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All Measures Necessary (Part III of III)

All Measures Necessary

Part III

 

A Cry From The Past

                                                                                  

 

The war in Part I was a world war. Categorised, as it seemed that, all of the countries in the world were at war, which was not the case. Just like today, many countries were little affected and just got on with their business and survived their economies and peoples in the best way they could. It is probable there were even those in remote parts of the world who didn’t even know that the ‘world’ was at war, a term that did not come it use until the outbreak of World War II.

There was no war declared against the 1918 pandemic of influenza either. It rose suddenly amidst chaos and ran its course, killing hundreds of thousands, probably even millions during the war, and millions more thereafter. People just succumbed to the disease, it was an invisible new master and they did the best they could, while loved ones passed away after a bout of coughing and fever.

Others suffered horrible and unexplained death from organ failure and internal bleeding. Life went on, but there was no ‘war’ waged on the virus. It defeated the world and just faded away.

War censorship was extreme, and memory of the disease and its rampage was consigned to dark corners of our history.

Then it became an important case study for epidemiologists. Books were written about it, and historians pondered something dreadful that had occurred a century ago. Now we are watching the film, a live re run.

 

To

The Editor Irish Times, and copied to the Irish Independent,

 

New anti-virus Tsar and Vice President of the USA, Mike Pence, recently resurrected a Pale Horseman of the Apocalypse with the ghostly phrase, ‘All Measures Necessary’, when promising to halt the spread of the dreaded new Corona virus.

The same phrase was used in a somewhat similar but reverse context during WW1, when the German High Command instructed its secret service; ‘All Measures Necessary were to be taken to prevent the shipment of men and materials to the Allies’. A campaign of biological attack by German agents against animals in America followed, and then the ‘Flu’ pandemic known as the ‘Spanish Flu’, wiped out in excess of 50 million people world-wide.

Despite spending years of research and countless millions to discover what this deadly virus was, no definitive explanation has ever been published.

There are some similarities between both infections, such as rapid spread. First from animals, pigs being mentioned repeatedly, and and then person to person etc. However, the WWI ‘Flu’ produced distressing symptoms unlike any flu today, with lingering after-affects of depression. Contrary to the Corona virus, the ‘Flu’ primarily affected young healthy people, while the data released on the Corona virus indicates that older people are more seriously affected.

Let’s hope Mr Pence is more successful than his World War One counterparts.

 Roy Stokes

Dublin 12

 

When the Vice President of America, Mike Pence announced that he would use ‘all measures necessary’ to defeat Covid-19, it rang one large bell of irony. So loud, that I just had to pull down the old manuscript from 2004 that contained identical phrasing. An instruction issued by an enemy of America a century earlier.

 

The letter to the editors above was written before it was declared that Italy had become the epicentre of the pandemic, Covid-19, or Coronavirus as it was commonly known. Shortly after the outbreak, the prominent epidemiologist, Dr John Oxford, a man who has completed extensive research into the 1918 pandemic of ‘Flu’ and referred to earlier, described this new outbreak as; not being harmless, but belong to a long line of Coronaviruses about which a lot was known.

Categorised by the World Health Organisation as the new disease; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SA-CoV-2)

The unbelievable had occurred in 1918. There were fears and warnings of a recurrence for a century. Then the incomprehensible began and threatens our very existence.

Despite a century of progress in all of the sciences, man’s greatest weakness has remained himself – his arrogance and his vanity. His insatiable lust for ever increasing profit is the unstoppable engine that drives him for even more.

In the search of Nirvana, somewhere at the end of globalism’s rainbow, we have either forgotten, never have learned, or just plain disregarded the history of mankind. This new virus, a most virulent strain which was reported to have been unleashed in the province of Wuhan, China, in December 2019, has killed over 20,000 people so far. And sadly, a figure that will continue to rise for a long time to come.

