Does the Covid virus work nights? It’s the pandemic update from Britain

With Covid cases rising in Britain and more than a quarter of the country living with local restrictions on top of the national ones, pubs in England have been told to close at 10 pm. So who can resist a story about Parliament’s bars being exempt from the rules?

Parliament has thirty bars and the booze is subsidized, so it’s cheap. And we shouldn’t be calling it booze, because a lot of these people are high-class guzzlers. They’re not in the habit of letting people talk about them as if they were your everyday, low-rent lush. They are extremely high-rent lushes.

But high rent or not, sitting in the House of Commons or the House of Lords is a thirsty job, so they need those bars. Which, I assume, is why they were neatly defined as workplace canteens, which gave them an exemption on both hours and a few other things until the opposition–that’s the Labour Party–started yelling, the whole thing got a bit of embarrassing publicity, and someone decided that, gee whiz, guys, this might give people the wrong idea about us. 

The bars now stop serving at 10 pm, and that will last until either the regulations change or outsiders promise not to notice.

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Irrelevant photo: Pansies. I’ve given up growing them. The slugs and snails just love ’em.

What’s the logic behind closing the bars at 10 pm? According to our prime minister, who’ll say anything that comes into his head, however incoherent it may be, “What we’ve seen from the evidence is that the spread of the disease does tend to happen later at night after more alcohol has been consumed.” 

What evidence do they have that the disease spreads late at night once the viruses or their containers (that’s us) have gotten shitfaced? Well, the BBC asked the Department for Health and Social Care for the specific evidence and didn’t get it. Instead, the BBC ran through an assortment of data from Public Health England, showing the number of outbreaks in schools, food-related businesses (you can slot the pubs in there), care homes, and workplaces, but it inevitably showed more transmission in places where testing’s heaviest, so it’s anything but conclusive. And it doesn’t mention time of day. Or night. 

Professor Mark Woolhouse, who’s on the government’s infection modelling team, explained (helpfully), “There isn’t a proven scientific basis for any of this.”

So as far as we know, the virus works both the day shift and the night shift.

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A study has begun on how long Covid can survive once it’s airborne. Figure that out and  you can figure out how to reduce the risk people run in enclosed spaces. 

The consensus is that it’s not just the larger droplets that humans breathe, cough, and sneeze out that carry the disease, it’s also aerosols–tiny beasties less than  5 microns across, which hang in the air much longer than droplets. By way of comparison, a human hair is 60 to 120 microns across. 

Because aerosols are so small, they stay airborne longer than droplets and can be carried by air currents. 

Humans are messy creatures, always breathing–not just in but (annoyingly) out–and we tend to share whatever’s taken up residence inside us. So if the disease does spread on aerosols, keeping two meters away isn’t going to keep us safe. 

Earlier research gave the rough estimate that Covid has a half-life of 1.1 to 1.2 hours in aerosol form, but the new research will create a closer replica of real-world conditions, even varying it for different climates. I’m hoping they don’t tell us that we all need separate countries. In spite of how difficult we are as a species, I actually like being around other humans. Not all of them, but a fair few.

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Here’s a quick snapshot of Britain at the moment: University students across the country went back to school this month, and (to no one’s surprise) universities are reporting Covid outbreaks. They’re being urged in all directions: to drop all face-to-face teaching, to continue normal teaching, to be sure campuses are two-thirds empty, to quarantine affected students and pretend that in a dorm that solves the problem, to let student life carry on as usual because the climate of fear is doing untold damage, to return the tuition they charged, and to keep the tuition they charged.  

The only way to choose the correct advice is by having a gorilla throw darts at a target.

A report says infections in the food industry are thirty times higher than are being reported. 

A scientist from SAGE–the group of scientists who advise the government–is arguing that repeated two-week lockdowns could knock the virus on the head. Not necessarily hard enough to kill it but enough to make it dizzy.

Outside of Britain? The world has now logged a million coronavirus deaths. Those are the ones that’ve been counted. How many are there really? No one knows. Countries haven’t even agreed on the definition of a coronavirus death, and we won’t get into the problem of figuring out who actually had it when testing is so patchy. But basically, a lot of people have died, and that’s not taking account of the people who are left debilitated or of the economic damage the pandemic leaves in its wake.

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A quick Covid test is now available. It gives a result in 15 to 30 minutes and works like a pregnancy test, but nine months later you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night and feed anybody. 

Unless of course you want to. 

The makers claim it’s 97% accurate, but in real-world conditions it picks up something more like 80% to 90% of infections. Other quick tests are sold online, but this is the first one that meets the World Health Organization’s standards. By way of illustration, Spain ordered two sets of rapid tests in March and sent them back.

A second test is expected to get WHO approval shortly.

