Open thread on the lockdown

Most of us are six weeks or so into some kind of lockdown by now, so it would be interesting to read some comments on our experiences. From the discussions I’ve had (almost entirely online rather than in person) my perception is that people with office jobs and no kids at home are finding it much easier than might have been expected, but that those with kids at home are finding it every bit as hard as you would think. So far, the impact on those who have lost jobs (or work like conference organization) has been cushioned by income support, in Australia at any rate. Less online discussion with those still working, of course.

Experiences and thoughts?

34 thoughts on “Open thread on the lockdown

  1. Everyone, including people who have kept their jobs, seems to have plenty more time to spend on their hobbies now since they aren’t socializing any more. But since I almost never socialize it’s as though I have no extra time at all. So unfair!

    Work is busy. It’s been this way ever since good news started coming in about Australia getting on top of the Coronavirus. (Of course, I don’t work in hospitality. But then, I hardly work at all. I spent from sunrise to sunup getting two hours work done on Monday. I’m so lazy it hard work getting two hours work done in eleven and a half hours.)

  2. As a software developer, much of my communication with my colleagues was already electronic and asynchronous, so I’m probably the best case for working from home. My employer allowed me to expense a nice monitor, keyboard and mouse, although by the time I got to a good quality chair I’d exhausted that generosity and had to pay for that myself.

    Some interruptions from the kids, less exercise (my cycle commute was my main form of exercise, and while obviously I still have time to ride I have not managed to set my routine up to manage it) and going straight from work into household tasks without the break that a commute gives you are the main WFH negatives for me.

    I find meetings via Zoom significantly more tiring than face to face meetings, especially when there are many participants, so people with roles demanding many meetings may find it more difficult.

    I pretty sure my dog likes having me around all day!

  3. It’s been good for me. Work is the same although quieter and we’ve introduced distancing measures which is a bit of a pain with walk-in customers. We’re not in a line of work that enables working from home. I’m also not the most sociable butterfly around so it hasn’t affected my daily life as much as others. I have a wife and 2 kids at home – wife is home schooling the 2 boys and coping pretty well considering the challenges – I couldn’t do it. Many other mums she chats to are definitely finding it quite challenging.

  4. It is too early to lift the hard lock-down at all. Indeed, schools should be closed for this whole term except for those kids who have nobody at home in the day. Australia is getting close to 7,000 confirmed cases. Let us say that ten times that number is the real number including undetected infections, say 70,000. That leaves about 24,930,000 people with no immunity. A second wave could make us look like Singapore.

    We have to hold fast until a vaccine or if a vaccine is not possible, then a viable treatment (anti-virals perhaps). The best time to introduce a Job Guarantee and Basic Universal Income is now.

  5. Ikonoclast has a good point about the timing being right for a Job Guarantee. In the AFR today Matthew Cranston quoted Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy
    “Our data indicates that the saving rate will surge over the second quarter of 2020 as the shock to spending dwarfs the shock to income.”
    That sounds like the paradox of thrift is in p[lay. This may make things a lot worse before they get better. Now the September quarter is a well known low spending quarter anyway. So if the June quarter is going to be as bad as Treasury data indicates, then we are in for six months of economic uncertainty.
    A Job Guarantee could help to keep up net final private consumption. This is essential for investment to restart in Australia. As for a BUI that would be ideal but the Morrison government is still deluded into thinking a business led recovery can have an impact in the short term.To paraphrase John Maynard Keynes such thinking “in the short run” would leave all their recovery strategies dead in the water.

  6. I am semi-retired but do some contract work for law firms. I was already doing this work from home, which I enjoy as I can set my own timetable and avoid commuting to work.

    I spend most of my free time re-vegetating my 40 acres of de-stocked farmland, doing general landscaping and building nest boxes for microbats, sugar gliders, birds etc.. so the lockdown has minimal impact on me.

    My kids are adults and seem fine. Wife is also in good spirits.

  7. Dislike working from home. Attaching a printer not permitted so for some activities it is very much clumsier working with multiple documents. Communication is hampered. Miss the simple social interactions at work.

  8. I am retired but find staying at home difficult. I have plenty of good books to read and can do exercise at home but doing these things feels forced and I feel lazy. I did a Coursera unit in psychology for credit, “The Science of Well-Being” and that occupied a couple of weeks – a pretty good offering from Yale. The things I miss are going out to play golf, having lunch/coffee with friends, and probably most of all, being able to drive my car where I want to. I’d like a long drive in north-western Victoria or to far north Queensland and do some photography.

