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What the world should learn from Taiwan about fighting coronavirus
In Taiwan, most residents carry on as normal, with offices and schools open. Many restaurants, gyms, and cafes in the capital, Taipei, are still bustling, although most premises will take temperatures and spray hands with sanitiser before allowing customers in
Despite being blocked by Beijing from being part of the WHO, Taiwan put the lessons it learned during the 2003 SARS outbreak to good use, and this time its government and people were both prepared and proactive
As countries around the world fail to grapple with the coronavirus, Taiwan’s example provides valuable lessons on how to curb its spread.
The island is just 81 miles and a short flight away from mainland China, where COVID-19 originated in the city of Wuhan. As the outbreak took hold in January, many Taiwanese business people and their families based in China were returning to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and up to 2,000 Chinese tourists a day visited the island, potentially bringing the virus with them.
And yet, Taiwan still has had only 393 cases of COVID-19 and six deaths as of Tuesday – far fewer than China’s 82,249 cases and 3,341 deaths, a stark contrast even when taking into account the enormous population difference: Taiwan’s almost 24 million to China’s 1.4 billion. Taiwan’s numbers are also much lower than neighbouring countries such as South Korea, which has had more than 10,564 cases, and Japan, with 7,645. It’s also faring better than countries much farther away from China, such as Italy, with 159,516 cases, and the United States, which now has 587,173 cases as of Tuesday
[Some weeks ago, President Donald Trump described coronavirus as “the latest hoax” political ploy by the Democrats, likening the Democrats’ criticism of his administration’s response to the new coronavirus outbreak like impeachment as their new hoax.” and he also downplayed the severity of the outbreak, comparing it to the common flu]
Of the over 150 countries and territories affected, Taiwan has one of the lowest incidence rate per capita — around 17 in every 1,000,000 people — for a place that is located so close to China and with so much travel to and from.
[UK (a ‘developed economy’ country) has less than 3x the population of Taiwan (a ‘developing economy’ country) but has
- about 23thousand percent more coronavirus cases and
- close to 190thousand percent more coronavirus deaths]
Taiwan was alert and proactive
Partly because it’s near China and speaks the same language, Taiwan learned early that a “severe pneumonia” was spreading in Wuhan. But it was the proactive measures the island took that helped it avert a major outbreak.
- On Dec. 31, the same day China notified the World Health Organization that it had several cases of an unknown pneumonia, Taiwan’s Centres for Disease Control immediately ordered inspections of passengers arriving on flights from Wuhan.
- And despite poor relations with Beijing, Taiwan asked and received permission to send a team of experts to the mainland on a fact-finding mission Jan. 12.
A government spokesperson reported “They didn’t let us see what they didn’t want us to see, but our experts sensed the situation was not optimistic,”
- Shortly after the team returned, Taiwan began requiring hospitals to test for and report cases. That helped the government identify those infected, trace their contacts and isolate everyone involved, preventing the virus from spreading to the community.
All this happened long before Taiwan confirmed its first case Jan. 21 and the rest of the world became alarmed.
Taiwan set up a command centre
- Equally important, Taiwan’s Centres for Disease Control (CDC) activated the Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC) relatively early on Jan. 20 and that allowed it to quickly roll out a series of epidemic control measures.
- Taiwan has rapidly produced and implemented a list of at least 124 action items in the past month or so — that was three to four per day — to protect public health. The policies and actions go beyond border control because they recognized that that’s not enough.
The command centre not only investigated confirmed and suspected cases, it also worked with ministries and local governments to coordinate the response across Taiwan, including allocating funds, mobilizing personnel and advising on the disinfection of schools.
Taiwan took quick and decisive action
- Taiwan also took tough action early. On Jan. 26, five days after it confirmed its first case, Taiwan banned arrivals from Wuhan, earlier than any other country.
- Not long after, it did the same for flights from all but a handful of Chinese cities, and only Taiwanese people were allowed to fly in.
Taiwan used technology to detect and track cases
- After securing its borders, Taiwan used technology to fight the virus. Temperature monitors were already set up at airports after the 2003 SARS outbreak to detect anyone with a fever, a symptom of coronavirus.
- Passengers can also scan a QR code and report their travel history and health symptoms online. That data is then given directly to Taiwan’s CDC.
- Those coming from badly affected areas are put under mandatory 14-day home quarantine, even if they are not sick, and are tracked using location sharing on their mobile phone. Absconding or not reporting symptoms can lead to heavy fines like say $10,000.
- The authorities in Taiwan also quickly determine whom the confirmed cases had been in contact with, and then test them, and put them in home quarantine. They also proactively find new cases by retesting those who tested negative
Taiwan ensured availability of supplies
- To ensure a steady supply of masks, the government quickly banned manufacturers from exporting them, implemented a rationing system and set the price at just 16 cents each.
- It also set up new production lines and dispatched soldiers to staff factories, significantly increasing production.
- These masks are the tools for residents in Taiwan’s densely populated cities to protect themselves; they made them feel safe and not panic.
Taiwan educated the public
- The government also asked television and radio stations to broadcast hourly public service announcements on how the virus is spread, the importance of washing hands properly, and when to wear a mask, as only when information is transparent, and people have sufficient medical knowledge, will their fear be reduced
- Residents learned that most patients had mild or no symptoms, so the death rate could be lower than what was reported. They also understood that a person’s travel history or contact with infected individuals determined their risk level, not their nationality or race. That understanding helped reduce discrimination.
Taiwan got public buy-in
- The public’s cooperation with the government’s recommended measures was crucial to prevent the spread of the virus, including among students
- More than 95 percent of parents took their child’s temperature at home and report it to the school before the children arrived, as regardless of what the government does, people had to take responsibility for their own health.
- Some businesses checked the temperature of employees arriving for work, using a detection camera
- Offices stocked up on alcohol disinfectants and temperature guns. Practically every office building, school and community sports centre check temperatures and prevent anyone with a fever from entering. Apartment buildings also place hand sanitizer inside or outside elevators
Taiwan learned from experience
- Taiwan put the lessons it learned during the SARS outbreak in 2003 to good use. That epidemic ended up killing 73 people and hurting the economy [China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were the worst affected countries]. This time, Taiwan’s government and people were prepared, and that readiness paid off.
- The country’s health insurance system, which covers 99 percent of the population, was crucial to fighting the spread of the outbreak, as Taiwan’s health insurance lets everyone not be afraid to go to the hospital. If you suspect you have coronavirus, you won’t have to worry that you can’t afford the hospital visit to get tested. You can get a free test, and if you’re forced to be isolated, during the 14 days, food is paid for, as is lodging and medical care, so no one would avoid seeing the doctor because they can’t pay for health care
- However somewhat surprisingly, Taiwan, with a population of almost 24 million, currently conducts only around 800 screenings a day and not everyone under quarantine is tested
Nevertheless, apart from Taiwan, elsewhere in the world, the spread of coronavirus goes on unabated, doesn’t it? Yep, it may have originated from Wuhan China last December, but has since travelled around the globe rapidly and relentlessly at increasing pace, so has been identified in over a hundred-and-eighty countries of 6 WHO regions so far, yet no effective action has been taken to stop it there by ‘anyone’, has it?
No, and it inevitably reached and pretty quickly established large outbreaks in all regions of the UK and cases are increasingly occurring where the person infected or killed doesn’t have an underlying health condition or old, and hasn’t been in contact with anyone who has been overseas nor contact with a known infected person, which is an extremely worrying development, isn’t it?
Some countries are testing patients for coronavirus by the tens of thousands daily as was the UK’s currently ‘unachieved’ plan of mid-March and the criteria for testing here has narrowed to only the most severe cases.
There is growing concern that the UK was still only managing to test 5,000 people a day, and has struggled to pass 8,000 a day, despite aims to increase tests to 10,000 and then 25,000 a day – which is still far short of the 70,000 a day that Germany is managing, or the UK’s commitment of 100,00 by the end of April [No explanation has been forthcoming about why we failed the previous targets nor how that is to be overcome to allow the new one to be achieved, so that’s not very encouraging , is it?
Critics have also questioning the UK’s decision only to test people in hospitals and NHS workers, arguing that a return to testing more widely will ultimately be necessary to suppress the virus. A policy of mass community testing will be essential to identify new hotspots, as has happened in South Korea, and so eventually end the current minimalistic lockdown.
South Korean officials are setting up “drive-thru” coronavirus screening facilities, and manufacturers in China have the capacity to distribute more than 1.5 million tests a week. The countries, alongside Italy and the U.K., are testing tens of thousands of people for the coronavirus, in many cases processing thousands of samples a day.
Reportedly, the UK has the capacity to process tens of thousands more tests for coronavirus but has failed to organise itself properly and there were calls for the UK to make use of testing machines in every university and big hospital around the country, set up mobile testing units like Ireland, which is testing far more people per head of population
There are 44 molecular virology labs in the UK and if they had been doing 400 tests a day Britain would be up to Germany levels of testing and that is perfectly feasible. Public Health England (PHE) was slow and controlled and only allowed non-PHE labs to start testing a few weeks ago but that was only after the strategy shift to end community testing
The BioMedomics, 15-minute coronavirus blood test, claimed 80% accurate, is not being used in the UK (because health officials here have yet to approve it), despite China, Italy and Japan diagnosing patients with it. The test, which takes a blood droplet from a finger prick, and shows results in a pregnancy-test fashion, allegedly shows the severity of coronavirus infection in a patient within minutes even if they don’t show symptoms, and could potentially save delays in diagnosis [Public Health England currently used swab tests take up to 48 hours to be read by lab specialists].
