2nd July 2021
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 66 Vaccines for all Adults
I seem to be making a career of volunteering and it is good to be part of the effort to get the country vaccinated.
As walk-in COVID-19 vaccination centres and small local hubs open up to deal with vaccinations for the over eighteens a call goes out for more volunteers. So, I am trying to do as much as I can and balance it with my own work which is slowly coming on line again. I continue with my schedule of two days a week at a local vaccination hub and one day on Brownsea Island. The English weather this summer is as varied as the tasks I am undertaking – from checking-in arrivals to sanitising seats.
Monday 21 June 2021
It is midsummer’s day but the weather is more like mid-winter. It has been raining during the night and is still raining when it is time for me to leave for my volunteer shift at a local vaccination hub. There is no point in cycling as I would be wet for the rest of the day so I take the car. There is no-one around when I arrive at the pharmacy so I stand under my golf umbrella and wait until the pharmacist arrives. It is a Pfizer vaccine clinic today. The original plan was to bring patients through the shop where they are vaccinated and then take them out to the garden where they sit for fifteen minutes before leaving. As I watch the rain splashing into the puddles that have formed on the artificial grass it is clear this is not going to work today. So the route is reversed – patients enter through the back door and then sit inside the shop after their jab. It is a busy day for me as I check people in – on an iPad and hand out clipboards with a form to fill in before sending them up the garden path. . But, as we are now vaccinating everyone over eighteen they are ready with their booking references and excited that it is their turn, at last.
Prime Minister issues warning on ‘difficult year for travel’ as he plays down suggestions that restrictions on foreign travel could be lifted as more people received the coronavirus vaccine. There has been speculation the requirement for people arriving in England from countries on the amber list to quarantine at home for 10 days could be lifted in the coming weeks.
Government moves to scrap 10-day quarantine for Covid contacts according to Matt Hancock who has said he plans to scrap this requirement for people who have had two Covid-19 jabs. The Health Secretary said the approach is currently being piloted but will be introduced as soon as possible once clinicians have looked at the data.
Tuesday 22 June 2021
Grey skies and steady rain outside again this morning when I get up but I am not too bothered as I have already designated today as a work day so I will not be tempted to go out. I spend the day writing a review of my recent, very successful glamping experience in Somerset. Occasionally, I wander out on the balcony to see what is happening in the world outside and uncurl my body with a few stretches. I am entertained for a while by a wingfoiler practising his moves while standing on the Kite Beach below the flat.
COVID warning as Wembley confirms 60,000 Euro 2020 crowd More than 60,000 football fans will be allowed to attend the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 at Wembley. All ticket holders will be required to have a negative coronavirus test or provide proof of two doses of a vaccine 14 days before a game. But the decision has not been universally welcomed because of Britain's rising number of coronavirus infections.
Doubled-jabbed Brits ‘can take unvaccinated children on holiday this summer’ Parents who have had both their jabs will be able to take unvaccinated children on holiday this summer, according to reports. Travel to amber list countries for double-jabbed Brits and their unvaccinated kids, under the age of 16, could be on the cards from as early as August.
Government “working on” plans for quarantine-free travel and ministers are looking at how to scrap the requirement for people to isolate for 10 days on return from an amber list country. Matt Hancock said he is in favour of replacing quarantine with daily testing.
Wednesday 23 June 2021
I am volunteering all day on Brownsea Island so I am ready very early and set off for the National Trust jetty very early. It is a lovely morning and I want to have a catch up with Rosmarie before getting the boat to the island. We walked on the beach every morning during the first and second lockdowns but during this third lockdown I have been so busy I rarely have time for early morning walks on the beach. Rosmarie is sitting in her usual place, beneath the wall that surrounds the Haven Hotel. We chat for a while and watch the fishing boats heading out of Poole Harbour until it is time for me to go back to the jetty to board the Enterprise to cross to Brownsea Island.
As soon as I get to the island I set off for a walk. There are Canada Geese everywhere this morning. I meet a male with a single gosling and stop to watch them. Separated from the rest of the family who are sploshing through the mud of silted up stream dad is looking around anxiously but son just keeps munching grass. Dad hisses at me if I get too close. I move on.
A whole family of Canada geese are crossing the Church Field. Splashed with sunlight it makes a delightful picture and I stop to watch them until they are out of sight.
