Day 96 – An expert speaks

Let’s (not) lighten the mood with this little gem from the Daily Maverick webinar yesterday, shall we?

Here’s a rather grim warning from Prof. Shabir Madhi, member of SA’s scientific advisory council:

People are getting infected at a phenomenally high rate. It’s unbelievable. Not in my wildest imagination did I think people would get infected as much as they’re getting infected right now. What you’re going to see in Gauteng in the next three or four weeks is going to be really frightening.

When scientists and professionals use language like that, you know that things have got a little bit out of hand. He continues:

The number of people we’re diagnosing on a daily basis, which is still a fraction of the true number of people infected, is absolutely frightening.
They’ll all end up in hospitals in 2 to 3 weeks from now.

In Gauteng, like many other places in SA, people are not avoiding crowded spaces, they’re not wearing face masks, they’re not ensuring physical distancing. That has fuelled the transmission of the virus.

Yep: Gauteng is the new Cape Town.

And while just a few weeks ago, they were laughing at us and calling us “Western Cape Wuhan”, they’re now dying in their droves.

Who could have seen that coming?

The rapidly opening economy, now including restaurants, cinemas, casinos and “personal care salons” flies in the face of pleas from the Health Department for people to stay at home. I’m sure that we’ll see spikes all over the country from this, though in the case of Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, they might be well hidden behind the exponential increases there anyway. The bigger worry for the Western Cape now is surely that people think it’s all over and give up any attempt to protect themselves or others.

Spoiler: This is not all over.

Because, as you can read above, even during the worst of it, the number of people choosing not to socially-distance or cover their noses and mouths while out and about, flies in the masked faces of the advice from the experts.

I have no answers. No ways to solve this. We’ve been through it so many times on here. Quite how much more the government can do to communicate the simple steps to reduce the risk of transmitting and contracting Covid-19 is beyond me.

For more and more people, it’s now just getting to the point of protecting themselves and their own families. Only go out and about if you really need to* – especially to anywhere indoors (good practical advice here, remember), because people are going to break the rules, they aren’t going to wear masks and they will come too close to you:

Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown, blame yourself for going to the circus.

Although I’m very happy to blame the clowns as well.

 

* I don’t count casinos, hairdressers, cinemas and restaurants in this category (sorry Corné).

Day 95 – Concert shock

On Friday evening, I was cooking up the evening meal (tandoori chicken, thanks for asking) while listening to Steve Lamacq’s show. This is a regular weekday routine. Obviously, the actual meal being cooked does vary, but otherwise: me in the kitchen, glass of wine, Lammo on the radio, dinner being cooked – every night.

Steve was asking his audience about their top three concert experiences. This is information that everyone always should have readily to hand, like their top 10 favourite songs or their top 5 favourite films.

Thankfully, Steve didn’t ask his audience about those other things though, so we can leave that for another day.

Or never. (I think I could only get to three or four films, anyway…)

The top 3 concerts is easy though:

1. a-ha in Bergen, 2016.
2. Skunk Anansie in Darling, 2013.
3. Manic Street Preachers at Glastonbury, 2003.

And so, having mentally recalled my trio, I was just having a(nother) sip of wine and thinking how long it had been since I listened to any Skunk Anansie when suddenly, they were – literally at that second – being played on the radio.

Properly weird. I (very briefly) felt a bit trembly and sick. Massive coincidences like that shouldn’t really be happening in my kitchen on a Friday evening. I had to drink some more wine.

I haven’t thought much about Skunk Anansie since then (mainly out of pure fear of a further coincidence), but when I do, I’m going to make sure I listen to some for a good few, loud hours.

Day 94 – Wave, daddy!

[Glasto (2) post postponed for the moment, because…]

We went for a drive down the Atlantic Seaboard yesterday. Well… a bit of it, anyway.

Weather like yesterday’s can’t be ignored and we needed the fresh, unsullied air from the ocean.