Many of the countries that have had the greatest success in containing the disease are ones that were most affected by SARS in 2002-03. The memory of that crisis may have led to better preparedness, both within government and amongst the population, and to a greater acceptance of people to comply with restrictions on movement and daily life, to prevent the spread of infection.
There are three main aspects to controls that aim to stop the spread of the disease:
- The first is travel bans on people from areas with high levels of cases (initially mainland China, now many more places)
- the second is quarantine rules to prevent known or suspected carriers from spreading infection; and
- the third is shutdowns and social distancing to prevent transmission between unidentified carriers by reducing human contact.
Now, the British government seems to have the attitude that such controls may have proved to work well in other countries but are not needed in the UK – they prefer to do virtually NOTHING and rely instead on an approach of on a wing and a prayer, to somehow halt the virus, eh?
[Boris Johnson to the horror of the World Health Organisation, was (is?) pursuing a strategy of gradually attempting to achieve UK “herd immunity” so had resisted even the current pseudo-lockdown in the UK (lockdown of most businesses, with people only allowed to leave their homes under limited circumstances), but he was galvanised into imposing it only after Imperial College published its controversial, non-peer-reviewed, results of mathematical modelling that predicted a total failure to control the virus here with 1/4million deaths resulting]
TIMELINE ON CORONAVIRUS:
end October 2016; Exercise Cygnus – NHS and authorities conducted a test of their joint ability to cope with a flue pandemic and the RESULT was FAILURE as the NHS was stretched beyond breaking point [UK reaction – nil]:
end December 2019; China alerted the WHO about unusual pneumonia in Wuhan [UK reaction – nil):
early January2020; virus identified as new [UK reaction – nil):
end January 2020; the WHO declare global emergency [UK reaction – nil):
early February 2020; first transmission within UK [UK reaction – government decides NOT to follow Italy and China in imposing restrictions):
early March; the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic [UK reaction –discussed in the UK government’s annual budget, and the government advised that anyone with a new continuous cough or a fever should self-isolate for seven days, schools were ‘asked’ to cancel trips abroad, and people over 70 and those with pre-existing medical conditions were ‘advised’ to avoid cruises:
mid-March 2020; France and Italy have mandatory locked-down [UK reaction – 2020 United Kingdom local elections were postponed for a year, and the UK government ‘advises’ against non-essential travel and contact, and ‘recommends’ home working, NHS England announces that all non-urgent operations in England would be postponed from mid-April to free up beds, and PM advised everyone in the UK against “non-essential” travel and contact with others, and Chancellor announces that £330bn would be made available in loan guarantees for businesses affected by the pandemic – NHS has shortage of personal protection equipment]:
late March 2020; government orders pubs, eateries and gyms to close and announces a mild ‘stay-at-home order’ pseudo lockdown including a series of strict social measures, with the closure of non-essential shops and the banning of social gatherings, while ordering members of the public to stay at home with only a few exceptions, Health Secretary announces that everyone in Britain over the age of 70 would be told to self-isolate “within the coming weeks”, and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency announced that all pending practical and driving theory tests were to be postponed, in the case of practical tests for at least 3 months, and up to and including 20 April for theory tests, Johnson announces tightened measures to mitigate the virus in order to protect the NHS, with wide-ranging restrictions made on freedom of movement, enforceable in law for a planned period intended to last for at least three weeks. The public have been now ‘ordered’ to “stay indoors” and to only leave the house for one of these four reasons: Shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine (Shopping trips should be as infrequent as possible); One form of exercise a day such as a run, walk, or cycle (This should be done alone or only with people you live with); Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person (This includes moving children under the age of 18 between their parents’ homes, where applicable and Key workers or those with children identified as vulnerable, can continue to take their children to school); Travelling to and from work, but only where work absolutely cannot be done from home. The government has announced strict social distancing measures, banning gatherings of more than two people (It was publicized that the police have powers to impose fines on those breaking the stringent rules, and can disperse gatherings)]. The number of UK coronavirus deaths jumped by more than 100 in a day for the first time.
While the UK government claims that its new measures are strict, they’re not really so, and certainly still not anywhere near as draconian as those put in place even in other European countries, are they?
However, as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise incessantly here in the UK, more dramatic and effective measures will surely be needed in the near future to stem its spread and in order to protect life, won’t they? [Enforced lockdowns could be applied countrywide or only to major towns and cities like London (which because of its density and tube, even inexperienced people knew London should have been in complete shutdown previously, but now because of culpable mismanagement currently resulting in over a thousand deaths, it is continuing to suffer abominably in terms of coronavirus spread)
early April 2020; the government confirmed that a total of 2,000 NHS staff had now been tested for coronavirus since the outbreak began, and the Health Secretary announced a “five pillar” plan for testing people for the virus, with the aim of conducting 100,000 tests a day by the end of April. [a five-year-old has died from the virus, believed to be the youngest UK victim to date]
Britain has now overtaken China with the number of coronavirus cases and we are number six in the table headed by the USA. There has been a dramatic escalation in the number of daily coronavirus cases which in early March was still under 50 a day but that has now jumped into the thousands a day, which amply indicates that the UK’s slow response coupled with government’s virtually zero efforts to contain it, have been disastrous. We missed the window of opportunity in the first weeks and ignored the warning signs from other countries and went in a totally different direction to the rest of the world, so Britain will inevitably now pay the price with countless needless deaths
Some people, including even a few respiratory medical professionals, early on said that too much was being made about this virus in the media because we knew how to and could handle a flu epidemic, but that’s utter rubbish, not least because the evidence NOW is that we certainly DIDN’T! It’s true that there was no need for the public to panic, nor for the food stockpiling that’s cleared supermarket shelves, but a dose of reality is the best protection and the reason it has been spreading more rapidly here recently in the past month [numbers are doubling every couple of days] and is not being contained effectively in the UK (as was the government’s planned Stage), is that the population wasn’t worried enough, so didn’t take the simple health precautions steps to protect themselves and others, at a time when the government hadn’t and hasn’t implemented a proper lockdown nor is doing sufficient testing, don’t you think?
Those of us who have been closely following and analysing our own daily stats have found it disturbingly difficult to keep abreast of it all as the situation changes so rapidly and is frighteningly out of control EVERYWHERE, with cases and deaths simply skyrocketing hourly, and often there is different public information published from different WHO sources and not all countries’ figures are reliably up to date, or based on appropriate testing.
At 14th April 2020, UK numbers are well up and 88,621 people here were confirmed as positive and now 11,329 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 have died in UK hospitals. [UK hospital deaths have escalated to around a thousand a day (717 at 14th April, and was 980 on 10th April (the deadliest day of pandemic yet), a higher number in a single day than any EVER experienced by Italy or Spain, though over 2,000 people have died in 24 hrs in USA]
The UK’s Pandemic Influenza Response Plan was produced in 2014 and astoundingly still remains in place despite coronavirus and despite the plan proving to be ineffective – it has recently just come to light in the public that the NHS ‘failed a test of its ability to handle a full scale pandemic three years ago’ [the testing, codenamed Exercise Cygnus, conducted a three day run on how the health service would cope with a major flu outbreak] but ‘ministers hid the “terrifying” results’ from the public (deemed to be too sensitive you see?), so it’s hardly surprising that it shows close similarities between the handling of the current Covid-19 outbreak, and as lessons obviously weren’t learned nor action taken under Jeremy Hunt’s watch [2012-2018] or his successor Matt Hancock [2018-2020 current], and that highlights why the UK have screwed-up so badly in handling coronavirus, doesn’t it? In 2018, Hunt became the longest-serving Health Secretary in British political history (so what’s his excuse for failure on this one, not least since the NHS already had visibility and the experience of the similar SARS virus pandemic a decade before he was in post), later that year he then got promoted to Foreign Secretary no less, the 3rd Great Office of State, but he now chairs the Health & Social Care Select Committee – so he is well placed to cover-up his incompetence in running the NHS, the Cygnus cover-up, and the resulting lack of action, so has he direct responsibility for what is likely to be 20,000 deaths in the UK, do you think?
- NHS hospitals, local authorities and major government departments were included in the operation that took place in October 2016.
- Ministers were briefed on the results of Cygnus, which revealed that there were significant gaps in the NHS “surge capacity” and included a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and intensive care unit (ICU) beds.
- The NHS was stretched beyond breaking point [by Cygnus].
BUT WHAT’S THE BLEEDING POINT OF RUNNING SUCH AN EXERCISE LIKE CYGNUS IF YOU DON’T IMMEDIATELY DEAL EFFECTIVELY WITH THE RESULTS? These exercises are supposed to prepare the government for something like this coronavirus – but it appears they were aware of the problem but didn’t do much about it]
[As of 14th April 2020, NEARLY 2 million cases worldwide have been confirmed, of which some 11/3 M are active, and over 51 thousand remain classified as serious/critical (the earlier peak was at just 12 thousand).