    I was interested in following the virus itself for a while but have partially lost that interest. I am still unsure whether we have taken the right policy path and surprised at the apparent short-term success Australia and NZ have enjoyed. But dealing with the virus is a marathon, not a sprint – I still wonder about the longer-term future of a community subject to reinfection but with low levels of natural immunity. We have “flattened the curve” but that seems necessary but not sufficient for a good long-term outcome. A vaccine would obviously cancel these concerns. Maybe the virus can be eradicated and we can safely open up Australia to a world which either has herd immunity or which has eradicated the virus but that sounds a bit utopian to me.

    The economic policy response was good. Issuing lots of debt makes sense now to deal with a catastrophic decline in economic activity. It will cost us longer-term but we had no alternative.

  9. The lockdown in Japan is weak, but it has been an absolute godsend for me. I dislocated my kneecap for the fourth time at the end of February, and subsquently discovered this keeps happening to me because Aussie doctors have consistently over many years failed to notice I am missing a ligament. So I had knee reconstruction surgery two weeks ago, and had to spend a lot of time at home before and after that to deal with my many knee problems and the recovery. My work hasn’t had a working from home policy but introduced one for covid a week after I dislocated my knee, so I haven’t had to use any annual leave to deal with what has turned into a massive mobility problem.

    For me lockdown has been relatively easy for this reason, and because I’ve been able to move my main hobby (role-playing) online, if anything I’m GMing more often with a full group than I was before (I prefer meeting physically for gaming, but still it’s good). Also after the govt declared a state of emergency my kickboxing gym closed, so I don’t even have to get angry about missing training because of my knee, since I would have missed it anyway.

    In general Japan is handling this woefully, because so many companies simply refuse to allow their paper-pushers to work from home, which means trains are still crowded and the virus has only just begun to get under control. I think a lot of Japanese are 100% sure that wearing masks is enough, so they can ignore any requests for changes to the rest of their behavior. Because of that we were getting 700 cases a day at one point, but it seems to be dropping fast now so I hope this lockdown will be over in two weeks – just in time for me to regain my mobility!

  10. faustusnotes,
    If you had dislocated your knee in Germany, and I suspect many European countries, you would not have needed to take annual leave to deal with your mobility problem. You would have been out on sick leave until your doctor cleared you for work again.

  11. Curt indeed this is true, and it would have been the case in my former work here in Japan, but apparently my current work requires us to use annual leave for illness. I didn’t know this when I signed up! So thanks be to the god of corvids, that I got a work from home option just in time.

    This would also be true in Australia, btw, but the difference (apparently) is that in Australia over many years many doctors would repeatedly fail to notice that I needed a reconstruction, so I would never need to use the sick leave available to me!

  12. @Ronald: “Everyone, including people who have kept their jobs, seems to have plenty more time to spend on their hobbies”

    Except for parents! Luckily, my 7.5 yr old is precociously conscientious and will sit down at her desk and do her assigned schoolwork for hours. But my 4 yr old is in preschool; his regular schoolwork is just play, so that’s what I’ve been doing for weeks. Very, very, very little time and energy for my actual job since we pulled the kids from school. (Again luckily, the new contract I had just signed was extremely flexible on deadlines, or else I’d be f***ed)

    The toughest part for me as a parent has been the closure of playgrounds across NSW. Stuck with a preschooler 24/7, okay, but stuck with a preschooler and you can’t even take them to the playground (let alone libraries, museums, play gyms etc.) — ouch.

    On the bright side, what a life of extraordinary privilege when *that* has been the toughest thing for me so far.

    …and, on the darker side of the bright side, my wife’s income puts us comfortably inside the top 1% so under this government we’re going to be on the right side of the rocketing inequality that will come in the aftermath. Good thing they locked in those tax cuts in exchange for whatever sop the “Centre” Alliance got, and the twenty bucks and a meat tray for Tasmania from Jacqui Lambie.

