Saturday, 31 July 2021

Lammas Eve
















The first part of this poem is a dream, the second the fulfilment in an abundant harvest. We tend to associate harvest with autumn, but from ancient times, the harvest of the first fruits was around the start of the month of August. And we can see the stones used to grind the grains of wheat at Hougue Bie.

Lammas Eve

On Lammas Eve, I was strangely tired,
And came deep sleep, and so inspired:
In the field tying up sheaves of wheat,
In a dream, so vivid and so very sweet;
One sheaf arose and stood up straight,
Others circle round, as if one great;
And sheaves bent down, as if to bow,
And what it meant, I know not now;
In a circle dance, of times long past,
We may find our meaning at long last;
With the Quern stone wheat is ground
And stone we circle round and round
And the seasons passing, till this one
First fruits harvesting of the sun

Now much of earth is parched and dry:
We pray for first fruits, hear our cry

The first harvest, the crop of wheat,
In August prime, where merry meet;
Gathering the barley, wheat and grain,
Beneath the sun, and ripe from rain;
The wheat ripens full to harvest days:
As in ripe old age, last sunset blaze;
Valleys full of wheat, the fields white,
Shout, sing for joy, at such a sight!
Pick the wheat, and leave the weed,
And take and eat, in time of need;
And seek out peace, an end to strife,
It is Lammas Eve, and bread of life;
Tomorrow will be a time to feast,
And harvest joy will rise like yeast.

Friday, 30 July 2021

1954 Hotels and Tourism - Part 7

1954, and this month I will be looking at my Chamber of Commerce 1954 Holiday guide, I am struck by how many of the hotels listed here have vanished. In this blog I look at some of those listed, and also at some of the breaking news for that year. I've also tried to check where the hotels were and what replaced them.

To set the scene for the year, here are some events during early 1954, as the year opened. By the way, the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion seeks to promote the practice and development of the Language, Literature, Arts and Sciences of Wales.

March 1954

1. Jersey Society of Cymmrodorion hold St. David's Day dance at Merton Hotel. Green Room Club presents “Jupiter" Laughs" at Springfield Theatre. Daneville Players return to The Playhouse, their tenth season opening with “Unofficial Honeymoon.”


2. States: A sensation was created in the House this morning when Senator Richardson. president of the Housing Committee, initiating the debate on his Committee’s report. was accused by Deputy Troy with hypocrisy, after some acrimonious speeches a. vote of “no confidence " was rejected by a substantial majority ; Senator Krichefsci made a statement on the increase in BEA. fares and the matter was deferred; an Act was adopted recommending certain increases in Insular insurance benefits, as were other Acts and Orders. Victoria College senior cross country won by A. J. Lane for the second. year in succession. Annual dinner and presentation of trophies of the J.M.C. and L.C.C. An appeal involving a recent case before the Royal Court. A. V. Nicolle v. H. F. J. Wigram and others, opens before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

3.~ Mr. Emile Le G. Siouville returned as Senator with all-Island majority of 585 over his opponent, Deputy John Le Marquand.

4. States: Discussion resumed on the Housing Committee’s Report. a number of amendments being agreed to. Jersey Dog Club stage first members’ show of the year, there being 200 entries.

5. Debating Club motion that "Children should be seen and not heard” carried by majority of 13 votes at meeting at The Plaza. Fourth and final day of the appeal case Nicolle v. Wigram and others before the Privy Council, judgment being reserved.

6. Annual dinner and dance of Jersey Eastern Golf Club.

7.--Biggest spring tide of the year (39ft). some flooding being cause in coastal areas.

8. Inquest held on the body of 19-year-old Mr. Walter Hind, who was found hanged at; his residence in Roseville Street, a verdict of suicide being recorded.

9. States : The increase in air fares was debated and a. resolution adopted that the question he considered by the Air Transport Advisory Council; loans for repairs to dwellings was agreed to in principle and the necessary legislation ordered to be prepared; an Act of the Harbours and Airport Committee calling upon the Housing Committee to vacate St. Peter’s Barracks within two years was agreed to after a lengthy debate ; an Act of the Civil Service Board relating to the classification of certain Grade VII appointments was also approved.

