August 14, 2020, 07:54:42


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Coronavirus: More than 80% of patients have mild disease and will recover

Started by dsanchez, February 23, 2020, 23:47:08

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Do you know what, @Ulrich?  I actually nominated that one on their website yesterday and got a message back that it was "unsuitable"...  Ha.  Seemed to be a perfect example to me.  :evil:
SueC is time travelling


Fabulous article yesterday by Bernard Keane on the relationship between coronavirus transmission and workplace deregulation:

QuoteAustralia's deregulated, fluid economy creates the perfect conditions for the virus to thrive

Microbes are brilliant at exploiting human economic structures. And our 21st century economy provides opportunities for them to resist even concerted attempts at elimination.

As Victoria is discovering, and the rest of us may yet discover, COVID-19 is perfectly habituated to a 21st century economy centred around services delivered by outsourced, precarious workforces.

Daniel Andrews, whatever his faults, at least recognises the role of insecure work in driving people to continue going to work even if they're feeling ill, enabling the transmission of the virus. And many of those jobs are in service industries, which exposes more people to potential infection.

The acceleration in infection is thus a US-style outcome to a US-style feature of our economy -- that despite Medicare, and a better industrial relations system, workers are still faced with an invidious choice of working while ill or losing income.

The current $1500 payment for casual workers if they become infected is little help for people deciding to lose a few days' shifts for the good of the community.

It's not a choice many people on higher incomes face. And the government is giving federal politicians time off work rather than requiring them to attend parliament, without any loss of income. High-profile journalists, enjoying incomes multiples of those of people in insecure work, scold lower-income people for their irresponsibility.

But many are doing exactly what our economy requires them to do. Australia was once the land -- so we told ourselves -- of worker self-indulgence, a national that honoured the great tradition of chucking a sickie, of putting the feet up rather than doing the hard yakka (funnily enough, that was also when our labour productivity was significantly higher than now, but anyway).

Since the 1990s -- when the level of casualisation in the workforce dramatically increased, though it has stayed relatively level since then -- that's changed fundamentally.

The rapidly expanding personal service economy enabled by the internet has accelerated that in recent years, creating terms like "gig economy" and "side hustle" to describe what has replaced full-time, secure work. And the war in penalty rates conducted by business and the Coalition has only increased pressure on the incomes of people in casual work.

And these are jobs that the worried well of the middle class -- including well-paid journalists -- expect as part of the modern economy. The barista to make a coffee whenever you want; the driver to deliver your food and transport you across town at your command; the petsitter to look after your animals; the cleaner you need at home because you and your partner are too busy. All jobs where if you miss a shift, you don't get paid.

That's a related but quite separate matter to the growth of labour hire and outsourcing, by both governments and the private sector, of what used to be specialist roles but now appears to be pretty much anything, including security guards.

Labour hire, a sector rife with exploitation and wage theft, offers not merely a lower-cost form of labour than bothering to employ someone, but it also outsources responsibility for any problems.


For millennia, viruses and bacteria have cleverly adapted to and thrived in human structures -- the settled communities that followed agriculture, the towns and cities that created employment, economies of scale and innovation, the networks that connected them together.

Human economic activity provides the infrastructure for infection, and our latest innovations of outsourcing, insecure work and leaving housing to the marketplace have provided a perfect environment for COVID-19 to resist our attempts to eradicate it. It's a viral world; we just deregulate in it.

...and yet what's our right-wing treasurer calling for this very morning?  According to this morning's Crikey news email:

QuoteTreasurer Josh Frydenberg has identified the first cab off the policy rank in the government's quest to reverse a "free fall" in business investment: industrial relations reform, aimed at "injecting greater flexibility into the labour market".

"Our view is that those flexibilities that apply to the employer, and give them the ability to change duties, to change hours and to change the location of staff, should continue, not just for those firms that meet the reapplied eligibility test, but should apply to those firms on JobKeeper right now," he said.

In case you needed reminding, the vast majority of this second wave comes down to "flexible" (see deregulated) work -- casuals who worked while ill because they didn't have access to sick pay, untrained security guards hired over WhatsApp, and now, underqualified and inadequately trained staff without access to proper PPE at aged care homes.

SueC is time travelling


SueC is time travelling


Rather worrying:

Quote from: undefinedNews from the cultural sector has not been hope-inspiring as of late -- mass layoffs and furloughs continue to plague US institutions, with reopening dates in some states increasingly uncertain as the virus continues to spread. The latest survey to measure COVID-19's impact on the industry, conducted by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), does not augur well for museums: a third of them -- a total of 12,000 organizations -- may never reopen.
If only I'd thought of the right words...



So, we've been living with COVID-19 in our societies for about half a year, and I was thinking about our initial responses when this was on the horizon, and what we've learnt since.

I was happy to see David post this topic back in late February with the title and slant he gave it - i.e. not sensationalising, just facts.  :cool  It was helpful to remember as this was heading our way that in the majority of cases, the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2 is mild.

And while that's how it turned out, I've got to say the thing that amazed me the most about COVID-19 is just how much havoc can be created in a society by a virus with a fatality rate of 0.5-1% - and that's still the figure being mooted by most commenting epidemiologists now - because so many people have it (often mildly / asymptomatically) and were never tested and therefore aren't in the count - and of course, fatality rates increase when hospitals can't handle all the cases who need support (because of poor resourcing / curves not being flat enough).

