Like millions of others around the world, Gulf News Foreign Correspondent Mick O’Reilly is currently under Covid-19 lockdown. This is what life is like in social isolation in Ireland, where there are strict rules about who is allowed out, where, and under limited circumstances.
Sunday May 3, 9am
IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?
IT’S QUIZ TIME! TIME TO PUT YOU THINKING CAPS ON!
Ok, so you’ve been slacking off, turning your mind to mush by binge-watching too many television box sets, Hollywood or Bollywood movies.
I’m having none of that.
Here’s a quiz to get you thinking once more. It’s in three rounds. Round 1 is 10 questions, each worth 1 point. Round 2 is 10 questions, but each question is worth 3 points – yes, there are multiple answers. And Round 3 is just two questions, but each is worth five points, again with multiple answers.
You’ll find it easier if you write your answers down and tot it all up at the end.
Yes, they are difficult. So, don’t come complaining to me.
And no, there’s no prize. Just bragging rights. (The answers are at the very end of the blog).
1 Which country of South America shares a land border with the most other countries?
2 Poutine is a dish that originated in which country?
3 Which major river either passes through or touches the border of Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine?
4 In which European country would you find the cities of Antwerp and Ghent?
5 In which country did opera originate?
6 Which is the smallest country in the world?
7 Which city is the largest in the world by population?
8 Which country is the only one to not have a rectangular or square national flag?
9 Which continent has the most countries?
10 In which country would you find the Lop Desert?
11 For 3 points, name three European countries where residents drive on the left. Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
12 For 3 points, complete the next three in the sequence starting with Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy? Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
13 For 3 points, complete the next three in the sequence starting with 1960 Rome, 1964 Tokyo, 1968 Mexico City? Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
14 For 3 points, complete the next three in the sequence starting with John XIII, Paul VI, John Paul I? Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
15 For 3 points, complete the next three in the sequence starting with Rao, Vajpayee, Gowda, Gujral? Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
16 For 3 points, complete the next three in the sequence starting with 1996 Sri Lanka, 1999 Australia, 2003 Australia, 2007 Australia? Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
17 For 3 points, complete the next three in the sequence starting with 1998 France, 2002 Japan/Korea, 2006 Germany? Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
18 For three points, complete the next three in sequence starting with Pence, Biden, Cheney? Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
19 For three points, name the NFL teams associated with Denver, Kansas City and Seattle? Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
20 For three points, name the NBA teams associated with Toronto, San Antonio and Houston? Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
21 For 5 points – Eight nations have won the FIFA World Cup. England and Spain have each won it once. Name five other nations that have won it more than once? Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
22 There are six inert or noble gases in the Periodic Table. Name five, and give yourself one point for each correct answer.
DEBUNKED: THERE’S AN EASY WAY TO TREAT COVID-19-RELATED PNEUMONIA
There’s a very dangerous post doing the rounds of Facebook and, after all, if someone is smart enough to post it on Facebook, then it’s simply got to be true. Yeah right, every doctor can just pack up now and forget about the really serious – deadly serious – side effects of Covid-19.
The shared post claims that postural drainage, a technique used to clear mucus from the lungs, can be used to treat Covid-19 pneumonia.
This technique involves using gravity to drain mucus from the lungs by putting the body in different positions. It’s used to treat some patients with certain lung issues.
The post on Facebook advises people to start doing this technique “as soon as you feel your lungs getting filled” and says it is “easy to do for yourself and family members”.
“Don’t wait until you are too sick to bother. 3-5 minutes several times per day,” one post says. It adds that one easy way to get into this position is on an exercise ball.
However, there is no evidence this treatment is being widely tested against Covid-19 pneumonia and health officials warn other routine breathing tests and mobilising are more appropriate for Covid-19 patients.
The reality is that postural drainage can be used by physiotherapists for people with chronic suppurative lung diseases such as bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis.
MUCUS IN COVID-19 PATIENTS
Covid-19 patients can sometimes produce mucus when coughing, but they generally have a dry, non-productive cough.