Hotels in 1954











Villa Isis was 87 Don Road. It was renamed at some point into the "Villa Nova Guest House", certainly after 1998 (when it is still Villa Isis) and by 2018 when it was Villa Nova - perhaps because since 2014, "Isis " was the name of a terrorist group in the Middle East.

Curiously the Norfolk Hotel has an old unlinked page which still has Villa Isis:

It is still there today!

The Villa Nova is a warm and welcoming family run guest house situated next to the beautiful Howard Davis Park in Jersey's capital St. Helier. The Villa Nova has a private courtyard and bar and guests have full use of the facilities of its nearby sister hotel The Norfolk. Comfortable ensuite single, twin/double and family rooms are serviced daily. Full english breakfast is served every morning. Evening meals are served at the Norfolk Hotel.



Now Braemar Apartments.






















94 St Saviours Road. Now Mimosa Flats.




Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Covid Commentary: A Plateaux?


Reaching a Plateau?

"Since Tuesday 27 July, 191 individuals have recovered and 109 new cases have been identified. 57 cases have been identified through seeking healthcare, 12 through inbound travel, 2 through admissions screening, 8 through planned workforce screening, 2 through cohort screening and 28 through contact tracing. The number of active cases in the Island is 2,871."

The number of new cases continues to decline, although the reasons are unclear. Changes in behaviour, mask wearing, being outside more in summer, and school holidays may all be driving change. 

Vaccines also are playing a significant role in reducing transmission, although they won't be fully effective until 90% of the adult population is double vaccinated, and children (where parents permit) in the 16+ age range are also vaccinated.

Studies show that asymptomatic infection can be reduced by 90% and symptomatic infections reduced by up to 96% in vaccinated people compared to those not vaccinated. This has been reduced with respect to the Delta variant.

I am pleasantly surprised that my initial predictions have proven wrong!

The mathematics suggests that if cases average 100 new cases a day, and drop out is 14 days after infection, the plateau should reduce to around 1,400 active cases.

Mask Wearing and Transmission

However, mask wearing, while not 100% effective still has an effect. A February 2021 BMJ article, "
Covid-19: Are cloth masks still effective? " noted that: "fabric face masks “blocked between 62.6% and 87.1% of fine particles, whereas surgical masks protected against an average of 78.2% of fine particles."

An October report in "The Conversation" noted that: "A study of one-layer tea-towel masks and a study of two-layer masks made of T-shirt material both showed at least 50 per cent protection for fine particles. Two cloth masks of unknown materials randomly purchased from street vendors performed just as well."

Remember, anything that cuts transmission, even if not 100% effective, helps us live with Covid in a safer way.

School's Out

The cases in schools paints a shocking picture. 

Once the isolation of direct contacts requirement was removed from any children not showing symptoms, the active new cases showed an R0 rate of 2 or higher. 

Week beginning 21 June: 29 students, 2 teachers
Week beginning 28 June: 53 students, 7 teachers
Week beginning 5 July: 107 students, 13 teachers
Week beginning 12 July: 224 students, 25 teachers

The biggest areas for transmission are secondary schools, where children move from class to class, unlike Primary Schools, where a class is for the most part, in one classroom. This is a key driver in numbers rising.

Government should be formulating a better strategy for return to school or it is likely the same scenario will play out in September.

Will we follow the UK in more vaccines for children at risk and also parents at risk?

From 19 July 2021, the JCVI [(Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) is advising that children at increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease are offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

That includes children aged 12 to 15 with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities.

The JCVI also recommends that children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccine. This is to indirectly protect their immunosuppressed household contacts, who are at higher risk of serious disease from COVID-19 and may not generate a full immune response to vaccination.

Under existing advice, young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious COVID-19 should have already been offered vaccination.

The JCVI is not currently advising routine vaccination of children outside of these groups, based on the current evidence.

A Curious Change in Ratios

"If you think you may be a direct contact but have not been told so by the Covid Safe team, you are not legally required to isolate. You are asked to consider your responsibility to the wider community and to avoid gatherings and public places where possible."

