AOB – 2020

1 June 2020

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has voiced concern about the lifting of lockdown measures in the UK.

He told Sky News:  “We still have a lot of cases here in this country. The numbers of infections that we have is about 8,000 new infections every day in England alone.”

He said that judging the impact of lifting restrictions is “a little bit of an educated guess”, adding: “We think that we might be able to hold the reproduction number at about one, we hope.”

But holding the reproduction number of one would “mean that the incident stays at about this level, and about this level is 8,000 infections, new infections every day in England alone”.

8,000 new infections a day is a far higher number than the number of tests reported as positive by the government – which is less than 2,000 a day across the UK.

28 May 2020

The number of people infected by the coronavirus has exceeded 5.7 million, according to data compiled by the John Hopkins University. The US is home to to 29.8% of the 5,707,163 people with the disease around the world, the data shows, way ahead of Brazil (7.2%), Russia (6.6%), the UK (4.7%), Spain (4.1%) and Italy (4%).

The true number of infections is likely to be much higher, however, given the vast number of unrecorded and asymptomatic cases.

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Today the Chinese “parliament” approved its controversial Hong Kong security law. This paves the way for anti-sedition laws, which human rights advocates say will threaten the city’s freedoms.

Dr. Christine Cheng from King’s College London, on twitter:

I want there to be a different outcome for Hong Kong, but the reality is that UK doesn’t have the power to challenge this- even with the US onside.

Timing is important- covid, Brexit, Trump

Poor credibility is also key- Trump pre-covid, US & UK handling of covid

If Britain, US, EU hadn’t gone through an internal combustion process since 2016, it would have taken longer to get here.

Maybe HK would have had an extra decade. But this transition was always inevitable given China’s rise to superpower status. (And 🇬🇧🇺🇸decline)

What happened with HK during the Opium Wars is widely viewed as a national humiliation by the Chinese.
It has never been forgotten.
Tearing up the 1997 deal wipes the slate clean.

This isn’t just about HK.
It’s about China restoring its own self-esteem.

The signs were there:
Acid test was Xinjiang + Uighurs. China has successfully silenced every country that dares to speak on this. Including Western nations.

The West’s failure to pushback signalled that China’s could do as it wished on its own territory. Without sanction.

There are four ‘internal’ problem zones for China- Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet, and Taiwan.

⛔️Tibet was pacified. Brutally, and now through assimilation.
⛔️Xinjiang is going through the same.
⛔️HK was tougher because of 🇬🇧 and ⚖️🗳traditions.
⛔️Taiwan is next

27 May 2020

Happy birthday to me.

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The US President is an idiot – “Trump also tried to convince a reporter to remove his mask to ask his question. When the reporter chose not to do so, Trump said, “Okay, good, you want to be politically correct.”

It is not politics – it is health and hygiene – and his/her and your safety.

26 May 2020

Stanley Ho died today – he was 98; had four wives, 17 children, and was almost single handedly responsible for the transformation of Macau into the world’s richest gambling city.

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Guardian Live: “The New York Times’ decision to devote its front page on Sunday to a list of around 1,000 names of the dead is still reverberating around political and non-political America. Here’s David Leonhardt, in the Times’ morning email:

Sometime in the next few days, the official coronavirus death count will likely exceed 100,000. The true count is even higher – probably closer to 130,000. This larger number includes people who had the virus but weren’t diagnosed, as well as those who died for indirect reasons, such as delaying medical treatment for other illnesses.

…On Sunday, The Times devoted its entire front page and a few inside pages to the names of virus victims… the idea came from Simone Landon, an editor on the Graphics desk, who wanted to find a way to note both the scale of the tragedy and the humanity of those lost.

…To list all of the Americans who had died from the virus would have required every page of the Sunday paper — and the paper would have needed to be more than twice as thick as usual.”

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Self explanatory for anyone following the Dominic Cummings saga.

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Masks are becoming a political issue in the USA:Trump didn’t wear one in public on Memorial Day, Joe Biden did. Trump retweeted criticism of Biden by a Fox News personality, Brit Hume who stated: “This might help explain why Trump doesn’t like to wear a mask in public”, accompanying a picture of Biden in a mask and sunglasses.

Masks are not politics. They are a simple hygienic courtesy to the people around you.

And if someone asks you to wear a mask in a public space such as a store or on public transport then there is no excuse not to do so.