This wacky claim follows similar batty advice on Facebook and other social media platforms claiming that a simple breathing test –holding your breath for more than ten seconds – is not an effective test to see if you have the coronavirus.
A respiratory consultant who preferred to remain anonymous said the claims in this Facebook post could be confusing postural drainage with a different treatment called prone ventilation.
This is when ventilation is delivered to a patient while they are lying face-down on their chest. But prone ventilation is being trialed around the world to help treat Covid-19 patients.
The respiratory consultant said this treatment is commonly used for ICU patients who are intubated and not responding well to the mechanics of the ventilator.
Until a few months ago this technique would not generally be used on conscious patients, but it is being used on some conscious Covid-19 patients at the moment, and is often used as a tool to improve oxygenation in severely ill patients.
Please follow proper medical advice, not spurious claims posted on Facebook. Would you use Facebook or social media to take out you own appendix? So why listen to it on coronavirus.
SCIENTISTS SAY YOU CAN’T BE INFECTED TWICE
Because I’m writing this daily blog, I am intensely interested in the science and how researchers are figuring out just how pernicious this virus is. So, when there were reports that nearly 300 patients in South Korea had relapsed with Covid-19, I was worried. Could the coronavirus be even more difficult to control than we had imagined. And if people can get it twice or relapse, then that’s a very serious development indeed.
Thankfully, the news is good and that bad enough as Covid-19 is, no – the answer seems to be you can’t get it twice.
Those reports of 277 cases in South Korea that had relapsed are now being put down to inaccurate test results in the first instance.
Researchers at the South Korean centre for disease control and prevention (CDC) now say it is impossible for C0vid-19 to reactivate in the human body.
There have been more than 10,000 confirmed cases in South Korea, with 245 deaths – a 2.3 per cent fatality rate, which is lower than the 3.4 per cent average as stated by the World Health Organisation.
FUELLED FEARS VIRUS WAS MUTATING QUICKLY
A total of 277 patients in the country were believed to have fallen ill for a second time, as had patients in China and Japan, prompting concerns that the virus could be mutating so quickly that people were not necessarily immune to catching it again. But genetic analyses of the virus have not found any substantial changes which would effectively disguise it from the immune system.
Partially as a result of these reports, the World Health Organisation warned governments against so-called immunity passports to allow people to return to work simply because they have antibodies for the virus.
Immunity passports are a proposed way of allowing countries to begin to lift their coronavirus lockdowns in a targeted manner and resume economic activity.
They would be issued to people who have already overcome a COVID-19 infection and test positive for antibodies to the virus, based on the assumption they are therefore immune.
In an update to its guidance, the WHO warned there was “no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19”.
South Korea’s CDC has found that the test results for the suspected relapsed patients were false positives, and warned the test it used was not able to distinguish between live traces of the virus and the harmless dead samples which remain after patients have recovered.
MY WORLD WILL GET A LITTLE BIGGER ON MAY 18
I have been under restrictions on my movement for the past five weeks and have been writing this daily blog about life and coronavirus and stuff.
Thankfully, come 18 May, the restrictions of movement will begin to be lifted.
I was glued to the television set on Friday night as Irish Taoiseach – Prime Minister – Leo Varadkar detailed the first small steps to easing restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus and laid out a roadmap for a gradual re-opening of the economy IF the virus can be kept under control.
Ireland introduced stay-home measures almost six weeks ago, shutting down all but essential operations. Making two minor initial changes, “cocooning” over 70s can leave their homes to go for a walk or a drive from Tuesday when travel limit to exercise will be extended to 5 kilometres from 2 kilometres.
A return to something approaching economic normality will commence on May 18 with a plan to reopen the economy in five three-week stages with the final stage set for Aug 18. If the virus worsens, the economy may go back a phase, Varadkar said.