Are all direct contacts being picked up? And is the reduction  in PCR tests from three to one having a significant effect on the figures? Is the change from PCR workforce to lateral flow for some groups having an effect by not picking up cases?

Without data, it is hard to know, but something strange is happening. While the number of cases seems to be in decline, the ratio of symptomatic to asymptomatic has fallen from around 30%-35% (for most of the cases this year and last) to around 25% over the last two weeks.

Of course there are other factors at work here. 

The closure of schools, where R=2 - one individual transmitting Covid to two others, must be significant in the decline in the number of cases. This was an almost entirely vaccine-free environment - even most teachers had also not had 2 jabs. But this does not explain the ratio, as that was the same around 30%.

In the words of the song by Toyah, "It's a mystery"!

Covid Commentary: Why Vaccination is Important


(thanks to "Private Eye")



















Mixed Messages in Protest on Freedom from Covid Restrictions

In the recent protest, Hedi Green called on the government to demonstrate more transparency and more accountability. ‘It was a very peaceful event and was represented across the whole of Jersey’s social spectrum – from the very young to very old,’ she said. ‘People came together because they have lost trust in the government. There is a distinct lack of transparency and accountability and the public should not have to go through the Freedom of Information unit to get the answers which they should be getting from their elected States Members.’

Advocate Hiren Mistry on the other hand criticised the regular publication of statistics by the government saying that, in isolation, they lacked context and were potentially making the Island’s Covid situation look worse than it actually was.

So on the one hand, we want more information, and on the other less!

I have noticed, however, that on the whole protestors seem to imagine that if the baseline figures of numbers of cases was published less, or as some protesters elsewhere seem to indicate, not at all, then we could all get on with our lives and "live with Covid".

Yet the same protestors tell us that we have to make up our own mind on risks. How are we to do that without statistics? 

Advocate Mistry doesn't say exactly what "context" means in these circumstances. We have the number of active cases, and the number of hospitalisations. What more could we want? 

She obviously wants something to make the numbers look better than they are. I'm not sure that is what statistics are meant to do, outside of advertising!

I know that I'd like to see how many "breakthrough" cases of vaccinated people getting the virus, and information on how that is being transmitted. Is it, as I suspect, because of the relatively high numbers  of unvaccinated people getting Covid and making it more likely to pass on. 

At present around 60% of the population - that's the total population, not adult population - have been vaccinated. The more there are with Covid, the more breakthrough cases we shall see.

I'd also like some transparency on the protest's agenda. In the UK, these protests are associated with anti-vaccination propaganda. Is the Jersey protest doing likewise?

What is the real benefit of vaccination?

Daniel Oran and Eric Topol, writing in Scientific American, make this very plain:

Particularly because so many COVID cases are asymptomatic, an unvaccinated person is at risk of unknowingly becoming a carrier of the virus. Indeed, those who have the lowest risk of severe illness or death from COVID—the young and healthy - are most likely to serve as these unwitting carriers, because they live the most active lives, routinely coming into contact with many others

The most important question for those who are hesitant about vaccination, then, is not, “What can the vaccine do for you?” It is, “How many people will you harm if you don’t get vaccinated?”

Mitigation efforts like testing, distancing and masking are imperfect tools for preventing spread of the virus. Vaccination is the closest thing we have to a sure thing in this pandemic. The data are in, and the vaccines are wondrously effective in reducing transmission.

The message to those who remain unvaccinated should be: Don’t let the virus use you to harm others.

Advocate Mistry said: "Telling me that I have to stay at home for 14 days infringes on the right to my liberty. You only get that normally because of curfew orders because you have committed a crime. What crime are we committing here?" 

This is a selfish individualism we can no longer afford. 

Freedom

"It won’t be freedom for the hundreds of thousands of immune-suppressed people who have much reduced protection from vaccines and will have to restrict their movements if others go mask-free. It won’t be freedom for unvaccinated young people who find they have long-Covid after a relatively mild initial attack of the virus. And it won’t be freedom for the many, afraid to challenge cavalier unmasked travellers on crowded buses and trains, who would be driven off public transport but for the intervention of devolved governments in Scotland and Wales and London’s Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan." (Ian Linden)

According to the studies of sociologist Paul Heelas, the 20th century has seen a "subjective turn" of Western culture - "a turn away from life lived in terms of external or 'objective' roles, duties and obligations, and a turn towards life lived by reference to one´s own subjective experiences. This is also a turn away from outer authority, as the individual becomes his or her own authority."

