Friday, July 17

COVID-19 New Cases around the world

As mentioned in the last article, I have been watching the data across the world and, i particular, the numbers of new cases each day and my sheet expresses these as the number per 1m population. This, I feel, provides a better comparison that mere totals and the total active cases seem most unreliable with totally different methods of calculation in different places.

I do appreciate, of course, that there will also be huge problems in the reliability of some of the data from countries with poor recording or testing facilities or procedures. This will almost certainly mean that where the virus has taken hold in a poor, less well-equipped country then the  number of active cases must be significantly higher than the official data shows. or all that, I do feel this is a useful guide, especially as 'active' cases are not available for the UK and some other countries and it is really to see how we're doing in comparison to others that I do this. More in hope than anything else these days, though.

I got a mouthful from some woman in Portugal when I put these on Facebook. She was most offended that I had shown Portugal as red and UK as a nice apple green. Clearly, as she pointed out amongst the huffing and puffing, every country will have lovely safe places where no-one is ill and you can happily visit and hug people and wander around without a mask. I am sure Portugal has many. But unless someone provides me with all the detailed regional data all I can share is the national stuff and, indeed, that is what tends to guide authorities, for better or worse. But, yes, don't make any decisions based on what I publish. It's purely data, made a little more comprehensible.

Depending upon what I am doing with this sheet from time to time it may change to show all the days or may be filtered to show just Europe or just certain areas of the planet.

Stuck in the Red Zone

This is not exactly Astcote news but I feel I need to write about the continuing confusion and difficulties getting away. There is a definite sense that we are pretty much clear of the virus in this part of the country and people are, albeit cautiously still, coming out and moving around a lot more than they have been doing for many weeks. With this new-found freedom, however, comes the dreaded masks, or I should say, face covering. I am not at all fond of the things which strap around your ears and have instead acquired a supply of quite nice banadanna things. They're made of thin material, seem quite easy to breathe through and look a lot more decent and, if not natural, a little less science fiction. However, I am still not inclined to wear them unless I really have to and I really will have to in shops in a week's time.

I shall be doing my best to avoid shops, therefore, while this face covering thing is necessary. With that in mind, and also encouraged by beginning to look more like a tree than a human, I got a haircut in Towcester yesterday. It was totally unplanned, a spur of the moment thing and I simply called in at the first salon I came to after parking my car. A nice Romanian chap did a first class job and took so long I wondered whether he'd ever finish. With no-one else in sight, though, I guess it didn't matter. I had intended to hang on until I reached Zhytomyr where an excellent young lady would take care of my thatch for a very small price but goodness only knows when I will get there.

Ukraine still lists the UK as a Red Zone and so I would have some difficulties on arrival. There has been an improvement and some much-needed clarification, however. It seems that I would have to download an app on my phone using a Ukraine SIM card. Luckily my phone can have two SIM cards so that is feasible but not for many people I would imagine. It will, however, be entirely in Ukrainian so I won't have a clue what it says but Olga would be able to help.

Having downloaded the app and shown this to Border Police on arrival (assuming I manage that on my own, that is!)  I can then choose either to have a test within 24 hours in Zhytomyr or quarantine myself for 14 days at a stated address. If the test shows I am clear of the virus then a message should be sent to my phone and the app will no longer be needed. Until then, however, or if I choose not to have a test at all, I will be called at random by some official who will want to see a selfie of me at the stipulated address given on arrival. If I do not do this within 15 minutes I can be arrested and taken to Chernobyl to do gardening or something.

Knowing Ukraine administration, however, I have some doubts that my results would be communicated very quickly, if at all, or that I would recognise the message if it arrived. And, of course, there is the small matter of the possibility of my results being mixed up with someone who has got the virus - or, God help me, I do actually have it! - and I finish up in some grotty hospital miles from anyone who speaks English.

So I am inclined not to go until the UK is Green - but there lies another problem. It seems that to go Green a country has to have fewer than 400 'active' cases per 100,000 population. So that's about 25000 for the UK. Now, I cannot find any statistics anywhere that provide the number of 'active' cases for the UK. I can find 'accumulated total' cases since Year Dot and 'new' cases each day but not 'active' cases. So I assume that it is reasonable to calculate 'active' cases as the number of people who had the virus but have not yet got better. I can add up the number of 'new' cases over the last month and that is about 25000. OK, but many of those people will have recovered or probably not even had any problems to get better from in many cases. And surely there will not be many people who have had it for more than a month? So the total could be, in reality, pretty close to, if not quite a lot lower than 25000 and the UK is, in my view, definitely in the Green Zone.

So why do we appear in the Red Zone all the time? My conclusion is that there is a fundamental error that seems to have been missed. We are testing 200,000 or more people every day and record those who have the virus. What we don't do is test people later so there is no evidence that they do not have it any more. The records for the vast majority of people are simply that they had it and, to all statistical intents and purposes, still have it and are thus 'active'! Without a procedure to test the same vast numbers again and take them off the 'active' list the UK is well and truly buggered in terms of how it will be viewed by other nations. Probably for ever.

Consequently, assuming nothing gets done about this (and I have written to some well-connected people), I shall just go on 5 August and hope for the best. I have a ticket for 22 July but I think I won't make that one. 5 August is OK and I return on 21 August. Then I have another for 7 September and again 12 October. I am hoping that we can have a holiday in October / November, probably Malta as the weather will be nice then.

I had been watching the list of Green Zone countries, which supposed to be updated daily, slowly scrolling to the bottom and hoping that United Kingdom would appear, doing this several times a day. Now I have come to the conclusion that it is not going to happen anytime soon. 

But you can check here. Just in case. You never know!