Day 620 – Myths

Just wandering back through the anals of twitter (misspelling entirely deliberate), and came across this gem from 23 May this year:

I checked back to the 23 May on a handy graph supplied by google and found this:

Look what happened just afterwards. Tweet did not age well.

Officially, there were about 30,000 Covid deaths in South Africa in the “mythical” third wave, although the excess deaths figure, which many professionals believe to be far more accurate for this sort of thing, suggests nearer 3 times that number.

Surprisingly, the same account (which ticks all the usual boxes: pro-gun, pro-Trump, anti-vax, “the media have been bought off”, “there’s graphene in the jab”, “the earth is flat”, “Fauci is the devil”, “Nuremberg trial 2022”, “Ivermectin is the answer”) is now choosing not to believe that there is a fourth wave on the way. Talk about doubling down on a losing position.

That said, in one way – obviously – I actually wish that he was right.

But of course, sadly, he’s wrong again.
I do hope that his [checks notes] 84 followers will hold him accountable for his repeated mistakes.

Day 500 – Day 500 of lockdown

Not much to add here, because it is what the title says: the 500th day of our lockdown in some form or other. It’s not been pretty, but research does show that it has been somewhat effective. But there have been huge downsides, especially economically and socially.

And where do we find ourselves on Day 500? Probably in a worse situation that just about any of the previous 499 days. It certainly feels that way personally (if we’re playing with exact numbers, then Day 481 was the probably the worst). We’re not allowed out between 10pm and 4am (like I’d want to anyway) and we can’t buy alcohol to drink at home on the weekends or public holidays (tomorrow is a public holiday) (but again, like I’d want to anyway).

On the plus side (again personally), I’m probably safer from Covid-19 right now than at any previous point in the pandemic, but that’s scant consolation given that I’m completely broken after I stayed up for the football last night. And that was a pretty unpleasant experience, as well.

There’s no end in sight for the third wave or the pandemic or the lockdown generally. Will I be writing more about lockdown this time next year? Will my lockdown diaries tag reach 1000 days. I wouldn’t rule it out.

In the meantime, we’re still doing our level best to be good and to avoid people and places. And given that I get knackered just walking from one room to another – and looking at that graph above – maybe that’s the best way to be at the moment.

As a brief addendum, can you imagine if I’d kept my 50 Days Of Lockdown Flickr album going all this time? I was getting desperate for content by Day 8! Day 408 would have been pants.

Day 450 – Day 450

Yes, Day 450 of lockdown in South Africa. That’s a lot of days, and so it seems reasonable to ask what progress we have made since late March last year.

Officially, almost 60,000 deaths from Covid-19 (although the true figure is probably much higher than that); I can’t buy any alcohol until Monday and I can’t go out after 10pm. And in the next month, I’m probably going to be at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 than ever before. 3.4% of the population have been vaccinated, although most of those have only received one of the two doses they require. Joburg’s hospitals are full and are turning away desperate patients until others die and free up beds.


It’s a deeply unpretty spectacle.

And yet, as I have previously lamented, life goes on unabated. I don’t know what it will take to change people’s mindset, but I can’t see it happening any time soon. And that means that it will likely be too late.

It’s a gorgeous sunny day here in Cape Town. High 20s and uninterrupted blue skies across the city. Fresh, clean, outdoor air is everywhere, and yet the malls and pubs are packed. It sometimes feels like I’m the only one that’s feeling this way, but there must be others also feeling vulnerable and choosing to keep themselves to themselves with just a coffee or two, last night’s braai meat, some Woolworths salami sticks and the football on the tele.

I don’t get it. And so I try to find some solace in Hungary v France.

Day 448 – More on graphs

Sometimes (often, in fact), displaying something on a graph can give far more context and relay far more understanding than using words or even numbers. That context and understanding might not be good news, but maybe in those cases it’s even more important to get the message across as quickly, efficiently and straightforwardly as you can.

This graph should do exactly that. And for those exact reasons.

Nearly 8,000 new cases in Gauteng reported yesterday. The highest number ever recorded there. Driven primarily by urban Johannesbeagle and still increasing dramatically, as the black line shows. And the likelihood is that this represents just the tip of the iceberg, with plenty (or more) anecdotal evidence that the community prevalence is actually far higher than those cases being recorded.

And you don’t have to be rocket scientist (or actually even a scientist at all) to consider what’s above and then look at these (smaller, but still equally valid and scary) graphs and see what’s coming for Cape Town soon.

Another week? Maybe two? It’s a pretty unpleasant thought.

While we’re on graphs and their significance, I thought I’d share this – adapted from a tweet by Jens von Bergmann, and used with permission.

Same graph, differing significance depending on your education/viewpoint/desired narrative.

But I guess that one point you can take away from this is by applying it to the graph at the top of the page and – once again – coming to the conclusion that things are looking very bad right now.

Graphs: rid1tweets and mediahack

Day 447 – Level 3

Alert level 3 for Wave 3.

50 people inside still seems like far too many (and that’s because it is far too many), and research has shown that a partial alcohol ban will have very limited effect on the numbers attending hospital and therefore won’t help much from that point of view. But again (and again and again and again), economically, we can’t survive a full lockdown and the government has to be seen to be doing something. Especially with this situation:

All the other big provinces are now joining the party (I think the Eastern Cape line is hiding behind the Limpopo one). And yes, the Northern Cape is doing its own thing, but if you follow that purple plot, you can see that the Northern Cape is a bit of a law unto itself anyway. I’m guessing (guessing) that this is because the population there is so small that any outbreak at a school or workplace – which would be considered fairly minor elsewhere – shows up even on a graph scaled like this one.

Looking at the previous two waves, the next two months are going to be fairly unpleasant for us all. the problem is (aside from the disastrous vaccine rollout trickleout) full on Covid fatigue. People are understandably fed up and no-one seems to be taking it seriously anymore. And yet the signs are all there that this third wave is going to be a horribly costly. Many of those who have dodged the Covid bullets so far, whether by good fortune or simply by not going to gunfights, are going to be affected. But stick your head up above the parapet and say that, and you get eye rolls and sneers.

I stick my head up and say it anyway. Don’t take unnecessary chances, do wear a mask, do avoid crowds and indoor gatherings. Let’s face it, it’s really not that hard to do: this isn’t rocket science – it’s just science science.

Stay home, stay safe.