AOB – 2020

7 August 2020

The classical feature of totalitarian government is that it does not allow any opinion against it, not even in the most harmless way. That’s how fragile it is. The governments seek to control people with fear; using tools from education, media suppression and intimidation. But they will not win their hearts.

Sadly this not applies in Hong Kong – as it has in Thailand basically since 2006. Not forgetting too many other nations where a contrary opinion is seen as a threat – the Middle East countries being high on that list.

4 August 2020

Oh dear. Police in Thailand have summoned five organisers of student-led protests against the government, saying they had violated a coronavirus emergency decree that forbids large gatherings.

Among those called for questioning was Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer, who on Monday had demanded reforms of the country’s powerful monarchy, a highly sensitive topic.

So the state of emergency is really all about stopping any form of protest rather than managing public health – remember Thailand has been closed to foreigners since March 2020 and the number of Coronavirus cases and deaths are around 3,500 and 55.

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Meanwhile in the Lebanon – a country that seems to stumble from disaster to crisis –  at least 100 people have been killed, 4,000 injured and dozens of buildings damaged after a massive explosion ripped through Beirut’s port and surrounding area last night.

The port area has been flattened and buildings further into the city’s residential neighbourhoods damaged. Efforts to treat the injured have been hampered by the fact that hospitals are among the damaged buildings.

The blast was so powerful it was felt in Cyprus, 120 miles (193 km) away.

Lebanon president, Michel Aoun, said 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been stored unsafely in a warehouse for six years. After an initial blast and fire in the port, it is thought that this was the cause of a second blast, with a massive fireball and white cloud sending a shockwave across the city.

Shop and apartment windows were blown out as far away as two miles (3.2 km) from the port, littering the streets with broken glass and causing hundreds of injuries.

In the port itself, several warehouses were completely flattened. These include grain silos, which are thought to have stored around 85% of the country’s grain.

Beirut’s governor has said that the blast damage extends to over half of the city, and that up to 300,000 people have been left homeless.

What a truly shitty year this is.

 

3 August 2020

And on that old chestnut called Emirates this rang worryingly true: “the only purpose of EK Flight Academy is to provide training for the spoiled bedouines that are sick of driving their LCs all day long, looking for a new “toy”. Crisis, difficulties and hard work aren’t words they know.”

LCs are Land Cruisers for those of us in the real world.

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The WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, today exhorted nations to rigorously enforce health measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing, hand-washing and testing.

“The message to people and governments is clear: ‘Do it all’,” Tedros told a virtual news briefing from the U.N. body’s headquarters in Geneva. He said face masks should become a symbol of solidarity round the world.

A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection. However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment – and there might never be.

For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control. Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all. Inform, empower and listen to communities. Do it all. For individuals, it’s about keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others. Do it all.

The message to people and governments is clear: do it all. And when it’s under control, keep going! Keep strengthening the health system. Keep improving surveillance, contact tracing and ensure disrupted health services are restarted as quickly as possible. Keep safeguards and monitoring in place, because lifting restrictions too quickly can lead to a resurgence.

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The Russian government claims to have stolen a march on dozens of global rivals – including the US and UK – in the race to produce a viable coronavirus vaccine, saying it would start production of a vaccine next month and begin mass immunisation by October.

The announcement came amid controversy over how Russia has rushed its two vaccine candidates through safety testing, in which researchers dose themselves as part of truncated human trials.

Russian officials previously suggested they planned to approve the main vaccine candidate by 10 August with foreign sales aimed at countries including India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia – which officials say have expressed an interest.

Numerous countries and research groups are working to produce a vaccine, including the UK, which also announced its plans to step up preparations for mass production.

Probably tested the same way that the Russians tested Novichok.

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Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet medical journal, has written for the Guardian on how a rising wave of anti-China sentiment, fostered by western governments, is threatening peace and hampering efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. He writes:

“The Chinese government does have questions to answer. The first case of Covid-19, as later reported in the Lancet, took place in Wuhan on 1 December. Why did it take a whole month for Chinese authorities to report the outbreak of a dangerous new disease to the international community? For such a highly transmissible virus, those four weeks of silence lost precious time for alerting the world to the risks of coronavirus.

But the scale of the anti-China reaction is disproportionate to the reality of the courageous contributions made by Chinese scientists to our global understanding of this pandemic. It was Chinese scientists who first described the human threat of this new disease on 24 January. It was Chinese scientists who first documented person-to-person transmission. It was Chinese scientists who first sequenced the genome of the virus. It was Chinese scientists who called attention to the importance of scaling up access to personal protective equipment, testing and quarantine. It was Chinese scientists who warned of the threat of a pandemic.”