Its origin was suspected to have been animals, possibly birds, amongst a myriad of earth’s other animals, commonly slaughtered on demand in ‘wet markets’. This report was to completely ignore the mass slaughter of pigs in mainland China and several other countries during the previous year, in an attempt to wipe out a most dangerous strain of African Swine Flu that had erupted there, and to have spread to many other countries. Its exact origins remain contentious.

The consequences of this Coronavirus have been cataclysmic, threatening the viability of civilisation as we know it. Despite being identified as a dangerous strain of the Coronavirus during December 2019 and again in January 2020, European authorities chose not to implement any serious application of measures that would prevent its spread and allowed all Chinese visitors to visit European skiing resorts during the winter months without checks. Northern Italy and France, two skiing hotspots for travellers in Europe seemed to have been among first affected. The result has been catastrophic and is now threatening not only millions of people, but the very fabric of global society.

Faith in any invulnerability achieved by a modern advanced system of globalisation based on technology and profit, has been shattered. Faith in politicians and politics has sunk even further, to a dangerous new low.

 

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The March Of  A Pandemic

 

Reported as far back as 2007, but probably prevalent in China and many other East European countries for many years before, it was announced that the African Swine Flu (ASF) had been detected in China’s pig population in 2018. The following year, another new unknown virus had escaped into the world population one century after the Spanish Flu in 1918. It was labelled, Coronavirus. We know that Swine Flu has been with us for centuries. It spread in humans and was declared pandemic. After world-wide vaccination and in excess of half a million deaths, the pandemic of Swine Flu was declared ‘over’, in 2010.

There has been a veritable litany of virulent and dangerous diseases detected since the Spanish Flu. They are mostly so well published and known about, that it is pointless repeating accounts ad nausea. Some reached the pandemic stage and killed humans, AIDS, SARS & Swine Flu to mention some well known recent examples. In general, countries have escaped a number of fatalities resembling even a percentage of the deaths from that ‘flu’.

 

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Corvid-19, African Swine Flu, Influenza

Animal welfare, bio-security, cross-contamination, false or misleading labelling in the food industries, is completely out of control. In only recent years we have seen horse meat presented as beef, we have witnessed animal meats fed back to themselves. The disastrous sicknesses created by Mad Cow disease, still present in the food chain. ‘Wild Atlantic Prawns’, if you consider such a label might indicate prawns caught in the Atlantic Ocean – you would be wrong. I personally dropped eating the creatures when I discovered they were reared in prawn ponds in Vietnam, a long way from the Atlantic. Did you ever see a prawn pond in Asia? Smoked fish that is not smoked but painted with a chemical, and salmon that are fed to themselves.

Chicken & duck products are in a cesspit of their own. Dissected and distributed across borders to be repackaged with a sanitised label in accordance with regulation when ‘extra value’ is added. The system is designed for profit only, is shambolic, and dangerous.

 

Do we really need to eat or be around diseases like the above.? Sooner or later we were going to run out of luck. The scientist and epidemiologists have been warning relentlessly, but where the buck is threatened, short cuts will always be taken.

 

Amid a policy of secrecy, false reporting, and a chaotic system of testing, ASF spread. A nationwide cull of pigs was ordered and continued through 2019. Further culls were also carried out in other countries affected. My not so jokingly advice to family and friends at the time was to be careful about the origin of the pork that you eat, if one can determine such a thing with any degree of surety, with all the literal acrobatics that goes with food packaging today. And to, give it up. Knowing what some humans beings are capable of, it was only prudent to suspect that pork, infected or not, would be offloaded as quick as possible into the chains of animal markets and food processors that exist all over China and the Far East, and the rest of the world for that matter. And often encouraged by officials, that’s exactly what happened.

 

In 2011 the film Contagion was released. The virus in question was named Mev-1 and the theme was frighteningly similar to the spread of Covid-19. It is experiencing huge viewing audiences during the present outbreak of a Coronavirus. In the case of Mev-1, it was a combination of bat droppings that got into the pork supply chain and mutated to affect humans, with terrible consequences across the globe. It was fiction – but you would hardly tell the difference now.

