Vincent > Bill

Spotted on social media ad nauseum, lots of stuff like this:

So what?

Vincent CC Cheng et al. not only told us about “the Corona virus” [sic] back in 2007:

(that was ahead even of the MERS outbreak of 2012), they even told us exactly why this 2019/20 pandemic was going to happen:

It’s an informative and enlightening read, if you have the time.

The fact is that despite his standing, his fame and his amazing charity work, it seems that no-one batted an earlobe at Bill. And so why on earth would anyone have been bothered with what Vincent had to say?

We’re hearing so much about the changes in attitude that this pandemic is having and going to have in the future, but no-one listened to the experts back in 2007 – it’s only now that their (actually fairly obvious, when you read the evidence) predictions have come to pass that we’re giving them the time of day.

And even then, in this case, it seems like it’s only me that’s doing it.

Shouting about Bill will do no good now. No-one cared what he was saying back in 2015, false hero-worship of a false idol just because someone dug out an aging Ted talk and popped it on your Facebook isn’t going to stop any pandemic. Bill didn’t know about Coronaviruses; Bill was relaying the experts views to the general public.

The public chose not to listen.

Over in the UK, laboratory scientists and healthcare workers are being offered free coffees, cheaper food, special opening hours at supermarkets and numerous other benefits in the UK right now. And I think that’s great. They’re at the sharp end when it comes to this sort of thing. But then, they’ve always been at the sharp end. Underappreciated by a succession of governments – of every colour – and the general public for years and years, they’re suddenly the heroes of the hour. Sure: this is a biggie. And yet they’ve been putting their lives on the line in the face of some properly horrible diseases (CJD, Ebola, Anthrax, TB) for decades. So thanks for noticing now, but maybe have a sit down and a quick review of your previous thoughts and feelings on the people working in the healthcare sector when there was no global pandemic as well.

Once all this is over (the outbreak, that is); once we have the vaccine and some degree of herd immunity; once we’re returning to something like normal life, will you listen the next time Vincent or Bill has something to say?

I’m guessing not.

Precautions

Yeah. It’s another post about you-know-what. The Lord Voldemort of infectious diseases. Sorry. But then, when we get through all of this, it’ll be good to look back at the good and the bad of how we tried to deal with it, and that will surely stand us all in good stead for the next global pandemic.

South Africa is taking precautions. Today is the last day of school in SA for (at least) the next 2½ weeks. Dodgeball is cancelled. Music lessons have stopped. Scouts has been stopped. The play we were due to go and see on Saturday is off.

And my inbox is full of local companies telling me how they are adapting to the crisis. Let’s have a look at what they’re doing.

YES! WE ARE OPEN! say Getwine:

At the moment, GETWINE’s e-commerce together with our three “walk-in” outlets will remain open for business but we are continuously monitoring the situation.
Online shopping remains the safest way to get your wine. Customers can be assured that we have taken all possible steps to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable online or shopfront experience.

Mildly concerning that they’ve taken “all possible steps”, but still admit that online shopping is safer. But they’re probably right and the alternative is there if you want/don’t want to take risks.

Oishi Sushi are:

closely monitoring local and international guidelines with regards to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

and:

are taking increased precautions by reinforcing the following health and hygiene protocols within all of our delivery kitchens:
  • Increasing the frequency of hand-washing and hand-sanitization
  • Replacing our existing hand sanitizer dispensers with touch-free dispensers
  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning all kitchen surfaces
  • Increasing the frequency of food safety audits
On the delivery side of things, we will be introducing the option of a no-contact drop-off service that allows customers to prepay via SnapScan or Zapper, and to add drop-off instructions in the comments section on the checkout page (e.g. leave outside door).

And even my firewood and braaiwood supplier sent details of what they’re doing:

Wow. And this for wood which I am literally going to burn? (Burning renders the virus inactive, by the way.)

Wine, food and wood and the three secondary basic human needs after wi-fi, Castle Milk Stout and toilet roll, and I’m hopeful that with the primary three already in place Chez 6000… and the secondary three safely available to us, we’ll be able to get through the difficult times ahead.

Now wash your hands.

