Day 126 – Quick in and out

I’m having a busy day today – all to do with a plan we have for tomorrow, which I might well share with you. Maybe instagram is the best space to watch, although this space is always freely available (please observe proper social distancing).

Stuff I saw today which I thought was good – this:

Very good. And salient as well, given that I spotted a new record low of 3/34 people wearing masks correctly while I was out for a run that I didn’t want to go on this morning (but this). I don’t go around checking numbers the whole time. I’m not quite that obsessive. But 1km in, as your mind starts to empty and you (subconsciously) realise that the first seven people you’ve seen this morning haven’t been wearing masks, you start to do a count – if only to distract yourself from the screaming in your legs and lungs.

Anyway, that’s less than 9% and that’s frankly pretty crap.

In other news, I also filled my car up with fuel for the first time in 4 months and 8 days. Topping up only three times a year is certainly cheaper than my usual regimen, but comes with some horrible limits on personal freedoms. I wouldn’t advise it.

That’ll be all then. Not least because I can’t buy any electricity because of some online problem at the electricity buying people and so this post could end at any

 

 

 

(moment).

Day 119 – Good stats

Amazing news for Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs – an area of opulence, privilege and Diep River – with the latest Covid-19 stats: now with extra detail.

Cape Town used to be the “epicentre” of the country’s infections. Indeed at one point, it was home to an incredible 10% of the cases on the entire continent. But as things got worse here, they got worser [really? – Ed.] elsewhere else, and we’ve long since fallen behind Johannesburg for new and current infections. Now we’re just another city with thousands of cases.

But it’s the detailed breakdown of the stats that has really made all the difference. And I’m pleased – nay, proud even – to announce that since mask wearing was made compulsory there have been no new cases in the Southern Suburbs of Covid… of the chin.

I spoke to local health spokesperson Dr Mae Dupnayme for her take on this.
Here’s what she had to say.

“The mask regulations were promulgated on the 12th of July, and they’ve really made a difference to the number of people you see out and about with masks. In the Southern Suburbs especially, where white men and women – especially those with K-Way puffer jackets and/or too much botox for their own good – are apparently immune to this novel virus, people walking around wearing masks around their chins and necks has become a very common sight. And I think that’s why we have seen the amount of chin Covid plummet to zero. Interestingly, hand Covid levels are also very low, probably due in the main part to teenage girls wandering around in non-socially-distanced groups each with their mask dangling from their wrist.
The number of respiratory infections? Oh, that’s through the sodding roof. Everyone’s breathing the damn virus out over everyone else and spreading it like syphilis at that place in Bellville.
But I have seen literally no cases of Covid of the chin for a week now. It’s amazing.”

But is Covid of the chin a real thing?
Dr Dupnayme explains:

“Technically, probably not. We’ve never actually seen a case of Covid of the chin, but there are two important parts to this: firstly, we’d never actually seen a case of Covid of the anything before a few months ago, and secondly, the fact that we’ve seen zero cases means that actually, it has not increased from previous levels, which were obviously also zero, and when we’re referring to anything to do with Covid right now, the words “not increased” are like bloody gold dust, and look really good in our report. Really good.
And so I’d like to thank all those who ignored the grammatically disastrous DO NOT BRING DOWN YOUR MASK TO THE CHIN thing with the weird bloke and his horribly infected neck – covered in “bacteria or virus or germs” – that’s been doing the rounds on Facebook.
Actually, in putting their masks over their chins and not over their noses and mouths, they’ve effectively prevented any cases of Covid of the chin: a disease that never existed and has never killed anyone. Well done.
A sad side-effect of this behaviour is that they’re breathing out coronavirus from your exposed nose and mouth and that could kill someone, of course, but they won’t need to stress about that. It’s not them, is it?
But the no chin Covid thing is great news for anyone worried about getting Covid on their chin. That’s the message we need to be taking from these numbers. Zero Covid of the chin.”

An incredible tale indeed.

So, from the Ground Zero of South African coronavirus infections to some of the lowest rates of Covid of the chin in the whole world. It really is a huge success story for the Mother City and especially the posh suburbs in the south.

 

And Diep River.

