16th April 2022
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 107 Travel Chaos
Week 107 of the coronavirus pandemic is a quiet week for me in Dorset dodging April showers.
Wind and rain determine my activities this week. I spend a lot of time taking short walks around Poole Harbour admiring the antics of the kite surfers as the wind propels them at high speed across the surface of the water. Flight cancellations due to COVID induced staff shortages are causing travel chaos so I am glad my next trip will be a staycation. Russia continues to wage war against Ukraine and the cost of living keeps going up. I am so grateful that I have several beautiful places within walking distance as the price of fuel continues to rise.
Monday 04 April 2022
Busy doing nothing today. The weather is awful this morning – a strong wind accompanied by heavy rain. I binge on Killing Eve, watch four episodes and finish series four. An email drops into my inbox informing me that one of the people I was on duty with yesterday has tested positive for COVID this morning. No point in panicking and testing immediately. It will be at least two days before I will have a positive test if I have contracted the virus. Late afternoon, when the weather clears up I walk along Sandbanks beach to the National Trust jetty. I collect a parking permit for tomorrow as we will be volunteering to do maintenance at the Outdoor Centre tomorrow.
Could UK's rapid COVID cases ruin Easter travel plans as easyJet and BA cancel flights? British holidaymakers face a chaotic Easter period after airlines cancelled over 300 flights and Eurotunnel warned of three hour delays as COVID-19 cases surge to 5 million. Hundreds of easyJet and British Airways flights were cancelled over the weekend, with dozens more grounded on Monday amid a fresh surge in COVID infections, leaving consumers stranded.
UK travel sector recovery up in the air as staff shortages and higher fuel prices bite Britain's travel sector recovery is up in the air as staff shortages due to rising COVID cases and higher fuel prices dent hopes and airlines' earnings just as passengers return to the skies.
What is Omicron XE? A new sub-variant of Omicron has been found in the UK as the country battles a renewed surge of the coronavirus. This further mutation, thought to be down to people mixing more freely since Covid restrictions were dropped, could be more transmissible.
Why has it taken so long to add more Covid symptoms to NHS list? Ministers are finally acknowledging what has been patently obvious since the beginning of the pandemic: Covid is associated with far more than the oft-cited symptoms of high temperature, persistent cough and loss of sense of smell and taste. With little fanfare, a further nine potential symptoms have now been added to the official list on the NHS website, including diarrhoea, loss of appetite, sore throat and tiredness.
Tuesday 05 April 2022
An early start this morning in order to have breakfast and prepare a packed lunch before leaving at 8 am to catch the 8.30 boat to Brownsea Island. We start with a hot drink in the Sail Loft and allocation of tasks. I volunteer to drive the Gator down to the Outdoor Centre with my friend but the whereabouts of the Gator is unknown and the ignition key are unknown. I find the key but there is no sign of the Gator so we set off to walk to the Outdoor Centre thinking it might be there already. We find it en route but it has a flat tyre. I carefully drive it back to the quay and then discover it should have been taken to the farm to be repaired. Chastened, we abandon the Gator to its repairers and walk to the Outdoor Centre.
By the time we get to the Outdoor Centre the sun is shining and we know we will have a good day whatever tasks await us. I help another member of the team to clear the ‘brash’ from around the tree tents. Despite the dreadful weather bookings have already been taken for these so they need to be ready for occupation. We work hard all day raking up fallen branches and twigs, moving them to one place in wheelbarrows and finally loading them on to a trailer. We fill the trailer and are very proud of our efforts today.
Disruption continues to hit UK flights Airline passengers are being warned to expect flight cancellations caused by staff shortages to continue. More than 1,000 UK flights have been axed in recent days due to crews being off sick amid a rise in coronavirus cases.Industry experts also said airlines and airports are struggling because of the number of job cuts made during the pandemic.
In the News Today
Putin will ‘try to hide war crimes’ Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Russia’s forces will try to cover up evidence of their “war crimes”, but added that “they will not be able to deceive the whole world”. The Ukrainian president is addressing the UN Security Council this afternoon in a meeting which is likely to focus on what appears to be the widespread killing of Ukrainians by Russian soldiers.
Wednesday 06 April 2022
I am shocked to see a man pass by my window as I potter in my kitchen this morning. I can hear him walking across the roof above me. I am on the second floor of a block of flats. We have not been informed regarding any work being done on the roof of the building but as I can see a workman’s van parked below me I have to assume he is supposed to be there. I catch up with some bill paying today and spend some time trawling the internet looking for a nice dress for my niece’s wedding in June. I can’t find anything so I will have to brave dress shops and fitting rooms sometime in the near future. The weather today is typical for the month of April – blustery with frequent showers. I brave the weather to spend some time watching the kite surfers skimming the surface of Poole Harbour creating a great wake behind them.
