Tuesday, October 6

Two months later and little has changed


It's two months later and not much has changed! Just the colours of the trees here in Zhytomyr where I happen to be once more.

This time the Ukraine government had closed its borders to 'foreigners' in an attempt to bring some increase in new COVID cases under control but it didn't make any noticeable difference. Maybe they merely increased at a slower rate. Like in almost every other country across the planet, however, the average number of new cases per day over the previous seven days per 100,000 population has been steadily increasing.

I had considered that a number of 5 per 100,000 was quite big, and that 4 was what some countries were using to denominate a Green / Red Zone. Now vast parts of the planet are showing numbers like 10 or more. 

The chart shows how many European nations compare. Leaving Montenegro to its own devices, the rest, while covering a range of rates, do show one thing very clearly - they're pretty much all doing the same thing! No one country's data is changing in a way that is much different from any other. Despite what are very great differences not only in government intervention but also in the extent to which people obey the rules, everywhere is proceeding pretty much in the same direction.

This leads me to just one conclusion: it doesn't really seem to matter what we do. The virus will spread one way or another and do its own thing. There is not a great deal we can do about it as a nation or even as a county or town. Individually, we can keep out of trouble and simply not go anywhere near anyone who might have it and those of us who manage that will probably get through unscathed but it will be a minority unless there is a vaccine or the virus just fades away.

So I have suggested that the government just let us make our own minds up on all this. I do believe that there is a great risk for the vulnerable and that they should be encouraged to lock themselves away or, at least, steer well clear of any risks. I also think it is important to respect what others may want. So if colleagues prefer to maintain a distance and do not want us close or to worry them then we should respect that. It may mean that we keep a good distance away but, where that is impracticable, then I think they should stay away and let us do what we wish, respecting our views as well. Those who worry about catching the virus in shops or pubs or events shouldn't go to shops or pubs or events. Then they won't catch it that way. And we can carry on without worrying that we're upsetting people by not wearing a mask or whatever.

Some of us will catch the virus, I'm sure. Most of us will get through it, though, and those who don't will, largely be the people who should perhaps have locked themselves away so their fate is their own decision. 

It may sound irresponsible and careless but I do believe that for the vast majority of us this will be a better existence and will enable most of the nation to get back to work and help repair the badly damaged economy. The country needs people in work and living reasonably normal lives so that we can feel better generally, with less stress and making sufficient resources available to care for those who are not so fortunate. With most of us not earning a living then the funds for health care will soon diminish and real problems will arise for those who succumb.

We are, as individuals or family groups, very capable of making decisions about the risks we face in our daily lives. Coping with the risk of COVID-19 is going to be just one addition we need to bear in mind. But let us decide what we feel comfortable doing, not a government. If a massive mob of teenagers is descending on the local pub then I may well decide that that's too great a risk for me and I'll leave. Naturally I'd be happier if they keep away but I'm not going to have some law telling them to do so. Similarly, I go into a store and will generally steer fairly clear of others there. If someone approaches me a bit too closely and is coughing and spluttering then I'll do my best to escape his proximity! Yes, it'll be a drag but no, I don't want laws about all this. By and large I would like to think that such groups or sick individuals would realise that what they may be doing is wrong or, at least, inconsiderate and adjust their behaviour over time in the light of experience and what they learn.

Here in Ukraine I see a few more masks but few worn properly. Life does carry on much as it did before and I cannot think of anything that isn't functioning these days. The numbers of cases reported have gone up but are following the same curves as everywhere else. I think that if I was going to get the virus I would have got it by now. I know I take a chance every time I go out on a bus or walk in a busy street. It is in my mind, for sure, and I don't feel as safe as I do in rural Astcote! Having said that, I have to go round Tescos and in and out of a few shops each week in Towcester and I am not so sure the risk is that much lower there than here.

I will return to the UK in a few days' time and there will be the risk of the airports and the plane journey itself to survive. I was hoping that the weather might be better than the grey, very grey days I'm having here, hardly ever leaving an apartment because of the weather, not fears for my wellbeing! From what I can gather, however, there is rain and more rain there too. I will be happier on ground level, though, and able to walk out of a door and stroll around a garden or field for a while. I miss that here where I am nine stories up and the field is a bit of a walk away.