But – the Chinese government has taken advantage of this global chaos to push a dramatic nationalist agenda including ending one country two systems in Hong Kong.

And  – and apology for fucking up the planet would not go amiss.

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For the Coronavirus deniers and those that see conspiracy around every corner:

The number of coronavirus infections worldwide has passed 18m, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker which currently lists 18,017,556 global cases.

The number of deaths is approaching 700,000, with 688,351 currently confirmed.

Due to time lags, differing testing rates and definitions, as well as suspected underreporting, the true case and death figures are likely to be higher.

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Meanwhile in Berlin: Tens of thousands of people who marched through Berlin over the weekend in a demonstration against coronavirus restrictions in Germany have been accused by the government of “unacceptable” exploitation of the right to protest.

About 20,000 people took part in the “day of freedom” demonstration on Saturday, most not covering their nose and mouth or respecting Germany’s 1.5-metre social distancing requirement.

The crowd shouted “We are the second wave” as they converged on the Brandenburg Gate, demanding “resistance” and dubbing the pandemic “the biggest conspiracy theory”.

The longer the pandemic lasts the greater the protests are likely to be….

2 August 2020

An interesting US based sports blog on how sport and athletes have adopted to the Coronavirus world. The conclusions are very relevant to sport in the UK, and I assume elsewhere.

“This is part of a newfound sense among sports figures that they are not just performers but full human beings with control over their bodies and their minds. It should not surprise or anger fans if these athletes are also exercising their awareness of the social conditions under which they live and under which their fans live. Black athletes in particular, who form the majority of players in the NFL and the NBA, are taking a public stance on everything from social justice, civil rights, police brutality and voter registration. The issue goes well beyond whether they kneel during the national anthem or display Black Lives Matter banners. We’re seeing far more activism, public service work, charity and civic engagement by sportsmen and sports women eager to make use of their identities as public figures.

Traditional sports fans and conservative commentators might decry this form of expression. But it’s too late to force sports back into a little bubble. There is no containing sports as somehow isolated from the larger culture.”

Good – that is very much how it should be. Sport as an accessible and active part of our society.

30 July 2020

Closer to home: Vietnam began mass coronavirus testing in the capital, Hanoi, banned gatherings in its economic hub and urged tens of thousands of domestic travellers to report to authorities on Thursday, as the country scrambled to contain its first outbreak in 100 days.

Florida reported a record increase in new Covid-19 deaths for a third day in a row on Thursday, with 252 fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to the state health department.

The state also reported 9,956 new cases, bringing its total infections to over 461,000, the second highest in the US behind California. Florida’s total death toll rose to 6,709, the eighth highest in the nation, according to a Reuters tally.

Other examples: Japan recorded at least 1,274 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, reaching a record high for the second straight day,

Indonesia has reported a total number of 106,336 coronavirus cases, the highest in East Asia. The number of deaths in Indonesia related to Covid-19 rose by 83 on Thursday, bringing the total number of fatalities to 5,058, also the biggest in the region.

The new normal is fucking miserable.

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Government figures revealed Thursday morning that the US economy shrank by an annualized rate of 32.9% between April and June, its sharpest contraction since the second world war. Wow.

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To which end Trump appears to want to postpone the US presidential election. Not a chance.
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There are currently 16,950,407 known coronavirus cases worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, and 664,961 deaths.

Five of the last seven days saw one-day case jumps of more than 250,000, with three of those over 280,000. The global one-day case record was set on 22 July with 281,500 cases and broken just a day later with 282,800 cases.

This is not going away.

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Martian airspace is getting a bit busy – NASA appears to have successfully launched the Perseverance mission, the third and final Mars launch from Earth this summer. China and the United Arab Emirates got a head start last week, but all three missions should reach their destination in February.

26 July 2020

I really have not had the motivation to write anything for a week.

See below – the calf muscle still hurts – the toe is still swollen – and I have been carrying a headache for much of the last few days….in part maybe due to lack of sleep – in part because it is 40C in the day. Too hot. Congested as well.

So feeling a bit sorry for myself.

Which means there really is not a lot to write about anyway. The world is still in a state of fuckedupness….

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There are some great pictures from the photoshoot last week – maybe I should start a page of picture galleries.

It is a bit of a shame – after 18 years I find it harder to write anything for this web site – it used to be so much easier – or I had more to say – or I got angrier…..

Now I kind of shrug my shoulders and let it go….

