious and can spread the virus to others.
This is why the virus cannot actually be ‘controlled’. Sadly, PM this is also why your dream of suppression was never a realistic option.
So I guess the thing I’d like to know, PM, is what you intend to do now. Are you going to make us keep opening and closing all the time?
I sincerely hope not, PM, because everything I’ve seen so far indicates that businesses simply cannot survive much more of this. Being able to reopen safely and stay open, is vital to both people and business. The question, then, is how do we stay open safely?
I hate to say I-told-you-so, PM, but right from the start, I thought your government was wrong to opt for suppression instead of eradication. I also thought the schedule for reopening was wildly optimistic and didn’t demonstrate much of an understanding of human nature. And then there was the whole issue of whether Victoria was ready to reopen. With just 2 days of zero new infections in all of May, it didn’t look good.
But you and your government were determined to save the economy, PM, so Dan Andrews finally bowed to pressure. And there was a lot of it, wasn’t there? You said each state had to do what was right for that state, but many people in your Cabinet and in the Victorian Liberal Party were not so nice. I really think you should have a word with Dan Tehan, your education minister, along with Tim Smith and Michael O’Brien of Victoria. They said some naughty things behind your back, things designed to paint Dan Andrews as a megalomaniac who wanted to hurt his people.
I’d definitely have words with them, PM, because what happened next is at least partly their fault. With overseas travellers still arriving in Melbourne, Dan Andrews ordered that they stay in hotel quarantine for 14 days. A private security company was hired to stop them from leaving hotel quarantine. That private security company then apparently sub-contracted the work out. Unfortunately, those private security guards were poorly equipped and even more poorly trained.
Dear PM, I’m stressing the fact that it was a private company because Dan Andrews has been blamed for doing precisely what you and your government do all the time. You outsource to private companies because you believe that private industry always does a better job than the public service. Plus it’s part of your credo of ‘small government’. But that’s not always the case, is it, PM? I mean, look at the deaths in aged care! Most of them occurred in private aged care facilities regulated and controlled by your government in Canberra.
Getting back to those private security guards, PM, I won’t speculate about how they caught Covid-19 from the quarantined travellers, it’s enough that they did. Then, because large family get-togethers were once again allowed, they took the virus home to their families. From there, the virus spread like wildfire. Or should I say ‘bushfire’?
And of course, with all those new victims, the virus used every weapon in its considerable arsenal to leap from person to person, and from place to place.
In hindsight, PM, I do believe that Dan Andrews made a mistake in not putting all of Melbourne into hard lockdown along with the social housing towers, but the atmosphere of general discontent probably made that impossible. We’d been hearing about how hard it was to be in lockdown, how miserable we were for such a long time that we would have rebelled.
Speaking of discontent, PM, did you have anything to do with that? You see, I was rather shocked by how skewed the reporting was, even on the ABC. Instead of inspiring stories about people helping each other, or sad stories about people who had lost loved ones, everything was skewed towards the negative. Stories about how tough it was for small business, how tough it was for parents having to supervise their kids’ schooling, how sad we all were at not being able to visit friends and family…
But I digress, PM. I’d like to talk about what might have happened if we had opted for eradication like New Zealand. Import and export would have continued. The only thing we would not have had were foreign tourists and foreign students. But hey, we ended up not having them anyway.
The real difference would have been in what came after. With the virus eradicated, the Australian states could have remained ‘open’, and both tourism and the tertiary sector could have remained ticking over thanks to domestic demand. Instead, both sectors are dying because you somehow forgot about them when you were handing out the largesse.
Not that I blame you, PM. It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re dealing with a crisis. I mean, do you remember those long, long, long queues outside the Centrelink offices when you announced the first, rather short shutdown? And how long it took for people to receive their first payments. Mistakes do happen, don’t they?
But I digress again. Getting back to eradication, PM, I know what you’re going to say, eradication of the virus would have been hard. For starters, all of Australia would have had to stay in hard lockdown long enough to stop ALL the ways the virus can spread. That would have taken time, and it would have cost your government a lot more money. Then again, it looks as if suppression is going to cost more too.
In fact, I can’t help wondering if it wouldn’t have been a whole lot cheaper to lockdown once and eradicate the virus the first time round? I mean, I know not every country can successfully eradicate the virus, but we can! Australia may be big, but we are an island you know.
Anyway, there is good news, PM. It’s not too late to change your policy and go for eradication. Once Victoria finally grinds the virus down to zero, I think you’ll find that none of the other states want to risk being the next Covid-19 hot spot. No one will want to open their borders, and you know how disastrous that would be for your economy. No money coming in, lots of money going out. Not good.
So don’t think about the cost, PM, think about the benefits we’d get from eradication. With the virus gone, we’d all be able to:
go back to work,
go back to school,
go back to travel [within Australia],
go back to holidays [within Australia],
go back to coffee with friends,
go back to dinner parties,
go back to birthday parties,
go back to drinks at the pub,
go back to sport as real live spectators,
go back to weddings,
and yes, we could attend funerals again…but there would be far fewer of them.
And let’s not forget business, PM. Businesses, especially the small ones, will be able to reopen and stay open. They’ll be able to plan for weeks or months ahead. They’ll be able to grow again. And people will stimulate the economy by spending! Yay, right?
But first, PM, you and your government have to bite the bullet and admit that we cannot control this virus. We don’t have the tools or the social structure to stop it from breaking out again. The best we can do is eradicate it within the country and then keep it from returning.
That way lies hope. And who knows, maybe in time, New Zealand and other, successful South East Asian countries will let us join their bubble. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Suppression though, that’s a dead end, PM, literally. So how about it? Shall we give eradication a go?
Most sincerely, Meeks
* The first person to ever be identified as an asymptomatic carrier was Mary Mallon, nicknamed Typhoid Mary. She remained infectious her whole life because she lived at a time when there was no safe or easy way to rid her of the virus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Mallon
If you thought you were safe from Covid-19 because you live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, or out bush somewhere, think again. DHHS publishes a table of case numbers by local government area, but the table is waaaaay down the very bottom of the daily report. I’m ashamed to say I only found it today myself, so I thought it might help if everyone could check their own area.
[Note: On the DHHS website, the table is sorted by number of cases. I copied the DHHS table and sorted it by locality to make it easier to find your own area]
New cases of Covid-19 by locality name
Confirmed cases (ever)
Active cases (current)
I live in the Shire of Nillumbik, and guess what? Yup, we have 24 active cases. I was shocked. This virus is spreading like a grass fire.
And now a basic little chart of how the new cases have been rising since May 1, 2020 [that’s when I started recording daily cases on my spreadsheet].
This is a link to the Daniel Andrews update posted 2 hours ago. In that update he confirms that one of the men who succumbed to Covid-19 overnight was in his 40s. Bear that in mind as you read the rest of this post.
And finally a plea : if you won’t wear a mask to protect others, please wear one to protect yourself.
Quite apart from the threat of fines, evidence is growing of long term health problems in many of those who get Covid-19 and recover. According to data from Italy, 87% of recovered patients in the study had some symptoms/health problems for up to 2 months afterwards. Only 13% reported no symptoms/problems at all.
What the graphic shows is the breakdown of the data. These are the important bits:
143 recovered patients were studied
all of the patients were sick enough to be admitted to hospital
the median age of the patients in the study was 56 [median means that there were just as many patients younger than 56 as there were older than 56. So it’s not an ‘average’]
13% of patients studied had no symptoms/health problems after recovering from the virus
32% had 1-2 symptoms/health problems for up to 2 months after recovering from the virus
55% had 3 or more symptoms/health problems for up to 2 months after recovering from the virus.
So, if you get sick enough to be hospitalised, you’re going to feel pretty awful for quite some time afterwards. But who is this ‘you’?
To find out, I searched for ‘long haulers’ and ‘covid-19’ on Youtube. I found so much more than I ever expected. This video is about a 38 year old woman who’s been battling the after effects of Covid-19 for months:
This next video gives some info about how many ‘long haulers’ there are:
We have to rethink our response to Covid-19. It is not just a danger to ‘oldies’. It is not just a danger to people with co-morbidities. It is a danger to all of us, of any age.
Next time you go out, ask yourself if you want to become one of the ‘long haulers’. If the answer is no, wear a mask and stay away from those who don’t.