And to refuse, or to cough on or spit on people trying to maintain public health is not asserting your constitutional rights; it is asserting your ignorance,

25 May 2020

Meanwhile Thailand might want to take note of Greece:

Greece has taken another step towards normality today, reinstating ferry links with islands and allowing restaurants, cafes and bars to reopen, writes Helena Smith in Athens.

The moves, designed to kick-start the country’s tourist industry ahead of seasonal hotels reopening on 15 June, follow almost three months of enforced closure thanks to coronavirus. In central Athens cafes began filling up from early morning – although it wasn’t quite business as usual. Waiters wore face coverings and, though not everywhere, hand sanitisers were visible on tables.

Yachting industry activities also kicked off as the Greek government gradually opens up the sector in advance of seasonal hotels accepting guests in mid-June and international flights resuming to popular destinations on 1 July.

In a nation so reliant on tourism – one in five Greeks work in the sector, which accounts for almost 25% of GDP – officials are desperate to capitalise on the country’s successful handling of the pandemic and salvage what is left of the season.

Japan and Coronavirus:

A little over a month ago, health experts were saying Japan risked becoming one of the world’s coronavirus “disaster zones”.

But today, Japan can make a strong case for being another coronavirus success story, albeit one that has failed to resonate globally in the same way as those in South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

So far, Japan – a country of 126 million people with one of the biggest elderly populations in the world – has confirmed 16,433 infections and 784 deaths,

The Abe administration has gained few political dividends for its response; instead, most plaudits have gone to the quiet determination shown by the public, armed with virus-challenging habits formed long before the pandemic.

Masks are a common sight during the winter flu season, and in spring among people with hay fever. The custom of bowing rather than shaking hands or hugging, generally high standards of personal hygiene, and the removal of shoes when entering homes have all been held up as possible explanations for Japan’s low infection rate.

Personal habits and cultural traits, however, tell only part of the story. While Japan hesitated before imposing restrictions on overseas visitors, it was quick to recognise the dangers of mass gatherings.

Museums, theatres, theme parks and other attractions have been closed for months. Japan’s professional football league suspended matches three weeks before 150,000 people attended the four-day Cheltenham horse racing festival in Britain.

Rugby and baseball leagues followed suit, delaying the start of their seasons, while sumo authorities decided to hold the recent spring tournament without spectators for the first time in the sport’s history. Abe was criticised for calling for “unnecessary” school closures in early March, yet many other countries then did the same.

21 May 2020

UK Breakfast tv really is a matter of taste. Compare and contrast warm and cuddly BBC Breakfast (discussing whether scones should be made with eggs) at 6.00am to hard opinion (the bereavement scheme and the death among immigrant NHS workers) from GMB at 6.30am.

Piers Morgan’s past includes plenty of mistakes but he is the one strong media voice holding the UK government to account.

19 May 2020

A visit to a shopping mall – for the first time in two months. My hands have never been in contact with so much anti-bacterial spray.

Temperature checks at all stores – these cannot be reliable – in one store I was 37C – and ten minutes later in another store I was 35.4C

All stores require you to log into the store and log out when you leave – using a QR code that links to a web site that gathers your name and phone number.

It does not take long – and you quickly get used to it.

The mall was not busy – many restaurants are still closed – the ice rink and cinema are both closed. Starbucks smelled like a hospital ward.

And you need to where a mask throughout the mall.

Not a very uplifting experience.

12 May 2020

One of those special feel good Canadian moments – from CBC music.

Blue Rodeo – Lost Together – the great canadian singalong

10 May 2020

In another grim milestone of this pandemic, global cases have passed 4 million, with deaths at over 278,750. The US has the most infections on 1,307,676, followed by Spain on 222,857. Russia is fast approaching 200,000.

The US also tops deaths, with 78,746, followed by the UK (31,662) and Italy (30,395).

9 May 2020

The UK government is expected to announce the introduction of quarantine measures for people who arrive at airports, ports and Eurostar railway stations, including for Britons returning from abroad.

People will be asked to provide the address at which they will self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival by filling out a digital form, according to a report in the Times.

Airlines UK said it had been told by government officials that the plan would be in place by the end of the month or early June.

Too little, too late. Countries that have minimalised infections and deaths shut down their borders early – New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, South Korea are all among countries that either simply closed their borders or required anyone arrived to be quarantined for two weeks – including their own citizens returning from overseas.

Yet the UK still cannot do this until the end of May at the earliest.

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George Takei (Sulu in the original Star Trek) on twitter: “I didn’t spend my childhood in barbed wire enclosed internment camps so I could listen to grown adults today cry oppression because they have to wear a mask at Costco.”