  13. No job before, no job now. It´s what i´m unfortunatly used to. My health status was pretty much most of my life such that working was no option. I did however finish an MA not too long ago and overall health was progressing well, so i was looking. No chance now to find anything. I´m limited to the public sector due to my CV/health status and they are not exactly known for flexibility – so interviews only start after contact bans are lifted in person. Typically spend lots of time at a meating point for people with mental health issues. It´s now shut down and will in all likelyhood only open when the general ban for restaurants and the like is lifted, not at the early date for things like schools or churches. My social environment has in large parts such a background, many are poorer and sicker than me. It´s quite difficult to stay in contact. Some wont even make phone calls due to anxiety issues. Almost no one can handle video calls. To my surprise that all did not have that much of a downside effect on me. Many from that social circle seem to handle the isolation quite well, others are doing rather horrible. And at least one person i´d say does moderatly well in part due to not being 100% rule abiding (no wild parties or anything like that). That would be excusable (and technically mental health issues can be constructed as a legal exception from the strict contact ban), if he were not in a very high covid risk group himself.

    What stressed me a lot was getting my father to be careful. No healthy family dynamic there and it´s still an ongoing process, but someone had to do it. He´s getting more reasonable every week so far however. We live in the same house, but in different flats, since i´m reasonable long into complete quaranteen myself (someone else does the shopping now) i got at least one person to have direct contact with.

    I ended up enrolling for another MA at the national distance university here (fernuniversität hagen). It´s basically a monopoly, since the private alternatives tend to be expensive and of questionable academic rigor. Teaching is as bad as expected (it almost only consists of them sending bad textbooks), and it seems they are overcompensating for the bad brand of distance teaching with high demands even more than i expected. But considering the circumstances it still seems like a good passtime that might even help to find a job later.

  14. Jones, you have my sympathies. I find that if you let them up on the couch that relaxes them, then they don’t mind so much when you lock them outside. Or at least that’s what I learned from looking after people’s dogs. Not sure how applicable it is to children.

  15. From a smaller town where the threat seems to be taken a little less seriously, unfortunately.

    I was working in retail before that was cut, and in my particular store, traffic was generally very high. Few people cared about social distancing/isolation, people would come in just to look around, they’d walk right up to you if you both needed something from the same shelf.

    Speaking only for my millennial demographic, the isolation is pretty mentally taxing for many. Multiple friends seem pretty down, almost despondent, it’s particularly bad for those set to graduate this year, and who are watching the labour market – of which they hope to be a part – collapse into itself. Though that’s maybe not the worst price to pay for the amelioration of a virus crisis, still concerning. As I understand it, headspace is getting its call centers flooded

  16. The effects of the pandemic on political economy and geostrategics will be profound. If world growth had proceeded as projected before the pandemic, then the following top five GDPs would have approximately applied in PPP (purchasing power parity);

    China – $27.8 trillion;
    USA – $20.3 trillion;
    EU – $18.4 trillion;
    India – $11.3 trillion;
    Japan – $5.5 trillion.

    Clearly, the USA has fallen markedly behind China on this truer measure (PPP).

    If we divide the world into the gostrategic blocs that it naturally, via realpolitik, falls into we get;

    S.C.O. (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) – $33.0 trillion approx.
    (S.C.O. includes China, Russia and the central Asian States)

    Western Bloc plus Allies; – $58.0 trillion approx.
    (Includes USA, EU, UK, India, Canada and Oceania)

    Miscellaneous and non-aligned.: – $47.3 trillion approx.

    This will change during and after the pandemic. Most likely the GDP (PPP) of the miscellaneous and non-aligned group will fall the most and that of the S.C.O. the least, as China will hold up reasonably well. The balance of economic power will shift somewhat to China but the Western Bloc should hold unless the USA collapses rapidly. A re-election of Trump would be disastrous in this regard.Of the great powers, the USA is in the most danger of self-induced collapse (relative or absolute).

    The West and its allies are democracies of sorts, albeit the pendulum has swung a long way towards corporate oligarchy. The S.C.O is an axis (deliberate choice of words on my part) of dictatorships, personal or party. The West needs to re-strengthen its democracies. The next election of the U.S.A. is crucial in this regard. The West also needs to strengthen national government control over its socioeconmies and break the political and economic power of the oligarchs and corporations, while strengthening social and welfare spending and levying pigovian and wealth taxes.

    The four main dangers we face are (in no particular order) are;

    (1) The failure of democracy:- The S.C.O. is a gang of dictatorships at the political level. The West is declining perilously close to corporate and oligarchic dictatorship.