I just have time to walk to the Lily Pond to see if the water lilies are in bloom yet. They are beginning to flower. The reflections in the pond make a fantastic mirror image and as I sit there enjoying this peaceful place reality merges with mirage.
After a while I set off along the South Shore to make my way back to the pier where I am on duty all day. I am on my own today which I don’t mind at all. In between the arrivals and departures, I sit in the shade and watch the activity on Poole Harbour. Today the odd job boat is heading out to sea to assist someone, somewhere. The day passes very pleasantly for everyone – all our 400 visitors have a happy day here.
'Delta Plus' Variant Is In The UK as the Delta variant has mutated, meaning a new ‘Delta Plus’ variant is doing the rounds – both in India, where Delta first originated, but also the UK.
Israel says it's facing a new COVID-19 outbreak fuelled by the Delta variant, despite having the world's most vaccinated population Israel says it is battling a new outbreak of COVID-19 that has struck despite its success vaccinating its population. Health officials could quarantine anyone who has been exposed to the variant, even if they had been vaccinated or previously infected.
The top Delta variant symptoms reported in the UK are a runny nose and headache - because most people affected are very young or partially vaccinated The Delta variant first identified in India has taken over in the UK, where it's now responsible for over 95% of infections.
Thursday 24 June 2021
The sun was shining all morning as I worked in the flat but then, after I had had an early lunch and was ready to walk to Compton Acres, it went in and dark clouds gathered. Despite the oppressive weather I decide to carry on. This time I took a different route to the gardens and followed the Woodland Walk through the grounds of the Church of the Transformation. The little Memorial Garden has been transformed into a pretty wildflower meadow.
When I get to Compton Acres I buy a salted caramel ice cream and sit in the Japanese Garden to eat it. After that I walk the wrong way around the one-way system but I am careful to stand back and give priority to anyone coming towards me. The Rock and Water Garden resembles the set of a science fiction film – a group of tall spiky plants are marching through this garden.
US to add warning about rare heart condition to Pfizer, Moderna vaccine labels as the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is concerned following cases of the heart condition after vaccination. The inflammation in adolescents and young adults is likely linked to the vaccines, but that the benefits of the shots appeared to clearly outweigh the risk.
Friday 25 June 2021
It is raining steadily when I wake up at 5:15 this morning so that puts an end to any thoughts of an early bike ride and walk on the beach. Fortunately, the rain has stopped and the sun has come out by the time I need to go out. I have just applied to renew my passport online. I took over 200 photos with my iPhone before I got one that satisfied the requirements without looking as though I have just had a fright. Now, I have to send my old passport back so I head for the post office in Canford Cliffs. Since I was last there it has changed its opening hours (the joys of a coronavirus lockdown) and it is now closed on Fridays and Saturdays. In order to stop the flow of reminder texts I am determined to post it today and jump on the bus to Westbourne and post it there. This afternoon I spend some time lounging outside my friend’s beach hut enjoying a coffee and watching the clouds scudding across a profoundly blue sky above Sandbanks Beach.
I walk back along the beach intending to take the path through the dunes but the area is roped off to allow the rejuvenation of the area. I skirt around the dunes and I am delighted to see that, in a very short space of time there is already new growth there and some delicate sea bindweed blooms amongst the undergrowth.
Surge in demand for holidays in new green list destinations following the addition of 14 countries and territories including Spain’s Balearic Islands, Malta, Madeira and several Caribbean nations. But, all of the additions except Malta were also put on a watch list, which means they are at risk of returning to the amber list. The changes will come into effect at 4 am next Tuesday when there will also be new additions to the red list.
Just 28 Covid cases detected after trial events involving 58,000 people at 10 major events according to experts as it was confirmed that the European Championship finals can go ahead safely. Between mid-April and mid-May, the Government allowed a number of large gatherings to take place, including the World Snooker Championships, The Brits, the FA Cup Final, a 5k fun run and a club night in Liverpool. Participants had to test negative to be allowed in, and were asked to take a second test after the event to see if they had caught Covid there.
In the News Today
Boris Johnson stands by Matt Hancock as he 'accepts apology' after office kiss with aide in breach of social distancing rules when he appeared to embrace his closest aide in a corridor in May. The Sun published pictures of the married health secretary appearing to kiss close friend Gina Coladangelo. The Prime Minister now considers the matter closed and refuses to sack Hancock.
