Dr Owain Williams By: Dr Owain Williams
Lecturer in IR and Human Security
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27 Mar 2020 : Increasing Scale

Today is a pretty lazy day that spirals into work. Have lovely zoom social with friends in UK and Canada. All of us are in lock-down. Lots of jokes and smiles – this contact is really fabulous. Otherwise, I check up on website progress an am aiming for COVI-Diaries launch in coming days.

Trump’s America really has gone ballistic. Over 80,000 infections now. Gavin M-Skinner post some local statistics in Boston hospitals, basically huge rates of attrition already in doctors and nurses. Really grim stuff. The country is bitterly divided on the scale of the crisis and how serious a threat COVID-19 is as virus. Quite incredible. 30 per cent of infections are in New York (state or city?) James Love Tweets a map of hotspots in the US with them lit up in red. It is one big nasty rash, lighting up everywhere, with the North eastern corner livid. Fauci and others are now keeping stony quiet about Trump’s plan/dream of opening up by Easter. In one press conference a journalist asks him on what evidence he is basing that ambition. The response is that the negativity  (nasty questions) from the press is the media conspiring against his re-election. Bluster and confusion and shameless egoism is all he is capable of, it is embarrassing, but not for him clearly.

In Australia today tough new measures on all those turning are announced for Saturday midnight. All returnees will go into compulsory and observed self-isolation for 14 days (the UK still hangs on its 7 days, despite WHO advice). Over 50% of all infections are estimated to be have been acquired overseas. It is clear that the failure to screen and quarantine has not been good. At least I have self-isolated and am not responsible for spreading to others. I guess I know that pretty much for sure now after so many days post arrival. There are over 500 cases in Queensland. WA is grappling with a number of cruise ships carrying infected Australian, German and other nationals. One is docked in Freemantle the other Perth. Australians will be quarantined on Rottnest Island and other facilities. Cruises are really the rich carrying the virus around the world at the moment, huge floating petrie dishes of infectivity circling the planet and further burdening systems.

South Africa goes into lock-down today, with alcohol sales banned. I hope they pull it of in time and in Africa more widely. The call for funding of LMICs is urgent from UN, but I see little prospect of serious commitments. Plenty of opportunities for China as it re-writes its role in the pandemic. HK and China also introduce measures on returnees. It seems those returning from America and Europe are causing new cases. A second wave by that mechanism would be cruel reversal of the early days where cases from Wuhan trickled out across the world. China and the global times are furiously messaging tat in some shape or form they were not the source. Viruses emerge from these regions and that is well known, and no country should be blamed for this. But lying about it and burying evidence are not in the collective interest. Indeed, I start seeing messages emerge that the Wuhan fatality rate is much higher than the CCP are letting on. That would be extraordinary if true

Stock markets are up today, something like a 20% rise over 3 days. I don’t care that much (I know people rely on growth or share price stability for pensions), but this is just daft. China now reported to be flying medical supplies to French Polynesia. They are ramping up Pacific aid with soft-power medical aid. At the same time reports from Spain and other coutries are slamming testing kits and masks bought from China, with some kits not working, delivering false negatives, or with 30% sensitivity. That is basically garbage and you would be better off with a thermometer. McKee publishes paper in FT rubbishing Oxford study. Australian Defence Force now going to enforce measures in this country. This is unsettling to say the least.

Worldwide there are now 600,000 cases and 27,000 deaths.

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