    (2) Environmental Collapse.

    (3) The shift of world economic power to the S.C.O.

    (4) War.

    The West and such allies as it can find among the non-aligned group can help avoid these dangers if it reforms itself along democratic socialist lines (quite different from the party dictatorship state capitalisms of the S.C.O.) The West needs to be far more careful about what trade it conducts with the party dictatorship nations of the S.C.O. and ensure that strategic manufactures (from heavy industry to pharmaceuticals) are re-based in the West. If we weaken ourselves further, the dictators of the S.C.O will endeavor to take full advantage of this. Indeed, we already see them becoming emboldened and more belligerent towards countries they think they can bully like Australia. Appeasing bullies and potential aggressors never works.

  17. Ikonoclast, if you recast your theory in terms of Asia vs. Europe vs. the populist idiots (Brazil, US, Russia, UK) it gets more interesting. Asia seems to be weathering this storm remarkably well, and two of the world’s five biggest economies (Japan and China) are going to come out of this relatively unscathed. Meanwhile sensible Europe, led by Germany, is doing okay. It’s the populist idiots who are really screwing this pooch. It really shows what happens when you vote for fascists. It’s also worth noting that the Asian one party states – China, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam – are doing surprisingly well (or were in Singapore’s case until inequality ruined their story).

    In addition to fixing their democracies, the west really need to come up with a more convincing answer to the challenge of one party states. So much of American leftist discourse is focused on laughing and sneering at the idea of professionalism in government, as they pass a million cases, while in Asia the classic technocratic ruling class model of a one party state has handled this problem much better. Western-style democracy really isn’t covering itself in glory right now.

  18. My experience has been similar to others. I feel incredibly lucky to have a job at the moment and be able to work from home.
    – Commuting time has been replaced with extra time spent reading and writing emails. I think I get twice the emails I did before working from home.
    – my commute used to be by bike so I’m missing my daily exercise – which is hard to get around to.
    – Zoom meetings are tiring compared to face to face meetings, probably due to the extra mental energy required to concentrate on the occasionally garbled audio.
    – A reliable broadband connection would be great right now.
    – A house that was big enough before lockdown is too small when everyone is schooling and working from home.
    – The local hoons are still doing burnouts at night seemingly untroubled by law enforcement.
    – The local parks are now full of people exercising.
    – Even though weekdays seem busier, weekends have been less busy without all the kids activities so I can finally make progress on the never-ending list of DIY projects.

    It’s still too early to see the full impact of lockdown, but in Australia it hasn’t impacted some peoples lifestyles too much in the short-term. I have been interested in observing how some businesses and organisations have been quick to adapt their operations while other businesses who could still be operating safely with a few adjustments have just found it too hard and shut up shop temporarily.

  19. I’ve got a small research and consulting firm, with all staff working remotely from home. Productivity is being maintained so far, but often by unpaid additional hours at the home desk being required to offset the synergies that would be achieved through the team working together in a room to solve analytical problems (Skype is no substitute for genuine face-to-face collaboration). Our fixed business operating costs have actually gone up as we’ve had to set everyone up with a separate home office while still paying rent for an empty office etc.

    About 50% of our work is for government agencies and that work is even more important than ever as private sector work has all but disappeared. What has really surprised me is public servants working in procurement now won’t hesitate in requesting: we discount our rates by 20%+ (even already discounted rates through panel contracts); we do additional out of scope work for nothing, or; we accept contract terms with significantly delayed payment schedules. Their rationale is always “money is tight, we have to achieve more with less, and we all have to share the burden”. But it would appear the burden of is largely falling on one party to the transaction, at exactly the time when that party is most vulnerable. I’m not sure the ‘procurement gods’ in the public service have through through the downside risks to maintaining the capacity of the research and consulting industry upon which they rely so heavily for analytical and technical work.

  20. Contra Faustus, in Asia, it is democratic Taiwan- not a one party state- that is doing best, with 0.3 deaths per million and just 6 deaths in total and very few new cases.

