22nd November 2020
Life in a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 34 Brings Optimistic News About Vaccination
Breaking news this week is the promise of a vaccination against COVID-19. But it has yet to be approved by the regulators.
Hopes of saving Christmas this year begin to fade as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. My own plans for a December holiday in the Italian Dolomites are dashed as Italy remains on the red list and British Airways cancels my flight.
Monday 09 November 2020
I spend the morning writing an article about an outbreak of COVID-19 on mink farms in Denmark. The big fear is that this is a mutation of the virus and if it spreads it will make vaccines currently being developed ineffective. The Danish government is quick to act a cull of minks is organised. The UK government is also quick to act and bans all arrivals from Denmark except UK residents. This is the first time arrivals into the UK have been banned since lockdown began. Anyone who is allowed into the UK must self-isolate (and their families) including flight crews. Of course, the latter creates uproar amongst the airlines that fly to Denmark.
Today is shopping day so this afternoon I catch the bus into Poole. I am the only passenger on the top deck all the way there. I do a food shop in Sainsbury’s and then go in search of a hot water bottle. There are lots of Chrismassy ones for children but I finally find what I want in Boots. Then I head back to the bus station. On my way through the Dolphin Shopping Centre I stop to take a photo of some huge wooden animals. It is not the first time these popular wooden animals have been on display here. But it is the first time they have been displayed wearing custom-made face masks. The mahogany sculptures, a whale, a hippo and a turtle are the work of artist Peter Hand. They were installed in the first shopping centre that opened on this site in 1969. They were a great favourite with the children who loved to climb on them. They were removed in 1997 but returned in 2019 to celebrate the centre’s fiftieth birthday. Now they are back – with a message for everyone – wear face masks.
I arrived at my bus stop ten minutes before the bus was due to leave. But it pulls out as soon as I sit down. I assume the timetable has changed for the winter. It has not. We are called back to the bus station. We do a circuit of the town and pull into the bus station where a lone passenger is waiting for us. We are soon on our way again. I think it is quite funny but I can hear the passengers down below giving the driver grief. As usual I am the only passenger on the top deck.
The global total of confirmed coronavirus cases has passed 50 million following record numbers of new cases in several countries. A second wave of the virus has accounted for a quarter of all cases but the true figure is thought to be higher because of insufficient testing in many countries. The 17-day firebreak lockdown in Wales has ended. A new set of restrictions are now in operation. Businesses that had been forced to close including gym and non-essential shops can re-open and two families can form a bubble. Travel anywhere in Wales is permitted. But as it will be two weeks before the impact of the lockdown is known people have been warned to be careful. Some areas of Wales have some of the worst infection rates in the UK. England has just started a second lockdown and Northern Ireland has been in lockdown since mid-October. It is expected a partial re-opening of the hospitality sector will soon be allowed but alcohol only pubs will probably have to stay closed for another two weeks.
Worldwide, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has passed 50 million. The official number of deaths is now more than 1.25 million. There are fears that European lockdowns could be extending beyond December. But there is some good news – a COVID-19 vaccine is reported to be 90% effective and cold be rolled out before Christmas, subject to regulatory approval. The UK has ordered more than 40 million doses of this vaccine.
Tuesday 10 November 2020
After a day inside yesterday I feel in need of some fresh air and go out on my bike as soon as it gets light enough. I do three circuits of the spit and by the time the sun on the horizon. As I am locking my bike up I notice most of the boats have now been taken out of the water. The water is dotted with empty moorings. A sign that winter is here. We have been locked down for a whole spring and summer. I head for the beach and join the usual gang, Cassie with her owner, Archie with his dad and Misty with her owner. I could have stayed on the beach soaking up the sun all morning but I have work to do. And this afternoon I have registered for a 7-hour broadcast about strategies for the recovery of the aviation industry. In fact, the broadcast was very interesting and the time passed very quickly. Now all I have to do is write some articles about it. But first I watch the first episode of a new series of Masterchef the Professionals. Sadly, my British Airways flight to Verona on 10 December was cancelled today. I quickly booked another one a week later but with Italy still on the red list it is not looking as though my trip is going to happen.
Lockdown has been named word of the year by Collins Dictionary. Mass testing for COVID-19 has been launched in 67 areas of England. Testing for anyone who wants to take a test was piloted in Liverpool and is now being rolled out across the country. The UK is also working on a project to offer rapid testing to people forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with individuals infected with the virus in an effort to reduce the 14-day isolation period. A total of 21 London boroughs will receive these lateral flow tests. LAMP saliva tests will be made available to NHS staff later this month and next month.
Wednesday 11 November 2020
I have a lot of work to do today so I am up very early. It is cold and grey outside. But soon after I start working I notice a rosy glow outside. Dawn is breaking and the sky is streaked with red and pink. It is a glorious start to my day. I work all day but as darkness falls again, around 4 o’clock, I pull my exercise bike in front of an open patio door and cycle for twenty minutes. The harbour has been very quiet all day. Probably because the weather has turned very cold.