Major outbreaks have currently occurred [ranked here in number order] in USA, now the worse hit in case numbers [587,173 cases- 30% of all], Spain [170,099 cases – 9% of all cases], Italy [159,516 cases- 8% of all cases], France [136,779 cases – 7% of all cases], Germany [130,072 cases- 7% of all cases], UK [88,621 cases – 5% of all cases], Central China, where it all started [82,249 cases – 4% of all cases, ], Iran 73,303 cases- 4% of all cases], Turkey [61,049 cases – 3% of all cases], Belgium [30,589 cases- 2% of all cases], Netherlands [26,551 cases- 1% of all cases], Switzerland [25,688 cases- 1% of all cases], Canada [25,680 cases – 1% of all cases], Brazil [23,723 cases – 1% of all cases], Russia [21,102 cases – 1% of all cases], Portugal [16,934 cases – 1% of all cases], Austria [14,102 cases – 1% of all cases], Sweden [10,948 cases – 1% of all cases], South Korea [10,564 cases – 1% of all cases], while nearly 120 thousand people have died☹ [overall mortality rate has risen to 6.2%) – some 3,341 [just 3% of all deaths] are in mainland China so now some 97% (over 116 thousand) deaths are in other countries, but with 20,465 [17% of all deaths] in Italy and 17,756 deaths in Spain [15% of all deaths] although in total over 450 thousand people are reported recovered [23% of all cases but actually down from some 55% earlier]
Here in the UK, we have seen a shameful and an utterly ineffective government response to the grave dangers from this ongoing ‘of international proportions’ public health emergency and one which has involved a clueless Prime Minister, at the outset offering worthless platitudes of reassurance to the public and uttering the barefaced lie that Britain and the NHS was well geared-up to deal with what many of us predicted was undoubtedly to be a mass-killer pandemic, eh? That is crass political and health stupidity when the bulk of us knew full well that the NHS is broke both financially and resource wise, so has been on its knees and trembling every year for decades now about the potential devastating impact on UK hospital resources of just an ordinary winter flu epidemic [which in the past half-decade has killed an estimated average of 17,000 people annually (but had a high of 28,330 in 2014/15) – in context the coronavirus has so far resulted in in 11,329 deaths in the UK in 3½ months this year – more so, even a PM spokesperson had warned that the coronavirus was likely to spread significantly, as it indeed has!
The lie has been fully demonstrated by subsequent events which have exposed facts like the NHS had insufficient bed capacity [at the twelfth hour the Government a week ago commandeered the first of some eight temporary hospital facilities planned (Birmingham, Manchester, Harrogate, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Belfast), that first being the east London venue of the ExCeL centre, but at some enormous expense (£3million a month in rent was to be charged by Adnec, the Abu Dhabi owners which would result in untold millions of NHS cost – that’s in stark contrast to another of the ones planned, the NEC in Birmingham, owned by the American private equity giant Blackstone, which is providing the venue for free. That news resulted in Adnec backing down on their full billing plans – but saying only that it would scrap a ‘contribution to some fixed costs’ that had been demanded from the NHS)].
IF THESE HOSPITALS WERE INDEED REQUIRED FOR UK CAPACITY THEN WHY WEREN’T THESE BUILT AS PERMANENT HOSPITALS BEFOREHAND as they would have then had inherent value which they certainly don’t have when cuckooing in temporary premises, AND WHY DID JOHNSON SAY we had adequate facilities, do you think?
This new London hospital facility was built with the help of up to 200 soldiers a day (from the Royal Anglian Regiment and Royal Gurkha Rifles), working long shifts alongside NHS staff and over 160 contractors. The NHS have kitted it out, but again all at undisclosed substantial cost (£?million) and in 9 days (an amazing achievement) had turned it into a makeshift 4000 bed coronavirus field hospital (now called Nightingale Hospital London) to cope with the impending peak of the epidemic. It has been fitted with the framework made from material usually used to make exhibition stands – because it is lightweight and could be constructed quickly – for more than 80 wards, each with 42 beds. Some 500 fully-equipped beds, with oxygen and ventilators, are already in place and there is space for another 3,500, but lack of staff resources (16,00 needed) means that in addition to those drawn from local hospitals and trusts, it will have to be staffed significantly with volunteer retired staff and military medical personnel.
[Excel’s existing electrical infrastructure had to be modified to ensure the power supply could cope with demand – and not cut out – and temporary generators and oxygen tanks, to supply the beds, have also been installed]
Then a couple of weeks ago, a successful national campaign was launched by government to sign-up ¼ million public volunteers to become NHS Volunteer Responders, who can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as: delivering medicines from pharmacies; driving patients to appointments; bringing them home from hospital; or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home. [NHS Volunteer Responders apparently is not intended to replace local groups helping their vulnerable neighbours but is an additional service provided by the NHS (GPs, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, NHS 111 advisers and social care staff will all be able to request help for their at-risk patients via a call centre run by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), who will match people who need help with volunteers who live near to them].
Furthermore, it transpires that the NHS didn’t have anything like the required numbers (only a quarter) of ventilators needed by hospitals to help their critically ill respiratory patients to take a breath and avoid death [a ventilator takes over the body’s breathing process when disease has caused the lungs to fail – this gives the patient time to fight off the infection and recover] – WHY WAS THAT for goodness sake?
Well, for a start, the government didn’t order them earlier in this crisis, so other counties have secured the available manufactures’ stock and future output – leaving our government scabbling about trying to get UK companies like defence firm Babcock and engineering company Dyson, to take on ventilators as a new product line and possibly create new designs, no less? [indeed, the government has placed firm orders for 10,000 machines from Dyson] The UK needs an estimated 30,000 units to deal with the impending coronavirus peak but there are only 8,000 units currently available, eh? The UK now hopes to source another 30,000 ventilators for the NHS by ordering newly designed models, scaling up production of existing ones, and importing machines from overseas [the proven heavy-duty machine models suited for hospital use, are already made by the specialist UK firm Penion, while another specialist UK firm Smiths, already produces a lightweight portable “paraPac” ventilator (HOW MANY UNITS HAVE BEEN EXPORTED THOUGH instead of going to the NHS?) ]. DOES ALL THAT SOUND TO YOU LIKE THE UK BEING WELL PREPARED, as Johnson HAD claimed, EH?
- [The large majority of people (80%) with Covid-19 – the disease caused by coronavirus – recover without needing hospital treatment, but one person in six becomes seriously ill and can develop breathing difficulties.
- In these severe cases, the virus causes damage to the lungs. The body’s immune system detects this and expands blood vessels so more immune cells enter.
- But this can cause fluid to enter the lungs, making it harder to breathe, and causing the body’s oxygen levels to drop.
- To alleviate this, a machine ventilator is used to push air, with increased levels of oxygen, into the lungs.
- The ventilator also has a humidifier, which modifies adds heat and moisture to the medical air so it matches the patient’s body temperature.
- Patients are given medication to relax the respiratory muscles so their breathing can be fully regulated by the machine]
Apparently, also the government had previously failed to join an EU scheme to procure ventilators, because it had missed an invitation to do so owing to a ‘communication problem’, no less?
These are simply more glaring examples of centralised disgraceful failures to adequately deal with this mammoth health crisis by the incompetent Johnson government – all mouth and no trousers, you see?
Worryingly, despite the PM’s assurances about our resource capability, some people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus are now actually having to be treated at home rather than in hospital — some unfathomable and unsatisfactory change of policy, eh? Well, Germany has had one and a half times as many coronavirus cases as UK but less than a third of our deaths [and it has the LOWEST mortality rate in Europe] and Iran with 4/5ths of our cases have less than half of our fatalities – why, why, why? Well, it’s not by luck you can be sure. In the case of Germany, it might well be related to the level of testing and the fact that they have the greatest number of intensive care beds and facilities of any country in Europe, don’t you think?
As the UK had very little direct exposure to the previous SARS virus from China [only four cases were recorded here, with zero deaths] no lessons were learnt from that outbreak. Now, regarding the current situation, in reality, the one and only practical thing that the UK government did at the outset about coronavirus was to launch a minimalistic lacklustre campaign to advise people to properly wash their hands with soap and water [aka the scrub-up a surgeon doctor does] – but that didn’t even attempt to properly explain the reasons why, so that message is likely to have been ineffective, isn’t it? It’s even more unlikely that such a message would be heeded when delivered by our ‘generally untrusted’ politicians – only health professionals should have been used for this important advice, don’t you think?
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock had publicly said he would do everything in his power to support the NHS, so why was there, and still is there, a substantial lack of Personal Protection Equipment available to those staff at the front end and not even sufficient numbers of aprons let alone specialized respirator masks to stop medical and care staff themselves getting coronavirus infected due to very close contact with infected patients and clients? Disgracefully, doubtless to cover-up for equipment shortages, the rules were suddenly relaxed and changed to instruct NHS staff to deal with potential coronavirus patients without using any PPE and that puts their own lives and safety at risk, doesn’t it? Hancock should get stuffed
[Hand washing both helps people stop contracting coronavirus and also stops them spreading it. That is because apart from being airborne, the virus can live on and be picked up on, or be deposited by, hands from surfaces, like say door handles or taps, and then it gets ingested through eyes, ears, and mouth into your respiratory system.