Takei’s family was held in an American camp during the second world war.

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I was never a great fan of the song – but this is a tribute for our times – “We’ll meet again” – from the Second World War to the fight against the Coronavirus. There really could be nothing more appropriate.

We’ll meet again.

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Something that seems poorly understood by too many Americans including the US President: Freedom does not mean you have the right to endanger the lives of others through your own irresponsibility and ignorance.

8 May 2020

“The post-pandemic workplace will have fewer lunches, happy hours, and conferences where schmoozers can make their mark. People who succeed are therefore likely to be those who can generate results without a lot of in-person interaction with their colleagues. So if your main job skill is networking, you might want to learn the art of actually working.”

Good.

Interesting views on the future of work.

7 May 2020

It is going to be a long time before anyone is again allowed to blow out candles on a birthday cake.

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Bohemian Rhapsody in a lockdown – play it loud. Sing along. Repeat,

6 May 2020

It is not all CoronaVirus lockdown news.

We can go out now in Chiang Mai. But it is 40C by midday so is not a great deal of fun.

Chai Lai Orchid has reopened its resort and cafe – an excuse to revisit the elephants there.


And as the air clears we are beginning to get some lovely sunsets – this was at Samoeng Viewpoint – about a one hour drive west of home.


I do not really understand the vitriol being hurled today at one of the most prominent figures in the UK’s coronavirus response, Professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London.

Ferguson resigned overnight from the government’s scientific advisory committee (SAGE). He had been breaking his own social distancing guidelines by allowing a lady visitor to his home during the lockdown.

The story was broken by an almost gleeful Telegraph – and will now dominate the news for 24 hours rather than the fact that the UK now has the worst death toll of any European country.


He is the epidemiologist whose modelling produced the forecast (16 March) that more than 500,000 Britons could die without lockdown measures, prompting the government’s change in strategy to implement the “stay at home” policy.

Remember Ferguson is an advisor; the government makes policy. A government that won a big majority at the last election.

Ferguson has become a hate figure on the internet for the many (mainly right wing and pro-Brexit) who object to the lockdown.

The trouble is those who want to discredit his advice need only point to the fact that Ferguson himself did not adhere to it.

It is not the lockdown but his personal actions that are the biggest error of judgement.

The majority of the public have made huge personal sacrifices to adhere to the very rules that Ferguson broke. Cries of hypocrisy. But they do miss the point. The government lockdown aimed to flatten the curve and try to avoid utterly overwhelming the NHS.  Was it too late – yes; the UK numbers of infected and dead are evidence of that; how much worse could it have been. Unthinkable.

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This feels depressingly accurate: We perhaps just need to accept, uncomfortable as it may be, that we are living in a world in which the “experts” and leaders to whom we normally turn for guidance just don’t have all the answers that we’re looking for. Nobody fully understands this virus yet. Nobody knows where the exit door is.

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Meanwhile in the USA Donald Trump said it is time to reopen businesses. Speaking in Arizona, he said, “Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.” he said.

Economy before health. Watch out for a marekd increase in US infections and deaths and for a significant second wave in the fall and winter.

5 May 2020

There is no current evidence to suggest that coronavirus leaked from a Chinese research laboratory, intelligence sources have told the Guardian, contradicting recent White House claims that there is growing proof this is how the pandemic began.

Charles Parton, a former foreign office official and senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said: “People pushing these sort of lines are doing everybody a disservice.

“It will inevitably prompt a Chinese reaction at a time when there is a need for a proper scientific understanding of its causes, and, in the longer term, to work together to stop pandemics happening again.’’

If only some of my no longer social-media friends had as balanced a view of the world.

But this need to find someone to blame is not going to go away – and the US led claims will only increase between now and the November 3 election.

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Thailand on Tuesday reported one new coronavirus case and no new deaths, the lowest number of new infections since 9 March.

The new case is a 45-year-old Thai man from the southern province of Narathiwat, authorities said.

The number of new cases have been declining in the last two weeks with the exception of a cluster at an immigration detention centre in southern Thailand that has seen 60 new cases in that period, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesman for the government’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Since Thailand’s outbreak began in January, the country has seen a total of 2,988 coronavirus cases and 54 deaths. Taweesin said 2,747 patients have recovered, while 187 are still being treated in hospitals.

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Another one from the how could we get this so hopelessly wrong school of government: again from the Guardian.

Just 273 people out of the 18.1 million who entered the UK in the three months prior to the coronavirus lockdown were formally quarantined, figures reveal.

