Friday, 3 April 2020

COVID-19: Looking to the Future.

We really need to start talking about what happens after COVID-19, a bit like the post-Brexit discussions of a few months ago.

The World Health Organisation really needs to start acting positively against China and it's wet markets. The WHO needs to pressure them to improve hygiene standards in their country. We've already had reports that as China comes out the other side. the wet markets and their abysmally poor standards are coming back as well.

The WHO need to pressure China into closing those markets down, banning them and improving standards within the country. They need to re-educate the population that it's a pretty shit thing to have several wild animals in cages close together with humans. Especially when it eventually kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Given that China started SARS and now COVID-19, the whole world needs to put some leverage on the Chinese government.

It's now no longer an internal Chinese problem, it's a worldwide problem. And the world needs to act.

If necessary sanctions need to be applied.

A secondary issue that has arisen out of the COVID-19 is the reliance on China as a manufacturer. When the crunch came, countries didn't have the manufacturing capacity to manufacture something as simple as a paper facemask or a plastic face shield within their borders. Such has been the reliance on China to produce EVERYTHING.

When it comes to health products, in the UK the NHS needs to investigate their supply chains and build in some resilience. No more should we depend on China for sub-standard products or for any healthcare products.

Hopefully this should be a paradigm shift for the world when it comes to healthcare supply.

Masks, face shields, ventilators, it appeared at the beginning that none of those were actually made within the UK.

That has to change.

And taking production and supply of those products away from China has to be the first step towards sending them a message that enough is enough. They need to change their ways.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

COVID-19: Out of quarantine, but no masks.

Well, I've done my 7 days, feeling OK. The lodger seems to be OK too. He's decided to hole up at his girlfriends for the next few weeks.

I'm back at work catching up on the details of how things have changed over the past 7 days.

Certainly shopping has changed massively as shops are now restricting numbers.

As the news is reporting mandatory mask wearing in public, I thought I'd have a look at availability.

Amazon are restricting availability of all masks to hospitals or care organisations. So no availability there.

Checking eBay, there are plenty of substandard-looking Chinese import masks around. From reports in the press, there are a proportion of these that are not fit for use.

Those decent quality masks seem to be vastly overpriced from what they were only a fortnight ago.

Checking Screwfix and ToolStation for fume masks shows no availability.

So, the government may come out with a law for mandatory wearing of masks in public, but where the hell do you get them from?

Friday, 27 March 2020

COVID-19: More Gaps

I'm currently on 7-day quarantine after having a temperature on Wednesday.

Its's given me time to see more gaps and inconsistencies.

For instance: if unneccessary journeys by car are being effectively banned, why aren't private aircraft? I'm lookinbg right now and a private jet has just landed at Farnborugh from Barcelona. Spain being a virus hotspot, I just wonder if the passengers and crew on that aircraft will isolate for 14days on arrival?

Or doesn't the lockdown apply to people with money?

Currently I can see half a dozen private aircraft in the air. That excludes air ambulances and rig support helicopters. This is just executive jets and helicopters.

Despite the protestations of some airlines, it seems others are still flying. It would be interesting to note how many passengers are on those aircraft. Given that most countries are not accepting tourists or non-residents ion, there still seems a lot of aircraft wandering the world.

I just hope they're carrying freight and no humans.

As for me, hopefuly my company will still be open next week and I can get back to work.

Nice to see the government is helping he self employed. They just need to pick up those people that drop through the cracks. For instance my daughter who has had to leave work because her childminder has closed down.  She's not getting paid during this time, just leave without pay. As she's technically still employed she gets no benefit and because her company are still trading, she's not elegible for the 80% of her wages being paid. She's effectively removed herself from work.

My final concern is how do we pay for all of this? I assume taxes will be high for a few years to pay it all back.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

COVID-19: Gaps, I see Gaps everywhere.....


We're getting serious now. Boris has shut all the shops. But even now, after the most draconian rules put in place in the country's history (bar the Black Death), people are still not taking heed.

Here in Portsmouth all the pubs have done is blacked out the windows and are still open. Enter by the back entrance, cash-only, not on the books, nudge-nudge. The first gap that needs plugging. Landlords need to be warned and if they continue then fined and then hauled to the cells for a night. Maybe then they'll see sense. That's gap number 1.

My daughter works for a car spares supplier as a delivery driver. They're staying open as they are classed as essential. She can put her older son in school, but her childminder has shut up leving her literally holding the baby. She's can't go to work. She's not covered by the Government's 80% wage payment. She's now down to one wage coming into the house.
I've already had to drop a parcel containing nappies and baby food.
No help for her. Gap number 2.

The self-employed are kicking up a stink about the lack of support for them. The thing about being self-employed is making sure you save for a rainy day because your not eligible for benefits or holiday pay or any other employee benefits. That's why being self-employed you always charge more than an employee. You get paid more to cover your expenses and to salt an amount away for the bad times. You create your own safety net in the form of public liability insurance and critical illness cover. You keep money in the bank to cover you when you can't work for sickness or holiday and tide you over the lean times. The key is the phrase self-employed: you rely on yourself to provide all of those things, not someone else. Gap number 3 (Sort of).

