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Shopping

I woke at half six, and didn't feel that I could go back to sleep. So I decided, that since I was running low on milk (due to several nights of waking up in the middle of the night and downing a half litre), I would go to the supermarket early. Get there just after it opens, so there shouldn't be too many people around.

Mistake.

It opened at half eight, and I was there for quarter to nine. The place was extremely busy.

For God's sake people, it's August. Have a lie in! Leave the place empty for me! ☺

 

Positive cases rise alarmingly in France

The reason I was hoping it would be empty is that France has suffered a recent dramatic rise in infection cases, reported as an increase of 54% in one week, the first increase in 16 weeks. The number of daily new cases is around 1,300 which is a high point since May. The figures are skewed slightly in that virus testing is now available to the general public without having to go via a doctor. Thus meaning more people are likely to be tested, and it seems that of the 440,000 people recently tested, 5,592 were positive. There were 27% more tests, and a rise in positive results of 54%.
Now, here's the important thing - 51% of those who tested positive showed no symptoms. In the past doctors/hospitals would have referred sick people to be tested, but now it's available to the public so anybody can be tested, therefore we would expect to see a fairly dramatic rise because the virus is known to have a high asymptomatic rate.
More concerning, however, is that 69% of the positive tests were in the age groups of 15-44, with a stark increase in 20-25 year olds.
The all important "R number" changed from 1.35 to 1.42 on the basis of this new information. The government has said that this is also due to the drop in people practicing prevention measures. Well, it is the summer holiday. People will be more likely to intermingle, not just with other families, but quite likely with other families in other parts of the country.

 

Stupid people demonstrating their stupidity

Meanwhile, in Berlin, the usual selection of extreme left and right are getting together to hold a big protest against the restrictions that are being imposed. Some deny the Holocaust. Some deny vaccines. And given the impression that the virus has been created by an "elite" to gain power, I think it's fair to say that all deny reality.

Besides, the "elite" already have all the power they need. They run the global financial institutions. You know, the ones that are suffering right now because of this pandemic. Now, you could, I suppose, argue that they are playing the long game of eradicating the poor, however "the poor" tend to do the sorts of jobs that people with qualifications wouldn't ever consider doing. And they don't tend to strike much, basically because strike action has a direct impact on their ability to feed their families. Plus, given the volatility of the markets and how different countries are managing or mismanaging things, I can't help but feel that this undefined "elite" creating the virus would pretty much be a spectacular own goal.
But, that degree of analysis is far beyond the reach of the right wing nutters that I've had the misfortune to meet in life. Generally their response to words of more than about three syllables is to want to bash something.

And so, a bunch of people who refuse to get it are going to go and group together and protest. Oh joy, just what the virus wants - stupid people in a group.

 

Blocking Spain

It is interesting looking at the infection rates (as of 31st July) show that Europe has a total of 2,883,933 cases right now, while the United States (with a population akin to Europe) is a startling 4,495,014 cases.

Now if we concentrate on Europe, specifically the imposition of enforced quarantines on people arriving to the UK from Spain, because of how bad things are in Spain... we can see some grain of truth in the idea that the British government is trying to make some sort of point, as recently suggested in the comment by David Pilling.

Reported cases: UK - 302,301; Spain - 285,430.
Deaths: UK - 45,999; Spain - 28,443 (marginally less than France).
Confirmed in the last 14 days: Spain - 25,175; UK - 5,493.
That last one, the 14 day rate, is the highest in Europe (asides from Russia, which is sort of not-quite-Europe-maybe-it's-complicated).

However, an interesting thing is that according to the NHS website, you can get a free testing kit if:

  • You have symptoms
  • You live with somebody with symptoms
  • You have been told to be tested before a hospital admittance
  • You live or work in an area with an outbreak (such as Leicester)

Which implies that I, having no apparent symptoms, could probably not get tested if I lived in England.

This is important, as the French figures show that opening up testing to the public will bring in a number of positive cases in people with no symptoms. So, it is clear that the UK's statistics will be artificially low if they aren't trying to test everybody but only concentrate on those with symptoms. Is Spain doing likewise, or are they, like France, testing more people and discovering the rise due to asymptomatic people?
Luckily for the British, Andalucía has the lowest per-population infection rates in the country (the lowest rate is the bit attached to Morocco, but that's not mainland). So the Costas and beaches are much safer than, say, Madrid or Catalonia (Barcelona).
Unluckily for the Spanish, Brits on holiday seem to have very little concept of practicing basic anti-viral measures. But, then, this is nothing new. The police had to intervene because of crowds at Bournemouth beach yesterday.

Meanwhile, the government has done an abrupt U-turn on a number of things that would have opened today. Why? Well if we consider that Spain is reporting a little over a thousand new cases a day, which isn't good; it stands in stark contrast to the Office for National Statistics which is suggesting an inferred (non-tested) infection rate in the week of 20-26 July of around 4,200 new cases per day (95% credible interval: 2,200 to 8,100).

Which leads to one single observation. While Westminster might wish to make a point by closing off Spain, they may want to be very careful doing such a thing, lest other European countries take a look at the UK's true figures and ask themselves why the hell they're still letting British people in.
You know - what goes around comes around.

 

 

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Sparky, 4th August 2020, 00:44
The NHS are also doing random tests. My sister who had no symptoms was invited to bee tested. She accepted and the courier came to collect it Saturday. Not sure how many random invites there has been but not just those with symptoms are being tested. Before doing the test, she had to arrange a collection. They sent her a self test kit. Instructions were test (nose and throat swab) had to be done on the day.
Sparky, 5th August 2020, 00:10
Follow up. Sister had covid result. She hasn't got it? Er I thought they would tell her if she had had it in the past? They didn't say. Perhaps the point of these ramdoms are to see jow many symptomless carriers there are?

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Last read at 16:52 on 2020/09/29.

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