Passengers on three flights from Wuhan, in China, the source of the Covid-19 outbreak, and one flight from Tokyo, Japan, that was carrying passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, were taken to government-supported isolation facilities between 1 January and 22 March.

The figures, provided by the government to the Labour MP and member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Stephen Doughty, show this totalled 273 people.

Additional data provided to the committee shows that there were 18.1m arrivals at the UK border by air, land and sea in the same period.

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John Oliver’s latest for HBO: contrast and compare to the ludicrous Fox News coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in the USA:

“For too long, the US response seemed to be characterized by an arrogant belief that for some reason, coronavirus was never going to come to America because, I guess, it just wouldn’t dare,” Oliver said. “And unfortunately, we’re currently living in the consequences of those early failures.”

Watch here:

Coronavirus VI: Testing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

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So far, more than 67,000 people have died in the USA and more than a million have been infected.

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Good to see that Dr. Fauci retains his integrity: from The Guardian

“Dr. Anthony Fauci, the foremost US expert on infections diseases and a key member of Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, has said that there is no scientific basis for the theory that coronavirus was man-made in a Chinese laboratory, or escaped from a laboratory after being brought in from the wild.

Dr. Fauci told National Geographic, in an interview just published:

If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species

“Based on the scientific evidence, he also doesn’t entertain an alternate theory—that someone found the coronavirus in the wild, brought it to a lab, and then it accidentally escaped,” National Geographic reports.

The theory that the virus emerged from a laboratory in Wuhan, China was cited by both Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week. Fauci joins the World Health Organization and intelligence sources in rejecting the theory in response to Trump and Pompeo’s claims.

4 May 2020

We are not so much laughing at Trump but at a system (and a nation) that elected him and that gives him a platform; at a system that can only put up a near octogenarian white male as an opposition candidate in November and at a Republican party that has sold its soul and heart to Trump.

We don’t so much laugh at Trump as fear what horrors he will unleash between now and November. Top of this list is the escalation of the anti-China rhetoric into a much more serious and unpredictable conflict. The rise of Chinese nationalism (it has always been there – but now it is at the forefront of state policy) will not tolerate criticism. The relative freedoms that Hong Kong has enjoyed since 1997 are being undermined daily and neither the USA or the UK is doing anything to stop the absorption of Hong Kong into one country, one system. Does Taiwan follow; would the USA intervene?

Trump has undermined international respect for the office of the President of the USA. How much worse could this be with another four years as seems all too likely?

Trump has withdrawn the USA from the global organisations that are supposed to keep us safe. He dresses this up as America First. But America First only works if the rest of the world continues to admire the USA for its values, decency, leadership and support in times of need. Not any more.

2 May 2020

As the UK government announces it met its testing target a wise thought from twitter (yes it does happen occasionally):

Some mutually compatible points:

– the government has done very well to increase testing;
– the number of tests has been counted in a misleading way;
– testing is only as good as the public health strategy that supports it.

For what it is worth a test that has been sent in the post should not count as a test that has been administered and returned to a laboratory for analysis.

1 May 2020

Trump – there really is no point in any longer calling him the President as that is an office that should be held in respect -claims with a “high degree of confidence” that coronavirus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Asked if he had seen evidence to support that claim he replied: “Yes, I have.” Fox News is not evidence.

His own government experts say the virus was ‘not man-made or genetically modified’.

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Xinhua is basically the Fox News of China.

But China’s problem is that it does not have a New York Times or a Washington Post or an Associated Press.

All news in China is propaganda.

And anything critical that has not been sanctioned by the authorities in advance will see the writers and publishers swiftly sanctioned and detained.

So one-fifth of the world’s population is basically being brainwashed.

I know it is not just China. But that right to choose where and how we get our information, and who we trust, is a fundamental freedom that the people of China do not enjoy.

And it is going to reach a fever pitch of China v USA accusations in the build up to the US election on 3 November.

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Thousands of people left Bangkok today to head to their home provinces for the long holiday weekend. Four days. There has to be some concern of the virus being spread. On the other hand if no new cases are reported then Thailand may be through the worst of the pandemic and will emerge largely, and oddly, unscathed.

28 April 2020

There are now over 3 million cases of coronavirus globally according to official numbers…unoffcially many more.

Trump in his press briefing last night:

Trump also hit out at China, saying Beijing could have stopped the virus at its source and said his administration was conducting “serious investigations” into what happened: “We’re doing very serious investigations … We are not happy with China,” he said.

Trump just one month ago on 27th March:

“Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”

27 April 2020

Singapore – where initially the spread of the virus appeared to be under control has seen a significant rise in infections: government advice has also changed.