Under an initiative started by the WHO, the European Commission, the Gates Foundation, and the French government, 20% of the tests will be made available to low- and middle-income countries for $5 per test. The rest will go to wealthy countries. You may notice an, um, imbalance there between what wealthy countries get and what poor ones do, but it’s actually better than the alternative, which is to have them all go to the countries that can pay the most. 

Yes, it’s a lovely world we live in.

Right now, most low- and middle-income countries are doing minimal testing. North America tests 395 people per 100,000 daily, Europe tests 243, and Africa tests fewer than 16, but most of those are in just three countries, Morocco, Kenya, and Senegal.

It’s not clear whether the UK plans to buy any of the tests. It’s committed heavily to two different tests that take 90 minutes, aren’t as easy to use, and cost more.

 

*

A reporter asked Boris Johnson to explain the tighter local restrictions that northeastern England is living with and, to prove how simple the rule of six is, he got it wrong. It all has to do with how many people you can get together with indoor and outdoors.

Here’s how it really works:

If you’re outside the restricted area, it’s six inside and six outside. But if you’re inside, it’s six inside but not six outside. 

I hope that clears everything up. If not, just hide in your basement, knock the glass out of a periscope, and breathe through that. We’ll look for you when this all passes, as all things must.

63 thoughts on “Does the Covid virus work nights? It’s the pandemic update from Britain

  1. All the bars and restaurants in Westminster are subsidised by the British taxpayer – to the tune of £4 million plus in 2019 – https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/parliament-staff-whine-over-food-21177123 – and then they have the bare-faced cheek to claim expenses for teabags, sandwiches and paperclips. Perhaps, at least, we will see more MP’s actually debating or listening in the chamber (social distancing allowing) rather than on the terrace clutching champagne in their grasping little trotters.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Here I am, still alive in the middle of the North East of England, yay go me! The new restrictions are not a problem as everyone I’ve spoken to is ignoring them because no-one understands the daft rules. I am also ignoring them by not going anywhere at all except to work and to do a weekly shop, and I don’t want to be around one person let alone 6!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You remind me of a friend who, at the end of lockdown, wrote me that she and her husband hadn’t gone into lockdown because Boris Johnson told them to and they weren’t coming out because he said to. Can you imagine how different this would be if they understood their rules, if they made enough sense that someone could explain them, and if public health people were leading this?

      Sorry, I’m being silly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The whole shebang is silly, you are not alone! 30-40 year old covids filling up the hospital where my chap works, and he’s in and out of his hazmat gear all day in the operating theatres (OR’s sorry) because they keep not getting the results back from tested pre-op patients. It’s driving him nuts. I have never heard the word ‘clusterfuck’ used so many times a day.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Ellen, your covid news is the only news I can take right now. And it’s not even about he US! I’m able to go to the places I need to go. Which are for necessities, and it’s not drinking at a bar at any hour. Other than that I stay away from people and talk through a mask. I don’t even have to smile or put lipstick on. You really need to look at the small insignificant advantages in a world like this. It may be this new normal forever. Keep the news coming so I can laugh a little. 📚 Christine

    Liked by 2 people

    • I will.

      Someone in the village made masks early one and gave us two. One had a huge lipsticky mouth on it–overwhelmingly large. I’ve never worn lipstick (I tried as a teenager, putting it on and then rubbing it off; I guess that made me feel like I’d done what was required) and ended up wearing the lips facing in. But I like the idea of you not having to smile or wear lipstick under the mask. Small blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s about the sanest thing you can do in the absence of anything like leadership from our leaders. I just saw the results of a study verifying that masks, handwashing, and distance do make a difference.

      Like

  4. The early closing did bring rates down in Belgium. Nothing’s going to work unless people keep the rules. So sick of seeing people on buses with masks round their chins – they put the mask on so the driver doesn’t say anything when they board, then take them off as soon as they get past him/her. What can the authorities do about that? Or about the 200 people who turned up at a wedding in Leeds, or the 200 people who turned up at a funeral in Rochdale? The police can’t be everywhere.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There are similar 10 pm closing rules in the states – where there are rules, that is. Ohio is one of these, despite having a GOP governor, who is booed at tRump rallies because he has made RULES !
    Last night my computer was off line and I refused to watch the debate and the team I root for (Cleveland) was blown out in game 1 of the baseball playoffs so I am a daybehind on everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As you have probably read, Trump and his buddies were all getting tested daily.to stay safe. Not only did they use up a ridiculously large number of tests, their logic was flawed (surprise and they ended up sick anyway

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks for liking my content and welcome to the MBM family. I hope to see you around and please share with everyone you know I would appreciate your support and I’ll do the same. Your content is awesome thanks again Jude from MBM

    Liked by 1 person

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