But that is very individualistic. Post-Covid, we have to look out for each other, and not just think about "the right to MY liberty" as the protestors want, but the harm we could do to others by being selfish.

The answer, as above, is "Don’t let the virus use you to harm others"

References
https://www.contagionlive.com/view/cdc-expected-to-announce-wearing-masks-under-certain-circumstances
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmv.26897
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-crucial-vaccine-benefit-were-not-talking-about-enough1/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/personality-and-individual-differences/special-issue/10WLXB

Saturday, 24 July 2021

The Love of God














One from my archive today. This was written on 23 October 2003.

The Love of God

A deep pain burns in my heart
As I contemplate my part
In your destiny. Will you embrace
My eternity in space?
Or is my love to go unseen?
Only hopes of what might have been
Remain. There is a lasting sorrow
That stays firm to the morrow.

Life is a mirror of the divine
Writ small as were a secret sign
For those who can to read of love
As gentle as flew Noah's dove
Onwards over falling waves. A sea
That failed to answer to her plea
As on she flew, seeking dry land
Amidst the waters rippling band
of blue. At last she found her rest
And settled softly fearing lest
It might be illusion. Once before
She had swooped down, mistaken, on a wave
And now she trembled, not so brave,
as she had been. Fear lent her wings
New strength to fly onward, as she sings
Of hope of rest. And then she sees the sand,
As appears the first outcrop of land
Beneath the falling waters, Hope sought
And found that which It ought.

Is this God's love? Beloved, I will seek the right
Until in finality it comes to sight.

But there is also agony, doubt, pain
Amidst the never ceasing rain
As It falls upon the cross
This is now our sign of loss.
And darkness comes over the land
To hide from mortal sight God's hand
That we may only glimpse from day -to day
And answer as we poorly pray
The love of God. Does God feel pain.
That we poor creatures, in the main,
Do not return his love complete
But only as we strive to meet
His greatness in our limitation
Perhaps this is for contemplation
But I would weep If I were he
And love was given, pure and free
A tear would trickle down my cheek
As reciprocity would seek
That which cannot be. And then would take
To my heart, for the others sake
And for mine own, all that they could give.
I would sorrow, but I would live
With joy at just one tiny spark
To flicker, leaving memory's mark.

Friday, 23 July 2021

1954 Hotels and Tourism - Part 6

1954, and this month I will be looking at my Chamber of Commerce 1954 Holiday guide, I am struck by how many of the hotels listed here have vanished. In this blog I look at some of those listed, and also at some of the breaking news for that year. I've also tried to check where the hotels were and what replaced them.

To set the scene for the year, here are some events during early 1954, as the year opened. 












What are Grasdos?

A "grasdos" - mentioned in the events - is a fish also known as a "sand smelt." Dave Watson gave a memorable description of fishing for them.

"Sea Fishing Club holds grasdos contest at New North Quay, the catch totalling over one hundredweight."

"Winter nights a old Jersey boy called Cyril used to roll up in his van with a big square Grasdos drop net with scaffold jib, set it up on the railing , tie on his Shirvy Bag (big onion/bulb bag) and drop it down next to the net , chuck a bit of shirvy in the net and lower it down , shake the shirvy bag and wait  soon there was hundreds of Grasdo's swimming round the net , quick pull on the net rope and lift it up out the water full of nice shiny Grasdos , tip them into a bucket and drop again and again - never seen so may caught."

https://www.thelureforum.com/threads/grasdos.5421/

Dave Cabeldu also mentions them around Havre des Pas: "Grasdos came in shoals by the hundreds, closely followed by the ghostly grey shapes of our favourite but tricky prey – grey mullet."