If your client (not employer) is forcing you to work for the equivalent of a salary, then you shouldn't take the money. Simple as. That's why the so-called "gig economy" annoys me so much. Why would you do it if you cannot afford your own safety net? If you are SELF-employed, why would you expect someone else to pay sickness pay or holiday? That's probably for another time including the stupid IR35 tax rules.

Anyway. The wife is still working (care manager) and I'm still selling car parts. However our counter service and workshop services have closed to comply with Boris' announcement last night.

Tesco across the road was rammed at 8am this morning. People still don't get the idea of social distancing. I blame the schools for making so many idiots and society for not allowing kids to be slapped when they were growing up. We have a nation of adult children with no sense of responsibility. Gap Number 4.

Right now my son messaged me to say he needs kitty litter  and me and the Mrs need milk.

After last weeks shenanigans where I was apparently the only person in the family able to get bog roll, it seems I've been designated the man who can (find stuff to buy) by the family. I'm the official family scavenger.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

COVID-19: The Madness of Crowds.

The panic-buying phase seems to be without end at the moment... how much stuff can these people pack away? Lofts across the country must be groaning at the huge amount of baked bean tins stored up there.

Roof fires across the country will also be on the rise due to the amounts of toilet roll stored in lofts too.

It's crazy.

I've had to buy toilet roll for my daughters on two separate days now. The downside of having kids and running your life round them rather than scouring the shops for supplies.

Luckily there's a Tesco across the road from work and I can nip in first thing to get the stuff.  But really, it opens at 7am and by 9am it's down to the last few bog roll options.... madness.

I see people are abusing shop staff when they get told they can't buy the shop out in one go. Almost always foreigners. The government may talk about the Dunkirk spirit, but a these days a large percentage of the country have no idea what Dunkirk or Blitz Spirit is, because they have no family history of suffering the privations of world war 2.

Anyhoo, I'm still at work despite government advice to the contrary. We don't have antiseptic hand gel, because we can't get any. Risk takers, ain't we?

Just had a blood pressure consultation this morning. It's way high because my stress response has been triggered. Not because of COVID-19, that I can handle. No, it's because my autistic son has been refused PIP payments.

The original fight to get him on DLA nearly cost me my sanity and left me with hypertension. I'm not looking forward to having another battle.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

COVID-19: Working Against Medical Advice

Well, despite the advice given out by Boris yesterday, I'm at work today.

The advice being if you are eligible for the 'flu jab, then you should isolate for 12 weeks.

Guess what Boris, I can't isolate for 12 days let alone 12 weeks because I can't afford to.

SSP will not pay the bills.

My council tax hasn't been deferred, nor my car insurance, nor rent or my other outgoings. The only good news is I have a couple of week's worth of food in the house now.

So, I am at work today with all of my colleagues. We haven't shut the shop yet because the government hasn't given any advice in that regard. So currently we are serving customers and trying to mitigate infection transfer.

Customers that hand us keys now put them in a tray rather our hands. We wash our hands after each time serving in the shop.

And that's about s much as we can do.

If the virus becomes more endemic, no detail yet, but the owners may look at closing the shop and sticking with online and telephone orders only.

Monday, 16 March 2020

COVID-19: The Current Expected Scenario.

Okay, here's my take on the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic with current biosecurity efforts in place.

All this talk of herd immunity is tosh. It's based on totally irrelevant presumptions that once infected the population has immunity and cannot be infected a second time.

So, after the virus has swept through the population that isn't isolated, we can expect around at least 1% to die. If the numbers increase so much that there are no ventilators for those that become extremely sick, then we can expect those percentages to rise exponentially. As high as 30% mortality at the height of the infection for some parts of the community.

Anyway, the majority survive the first wave and everyone in the UK that has had the virus is now beyond the infectious stage.  And I mean everyone.  If there is a virus shedder out in the wild, then infections and re-infections will continue along with deaths, until everyone is not a shedder.

If there is someone out there that is still shedding the virus, then we continue going round and round and people die 1% or more at a time until the population thins out enough that natural separation takes over. People are so thinly spread out that they don't come into contact with each other and the virus self-isolates until people stop shedding.

Let's say we are successful in isolating the virus and there is no-one in the UK that is infectious and in six months time we open the borders. If anyone shedding the virus arrives from abroad, then we get the whole cycle all over again, because there is no herd immunity, that's bollocks. People will catch another bought of the virus.

Then we go through phase 2, another round of closures, isolations and deaths until we get it under control. Again.

Hopefully we learn and keep the borders closed. Until EVERYONE IN THE WORLD is beyond the infectious phase.

Then we can open the borders again.

Otherwise this becomes the global equivalent of the Bubonic Plague: global numbers decrease until we're all isolated enough to stop infecting each other. What global population figures are for that to happen are anyone's guess.