    Contra Faustus, I also wouldn’t say China has done “surprisingly well”. In fact China did exactly what you expect it to do –

    (1) bludgeon the medical professionals who blew the whistle early enough to nip covid 19 in the bud and prevent a catastrophe,
    (2) grudgingly accept a fast growing deadly reality can’t be papered over with propaganda and thuggery
    (3) use inhumane and draconian policies that would never be tolerated in a democracy to put out the fire that could much more easily have been put out at stage 1 if they were not so intent on terrorising medical professionals.

  21. I have been going into the office and working harder than at any time in the last 20 years, for no reward either pecuniary or psychic. Then no respite otherwise obviously, no bars, gyms, movies.

    I am also continually annoyed that all this destruction may not have necessary. Let’s see how Sweden goes.

  22. Contra Hugo, lots of other Chinese provinces did way better than Taiwan in controlling the spread. Guangdong – with a larger population than Taiwan – did much better, as I think did Fujian (across the water from Taiwan).

    Also contra Hugo, China didn’t grudgingly accept anything, since it dealt openly with the virus from the beginning. The Wuhan government and Hubei government didn’t do great but it was six weeks from the initial cases to notifying the WHO, during flu season. Contrast that with how America dealt with swine fever, which took months to reach the same status. And how much time would have been gained by China behaving “better”? Two weeks? The USA had months of warning but still screwed it up, how would two extra weeks have helped?

    Lots of armchair experts seem to think that you can go from zero to identifying a novel respiratory disease during flu season in just a week or something. I would really like to hear from the critics who China could have done “better” and what the consequences of “better” would have been.

  23. I have to confirm that being an office worker with no kids and secure employment is the sweet spot right now. I’m saving a lot more than I normally do, but this may be offset by higher utilities bills later. I wonder if this will create a short economic sugar high when people like me have an opportunity to spend it.

  24. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/03/asia/coronavirus-doctor-whistle-blower-intl-hnk/index.html

    I don’t think there is any doubt China handled the initial outbreak badly and tried to suppress early information about it (for internal reasons). The rest of the world compounded the problem by not immediately locking-down when this was clearly indicated. The best construction that can be put on the WHO chief’s early calls was that he was too conservative and did not understand the “fat tail” risks. The WHO should have called “Imminent Pandemic” much earlier and advised all nations to lock down.

    The idea that a one party dictatorship (CCP) with no free press is going to tell the truth about their early failures or their own numbers is risible. China’s published figures cannot be trusted. I suspect their real figures are considerably higher than those published but still not as high as the USA’s. To really create a clusterf*** it takes one Donald Trump.

  25. With all these video meetings and entertainment streaming, thank God Australia has a world-class broadband network

  26. My wife tells me that the Australian internet providers have recently bought more bandwidth from the wholesaler(s). This means the spare bandwidth was always there. They were just throttling end users for more profit. This is proof positive of the Veblenian theory of business sabotage.

    “Veblen was the first to see technology as the ‘great equaliser’, helping to provide an economic solution to the question of how to produce everything that a society would need.” Matthew notes that private ownership, from Veblen’s perspective, “infers a legal right of sabotage”, and that where private ownership was tolerated the cost would always be a diversion of resources to service profit rather than need. Marginalist economic theory, he concluded, provided a post hoc rationalisation for the fact that economic institutions were already oriented towards servicing profit, and that to service need instead required both brand new economic institutions and a brand new economic theory with which to make sense of them. ” – Professor Matthew Watson, Dr Simon Glaze and Dr Chris Clarke, Department of Politics and International Studies.

    Click to access thorstein_veblen_4.pdf

    If we read Veblen in the light of current events, we can see the depth and applicability of Veblen’s insights.

  27. Ikon:

    The rest of the world compounded the problem by not immediately locking-down when this was clearly indicated.

    Sadly China failed to publicly admit human to human transmission until 20 January 2020. It lied to the WHO about human to human transmission and the WHO meekly tugged its forelock and parrotted Chinese propaganda almost verbatim.

    Ikon:

    The idea that a one party dictatorship (CCP) with no free press is going to tell the truth about their early failures or their own numbers is risible.

    The Chinese state lied through its teeth about SARS and continues to lie through its teeth about practically everything of importance, including the inhuman persecution verging on genocide it is perpetrating against the ethnic Uyghurs. Only a miscreant would echo Chinese lies.

    Faustus:

    Also contra Hugo, China didn’t grudgingly accept anything, since it dealt openly with the virus from the beginning.