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There really is still only one story – over 280,000 reported Covid-19 cases per day for three days in a row with a quarter of those in the USA alone. We are headed for two million new cases being added each week.

A Texas hospital has been forced to establish a “death panel” – to decide which patients it can save and which ones will be sent home to die.

Sad, depressing, out of control.

16 July 2020

It was a good day down at Chai Lai Orchid. But I do feel like I have been in the wars.

Fell off a bench in the bar.
Stubbed a toe against the oak bed support – my toe looks like it was put out of the window on Snowpiercer.
Then tore my left calf trying (unsuccessfully) to save our breakfast from the baby elephant – Suki.

We have had to cancel our trip to Nan. I can barely walk.

14 July 2020

FFS. There are some dumb people in the UK. Ministers have faced a backlash from Conservative party members and a senior MP over Boris Johnson’s move to make face coverings mandatory in shops in England…the rule is effective in 10 days time. It should have been in place 3 months ago.

Some grassroots members cut up their membership cards, while a former minister, Sir Desmond Swayne, challenged the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, about the issue in the Commons.

The hashtag #NoMasks and the word “muzzles” were both trending on Twitter this morning in the UK.

Many said the order – which carries fines of up to £100 for non-compliance – was incompatible with their libertarian values. Libertarian values which clearly entitle people to pass the virus onto others, including family and friends.

Others claimed there was insufficient evidence to suggest that the measure has meaningful health benefits. Err – try looking at South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand.

While there are Tory MPs such as Desmond Swayne in Parliament then the UK is basically fucked. Go and google his I am not going shopping in a facemask rant in Parliament today. A man who calls wearing a mask to go shopping a “monstrous imposition.” Hopefully his constituents are mostly embarrassed.

13 July 2020

Globally we are now over 230,000 Coronavirus cases a day – and that is the tested positive cases. Just let that sink in for a minute.

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Hemlock in his/her Big Lychee blog from Hong Kong:

“This is an experiment in (re)colonization by a regime that, it seems clear, is as deluded and clueless about the outside world – including Hong Kong – as the most insular Ming and Qing emperors. If there is a clean way to curtail a community’s longstanding rights and freedoms, it would involve stealth, subtlety and patience. You can be sure the CCP will use none of them.”

12 July 2020

Emirates redundancies have continued this week:

The estimate is that  total of 517 Airbus A380 captains have been let go – leaving 448 out of 965 that were in place before the carnage started.

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The US state of Florida has registered another grim record, and reports that new infections have risen by 15,300 in the 24 hours to Sunday to a total of 269,811.

This is the biggest daily increase in recorded coronavirus cases in the Sunshine State since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the state health department.

If Florida were a country, it would rank fourth in the world for the most new cases a day behind the United States, Brazil and India.

Its daily increases have already surpassed the highest daily tally reported by any European country during the height of the pandemic there, Reuters reports.

Florida has also broken New York State’s record of 12,847 new cases on 10 April when it was the epicenter of the US outbreak.

To combat the outbreak, Republican governor Ron DeSantis has ordered bars to close but has resisted calls for a statewide mandate to wear masks in public.

Florida does not get it. And a state with an aged population, retirement communities and a large BAME community is at significant risk.

8 July 2020

California reported more than 10,000 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, a record rise for a single day.

7 July 2020

Intensive care units at 54 hospitals in Florida are full as Covid-19 cases surge, according to data published on Tuesday morning by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration.

Almost 214,000 people in the Sunshine State have now tested positive, with 7,361 new cases recorded on Monday. In total 3,841 people in Florida have died from coronavirus.

Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis is a Donald Trump loyalist who has refused to slow Florida’s reopening or implement a statewide mask mandate.

The USA is a mess….and lives are being lost from complacency, incompetence, selfishness and stupidity. Those all start from the top.

6 July 2020

Felt very average today – so here is a bad joke:

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were going camping. They pitched their tent and went to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night Holmes woke Watson up and said: “Watson, look up at the sky, and tell me what you see.” Watson replied: “I see millions and millions of stars.” Holmes said: “And what do you deduce from that?” Watson replied: “Well, if there are millions of stars, and even a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are more planets out there like Earth, and if there are a few planets out there like Earth, there might also be life. ” And Holmes said: “Watson, you idiot, it means someone stole our tent.”

5 July 2020

What a crappy year this is….

So to cheer you up:

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Alex to me: It is telling when people prefer a quiet oppressed populous over one that demands greater representation and more rights.

