It’s a leap year! I started writing this post yon Staiurday morning (Feb 29th). Some small satisfaction that I would benefit from the extra day this year was quickly replaced by a sense of apprehension as I took on-board the significance of global events unfolding: I first posted on COVID-19 at the end of my monthly update last month. At that time, Coronaviris had only just got into headline news in the UK a couple of weeks earlier with reports of the initial outbreak in China. By the end of January the World Health Organisation had flagged it as a global emergency, but I am not sure that global leaders were paying enough attention to the issue. The disease had spread to a handful of other countries, but no deaths had been recorded outside China at that time. Here was are, 1 month later and COVID-19 has now spread to 50 countries causing almost 3000 deaths world-wide (2761 in China). Coronavirus is creating big problems in the prosperous region around Milan in Northern Italy. Deaths have jumped from 21 to 29 in Italy over the past day and the number of people infected has shifted from 889 to 1128. Towns are being locked down, people are not going out or spending money on goods and services to fuel the economy. The public in Italy are stock-piling for fear of running out of food and provisions. Commercial activities are slowing right down and market confidence has significantly reduced. Particular hotspots outside China now include South Korea, Japan, Iran, and Italy.
At the time of writing this post, it seems quite clear that COVID-19 is getting closer to home too. It seems that alarm bells are starting to ring in the UK.
Feeling compelled make myself better informed on COVID-19 I am undertaking some online research and sharing my findings and conclusions in a ‘layman’s impression of COVID-19‘ on this blog.
From the published data and statistics I’ve dug up so far, it appears that the likelihood of a widespread epidemic in the UK is extremely high:
- As far as I can tell, the NHS is already pretty close to max’d out on utilisation, i.e. it does not have sufficient capacity to deal with COVID-19.
- The impact will be massive and the NHS will not cope with the demand. I’ve explored this in some depth and believe this is very bad news for the world.
- I sense imminent threat to my family and loved-ones.
It seems to me we’re being too laid back about this risk in the UK, aren’t we? Looking at the papers this-morning I see images of Johnson and his mistress splashed all over the front pages with news of their engagement to be married. As a side-note, I guess this will ensure their child will not be born a bastard! Interesting as it may be to the general public, we must have soooo many more important things to be informed about in the news at the moment! Just look at it….. Do we really have a grip in things in the UK?.
- Boris Johnson has scheduled a COBRA meeting to discuss and agree the COVID-19 action plan for Monday. Why has this not already happened?
- Press reports suggest we will be moving ahead with medical resource contingency plans to bring in the RedCross and bring back retired health professionals help respond to some of the demand. Really?
- Thermal cameras have been used in China and Singapore routinely since the SARS outbreak in 2002. Why haven’t we (in the UK) already deployed cameras to detect body temperatures of people in busy places like airports and shopping malls?
- Why haven’t ‘we already ramped up testing facilities (with rapid turn-around times) for anyone at risk of carrying to use.
- How many un-noticed carriers are there in the UK because we’re not trying hard enough to find them?
- The list of things we could be focussing on seems endless……
Other news this month:
We’ve had more severe weather battering the UK this month, the wettest February since records began in 1862. Storm Ciara hit UK landfall on Sunday 9th Feb, with gusts between 70 to 97mph. As intense heavy rain swept across an already saturated country, 250 flood warnings were issued in England and many properties flooded. Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire were hardest hit. During the storm 675,000 properties lost power.
A British Airways flight made the fastest ever subsonic flight from New York to London reaching ground speeds of 825mph by hitching a ride on the jet stream that was delivering Storm Ciara, completing the crossing in 4 hours, 56 minutes.
River levels came up to the limits in Guildford during and after the storm and there were lots of trees and fences down. We had a couple of fence panels blown down as the 6ft posts snapped off at the bottom. I had to dig them both out and cement in replacements to make the garden secure again for Teddy.
On Wed 12th I took Immy to Norwich so we could see some of the city / night-life ahead of Uni Open day 13th. Made a note I’d like to go back to Norwich with Sonja, It would be a great place to study. I wonder if Immy will go for it?
The second big storm was heading towards the UK across the Atlantic as I was packing for our planned skiing departure at 4am the next morning. Darren (with Cris and Kiara) picked me and Max up at 4am to get us to Gatwick airport in good time. The arrival of Storm Dennis was imminent as we took-off and we experienced significant turbulence for a while. Shortly after we took off, EasyJet (our carrier) along with other airlines suspended flights for the rest of day the due to the arrival of Storm Denis.
While we enjoyed the unseasonal hot and sunny weather in mid Italy for our ski trip, the UK suffered a second intense battering. By the end of the weekend 600 flood warnings had been issued (another record) and police had declared major incidents all over the country with evacuations in progress to extract people from properties where life was threatened. This time the River Wey burst its banks in Guildford, flooding some properties.
The skiing trip was just brilliant …….. More about it on this link. We got back to the UK ahead of the third storm of the month, this one called ‘Jorge’. Not quite as wild and windy as the two earlier storms, but bringing lots more rain, sleet and snow, and causing more flooding. This time, the flooding affected a big swathe of the UK along the west coast of England and Wales. Something really has gone badly wrong with the weather system at the moment. I do hope this isn’t caused by climate change but kind-of realise that it probably is linked.
I’ve been updating my professional blog and my cv since we returned from the ski trip and am now looking for my next role. For economic reasons it is important that I find more stable employment quite soon. IR35 seems to be kicking in now. This will kill-off the flexibility and risk mitigation that previously enabled businesses to spin up innovation projects by hiring specialist contract resource (like me). Am now seriously considering abandoning contract work for the next few years and going permanent if I can find the right role.
Something major is happening in India. It’s s flash-point that may be calling for an historic decision for the country to alter it’s current path …. To do with being either a secular or Hindu nation. The country is torn and the interaction between parties with conflicting views are becoming more heated and in some areas resorting to violence. About 40 people have been killed in confrontation on this issue towards the end of this month.
And so the month ends……..It all seems a bit surreal at the moment. Mixed feelings of insecurity, slight trepidation and perhaps some denial about the gravity of the situation.