AOB – 2021

20 January 2021

In the USA the latest figures from Johns Hopkins university show that about 401,128 people have now been killed by the virus in the US amid more than 24m cases – both numbers being by far the highest in the world.

Meanwhile the UK has reported the highest number of daily deaths since the pandemic started, as new data showed one in eight people are likely to have had the virus in England, PA Media reports.

Public Health England said a further 1,610 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 – the highest number of UK deaths reported on a single day since the outbreak began.

The new record brings the UK total for those who have died after contracting coronavirus to 91,470.

However, the true number of those who have lost their lives to the virus has already reached the 108,000 mark, once cases where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate is taken into account.

And here in Thailand Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned that his government would prosecute anyone who shares false information about coronavirus vaccines in social or mass media. It came after the government was accused of acting too slowly to inoculate the country’s population and criticised the country’s coronavirus vaccine strategy as being too reliant on a company owned by the Thai king.

14 January 2021

More than 100,000 people have died from coronavirus in Britain since the disease first appeared in the country almost a year ago, in what public health experts said was a sign of “phenomenal failure of policy and practice”.

A total of 1,564 people were reported to have died yesterday – a new record high, bringing the total to 101,160, according to analysis of figures from government and statistical agencies.

An 11-day nationwide shutdown and round-the-clock curfew begins today in Lebanon, where residents must now request special permission to allowed to leave the house and even supermarkets are closed.

According to an Associated Press wire report, police were manning checkpoints around the country, checking drivers’ permits. The curfew is the strictest since the start of the pandemic. Even supermarkets were told to close their doors and open for delivery only.

Puts our Thailand concerns into perspective.

The UAE reports 3,382 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. The UAE had opened up its airport including quarantine free travel to the UK.

Residents might welcome their city’s popularity with British tourists in general, but some are unimpressed by the latest deluge.

“With all of them coming in, getting reservations at attractions and slots for residents has been so difficult,” said Rhea Matthew, a social care executive. She said the problem was a specifically British one and coincided with the rising case count in the UAE. “Our city became so full overnight. Things were good and then boom – tourists everywhere. Things are escalating here and it’s scary.”

The UAE government has cited “a significant acceleration in the number of imported cases”.

The UAE has been dumb for letting people in and the UK equally dumb for letting people out – most are clearly not there on essential travel.

Japan is set to expand its state of emergency in greater Tokyo from Thursday to seven more regions including major cities Osaka and Kyoto and also to tighten border restrictions as cases surge.

10 January 2021

FA Cup 3rd round. Marine FC v Tottenham – separated in the English pyramid by 161 places.

Marine Association Football Club is an English football club based in Crosby, Merseyside. The club, which was founded in 1894, is a member of both the Liverpool County and Lancashire County Football Associations, and currently plays in the Northern Premier League Division One North West.

Today is the biggest day in their club’s history – and no one can be there to watch. That is sad.

9 January 2021

A Covid update:

Spain added 25,456 coronavirus cases to its tally on Friday in the biggest one-day jump since October

The UK reported a record 1,325 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test for coronavirus on Friday.

A further 68,053 additional cases were reported – this is the highest figure reported by the government in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, declared the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK capital “out of control” in a broadcast interview on Friday afternoon.

“I’m afraid this virus is out of control,” Khan said, after declaring a major incident with the capital’s hospitals struggling to cope with coronavirus patients.

“The NHS in London is at risk of being overwhelmed … we could run out of beds.”

Khan told BBC News that as many as one in 20 people had the virus in some parts of the city. “The best way you can help the NHS is by staying at home,” he said.

Indonesia reported on Friday a record daily number of new Covid-19 cases for the third successive day with 10,617 infections, bringing the total to over 800,000.

And just think on this last number – more than 4,000 people died in the US on Thursday, Johns Hopkins University data shows – a world record daily toll, and the first time it has passed 4,000.

In 24 hours, 4,085 Americans died, according to the data, while nearly 275,000 cases were confirmed.

8 January 2021

Rats deserting a sinking ship:

The list of resignations from the Trump administration after Wednesday’s riots and five deaths

Betsy DeVos – Education Secretary

Elaine Chao – Transportation S

Mick Mulvaney – Special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland

Matthew Pottinger – Deputy national security adviser.

Sarah Matthews – White House deputy press secretary.

Tyler Goodspeed, acting chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff for First Lady Melania Trump.

Anna Cristina “Rickie” Niceta, White House social secretary.

Elinore F. McCance-Katz, the assistant secretary of the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

Anthony Ruggiero, the senior director for counterproliferation and biodefense at the National Security Council.

John Costello, assistant secretary for intelligence and security at the Commerce Department.

Ryan Tully, senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council.

6 January 2021

One in 50 people in private households in England – more than 1.1 million – are estimated to have had the coronavirus in the week ending 2 January.

The Office for National Statistics figures were released on Tuesday, as the number of new cases of people in the UK testing positive for Covid-19 topped 60,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

China has blocked the arrival of a team from the World Health Organization investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that their visas had not yet been approved even as some members of the group were on their way.

The mass arrest of over 50 politicians and activists in Hong Kong has rightly brought increasing international criticism mounted.

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong has told the EU not to go ahead with an economic deal with China.

Lord Patten told the EU it would forfeit its right to be treated as a serious global economic and political power if it went ahead with the draft investment deal.

The draft has yet to be ratified by the European parliament, and Germany, the lead advocate of the deal, will come under intense pressure to justify the closer economic ties.

Patten, in remarks designed to resonate in Germany, said: “It is worth remembering, for all European politicians wherever they come from, that the Jewish community around the world has been outspoken about Xinjiang and in particular has drawn attention to the similarities between what is happening in that region today and the Holocaust in the 1940s.”

He added: “If this deal goes ahead it will make a mockery of Europe’s ambitions to be taken seriously as a global political and economic player. It spits in the face of human rights and shows a delusional view of the Chinese Communist party’s trustworthiness on the international stage.

“It is surely inconceivable that the European parliament can support the miserable draft deal that the European commission wants to sign with Beijing…

“…We should not be seeking to contain China but to constrain the Chinese Communist party.”

The EU called for the release of the arrested opposition figures on Wednesday and said it was considering further sanctions.

Meanwhile the UK announced 62,322 more cases.

2 January 2021

I was comparing note with Dennis Cookson over in the UK last night. I mentioned that everywhere I go I am temperature tested; it is a regime that in Thailand lost its way a little in the last few months of 2020 but has not been reinforced with serious intent. Not just the temperature check but also registration of personal details or opening the online location app.

Malls, stores, cafes, football stadiums, airports and airlines, office buildings. Temperature checking is required.

In the UK Dennis mentioned that no one does this.

He did ask what would happen if someone registered over the 37.5 target. They would be refused entry. But probably not shipped off for a Covid test.

But people can just ignore the testers and walk around them. No they cannot. And that is not the impression that anyone should get of what is happening here. Stores now close/barricade most of their access points except for the entry with the temperature check.

And people really do not mind. Like mask-wearing it is not seen as an infringement of personal liberties here. It is seen as a small effort to look after eachother. The same on flights and on public transport. Everyone wears a mask.

57,725 infections in the last 24 hours in the UK. #Covid19

Highest ever daily number. 10 months since the infection arrived in the UK. Madness.

1 January 2021

And so the new year starts by feeling far too much like the old one.

Bangkok is not in lockdown – but many places are closed – including all entertainment venues. The Buriram governor is predictably the first to issue quarantine instructions for anyone coming to visit from Bangkok, and a number of other provinces.