Soap works on coronavirus and indeed most viruses because the virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and becomes inactive). SOAP IS IN FACT THE ‘MOST’ EFFECTIVE WAY TO DESTROY A VIRUS FROM THE SKIN OR INDEED ANY SURFACE OR ARTICLE and is much more effective than hand gels or wipes]
The dirty truth is that men are particularly irresponsible about hand washing after urinating using a public toilet, and the majority [63 per cent in 2015 study] can’t be bothered to even do that basic but essential act of personal hygiene, so they will inevitably leave bacteria, bugs and disease behind for others to pick up [while it is perhaps less significant, women at 39 per cent aren’t quite as bad]
[Reportedly, bathroom-door handles have so much bacteria on them, you could use one to colonize Mars, and additionally, flushing actually launches aerosolized toilet funk into the air, which can travel up to six feet. That means virtually everything you touch in the bathroom could be coated with a fine mist of invisible poo particles so when toileting, it’s possible to have faecal material and faecal bacteria get onto your hands,” (by-products of ingesting faecal matter include E. Coli and hepatitis.)]
With respect to coronavirus risk alone the government should have, as a minimum surely, provided and forced all public toilets to display their hand-washing message on a printed notice or even to have required an automatic recording to be played to everyone using the facility (as happens on some cruise ships)?
Its unfathomable why the British government didn’t at least screen here in some manner those thousands of people who had flown back from Wuhan in January or entering the Country from China, when it became obvious there was a major coronavirus health problem there, as was reported in December to the World Health Organisation (WHO), isn’t it? Certainly, a student at York University and a relative is known to also have brought the virus back from China to York by the start of February.
As there was a significant risk over a month ago of the virus becoming more widespread, we might have expected the UK government to have advised then against travel to certain counties or places and to identify the danger of going on cruises (which heightens the risk of coronavirus infection as passengers can come from many countries and are contained in large numbers in an enclosed environment wherever the ship is heading). Had the government done that, then people could have played safe and cancelled holidays and cruises and been covered by holiday insurance, but instead have put themselves at risk because the government had sanctioned their travel and holiday plans [note P&O have recently changed their cancellation policy because of coronavirus and bookings can now be deferred without financial penalty)
Another consideration had to be the cancelling of events involving large gatherings of people which enable rapid inter-contamination, but so far, the government haven’t done anything in that respect and indeed international canine event Crufts 2020 in Birmingham, to which around 160,000 people went (the lowest turnout ever seen because of coronavirus visitor fears) went ahead at the start of March, and ran for 4 days but some said the event was “too big to cancel over some unfounded fears”, eh?
The UK should have learned from other countries and gone into serious lockdown at least three weeks ago. It has been left to the likes of the English FA to take independent action and suspend all Premier League and EFL football games and public attended football matches
Up until mid-March 2020, the UK was supposed to be in a ‘containment’ phase before moving to a ‘delay’ phase of COVID-19, but what exactly did the government actually DO to enact containment and then delay. In a word NOTHING [SO BOTH PHASES FAILED] and that is why the UK is instead suffering a massive coronavirus expansion and indeed is following the same track as Italy’s disastrous coronavirus numbers and deaths escalation, and that’s hardly surprising because initially, Italy like the UK did little to stop the spread of coronavirus. Only after it registered more deaths than any other country outside China, and the scale of the crisis became clear, did Italy lock down first the northern region at the centre of the crisis and then the entire country – we in UK have still haven’t introduced any travel bans, applied airport fever screening or significantly locked down ANYTHING, have we? No, and that’s despite having the benefit of seeing the success of major lockdowns in other counties.
In a telling indictment, the Mayor of an Italian town that’s been in the midst of the pandemic, who personally had locked down his town very early on in the crisis, reported in a recent television programme on the severity of the virus and its devastating consequences locally. He disclosed that he had two daughters studying in England and that they were returning home because he said it was safer there in Italy, despite being in an epicentre, because the UK was utterly unsafe as it hadn’t done enough to contain the virus nor was doing enough to protect the population. Many of would understand where he is coming from, wouldn’t we?
All our government has done recently is to unconvincingly tell people (without adequate explanation, it has to be said) “stay at home to save the NHS” [a clever but meaningless phrase dreamt up no doubt by Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff and his chief adviser], but like in all other such matters, mixed messages has been transmitted by those in government about everyone self-isolating (when the Department of Health and Social Care ‘at that time’ said that people should not self-isolate unless they had a fever or a new continuous cough), staying at home, not going out at all, not working nor travelling anywhere,– why then were the members of the House of Lords [792 of the self-indulgent blighters] and 650 MPs from all over the UK still daily or weekly traveling to Westminster, regularly using London tube and public transport, with all of those MPs working in Parliament, hourly all crowding into the House of Commons chamber, filling lobbies, enjoying their members’ main bars and restaurants [which most shockingly have remained open (while those in our communities are shut)], and moreover failing to keep safe separation distances from others including thousands of staff and civil servants, and doubtless further spreading coronavirus far and wide everywhere, as evidenced by a number of MPs with symptoms self-isolating including Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner, with the new Chancellor Rishi Sunak working from home as a precaution, Head of Public Health England Duncan Selbie with symptoms self-isolating, even the Chief Medical Officer Prof Whitty with symptoms self-isolating, and MP Kate Osborne, MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle together with Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, plus Health Minister Nadine Dorries, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, as well as PM Boris Johnson himself (now hospitalised), actually testing positive for COVID-19 coronavirus, eh? (Johnson’s pregnant girlfriend ex-head of communications for Conservative Party headquarters Carrie Symonds as well as his chief advisor Dominic Cummings are self-isolating after experiencing coronavirus symptoms)
[Oh yes, parliament IS indeed NOW shutdown, and they have all gone home for a month, but that’s NOTHING to do with something so important as coronavirus crippling the Country, is it? NO, it is simply ‘in recess’ for an Easter break holiday – bizarre, or what?]
There are only two possible explanations for that dire situation, aren’t there? Yep either those at the top ignored so themselves haven’t followed their own public advice diktat, or the advice itself is crap – but which is it, though?
[We do ‘know’ that Boris a few weeks ago, with other Ministers, attended a Commons crowded PMQs on the Wednesday and that he, Hancock and Whitty, all with crucial coronavirus protection roles, nevertheless had also attended Cabinet on the Tuesday [the Cabinet Secretary ‘Mark Sedwill’ also joined Cabinet but as yet reports no symptoms], while other ministers responsibly just dialled-in instead. Johnson although he had symptoms also then led on the Thursday the ‘Clap for Carers’ event in Downing Street, without warning others there, like the Chancellor, of his condition – somewhat irresponsible for someone supposedly leading the Country and the fight against the virus, eh? He also chaired the emergency daily COVID-19 emergency committee meeting in his office on the Friday].
How can the public trust those in charge or those supposedly public health experts generating medical advice for them, to look after us when patently they can’t even look after themselves in that respect?]
Because of government mixed messages, we have seen that massive numbers of people, against government advice, are still going to work in the UK [like say in the construction industry]. However, the most effective way of reducing the numbers at work would have been to introduce a 3-Day-week, on the lines of that which was implemented for over 2 months back in 1974 by the Tories [in that case to reduce electricity consumption, and thus conserve coal stocks during the miners’ strike – commercial users of electricity were limited to three specified consecutive days’ consumption each week and prohibited from working longer hours on those days. Services deemed essential (e.g. hospitals, supermarkets and newspaper printing presses) were exempt].
In the current and more important life-threatening coronavirus situation, the equivalent 3-Day-week would mean that all companies and organisations, with essential exemptions of course, were limited to three specified consecutive days’ of work each week and prohibited from working longer hours on those days. That would at a stroke cut-off work opportunity by half or more and achieve what is sought, without resorting to personal persuasion that doesn’t work when there is conflicting pressure like say income
Furthermore, a much better and lest costly way of dealing with this coronavirus epidemic though would have been for the government to have generate sufficient quick and cheap facilities in the UK to test everybody and do so everyday, and then give them certification to allow those who prove to be negative [say for two consecutive days] to go about their normal lives like going to work, socialising and attending events – then the economy and country would not have colapsed in the way it has and businesses would not have gone to the wall
Oh yes the Government have now as of last couple of weeks finally shut indefinitely the schools with the resulting impending mayhem for the young of A-level and GCSE exams being cancelled, as the government made another sudden but too-late escalation in its efforts to curb the increasing spread of coronavirus, but it even immediately undermined that message BOTH by saying schools can now be used for ‘childcare’ instead of education by those parents who are deemed key workers [so THEY are ones who should ignore the public advice and still go to work, eh? But there is totally inadequate definition of those who are deemed to be key workers, hence even low-paid Macdonald staff believed they fell into that category (as part of the supply chain), no less?] AND surprisingly the government had failed to learn from other counties who had done school closures much earlier – their experience was that such an announcement of school closures resulted in an immediate public panic buying spree and hoarding of food, so did our government caution the population against doing it and shame them against it, or even warn UK grocery retailers of that serious impending problem and suggest avoidance of it by them rationing and limiting customer purchases to normal quantities (as they’re doing now) to avoid the shelves being cleared? NO OF COURSE NOT – they just let the disaster take place whereby a £1billion of food was snatched away from the shelves and hoarded in just three weeks, meaning afterwards nurses and medical staff coming off long shifts couldn’t then buy basic supplies of food for their meals, and that is despite manufacturers increasing production by 50 percent.