Back in February the Singapore government advice was that you don’t need a mask unless you’re unwell. It was only early April that they shifted to encourage people to wear masks, and now it’s mandatory in most cases.

Kirsten Han, a Singapore journalist, active on twitter noted that: “there’s a lot of talk about how heat weakens or even kills the virus. I don’t know if that’s true; it seems like there isn’t enough evidence yet. But Singapore’s experience shows that heat is not a protector from the virus….

I think what we’re seeing in Singapore is that even if you do most things right, if you’re not considering or proactively looking out for the most vulnerable and marginalised in your society, you’re not going to effectively fight Covid-19.”

The rapid spread in Singapore has been through the migrant workers’ camps where there is little or no air-conditioning in dormitories and where social distancing is simply impossible. Ring fencing the dormitories may be a way to stop the virus spreading into the wider community but it does reinforce the treatment of Singapore’s migrant workers as second class citizens – who must be desperately concerned at the risks they now face and their ability to support their own families.

I suspect this is also underpinning higher infections rates in the UAE and Qatar.

26 April 2020

The number of confirmed deaths in the coronavirus pandemic increased to 202,846 on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University, with 2,896,746 confirmed cases.

And these are just official numbers ignoring so many in care homes or in their community.

This virus is fucking miserable. Those in the front lines fighting it are remarkable. So many of those in government have proved inept as leaders.

25 April 2020

Lots of talk about restarting the Premier League – probably behind closed doors.

Just seems like a really bad idea – and who really wants to think about playing and watching football when the daily death toll is still in the hundreds.

And even behind closed doors there will still be a few hundred people at every game together with the inevitable crowds of people that will gather outside every stadium.

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In the UK, a further 813 people have died in hospital after testing positive for Covid-19, taking the country’s total to 20,319.

That is just the number that have died in hospitals and excludes deaths in care homes on in the community.

The number of people positively tested as being infected is 148,377 cumulative.

In Thailand the official number of deaths is 50.

Parallel universe.

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From the Guardian: The vast illegal wildlife trade and humanity’s excessive intrusion into nature is to blame for the coronavirus pandemic, according to a leading US scientist who says “this is not nature’s revenge, we did it to ourselves”, Phoebe Weston, the Guardian’s biodiversity writer, reports.

Scientists are discovering two to four new viruses are created every year as a result of human infringement on the natural world, and any one of those could turn into a pandemic, according to Thomas Lovejoy, who coined the term “biological diversity” in 1980 and is often referred to as the godfather of biodiversity.

Lovejoy, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation and professor of environment science at George Mason University, said:

“This pandemic is the consequence of our persistent and excessive intrusion in nature and the vast illegal wildlife trade, and in particular, the wildlife markets, the wet markets, of south Asia and bush meat markets of Africa… It’s pretty obvious, it was just a matter of time before something like this was going to happen.”

22 April 2020

Maria D. Van Kerkhove is an American infectious disease epidemiologist. With a background in high threat pathogens, Van Kerkhove specializes in emerging infectious diseases and is based in the Health Emergency Program at the World Health Organization. She is also the technical lead of COVID-19 response and the head of emerging diseases and zoonosis unit at WHO.

So much for the Trump argument that the WHO is in some way not supporting the USA.

21 April 2020

At home alone it really is nice to have some human contact – by video or in person.

A quick shopping trip to Ked Farang this afternoon. A visit to the pharmacist who asked how I was doing through this crisis – and he asked as though he really did care to know.

So we had a nice conversation – although his theory that we are two years away from normal was fairly depressing. By normal he meant having the opportunity to behave as we used to. No masks; no social distancing. Two years is kind of a long time when you are already into your later years.

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A telecall with James de la Cloche – the elephant photographer – was also welcome. His business which looked well set and which he had such passion for is now up in the air and unlikely to recover much before the end of this year. A reminder of just how this virus interrupts people’s lives.

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And a telecall last night with Alex – his attempts at facial hair were a wee surprise – but he was in good form – and probably working harder from home than in his office. His birthday present will not arrive until 24th. Sorry!

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And of course Tai and I talk maybe three times a day – trouble is I never have much to tell her about – watering the garden is about the extent of my excitement.

20 April 2020

The head of the WHO this evening – sensible counsel:

Tedros says that easing restrictions is not the end of any epidemic and that it will require “sustained effort” on behalf of governments and individuals. So-called lockdowns can help to “take the heat out of a country’s epidemic”, but can’t end it alone, he says. Governments must ensure they can “detect, test, isolate and care for every case and trace every contact”.