    Ikon is far too kind in dismissing such a claim as risible. It is outright dishonesty. The punishment (and possible murder) of whistleblower doctors, such as Li Wenliang, is already well known. Hopefully we will learn much more about what really happened in the early days, but China is already sabre-rattling about Australia’s perfectly reasonable request for an open inquiry, so it is likely China has too much to hide for a light to be shone on the matter.

  28. Ikonoklast, maybe you should check that report you cite a little more carefully. It states clearly that the same day Dr. Li sent his warning to his mates on wechat, the Wuhan municipal government alerted all doctors in Wuhan to the issue and warned against rumour-mongering. I don’t know if you work in a hospital but my hospital here in Japan has been sending warnings against speculation and rumour-mongering for two months now. Would you like to explain how issuing a broad alert to all medical institutions is “covering up”? Also how is Li a whistleblower? Is spreading information to your mates on Wechat a form of whistelblowing now? And how was he punished? By all reports he was forced to sign a document promising not to spread false information, and went back to work the same day.

    It’s widely accepted in China that the Wuhan and Hubei governments screwed up the response, and that local police were heavy-handed in their treatment of people like Dr. Li (who is now a national hero). But that is not the same thing as deliberately covering anything up. In fact it would be a very strange scenario if they covered things up, since they would be simultaneously asking the entire country to go into the strictest lockdown ever seen on earth (to that point), while hiding the reason why. Do you think that is a good ploy? Why do you think everyone in China was so seriously worried about this disease, if the government was covering up the truth about how bad it was? Why were they so accepting of the need for a lockdown and why do they treat people like Li et al as martyrs? Why the nationwide acceptance and involvement in the 3 minutes of silence a month ago, if the government was hiding the cases? You should think through your conspiracy theories more.

    As for the idea that China “deliberately lied” about human-to-human transmission and the WHO “tugged its forelock”, you have no evidence of this Hugo and no idea how hard it is to confirm human-to-human transmission. Why do you think they were lying, rather than investigating? All the early cases were tied to the market, and zoonotic viruses do not usually transmit from human to human (see also multiple bird flu outbreaks for examples of this). It’s hard to identify human-to-human transmission and the first condition for so doing is that human-to-human transmission has to actually occur. If everyone presenting had got it at the market, whether human-to-human or animal-to-human is impossible to determine until someone else gets it who hasn’t been to the market. Given the way human social networks work, this could take weeks to occur.

    What, to you, is the difference between “lying about” human-to-human transmission, and taking 6 weeks to confirm it?

    What, to you, is the difference between “covering up” case and death numbers, and not being able to easily confirm them or having a jumbled system for reporting them?

    How, to you, should the Wuhan municipal government have confirmed cases before 10th January (when the virus was sequenced and a test was available) during flu season? What would you do to distinguish between pneumonia of unknown origin and influenza or other forms of pneumonia, during influenza season?

    If the Chinese government had been as open as Hugo and Ikonoklast demand, how many additional weeks would we have won in the battle against this disease? Should the government have closed Wuhan earlier than the 23rd January, when there were just 571 cases and 17 deaths? Do you think it is possible to know how transmissible or dangerous a disease is based on a case series of 571 cases and 17 deaths? When do you think they should have closed it, and under what conditions do you think a city of 12 million people should be completely shut down?

    Unless you have something resembling sensible answers to these questions, all your allegations against China have no weight and make no sense.

  29. A COVID-19 Timeline.

    Dec. 30, 2019

    Dr. Li Li saw a patient’s report which showed a positive result with a high confidence level for SARS coronavirus tests. “The report had originated from Ai Fen, director of the emergency department at Wuhan Central hospital, who became alarmed after receiving laboratory results of a patient whom she had examined who exhibited symptoms akin to influenza resistant to conventional treatment methods. The report contained the phrase “SARS coronavirus”. Ai had circled the word “SARS”, and sent it to a doctor at another hospital in Wuhan. From there it spread throughout medical circles in the city, where it reached Li.[15] At 17:43, he wrote in a private WeChat group of his medical school classmates: “7 confirmed cases of SARS were reported [to hospital] from Huanan Seafood Market.” He also posted the patient’s examination report and CT scan image. At 18:42, he added “the latest news is, it has been confirmed that they are coronavirus infections, but the exact virus strain is being subtyped”. Li asked the WeChat group members to inform their families and friends to take protective measures. He was upset when the discussion gained a wider audience than he expected.” – Wikipedia. (W.)