 

In so far as it became known, the rest of the world feared the spread of the virus, particularly in the US, where an infection would have had devastating effects on the livestock-based economy. As it was believed that humans cannot contract ASF, the only considerations remaining could be bundled into one – economics, profit or loss. As we write, it remains the stated position of scientist, that there is no cure for ASF. That it does not affect humans. Slaughter and incineration are the only means of killing and preventing the spread of infection.

Once more, there was little publicity of the dangers posed by ASF. Being a virulent virus it did spread rapidly. Cases of smuggling infected pork were detected around the world and an unknown number of countries other than China, introduced their own programme of slaughter programmes in 2019.

It is known now that humans contract the more common Swine Flu and can be vaccinated against its effects. It is widely accepted that humans are not affected by African Swine Flu. Even though humans can carry and transmit the virus, they cannot contract it. But what if the virus had mutated and was able to make the jump? A big if, at the moment.  How would it occur? As with other disease that were said could not cross over from animal to humans, but did, an intense association between humans and pigs daily, ingesting the virus, contamination of body fluids and even transfusions with infected blood, might change matters.

It is a case of déjà vu, and it sounds as terrible as a century ago, but is it possible? Given that there was suppressed reporting of the spread of ASF by the Chinese authorities in recent years, and that unknown quantities of meat infected with ASF was consumed, the following questions must be asked once again.

 

Did the African Swine Flu or a variant of the virus, a mutation of some kind, jump from beast to man and somehow contribute to the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic, running amok around the world in 2019, killing thousands? The death total in the UK alone has been estimated to reach 60,000 by August 2020.

 

Returning to the transmission of ASF to humans and the common declaration that this can’t happen, there might nevertheless be an exception – a loophole. China supplies almost 70% of the world’s production of Heparin, which is extracted from the intestines of pigs, mainly their own pigs. It is in use by the pharmaceutical industry world-wide to produce a wide range of anti-coagulants for humans. The lack of quality control in the production of pigs in China, has led to worries of safety in western pharmaceutical industry, so much so that, a number of pig breading factory units are under construction in Europe, which will be monitored to the highest standards for the supply of this product to the pharmaceutical industries. Has the stable door been closed a bit late though?

Although it is another disease which has been claimed was already used as a biological weapon, it has not yet been reported that ASF has passed to humans.

 

The ease and speed with which such viruses are allowed to spread exponentially is purely down to economics. The western world, transfixed by the bright light of profit and Globalism has relinquished its duties in all sections of social services. Services to citizens are being outsourced to contractors interested in profit only. Staff, equipment and infrastructure across all of the services to citizens, have been paired to the bone, in order to tick the boxes and save money. The pressure to save money is coming from two opposite ends of our financial and social systems.

 

  • A reluctance by sections of the more wealthy in society to pay tax.
  • A growing inability by the less well-off to pay more.

 

It has become a perfect storm and its ultimate effect will not be pretty. Undoubtedly it will almost mean society will have to start again with a new set of rules, but the virus, man, will continue in his unquenchable hunt for profit at any cost. How that change will come about, if ever, will be a matter for citizens who pay attention, discuss and vote, and for the true leaders in society.

 

 Witness to a New Virus of Death

 

My annual vacation began January 25, when I flew to Tenerife. Identification of the Coronavirus and the fact it was already spreading throughout the Province of Wuhan in China, had already been announced. The world seemed convinced that the virus posed no threat to life outside of China and life continued as before. Chinese authorities were happy to let the rest of the world dream, while they attempted to suppress details of its spread and effect.

Even when some civic and medical officials, whistle-blowers, were locked up, there was no outrage. Not until some medical workers, and the young doctor Li Wenliang took the risk of whistle-blowing, were confined, and then subsequently died from the virus on February 7, the cat had truly jumped out of the bag.

 

New-found wealth of the Chinese has made them some of the most prolific tourists on the planet. Like we all did before, they now love to visit all of the great cultural centres of the world and the young in particular, love to go skiing, in their thousands.

