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.
Wednesday June 10, 9am
IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?
HAS COVID-19 BEEN WITH US SINCE LAST AUGUST?
SATELLELITE IMAGES SUGGEST MUCH EARLIER SPREAD
My daughter is convinced she had COVID-19 When she visited Switzerland in mid-December, saying that she never had a temperature so high and was never as sick in her life.
I have other friends too who believe that they may have had the bug before Christmas – certainly before we all became generally aware of the virus where it was centred on Wuhan in China.
While it’s all anecdotal and there’s no basis in science, there are interest reports now that COVID-19 may have been in circulation much earlier than anyone thought.
In France, there’s research evidence from X-rays and other hard medical proof to suggest there were cases there in early December.
Now, Satellite images of hospital parking lots in Wuhan as well as internet search trends, show the coronavirus may have been spreading in China as early as last August, according to a new study from Harvard Medical School.
MORE CARS IN HOSPITAL PARKING
The study, which has not yet been peer-viewed, found a significantly higher number of cars in parking lots at five Wuhan hospitals in the late summer and fall of 2019 compared to a year earlier; and an uptick in searches of keywords associated with an infectious disease on China’s Baidu search engine.
Researchers saw “a steep increase in volume starting in August 2019 and culminating with a peak in December 2019,” the team, led by Boston Children’s Hospital chief innovation officer John Brownstein, wrote in a preprint posted on Harvard's DASH server.
Using images from October 2018, the researchers counted 171 cars in the parking lots at one of Wuhan’s largest hospitals, Tianyou Hospital. Satellite data a year later showed 285 vehicles in the same lots, an increase of 67 per cent, and as much as a 90 per cent increase in traffic during the same time period at other Wuhan hospitals.
HIGHER VOLUME OF VISITORS IN AUTUMN AND WINTER
“Individual hospitals have days of high relative volume in both autumn and winter 2019. However, between September and October 2019, five of the six hospitals show their highest relative daily volume of the analysed series, coinciding with elevated levels of Baidu search queries for the terms ‘diarrhea’ and ‘cough’,” they wrote.
“This is all about trying to piece together a complicated puzzle of what was taking place at the time,” Brownstein said.
“The data is actually especially compelling because we saw increases in people searching for gastrointestinal disease – diarrhea – which were increasing at a level that we hadn’t seen at all, historically, and we now know now that gastrointestinal symptoms are a really important marker for Covid,” he added. “A huge percentage of people that actually end up testing positive in Wuhan actually had presented symptoms of diarrhea.”
SATELLITE TRACKING SURVEILLANCE OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES
Using “validated data streams” for respiratory disease surveillance isn’t new and it’s also a technique employed by intelligence agencies.
“Both the idea that hospital parking lots or business can be used can be a relative indicator for something happening in a population,” Brownstein said. “We actually published on this years ago where we showed that hospitals in Latin America got super busy during flu season. You could predict flu season just by looking at the parking lots.”
And that was the idea in this study, he said.
“Now we can’t prove clearly what was driving some of these signals but it sort of adds to a growing body of evidence that something was happening ahead of when it was officially recognised,” he said.
“While we cannot confirm if the increased volume was directly related to the new virus, our evidence supports other recent work showing that emergence happened before identification at the Huanan Seafood market,” according to Brownstein and his team. “These findings also corroborate the hypothesis that the virus emerged naturally in southern China and was potentially already circulating at the time of the Wuhan cluster.”
EASY TO MISS SIGNALS POINTING TO A PANDEMIC
It's easy to miss the early signs of a pandemic, too, Brownstein said. “If the same thing happened in the US, it’s very possible that we could miss these signals, as well. So I think I’'s all about the idea that we need to strengthen our public health efforts and also strengthen our public health surveillance.
The United States found out in early January that a respiratory-based epidemic was spreading through Wuhan, but it would take weeks before the first case was identified in the US in Seattle and the federal government would begin to take any action.
