Am I Being Unreasonable?

As the UK is coming out of lockdown, so too are we – my wife and I. Only slightly – I want to make sure that all the cards are stacked in my favour before resuming my old life.

With that in mind, we had a garden-guest around last week, a friend of my wife. I can’t remember how we got there but the conversation somehow got to post-lockdown behaviour. I said I’d be far more comfortable coming out of the house if I knew there were no cases in our local hospital.

Okay, if there are no cases it does not necessarily mean we are [i.e. the vicinity is] COVID-free, but if we did have enough COVID cases, I’m sure some of them would end up in the hospital, and counted in the statistics.

It so happens that the husband of this friend works up at the hospital. Ah, the friend says, Rob gets an email every day, telling him exactly how many current COVID cases there are. My response was simply that this kind of information should be in the public domain.

These last few days, therefore, I have spent time poking about on the web, to see if this information is, indeed, available. I couldn’t find it, so I ended up asking the hospital themselves whether they publish numbers.

This morning I received a reply. No, the numbers aren’t published because it might breach patient confidentiality.

Now, I wasn’t asking for names and addresses, just aggregate numbers. So I’m not sure how that could breach anyone’s confidentiality.

My next step? Well, the UK has a Freedom of Information law, and hospitals are public bodies, so I think my likely way forward is to put in one of these requests when I have some time. That is a pain, though, not to mention that the law gives them a month or two to respond to this request. Most likely they will sit on it until, hopefully, the pandemic is over, when this information is useful now.

I can’t help thinking it is a weird state of affairs. All around the world, people are looking for snippets of information to help them make pretty fundamental stop/go decisions, and our public health services are actively witholding this information.

Fandango’s Provocative Question (17 June 2020)

Wednesday. Fandango’s Provocative Question once again. This week, he asks:

Which pre-pandemic activities are you ready to resume (or have you already resumed)? Which, if any, pre-virus activities are you likely to continue to avoid?

My thoughts on this one have not really changed for a while, to be honest.

My gut feel from right back in March was that the politicians are mostly interested in the economy. From Day #1, where some of us have been thinking in terms of minimising casualties, they (some of them) will have been thinking in terms of acceptable casualties. As a result of this, my gut feel was that politicians would try to open things up too soon. That eventually, they would be going against the advice of the medics. I saw that as inevitable, whether it happened back in April, now, or not until Christmas.

So, my decision, a long time ago, was that whenever our Prime Minister started opening shops again (which has just started), then I would stay isolated for another six weeks. Why six weeks? Well, that’s arbitrary, really. Long enough to digest the numbers and satisfy myself that the virus is under control. On current form, that takes me to the start of August. Even then, I will review this decision if the numbers aren’t good.

Now, what does that mean in terms of Fandango’s question? The short answer is that, right now, nothing changed. The one time I have left the house has been for food shopping. My wife drives us to the shop, and I have noticed that she is saying things like, oh, I could fancy such-and-such, which is only available at a certain shop. So, we’ve visited a larger variety of supermarkets than we did in lockdown. At the start of this, we would deliberately go to just one shop, and we chose it simply because it was the shop with the biggest range. But since she drives, and can normally park outside, I figure the risk is pretty much unchanged for me.

There is no other shopping. And restaurants and cafes are not yet open, although coffee shops are selling takeout.

I’m a bit reassured that our local hospital has no COVID cases at the moment. One of my wife’s friends works up there. I know that doesn’t equate to no COVID in the community at large, but it is a good sign.

Although the hospital does not have any current cases, they are apparently standing by for this second wave. I think we might well be seeing a second wave, actually, just because new COVID cases are stubbornly refusing to drop here – they were as high yesterday as they were 2 weeks ago, at around 1200 new cases per day.

I’ve gone on “official new cases” since the start of this. I figure that even though that number is generally accepted to be a fraction of the real number of new cases. My thinking was just that even though somebody’s case might not be counted at first, if it became bad enough they would turn up at the ER, and then they would be counted. So I figure that there is some proportionality between the real and official numbers.

But no, to answer his question, nothing changes yet.

Breakthrough?

Our (serious) News programme just announced that an existing, off-the-shelf steroid, which exists as either an injection or a ten-day course of tablets, has had a significant effect in treating COVID. I think I caught that they are talking in terms of reducing fatalities by around 1/3.

https://www.channel4.com/news/coronavirus-major-breakthrough-cheap-drug-reduces-deaths-among-sickest