 

UPDATE: Also in touch today…
My gym: “the government suggests that we should close, but we’re not going to (yet).”
My local hiking/camping/outdoor pursuits store: “go outside, enjoy the time with your family, buy our stuff online.”
My bank: “we’re being really careful – fewer meetings. Also be really careful.”
My local supermarket: “we’re wrapping things properly in our bakery section. There’s hand sanitiser everywhere (except on the shelves).”
My favoured e-hailing service: “we’re consulting with an epidemiologist to make sure our efforts as a company are grounded in medical advice.” [Woah!]

Advice

There’s more to this pandemic than just virology and epidemiology.

There are the huge economic consequences, the social and psychological effects of worry, panic and a future unknown. And then there is the sheer logistical challenge of just trying to live your daily life (or something close to it), educating your kids, buying your food, looking after your family.

I know what’s going on with the science stuff, but the rest of it is as new to me as the next guy (a safe social distance from me) on the street.

The situation is grave, especially in SA given our existing problems of unemployment, poverty, crumbling economy and social division, but I have some hope.  I’m noticing a willingness among the majority to unite and try and get through this. And without wanting to be all doe-eyed and sentimental, things really do work on the odd occasions when this country pulls together.

There will always be the idiots out there who will not get involved or even try to derail these processes, but there are definitely the first signs of cooperation and unity beginning to show through.

I’m doing my bit, trying to help coordinate schoolwork for the shutdown, offering assistance to neighbours and volunteering my (surprisingly still quite professional) services where appropriate.

The rest of the time, I’m washing my hands, watching funny TV (because argh! no sport…), getting some fresh air and trying to keep fit and healthy. We will get through this. It’s going to be difficult and it’s going to be ugly, but if we do choose to look after ourselves and each other, we will prevail.

Stay safe, stay sensible. And now… wash your hands.

Living in extraordinary times

I was about to write about the reaction to the Covid-19 situation, and then I read this:

The weirdest part of living through the #COVID19 pandemic is this strange mixture of normalcy and emergency that we’re all experiencing. I constantly feel like I’m either over- or underreacting, or really both at the exact same time. It’s surreal. The level of uncertainty is such that, depending on what happens tonight, tomorrow, next week, all of our actions, both individually and collectively, might soon look foolish. This makes the whole situation extremely hard to process, intellectually and emotionally.

Which I think sums it up quite nicely. As individuals, communities and as a society, we literally don’t know what is coming next, be it this time next month, next week or even tomorrow. You suddenly realise that all your subconscious decision-making processes rely on a mixture of prior knowledge and predicting the likely situation in the near future. We don’t have either of those things right now and suddenly, the rug has been pulled from beneath our collective feet.

I was chatting to the kids about the situation this morning, and I pointed out that while my wife and I are doing our best to make the correct choices and do the right thing, we have also never experienced this before. It’s unprecedented, unsettling and downright weird. It’s omnipresent – the constant elephant in the room – and while you want or need) to know the latest news so that you can make informed choices, equally, you’d really rather not hear anything more on it, at all.

As I’m sure I have said before, a measured, sensible approach seems to be the safest course to take at the moment. (I’m talking about us as individuals in South Africa, not commenting here on guided government policies – although of course I have my feelings on those as well.) There are those who are so blasé about the whole thing that they will actually present a genuine risk to others when they are infected (and at some point in the future, all of us will be infected by this virus). And then at the opposite end of the scale, we have those who are unnecessarily limiting what little scrap of normality we have left before everything changes.

Attempting to delay the inevitable might not be seen as a bad idea, but ignoring the inevitable really is. Much as Canute failed to stop the tide on the beach at [citation required], their actions are equally futile. Key here is the need to behave responsibly once you think or are sure that you have the infection. You’ll live (although it might not feel that way for a few days), but not passing it on to vulnerable groups is hugely important. This is where Blasé Brad’s approach becomes so hazardous: Brad will continue to klapp gym boet and go about his normal business, not letting the illness get the better of him, and shedding virus everywhere he goes.

There is a ray of hope. The first steps towards a viable vaccine have been taken, and there’s a real opportunity for companies to work together to produce decent numbers of vaccines to protect those who are most at risk of complications from infection. I’m surprised that this hasn’t got more press, but then good news never sells papers.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Be sensible.