12 July 2020
My brother bought us a ‘pulse oximeter’ which is one of those gadgets you put on your fingertip to measure blood oxygen levels and heart rate so you can tell if we’ve got one of the optional early-warning signs of Covid-19. For once, I read the instructions and was fascinated by the bit that said
“Keys function description: In standby mode, start the key instrument into the working state, Touch this button under the working state can change the display mode. Note: The machine profile picture is only for reference use, specificity in kind prevails.” (The unnecessary capitals are theirs, not mine.)
What this tells me is that I’m probably right to start using things like this (it only has one button) without first reading the instructions. It also reinforces my belief that translations should be done by someone whose first language is the one being translated into and not the language that is being translated.
This Covid-19 coronavirus is a cunning little beastie: it’s worked out that if it targets politicians rather than medics and other scientists, it’s got it made.
Normally, doctors can identify diseases and infections by their symptoms but this one is playing hard to get. NHS guidance says that its early stages may involve one or more of a raised body temperature, an increase in coughing, lowered blood oxygen levels, a loss of the ability to smell or taste things and, in some cases, non-specific neurological damage; but it can also be asymptomatic and it isn’t yet known if sufferers without symptoms can pass it on to other people.
Nor does anybody now seem to understand how it’s transmitted. It was originally believed to be carried by the tiny droplets that people project when they sneeze or cough or sing, but these droplets are comparatively large and fall to the ground quite quickly – hence the 2-metre distancing that we were told would protect us.
More than 200 independent scientists now believe this may be optimistic and the World Health Organisation has admitted it might also be carried by tiny particles that remain suspended in the air for some time to be shared with passers-by and recirculated to everybody in sight by air-conditioning units in aeroplanes and offices.
Nobody even knows why some ethnic groups are more susceptible than others and some scientists are now wondering if it affects people with blood group A more than those in other blood groups.
Fifteen – love.
There are tests which show if somebody has it, and if they have already had it and recovered, but testing in the UK is being taken almost as seriously by the government as they took Personal Protective Equipment during the first spike. The prime minister and his cabinet of other year-5 drop-outs make impressive promises in public and do Sweet Fair Angela in private so the number of tests carried out and the availability of PPE fall way short of the vital minimum levels. They can’t even manage to get their brilliant new contact tracing app to work on iphones.
It’s also becoming clear that even ‘mild’ cases may be more dangerous and longer-lasting than is the case with other viruses and, as virologists struggle to understand coronavirus’s biomechanics, there is increasing evidence that some survivors of ‘mild’ coronavirus suffer long-term side effects, some of which can be fatal. It’s known that Covid-19 affects not only the lungs and the blood but also the kidneys, liver and brain, which can lead to blood-clotting as well as neurological problems ranging from brain inflammation and delirium to nerve damage.
At this point, coronavirus has succeeded in making things so complicated that its opposition is transferred from medics to politicians who have to decide what preventative actions to take without risking losing the next election.
Thirty – love.
Now that the UK is leaving the EU, it’s shown its tooth by deciding not to join the EU’s investment of some €2bn in the advance purchase of vaccines that are being tested on behalf of 27 member states. Our government has a retired landscape gardener working in a shed in Dunstable on the UK’s vaccination programme.
The WHO has warned that the pandemic is still accelerating and that infections have doubled in the last six weeks with more than half a million deaths attributed to the virus worldwide and America achieving a world record of 60,000 new cases being identified in one day and more than 130,000 deaths so far. Donald Trump’s reaction has been entirely predictable, blaming the large number of new cases on the increased number of tests being carried out, and withdrawing America from WHO membership.
Forty – love.
However, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO has emphasised that “The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself … it’s the lack of leadership and solidarity at global and national level … the virus thrives on division but is thwarted when we unite”.
Forty – fifteen.
Because of the government’s wish to remain in power, Britain was slow to impose lockdown measures and Professor Neil Ferguson, a disease modelling expert from Imperial College, London, has estimated that introducing lockdown measures a week earlier “would have reduced the final death toll [in the UK] by at least half.”
Again for political reasons, the restrictions have now been eased far too early, and the thicker Brits have returned to life exactly as it was before lockdown, thereby increasing the chances of a second surge in infections and deaths, for which the NHS is again woefully unprepared and underfunded (according to parliament’s cross-party Public Accounts Committee on 15 July).
Charities too are feeling the pinch as public, corporate and private funding has fallen. For example, even though post-viral blood-clotting can cause strokes, the Stroke Association is anticipating suspending 75% of its research projects due to the loss of income.
First set to Covid-19; Covid-19 leads by one set to love.
The good news is unfortunately not related to Covid-19 but is nevertheless a long-overdue change to British law which means men (invariably) can no longer claim that a woman they had killed had consented to ‘rough sex’ (involving choking, restraint and other violence) which went wrong, so they were charged with manslaughter instead of murder.
Between 1996 and 2016, ‘rough sex’ claims increased tenfold but the law is now to be changed. The “rough sex gone wrong” defence assumed that, because the only person who could have disagreed was dead, there was no evidence that the man was anything but a genuinely loving killer.
(Does anybody else think ‘rough sex’ is an oxymoron?)
Two weeks ago, I drew attention to the kindness of The Chicks to another group already using the name when they changed theirs. This week we heard of the unkindness of a country music group formed in 2006 in Nashville called ‘Lady Antebellum’ which changed their name on 11 June to ‘Lady A’ to distance themselves from the unpleasantness of ‘antebellum’.
They subsequently discovered that Anita White, originally from Seattle, had been performing since the 1980s and was part of a group called Lady A & the Baby Blues Funk for 18 years before going solo. White suggested they call themselves ‘Lady A the Band’ while she called herself ‘Lady A the Artist’ but the Nashville group wouldn’t agree to this or to pay compensation so, on July 8, they filed a lawsuit against White in an attempt to gain the rights to the Lady A trademark they are now claiming to have been using for years. They’re also attempting to obliterate references to White’s Lady A from the internet. Charmers all.
Guess what colour the Nashville group members are (the ones who are trying to dissociate themselves from links to racism and slavery), and what colour the original Lady A is.