I wrote this 13-03-20 - “The virus can settle in the lungs and threaten life in the vulnerable but the mortality rate as reported from China is a very low percent. There the epidemic is said to be waning. Its infectivity appears to be low given the very low incidence in countries like ours in spite of a great deal of potential human droplet transmission.”
What right have I to comment on this ‘pandemic’. I started training in my calling of medicine at St Mary’s in 1958. It was the home of Fleming’s penicillin. We had the best of teachers. In the pre-clinical two years this included bacteriology, virology, immunology under Professor Porter, and pathology. The latter is the study of things that ‘go wrong’ and is, with anatomy and physiology (the normal working), the tripod on which the fascinating and vital science of medicine is based. I have been learning and teaching ever since, and this will be right up to my 80thbirthday 14-04-40, and longer I hope!
Sue and I live at Haytor, here on the edge of the most beautiful and unique Dartmoor, a National Park. We moved here from Combe-in-Teignhead in 2000 so I could think and write in peace. We had lived there in a picturesque thatched house and garden for 25 years so I could be close to Torbay hospital where I served as a consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon. I have loved gardens and gardens since I was a small lad. I am a plantsman. Our garden here has never been more beautiful and lifts the heart in these last wonderful weeks of sun and warmth. Such a wet and dreary winter has almost been forgotten. You can see that I love the beauty of the natural world; with nature by our hand, Sue and I have created 28 acres of broadleaved woodland in Combe.
But what of our fellow beings – cooped up in tight houses with handkerchief gardens. Some thousands live in new ones built in South Devon according to central government diktat and obeyed slavishly by our local representatives on the august Teignbridge Diostrict Council. Some have lost their jobs and fear greatly for the future of their families. They have been ordered, nay ‘instructed’, by Mr Hancock and others to stay in there homes. This was re-inforced by the PM nominated deputy Prime Minister Mr Dominic Raab yesterday – 7-04-20. The Foreign Secretary said the Government's top priority remains to "stop the spread and make sure we can get past the peak" - suggesting there is no imminent end to the lockdown being considered. He said that people should continue ‘staying at home’ this Easter weekend.
For the last two weekends Dartmoor has been as silent as the many Stone Age graves that lie within it. The DNPA’s income from the parking ticket machines in this national park to which we all contribute has been zero. The skylarks have started singing very early; the cuckoo has not yet arrived from the Congo basin. (BTO). The gorse is blooming and those with the sense will enjoy its honey fragrance. But what of the human? What dangers are there in a trip in the family car with the only possibly dangerous contact being at the ‘service’ station? The ultra-violet levels could not have been higher. U-V kills viruses and bacteria - one reason for the seasonality of ‘flu. The air is always moving here on the moor so there will be more dilution of any of those Covid-19 virions which can be lethal to the frail elderly and those with damaged lungs – mostly from smoking tobacco. (What of vaping? More particulate junk in the wonderful tubes and alveoli.) Dilution is a central solution. That is why I, with fellow nurses and surgeons, scrubbed gently with anti-bacterial soaps for 2 minutes before every operation before donning gloves and gown punctiliously.
There is no risk to families or others if they come up to the moor as families. Their spirits will be lifted and the health of their minds ensured, away from the violence pumped out through the TV and the other stimuli to ‘social disintegration’.
Other contradictions and likely harms.
A 91 yr old farming widow has a right sided stroke and makes a slow but steady recovery. She is able to speak but ‘trips over words’ when she tries to hurry. She is discharged to a nursing home. Friends and family are ‘forbidden’ to visit her – a central government edict. Her will to live will be harmed by this isolation. There is no danger if she is wrapped up, wheeled out and is then able to speak at a few metres with her loved ones. Potty.
It is thought there are at least 9,000 Britons stranded in New Zealand, 4,000 in Bali, and tens of thousands more in other countries including India, Pakistan and Australia. These folk are returning in dribs and drabs from being literally marooned. The FCO is very slowly aiding their return and has spoken of spending £75 million chartering flights by presently grounded airplanes. On arrival they might have forehead ‘temperatures’ taken by an infra-red device. “If they have symptoms they have been instructed to self isolate.” But, we know that there is a 3 to 5 day period with this virus in which there are NO symptoms, whilst the virus can still be passed on. And a majority might never feel ill. A gross contradiction to be compared with the families banned from driving to the open countryside.
The ‘Corona Virus Bill 2020 was passed on the nod, three times by the Commons and the ‘Lords’ in less than 48 hours about 3 weeks ago. It is over 300 pages long and extremely complex. It would have taken many weeks for lawyers to draft and agree it. Is this why its original title was ‘The 2019/2020 Corona Virus Bill??