Monday, 08 March 2021

Coronavirus Diaries... Week 6

SIX weeks on, and freedom beckons in Lis Ransom’s diary of lockdown in Binfield Heath.

Monday, February 8

VACCINATION week!

Rollercoaster news on vaccines: small study in South Africa shows they may not fully protect against mild cases of the mutant virus. Mutations will continue to emerge, some worrying, some less so, we must get used to them. Vaccines will play catch-up.

More than 12 million have been vaccinated — huge take up in UK. Relief and optimism all round.

Storm Darcy hits East coast; very cold here, light snow not settling.

Exercisers take to night walking, as fewer people around.

Tuesday, February 9

ARRIVALS in UK from viral hotspots must quarantine in hotels at own cost, £1,700 a week, plus two covid tests. Disobedience risks 10 years in jail — similar for murder.

World Health Organisation (WHO) researchers in Wuhan conclude covid-19 passed to humans from animals not labs. Star of Paddington and Downton Abbey is surprise marshal at Sussex vaccination centre.

Australian tennis open starts three weeks late.

Tyrol in Austria has outbreak, discourages tourists in peak skiing season.

Online data services extended free by telecoms companies to boost home education; 100 millionth lesson completed.

Wednesday, February 10

US lawyer in Zoomed court case unexpectedly appears as fluffy cat, a filter he can’t turn off: priceless.

In London, the family cat sings along when children play new piano; they can’t switch him off either.

Local paper wonders how many events the village is planning this year: flower show, village day, wheelbarrow race? Fingers crossed for all, but we won’t know for a while.

WHO backs Oxford vaccine for all age groups and current virus variants — good news.

Thursday, February 11

COLDEST night for 10 years, hope citrus and mimosa have survived. Scottish temperatures sink to -23C. Birds puzzled by iced-over pond, we put out bowls of water.

Calls for PM to make clear whether we can take a summer break — anywhere. Minister for Transport says no planning ahead, even in UK, but Minister for Health has booked trip to Cornwall. Won’t tell them about our hopes for France: we have
re-booked the family holiday. All refundable in case of enforced cancellation. Families need to be reunited as soon as possible, once vulnerable members are vaccinated.

Friday, February 12

VACCINATION day! This is getting competitive; younger brother texts to say they had theirs yesterday. Quick, well-organised visit to surgery. We’ve waited so long for this moment and it’s all over in a matter of seconds. It will take three weeks to be effective.

Fifteen million of the most vulnerable have now been vaccinated in biggest-ever operation of its kind. “An extraordinary feat”, says PM. That way freedom lies.

Saturday, February 13

EX-US president escapes conviction at his impeachment. “Democracy is fragile”, says new leader.

A large remote area of Dartmoor catches fire, vegetation dried out by extreme cold. Apparently not uncommon in northern climes. Lockdown exercisers risk life and limb in Lake District, endangering rescue teams.

Schools break for half-term although some had never started back at all. Home-schooling parents can have a week off.

Sunday, February 14

VALENTINES’ DAY — and the phantom festooner has been at work again. Crochet hearts and roses adorn bus stop in Shiplake Row.

Family Facetimes but no celebratory suppers. In Russia, black paper hearts and red roses offered in support of imprisoned opposition leader.

Guernsey girls ask if we still have the “germ” here. Sadly, yes, but not as much as before, it’s getting better, we tell them.

Infections down, hospitalisation down, deaths down, vaccinations racing ahead. PM will explain roadmap out of lockdown in a week’s time. Some sense of anti-climax: vaccination unlocks the door but doesn't yet open it.

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