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An interesting week for us in rural Victoria. A week ago today our power went off in a major storm, and we have yet to have it back on. The power company is doing its best – there are helicopters up assessing line damage (sometimes they are just trying to locate fallen poles and transformers). So, no power, no internet, no water, no nothing much. Where we live it was two days before we hacked our way onto a drivable road. The local authorities decided that as there were no requests for help from here we must all be OK – so the ‘no news is not good news’ lesson has still not been driven home enough. For the public health folks reading this, the public health response has been completely and totally non-existent – so I would predict a reasonably wide outbreak of gastro starting any time now. People are getting a bit desperate about cooking and eating defrosted food, no drinking water (many towns seem to have run out totally for people needing it, and no information about the safe places to get it or how to make tank water safe for drinking), no doorknocking to make sure people are safe, no advice for people needing to store medicines which are usually refrigerated, etc etc etc. We have found many short-term work-arounds, but this is not really good enough. Apparently, the nearest charging station is an hour and a half away by car (no public transport to get there!), and as for a shower … so it is fine for those of us who have a good idea of how to get these things, but for many people, some of whom are still marooned by fallen trees, it is not at all funny. So why was this not declared an emergency and the reserve forces sent in???
We have new regional public health units which seem to lack any public health intelligence and only know how to respond to COVID. SO, speaking of COVID …
This week there have been some strange patterns. Fiji, for example, has more than doubled its cases in a week. Various countries in Africa continue to see upswings, but it’s all quite patchy – the pattern of ‘up for about three weeks and then it dies away’ is the consistent part, and in a few places the hitherto consistent and gradual fall in the case fatality rate is now reversing, which could mean any of several things – for example, fewer people being tested, a reclassification of previous deaths (as happened in South America a couple of weeks ago).
The ‘new Delta strain’ seems to be causing some anxiety. It seems the most common symptoms (reporting from Europe, sorry but I can’t find the article right now) are: sore throat, runny nose, and headache. Some symptoms seem to have dropped off the list, such a loss of sense of taste and smell. That’s interesting because the common symptoms of all coronaviruses are identical.
Lastly, I am aware that there is renewed interest in the origins of COVID, and there has been some quite hysterical and other much more circumspect writing on this. Here are some thoughtful pieces from knowledgeable people, if you are interested (hint – what to do with the information, not making it a ‘Chinese’ problem again).
- The COVID-19 lab-leak hypothesis is plausible because accidents happen. I should know
- Why the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is being considered again
That’s it for now, until next week.
From The Age, for those who have not already seen it: