Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain*COVID-19: A Brief Overview
This is a rough timeline for Spain, possibly not totally accurate:-
Jan 31: 1st case in Spain, in the Canary Islands
Feb 16: 1st cases on the mainland, Madrid and Barcelona
Mar 7: Football matches in Madrid
Mar 8: Football matches and huge rally in Madrid
w/c 9 Mar: Closure of schools, museums, theatres, day centres, etc. Recommendations re travel and social distancing. Self-quarantining for 14 days demanded for those who've been in the hotspots of Madrid and Barcelona
Mar 13: The Valencian government announces a lockdown from midnight
Mar 14: The Spanish Government announces a state of emergency from Mar 16. Exodus from Madrid to the coasts. First lockdown to be 2 weeks until 28 Mar
Mar 20: Stricter measures introduced
Mar 29: The lockdown is extended for 2 weeks until 12 April. All non-essential businesses closed.
More important, of course, is the present and the future.
It's claimed that hospitalisations peaked here in Spain on 31 March and it's forecast that the ICU peak will be reached within a week, hopefully to be coped with. Thereafter, say the 'experts', there'll be a staggered lifting of the lockdown starting on May 1, with around 25% of the population being released from a majority of the restrictions on that date, followed by further 25% on each of May 8, 15 and 22. Well, we will see.
Stepping back from the historical detail, key questions are inevitably emerging about the reliability, the comparability and the real significance of the mass of data we're bombarded with. Why, for example, is there a huge difference in death rates between Italy and Germany? Is mass early testing an effective way of reducing deaths? What is the real effectiveness - indeed the necessity - of the complete lockdowns which are causing economic mayhem? Most alarmingly, it's belatedly being asked whether the WHO's advice on the the relative uselessness of masks was correct. See this article, for example, in which Japan's success in combatting the virus is said to be based on the universal wearing of masks. The British government is reported to be considering reversing its advice on these.
All that said, the undeniable reality is that health services all around the world are struggling mightily - if not being overwhelmed - by a virus to which which virtually every country was slow to respond. And many less effectively than South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. Not to mention Japan.
As of this week in Spain, the death toll continues to rise, but the curve is said to be 'stabilising'. As of today, the government has said it'll be using mobile phone data to track the movements of citizens, to check on compliance with the law.
And, whatever the validity of the rationale for them, there'll be 4 more weeks of total lockdown and minimal economic activity.
Life in the Time of Something Like Cholera
- Day 19 of María's Chronicle of life in a Galician village.
- In Spain when taking a delivery, you can never get away from giving your ID number and signing for it, usually in an unintelligible scribble on a PDA with a useless 'pen'. But yesterday I received a parcel for my sister and no signature was demanded. I wonder if this relaxation will continue when life returns to something like normal.
- Richard North today: The general public is now aware that government planners failed to make any provision for mass testing in a pandemic, which explains why we are where we are today. Because, in a word, of a massive strategic failure. Much the same applies to several other countries, of course. Including Italy, Spain and the USA. But possibly not Germany.
- I refer to Trump as Fart and The OFC (orange faced clown) but I quite like Jaffacake boy.
- This week the US passed 200,000 cases and 4,000 deaths. The most optimistic estimates now put the ultimate likely death toll at more than 100,000. The economic damage, at least this year, will be unprecedented. Economists expect output to contract at an annual rate of around 30% in the next few months, with unemployment rising to record levels. You might expect this kind of [erratic, dishonest] performance and record to doom an incumbent president. But along with almost all political leaders around the world, Trump is enjoying a sharp rise in popular approval. Economic concerns that would normally dominate are barely registering in voters’ political judgments. As a consultant who has advised Democratic candidates in the past put it: “Voters don’t care about the economy when they are focused on whether their mum and dad are going to live or not.”
- The 'good news' is that the increase in Fart's popularity hasn't been at the 'normal' rate achieved by all previous presidents who presided over a national crisis.
- Phrase of the day:- The orange-faced clown: El payaso de cara naranja. As ever, more syllables(10) than the English(5).
- Words of the Day:-
- Arserope: Now obsolete (I hope) for the intestines.
- Prat: Old word for the hips and bum (the buttocks). Hence 'Prat fall'.
Finally . . .
- I have to admit I'm a lot happier here than down in Jávea. For one thing we're now into our 12th or 13th day of sun - which is not at all normal - whereas down near Valencia the rain hasn't stopped falling during this period. Which is even less normal. My sympathies, if you're reading this from there. But surely no one would begrudge us (and the birds) this spell of very good weather in what's normally called The month of a thousand waters. In Spanish: En abril, aguas mil. Or, if you prefer, in Gallego: En abril, augas mil. Look hard.