Some Facebook comments on reading this:

Grasdos love them fried

Enjoyed night fishing for them with a light. Taste good too

I used to fish for them on Bouley Bay pier

Good memories fishing at the harbour with the tilly lamp

February 1954
 
20.Before the Royal Court today Mr. François Cadoret was actioned by H.M. Attorney-General for payment of a fine of £15 imposed upon him for infractions of the Insular Insurance Law and was committed to prison; his brother. Mr. Peter Cadoret, was also actioned and the case remanded for one week. Three motor torpedo boats arrive in harbour, these bringing the silver and trophies which belonged to the destroyer H.M.S. Jersey and which are to be kept in the Island.

21.House in Colomberie broken into and nearly £100 taken; a week ago : a similar incident occurred in Queen's Road. Jersey Sea Fishing Club holds grasdos contest at New North Quay, the catch totalling over one hundredweight.

22 Town Hail nomination meeting for the Senatorship, Messrs. J. Le Marquand and E. Le G. Siouville being the only candidates. Opening performance of Anthony Booth's play “House Party " presented at The Playhouse.

23.-Jersey Musical Union annual meeting, a successful year being recorded.

24-.- Annual meeting of Association of Jersey Exhibitors. the possibility of a. seven-day event being discussed. Inquest concluded on the body of Denis Cremin, whose body was found in Dannemarche Reservoir on Christmas Eve, the cause of death being impossible to determine. Victoria College Preparatory junior and senior cross-country races held in good weather conditions.

25.Royal College of Nursing (Jersey branch) hold first annual dinner, many distinguished guests being present. “The Evening Post ” annual staff dinner and dance held at Merton Hotel.

26, St. Brelade electors discuss the National Service Bill, a majority being in favour. Sir Guy Lloyd, MP. for Renfrew, addresses meeting of Royal Empire Society at West Park Pavilion. Annual meeting of Jersey branch of Royal Air Forces Association.


Hotels 1954:





By1998, this was all flats under the name of La Villa Rothsay.

Update from Janine: "The photo ad of The Crescent Guest House was placed by my Great Uncle Tom Jones and Great Aunty Marie (nee Renault). So lovely to see this ad as Mum used to tell me about their guest house. Fond memories of childhood visits up to their flat in Victoria Crescent in the 1960s. Such a kind and lovely Aunty and Uncle"

Update from Diana: "During the occupation my family occupied No’s. 1,3,4 & 5 in Victoria Crescent. My grandparents, Louise & William Cullinane lived there until their retirement & our family still live up there!"




By 2018, this was Haddon  House Flats. Another one bites the dust.











And hurrah! It is still around today!


At the Franklyn guest house there is always a warm and truly welcome, ensuring you have an enjoyable and memorable stay.

The Franklyn guest house dates back to 1828 and has well-stocked mature gardens for you to relax and unwind. Te perfect retreat after a days shopping!

The Franklyn guest house is situated in a quiet area of St. Helier. With easy access to all amenities, such as the Hotel de France conference centre, the beatiful Howard Davies Park and award winning museums.

So all in all the Franklyn guest house is the perfect place for your perfect stay, either business or pleasure, we will look after you.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Covid Commentary: Why Simon Soar is wrong, and an alternative suggestion to help hospitality.








Don't Isolate, Don't Test!

Jersey Hospitality Association Head Simon Soar has been suggesting only testing symptomatic cases of Covid.

He said: “We’re facing risks left, right and centre at the moment. We surveyed [around 100 JHA members] at the end of last week to find out the state of play. Out of those surveyed, over 50% had staff off currently because of covid. 81% of those with staff off had had to reduce their offering – whether service times or menus. Furthermore, 7% are closed – they simply don’t have the staff to operate and that could get worse.”

And he added that the key issue was that “most fed back that the staff off are asymptomatic or have such mild symptoms that, had this been another time, it would not have been an issue.”

He previously suggested direct contacts should only be tested if symptomatic.

Bailiwick Express noted that: "Mr Soar further emphasised that the difficulties caused by asymptomatic individuals being forced to quarantine were being felt outside of hospitality"

So we are being presented with two options here.

Direct Contacts

Firstly, he previously suggested direct contacts should only be tested if symptomatic. 