    Note: The coronavirus type had not yet been identified

    Dec. 31, 2019

    Chinese officials in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province confirmed dozens of cases of pneumonia from an unknown cause.

    On or between Dec. 31, 2019 to Jan. 3, January 2020.

    “After screenshots of his WeChat messages were shared on Chinese Internet and gained more attention, the supervision department of his hospital summoned him for a talk, where he was blamed for leaking the information.” – Wikipedia.

    Jan. 3, 2020

    “… police from the Wuhan Public Security Bureau investigated the case and interrogated Li, giving him a warning notice and censuring him for “making false comments on the Internet”. He was made to sign a letter of admonition promising not to do it again. The police warned him that if he failed to learn from the admonition and continued to violate the law he would be prosecuted.” – Wikipedia

    After the admonition, Li returned to work in the hospital.

    Note: Eventually the pathogen was named taxonomically as SARS Cov2. It is a SARS variant. Fen and Li were correct. It was a SARS virus.

    Jan. 7, 2020

    The outbreak was identified as a new coronavirus.

    Jan. 8, 2020

    Li contracted the virus on 8 January.

    Jan. 11, 2020

    China reported its first known death from an illness caused by the coronavirus. The patient was a 61-year-old man in Wuhan.

    Jan. 20, 2020

    A World Health Organization situation report detailed the first confirmed cases outside China in Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

    Jan. 21, 2020

    The United States announced its first confirmed coronavirus case — a man in his 30s in Washington state.

    Jan. 23, 2020

    China placed Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, under quarantine orders. All flights and trains departing from the city were canceled, and buses, subways and ferries within the city were suspended.

    Jan. 30

    WHO declared the outbreak a global public health emergency as more than 9,000 cases were reported worldwide, including in 18 countries beyond China.

    Note: WHO did not declare a pandemic until Mar. 11, 2020. The reasons why bear investigation. The WHO might have been caught between big pharma pressure and EU / USA pressure after the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and wanted to avoid a repeat of that pressure or it might have been pressured by China this time. The latter seems less likely.

    Jan. 31, 2020

    Li published his experience in the police station with the letter of admonition on social media. His post went viral and users questioned why the doctors who gave earlier warnings were silenced by the authorities.

    Discussion

    The virus was provisionally identified as a SARS form on Dec. 31, 2019. Given China’s previous experiences of SARS1 in 2002-2004 (at least two outbreaks) and knowledge of MERS it should have been escalated rapidly in the hierarchy and probably within 24 hours. On Jan. 7, 2020 the outbreak was identified (confirmed) as a novel coronavirus. On Jan. 11, 2020 China reported its first known death from an illness caused by the coronavirus. The patient was a 61-year-old man in Wuhan. Yet it took until Jan. 23, 2020 to lock-down Wuhan.

    Yes, the Chinese government should have closed Wuhan earlier than 23rd January, when there were 571 cases and 17 deaths! From a SARS variant no less! Do I think it is possible to know how transmissible or dangerous a disease is based on a case series of 571 cases and 17 deaths? Yes, when it is a SARs variant, the presumption has to be for a worst case scenario.

    Chinese authorities failed themselves, their people and the world. The world then failed too. It’s a cascading failure with plenty of blame to go around. China is also to blame for failing to deal with its wildlife wet markets which are zoonotic disease breeding and transmission sites. China bears considerable blame and its party dictatorship / cult of personality dictatorship played a role in this failure by oppressing whistle-blowers and suppressing the alarm by about a week: vital time lost. But maybe (I don’t know) you are in favor of dictatorship? China’s Xi Jinping led dictatorship played a role in the totality of this global disaster to date just as Trump’s populist crypto-fascism and science denial played a role. One is as bad as the other. I completely condemn both.

  30. So, would it be a bit presumptuous of me to ask a survey of who here has downloaded the tracing app or is happy to install it or not happy to install it? I have FWIW

  31. I am train driver.

    We always said that the system would run perfectly if there were no passengers.

    We always said the system would run better with less managers.

    The anger, hatred and contempt is palpable for a managerial class that have cowered at home with dormouse valour, engaging in mutually onanistic video chats while they have provided negligible protection for the actual workers will not be forgotten.

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