The government have made a massive mess of their attempts to educated the British public about coronavirus, as their daily TV update, instead of being upbeat, encouraging and usefully informative, has simply been a disheartening exposure of demoralizing data showing increasing failure and a continuing downward trend in the UK’s and World’s handing of the crisis – leaving the public more demoralised and ready to slit their wrists, rather than with developing a Blitz mentality, wouldn’t you say?
Furthermore, in a shameful display of tribalism of the well-off with affluent lifestyles, Chancellor Sunak announced substantial State financial help for fulltime workers and the self-employed whose income or work opportunities had been hit by the pandemic. Well, one can judge that it was morally right and necessary to do so, but not at the massive overgenerous scale proposed which is most certainly OTT. The people covered by this massive handout have had many years of substantially higher income and more affluent lifestyle compared to the average worker, and many of them doubtless will have accrued substantial assets, so why should the ordinary taxpayer now be called upon to allow them to simply continue in an affluent style compared to the rest of society? Any additional payments/grants should be means tested and only be at the same type of level of unemployment benefit [circa £300/month not the £2,500 or £5,000 proposed]. Then as well as that, all businesses, however rich and capable, are being allowed to furlough staff (temporary layoff from work) and the State simply picks-up the wages tab, with the taxpayer facing a £60BILLION bill [half of UK companies are seeking to furlough staff over coronavirus, and the Treasury has estimated that about 3m people, or 10 per cent of the private sector workforce, will be furloughed, so their employers will take advantage of the government job retention scheme, which covers four-fifths of wages up to £2,500 a month, which means those earning a sizable £30,000/year (In a bailout of giants we have Marriott, the world’s largest hotel company expects to furlough tens of thousands of employees, as well as British Airways, Nissan, Arcadia and Ovo, all planning to furlough workers and joining the likes of Greggs, Costa, McDonald’s and Primark – experts say as many as 6.1million private sector employees could be furloughed]
[COUNTRIES IMPOSING RESTRICTIONS BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS@ 27 March 2020
- The number of restrictions around the World are multiplying rapidly and international travel is becoming very limited as air routes close, land borders close and new restrictions are put in place that prevent flights from leaving.Effective on 17 March for an initial period of 30 days, the Foreign Office (FCO) advised UK nationals against all but essential international travel. Border closures and other travel restrictions are increasing globally.Within the UK, the government is calling on people to avoid travelling at all unless essential and staying at home remaining in their primary residence to avoid putting additional pressure on communities and services that may be already at riskAs of 23 March, the FCO is advising UK nationals who are travelling abroad to return home immediately if commercial flights are still available. FCO also advises UK nationals against all non-essential travel for 30 days and if UK nationals are usually based in the UK, the FCO advises returning if possible, but if you are a permanent resident overseas, you should stay and follow the advice of the local authorities in the country you live inRESTRICTIONS: Countries that have travel restrictions in place that may affect UK nationals (who do not have residencies in other countries).
- The Gulf countries (Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain) have introduced range of measures like travel bans, stepping up screening measures at important entry points, and rescheduling and in some cases cancelling significant sports and cultural events. aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus. Ban on entry to UK travellers. Some flights and visa-on-arrival schemes suspended. (Need to check with travel providers if transit is permitted before travelling). UAE inbound and outbound flights will stop from midnight (if you’re travelling in the UAE, continue to contact your airline or tour operator regarding any possible return flights: Bahrain; suspension of visa-on-arrival scheme. Self-quarantine for 14 days: ).
- US has imposed additional travel restrictions regarding Iran, Italy and S Korea and now a ban on entry to UK travellers. Border with Canada closed to non-essential travel from 20 March. Some flights suspended. UK travellers that wish to leave are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, to ensure travel plans can be met.
- Italy has locked down much of the Country’s North over the Coronavirus – the restrictions affect Milan and the regions that serve as Italy’s economic engine, and are the most sweeping measures outside China
- Europe supposedly remains open although the EU has proposed that all non-essential travel should be suspended to the European Union for a month which would affect travel from outside the EU, [the UK would be exempt] but the countries, and airports, with restrictions and preventive measures in place is increasing [Albania and Slovenia; all flights suspended: France; some flights suspended.UK nationals can still drive through France to return to the UK. Cross-Channel train and ferry services reduced. Restrictions on non-essential movement from 17 March for 15 days (ie food shopping, medical care, exercise of up to 20 minutes running or walking). Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited: Austria; no direct flights between Austria and the UK, or direct air or rail connections from Austria to Italy, France, Spain or Switzerland. Travellers coming from Italy by road will be stopped at the border and must present a health certificate stating that they are not affected by coronavirus. Ski resorts closed on 15 March in Tirol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg: Greece; self-quarantine for 14 days. Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited; health screenings on arrival likely. Flights from and to UK Italy, Spain and Turkey are suspended: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine; ban on entry to UK travellers (check with airlines and transport providers if transit is permitted before travelling). UK travellers are advised to consider leaving these countries as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult. Flight schedules are reduced, some land/sea borders closed and some non-essential movement restricted: Bosnia-Herzegovina; ban on entry to UK travellers. Flights with UK suspended. All borders are closed: Croatia; ban on entry to UK travellers. Borders closed form 19 March for 30 days: Cyprus; ban on entry to UK travellers. Flights suspended until 4 April at least: Denmark; ban on entry to UK travellers. Some flights suspended. Flights suspended from Greenland from 21 March to at least 4 April. Flights to Faroe Islands severely reduced. Borders with Sweden closed to travellers from 14 March: Andorra, Monaco and the Netherlands; cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours; public transport limited; health screenings on arrival likely. Some flights suspended: Azerbaijan; mandatory quarantine for 14 days. E-visas suspended. Flight schedules reduced. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult: Belgium; flights from outside the EU are suspended. Transit through Belgium requires proof of residence and onward travel. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care). Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours; public transport limited. Some flights suspended: Ireland; self-quarantine for 14 days. Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited; health screenings on arrival likely: Isle of Man; self-quarantine for 14 days: Lithuania; Ban on entry and transit to UK travellers. Countrywide quarantine until 14 April. All commercial flights suspended until further notice. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible: Luxembourg; all passenger flights suspended from 23 March. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care). Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours; public transport limited: Malta travellers in Malta are advised by the Maltese government to leave as soon as possible: Moldova; no direct flights to the rest of Europe. Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Macao, South Korea or Taiwan in the 14 days before arrival: Montenegro; Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Iran and Hubei province of China. Self-quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Slovenia or Austria: Portugal; land border restrictions with Spain until 15 April (ie cross-border commuters and deliveries only). However, UK nationals can still drive through Spain and France to return to the UK. Flights from outside the EU suspended (not including UK, US, Canada, Venezuela, South Africa and Portuguese-speaking countries). Self-quarantine for 14 days for anyone arriving in The Algarve (Faro), the north (Viana do Castelo, Braga, Vila Real, Bragança, Porto, Aveiro, Viseu), the Azores, Madeira and Porto Santo. All campsites closed. Restrictions to non-essential movement are likely to be imposed soon: Romania; ban on entry to UK travellers. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible. Flights, bus, and rail routes from Italy suspended. Large gatherings restricted and some public transport suspended: Slovakia; ban on entry to UK travellers. Commercial charter company Charter Advisory may offer flights to London in the coming days. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving these countries as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult. Flight schedules are reduced, some land/sea borders closed and some non-essential movement restricted: Spain; ban on entry to UK travellers. UK nationals can still drive through Spain to return to the UK. All borders closed for entry from 23 March for 30 days. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible. Hotels and short-stay accommodation must close by Tuesday 24 March (measures do not apply to long-term accommodation, such as long-stay campsites, provided travellers can cater for themselves and do not rely on communal facilities, which will be closed). Some flights suspended. Land-border restrictions (ie cross-border commuters and deliveries only). Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care): Sweden; ban on entry to UK travellers. All Scandinavian Airlines flights suspended. Other travel options are limited: Switzerland; ban on entry to UK travellers. Land border restrictions (ie no non-residents, and cross-border commuters and deliveries only) and some flights restricted (residents only). Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie food shopping, medical care, exercise, those that can’t work from home only). Cultural and sporting activities prohibited; ski resorts closed; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars closed; grocery shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited: Turkey; ban on entry to UK travellers. Direct flights to the UK suspended from 17 March. Aeroflot is scheduling some flights to London via Moscow. Land borders closed. Travellers who test positive on arrival will be quarantined in a government facility for 14 days, and negative test results in 14 days self-quarantine. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult: ] – anyone who has recently travelled to or transited through China have complete ban on entry to Australia, Bahamas, many Caribbean islands, Guatemala, Indonesia, Madagascar, Maldives, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, USA and Vietnam, among others; anyone who has visited Italy recently complete ban on entry to Cook Islands, Fiji, India, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritius, Mongolia, St Lucia, Seychelles and Turkey, among others. (All of these countries also have a ban on entry to anyone who has visited China); Passengers travelling from the UK recently the locations with a ban on people coming from the UK are the Federated States of Micronesia in the Pacific (the islands of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae), the Comoro Islands near Mozambique – both of which have a ban on travellers from all countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus – and the Pacific island of Kiribati. Those coming from the UK will also face immediate quarantine in the Solomon Islands. North Korea has banned all tourists from entering the country; Poland requires anyone travelling from China, Hong Kong, Italy, Korea or Macao to fill in a health declaration form; some of the world’s largest and busiest international airports have announced preventive safety measures. Prague has designated separate gates for all passengers arriving from Italy or China. People travelling from those countries also face screening at Bratislava airport in Slovakia. Similar procedures are currently in place in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Moldova, Bulgaria, Albania and Turkey; UK, airports are acting on the advice of Public Health England (PHE) and have introduced advanced monitoring at airports with direct flights from China. There are also health experts at Heathrow ready to support anyone arriving from China who feels unwell; The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the US has increased screenings at 20 airports, including travellers having their temperature taken and filling out a questionnaire. Anyone with symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing has to undergo an additional health assessment. Passengers arriving in the UAE, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea will also face screenings, with each country varying in terms of flight origin
- In Asia: Armenia, Bhutan, Israel, Kuwait, Macao, Maldives, Mongolia, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan; ban on entry to UK travellers. Some flights and visa-on-arrival schemes suspended. [Check with travel providers if transit is permitted before travelling]:
- In Western Pacific: Brunei; ban on entry to UK travellers. Royal Brunei Airlines has suspended direct flight from Brunei to London – currently it is the only airline flying from Brunei, with twice-weekly flights to Hong Kong, Manila, Melbourne, and Singapore:
- In South-East Asia: Bangladesh; suspension of visa-on-arrival scheme. Self-quarantine for 14 days. All travellers must present a health certificate within three days stating that they are not affected by coronavirus. Some flights suspended. Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in Europe (not including UK): India; ban on entry to all travellers from the UK, EU, and Turkey from 18 March. Flights suspended until 14 April. Non-essential movement severely restricted. Commercial flights suspended until 14 April. All visas and e-visas invalid until 15 April: Myanmar; UK travellers must present a health certificate stating that they are not affected by coronavirus, or self-quarantine for 14 days. UK travellers are advised to leave as soon as possible. Some flights suspended. Transit permitted through Thailand: Nepal; suspension of visa-on-arrival scheme. All land borders closed. All mountaineering expeditions for spring 2020 have been suspended. All travellers require a health certificate stating that they do not have coronavirus: Sri Lanka; no new visas being issued, but those currently in the country can extend visas until 12 April. Airports closed until 31 March. National curfew in place – some areas lifting this curfew on 23 or 24 March and then imposing it again:
- In Western Pacific: Cambodia; ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Spain or the US: Hong Kong; ban on entry and transit to UK travellers. Some flights suspended: Indonesia; ban on entry to travellers who have been in the UK, Iran, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Switzerland in the 14 days before entry. All visas suspended until 20 April initially. Flights severely disrupted and transit options limited. Indonesia; ban on entry to travellers who have been in the UK, Iran, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Switzerland in the 14 days before entry. All visas suspended until 20 April initially. Flights severely disrupted and transit options limited: Japan; visa on arrival suspended until the end of April initially. Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Iran or Italy in the 14 days before arrival. Restrictions on non-essential movement in Tokyo 28 and 29 March: Laos; borders closed with Thailand. Thai Airlines and Thai Smile have suspended flights between Vientiane and Bangkok. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult: Malaysia; ban on entry to UK travellers. Transit permitted through Kuala Lumpur airport, but not between terminals, so travellers should confirm before travelling. Some flights suspended: Philippines; ban on entry to all UK travellers. Public transportation suspended, limited flights until 13 April: Singapore; ban on entry and transit. UK travellers that wish to leave are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible. Transit not currently permitted: Taiwan; ban on entry to UK travellers until 7 April. Some flights suspended:
- In Eastern Mediterranean: Jordan; no commercial flights in or out of Jordan, and all land and sea borders closed. Restrictions on large gatherings and non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care): Lebanon; all borders closed and flights suspended until 12 April. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care) and violators could face imprisonment; public and private gatherings banned; two people per car only; public transport suspended: Pakistan; most flights suspended until 4 April. Qatar Airways is planning operating daily flights from Islamabad from 25 March until 3 April, and other airlines may be planning limited services in the next few days. Some borders closed. Large gatherings prohibited. Travellers must present a health certificate stating that they are not affected by coronavirus, issued in the 24 hours prior to arrival: Qatar; ban on entry to UK travellers. Some flights suspended. Transit currently permitted:
- NOTE: In practice, virus travel bans and travel restrictions are inevitable but prove ‘ineffective’ because 1. they are imposed too late or 2. people circumvent them]
Inexplicably, in an dereliction of national duty and care, the UK government abandoned and failed to urgently repatriate by air more than 70 British nationals trapped onboard for 2 weeks on the American run Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had been held in ‘quarantined flawed’ conditions that turned it into a disease incubator, off the coast of Japan in the port of Yokohama near Tokyo since February 3, when basic decease control blunders meant that coronavirus spread like wildfire [over 700 cases/12 deaths] – mistakes like, so many people being kept herded together in one place, positive tested crew sharing rooms, toilets and dining spaces, the virus positive ship’s ‘quarantine officer’ going door to door checking on passengers, whence the dire consequence of all that far-off incompetence together with our government’s crass abandonment of our citizens, resulted more than a week later there in a Japan hospital of the first British coronavirus death (a 80 year old man) who caught the virus on the stricken ship – some would say that PM Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab already have blood on their hands, eh?
When the government finally got their finger out some month or more ago, much later than other counties, and rescued our citizens, those 30 repatriated [who all tested negative to having Covid-19 before they flew home] faced another 14-day quarantine at accommodation at Arrowe Park on the Wirral upon arrival in the UK, but four cruise ship passengers (who were not on the flight) have tested positive for coronavirus so were transferred to specialist NHS infection centres
A month ago, the first person to die of coronavirus in the UK was also reported (a woman in her 70s with underlying health conditions who it was thought contracted the virus in the UK but had not been in contact with any other known cases) – most disturbingly her test results only came back only after she had died [as said, currently swab tests used by Public Health England take 24 to 48 hours to be read by a specialist in a lab. So much for Boris’ assurances that the NHS could cope, eh?
Why didn’t our British government ensure, as others did for theirs, that the Country had adequate testing facilities to test everyone needing it and to have a short time period for results, so that the disease could be best controlled here – those at risk and even our front line NHS and care staff couldn’t be tested due to lack of facilities
Coronavirus testing just isn’t available to those who need it most in the UK – like if say you live in Norfolk and have recently returned home from a previously coronavirus quarantined cruise ship but now have symptoms, they won’t give you a test, but heir to the throne Prince Charles (also titled Duke of Rothesay) while suffering coronavirus symptoms, and his current wife Camilla, with second/holiday homes at Norfolk’s Sandringham and Scotland’s Balmoral, were allowed to travel inessentially to Scotland in late March and relocate there to sit out the coronavirus pandemic, despite the government already having issued instructions against non-essential travel and contact, and they jumped the queue there for NHS testing ahead of frontline medical and social care workers (like a frontline clinician at NHS Grampian. who is isolating because she has been displaying symptoms – meaning as a clinician is unable to go to work, but doesn’t know whether she actually has coronavirus because she has not been able to have a test, plus other frontline medical, nursing and other key worker staff, also now at home who are unable to access testing – they had a situation where staff were at home for 14 days in isolation when they may be negative, and these were people who needed to get tested so that if they were negative, could all get back to the front line where they are required). How comes they were both eligible for a test from NHS Grampian when both were still in good health but he displaying just mild symptoms and Camilla, being asymptomatic (moreover, Grampian went out to Balmoral to actually carry out the two tests), while NHS Scotland website states that “generally” people are only tested if they have “a serious illness that requires admission to hospital”], and Charles having as tested positive is then allowed to self-isolate in Scotland [when the rest of us are told by government that we must stay at home and only make essential trips and that essential travel does not include visits to second homes, campsites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays]. What kind of message does that send out to the British public about the restriction advice they themselves are being instructed to follow when the monarchy with the blessing of Scotland’s chief medical officer doesn’t have to, do you think? It hardly encourages a general public buy-in to the government’s quarantine rules, does it? That kind of selfishness and arrogance coming on top of that shown by Prince Andrew, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, puts the future of the British monarchy in jeopardy, surely?