“While there is still so much that we don’t know, tonight there is hope. In the weeks ahead that hope will drive us forward as we plan to emerge safely from this crisis,” Varadkar said in a televised address, as Ireland joined other European countries in a mapping a way out of the crisis.
LIMITED REOPENING OF STORES
Outdoor work, such as construction, will resume on May 18 along with the reopening of some retailers like garden centres and hardware stores. Some sports such as tennis and golf and outdoor meetings in groups of four people will also be allowed.
Small retailers where social distancing can be observed may reopen on June 8, with a return to work for those with low levels of interaction. A reopening of restaurants where customers can be adequately spaced out is penciled in for June 29.
Hotels, minus hotel bars, can potentially open from July 20. Socially distancing pubs and nightclubs are among the last group on Aug. 10, along with a return to work across all sectors and tourist travel to offshore islands.
Schools and universities will open again in September, Varadkar said, adding that the cabinet will meet again on Saturday to agree further measures to help businesses restart.
Adding a note of caution, the Health Minister described the plan as “a flexible menu of options.”
Highlighting the difficulty at firms that are still open and trying to operate while implementing measures to protect workers’ health, Ireland’s agriculture minister said six clusters of two or more coronavirus cases had been confirmed at six meat plants.
Chambers Ireland, the country’s largest business group, said the plan was a “glimmer of light” but publicans said they were being treated as “second class citizens” by having to stay closed at least six weeks longer than restaurants, their representative body said.
It is going to take a long time to put things back to normal. But at least now there’s a plan and a way forward. And that’s very good day and great news indeed.
NO, COVID-19 ISN’T JUST A BAD FLU
I don’t know about you, but I have friends – more acquaintances really – who say that coronavirus is “nothing more than a bad flu”.
I want to reach out and shake them. They’re borderline covidiots – the type who are capable of putting themselves and a lot of other people in danger by their sheer unadulterated ignorance.
For starters, this virus is much more contagious than the flu. Research shows that a person with the flu infects 1.28 people on average. Coronavirus? Before social distancing measures came into effect in Ireland, for example, an infected person spread Covid-19 to 4.5 or more other people on average.
Now, thanks to all of the measures, lockdowns, restrictions, shutdowns – everything put together – the transmission rate is down to something like 0.5 to 0.8 per cent – allowing hospitals and intensive care units to be able to treat those seriously ill with this coronavirus.
DOESN’T DISSIPATE IN WARM CLIMATES
What’s more, Covid-19 has shown that unlike flu’, it doesn’t dissipate in warmer weather. Just look at the havoc it has brought to warn-climate nations around the world.
What’s more, coronavirus kills at a much faster rate than flu. And Coronavirus can be spread for many days without symptoms.
With the flu, the incubation period is relatively short. People typically start feeling sick one to four days after infection, the Center of Disease Controls says symptoms usually show up within two days. It can take 10 days to show if it’s Covid. That means people who get sick from the flu will know they’re sick fairly soon and will likely stay home, avoiding contact with others.
Sure, you can get a flu vaccine. But not a coronavirus vaccine. That’s going to take months.
MOTHER FLED WITH SON TO ‘PROTECT HIM FROM COVID-19’
I’ve watched series of a charming Netflix series about a widowed English mother who takes her family of four away from pre-Second World War Corfu for an idyllic lifestyle. So ‘The Durrell’s’ sprang to mind as I read about the mother who fled with her son to the Greek island of Paros, where there are no known cases of Covid 19.
Now, a British judge has ruled that woman should not have done so. The boy’s father wants judges in Greece and London to order he is returned to England.
He says the boy was taken from London to Paros, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, without his permission.
Justice Mostyn, who oversaw a recent private hearing in London, said the man and woman are both Greek but had lived in London for more than two years.
Details of the dispute emerged on Friday in a ruling published by the judge overseeing family court litigation in London, but he said the family could not be identified in media reports.
He has adjourned the case and says a judge in Greece should hear evidence from the woman and make a decision.
