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. 🙂
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.
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.
Just a very quick update regarding the possibility of viral spread via air conditioning in close, confined spaces:
I remember some years back there were a spate of Legionnaire Disease outbreaks caused by contaminated air conditioning units. You’d hope that the technology has improved since then, but if it hasn’t, then shopping malls, supermarkets, trains, trams, buses etc could be pathways for the spread of this virus.
If true, the wearing of masks becomes even more important.
I had no intention of posting today, but I believe this video by Dr John Campbell is so important, everyone should see it. And then perhaps we should demand that our governments do something useful to reduce the rate of Covid-19 infection. But first the video:
If you don’t want to watch the video, I’ve cherry picked what I believe are the most important points. First up, a study that shows we’ve been under estimating the distance the virus can spread:
According to this data, the 1.5 metres advocated by most governments is not enough, even just for breathing, especially in confined spaces like public transport.
Next up is a study using hamsters. And yes, they can get Covid-19 just like us. What the researchers did was to set up two cages, side by side. One cage was ‘masked’ and infected hamsters were placed inside [cage on the left]. Non-infected hamsters were placed in the second cage [cage on the right]. Then, a fan was used to blow air from the infected [but masked] cage across to the uninfected cage. This is what you see in the top row of the dinky graphic below:
The result was that only 15% of uninfected hamsters became infected. Remember that their cage was not masked.
The second row of the graphic shows a similar setup, except that this time, only the cage of uninfected hamsters is masked. The result is that 33% – i.e. more than double the previous number – of the hamsters were infected, despit their cage being masked.
The reason? Because ordinary masks aren’t fine enough to filter out the tiny droplets of the infection.
Now let’s extrapolate to you and me. If I’m infected and you’re not, but you are wearing a mask, there’s still a 33% chance that I’ll infect you just by talking to you, or by leaving droplets of infection on surfaces you may touch. But if I’m the one wearing the mask, almost all of the virus I breathe out will be trapped inside my mask, so it can’t reach you.
Now, if both you and I are wearing masks, the likelihood of infection plummets. You can find Dr John’s very good explanation at 13:26 of the video.
Still not convinced? Then look at the countries that have done best during this pandemic. Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand etc have all managed to protect both their people and their economies from the ravages of Covid-19, yet they don’t have vaccines or special treatments. All they have is what is available to us as well – good hygiene, social distancing, and a culture that’s okay with wearing masks in public.
If 80% of people wore masks [of any sort, even home made ones] in public, we could stop this pandemic in its tracks and reopen our countries safely. Instead, here in the West, we’re reopening on a wing and a prayer. We hope that people will continue social distancing and doing the right thing…pfffft.
Just last night I heard a really loud party going on here in Warrandyte. If the volume of screams and laughter were anything to go by, the party goers were drunk, and having a very good time indeed. Of course they were social distancing…yeah, right.
We’ve proved, time and time again, that we can’t be trusted to do the right thing. Yet governments are basing their hopes on us, and a dinky app that will, supposedly, make it easier to track infected contacts? Puleeze.
I believe that mask wearing has not been mandated because:
making self indulgent people wear masks would be like herding cats, and
the governments of our countries actually want us to keep infecting each other…just not too much. They don’t want our hospitals overwhelmed, they just want enough of us to get sick so we develop ‘herd immunity’.
‘Researchers think that the R0 for COVID-19 is between 2 and 3. This means that one person can infect two to three other people. It also means 50% to 67% of the population would need to be resistant before herd immunity kicks in and the infection rates start to go down.’
This means that people will have to be infected for years in order to reach herd immunity. Years of continued deaths, years of the vulnerable having to live in a bubble because every single person they meet could be a spreader. Years of the hospital systems having to cope with an ongoing pandemic…and that’s the best case scenario.
The worst case scenario is that the virus will quickly slip its leash and spread like wildfire through the uninfected parts of our populations. Given how little immunity those populations currently have, that means pretty much everyone. At once. As Italy proved, no health care system can cope with such a demand.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. We could follow the example of our Asian neighbours and wear masks until an effective vaccine can be developed. Once there is a vaccine, reaching that magical 50-67% required for herd immunity would be a snap. We could all be protected, and no one would have to be sacrificed ‘for the economy’. This is the Plan B our governments want to ignore.
So the question is this, are we okay with the arrogant assumption of government that they can ‘control’ this virus? Or would we prefer to wear masks until plan B can take effect? I know which plan I prefer.