The second UK death was of a man in his 80s who had underlying health conditions – apparently work is now underway to trace people who the man was in contact with before he died (not very encouraging news or a sign that the government had got a grip then, is it?
Later, a man in his 60s died, making him the third person to die in the UK after contracting the virus. He had underlying health conditions and had recently returned from Italy
[There were 78 Britons on the Diamond Princess ship, 32 of whom were later airlifted home while four were taken to hospital in Japan wqhere one died]
A second cruise ship Grand Princess with 500 passengers and crew on board of which more than 140 are Britons, are to be tested for COVID-19, is currently quarantined held off San Francisco US with 21 people including 19 crew members tested positive so far using the available test kits]
A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses can infect all types of life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea
Virus is a biological agent that reproduces inside the cells of living hosts. When infected by a virus, a host cell is forced to produce thousands of identical copies of the original virus at an extraordinary rate. Unlike most living things, viruses do not have cells that divide; new viruses are assembled in the infected host cell. But unlike still simpler infectious agents, viruses contain genes, which gives them the ability to mutate and evolve. Over 5,000 species of viruses have been discovered
Viruses seem to be more than more than just simple, inert bundles of genetic material, but unlike bacteria, viruses are NOT alive [though are considered by some to be a ‘life form’], because they do carry genetic material, reproduce, and evolve through natural selection, but they lack key characteristics (such as cell structure) that are generally considered necessary to count as ‘life’. Their complete reliability on a host for all their vital processes has led some scientists to deem viruses as ‘non-living’
While every living organism wants to live and reproduce and it will because it has the will to find a way to life, viruses are not considered ‘live’, so the most difficult thing to understand is just why viruses want to make us ill and replicate themselves in the first place, isn’t it?
Well, the answer might be difficult to get one’s head round, because we are told that a virus does not ‘want’ anything, but is merely a piece of molecular machinery that is passive until it comes into contact with a susceptible cell (a cell having the right receptor molecules to attach to the virus) and its action is simply part of the laws of physics and chemistry [analogous to water freezing when the temperature drops or water forming six-sided shapes when it crystallizes]
However, your cells resist being taken over by viruses, and their defence is by alerting the immune system, which responds by raising body temperature (viruses are damaged by that, as their replication mechanisms work better at lower temperatures), and creating inflammation to destroy viral particles and infected cells. Your body also expels viral particles through any convenient orifice, which helps it spread to new hosts, while making it less likely to survive where it is. It’s usually this interaction between the immune system, the virus, and infected tissues that creates the symptoms of viral infection, which we experience as being sick. Indeed, the faster a virus replicates, the sooner it will attract the wrath of the immune system and lose its current host. Some viruses, like the common cold, are easy-come-easy-go – infecting specifically the upper respiratory tract, where you can easily be coughed and sneezed out, and reproduce quickly there.
If the virus enters a permissive cell (able to support viral replication) and it is not destroyed by the immune defences, it will be replicated by the cellular machinery. Viruses that fail to replicate become extinct, and that actually happens quite often, as viruses don’t have as many replication safeguards as humans and so many of them simply come out wrong, unable to replicate.
In order to infect new hosts, a virus has to create numerous copies. To create copies, it has to insert itself into your cells and co-opt their machinery for itself. Then those copies have to get out of the cells which created them, which usually means destroying the cells, which means you need to make more cells. This can sometimes damage your organs. But in most cases, sickness isn’t actually a direct result of cells being destroyed by viruses.
The origins of viruses are unclear: some may have evolved from plasmids—pieces of DNA that can move between cells—while others may have evolved from bacteria. A virus consists of two or three parts: genes, made from either DNA or RNA, long molecules that carry genetic information; a protein coat that protects the genes; and in some viruses, an envelope of fat that surrounds the protein coat and is used, in combination with specific receptors, to enter a new host cell. Viruses vary in shape from the simple helical and icosahedral to more complex structures. Viruses range in size from 20 to 300 nanometres; it would take 33,000 to 500,000 of them, side by side, to stretch to 1 centimetre (0.39 in).
Well, coronavirus COVID-19 itself is a flu like respiratory illness but it is much different from that as it comes with complications that include particularly pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, so those most at risk of serious illness and death are the elderly and vulnerable with an underlying medical condition, aren’t they? The young and fit are at much lower risk, as apparently are women, but nevertheless still serious risk. The virus causes death due to respiratory failure or organ failure
It is called ‘corona’ as its photograph or image taken using an electron microscope is likened to a crown, and is similar to the rarefied gaseous envelope of the sun, the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere, and other stars [the sun’s corona is normally visible only during a total solar eclipse, when it is seen as an irregularly shaped pearly glow surrounding the darkened disc of the moon]
[Coronavirus has evolved into two major lineages, the older ‘S-type’ appears to be milder and less infectious, while the ‘L-type’ which emerged later, appears to be far more aggressive, spreads quickly and currently accounts for around 70 per cent of cases, and it is possible to be infected with both]
This coronavirus disease was caused by SARS-CoV-2, and was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China. The virus primarily spreads between people in a similar way to influenza, via respiratory droplets produced during coughing or sneezing, with the time between exposure and symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, onset being typically five days, but ranging from two to fourteen days
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses which affect your lungs and airways that usually cause mild illnesses, such as the common cold, but this one COVID-19 is much more dangerous and is now named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) while the disease associated with it is referred to as COVID-19.
This new virus is the second time in 20 years that such an infectious disease emanating from China has hit the World. In 2002 there was an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in southern China that caused an eventual 8,098 cases, resulting in 774 deaths reported in 17 countries (9.6% fatality rate) with the majority of cases in mainland China and Hong Kong. [However, no cases of SARS have been reported worldwide since 2004 – that gives us confidence that coronavirus will also be beaten and die out]
In late 2017, Chinese scientists claimed to have traced the virus through the intermediary of civets to cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Yunnan province. Chinese officials have reported that several of the first cluster of cases of this latest coronavirus had ties to a live animal market where both seafood and other wildlife were sold as food. (The market has since been closed.) The market has become their leading hypothesis for how the virus made the leap into humans where it’s been able to spread efficiently ever since.
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that that circulate among animals and cause diseases in mammals, and birds. After they have infected animals, they can eventually be transmitted to humans.
A wide range of animals is suspected to be the source of coronaviruses. For instance, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is said to have originated from camels and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) from civet cats
However, to some of us, knowing that all superpower nations weaponize bioweapons, it is a strange coincidence that two new virulent viruses have seemingly jumped from wild life to humans, supposedly without human intervention, in the country of an oppressive militant major Communist power which is aggressive towards the West so has a vested interest in a resulting pandemic uniquely destroying the market economies and political power of the West, wouldn’t you say?
Now, consider naturally occurring Anthrax, (which may have been the 5th one (Disease on Livestock) during the 10 plagues of Egypt), and is an infection caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It can occur in four forms: skin, lungs, intestinal, and injection – without treatment it is deadly. Anthrax is spread by contact with the bacterium’s spores, which often appear in infectious animal products. Contact is by breathing, eating, or through an area of broken skin. However, it does not typically spread directly between people. In domestic livestock and wild game ‘plant-eating’ animals, infection occurs when they eat or breathe in the spores while grazing, whence other animals may become infected by eating such infected animals, but humans can become infected through direct or indirect contact with sick animals. Usually, anthrax bacteria enter the body through a wound in the skin, though you can also become infected by eating contaminated meat or inhaling the spores.
Well, just equate in weapon principle, the current coronavirus situation with say that of anthrax which certainly has been developed as a biological-weapon by a number of countries [including Britain and USA which had produced the virulent “Ames strain” of anthrax which was later sold to many parts of the world],as although culturing large quantities of anthrax spores is a complicated task, it’s certainly within the capacity of many nations. (The accidental release of anthrax spores from a military research laboratory in the former Soviet Union city Sverdlovsk, in 1979 caused at least 79 cases of respiratory infection – and 68 deaths).
[There is evidence that the German army used anthrax to secretly infect livestock and animal feed traded to the Allied Nations by neutral partners. An example of this undercover biological warfare was the infection of Argentinian livestock intended for trade with the allied forces, resulting in the death of 200 mules in 1917 and 1918
The first mass use of anthrax spores as a weapon is said to have taken place during the Japanese occupation of China from 1932 to 1945. Anthrax may be among the most feared of biological weapons, and is acknowledged as one of the most likely sources of a bioweapon for either a single criminal or terrorist group (At the time of the fatal release of a nerve gas in the Tokyo subway in 1995, the same terrorist Aum Shinrikyo group released anthrax throughout Tokyo on at least eight occasions, but that didn’t actually result in an outbreak of disease)
After the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, letters filled with a white powder containing anthrax spores were mailed to two U.S. Senators’ offices and news media agencies along the East Coast. Authorities recovered four letters. The powder form allowed the anthrax to float in the air and for it to be breathed in, whence the first case of inhalation anthrax was diagnosed and during October and November of 2001, there were a total of 11 confirmed cases of inhalation anthrax and 11 confirmed cases of cutaneous anthrax. Of the 11 cases of inhalation anthrax, seven of the cases were postal workers who handled the letters or worked in a postal facility where the letters were processed]
That analogy is particularly so, when we know that Beijing is accused of a global cyber warfare espionage campaign against us in the West since 2006, evidenced in the US, Britain, Europe, Hong Kong, and Singapore, that sets out to destabilise government agencies, defence groups and to target high tech companies to steal trade secrets
For example, in May 2016 a cyber-attack on the British NHS crippled the organisation and cost it a hundred million pounds, and used the crypto worm malware ‘WannaCry’ (which encrypts data on infected Windows operating system computers and demands a ransom payment). It was the biggest global cyberattack offensive in history, and infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries. It was launched from North Korea, China’s neighbouring fellow communist ally
In the US, conspiracy theories about the origins of the coronavirus, are promoted by some politicians and are prevalent in the news and on social media. Similar rumours have also been running rampant in online forums in China
One basic rumour is that the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, started and was engineered by humans in a Chinese lab as a bioweapon (after being isolated from animals) and either then “escaped” or “leaked” because of poor safety protocol, and one common thread is that it originated in a level 4 (the highest biosafety level) research laboratory in Wuhan. In another version, the virus was being simply being studied in the lab, but then “escaped” or “leaked” – there is an array of circumstantial clues that Chinese labs’ handling of deadly pathogens can’t be trusted.