“We also have the challenges of the lack of testing in this country, so signals were probably missed here, as well, that transmission was happening and we didn’t know about it either.”
More than 7 million people have since been infected with the deadly virus worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 404,000 global deaths and more than 110,000 deaths in the US.
MASK-WEARING HABITS COULD INDICATE HOW AMERICALS WILL VOTE
A poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows that a person’s mask-wearing habits could indicate how they'll vote in the 2020 presidential race in the US.
Sixty-three per cent of registered voters said they “always” wear a mask when they’re in public — like when they go shopping, go to work or be around other people outside of their house. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, leads President Donald Trump by 40 points among those voters, 66 per cent to 26 per cent.
And voters who don’t wear a mask are nearly just as likely to vote for the president as mask-wearers are to vote for Biden.
Twenty-one per cent of voters said they “sometimes” wear a mask — and Trump leads those voters by 32 points: 62 per cent to 30 per cent.
Perhaps most unsurprisingly, the voters who say the never or rarely wear a mask are nearly all in support of the president. Just 15 per cent of registered voters said they don’t tend to wear a mask — the president leads Biden with those voters 83-7 per cent.
Biden and Trump have sparred on whether it’s appropriate to wear a mask. The president has forgone wearing a mask in nearly all of his public appearances since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to suggest Americans wear masks in public, especially when social distancing is not possible. Biden, meanwhile, has been photographed with a mask nearly every time he has left his Delaware home.
The president retweeted conservative media hosts criticizing Biden’s decision to wear a mask, while saying publicly that Biden “can wear a mask” but that it’s “unusual” the former vice-president isn't seen wearing one indoors.
Biden has said Trump doesn’t wear a mask in an effort to look “macho.”
ONE THIRD OF IRISH HOSPITALITY JOBS HINGE ON DISTANCING RULES
For weeks now, there’s been a major debate going on in Ireland as to whether social distancing should be based on a one-metre or two-metre limit.
But now there’s startling evidence that tips the debate. Ireland’s tourism and hospitality sector will be able to rehire more than twice as many workers if social-distancing guidance is cut to 1 metre from 2 metres, research by the national tourism development authority found on Monday.
Ireland is accelerating the cautious unwinding of its coronavirus lockdown with restaurants and hotels set to reopen on June 29 and pubs on June 20 with a pledge to review the social-distancing guidance.
Failte Ireland, the tourism authority, estimated 148,300 of the 260,000 workers in jobs supported by the hospitality sector before the lockdown would return if customers can be kept 1 metre apart, dropping to 63,200 if the 2 metre guidance remains.
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has suggested a possible halving of the distance if coronavirus cases drop further. Health officials are developing specific guidance on the application of the rule for the hospitality sector during periods of low incidence of the disease.
Health Minister Simon Harris said on Monday the additional guidance will be finalised in the next week or two.
Ireland reported just nine new cases on Monday, the lowest daily tally since March 11, the day before it decided to close schools ahead of a full shutdown at the end of March.
GOOGLE MAPS TO ALERT USERS ABOUT COVID-19-RELATED TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
Google is adding features on its Maps service to alert users about COVID-19-related travel restrictions to help them plan their trips better, Alphabet said on Monday.
The update would allow users to check how crowded a train station might be at a particular time, or if buses on a certain route are running on a limited schedule, Google said.
The transit alerts would be rolled out in Argentina, France, India, Netherlands, the United States and United Kingdom among other countries, the company said in a blog post.
The new features would also include details on COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions on crossing national borders, starting with Canada, Mexico and the US.
In recent months, the company has analysed location data from billions of Google users’ phones in 131 countries to examine mobility under lockdowns and help health authorities assess if people were abiding with social-distancing and other orders issued to rein in the virus.
Google has invested billions of dollars from its search ads business to digitally map the world, drawing 1 billion users on average every month to its free navigation app.
BLACK, ASIAN PREGNANT WOMEN IN UK MORE LIKELY TO BE HOSPITALISED
Black, Asian and other minority groups accounted for the majority of pregnant women in the UK who were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19, a study published Monday in The British Medical Journal finds.
The study included data from all 194 obstetric units in the UK from March 1 through April 14. During that time, 427 pregnant women were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. One quarter of the women were Asian and 22 per cent were black.
“The high proportion of women from black or minority ethnic groups admitted with infection needs urgent investigation and explanation,” the researchers wrote.
Pregnant women admitted with COVID-19 were also more likely to be overweight or obese, the study found. Forty per cent of the women were 35 or older and one third had a preexisting medical condition.
Most of the women had good outcomes, and the transmission of the coronavirus from mother to baby was uncommon. Five babies died, but it's unclear whether the virus played a role in their deaths, the authors wrote.
One in 100 women pregnant women admitted with COVID-19 died.
ENGLAND LAUNCHES STUDY OF CORONAVIRUS SPREAD IN SCHOOLS
UK Health minister Matt Hancock launched a study to find out the prevalence and spread of the coronavirus among school children and teachers in England on Tuesday to help inform the phased reintroduction of education after a lengthy national lockdown.
The decision to gradually re-open schools has divided opinion, with Britain suffering the second-worst international death toll from COVID-19 and ministers warning of the need for caution to prevent a second wave of the virus.
The study will look to establish how widespread the virus is among children, who typically show mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, and how effectively they transmit the disease.
“This study will help us better understand how common asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID-19 are so that we can support parents, pupils and teachers and support-staff, and inform our ongoing response to this new virus,” Hancock said in a statement.
Selected age groups have been able to attend schools since the beginning of the month, although some educators decided not to re-open because they said it was not safe. Older students will also begin some schooling from June 15.
The voluntary study will be administered by the Public Health England agency and will collect data from around 200 staff and pupils at up to 100 English schools.
Researchers will use both swab tests – which check whether a person currently has the virus – and blood tests, which check whether the person has previously had the virus and developed antibodies to it.
Data will also be fed into wider government programmes designed to establish how widespread COVID-19 is, and has been, throughout the community in order to help form policy and develop new tests and treatments.
UK TOURISM GROUP SAYS GOVERNMENT PLANS TRAVEL CORRIDORS FROM JUNE 29
Travel corridors allowing unrestricted movement between Britain and some other countries will open from June 29, a UK tourism lobby group said on Tuesday, citing assurances it said it received from senior government sources.
Britain introduced a 14-day quarantine for international arrivals on Monday despite warnings from airlines, airports and others that this could lead to more job losses just when they were hoping to launch a recovery from COVID-19.
Quash Quarantine, representing 500 travel and hospitality companies, said in a statement on Tuesday it had been told privately that travel corridors, a means of allowing quarantine-free trips, would be in place later this month.
Government ministers have publicly said they are considering travel corridors, or so-called “air bridges” with countries with low infection rates, but there have not been any formal deals so far.
Airlines want the quarantine rule scrapped altogether.
British Airways has teamed up with low-cost rivals Ryanair and easyJet with a plan to launch legal action to try to overturn it, and legal papers were expected to be filed on Tuesday.
Quash Quarantine said it had not ruled out pursuing legal action itself.
“We are still considering our options regarding legal action, including whether to join BA’s claim or launch our own action, but would prefer that June 29 is confirmed as soon as possible for the start of travel corridors,” Quash Quarantine’s spokesman Paul Charles said.
IS IT SAFE TO SWIM IN A POOL DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?
As temperatures continue to rise, few things do a better job of keeping us cool than going for a swim.
But with the closure of many swimming pools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some may be left wondering how safe it will be to return to these spaces once they reopen.
According to Matthew Miller, a biochemistry professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who is studying the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 is highly unlikely to be transmitted through water.
