At 8 o’clock last night people were on their doorsteps clapping for the NHS. Our street was clapping too. We might not sing but we do clap. Inevitably there have been lots of social media reminders that the NHS needs more than mere applause: better pay and conditions; recognition that they are not unskilled workers; most importantly at the moment, better provision of protective equipment. But a bit of applause will do no harm.
And now comes the news that Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus, showing mild symptoms and planning to remain in charge but working from home - distance governing! The churlish bit of me wants to grumble that HE managed to be tested when many others are not. But, not really wanting to be a churl, I suppose I have to recognise that it is only reasonable to expect that the prime minister, like the heir to the throne, would be tested. I may not like the man, I certainly did not vote for him, but the fact remains that he IS the prime minister.
Health workers are being infected. Doctors are dying, in quite large numbers in Spain and Italy, but also at least one here in the UK. Some of them will have had underlying health problems but the fact remains that they are dying because of repeated exposure to the virus.
There are apparently some 10,000 people stuck on cruise ships, some of them showing symptoms of the virus. Ports are turning the boats away. Some passengers are confined to their cabins, having meals delivered outside their doors three times a day. A modern circle of hell.
In the United States, as businesses close their doors and lay off workers, many of those workers find that their work-related health insurance disappears, leaving them without cover at entirely the wrong time. “According to one recent report, the cost of treatment for Covid-19 can run around $35,000. As the patient in the report exclaimed: “I was pretty sticker-shocked. I personally don’t know anybody who has that kind of money.”” Another reason to fight for our NHS.
There is a should they / shouldn’t they? will they /won’t they? debate going on about shutting Piccadilly Gardens in central Manchester. Police are still having to arrest people for gathering there in grouos of more than two. Maybe those who gather there should be fenced in (rather than being fenced out) and delivered food parcels for the duration.
The Candidates Tournament to decide who will be the next top player to challenge the world chess champion has been cancelled because of travel problems as Russia has suspended air traffic.
It’s not all bad:-
Air quality has already improved in big cities because there are fewer cars around. The nationwide shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak has led to big drops in air pollution across the UK’s major cities, new data analysis shows. The data shows drops in tiny particle pollution of a third to a half in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff, falls of about quarter in Manchester, York and Belfast, with smaller declines in Glasgow and Newcastle.
There is an uncanny Sunday-morning peaceful feel to every morning round here. The only clue to it being a weekday is the noise of the continued work on the water drainage system a little further up the road. This has made our stretch of the road largely car-free for several months but now the traffic-quiet extends beyond the roadworks.
They have taken advantage of the quieter roads to repaint the iconic Abbey Road zebra crossing made famous by the 1969 Beatles album of the same name.
Some of it is predictably crazy:-
There has been a rash of what they describe as “dngerous quack cures” for the coronavirus being shared online.Lemon juice, liquid silver and hot water are among the remedies being suggested in anti-vaccination Facebook groups that have hundreds of thousands of followers. Amazing!
And within my family there is the following:-
My Spanish sister has longer hair than I have seen on her for years. She failed to get it cut before lockdown. She now regrets having got rid of her hairdrier!
Our middle granddaughter, Sophie, partially celebrated her 17th birthday yesterday by opening presents on the street outside our house. (I hasten to add that this only happened because our daughter was delivering some stuff she had picked up at the supermarket for us. No sneaky, quarantine-breaking visits for us!) We stood in our doorway, while Sophie stood outside the garden gate with her mother and her small siblings keeping her company.
Not quite the birthday celebration she planned but such are the times we live in. There will be chocolate cake, with candles, and proper birthday hugs, some time in the future!