30 June 2020

China has passed National Security Legislation for Hong Kong which has now been annexed to the Basic Law – all a day before the 23rd anniversary of the 1997 Handover.

No one in the Hong Kong Legislature even read the Beijing written law.

More on the law in a main article:

The Guardian has this from Lord Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, said: “This decision, which rides roughshod over Hong Kong’s elected legislature, marks the end of ‘one country, two systems’. It is a flagrant breach of the Sino-British joint declaration – a treaty lodged at the United Nations – and Hong Kong’s mini constitution, the Basic Law.

“It will throttle the city’s rule of law, presenting a major confrontation between what passes for law in China and the common law system in Hong Kong, which has allowed the city to function as one of most important financial hubs in Asia. The separation of powers is in danger of being shattered and the courts politicised by the provision that the chief executive will herself choose the judges for national security cases.”

28 June 2020

Some people seem to think that Thailand is reopening its borders to international flights –  not really – International flights will be admitted to Thailand from 1 July…BUT only with the following passengers:

Spouse & children of Work Permit holders
Permanent residents
Those married to Thai national or have Thai children
Foreigner seeking medical treatment
International students & parents
Airline staff
Business visitors from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China and Hong Kong could also be exempted from a two-week quarantine period under a fast track entry if they have certificates to show they were free from COVID-19 and were tested upon arrival.

26 June 2020

Texas, the second largest US state by population, has had one of the biggest surges in new coronavirus infections in the country. The state has reported more than 5,000 new cases for three days in a row and hit successive records for Covid-19 hospitalisations for 13 consecutive days.

Alex is working in Dallas for a few weeks – I know he will be careful but I also know his parents will both be concerned for him.

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Football is back in England – played without fans and by players who have had a three month break and are clearly not match fit.

The matches look much like training games despite the TV hype.

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US government experts have said they believe more than 20 million Americans could have contracted the coronavirus, 10 times more than official counts. New data indicates that many people without symptoms have or have had the disease, senior administration officials said.

The estimate, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is based on serology testing used to determine the presence of antibodies that show whether an individual has had the disease.

18 June 2020

The Chiang Mai FC facebook page is once again celebrating our draw in the last game of the season with Buriram – writing that the game is now part of Thai football history. Bollocks.

Lets see how long my reply stays on their page:

The Buriram game is not written in Thai football history – it is written in infamy. Please stop embarrassing the club and its supporters.

The playing staff and management celebrated as though we had won something that mattered. We had been relegated back to Division 2 after just one season in the top flight.

Whatever they won it was not for the club, the city or in the longer term for the fans.

Chiang Mai’s owners won the League – ensuring at the same time that our club was relegated.

Even our equalizer against Buriram was scored by a Chiang Rai loan player, Caique.

Before the final two games away at Rayong and home to Buriam we had fielded badly weakened teams in four successive defeats. We did not score in any of those games.

Our relegation was certain. Job done by owners and management. We then took 4 points from the last two games.

Chiang Rai’s was at the expense of our club and all Chiang Mai fans (and their social media writers) should be furious.

So please stop calling celebrating one of the most shameful results and celebrations in the history of Thai football.

16 June 2020

New glasses ordered.

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69 people died on Thai roads yesterday, June 15.

In Chiang Mai an accident in Mae Rim saw a pickup truck crash into the back of a white Nissan sedan which subsequently hit and struck what the Thai media report notes was an “unlucky woman.”

The woman was taken to Nakornping Hospital where she died from her injuries.

The pickup truck driver was drunk and has been arrested by police.

Here’s the thing. It was only on 15 June that restaurants in Thailand could start to see alcohol. Many of those restaurants are basically bars with snacks.

The death toll of 60 exceeds that from Covid-19 in Thailand during the whole period of this pandemic.


14 June 2020

China on Sunday reported 57 new cases of the coronavirus, the highest daily figure since 13 April, as concerns grow about a resurgence of the disease.

How quickly things change and the talk of a travel corridor to Thailand is suddenly making people very nervous.

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Tai came back to CM on the overnight NakornThaiAir bus – about 10 hours – but not too uncomfortable. And only one seat in each pair is sold because of the virus precautions.

11 June 2020

Tai has been home for about 30 hours – don’t tell her that I miss her. At 4.20pm she gets a message saying that she has to go to her hotel at 7.00 the next morning – on what is supposed to be her day off. Fortunately there was a late NokAir flight available.

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There are still people that will insist that respiratory viruses cannot be transmitted in hot climates – so how do they explain that India reported nearly 10,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, with health services in the worst-hit cities of Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai swamped by the rising infections. (Associated Press).