The latest rumour is that someone from the lab sold experimental animals to the live animal and seafood market and so “leaked the virus” from the lab.
[However, it turns out, that current scientific consensus in the West concludes that the emergence of this brand-new coronavirus in the same city as China’s only level 4 biosafety lab (the Wuhan Institute of Virology), is pure coincidence, eh?]
Nevertheless, some of us remained unconvinced by the scientists, as releasing a virus is something that China might be prepared to do in light of the US trade war, and not least to scupper the American dream, perhaps?
However, what we do know for certain, is that at the outset the Chinese lied through their teeth to cover-up the true situation in January about coronavirus spreading in their midst, played down the seriousness of the outbreak, and tried to mislead the World about how many people it had infected in China, claiming it was numbers in the low thousands in the city of Wuhan, but as the carriers travelled abroad, our decease control public health experts soon calculated its true extent as being in the high tens of thousands by seeing its spread pattern to other countries. [The indication is that Beijing may well still be censoring and suppressing the true scale of infections to avoid local criticism of its handling of the crisis – a nurse treating coronavirus sufferers in China claims 90,000 cases existed in late January when the official figures reported just 1,975]. Moreover, the Chinese authorities accused the doctor who disclosed in late December that this new virus existed in Wuhan, of spreading false information and they locked him up – then seemingly allowed him the die of the decease. WHY would they do any of those things if they didn’t have ‘something’ to hide, do you think? They need to come clean and give-out all the information they have, don’t they?
We also know that China’s scientists had the sequence of its genome, as by mid-January, they had actually shared it with the World Health Organization [did they really rush as they claim to uncover it or did they know it by engineering it in the first place, eh?]
Conspiracy theories about manmade viruses are not new [eg HIV]. However, they are really quite dangerous kinds of things to get spread around and if they persist about the origin of the health crisis, can undermine trust in public health authorities, and unnerve their communities, so its helpful if they can be effectively debunked.
[Scientists say that the new coronavirus closely resembled viruses that circulate in bats. The genetic sequence of the virus, is closely related to a bat virus – about 96% the same, says the head of the Texas Galveston National Laboratory (a level 4 biosafety lab)]
Unfortunately, there’s a long history of these “spillover” events, where an emerging disease jumps from wildlife to humans, turning into a pandemic. And scientists say we should expect them with more travel, trade, connectivity, urbanization, climate change, and ecological destruction, if we don’t stop the drivers
Wearing a normal face mask won’t protect you from the new coronavirus as a regular surgical mask will not help you steer clear of the virus sneezes that are the main transmission route of coronavirus, as such masks are NOT effective at filtering out very small particles and viruses can still enter through the eyes
The thinner surgical mask is intended for surgeons, because these products do a good job of keeping-out pathogens (infectious biological agents that causes disease or illness to its host) from the doctor’s nose and mouth from entering the surgical field, and in some Asian countries, such as Japan and China, it’s not uncommon to see people wearing surgical masks in public to protect against pathogens. and pollution, but those masks don’t help much in the context of a virus as they’re not designed to keep out viral particles, and they’re not tightly fitted around nose and cheeks and when viruses can still enter through the eyes.
However, while some people wear surgical masks because they are sick with a cold or the flu and they don’t want to get other people sick, it’s best just not to go to public areas and stay home.
People sick with COVID-19, however, should wear face masks to reduce the risk of infection to people around them. Health care workers and those “taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility), should also wear face masks, but should dispose of them after each use
The best way to avoid getting the coronavirus is to, first and foremost, postpone any travel to places with known outbreaks. Also thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
A more specialized single use mask, known as an N95 respirator, a device designed to protect the wearer from inhaling hazardous atmospheres, including fumes, vapours, gases and particulate matter such as dusts and airborne microorganisms, which can protect against the new coronavirus. The respirator is thicker than a surgical mask, but the experts at this point don’t recommend it for public use, as it’s challenging to put on these masks or wear them for long periods of time and specialists receive retraining annually on how to properly fit these respirators around the nose, cheeks and chin, ensuring that wearers don’t breathe around the edges of the respirator. However, the work of breathing becomes much harder, since you’re going through a very thick material, so you have to work hard to breathe in and out and it’s a bit claustrophobic, moist and hot in there – after wearing for about a half-hour you need to take it off and have a break to take some deep breaths, and cool off – they are intended only for medical workers and those professionals who need them.
[THERE ARE TWO MAIN CATEGORIES OF RESPIRATOR:
- the air-purifying respirator, in which respirable air is obtained by filtering a contaminated atmosphere and
- the air-supplied respirator, in which an alternate supply of breathable air is delivered.
Air-purifying respirators range from relatively inexpensive single-use, disposable face masks sometimes referred to as a dust mask to more robust reusable models with replaceable cartridges often called a gas mask].
However, innovators are about who are trying to create new things to aid the World’s fight against coronavirus.
For example, after seeing a social media push among engineers to 3D print visor frames, and when it soon became clear that 3D printers weren’t going to be able to manufacture the number of face masks required for NHS staff, Stamford Endowed Schools’ Design Technology department, fortunate to have the equipment and skill set to make a real difference, set up a production line in the school’s workshops and started making face masks for frontline NHS workers during the coronavirus outbreak. After prototyping, testing and modelling it came up with a new design – a laser cut polypropylene (PP) headband attached to a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) screen and the team set up a production line in the school’s workshops. The team and are hoping to make 200 masks a day and intend to keep making them as long as the NHS need them. [indeed, many other Design Technology departments across the country have approached the NHS personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage as a design challenge]
As well as using their own resources, the team are also asking suppliers and companies to donate or supply materials and the school will also be sharing the files needed to make the product with other people who would like to join the effort to help manufacture the face masks.
Furthermore, researchers in Europe have been converting low-cost snorkel masks into ‘homemade’ respirators as protection for medical workers or to treat patients, in the battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak that has stretched healthcare resources
Medical workers from Motol hospital wear snorkel masks transformed into high-grade protection by researchers from The Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics at Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic March 25, 2020. Picture taken March 25, 2020. FN Motol/Handout via REUTERS
Medical staff have been confronted with a shortage of stock of single use medical masks
To help healthcare workers, a team from the Czech Technical University (CVUT) worked with volunteers to add military-grade filters to snorkel masks, which are meant for holiday swimming and typically sell for around 600 crowns (£19/$24) in local stores- 3-D printing is used for the tubes to connect masks to oxygen ventilator machines
The researchers said that tests had showed the retrofitted masks surpassed the protection of masks carrying FFP3, considered one of the highest grade filters
They have made 2,200 pieces so far and had plans for 10,000 more.
The idea was originally proposed by Italian engineers, who put their design online, as an alternative to a more invasive technique of placing a tube directly into a sedated person’s throat when medical masks are unavailable to pump oxygen to the lungs. The design included a custom-made valve that fits to the top of full-face masks, where the snorkel is meant to go, allowing them to connect to standard BiPAP machines that feed pressurised air into masks
Medics use 3D printed valves to adapt ordinary full face snorkelling masks
•The makeshift masks help to stop coronavirus patient’s lungs collapsing
•Mask is hooked up to a BiPAP machines that feed pressurised air to patient
‘They are to be used for patients with severe respiratory problems. The aim is to avoid having to intubate the trachea of the patient and put them on a respirator
This helps prevent the collapse of alveoli, lung air sacs needed for the intake of oxygen into our bodies and the exhalation of carbon dioxide. Pneumonia brought on by COVID-19 inflames the lung membrane and fills those sacs with liquid
The snorkelling mask solution could be a stop-gap measure for patients on the brink of intensive-care treatment but for whom no beds nor respirators are available. Hospital masks for the less-intensive BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) machines are also lacking
[ The UN has in general proved to be a pretty useless organisation but its WHO agency has well and truly proved its worth in dealing with world heath issues as has been fully demonstrated over the past 3 months in its attention to the coronavirus situation and information dissemination]