The woman left London with her son on 20 March, three days before UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown, and travelled to her mother’s home in Paros, Justice Mostyn said in his ruling.
A MODERN-DAY GREEK DRAMA
“She did so in the belief that she and [the boy] would be much safer from the virus there,” he said. “That may well have been a valid view, it being common knowledge that by virtue of pre-emptive action, Greece has a much lower rate of infection and mortality than this country. However, that does not justify in the slightest what was a wrongful removal of [the boy] from the place of his habitual residence and, more importantly, from his father.”
She had emailed her estranged husband’s lawyers to explain why she left, Justice Mostyn said.
“I do not intend to stay in Greece permanently,” she had said. “The main reason that I have come to Greece is that I am very afraid of the coronavirus and I want to do whatever I can to keep [my son and me] safe from it. The small Greek island where my mother lives, where we are now staying with her, is naturally isolated from the mainland and has its own medical facilities.”
She said there were zero incidents of coronavirus contamination and it’s much safer “given the numbers of people (who are) affected and die in London on a daily basis”.
MEME OF THE DAY
Thanks to my first cousin Gus in Windsor, Ontario for supplying this meme with me through Facebook.
COVIDIOTS, YOBS AND GOONS
Here’s my daily collection of covidiots that serves as a reminder some people are capable of crawling lower than a snake’s belly.
MIAMI DEA AGENT ACCUSED OF STEALING PPE
Here’s a story that puts a whole new spin on Miami Vice!
A US Drug Enforcement Administration agent and a telecommunications specialist are accused of stealing personal protective equipment, toilet paper and other supplies from an agency warehouse in Florida amid shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic, law enforcement officials say.
The officials, who were not authorised to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity, say it was not clear exactly how much of the supplies the men took or what they intended to do with them but the matter was serious enough that both were suspended and the agent was asked to hand over his gun pending an internal review.
Special Agent Javier Hernandez and the telecommunications specialist whose name was not disclosed are just the latest employees of the DEA’s high-profile Miami field division to be accused of misconduct.
Hernandez is suspected of swiping an array of items including PPE, toilet paper and batteries from storage in the early weeks of the pandemic, the officials said, and the telecommunications specialist also took materials from the warehouse but returned them after a supervisor confronted him about a missing supply of toilet paper. It’s not clear whether the men are accused of acting together.
Hernandez declined to comment.
1 Brazil (borders every other South American country except Ecuador and Chile); 2 Canada;3 Danube; 4 Belgium; 5 Italy; 6 Vatican City; 7 Tokyo; 8 Nepal; 9 Africa; 10 China.
11 Ireland, Malta, Cyprus (Isle of Man, Channel Island are not classified as countries, while Gibraltar switched from the left to the right on 16 June 1929);
12 Johnson, Nixon, Ford (presidents of the United States)
13 Munich, Montreal, Moscow (host cities of the summer Olympics)
14 John Paul II, Benedict XVI Francis I (popes of the Roman Catholic church)
15 Vajpayee, Singh, Modi (prime ministers of India)
16 India, Australia, England (winners of the ICC World Cup)
17 South Africa, Brazil Russia (hosts of FIFA World Cup)
18 Gore, Quayle, Bush (vice-presidents of the United States)
19 Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks
20 Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets.
21: The six nations are Brazil (6), Italy (4), Germany (4 – as West Germany in 1959, 1970 and 1990) Uruguay (2), France (2) Argentina (2).
22 Helium (He), Neon (Ne), Argon (Ar), Krypton (Kr). Xenon (Xe), and Radon (Rn).
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I’m not an expert, but I might be able to help you make a bit of sense of this. And we can all get through it together. Isn’t this what this is all about.
Send your questions for me to Readers@gulfnews.com.
That’s it for now. Let’s check in with each other tomorrow. I have used files from Reuters, AP, SkyNews, Twitter and other European and North American media outlets in today’s blog. And remember to stay safe.
Mick O’Reilly is the Gulf News Foreign Correspondent based in Europe