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Alex is 23 today – how did that happen so quickly?

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So Germany becomes the first European country to partially reduce its lockdown restrictions.

This may be a lesson in how other countries slowly emerge – so it is worth a look to see what they are doing:

Smaller shops in some regions will open for the first time in a month after politicians declared the coronavirus “under control”.

From florists to fashion stores, the majority of shops smaller than 800 square metres (8,600 square feet) will be allowed to welcome customers again.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional state premiers announced the decision to reopen last week, though they have been careful to cast it as no more than a cautious first step.

In some states such as the capital Berlin, reopening will take a little longer.

Germany has been one of the countries worst hit by Covid-19, with 139,897 confirmed cases and 4,294 deaths as of Sunday, but also one of the quickest to react.

A ban on gatherings of more than two people and a requirement to stand more than 1.5 metres apart from others in public areas remain in force.

Cultural venues, bars, leisure centres and beauty salons will also remain closed for the time being, while large-scale public events such as concerts and football matches have been banned until 31 August.

Schools will also be partially reopened in the coming weeks, with most states set to welcome back older students from 4 May.

Germany hopes to combine the lifting of restrictions with a more efficient tracing of the spread of Cobid-19.

The country hopes to ramp up testing – it has already tested around two million people – and aims to produce around 50 million protective masks a week from August.

Though not yet obligatory, Merkel said her government “strongly advises” wearing a mask in public.

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All history is hindsight – that is how actions get judged and people and governments held to account.

People talk now about hindsight as a bad thing. It is not. It is how we learn and avoid making the same mistakes again.

11 April 2020

Tai went back to Bangkok today as she has been summons to work. There are now just two flights a day from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. It used to be over 60 a day.

2 April 2020

Guardian: “Coronavirus has turned etiquette on its head and what once were gestures of friendship are now acts of daring. Fundamentally, society used to run on the idea that we were all welcome in one another’s space; suddenly, civility amounts to how much distance we keep between ourselves, and how much we shield others from our presence. It is one hell of a gear shift. And it is also important not to overcorrect, not to judge one another from a thousand yards, not to needlessly insult one another in situations that are not, actually, that endangering. Courtesy has never been more serious: it is the way we signal that we still care about each other, when we’re not allowed to hug.”

31 March 2020

My summary to a friend of where we are right now:

It does feel rather like being in a rowing boat, without oars, in the middle of the ocean with a storm approaching and with no idea where land might be. So we are just have to ride out the storm and will see what it all looks like when the storm passes.

It is the pace and sheer scale of change that is boggling. Could anyone have imagined on 1 January that by the end of March schools will be closed, almost all public gatherings will be cancelled, hundreds of millions of people around the world will be out of work, governments will be throwing together some of the largest economic stimulus packages in history, no 2020 Olympics, no 2020 Expo, professional sport on hold; facemasks almost a part of our daily dress, social distancing and self-isolation would be expressions known around the world; and our medical staff around the world would be standing at the front of a fight against a pandemic alongside cleaners, supermarket staff and refuse collectors.

The list could go on – but you get the idea.

If we can change that much in 3 months – what could happen as we move forward in 2020.

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Different airlines – different messages:

Emirates

“With nations closing their borders and going on lockdown, we have had to take the painful yet pragmatic measure of temporarily suspending our flights.

Whilst we have done everything possible to maintain crucial air links and get people to their loved ones, there’s nothing more important right now than the health and safety of communities worldwide.

This is an unprecedented crisis, and our thoughts go out to everyone affected.

We sincerely apologize to all our customers with travel disruptions. We hope to welcome you on board, as soon as feasible.”

Qatar

“We know that many of you are eager to return to your families at this difficult time, and our highest priority is to help you find a way back to your loved ones. Our flights will get you home. #TakingYouHome”

30 March 2020

These are such strange times. Like being in a drama where even the director has no idea how, or when, it will end.

But…it is bringing out the best in so many people as well as making us realise that those important to our well-being, even survival, are faces that we did not previously know or recognise…from poets to nurses to delivery drivers.

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It is hard to feel inspired enough to write anything at the moment. There is only one story in the news – globally and you can read about that elsewhere.

It also seems to have suspended all other news – what would we otherwise have been talking about?

What are we not hearing about that matters?

What are we not being told?

What is being done behind the veil of this grim pandemic that should be on public record.

And why am I coughing?