There was plenty of it to go around, with some frothing chaos on Slangkop beach:

And some grim, stormy seas behind the lighthouse:

It’s always difficult to demonstrate the sheer scale of the seas in photos. So just suffice to say that I was very glad to be on the land and not on the water. Big waves. Big.

The weather was dark, moody and gloomy one minute:

But patchy sunlight scudded across the bay every now and again, giving some occasional delicious light:

 

You can see all the photos (that I felt were worth sharing) from yesterday here.

And you can come back here for that other Glosto-inspired post tomorrow.

Day 92 – Some good advice and some nice visuals

Two things to share with you today: one is some good advice and the other is some nice visuals.
You’d probably guessed that from the title of the post though.

First up, a nice, practical piece from the Daily Maverick, written in language we can all understand.

We cannot be saved by government policy alone – the things we can all do are what will save South African lives. And those things are pretty simple.

Our Summary:

Do everything possible outdoors;
Open windows;
Wear masks;
Keep at least one metre distance (two metres is better) from people
Avoid crowded spaces
Be quick

It’s good stuff, it’s easy to read, and each point is backed up by (layman’s) scientific reasoning.

My one gripe is the little contradiction that creeps in under the “No Shaming” heading:

There is no need to shout at people exercising outdoors without a mask but at a distance, or in the park with their family; they are not going to infect you.

Sure, I wasn’t going to shout at them. But wearing a mask outdoors costs no time, money or effort and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus from “low” to effectively “nil”. So why make any exception at all: why not just wear the damn mask like the law and any decent sense of morality says you should?

It’s not hard.

And then these visuals of “How the Virus Won” from the NY Times. (This link spotted first via @JacquesR, and then in about four other places I frequent very shortly afterwards.) Yes, you need to register (free), but it’s very interesting and probably worth it.

Some basic graphics, some good data – again explained in layman’s terms, the odd political quote (only the ones where the politicians in question got it horribly wrong – hindsight is 2020 – but why on earth would you want to go there ever again?).

It regularly looks horribly like one of the 1960s graphics you get where some killer plague spreads across the world.

Strange that.

 

Those are your interesting links for Friday. Have a nice day.
Wear a mask. Don’t be in America.

Day 91 – Title-less

The sky is getting darker, the wind is blowing ever more strongly and the temperature is dropping ever so slowly.

There’s a storm front coming
White water running and the pressure is low
Storm front coming
Small craft warning on the radio

So sang Billy Joel. Mind you, he also famously claimed that

We didn’t start the fire

And as you will read below, that’s actually something I fully intend to do just now.

Yes, there’s another Cape cold front on the way in. It’s not a huge one, but it has been sitting just to our south west for a few hours now, teasing us about its imminent arrival. It’s coming in two parts: one today and one on Saturday. Much like the UK’s coronavirus problem, it seems likely that the second wave will be the worse of the two, but much like South Africa’s coronavirus problem, that assumes that we’ll make it through the initial wave first.

As ever, I have battened down the beagle and I will be lighting the fire presently. But I’m tired and I’ve been making silly mistakes all day. It wouldn’t surprise me if I have actually battened down the fire, so I will double-check before I stick a paraffin-laced cube of white stuff anywhere.

I’m listening to 6 Music on what would have been the prelude to the Glastonbury 2020 weekend. Obviously, that’s not happening for viral reasons, but they have been celebrating what has gone before and what would have been, with some really uplifting, joyful, positively emotive music.

I don’t think that the currently wonderful weather in the UK is helping those people who had tickets for the Festival this year either. It would have been fantastic. And while there’s obviously no substitute for actually being there, I would have still enjoyed watching it in big bold 4K, 6000 miles… away in front of a smouldering hound.

In the meantime, the last bits of online schooling before the staff and students of the kids’ school get a well-deserved week off, several household chores, a bit of football, some red wine.

See you tomorrow.