28/04/20 Looking at the latest international data, the UK has seen the highest rate of increase in deaths over the last week, prompting experts to worry that a prolonged corona-virus peak could lead to the UK becoming the worst-hit country in Europe. While the peak of the crisis in the UK is thought to have passed in early April, the five-day average in UK daily deaths has refused to fall below 600. This is one chart no-one wants to top and is a sober reminder how deadly a situation this is, especially for anyone who still does not take it seriously. There WILL BE good reasons why the country finds itself in this unenviable position, we, the politicians and the medical experts need to focus on what has to be done to address this awful situation and not allow the debate to degenerate into fruitless recriminations. If need be, that can come later.
Nicola Sturgeon has advised people in Scotland to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as on public transport and in shops to prevent the spread of corona-virus. Wearing cloth coverings such as scarves will not be mandatory but the move could help to prevent transmission of the virus, official Scottish Government guidance said. Possibly, this is the only thing I have ever agreed with from this ‘one-string bow’ politician. No doubt she has been heavily influenced by initiatives in Europe where mask use will be compulsory on public transport throughout Germany, and nearly all states will also make face coverings mandatory when shopping. Seems eminently sensible to me.
The rain forecast for yesterday came during the night and did not let up all day. My morning cycle ride ride turned into a cold, wet ordeal that was little fun, if at all. The only high point was passing a female swan (Pen) sitting on her nest while her mate (Cob) collected bits of reed to stuff into the side of the heap, probably to raise its level. In just over an hour I saw few runners or dog walkers and those I did were huddled under umbrellas or scrunched inside hooded rain-gear. No-one braved a look-up as I splashed passed.
Ironically, the ‘Outsunny’ awning that I had ordered to fit over the balcony and should have arrived last week, came today! It was left in the garage waiting for the next sunny day day to be fitted, which according to the BBC weather will be in about a weeks time! I spent the rest of the day in my study sorting, saving and copying holiday videos onto various drives. By the end of the day I ‘bit the bullet’ and ordered a new 4 TB drive from Amazon in order to keep them all in one place. Sue spent her day looking through and sorting Uncle Stanley’s paperwork and other paraphernalia as well as attending to a mass of emails concerning the Tenbury Wells group she is a member of. We didn’t see much of each other all day!
29/04/20 Boris Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds gave birth today and in the wake of several countries easing restrictions there has been much discussion in the media about lifting lock-down. Business Secretary Alok Sharma set out five key tests for lifting the UK’s Corona-virus lock down:
1. “We must protect the NHS’ ability to cope. We must be confident we are able to provide sufficient critical care and specialist treatment right across the UK.”
2. “We need to see a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate from corona-virus so we can be confident we have moved beyond the peak.”
3. Reliable data from SAGE showing the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board.
4. “We need to be confident that the range of operational challenges including testing capacity and PPE are in hand with supply able to meet future demand.”
5. “We need to be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelm the NHS.”
Significantly, Germany faces the prospect of having to restore stricter lock-down measures as its number and rate of corona-virus infections grew again. Hailed as among Europe’s most successful in tackling the pandemic, the country began relaxing restrictions on 20 April to allow small businesses to open as the reproduction rate of the virus fell. It is reported that officials believe it is too early to say whether the lifting of restrictions caused the increase, the country’s overall number of COVID-19 cases grew by 1,018 on Monday and 1,144 on Tuesday. Really? Are these officials devoid of rationality and cannot make the simplest of links between cause and effect? Are these officials really politicians, rather than sober minded, analysts? Fingers crossed that when the UK government decides to ease restrictions they first consider closely how other countries fared in their efforts to attain normality.
Something from the US that is equally worrying is video footage of Vice President Mike Pence‘s visit to the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday showing he did not wear any protective garments while receiving a tour of the medical center’s facilities, despite requirements that all patients and visitors wear masks. Video shows at one point at least ten people — including a patient — wearing masks around Pence, while he remained mask-less. CNN reports that Pence was, in fact, the only person in the entire building not wearing a mask. If in the future, something did happen to Trump, this is the guy who will be in charge! Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
Nothing much happened at Willow Bank. Sue made gooseberry chutney and I cycled for a couple of hours before sowing a row of carrots and printing some DVD covers for holiday videos I made in 2019. It was a damp and cold day. Lucas received an award from his school, ‘Chef of the Week’, maybe he has a future in catering? Sarah completed decorating the nursery, sneakily blanking out the baby’s name displayed on the wall in the photo she sent on Messenger. She has just under four weeks to go! Ruth’s son, Joey had his 10th birthday today.
30/04/20 Today marks the 100th birthday of Captain Tom Moore – the heroic war veteran who has now raised an incredible £30 million for the NHS – has been given the ultimate birthday gift by the Queen. In celebration of his centenary, Queen Elizabeth has given him the honorary title of Colonel. He was also treated to a special World War Two RAF flypast, a Hurricane and a Spitfire took off around 7.45am on Thursday morning from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and flew to Bedfordshire, where they performed loops over the veteran’s home.
Another cold and wet, miserable day in Leicestershire. While I cycled through soggy fields for most of the morning, Sue set about making rhubarb gin. She picked and chopped some fresh rhubarb from a small patch in the garden, before packing it into a large jar with sugar. She is going to leave it to marinade for 24 hours before adding a bottle of gin that we have had for two years. I later managed to pot on a few cucumber plants in between showers before we both settled down in the afternoon and started a game of Monopoly on the Wii. The game was evenly balanced when we stopped for tea, it will have to be continued on the next rainy afternoon, if nothing else is more pressing. During the evening we watched the National Theatre’s production of ‘Frankenstein’. Benedict Cumberbatch gave a superb performance as the monster and is well worth watching for that alone. As you would expect the staging is imaginative and effective, though the plot does rely heavily on the audience being familiar with the book. Disappointingly, Frankenstein’s father is grossly miscast and makes you wonder what was going through the director’s mind.
It was a work from home day for the rest of the family. Though for some, they also had an audience. It seems that Netflix was a popular entertainment medium for them during the evening too.