“Respiratory viruses like COVID-19 are different from viruses like polio or other pathogens like cholera that are actually spread in water,” he told CTV News. “The risk of contracting the virus from the pool water itself is likely very low.”
While no major studies have been conducted on the lifespan of COVID-19 in water, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said there “is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds.”
Miller explained that exposure to water would weaken the virus, reducing its ability to cause infection.
“Any virus that’s in water would be super diluted, so you likely wouldn’t be exposed to any appreciable concentration of it,” he said.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Neil Rau also explained that the chlorine normally found in public pools would serve to kill the virus. This means that the risk of contracting COVID-19 from swallowing water, for example, is very slim, he said.
“Chlorinated water in a classic swimming pool would have an antiviral effect,” he told CTV News. “You don’t get this virus through consumption or aspiration of water.”
The CDC share a similar view, stating that “proper operation of these aquatic venues and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus.”
WHERE DOES THE RISK STEM FROM?
The risk of contracting COVID-19 somewhere like a public pool isn’t so much in exposure to the water, but rather to “people crowding together in an enclosed space,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist with the University Health Network in Toronto, said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 is mainly transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets released from the mouth or nose. The infection spreads when a person with the virus coughs, sneezes, or exhales, and someone else breathes in these droplets.
While it is also possible to contract COVID-19 from touching a surface contaminated with the virus, and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth, this isn’t believed to be the main source of transmission, according to the CDC.
This is why government and health officials continue to recommend maintaining a physical distance of at least two metres from those around you.
LOCKER AND CHANGING ROOMS
Rau explained that while this is imperative in preventing the spread of COVID-19, it can likely be difficult to do at public pools, especially in communal areas such as change or locker rooms.
Being in such close proximity to other people can place someone at greater risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19. For this reason, it’s advised to try your best to stay at a distance, said Rau. The doctor also predicts that pools will have to limit the number of people they allow in at a time.
“I could see staggered swim times being an option if you want to completely minimise risk,” he said. “It’s a form of physical distancing – you’re segmenting them from a group that might bring them the virus.”
Physical distancing continues to be a concern while swimming in pools at a friend or family member’s house, explained Miller. In addition to following provincial guidelines on the size of gatherings, he recommends maintaining physical distancing guidelines inside the pool as best you can. This means only allowing enough people in so that they can be spaced out appropriately.
DOOR HANDLES AND RAILS
Bogoch also points out that high-contact surfaces such as door handles and handrails in public spaces can also be a potential source of transmission for COVID-19.
To combat this, he suggests adhering to guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting public spaces as well as diligent hand hygiene. This means washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an approved hand sanitiser.
“The devil's in the details,” he said. “If those measures are adhered to, I think the risk of contracting COVID-19 would be quite low.”
The limited circulation of air typically found among indoor swimming pools can also lead to an increased risk of transmitting COVID-19.
DROPLETS SPREAD IN CONFINED SPACES
According to Rau, respiratory droplets carrying COVID-19 are more easily spread in confined spaces, especially ones that are not properly ventilated.
“Almost all of the big COVID-19 outbreaks that we know about are indoor outbreaks where ventilation is poor,” he explained. “Or where it’s a shared air space without the continuous air exchanges you get when you’re outdoors due to prevailing winds or the amount of air that’s recirculating.”
For this reason, Miller advises sticking as much as possible to outdoor swimming pools rather than indoor ones. Another option to consider would be a beach or lake, depending on whether they’re open.
Not only is air ventilation no longer an issue, but the greater amount of space makes it easier to adhere to physical distancing measures.
“The real risk of transmission comes from other people and not from the water,” said Miller. “It’s important to be really thoughtful about that spacing.”
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO MITIGATE RISK
Aside from guidelines already recommended by government and health officials, Miller suggests preventing any water in the pool from entering your mouth.
“People should be conscious about … dispersing water in the air from their mouths,” he said.
