Wednesday, April 8, 2020, Day 24, Week 4, of Self Isolation.

Global Cases 1,529,401
Global Deaths 89,416
UK Cases 60,733
UK Deaths 938

Highest number of deaths so far have occurred over the last 24 hours and we are not at the peak yet. I read an article in The Guardian which was based on an analysis by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle. They predict that:

  • the UK will become the country worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, accounting for more than 40% of total deaths across the continent
  • 66,000 UK deaths from Covid-19 by August, with a peak of nearly 3,000 a day, based on a steep climb in daily deaths early in the outbreak
  • discussions over “herd immunity” led to a delay in the UK introducing physical distancing measures
  • we won’t reach our peak until the middle of next week between the 17th and 19th or April

Back in our isolation bubble, it was a beautiful day yesterday. Warm, bright and sunny. so much so, that we got the cushions for the garden furniture out and spent some of the afternoon reading outside with a long, cold rum and coke.

Both of my knees are complaining about the cycling now so we went for a long walk instead. While we were out, we checked up on the saplings that M planted on the Village Green the day before we went into isolation. All except two were doing really well, despite them being pretty much neglected since this all started. I’m worried that they will need watering with all this fine weather but there is no simple way to do this in lockdown. I even wondered if we could wheel a couple of full watering cans down from our house in a wheelbarrow, but is that a valid reason to leave our house?

On our walk, we passed a row of houses down at the edge of the village. A police car and ambulance were parked outside one of the houses. A man was sitting on his front step with his head in his hands, as a police man had a “chat” to him whilst leaning against his police car 2 metres away. No idea what it was all about, but my nosey, Covid-fuelled writers imagination went in to overdrive for a long while after!

I put my jeans on today and they were alarmingly tight. I’ve really got to try and eat less and be more active, or none of my clothes will fit me by the time this is all over.

M went out for a short bike ride later (very naughtily having a second sneaky excercise session in the same day). While he was out, I sat outside and read my book in the sunshine. My peace was shattered by the sound of angry male voices coming from the street. I wandered out to find M’s abandoned bike in the middle of our parking area as he stomped back from the front of the house huffing and puffing with rage.

It turned out he was one of men who had been shouting! After he had calmed down, he explained that a car had forced its way past him on the village’s main street where the road is narrowed by parked cars. He had banged on the window of the car in his annoyance and then the car had done a u-turn and followed him all the way home trying to intimidate him. He had jumped off his bike and gone back for socially distanced “altercation” which involved a lot of shouting and arm-waving, but always from a distance of 2 metres away!

I’m sure the little drama was the highlight of many people’s locked-down day!

Social Distancing Dilemmas

I spoke to my sister, my daughter and my mum today. A lot of our conversations were about what is, and what is not, ok to do under the social distancing rules. It feels as if  logic and common-sense have been displaced by a fear of social judging and shaming.

My niece lives in Harrogate, a 15 minute drive away from my sister’s (her mother’s) house in the rural Yorkshire Dales. She is in lockdown with her boyfriend, who was visiting her from London when everyone was advised to #stayathome. The are stuck in a small flat with no garden or balcony that they can use. When they go out for their permitted daily exercise, they have no choice but to walk around the streets of Harrogate, or the Valley Gardens, along with everyone else in a similar predicament. So, they asked my sister if they could drive over to her house and take a couple of bikes from the garage, obviously without going into the house or having any contact with anyone.

At first, my sister couldn’t see why not. No-one was going be infected or put at risk. But, then again, was it really a necessary journey? If they had bikes, they could exercise further away from home and ease the congestion on the streets and parks of Harrogate. It would also be good for their own mental and physical health. The logic and principle seemed sound enough but, in the end, the fear of what my sister’s neighbours would think convinced them all not to do it.

My nephew has been coordinating his daily walk with that of his friend, who lives nearby. They walk the same route at the same time each day, always staying 2 metres apart but enjoying the chance for a face-to-face catch-up. He is finding lockdown particularly lonely because, unlike his sister, he is separated from his girlfriend. Is he wrong to “meet” with his friend for their daily walk? Logic says he’s not doing anything wrong. If he “bumped” (not literally) into his friend by pure coincidence they would probably have an impromptu socially distanced conversation anyway, so why is it wrong if it is planned? But, they have been chastised by a local woman, who challenged them about who they were and whether they were from the same household.

Similarly, my 83 year old mum, who is in lockdown in a tiny apartment in Harrogate with my dad who has dementia, goes out for walk in the Valley Gardens every morning between 6 and 7. My niece (the same one as above) has suggested that she could go for a walk in Valley Gardens at the same time as her Granny, and that they could have a socially distanced face-to-face conversation. Again, they are worried about whether this could be seen as “breaking the rules”.

Also, my mum would love to go out for a second walk later in the day, just to get a break from my dad. Logic says that two short walks in one day by one person would equate to one long one by someone else, but she is afraid to do so in case she gets into trouble. As no-one is about when she goes for her early walk, I asked her how anyone would know that it was her second walk of the day, and she said that she is fearful she would be seen on the CCTV footage from their building security system!

My daughter has a step-daughter who is splitting her time between her parents, as is permitted under the social distancing rules. As she is moving between two households, logic would suggest that these households are essentially mixing through her. The two women wondered if it would be ok for her mum and baby (half) brother to come in to my daughter’s house when she is dropped off. Logic says it makes no difference to their risk of transmitting infection but fear of being judged and shamed by the neighbours has prevented them from doing this.

On a more sombre note, late last night, we started to see some posts on social media that suggested that M’s cousin in New York might have passed away due to Covid-19. Last night we were confused and thought it must be a mistake, but sadly, this was confirmed for us this morning. We last spoke to her in January when we were in Barbados and she and M had a long phone conversation. He had recently obtained his Bajan citizenship and she wanted to pick his brains because she was considering doing the same. Shocking and very, very sad.

News

The PM’s condition is improving.

The Chancellor has announced a £750 million bail-out package for charities, who are struggling with lack of funding.  So many of what we regard to be essential services are actually delivered by charities, including hospices and respite care and air ambulances!

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