Sunday 2 August 2020

Day 139 of self-isolation - Whack-a-mole


So now we're playing whack-a-mole. Every time the virus pops up, we whack it on the head. But there are drawbacks to this strategy - it creates a lot of uncertainty. Can you plan a family get-together? A wedding? Can a business plan to reopen? Business hates uncertainty. But I can see why they're doing it.

An interesting trade-off has been proposed. We're on the verge of R=1. We're still seeing a hundred deaths per day, or so, while other European countries are a tenth of what we're seeing. But September isn't far away, and it would be great if we could reopen the schools.

We know that reopening the schools, is going to give a boost to the spread of the virus. So is there anything that we could do to counterbalance that? How about closing the pubs?

Are schools more important than pubs? And at pubs, it's got to be very difficult to stop the spread of the virus. People have to unmask to drink, and that's assuming that they were masked in the first place. So there's a proposal floating around - close the pubs in order to open the schools.

Test and trace

Our test-and-trace has been a shambles. There was going to be an app. It was rolled out in the Isle of Wight, and then it was going to be rolled out over the whole country - and then it wasn't. So now, we're doing it the hard way. If you're infected, you tell the tracers, and tell them who you've been near (less than two meters for at least 15 minutes). "Yes, I was down at the Dog and Duck, quite a crowd there. No, I don't know their names. Dominic Cummings, I was close to him".

So we spent £12 million on an app that not only didn't work; it could never have worked, and Google, Apple and I all told them so. Meanwhile, in Ireland, they have an app that does work, and is being used. What is wrong with us? I blame Dido Harding, because she's in charge of all this.

Not only does the Irish app work, it's also working in Northern Ireland. How come a Brit in NI can have access to track and trace, but we don't in England? Why can't we say "Priti please" to Ireland and use theirs?

How many dead?

46,193 people have died of Covid-19 in the UK. But if you poll people, they'll tell you that 7% died, which is about 4 million. It's worse in the USA, where 158 thousand have died, but the poll said that people thought it was 30 million. I suppose that demonstrates that people are completely unable to assess risk. Or are as innumerate as Diane Abbott.

76% of Brits are expecting a second wave; 66% of Americans. Although since America is still drowning in their first wave and will probably be doing so for the rest of this year, it's surprising that they're thinking about a second wave already.

Seeds from China

Mysterious packets of seeds have been arriving unordered in people's letterboxes, from China, and there has been much specualtion about whether they might be a biohazard. I was guessing that they might be triffid seeds, but the truth turned out to be more mundane. The US Department of Agriculture has identified them as cabbage, rosemary, hibiscus, mint, sage and other herbs. Still; advice is not to plant the seeds.

I wonder what the intention is? Obviously, we should suspect a scam, but I just can't think of a scam that starts of with receiving unrequested seeds through the post.

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