For those considering wearing masks, Rau insists that unless you’re going for a stroll or simply sitting poolside, it isn’t feasible to wear one while swimming.
But the best advice, according to all three experts, is to maintain that physical distance and keep clean. Miller goes as far as suggesting taking a shower both before and after swimming of any kind, and making sure to scrub your hands while doing so.
“Maintaining regular handwashing is a good idea generally, but certainly more imperative in community pools or even backyard pools,” he said. “Just do all the same things that you would try and do normally.”
MEME OF THE DAY
Again, another meme shared with me by my neighbour Craig. He must spend half of his day on WhatsApp.
CONFESSIONS FROM LOCKDOWN
I came across and interesting element on NBC where those under lockdown posted their one line confessions from lockdown. What they thought, what they did, their fears and other worries or concerns. The comments show that we’re pretty much the same the world over.. You can always share yours to Readers@gulfnews.com and mark it for the Going Viral blog.
Here are today’s 25 confessions:
1: Working from home. IT industry, I've being taking calls from bed, naps and I increased my productivity by not being in an office.
2: I’ve been a loner my entire life. I’m not an introvert, I just prefer solitude, so lockdown is a breeze.
3: What scares me the most about quarantine is how little my life has actually changed.
4: Pandemic spared me unwanted family visits with my husband’s brother and his busybody wife. It’s been glorious.
5: I've been hoarding cash for over 29 years and am ready for this Great Depression that is coming. This is going to be horrible.
6: Most supplies are limited and it is very hard to get anything.
7: I miss my guy friend very much. He is stuck in dorm due to quarantine. It is our 3rd year in med school and knew him since Year 1.
8: I'm glad I have an excuse not to get together with certain pushy, loudmouthed friends and callow, judgmental family members.
9: Furloughed from work for 13 weeks. Never in a MILLION years did I, a nurse, believe I would have to claim unemployment.
10: I can't wait to go back to work. My boyfriend is driving me insane and doesn't help at all.
11: I keep resisting the urge to buy hand sanitizers. I don't need any, but I feel like I should stock up before they're all out again.
12: I found my favorite potato chips at the store after two months of them being sold out! Small things like this make me happy lately.
13: Blessed to be allowed to work from home.
14: Need high school s graduate son to get a job since I lost mine. He's more hireable than me at 50. I feel guilty; he is resentful, entitled.
15: I love my son and I hate my son more and more with each passing day.
16: Laid off childcare worker. sure a kid gave me covid, had horrible symptoms but didn't qualify for a test. Boss doesn't care. Angry.
17: Some of my family thinks the pandemic is fake and the rest are being reckless and stupid about it. Cutting ties with all of them!
18: I'm 37 and single but I've always wanted kids: now would be so nice, wish I had a newborn to share this time. Resenting the cat.
19: I'm hoarding the stimulus check for emergency money and feel guilty we aren't shopping like we did in 2008 recession. Lost my job.
20: I hate how people are acting. Fear driven tattling on neighbours and judgmental Facebook posts.
21: I inventoried almost all of our food and put it in an Excel file. I feel like a miser counting his gold.
22: I gave my husband one of my antidepressants pills to try since he’s been irritable and stressed. He said it helped him!
23: I'm so happy start classes tomorrow! It gives me an excuse to shut out the world for several hours a day!
24: I like quarantining with my family. I kinda hope it lasts a bit longer, I’m digging the slowdown in our lives.
25: Sometimes there are more important things than working at home... like surviving the pandemic along with your family.
OVER HALF OF PEOPLE TESTED IN ITALY'S BERGAMO HAVE COVID-19 ANTIBODIES
More than half the residents tested in Italy’s northern province of Bergamo have COVID-19 antibodies, health authorities said on Monday, citing a sample survey.
Of 9,965 residents who had blood tests between April 23 and June 3, 57 per cent had antibodies indicating they had come into contact with the coronavirus, the survey showed.
