Day three in the Corona house has been strangely musical as events have reminded me of song titles and lyrics. The title of today’s update shows where I’ve landed today, but special thanks also go to Simon and Garfunkel, who as often provide a simple lyric that says so much. In this case…
Slow down you move too fast, got to make the morning last, just kicking down the cobblestones, looking for fun and feeling groovy.
What I took from this as the day developed was that sometimes taking your foot off the pedal and enjoying the view can give you the time and space to develop a different perspective. That’s certainly been the case today as I started to question just how seriously the current situation is being taken, by the public, the medical profession and our politicians. That isn’t to say I’ve turned into a doom goblin, but it does appear that we’re sending out some very mixed and often contradictory messages.
One of the problems with imposing isolation is that you rarely start with a clear diary. Most appointments can be rearranged, postponed or cancelled, indeed it gave our first day some tasks to do which meant it went pretty quickly. But not everything can be stopped easily and a case in point arose this morning.
Vaughan has been attending the local hospital for ongoing investigations (not serious but time dependant, miss a slot and you may need to go back three spaces and start again). Today, we needed to get a sample returned to the relevant hospital department around 3 miles away. Given that’s in central London that would equate to about 20 minutes on a bus if we were to get on one. Given that pretty soon there could be many more people isolating who may require to receive medication, return lent equipment, provide samples or replenish home treatment devices surely we would be able to arrange something.
Following current advice, we rang 111 and found they were completely unprepared for anything that wasn’t catered for in their scripted call scripts. Given their scripts pre-date Coronavirus-19 that’s pretty much everything at least in our experience to date. The outcome was perhaps we might be better contacting the relevant hospital department ourselves.
Two emails and half a dozen calls later we were still no further forward. It was only when we engaged with the patient care team (complaints) that the consultant himself rang back. We’re both pretty well practiced at getting through a complaints system but not everybody is and neither should they be to get advice about ongoing medical treatment.
Far from helping, the advice received was mixed ranging from asking someone to bring it into the hospital or if we were asymptomatic bring it in or start things again when the isolation period is over. The interesting thing is that’s from a medical professional who presumably should be aware of the risk of walking into a hospital if we turn out to be carrying Coronavirus.
After 3-4 hours trying to resolve this, we did get the sample/items taken back to the hospital as agreed over the phone. Unfortunately, they were initially turned away by the department receptionist as it was hospital policy that nursing staff receive anything brought in and none was available. Thankfully our delivery agent waited and delivery was made. It’s disappointing that one arm of the NHS is telling us to self isolate while another is saying if you’re not symptomatic pop into the hospital – which is it and how can such inconsistent messaging be possible?
I’ve also had time to look at the statistics for a number of countries and the rate of increase over the last 24 hours. Though too small for these purposes, the angles in the chart show the rate of increase in confirmed cases. From top down, the first five being Italy, South Korea, France, USA and UK. The most successful approach appears to have been taken by Singapore and China both of whom have imposed severe and some would say draconian restrictions early. This is the same approach the WHO has lately moved to suggest and bemoan the slow actions taken in parts of Europe and the Americas.
Borders to Italy have been heavily restricted by Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland. Many countries including France, Germany, Hungary and Canada have restricted gatherings of more than a thousand. Meanwhile, Australia goes ahead with the Grand Prix including the Ferrari team who recently flew out from the lock-down area. Similarly, the UK has gone ahead with Cheltenham races and plans to continue with tens of thousands meeting to watch some of the six nations Rugby matches. Having seen what Milan looks like this does look like we’re yet to wake up to what’s coming – either that, or the government knows it’s too late to do much about things now – bread and circuses are the order of the day,
What may change things is the rise in the number of junior ministers and one as yet unnamed cabinet minister who find themselves infected by the virus. Putting aside the question of how politicians manage to get tested while members of the general public can’t (the proposed subject for tomorrow) it may bring a focus to the heart of government that could be just what we need to fully consider what may be necessary to halt the speed at which the virus will spread.
Not wishing to end on a downbeat note, time for two updates from the Corona house. The first is the progress of Bog-roll Billy. I am able to confirm (if you’ll excuse the expression) no movement in the usage statistics other than 2 sheets to stem a nose bleed which resolved spontaneously.
Finally, I regret to say that all copies of Vaughan’s stockpiling for dummies have been withdrawn following a stewards inquiry (by me) and the uncovering of hitherto undeclared items held in reserve and not fully declared. The investigative journalist in me recorded the discovery. (Pulitzer prizes should be sent care of Gumnut Towers-leave outside and ring the bell until further notice.)