Covid deaths ‘set to rise’ Experts at Imperial College London have warned that a rise in Covid infections in the over-55s could cause an increased number of hospitalisations and deaths in the coming weeks. The latest data shows that while infections appear to be slowing down or plateauing in most younger age groups in England, they are rising in the over-55s, with no clear sign of when they will peak. Covid-related deaths in England have jumped to their highest level since mid-February.
EasyJet and British Airways cancel dozens more flights as travel chaos continues Airlines have cancelled dozens more flights as they continue to struggle with Covid staff absences. EasyJet and British Airways have cancelled more than 100 flights due to run on Wednesday, adding to days of havoc at airports.
In the News Today
PM faces Tory rebellion Senior Conservative Party members have told The Guardian that Boris Johnson will struggle to get his plans to privatise Channel 4 through parliament due to a backlash within his own party.
Zelenskyy tells UN to act Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the UN should be dissolved if it cannot stop Russia. In a virtual address to the Security Council, the Ukrainian president said Moscow’s veto on resolutions gave it a “right tokill”. The US and the EU are set to impose more sanctions on Russia amid allegations of war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
No-fault divorces launched No-fault divorces are now allowed in England and Wales, marking what the BBC described as “the most far-reaching change in divorce laws in decades”.
Airport boss quits amid Easter chaos The boss of Manchester Airport quit last night, hours after the city’s mayor said that the police could be drafted in to help with the Easter getaway chaos. Passengers described the airport as a “total disgrace” as the waited for hours to reach security.
Thursday 07 April 2022
Disastrous start to a busy day as my Broadband crashes six times in one hour. I call BT and a very helpful woman puts we through to technical support. While I am answering questions about the hub in my flat I remember it was never tested as the cables were put in while it was still in my flat in Hertfordshire. Technical Support do a reset but this does not solve the problem so I have to do a manual reset. It takes nearly an hour but finally I am back online and do not experience any more crashes. I have to stay in waiting for a delivery from Amazon which could be any time before ten o’clock this evening. Fortunately, it arrives mid-afternoon, so I manage to get out for a short walk before the clouds roll in and the rain starts again. The tide is coming in and I notice new channels have developed in the sand since the storms of last month when the sea overflowed onto the road.
Covid Levels Hit a Record High In March. There was an "unprecedented" rise in Covid cases in March after all social distancing measures were relaxed. Now scientists are trying to predict how the outbreak will impact people in the coming weeks.
Why Your Blood Clot Risk Is Higher for 6 Months After Contracting Covid There is an increased risk of a blood clot for the next six months after contracting Covid, according to new research. People who had severe Covid symptoms, plus those who were infected within the first wave of the virus (before the vaccines) are most at risk. a Swedish study found. One of the earlier vaccine suppliers, AstraZeneca, was shortly paused in countries around the world due to blood clot fears. A study showed that some rare blood clots can appear after being vaccinated, but the risk was very small. The risk of a blood clot after being infected with coronavirus was much higher.
Spain reverses plan to open up to unvaccinated British visitors In an extraordinary reversal of an earlier announcement, the Spanish tourist board in London has withdrawn the promise of opening up to unvaccinated British visitors. On Wednesday the tourist board said Spain had opened up to all UK travellers with immediate effect, saying unjabbed visitors would be able to enter with a negative pre-departure test. But eight hours later travellers were told this was incorrect, and that the announcement resulted from an error of interpretation of the official state bulletin.
In the News Today
Russia withdraws from Kyiv - the Pentagon has said that Russian forces have completely withdrawn from Kyiv and Chernihiv. “We are not showing Russian forces in or around Kyiv or in or around Chernihiv”, a spokesperson said, adding that Vladimir Putin “has achieved zero of his strategic goals” in both cities.
Friday 08 April 2022
This morning I catch the bus to Compton Acres rather than walking because it is a miserable morning and raining steadily. I am meeting two other members of our Coffee Club. But first I have to collect my new membership card. Not only does this give me unlimited access to the beautiful gardens at Compton Acres but also a discount in the café and shop. Usually, several tables on the terrace outside the café are occupied whatever the weather – today the whole area is deserted and it looks very sad, empty and glistening with rain. After enjoying a coffee and a chat I head for the shops in Poole in the hope of finding a dress suitable for a wedding. I try one on, decide I need to lose weight before pursuing my quest for a wedding outfit and head for Sainsbury’s to do my weekly food shop. When I get back to the flat I jump on my exercise bike and pedal furiously for twenty minutes’ as I set my weight loss plan in motion.