Health authorities in Bergamo said the results were based on a “random” sample which was “sufficiently broad” to be a reliable indicator of how many people had been infected in the province, which became the epicentre of Italy’s outbreak.
In a separate statement issued later, the Bergamo health agency said that most of those in the sample were residents of the worst-hit areas. Many had already been put under quarantine, the statement added.
Antibodies were found in just over 30 per cent of the 10,404 health operators tested although they are generally considered more at risk than other people.
In a report released in early May, national statistics institute ISTAT said the number of deaths in Bergamo was up 568 per cent in March compared with the 2015-2019 average, making it Italy’s worst-hit city in terms of deaths.
Its hospitals were overwhelmed by infected people and, with morgues unable to keep up, convoys of army trucks carrying away the dead became a chilling symbol of the global pandemic.
Bergamo province has reported 13,609 coronavirus cases, official data showed on Monday.
ISTAT and the health ministry have launched a nationwide blood testing campaign, aiming to test a representative sample of some 150,000 people to understand the extent of Italy’s COVID-19 epidemic.
Italy has reported almost 34,000 coronavirus deaths, with some 235,000 confirmed cases. The Lombardy region, which includes Bergamo, has registered over 16,000 deaths.
WHAT ARE ANTIBODY THERAPIES AND WHO IS DEVELOPING THEM FOR COVID-19?
While some potential vaccines have emerged in the global race to find a way to stop the spread of COVID-19, many scientists and researchers believe antibody based therapies hold great promise for treating people already infected with the disease.
These therapies use antibodies generated by infected humans or animals to fight off the disease in patients. They date back to the late 19th century, when researchers used a serum derived from the blood of infected animals to treat diphtheria.
For COVID-19 treatment, researchers are studying the use of convalescent plasma and other treatments made with blood from recently recovered patients.
More recently, scientists have developed treatments called monoclonal antibodies — antibodies that can be isolated and manufactured in large quantities to treat diseases like Ebola or cancer. Companies, like Eli Lilly and Co and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in the United States, are trying to use this approach to develop their treatments.
Unlike convalescent plasma, manufacturers do not need a steady supply of antibody-rich blood to produce monoclonal antibodies, so this approach could be easier to scale up.
HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT FROM VACCINES?
In general, the goal of a vaccine is to generate an immune response that can prevent someone from getting ill with a disease, whereas antibody-derived products are generally designed to treat disease.
And while some drugmakers have suggested antibody treatments can be used prophylactically – Regeneron’s Chief Scientific Officer George Yancopoulos has said their treatment could be a bridge to a vaccine – it could be expensive.
“You might go into nursing homes or the military and use it because antibodies have a pretty long half-life,” said Dr. Betty Diamond, Director of Molecular Medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research.
“You might decide that you are going to use this as a prevention in this very high risk group, but you wouldn’t do that for the whole country.”
The amount of protein in antibody drugs makes the treatment more expensive than vaccines in general, Feng Hui, chief operating officer at Shanghai Junshi Biosciences said.
Antibody drugs contain hundreds, or even over a thousand times more protein than found in a vaccine shot.
WHO IS DEVELOPING ANTIBODY THERAPIES FOR COVID-19?
Eli Lilly is collaborating with Junshi and Canadian biotech firm AbCellera Biologics to develop different antibody treatments, both of which have started early stage testing in humans.
Regeneron plans to start clinical studies later this month to test its antibody cocktail treatment, which was derived from antibodies from genetically-modified mice. It aims to have hundreds of thousands of preventative doses available “by the end of the summer or the fall.”
The CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, which includes Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceuticals and CSL Behring, is working on hyperimmune globulin therapy derived from convalescent plasma, which could offer a standardized dose of antibodies and doesn’t need to be limited to patients with matching blood types.