Current guidance says:

"If you are notified that you are a direct contact of a positive case, you are not required to isolate unless you have symptoms, but you must think very carefully about the activities you undertake and the places you visit for the next 10 days, even if you receive a negative test result."

This is because otherwise the numbers in isolation would now be impossible to manage. There are
13,845 direct contacts of active cases, and it takes time to test them. It is simply not possible to test fast enough - the system is finite and the numbers keep increasing.

But contrary to what the "feedback" suggests, the statistics show that the ratio of symptomatic to asymptomatic is about 2/3rds to 1/3rd. In other words, most cases of Covid are symptomatic - or equally may be pre-symptomatic, not showing systems at first but showing symptoms later. 

It is at least possible that the high numbers of symptomatic cases come in part, at least, from pre-symptomatic cases which were initially showing no symptoms, but do by the time track and trace catch up with testing them.

But legally, while waiting as a direct contact, there is nothing to stop an employee from returning to work. Of course, most workplaces want a negative result before letting them back, in case they transmit it to staff. This is a matter of responsibility to the public. 

As one person observed: "I don’t think I would like to stay in a hotel or eat in a restaurant if I thought that some of the staff possibly had Covid, therefore possibly passing it on to me and my family."

So Mr Soar could tell members that staff can return, but it would seem to run counter to government advice, and clearly what he wants is for the government to legitimise that position, so that they become responsible for the spread of Covid as a result, and not his members.

I can appreciate his desperation, but there is a very good reason for testing to find asymptomatic cases.

Asymptomatic Transmission: The Science.

Studies show that roughtly 30% of individuals with infection never develop symptoms - which is in line with Jersey figures. These are 75% as infectious as those who do develop symptoms. This implies that persons with infection who never develop symptoms may account for approximately 24% of all transmission.

This reduces with vaccinated individuals. The latest studies suggest that vaccination usingeither the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine reduced the chance of onward virus transmission by 40-60%. This means that if someone became infected after being vaccinated, they were only around half as likely to pass their infection on to others compared to infected people who weren’t vaccinated.

How to get population vaccine herd immunity

A study of cruise liners is instructive. This is one case, but another also seems to follow the same pattern. The Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Millennium ship was carrying "fully vaccinated crew and guests". Children aged below 16 were not required to be vaccinated.

There were more than 1,200 people on board the ship ( 600 passengers and 700 crew). There were fewer than 10 children on board and said no other vaccine exemptions had been granted.

Two passengers tested postive. The tests came back positive during end-of-cruise testing, which is  completed 72 hours before passengers return to the U.S. The individuals were asymptomatic . Close contacts tested negative

Protocols for contact tracing were thorough. Through interviews and reviewing onboard security camera footage, Celebrity identified other passengers and crew that had been in contact with the infected pair, including the other 19 people that had taken an excursion with them. No additional cases were detected and the cruise finished on schedule.

In fact, out of the more than 100,000 guests on over 150 cruises that the company had carried during the pandemic, only 10 people tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.

Jersey Vaccination Status: Still Cause for Concern

The case of cruise liners shows that in a population of nearly 100% coverage by vaccination, the spread is exceedingly small. Unfortunately, while the headline is "Two thirds of adult Islanders fully vaccinated", that's 60,036 individuals, out of an estimated population of 110,000 to 120,000. 

Missing out the school age children and below is missing one major vector of transmission within the community. Nevertheless, if we can get to nearly 100%, especially for the 18 to 29 year old age range - and then also perhaps look at vaccinating those of 16 and over, we should be in a good place.

Working with Mild Covid

Mr Soar's second suggestion seems to be that mild or asymptomatic cases should go back to the workplace because it is either asymptomatic or mild. This is his idea of "living with Covid".

Even for mild cases, COVID-19 can take a toll. The CDC reports that normal symptoms include fever, chills, shortness of breath, nausea, headache, vomiting, and loss of taste or smell. And those are the symptoms that don’t require immediate medical attention. While a cold or flu will likely last a few weeks at most, some people who have mild COVID-19 end up having symptoms for months. 

A study out in January found that many people with lingering COVID-19 symptoms, sometimes called “long-haul” COVID-19, originally had seemingly mild infections. 