Covid infections remain around record levels in most of UK, figures show with only Scotland seeing a drop, new figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed.
Rising infections, end of free tests: how 'living with COVID' could affect case numbers in England Access to free COVID tests came to an end for most people in England at the beginning of April. This includes both lateral flow tests and PCR tests. There are just a few exceptions: people with certain health conditions who may be eligible for new COVID treatments, patients being admitted to hospital, and people in high-risk settings such as care homes.
Omicron symptoms last almost half as long for those with booster vaccine Those who had received a booster vaccine experienced symptoms of the Omicron variant for half the time of those who had not had the third jab, a study has found. People who had a third shot of the vaccine reported an average of 4.4 days with symptoms of Omicron.
Johnson: I cannot rule out another lockdown in the event of deadly Covid variant Boris He said it would be “irresponsible” to rule out further lockdowns if more deadly coronavirus variants emerge. He The continued to say he could not rule out the prospect of taking drastic action again as the nation feels the impact of the new Omicron strain. While symptoms are generally less severe than earlier variants, the rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England is at the highest since January 2021.
Saturday 09 April 2022
Busy day writing today and buckling down to some housework – the latter is not my favourite task but has to be done. It is a lovely sunny day and when I go out for some fresh air I notice a significant increase in the number of small yachts moored in Poole Harbour. As sure sign the 2022 season has started. I watch several yachts sailing out of the harbour – a majestic sight – before tackling the bathroom and discovering that to my surprise the bathroom cleaner that is advertised as an all-purpose successful remover of dirt actually does what it says on the bottle. This evening I treat myself to take-away fish and chips as a reward for my hard work.
Around 30,000 Covid patients treated with ‘cutting-edge’ anti-viral drugs Around 30,000 vulnerable Covid-19 patients in England have been treated with highly effective “cutting-edge” antiviral drugs which improve symptoms “within hours”, according to the NHS.The health service said it had procured nearly five million doses of Paxlovid and other antivirals, such as Molnupiravir as part of the latest deal struck by the Government. Paxlovid, developed by Pfizer, was approved for use in the UK in December and found in trials to slash hospital admissions and deaths by 88%.
Sunday 10 April 2022
As I wait for the boat to Brownsea Island this morning I watch large shoals of tiny fish shooting between the supports of the wooden jetty. It is a glorious morning – a golden sun shines in a blue sky – but there is still a chill in the air. I hear the occasional splash of a tern diving into the water and emerging with its catch. I am on duty in the courtyard today – answering questions about the island and suggesting activities the children might like to do. Although the sun is shining everywhere else the courtyard is in shade and really cold. So, between ferries I head for reception to warm up. This afternoon I give out Easter eggs to the children who have completed our Easter Trail around the island. Finally, I walk to the Visitor Centre and the church to lock them up before getting the boat back to the mainland. I head back to the flat and a session on my exercise bike followed by a salad for supper.
Spain and Italy will not drop Covid travel restrictions before Easter Even as dozens of European countries drop all Covid-related travel restrictions, and Spain and Italy have confirmed theirs will continue for at least a month. In Spain, the extension till 30 April - confirmed last Monday - means unvaccinated and partly vaccinated Britons still cannot visit the most popular European country for UK holidaymakers, except for “essential” reasons
Heathrow says it is 'stretched' as it races to hire 12,000 new staff Heathrow has admitted it is "stretched" as travel rebounds from the pandemic but staffing levels remain low, amid widespread delays at the UK's largest airport. March was the busiest month for passengers at Heathrow since the pandemic began, following the government’s removal of all remaining travel restrictions. Now, the airport has said it is rushing to hire some 12,000 workers to cope with rising demand for international travel ahead of the summer.
Oil protestors force one in three petrol stations in southern England On their tenth day of action, activists targeted three fuel depots at Hertfordshire, Essex and Warwickshire. The campaigners, who want Downing Street to end all new fossil fuel projects, locked themselves onto pipes and blocked entrances to the sites.
Some Government Statistics
The government has changed the way it reports COVID-19 statistics and no longer gives daily totals but from Monday to Friday it gives a 7-day total with no statistics reported on Saturday and Sunday. In the last 7 days, by Friday 08 April, the number of people who tested positive is 333,347 bringing the cumulative total to 21,549,830. The number of deaths within 28 days of positive test is 1,475 in the last 7 days bringing the cumulative total of deaths to 169,759. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate this week 187,929 an increase this week of 1,005.
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.