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Day 50 – The Coronavirus and Viruses and Humanity and the Planet

09.05.2020

Just when the War-Monger-in-Chief was already being snubbed by his not-so-enthusiastic allies after his appeal for them to help “Make China Pay” for spreading the virus, echoing post World War I calls to “Make Germany Pay”, what has happened is, in France, a positive test for Covid-19 has been confirmed retrospectively from a patient who had it as early as December 2019. 


His test was from 27 December, but he would have picked it up, probably, between 14 and 22 December, researchers say. 


The 43-year old man, Amirouche Hammar, was very sick for two weeks and survived. He had all the symptoms of Covid-19 before anyone knew about the illness, and even ended up in ICU for 3 days on re-animation. He lives in the northern suburbs of Paris and had not been to China or travelled anywhere at all for that matter. So the illness seems to have already been spreading in France. He works in a fish-market while his wife works in the fish section of a Supermarket near Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport. The man seems to have passed the virus on to both his children, who have tested positive, but not his wife, who tested negative. She was ill before him however, with symptoms like a dry cough and fever, so may have given him the virus – while testing negative now. His throat-swab, along with 13 other similar specimens from December, had been preserved for later testing because the pneumonia of the patients had seemed unusual. Until this test, France had believed its first case was one month later, on 24 January.


This case confirms, in practice, the recent University College London Genetic Institute’s study of 7,500 Covid 19 (real name SARS-CoV-2) positive people that shows 200 genetic mutations, which, studied, suggest that the virus emerged sometime between 6 October and 11 December and was being transmitted extensively around the world from early in the epidemic.


So much for blaming China.


In any case, the new coronavirus has two really tricky attributes: first, it can have an incubation period up to 14 days, so we, humans, can be walking around innocently with the virus in us before we fall ill, gaily passing the virus on. Second, even more devious, the virus has a high rate of asymptomatic cases, i.e. between 50% and 75% people infected never get any symptoms at all. The 43-year old Parisian’s wife may have been asymptomatic.


This confirms how ludicrous it is for Trump to try to shift the blame on to China for an epidemic, which China reported to the WHO formally on 31 December. In any case, on 4 January the Authorities in China and the USA came to an agreement to work together, after China had formally notified the USA the day before. Only an Ignoramus-in-Chief might blame China for his own inaction. And this means he is also Mr.-Reckless-in-Chief about future epidemics. And we notice that his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has not yet presented the “enormous evidence” he claims to have that the virus came from a lab. He now says “we don’t have certainty” where the virus came from. Tuzur.


And while the USA knows it has not yet got the virus under control after having denied it for some 6 weeks at least, Trump is encouraging the premature lifting of the lockdown. It will be hard to blame China for this. 


And within days of this, Trump’s own Valet (I didn’t know modern humans had these) has tested positive, as has his Vice-President Pence’s Press Secretary tested positive. 


So, we should all take notice of these facts, in case Trump and Pompeo later try to blame China, the democrats, the WHO or the epidemiologists, for further cases in their respective and overlapping entourages.  


Nearly all news on the new coronavirus is bad news – unless stringent measures have been adopted by people from very early on, and when given reasonable strategies to follow. Like in New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, Germany. And even, so far, Mauritius.


One of the more disturbing bits of bad news recently is an apparent, but not yet proven, link between children testing positive for Covid-19 and suffering a life-threatening disease called Kawasaki Disease. The National Health Service in the UK sent out an alert in April that this syndrome, which is a kind of toxic shock and involved inflammation of the blood vessels including heart arteries, may have a link with coronavirus positive tests. In New York City this past week, it was announced that 15 children aged 2 – 15 years old had shown symptoms of Kawasaki Disease. Two days ago, in the UK, the Health Minister said children had died from this syndrome, which scientists think is linked to the Coronavirus.


Before this, one of the reassuring things about Covid 19 was that children rarely fell ill, although some have.


So, we are still not out of the woods. The Mauritian Government had better prepare how to retreat really quickly, as we advance, in gingerly fashion, out of the lockdown from 15 May. Abandoning public health measures too early will be very harmful to economic recovery, as well as to health. And we must try to make economic recovery the re-invention of essential production – starting with food and moving outwards from that – and not with crying over things like the offshore sector, which is not only non-essential, but in many ways, as maybe everyone now finally realizes, harmful.


Lindsey Collen


for LALIT, a personal view.