The Antibody Therapy Against Coronavirus (ATAC) project, funded by the European Commission and led by Sweden’s Karolinska research institute, is looking at a similar approach as well as monoclonal antibodies. Under the project, monoclonal antibodies extracted from convalescent plasma are now being tested on human volunteers in Germany and on animals in Switzerland.
Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline is working with Vir Biotechnology Inc to develop potential antibody treatments which select the best antibodies out of the plasma.
HOW I’M PRETENDING TO GROW £10,000 IN PLAY MONEY
Well, that was a day I’d rather forget suffering a loss of £560 on trading in London.
A reminder that this is all pretend, I started out in lockdown with £10,000 – about Dh45,000 to invest on the London Stock Exchange, I don’t pay for trades and I can only buy or sell when the market is closed. There’s no minimum on the amount of stocks I can buy, just as long as I can afford them.
And thankfully, it’s just pretend.
I’ll stick with my choices for Wednesday but may be forced to take drastic action if there’s another set of losses like Tuesday.
This is how things stand:
Net worth £13,754.88
Ocado, 100 shares: £2072.0
Diageo, 100 shares: £2843.00
PowerHouse, 1200 shares: £4308.00
Ryanair, 350 shares: 4298.00
Cash in hand: £233.88
£ loss on last trading day: £560.00
% gain overall: 37.5 per cent
£ Gain overall: £3,754.88
AMERICANS DROVE 112 BILLION FEWER MILES THIS APRIL THAN APRIL 2019
Americans drove 112 billion fewer miles in April than they did during the same month last year, according to data from the US Department of Transportation.
Shelter-in-place orders led to a nearly 40 per cent drop in the number of miles Americans drove, the DOT said Monday. With much of the country locked down due to the coronavirus, American motorists clocked 169.6 billion miles.
The response to the coronavirus pandemic, which began in March in many states, also saw travel for the first four months of this year decline 14.8 per cent versus 2019, to around 858 billion miles. That was the lowest number since 2001, said the DOT.
All forms of travel were down, reported navigation service Inrix, including personal transportation and long- and short-haul trucking.
Travel is just ramping back up as states begin relaxing restrictions, but May and June are expected to still see another year-over-year decline, according to transportation experts.
GOONS, YOBS AND COVIDIOTS
A regular reminder that covidiocy is spread under the cover of darkness.
13 TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TEST POSITIVE AFTER UNSANCTIONED PROM
An unsanctioned prom and beach party has resulted in a group of Texas high school students getting diagnosed with coronavirus and spurred calls for those affected to be banned from attending graduation.
At least 13 students from Foster High School and George Ranch High School have tested positive for COVID-19 after reportedly attending a prom event in Katy on June 5. The event was not sanctioned by the schools, and the group then spent the weekend at a beach house in Galveston, according to the FORT BEND HERALD.
Principals of both high schools did not immediately respond for comment.
Officials at the Fort Bend County Health AND Human Services Department also did not immediately respond.
Stories of the students testing positive have circulated among parents on email. The majority of the students are recent graduates or currently attend Foster High School in Richmond, the parents said.
DOMESTIC ABUSE INCREASES IN IRELAND DURING LOCKDOWN
More than 100 people were charged with domestic violence offences in the last two weeks of May, according to Irish police.
Operation Faoiseamh, set up to target the crime of domestic abuse, also shows that police made more than 8,000 contacts or attempted contacts, with victims since the operation began on 1 April.
The Garda National Protective Services Bureau has renewed its appeal to victims of domestic violence to contact them. While most crime has decreased during the coronavirus pandemic, domestic violence has recorded the largest increase with police this year receiving 25 per cent more calls for help than last year.
In the last two weeks of last month police say107 people, all men, have been prosecuted.
Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly said this should serve as a reminder to all that breaching domestic abuse court orders is an offence.
He said domestic crime is very much a hidden crime and police are working hard to bring it out from behind closed doors.
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, DW, Sky News, 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