It's the first time those present here have been in a pandemic, so it's a learning experience.  While of course pandemics are always a theoretical possibility, and increasingly so as the planet becomes more overcrowded with humans and the remaining non-human biota get more and more stressed, when this one did finally sneak up on us, it was a bit like the boy who cried wolf.

How was that for all of you?  I've got to admit, I was mostly media fasting when this all began, due to the lamentable state of human society on the macro scale and not wanting my energy drained away unnecessarily by having that in my face all the time, and I'm generally cynical when mass media are presenting a new bogeyman (especially as they concomitantly tend to ignore or minimise real, actual problems - especially the commercial, non-independent media).  So, for me, the point I began to sit up and take note was when an online pal who edits a medical journal said, "This thing that's coming is serious."  I'd known her well enough for long enough to respect her judgement on matters like this, and that's when I started keeping an eye on this bug, also aided by an online thread she made with non-sensationalised, reliable information on it (including links to published medical studies etc).

The pandemic broke my media fast - in part because of the acceleration of positive developments that have come with it, like the increasing support for BLM and other social justice movements, the removal of offensive statues and their dumping in harbours etc by everyday people around the world (attempts to go through the official channels simply didn't work, as is often the case), the increasing levels of communication and connection about things that mattered amongst people during lockdown, the real-world demonstration in Australia that the sky didn't fall in if you gave unemployed people enough money to buy medicine and vegetables (funny how they doubled the social security money when a lot of the middle class was suddenly out of work - and of course, enough people were now personally affected for it to potentially affect the vote) - things like that.

I always regretted missing the 60s, which had seemed to me the last point in history where there had been a chance the West was going to choose a different path.  But now, we have another slim opportunity to make that happen, while the juggernaut of business-as-usual has been slowed down, and its faults have been so emphatically highlighted by COVID-19.  A pandemic isn't a fun thing, but when it happens on the Titanic, is there a possibility that it will get us to change course instead of heading blithely for the iceberg?  Maybe, just maybe, will it teach us that we are fragile organisms in a pillaged, endangered biosphere, and not free-floating economic entities with consequence-free lives?

Thoughts and love to anyone living in areas which are currently experiencing outbreaks.  Hang in there, @word_on_a_wing, @piggymirror, anyone else where things are nosediving again. ♥
SueC is time travelling


Quote from: SueC on August 02, 2020, 02:22:04So, we've been living with COVID-19 in our societies for about half a year...

Half a year? I gotta admit it starts to feel like 100 years...  :persevere:  :unamused:

Some politicians are talking about a 2nd wave - but looking at the numbers (e.g. from the local newspaper) I don't see it right now here in Germany.

In my humble opinion, they shouldn't have allowed travelling so soon. In theory, you're supposed to go into quarantine when coming home from abroad and/or be tested, but no-one really controls if this gets done at all.  :?

Then politicians talk about the rules, which should be followed, but at the same time there's a huge demonstration in Berlin against those rules (and most of them didn't wear masks, didn't keep distance).  :confounded:

I don't know... if there should be a "2nd wave", restrictions should be regionally - we can't afford to put the whole of Germany in "lockdown" again.
If only I'd thought of the right words...


Quote from: Ulrich on August 03, 2020, 09:54:35In my humble opinion, they shouldn't have allowed travelling so soon. In theory, you're supposed to go into quarantine when coming home from abroad and/or be tested, but no-one really controls if this gets done at all.  :?

Yeah, I agree with you; in Australia people still have to quarantine if they cross the national border, which is only allowed for a small number of reasons, and not for general travel.  That's been helpful, and has been stringently enforced, but you can see what happens if unqualified people / people breaking protocol supervise hotel quarantines and carry the virus back home with them, as happened in Melbourne, which now has a second wave that's caused more infections and deaths than the first wave did in the whole of Australia.  :worried:  We had quarantine breaches in WA too, like one guy getting out through a fire door to catch public transport to go sightseeing, instead of staying in the quarantine hotel.  We just got lucky so far, but one day we won't be.  If an interstate truck driver stuffs up protocol while unknowingly infected, it can set off community transmission too.

Interstate borders are also helpful with their various travel restrictions, but of course some idiots with lots of money have been trying to take WA to court for having a largely closed border.  I heard that hearing at least got suspended until October, which is a good start.

QuoteThen politicians talk about the rules, which should be followed, but at the same time there's a huge demonstration in Berlin against those rules (and most of them didn't wear masks, didn't keep distance).  :confounded:

OMG, you've got "freedom" protestors in Germany?  We've got a small proportion of nutters here too doing this, but not on a big scale so far.  Our biggest protests are BLM and they've been at pains to wear masks, follow social distancing and use hand sanitiser, and so far not a single transmission is linked to the BLM protests in Australia.

QuoteI don't know... if there should be a "2nd wave", restrictions should be regionally - we can't afford to put the whole of Germany in "lockdown" again.

That's what's happening here.  Lockdowns are in regions where outbreaks are.  It's the same principle as something I learnt last year, when Brett and I both got the flu very badly for the first time in our lives (horizontal for two weeks, breathing difficulties, bronchitis):  If one of us comes home ill, we have to isolate from each other in separate rooms/bathrooms, because it's not good when every household member goes down at the same time.  If one of us can avoid getting infected, they can better support the sick person.  Sadly, snuggling up to a virus-infected spouse may feel like support, but in a couple of days that can make two very ill people.  I think it's the same with different regions in a country - if we can avoid all going down at once, we can better support each other.
SueC is time travelling