I hypothesised some months back that the emergence of covid-19 from Wuhan had likely manifest many months before they declared it. I had confirmation about events from someone who witnessed some dubious activity last autumn, that things were likely awry in Wuhan. This week’s Telegraph reports would seem to corroborate this probability, with the news that Harvard Medical School researchers conducted a study on traffic convergence around the hospitals in Wuhan region. It showed a significant spike in hospital traffic as far back as October 2019. Their research was obtained using 350 satellite images, similar to those used by the CIA. They compared images over identical periods in 2018 and 2019, and the images were distinct, with no smog, tall buildings or clouds to block the view. As a ‘Homeland addict,’ I’ve seen many satellite images, and they present well over distances of thousands of miles. In a parallel data exercise, the team looked at internet searches on Baidu (Chinese equivalent of Google) in Wuhan region, and saw significant numbers of searches tying in with Covid-19’s major symptoms.
Dr John Brownstein of Harvard, told the BBC, ”clearly there was some social disruption taking place well before what was previously identified as the start of the coronavirus pandemic.” There could always be other reasons for these search increases, but Wuhan will never admit what the real story is. It’s academic anyway.
Across the pond, we have been following the outpouring of anger over the manslaughter of George Floyd. Whilst we understand the very emotive feeling following the barbaric death of an innocent man, mistreated by Minneapolis police, we must be appalled at the satellite rioting which has gathered apace across the world. i was equally horrified by the vandalism of the Colston statue in Bristol, which was subsequently thrown into the harbour. However, for the police to allow protests by hooligans, under the banner of ’black lives matter,’ is abhorrent. I completely understand democratic protest and free speech, but we could surely have agreed to have the statue taken down and smelted. For the police to stand by and allow this vandalism was nothing short of disgraceful. Similarly this week we saw the daubing of the Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square. I hear arguments that Churchill ‘was a racist’ (news to me), and postulate everyone is jumping on a political bandwagon, but it remains a fact that the world has definitely moved on since some of these historical figures were around. Churchill was an iconic leader of a nation. Does that mean that we have to throw everything out – baby, bathwater and all, under the guise of allowing free speech? Mass gatherings, such as we are witnessing, not only fuel division and hatred, but also put lives at risk, given the demographics of crowds, which inevitably require a police presence, putting officers at risk of physical assault from protesters. Rioting and looting will never achieve anything positive. We stand back and allow this at our peril.
People have asked me over the past week why we ‘are revisiting Madeleine McCann,’ and why after 13 years the parents have not conceded ‘that their daughter is likely no longer alive.’ In a nutshell, it’s about closure. It’s about knowing. Within the characters of the word closure we find both ’lose’ and ‘cruel,’ which perhaps reminds us that something without price is lost, but kept in your heart forever. I will never get over the death of my beloved father, because of cruel and harsh decisions made without my agreement, and also because of the appalling manner of his death. With little Madeleine, a much loved child, we are now hearing that there could be connected deaths and disappearances, potentially at the hands of one individual. Closure – in sudden or violent circumstances – is never straightforward.
On a happier note, an article in this week’s paper mentions Sarah Schiller, who is soon completing her 100 miles walk for Jami. Because of covid, she is unable to walk in her usual spot at Southend, instead staying this year in the safe haven of Edgware. She will soon be turning 80. Very big cheer for you, Sarah – you are a champion!!