This was on facebook this afternoon from Andrew MacGregor Marshall – I fear he is right.

“By shutting down Bangkok without any plan, or any support for workers who lost their jobs, the Thai regime has ensured the country will face a COVID-19 crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people have left the capital to return to rural areas, carrying the virus with them. A disaster is coming. This is just the beginning.”

The same is going to be true in India where the lockdown has simply sent hundreds of thousands out of the big city in a massive, crowded exodus.

15 March 2020

How bad will Covid-19 be in Europe.

These are the Italy statistics on Sunday: The total number of confirmed cases in Italy has risen to 24,747 from 21,157 on Saturday, as the death toll has increased to 1,809 from 1,441.

All pubs and bars in the Republic of Ireland have been ordered to close from Sunday evening to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

12 March 2020

Frustration over the government’s botched responses to the coronavirus epidemic reportedly caused two aviation czars to resign from their post on Thursday.

Sumeth Damrongchaitham quit the post of director of Thai Airways on Thursday afternoon, closely followed by the resignation of Sutheerawat Suwannawat, director of Suvarnabhumi Airport. The two organizations were among the hardest hit by the outbreak, which critics fear to be spiraling out of control.

Just another day in Thailand where the government has been sending mixed messages to tourists, investors and business on a daily basis. Largely because no two departments can tell the same story – and too many functionaries are running around trying to make it look as though they are doing something.

11 March 2020

As coronavirus spreads around the globe, the economic ramifications are only just beginning. The longer it takes, the more aggressive the measures by governments will become and that drags on the economy and risks a meltdown.

If you think that it is bad now….just wait….

10 March 2020

Making sure that you help to prevent the spread of the virus is critical.

There was just one passenger and crew not wearing a mask on yesterday afternoon’s NokAir flight from DMK to CNX. A farang. Of course. Fuckwit.

7 March 2020

On Thursday I noted on twitter that:

“A Bangkok observation. The %age of foreigners not wearing face masks while using public transport is high. Of course it is a personal choice. But it feels disrespectful of local residents who are reassured by wearing masks. Or maybe they cannot find one for sale!”

Note:

It is an observation
It says public transport
It says personal choice
It mentions the reassurance that people get from wearing masks.

The outcry – it was like a bad day on Thai Visa. The outcry coming from angry farang who

Maybe felt that they were being called out;
Who could not or did not read the original tweet.

The angry pack were further incensed by additional notes about communal as well as personal responsibility and that the medical view from Hong Kong was that masks were helpful – recognising that HKG has far more experience in dealing with corona viruses than Thailand.

How was it that people got so angry at the suggestion that wearing a mask on Bangkok’s public transport or on a domestic flight should really not be that much of a burden.

Apparently I was “contributing to the shortage of masks for health professionals and those who really need them.” yes – my one cloth mask with respirator and replaceable filter.

Actually there is an answer – some people are fuckwits – who cannot read – and who get angry on the keyboards because they have nothing better to do. There are people here who deliberately misinterpret what is written, who feel like picking a fight, who play to their own audience or who have too have too much time on their impeccably washed hands.

Am sure they are lovely people in person. No I am not – they are probably fuckwits for real as well.

How many times does this need to be said. I wear a mask on public transport and domestic flights. Doing so seems to be a part of communal reassurance. It is not hard to do. Hardly a staunch defence of mask wearing – or a rabid use of masks to the detriment of health care providers.

Incidentally there were plenty of people wearing masks in the Bangkok malls yesterday. In the malls, not just on transport. 

I would go further – but not on twitter where I have already protected my tweets from the morons – not taking Covid-19 seriously is carelessly irresponsible; you might have the health or finances to recover from it if your get it, but you must be careful for those who don’t have either of those, such as senior citizens; those with existing heath issues. Please act responsibly and help prevent the spreading of it for the well-being of your community.

4 March 2020

As the virus continues to spread the Italian authorities are taking dramatic measures: the point here is that where Italy goes the rest of Europe is likely to have to follow.

Italy’s government is set to close cinemas and theatres and ban public events across the whole country to try to contain the coronavirus outbreak, according to a draft decree drawn up on Wednesday.

The decree, seen by Reuters, orders “the suspension of events of any nature… that entail the concentration of people and do not allow for a safety distance of at least one metre (yard) to be respected.”

It also tells Italians to avoid hugging and shaking hands to prevent as much as possible a further spread of the potentially deadly illness which has been mainly concentrated in the country’s northern regions.