Saturday 26 June 2021
I do an all day shift as a volunteer vaccination steward at my usual vaccination hub in Parkstone. The weather is kinder to us today and I look forward to spending a day outside. There are two clinics today, AstraZeneca in the morning and Pfizer in the afternoon. It is very busy as the two clinics overlap due to late arrivals for one and early arrivals for the other. The day passes very pleasantly and my friend who runs Pandora’s Box keeps me going with cups of tea. Cycling back to my flat I stop to admire a small boat posing as a flower bed outside St Luke’s Church in Parkstone. It is a very attractive arrangement and the flowers are interspersed with cockleshells – a nod to a longstanding tradition of cockle beds in Poole Harbour.
In the News Today
Matt Hancock resigns as Health Secretary over relationship with aide this comes after embarrassing footage emerged of him in a clinch with a colleague on 6 May, when the public were still being advised not to hug people outside their household. He had already faced questions about his relationship with Gina Coladangelo, a university friend who was brought in to be a non-executive director at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). Sajid Javid, former chancellor, has been appointed Health Secretary.
Questions about Hancock’s lover’s job remain as couple to move in together The pair both resigned from their Department of Health roles on Saturday after their relationship was exposed. Unnamed sources described the couple’s relationship as a “love match” and said they were preparing to live together. But the controversy has reignited concerns about the appointment of Coladangelo, a friend of Hancock from Oxford University.
Sunday 27 June 2021
I wake at 6 am to another dull day and soon after I get up it starts raining. Today is a work at home day but first I have to catch with some issues I could not resolve on the internet yesterday. Whenever the weather is bad on the sand spit my internet connection is too weak to perform some tasks online. The weather does brighten up by mid-morning but it is very still on the harbour. The kite surfers retreat to Sandbanks beach on the other side of the spit chasing the wind. But there is none. Kites appear momentarily above the roof tops but not very successfully as the kites would momentarily appear above the rooftops and then drop out of sight. And nothing ever deters the paddle boarders who were gathered in Poole Harbour.
By mid-afternoon it has started raining again and is clearly set in for the rest of the day. Despite the terrible weather the City Sightseeing Bus still does its hourly tour of the Sandbanks spit throughout the day – empty.
Lifting of all restrictions on 19 July ‘possibly too early’, government warned with public health experts calling for more caution in the weeks ahead amid the continuing spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
Leeds waits for vaccine as Covid rates go sky-high in student areas due to a combination of a majority-unvaccinated population, a return to face-to-face teaching, good weather and the end of exams. While the UK average is 105 cases per 100,000 people, the case rate in the Hyde Park ward is a huge 1,547 per 100,000 people and it is rising rapidly. In neighbouring Hyde Park Corner and Woodhouse Cliff, there are 1,044 cases per 100,000 people.
In the News Today
Health Department to investigate how CCTV footage exposing Hancock was leaked and will be launching an internal investigation.
Support for Scottish independence at lowest in two years according to a poll which found 48% support for separation and 52& backing for the Union when undecided voters were excluded. This represented a four-point swing since a poll conducted in April produced the opposite result.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on 21 June, a total of 4,640,507 (total that day 10,633) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 127,981 including a daily total of 5. By the end of the week on 27 June, the total of positive cases had risen to 4,732,434 (total that day 14,876) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 128,100 including a daily total of 11. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 152,490, an increase this week of 93 (this statistic lags behind the daily statistics as it is updated on a weekly basis).
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 four 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
Hi Valery, I loved your accounts of the weather in mid-summer UK, so reminiscent of the years when I lived there. As a kid I can remember the few summers that were long and hot – 1955, 1959 and 1964. The rest were more or less as you describe them. I get my first COVID jab tomorrow. Australia is miles behind the UK. In this respect, and now NSW is in trouble. Parts of the state are back in lockdown, but acts of civil disobedience are growing, with extra police brought in to patrol areas of Western Sydney. Take care.
Good to hear from you but sorry to hear about the resurgence of COVID in Australia. Here, in England, many of us are dreading 19 July and the misnamed Freedom Day. It will be many years, if ever, that the world is free of COVID and we have to learn to live with it. If that means face masks on public transport, so be it. Sadly, we have a PM who is easily swayed by businesses wanting to get back to making money.
I hope you don’t get any side effects from your first jab.
All the best