 

Day 115 – A very poor example by Jesus

This is very disappointing from Jesus and his Disciples. Offered up to us throughout our childhoods as a shining example of how to lead our lives, I’ve just been sent this image of Him and His friends out and about last night, and quite frankly, I’m shocked.

Let me just say that I’m not impressed with the idea of celebrities not being able to lead their private lives privately, either. I wouldn’t usually use a paparazzi shot like this on the blog.

But this has got me mad.

Zero social distancing. And not a mask in sight.

Appalling.

I’ll bet that they didn’t even sign in with their contact details for Track and Trace in case someone ends up with the bad Covid. Which they will, because, I mean, just look at the state of this.

And while the restaurant owner needs to step up and take some responsibility – why not space them out over both sides of the table for starters (and the other courses)?? – this really comes down squarely on the shoulders of the guys at the table. I’m willing to bet that alcohol was involved here: they’ve clearly all been on the water and have forgotten about the rules and regulations put in place to protect us all.

And are those Jägerbombs on the table? That’s illegal.

Look, it’s all very well dying for the sins of mankind, but when stuff about your private life like this comes out, it really devalues the whole message. Very poor.

Get it together, for Christ’s sake.

 

Day 110 – Understanding reactions

People react to different things in different ways.

As Rudyard Kipling famously wrote:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs…

Then you would be good as the first responder to a multi-vehicle pile up*.
You need someone who can organise and mobilise and prioritise in that situation.

But that’s not important here.
Unless you are reading this while driving, in which case, it might be important soon.

I can understand why people react with frustration and disappointment to the recently reinstated alcohol ban. I also reacted this way (even though I also understand the alleged rationale behind it).

I get why people don’t agree with the ban on the sale of tobacco. I don’t agree with it either.

But I can’t understand why people won’t wear masks. It’s so simple. So obvious. So straightforward. It’s so easy. I cannot see the downside.

Maybe the resistance is because of the other rules and regulations over which you have less control? Pushback against a government that one feels is taking things too far?

I know, I know – there are a lot of other underlying issues here. No time for those right now. Or… maybe… ever.

But wearing a mask isn’t difficult and it has benefits for everyone – even slowing the spread of the virus and potentially getting those other “draconian” measures lifted sooner.

Being asked to wear a mask is a no-brainer.

It shouldn’t elicit stuff like this:

 

u wot m8?

You don’t need me to point out just how many things there are wrong with this (spoiler: I’m about to list a few, anyway). It simply doesn’t make any sense.
Where has this toddler been that everyone is wearing masks all the time? Why was everybody (and clearly, I mean everybody) wearing masks in Dubai for a couple of years before the coronavirus outbreak? What happened to this toddler’s parents? Why haven’t they taken him for tests? Or is he in hospital for those tests? Did they not discover any other underlying medical or psychological condition? How did they pinpoint it on the mask thing? I mean, it isn’t like the toddler could have told them, is it? How many toddlers are there in Dubai? How many toddlers are there in the world? Why is this toddler the only one affected in this way?

And then the big ones:
Why would someone make something like this up?
And why would anyone believe it?

I don’t know why people react to different things in different ways. For example, I don’t know why I reacted to this tweet by sitting in front of the footy last night and writing a 1000-word, fictional feature article about this Dubai toddler.

But I did.

Maybe it was that I needed answers to those questions above.
Maybe it was that the football was rather dull. I don’t know.

Anyway. Please go and read it and share it. Just for the lolz.

And please wear a mask. Thanks.

 

* Rudyard didn’t write that last line. 

Day 109, extra – The toddler who cannot talk

This is an incredible (as in, literally not credible) story from the UAE.
Please take the time to read it.

 

When his widowed mother died during childbirth, there was never any question that the team at Dubai’s Al-Shabbas Private Hospital would take care of little Ata. In this strange, overwhelming, futuristic city, sometimes the personal touch can be forgotten, and the staff at Al-Shabbas probably knew that without their shared care, baby Ata – his name means ‘Gift from Allah’ – might fall through the cracks in the UAE’s social service system.