3 March 2020

A useful Covid-19 dashboard:

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As the Coronavirus continues to spread globally this was John Oliver doing a decent job of matching information and entertainment on HBO last night:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/c09m5f7Gnic” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

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Time to invade Switzerland: The Swiss army said that all soldiers would be confined to base after a case of the new coronavirus was discovered in their ranks.

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There is always one – in Thailand maybe more than one – usually American, sometimes European, who whatever the facts are telling them, seem to regard the world as some ghastly conspiracy.

From a facebook post of event cancellations in Thailand due to the coronavirus:

“And the elites/neocons are laughing it up over a false flag virus that’s reeking havoc globally over some toxic virus they generated in a lab all to cover up for profits probably being made off of poor air pollution to avoid millions in litigation by using a fake virus most likely injected at a hospital to keep the trend going and believable”

Meanwhile in the real world:

The Women’s Cricket tournament scheduled for Chiang Mai in April is off due to Wuhan coronavirus fears.

All Football Association of Thailand games through March will be behind closed doors due to coronavirus contagion concerns.

Songkran events are in doubt – and the big “parties” and street events that are part of the festival look like a really bad idea at the moment.

In China, Shanghai will require everyone entering the city from countries with “relatively serious virus conditions” to submit to 14 days of quarantine, an official said on Tuesday.

The rule will apply to all people regardless of nationality, said Xu Wei, an official with the city government’s news office, speaking to reporters at a briefing.

The southeast province of Guangdong, neighbouring Hong Kong, announced similar rules earlier on Tuesday.

The world’s top basketball league, the NBA, has told teams avoid high-fiving fans and strangers and avoid taking any item for autographs.

18 February 2020

From next month (March) immigration will move their 90 day reporting and tm30 services back to Promenada.

That is more of a reminder to myself…

Lots to update on:

The UK trip was good. London was jetlag; Bath for just one night was very enjoyable; And Hope Cove was mostly fun…except for the cold bathroom and having to shower while huddled in the bath tub.

A few more thoughts when I want to type more.

30 January 2020

Survived Qatar Airways from Chiang Mai to Heathrow – all 10 episodes of Season 2 of Succession – good entertainment though the heavy hand of the airline censor was far too apparent.

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Nice to be back in London. But cool. And dark so early.

26 January 2020

This off PPRUNE from 22 January – Any truth behind rumours in the souk that FZ recently very nearly lost another aircraft, seemingly due to a major ‘upset’ event during a go-around?

It was evidently a severe enough incident that there have even been suggestions FZ would be permanently closed down, rather than risk another incident that damages the brand of Dubai. By all accounts news about it has been locked down within FZ as well as by the powers that be in Dubai.
RavidDay is offline

The follow up messages simply warn people to “be careful discussing this topic.”

It is a rumour network….

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What else has been going on….

A five day roadtrip this week into the remoter parts of north-east Thailand – where the Chinese influence is very apparent with whole villages reflecting the cultures and traditions of the southern China hill-tribes.

As always – it was quite good to get home to the comfort of my own bed.

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A new coronavirus that started out of Wuhan in China is causing a great deal of alarm with a number of Chinese cities in lockdown over Chinese New Year.

You can read all the details in online news sites. Only use sources that you trust – there is a great deal of hysteria.

WHO’s risk assessment of the new #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) situation has not changed:
🔺very high in #China🇨🇳
🔺high at the regional level
🔺moderate at the global level

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The bad air crisis has started early in Northern Thailand.

8 January 2020

England win the second test in Cape Town to even the series at 1-1. Remarkable day of cricket – this off the Guardian OBO sums up Ben Stokes’ performance:

‘Abhijato Sensarma: “Some genius is measured on paper, while some genius is measured in emotions. Ben Stokes is a man of moments, not numbers. His affinity for big moments makes him a big man. How lucky are we to live in the same generation as this man?”’

1 January 2020

VAR is making the Premier League unwatchable. It must be even harder in the stadium where no one knows what is going on.

Trouble is it is here to stay – how it is used is the issue now – not whether or not it is right to use it.

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The good news is that 2020 can only get better…..

Who sets off fire crackers at 5am….?

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Just gone midnight. And a new year that was a reminder that I am a foreigner here and that though this may be where I live there are times (too many?) when it is not really home.

So if it is not home – where is? If this is only sole option then I have to make the best of it.

But what a thoroughly depressing way to see in the new year….

But new year resolution – do not say anything when angry. I have a bad habit of speaking without thinking when I am angry – just saying whatever is in my head rather than thinking through the impact of what I say. You say it best when you say nothing at all?