The first confirmed case in France occurred on January 24 in Bordeaux, a French National returning from China. The reported number of cases grew slowly at first but after a number of people at the ski resort in Savoie, in the east of France, tested positive, the number of cases seems to have rocketed.

Similarly in Italy, after its first case of the virus was confirmed on January 29, life went on as normal and ski resorts continued to pack out with tourists.

Even when it was discovered that the virus being transmitted by people who were not in contact with a tourist of any other nationality, the penny, although dropping, had still not reached the ground. The number of cases grew exponentially and soon all of Europe was reporting cases, and the deaths began to rise.

 

There is no doubt that whether it was due to ignorance or the potential loss of profit, the measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus were too little and much too late. Some ski resorts remained open until weekend March 20, when the whole of Europe was in lockdown.

 

How Many Lives Were Saved at Cheltenham?

 

It has become clear that the systems of detecting and preventing the spread of dangerous disease and viruses that were in place throughout the world before 2020 have failed catastrophically in this instance. It has become even more clear that, instead of waiting on politicians to do the right thing, more permanent measures will have to be put in place to prevent citizens around the world from contracting fatal viruses. If pets and livestock must have an ‘all clear’ veterinary passport in order to travel, I guess these measures will have to be extended to humans.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), an admirable body of professionals, not always receiving the funding and credit it deserves, were tasked with tracking the outbreak of Coronavirus in China. They began by releasing timely and apparently accurate reports. It soon became clear that the organisation was relying on the Chinese authorities for details of the outbreak, and these soon began to conflict with other reports on the ground. Detection figures reached frightening proportions in January, and the Chinese province Wuhan was put into lockdown. People could not travel and all but essential employment ceased as the numbers of detections and deaths rose.

 

Chinese tourists were still coming and going though, and the unknown virus spread to Europe.

The WHO frantically began advising social distancing. Contact was a curse of the devil and should be reduced. At first, individual European countries who were accustomed to speaking with a single voice in Brussels, began behaving in different ways. Nevertheless, they were each at pains to declare that they were obeying the experts and the science. How the science differed from one country to another might be hard to explain.

Suddenly, the markets were threatened and the Brexit word was forgotten. Appeals for calm were announced daily – all would be well if ‘the science’ is adhered to.

 

Quite unbelievably and despite warnings from the WHO, large gatherings at football matches and horse racing events were continuing. Horse racing, football matches and schools remained operational until weekend March 15. All sporting events seemed to have been cancelled by Monday, March 16, except schools, and despite much opposition, remained open. Despite ‘the science’ the closures took place only after one of the biggest social and racing events had been run over four days, from March 10 to March 15th, at which more than a quarter of a million people gathered, shoulder to shoulder, shouting their bet down the field!

 

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Cheltenham 10th – 15th March 2020

 

When it was announced that it was expected, and one might even, even hoped, that a ‘Herd Immunity’ could be achieved when 60% of the population had contracted the disease, the fat hit the fire. When it was pointed out to officials that this meant hundreds of thousands, even millions of people could be expected to die, while trying to achieve this kind of ‘herd immunity’ there was a serious bit of back-peddling. Faith in ‘the science’ was being constantly challenged, when repetitive announcements, such as, the public need not wear masks, as they were of little use in preventing the spread of the disease. And furthermore, they were after all, of more use to the frontline medical staff, who obviously felt they were of some value them. The same masks that were being worn by everybody in Wuhan.

 

Front line medical staff were also appealing on TV and radio for testing. Despite the seemingly perfectly logical advice given by the WHO for ‘testing, testing, testing’, and ‘you can’t fight a fire blindfolded ’, frontline medical staff were not being tested, as a matter of routine policy !! Whether this was a deliberate government supported policy advised in the plan that was following ‘the science’ or just plain inability, was not explained.

 

The importance of the WHO’s advice was described in the Irish Times March 18, when they described the outcome of an experiment held in the small town of Vó, near Venice, population 3,300. They tested everyone, repeatedly, and quarantined those testing positive. The experiment ‘completely stopped the spread of the illness there’, and was extended.