It’s been a strange life for Ata, now almost three years old. He has many mothers and fathers in the hospital and has become a favourite with staff and patients alike. He lives, plays, learns and sleeps in the hospital unit in which he was born and which he has never left. The staff – from the porters and cleaners, through to some of the most celebrated consultants in the world – are each happy to take time out from their daily schedule to do their bit to look after Ata: whether it’s sitting with him during breakfast or lunch in the hospital canteen, or reading him a bedtime story before he settles down to sleep in the on-call bunk room that has become his home.

“He’s our child – all of us are his parents,” says Australian Ward Clerk Sandy Johnson, her voice slightly muffled behind her surgical mask. “He’s got an international family!”

Indeed, an astonishing total of 18 different nationalities currently work in the unit that Ata calls home, and all of them have their own story to tell about the little boy.

One could argue that such an unusual upbringing might be detrimental to a child, but Ata seems to relish being cared for by so many individuals. In fact, you would never know that he doesn’t live the normal life of a three year old were it not for one striking feature: he cannot talk.

Despite being just two weeks away from his third birthday, Ata can only communicate via various basic vowel sounds and some form of rudimentary sign language. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t seem to affect his happiness at all, but despite months of speech therapy (on the house – this is a hospital community, after all!), he cannot utter a single word.

“At first, we thought it was maybe because he was experiencing many different mother tongues,” comments Registrar, Dr Iqbal Ahmed. “But that wouldn’t explain why he literally can’t make the sounds that make up the words of any language. It was only recently that we worked out what the actual problem was: our masks. Ata’s speech is handicapped because he almost never sees a mouth due to everyone wearing a mask, and can’t look at the lips moving. I’m surprised more people working at this Dubai hospital haven’t told their friends overseas about this.”

“It’s the same reason that visually impaired people can’t talk,” explains Speech Therapist Noora Koram, plainly ignoring reality. “When we are learning how to speak, we look at the lips of the person speaking and we make the same shape with our lips and that’s how we learn to talk. Ata can’t see any lips because of his weird upbringing in a hospital, where everyone wears masks all the time and never ever takes them off, even when eating, so he never sees their mouth and their lips moving and so he can’t speak. I don’t think he’ll ever learn to whistle either. Or play the clarinet.”

Sandy Johnson agrees: “Yeah, it’s definitely the mask thing. Well, either that or he doesn’t actually have any lips either. We don’t know because he wears a mask all the time too. Everyone wears masks here all the time because it’s a hospital and that’s what people do in a hospital, even when they’re raising a fictional child in a fantasy parenting collective situation.”

“To be honest, I’m not sure if Ata even knows that humans have mouths,” says Koram. “He’s never ever been outside the hospital unit and so everyone he’s ever met has been wearing a mask. Always. We’re not even really sure how he learned to eat, because you use your mouth for that as well and it’s really hard to do that when you’re wearing a mask. Which we all do. All the time. It might actually be terrifying for him to ever see a full human face when all he knows is two eyes and a rectangle of blue pleated paper below them.”

“With hindsight, it might have been better if he had grown up in a regular family environment,” admits Consultant Gynaecologist, Professor Jennifer Hammond. “But it’s too late for that now. Because of the strict government guidelines all over the world, even regular families wear masks all day and night now, and they’re not even living in hospitals where we also wear masks all the time. Twenty-four seven. I’d imagine that we will see many more children whose speech is handicapped because they almost never see a mouth due to everyone wearing a mask, and can’t look at the lips moving. Of course, those children also never watch TV or watch videos on the internet or live in the real world, because otherwise this would be less of a problem. But almost never seeing a mouth due to everyone wearing a mask is going to be a real issue in our near future. I’m even concerned that I will forget what a mouth looks like and lose the ability to talk, due to everyone wearing a mask.”

It’s a frightening prospect, but as I leave Professor Hammond’s office, there is Ata in the corridor outside: carefree and happy – a smile in his eyes (and possibly lower down his face as well – I can’t see), and just for a moment the world seems a better place. I give him a grin – which he can’t see either – and bid him farewell.

Ata grunts contentedly and goes back to playing with his teddy bear, which I can’t help but notice, also has a mask on.

As we all do. All the time.

 

For a full explanation, click here.