Since lockdown we’ve experienced many difficulties in accessing various hygiene products, such as hand sanitiser, soap and gel. When we have able to access them, we’ve seen massive price hikes. Well, the latest product to add to this ‘supply and demand lark’ is face-masks. Following the Government’s policy turnaround (Now you need them, now you don’t), they require us to don masks for travelling on transport and in hospital settings. Take as an example a pharmacy, previously selling face-masks at £1 each, or even £5.99 for a luxury model. I predict they will now push them up to £7, even higher for the spiffing N95 version, because they know that we will not be allowed to travel on public transport without them. Emergency legislation is being considered to tackle likely profiteering, as demand will mushroom. Of course, you can always make your own, sound-of-music style: cut up some chintzy curtains if you like. But I couldn’t make one, I was never in the Girl Guides, and I’ve got enough going on, without honing my dressmaking skills. Further problems are poised to strike. As a community which does a lot of cooking, I imagine we all use a lot of disposable latex gloves. These are a mainstay in our homes, used for a myriad of tasks and normally we pay perhaps £4 pounds a box of 100, but now my household has run out, I notice local shops are pricing them at £10 a box, which is unfair, and essentially comes down to everyone trying to make a quick buck. Given that the Republic of China doubtless manufacture billions of these products, and they are now more or less going back to ’business as usual,’ [perhaps they never stopped], why is everyone trying to get a bite of the market.
Those who are hoping to get a bite at a dental appointment sometime soon may be in for a real disappointment, for waiting lists are going up at a rate of 40,000 patients a day, with warnings of absolute chaos when surgeries finally reopen. I understand that UCL dental hospital is preparing to open paediatric services, but for others, I have no idea. The BDA is anticipating a backlog likely to exceed 1 million within a few months. Frustratingly, many dentists are finding that the cost of obtaining PPE has increased sixtyfold. Now, what was I just saying about profiteering? With strict infection-control rules, the priority for appointments is going to be those with serious dental issues, or the deepest pockets, so in the interim perhaps forget about the check-up and give up the sugar.
From dentists to schools, it is worrying – but not at all surprising – to be told that exams for 2021 could face massive disruption, with the Education Department now adding that secondary schools may not fully open, even in September. The only certainty is that the subsequent 12 months will be highly disruptive. As a parent with a child hopefully sitting GCSEs in 2021, and in the same academic year our twins (Harmony and Melody) starting high school, it is 100% going to be a massive learning curve. I did comment last week that children’s mental health was already suffering through the Covid crisis, and this week that’s been underpinned by various agencies, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists. They have asked the Government to convene a resilience task force to examine addictive behaviour, which has been fuelled by an increase in alcohol and Internet dependence, and connected problems in relationships, work and finances. We understand – as a community – that addiction feeds on isolation, and of course there’s been no greater isolation than what we’ve experienced during lockdown.
Lastly a few thoughts on quarantine proposals, which appear not to be quite as effective as they had hoped. We already had indicators that it would be difficult to implement, and despite more than 500 travel and hospitality firms, plus airlines, petitioning to stop the 14 days of quarantine (self isolation), the witching hour has struck and it has passed into legislation. Home Office documents indicated there was no method for officials to ensure details given by travellers would be genuine. You were likely to be fined only if entries were ‘manifestly false,’ such as claiming your name is Mrs Doubtfire, Elisabeth Mountbatten Windsor, or you say you reside at Kensington Palace. Now the legislation is in place, there are spartan checks at ferry terminals or airports such as Heathrow, although travellers still have to endure temperature checks, paperwork screening and a possible interview. If you are staying with family, advice is to avoid contact and minimise any time spent in shared areas. That’s easy peasy if, like us, you are a family of 8 and have young children. Anyhow, once you have completed your online Contact Locator form and have provided details of how you can be contacted, you’re free to go. I think here of a close friend who travelled last week to Israel to visit his sick mother. Of course, he’s had to spend 14 days in quarantine on arrival. Once he’s finally escaped from his Alcatraz, and paid her a visit for a few days, he will then return to the UK and spend a further 14 days in domestic quarantine. So, how long IS a covid queue? Several hours, or weeks, p’raps a month, m’lady.. Should you choose to breach the quarantine rules here, you could face a £1,000 fixed penalty. If you are heading for Scotland, the fine for breaches is £480. Nice to see that we are again ‘united’ in our misery.
I voiced irritation at inequality of policies across the union last week, with concerns over the little fiefdom called Scotland. So, with this week’s news about quickie divorces, I’m delighted we might finally make some headway. Marriages are not always made in heaven. If anyone happens to have Nicola‘s number, let’s please give her a call, and see if we can get the ball rolling!