India’s tally has reached 286,579 confirmed cases, the fifth-highest in the world, with 8,102 deaths, including 357 in the last 24 hours.

However, the government has moved ahead with the reopening of restaurants, shopping malls and places of worship in most of India after lockdown of more than two months. Subways, hotels and schools remain closed.

The actual infection numbers are thought to be higher because of limited testing.

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Time magazine this week:

Some brutal historical perspective – slavery was invented by whites for the profit of whites….simple as that. Shameful. And statues and memorials that celebrate this brutal time and those that profited from it have no place on our streets and in our public places. Consign them to museums with full and historically valid descriptions. You cannot erase that history – but there is no reason to celebrate it.

The origins of America’s unjust racial order lie in the most brutal institution of enslavement that human beings have ever concocted. More than 12 million Africans of all ages, shackled in the bottom of ships, were sold into a lifetime of forced labor defined by nonstop violence and strategic dehumanization, all cataloged methodically in sales receipts and ledgers. Around that “peculiar institution,” the thinkers of the time crafted an equally inhumane ideology to justify their brutality, using religious rhetoric in tandem with pseudoscience to rationalize treating humans as chattel. After the Civil War, the arrangements of legal slavery were replaced with those of organized, if not strictly legal, terror. Lynchings, disenfranchisement and indentured servitude all reinforced racial hierarchy from the period of Reconstruction through Jim Crow segregation and on until the movement for civil rights in the middle of the 20th century.

8 June 2020

From the Guardian:

Lockdowns had a dramatic impact on the spread of coronavirus in Europe with strict controls on people’s movements preventing an estimated 3.1m deaths by the beginning of May, with 470,000 deaths averted in the UK alone, researchers say.

Outbreak modellers at Imperial College London said that lockdown slashed the average number of people that contagious individuals infected by 81% and lowered the reproduction number, R, of the epidemic below 1 in all countries they observed.

The Imperial team pooled data on Covid-19 deaths from 11 European countries including the UK, Italy, France, Spain and Germany, and worked backwards to calculate the extent of transmission several weeks earlier, to account for the time lag between infections and deaths. Lockdown at the end of March reduced the reproductive number of the UK epidemic from 3.8 to 0.63, they calculate.

The model shows that by 4 May between 12 million and 15 million people had become infected, but some nations were hit far harder than others. According to the model Belgium had the largest number of cases per capita with 8% of the population infected, compared with only 0.46% of Norwegians and 0.85% of Germans. Some 5.1% of the UK population was infected, according to a report published in Nature.

“Our model estimates that we are very far away from herd immunity,” said Axel Gandy, a professor of statistics at Imperial and co-author on the study. Herd immunity is achieved when enough people are immune to a virus that outbreaks die out naturally. In the case of Covid-19, scientists believe upwards of 70% of the population would need to be resistant for herd immunity to kick in.

“It tells us we need to be very careful and not to release too much in one go because then you have no control,” Prof Gandy said. “We need to tread very carefully and do things slowly, so we can backtrack should they not work.”

Which really means that this easing of lockdowns in Europe and the USA is a monumental risk.

7 June 2020

I have not posted a Coronovirus numbers update for a while: the last 24 hours produced new ugly milestones.

The known number of people who have lost their lives in just over six months of the coronavirus pandemic has passed 400,000. More than a quarter of these deaths are in the US alone. Cases meanwhile are approaching 7 million, with 6,981,701 currently confirmed.

Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

The US, with the highest deaths and infections globally, has 1,931,850 confirmed cases and 110,141 deaths. Brazil is next highest, with 672,846 cases and 35,930 deaths.

US death toll is approaching 110,000, according to the CDC. The centre reported 1,920,904 cases of the coronavirus, an increase of 29,214 cases from its previous count, and said Covid-19 deaths in the US had risen by 709 to 109,901.

India has recorded nearly 10,000 new cases. India on Sunday registered 9,971 new coronavirus cases, taking the country’s tally to 246,628 cases, with 6,929 deaths. The case numbers lags behind only the US, Brazil, Russia, UK and Spain. The country is preparing to reopen malls, restaurants, hotels and places of worship on Monday. Very risky given the ease with which the virus can be spread in India.

5 June 2020

The UK’s transport secretary, has announced that face coverings will be mandatory on public transport in England from 15 June. Grant Shapps added that people can be refused permission to travel if they do not comply and could be fined.

Right thing to do – 3 months too late. Which is pretty much how the UK government has operated throughout the pandemic.

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:

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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?