Just over a month ago, I wrote concerning myself with using technology in Education. Covid-19 was just days away from being the issue it is right now. We seen whole parts of the country essentially locked down, people thrown out of work in some of the largest redundancies ever. Hospitals are being inundated with patients all describing symptoms. Social communication has dried up to a dribble.
We’ve learned new terms, “social distancing”, “panic buying”, “self-isolation”. These are things we have never considered before in this country. I am somewhat surprised, appalled, disgusted, ashamed of how many people have acted this last month. Some nitwit reporters make an asinine statement about shortages and the next thing we know, we have three women brawling in a Sydney supermarket over toilet paper. The only shortage of toilet paper has been caused by the panic buying that these numbnuts caused.
Talk about creating the news, reporters are supposed to report the news, not make it.
Soon after toilet paper came tissues, hand sanitiser, then foodstuffs. What a load of nonsense! Rice, flour and a heap of other things, all went onto a list that proscribed the numbers of these things that people could buy at one shop. I witnessed a family of five out front of one supermarket where mother was handing money out to kids. The kids and their parents then all went into the shop, each grabbed the largest packet of toilet paper they could carry, a 24 roll pack, then went to different checkouts. They stayed within the rules, one packet per customer. What’s the bet though, they were back the next day, doing the same thing.
That’s 120 rolls of toilet paper, for a family of 5. If each roll lasts 3 days, that is almost a year’s worth of toilet paper. At 2 days per roll, that’s still 8 months worth of toilet paper. At 2 rolls per day, possible with 5 people I suppose, it becomes 60 days worth. Covid-19 is an infection of the pneumothorax, a respiratory illness, having nothing to do with the bowels. This was sheer stupidity and it is this that makes me embarrassed, appalled and surprised.
I am disgusted with and ashamed of some of my fellow Australians at the complete lack of concern by so many for anyone else. This has all been “about me-me-me!” What about the old lady down the road? What about our grandparents? Our most vulnerable? What have we done to help them? Have we gone to them and asked if they were okay, did they need any thing, like toilet paper? Could we help them by asking if they have a computer, a smart phone? Did they have someone they could contact if they needed something? Do they know how to use a computer to order their groceries online? Can they let their family know they are alright or need help?
In one of my classes, one of the earliest disappearances was a female student who’s mother was 36 weeks pregnant. (At the time of writing, she would now be 38 weeks.) That is not unreasonable, I thought. Yet, there still needs to be some interaction between herself and the outside world. If hospitals are essentially shut down, how does the normal pattern of life remain constant?
Another thing that is of increasing concern, the information about the virus being passed around is, I suggest, being mishandled. Latest reports are becoming confusing. There has always been a pattern to pandemics, they start, they surge, they reduce, they surge, they disappear, they return and so on. Look at what we know of the Black Death.
Until John Graunt, (1662 publication) we had no real statistical evaluation of the sweep of the plague throughout Europe. While not a complete survey, his work gave us a lead on how we can track these events. Even so, we still have an issue with the dodgy reporting of incidences of outbreaks, of mortalities, of infections in the pandemics since. The 1918 Spanish Flu has been well reported but the estimates of the number of deaths vary greatly, even within countries that are supposed to have kept accurate records. In Oz, we still don’t know for sure, was it around 13,000 people, 15,00 people or as one report made it, over 100,000 people. In the US, 675,000 people were supposed to have died, but how many went unrecorded? The same for Covid-19, I expect.
We have technologies that allow us to track, record, highlight, analyse all the data about the pandemic but then we have to report on it. How do we report so it is not sensationalist nonsense? How can we disseminate information that is current, pertinent, accurate and honest? It seems that we can do neither. Some of the numbers we are seeing may or may not be accurate. For example, from the Federal Dept of Health:
As at 6:00am on 1 April 2020, there have been 4,707 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia. There have been 348 new cases since 6:00am yesterday.
Later today, there will be another figure based on “As at 3:00pm on…..” with different numbers. How can we evaluate such information. With a 9 hour separation, how many cases were reported prior to 3:00pm that are not included in the 6:00am report? We just don’t know. We are getting 2 different pictures, one for 24 hours before 6:pm, and one 24 hours before 3:00pm, leading to confusion. Why 6:00am and 3:00pm? There is 9 hours there, why not a 12 hour cycle? Or perhaps an even more reasonable time span of one 24 hour period? Would that not give us a clearer picture of the actual position?
Perhaps that is why it is done this way, or perhaps some kind soul in the DoH thought, If we make 2 reports a day, then that would give us a really clear picture. Obviously, the logic is flawed because it relies upon people being smart enough to see what’s in front of them. Unfortunately, so many people are smart, individually, but as a society….., really? (Look at to MIB if you’re not sure of the reference.) All it’s done is to provide “evidence” that the DoH is hiding the real data from us, not by omission but simply skewing things so they look better.
One conspiracy theory is that China deliberately set this virus loose to attack the West. I must admit surprise that Donald Trump has not yet confirmed this story. I can hope that Fox will publicly acknowledge that Trump has shown a decided lack of leadership and will turn on him for it. We have seen the Murdoch media turn on a leader here, something I suspect the US has not yet come across. What a rude awakening that will be for them. What does concern me is that Fox won’t critically analyse the lack of leadership, play the whole thing down and shield him from the American public. The US media will, at last, reveal just how staunch a supporter of Democracy they really are.
Lingering questions will over-ride a lot of concerns and will beg for answers in the coming months. For example, why has Italy been so hard hit with the highest ratio of deaths to cases? Why has Germany had so few? Why are large parts of Africa reporting so few cases? Are the largely free of the virus or are their Governments too afraid of reporting their cases accurately. I sincerely hope it is the former.
This pandemic is not a regular thing. Greenpeace, Gaia and other similar organisations, I am certain, will claim the planet is fighting back, killing us off to ease its own pain at being constantly attacked by humans. While just as nonsensical as the supposed Chinese attack on the West.
Some people just have too much time on their hands.