“Even if people are feeling fairly well, they’re highly contagious, and that’s the real danger,” said Dr. Robert Murphy, a Northwestern University infectious disease specialist and global health expert.

The Shadow of Long Covid

Sam Fazelli notes that recent research from the U.K. on the health effects of Covid-19 found that even mild cases could cause significant changes to the brain, and the "brain fog" reported may well be related to a reduction in the functioning of the brain.

I had been wondering when we will get over our obsession with case counts and focus more on hospitalizations and deaths, given that vaccines are very effective in reducing the latter as compared with mild infections, especially with the rise in variants. But if even mild cases cause issues that store up real morbidity for the future, then we should continue to be obsessed with crushing even mild cases of Covid.

Some of the issues reported with long Covid are directly related to the pathology of Covid-19 disease. These include shortness of breath as a result of lung damage, chest tightness, joint pain, etc. But the “brain fog” that is one of the key issues reported by those suffering long-term consequences after a case of Covid could be related to exactly what this new research has found.

In conclusion: Living with Covid and Vaccination Status

There are no easy answers to the issues faced by hospitality. As numbers of cases increase, more people will be less likely to eat out. One person wrote:

"It’s not just the absence of staff that may be affecting the hospitality industry - I was attending a dinner for six at a local restaurant on Friday we cancelled because of infection rates and I am aware in my immediate circular another booking of four for the same reason. The numbers will deter people not just because a particular establishment is closed."

Perhaps an alternative solution would be to borrow the protocols by the US Cruise ships, and begin to only allow people in who have been double vaccinated, and get staff double vaccinated as soon as possible, making that an incentive because of reduced isolation. There is no reason why business cannot adopt whatever keeps staff and customers safest. 

It would be interesting if Mr Soar got his members to conduct a survey of which of their staff have even just booked a vaccine. If take-up is poor among staff, that in itself is a hidden part of the problem.

In fact "Brunos" in town, even before mask wearing became legal, made it a necessity to enter the shop. 

Having different policies in place for vaccinated and non-vaccinated staff, and restricting entry would actually make restaurants and hotels much safer. The downside is the loss of custom from the 18 to 39 year old age range, the upside would be the ability to keep the business open. But as we see from cruise liners, it works.

Boris Johnson's plan for nightclubs to be restricted to those double vaccinated by the end of September is both an incentive for people to get vaccinated, and a protective measure.

France is taking similar measures for restaurants, as is Ireland and Singapore. In Denmark, restaurants and public events require a digital pass showing you have been fully vaccinated or have a recent negative test.

Obviously there need to be measures to allow exceptions on medical grounds, but this is the "new normal", and this is what "living with Covid" is really going to look like.

Double Vaccinated Restrictions Worldwide - A Few Links
https://gulfbusiness.com/only-vaccinated-individuals-now-allowed-to-enter-malls-restaurants-gyms-and-salons-in-kuwait/

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-its-like-to-survive-covid-19#Symptoms-during-mild-COVID-19-can-still-be-serious

https://theprint.in/opinion/even-mild-covid-can-cause-significant-brain-changes-research-shows/684214/?fbclid=IwAR0JE1KfJpr5pn3dUaGQWZvxCNEE6RV1c3WdI8l_vAADBEUQ6f7hYdg66Kk


Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Covid Commentary: The Summer of Freedom?


 



"CHIEF Minister John Le Fondré has defended his handling of the pandemic – saying that even with hindsight he would not have done anything differently." (JEP, January 2021)

Benefit of Blindsight?

The chief defence I hear on social media is that it is easy for an armchair commentator to be wise about rising Covid cases, with the benefit of hindsight, and the Competent Authority Ministers do not have that benefit. But they should! 

Travel and Isolation

One of the obvious things they have failed to do is to learn from their mistakes. For instance:

2020: Letting travellers come in and not having to self-isolate until after the test result laid the Island open for seeding in the Community. Lesson: PCR tests and self-isolation until at least the first test result are needed to stop community spread.