New data shows Hull is now the area with England’s highest coronavirus infection rate. Plans are being put in place for the NHS to vaccinate up to 5,000 people a day in a COVID-19 immunisation drive. Thousands of hospital staff will join the drive to vaccinate all adults in England against coronavirus and will be deployed at mass vaccination centres to give the jab to up to 5,000 people a day, according to NHS officials involved in the plans said. The NHS intends to use football stadiums, town halls and conference centres in England to inoculate at least 2,000 people each day. The new facilities will be additional to the 1,560 community-based vaccination centres run by GPs, which will dispense 200 to 500 jabs a day. All the venues will do temperature checks on people before entry allowing space for social distancing and a 15-minute recovery time.
Thursday 12 November 2020
It was blowing a gale and raining during the night but it is breezy and dry when I get up at 6 am. I decide I will go out on the bike and get dressed. I wait until it is light enough to be safe on my bike. I do three circuits of the spit. I meet several joggers coming towards me in the cycle lane. It is scary seeing them looming up out of the gloom, especially as cars on the road are breaking the speed limit to catch the first ferry of the day at 7 am. The wide pavements are empty as there is no-one else around so I have to wonder why. I noticed more cars than usual in the car park this morning on my way to the beach. When I got there I saw several swimmers in the sea. This is a popular trend as cold water swimming is deemed to be good for the health.
In the News Today
According to the Symptom Study the R number in the UK has fallen below 1. Presenter Phillip Schofield thinks the Queen should be the first one to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Jacob Rees-Mogg has labelled anti-vaxxers as “nutters. Newsagent WH Smith has announced plans to close another 25 shops due to a £280m loss.
Friday 13 November 2020
Last night I decided I would go out early this morning and jog around the harbour rather than wait until it is light enough to go out on the bike. Maybe I should consider getting lights for my bike or even buying a new one. I jog along the harbour path to the motor yacht club and across the large car park on to the beach. I am delighted to discover I can still jog for 1500 m without any problem despite not having done any jogging for many weeks now.
There is already quite a lot of activity on the beach with people swimming and walking. It is windy and there is a hint of rain in the air. I walk towards the Haven Hotel. The tide is very high this morning and I can’t get as far as the Haven Hotel. I meet Archie with his owner Paul. Archie looks very smart in his purple raincoat. He acknowledges me for the first time ever. He is wearing a raincoat. Soon after we meet up it starts raining so we part company. I walk briskly back along the beach but then my progress is halted when I notice a huge patch of stacked shells on the beach. I stop to examine them and take some photos to identify them later on the internet. I find a lovely website called Beachstuff and discover they are limpets. The cling to each other rather than rocks.
In the News Today
It was announced today that Boris Johnson’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings will leave his position by the end of the year. In fact, he stormed out of 10 Downing Street this evening, never to return. Many people believe that Cummings was responsible for many ignoring lockdown rules due to his disregard of the restrictions on travel. He drove from London to Durham and visited Barnard Castle. Cummings refused to resign at the time. Now, it seems he has fallen out with PM Boris due to an inappropriate remark about the PM's fiancée, Carrie Symonds. It is rumoured that Carrie is the person who is actually running the country.
The scientist behind the first COVID-19 vaccine to clear interim clinical trials says he is confident this vaccine will have a dramatic effect on the pandemic.
Saturday 14 November 2020
I wake at 6 am. It is windy and wet so I abandon my plant to walk to Canford Cliffs and pick up the bus into Bournemouth from there. I get the bus from Sandbanks. It is raining heavily and the water in the harbour is on the verge of merging with the puddles on the road. The rain has eased off by the time I get to the bus stop. And it is not too bad when I arrive in Bournemouth. The centre of town is deserted. Tesco is not too busy so It does not take me long to do my shopping. I get the next bus back to Sandbanks. It is raining heavily again by this time and I get soaked walking the short distance from the bus stop to the flat. I spread my wet clothes around the flat and spend the rest of the day side with them steaming around me.
Sunday 15 November 2020
I am woken by the sound of wind and rain lashing the building. This is not a problem as I did not intend to go out early this morning. It is diary day today. I have some breakfast and then get started. I put the radio on as soon as I get up now – always Smooth which is continual music with hourly news headlines. Perfect to work to. The sea in the harbour is really rough – I can see it pounding the harbour wall with plumes of water splashing onto the path on far side of the harbour. On my side it is difficult to distinguish between the sea and the puddles on the beach. The wind continues unabated all day. But the rain does stop and the sun comes out. So do the kite surfers, joggers and cyclists. I watch them as I peddle furiously on my exercise bike by an open patio door.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on November 09, a total of 1,213,363 ((daily total 21,350) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 49,238 including a daily total of 194. Deaths with COVID-19 on the certificate 60,051 (updated once a week). A week later on November 15, the total of positive cases had risen to 1,369,318 (daily total 24,962) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 51,934 including a daily total of 168. Deaths with COVID-19 on the certificate 61,648 (updated once a week) weekly increase of 1,597.
More next week
Valery Collins is the Experienced Traveller
An excellent raconteur, Valery has been writing about her experiences on the road since she started travelling 25 years ago. After publishing 4 books she turned to online travel writing and photography. Today she is editor, features’ writer and reviewer for ExperiencedTraveller.com and regularly contributes guided city walks to GPSmyCity.com