2021: Letting vaccinated travellers come in and not having to self-isolate until after the test result laid the Island open for seeding in the Community. The science was clear that someone vaccinated could still transmit the virus. It was ignored. Lesson: PCR tests and self-isolation until at least the first test result are needed to stop community spread.

Contact Tracing

As Jersey prepares to enter Stage 6 of the Reconnection Roadmap on 10 May, and the Vaccination Programme prepares to open to the next cohort of under 40s, we look forward to enjoying a summer of freedom compared to the restrictions we have followed. Due to these increased freedoms, it is vital that any potential spread in the community is limited and controlled. The way to achieve this, is through regular, widespread testing. (John Le Fondre)

Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat said: "Testing and diagnosis remain an extremely important measure to avoid uncontrolled spread of virus while we continue to learn and understand how to best respond, treat, and manage COVID-19 in both the short and the long term. At least 30% of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic. And patients who go onto to be symptomatic can also transmit infection before they develop symptoms."

2020: As numbers rose to 1,000 it was clear that a strategy of containment by track and trace was not working as the number of direct contacts were overwhelming the system. Lesson: you cannot control an exponential rise in cases by track and trace alone.

2021: As numbers rose to 1,000 it was clear that a strategy of containment by track and trace was not working as the number of direct contacts were overwhelming the system. A relaxation of rules for potentially asymptomatic people reduced numbers (direct contacts not showing symptoms) and allowed it to succeed for a while, but at the cost of further community spread. Further relaxations were taken to make numbers manageable again. They are now rising and will again overwhelm the system.  Lesson: you cannot control an exponential rise in cases by track and trace alone.

Masks: An Ineffective Message

2020: "We strongly urge you to wear masks". Ignored by a good many people until it became law. Lesson: a lot of people understand "strongly urge" as something for other people to do.

2021: "We strongly urge you to wear mask". Ignored by a good many people until it became law. Lesson: a lot of people understand "strongly urge" as something for other people to do.

Hindsight is not an excuse

And I'm sure there are other cases which come to mind, where the first and second lockdowns should have taught the government what the rest of us thought was blindingly obvious in 2020. It's not to do with hindsight: it is blindsight - the inability to see the lessons of just one year ago.

New Lessons from 2021

And there are new lessons to be learnt. One is that opening up the economy so rapidly and depending on vaccines will only work if you have decent herd immunity from vaccination - that is around 80% of the total population, not around 50% as with Jersey.

The lesson is that the more people with Covid in circulation, the greater the chances of breakthrough cases. There may be less deaths, but even double vaccinated people can suffer from Long Covid, which I predict will be the long term damage from the pandemic. 

Moreover as numbers rose, the question became what to do with positive cases. Even our CAM is not stupid enough to think that a positive case should not self-isolate, and of course that has had a knock on effect on schools and businesses.

Fake News: Living with Covid

The false identification of Covid with influenza, something we have to "live with", downplays the very real differences, and the severity of Covid compared to most cases of influenza.

We hear so much about living with coronavirus, much as we do with seasonal flu.

Ian Sample Science editor notes that:

"There are striking differences between coronavirus and flu that matter for public health. It spreads faster than influenza and can cause far more serious illness. The symptoms of coronavirus can take longer to show, and people tend to be infectious for longer, making them more prone to passing it on."

And Sarah Pitt notes:

"While we do need to find some way of living with COVID-19, the numbers suggest we’re still a long way from being able to treat it in the same way. There have been over 180 million cases around the world since early 2020, and at least 4 million people have died from the disease. On top of this, we’re not sure of the real effect of long COVID yet, but lasting symptoms are common, with one in ten people still experiencing illness 12 weeks after their infection. Currently, the health effect of COVID-19 across the population is much greater than flu."

"Knowing what we know about these viruses, these plans should consider controlling SARS-CoV-2 more like we would norovirus than flu. With norovirus, we keep people with the infection away from others. We ask parents whose children have symptoms to keep them off school. And in hospitals and care homes, patients with norovirus are nursed separately from others, staff use PPE for protection, and surfaces are deep cleaned. Handling COVID-19 in the future should be more interventionist like this. It should be more akin to living with norovirus than the flu."

References

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/05/why-living-with-covid-would-not-be-the-same-as-flu