It is not a case that lay people, real experts or even those who thought they were experts, as Michael Gove minister for the British Cabinet Office was want to accuse commentators earlier, it was intuitive. Ordinary citizens knew, purely by the application of a modicum of common sense, that if you don’t know who is infected you cannot cure them, and you certainly can’t prevent them from spreading it to others. ‘Test, Test, Test’ was sound common sense and was advise that was ignored by those who knew it was. ‘Pride before a fall’, but who fell? If front line staff go down, we can kiss our arse goodbye. Let’s hope reason will prevail.

 

Conflicting dissemination of ‘the science’ was becoming dangerous. A marked difference in this pandemic and the Spanish Flu in 1918, was communication. In 1918 censorship was acute and there were almost no communications. A century later, the whole world was in contact by social media, phone, radio, TV, or internet. The Grapevine was like ‘Mile a Minute’ on steroids. Users were savvy and were not accepting fuzzy explanations. The media were questioning but one could see that some answers and explanations were inadequate. Agencies were caught between a rock and a hard place. Too questioning, exposing some interviewees to unpreparedness or even spin, might panic a population already on the edge.

Whilst the President of France insisted that Mayoral elections went ahead on the weekend of March 15, the next day he declared a severe lockdown – immediately. Declaring that, no one was allowed to go out without a document detailing the reason for the journey. The document could be downloaded and printed at home, and self declared. I don’t know what printers are their like in France, but mine packed up long ago. How would a French person without internet or a printer get out to feed themselves? The reporters on France 24 were having a good laugh on air, until the next day, when the French police began to stop people in the street asking them to produce their completed download.

 

A fast moving virus no doubt, but these were the stupid sound-bites of advice that were being disseminated in the media, seeming the result of some kind of official panic that didn’t seem so obvious in polling booths just a few hours earlier.

 

Suddenly those dirty words, national borders, were discovered and individual countries began to close theirs. The EEC met and all borders in Europe, internal and external closed. Ireland was landed in a difficult position, after the UK appeared to be dragging its heels with anti-virus measures, that other countries such as Ireland, had prioritised and introduced – based on ‘the science’. Britain had officially left the EU on January 31, 2020. Called Brexit, the word had been bandied around Europe for the previous three years creating fear amongst citizens and businesses, and of possible financial mayhem.

 

Ireland was listening to the recommendations coming from the WHO and introduced measures that meant schools would close. All public gatherings would be restricted to less than 100, and employees should work from home were possible. Irish measures were now stronger than those existing in the UK. But the rub was this; Northern Ireland, being British, has a land border, invisible and all as it is now, with southern Ireland (Eire), and a conflict of efforts in preventing the spread of the virus arose. Contrary to the measures adopted in the case of trying to prevent the spread of animal disease, Northern Ireland politicians refused to countenance a similar agreement, and would not comply with southern Ireland measures in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Even when a case of the virus was suspected in Ebrington Primary School & Nursery in Derry on March 18, permission to close the schools was refused. Furthermore, it was stated, that the child in question would not be tested, unless it was admitted to hospital. These officials were following ‘the science’. Politicians were distancing themselves from responsibility and logic by putting science and scientists between them and the voter. Not all scientists were in agreement, and we will have to wait and see how the voter will react!

 

The Irish Times, the media or the science had persuaded Downing Street by that evening that a further step up of urgency was required. The number of deaths in London had taken off, and almost as if the rapidly moving virus knew what day of the week it was it was announced schools would close – on Friday. Two days hence!!!

The German authorities announced the same evening, a complete shut-down of all non essential social and commercial infrastructure. The masks that were of little use a month previously were now compulsory.

 

On the evening of March 18, the highest daily death toll recorded anywhere in the world has been announced in Italy – 384.

 

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A Covid Diary – How Society is Coping With the Unimaginable

 

My own particular confrontation with events began while my wife and I were on vacation in the Canary Islands, keenly following events and concern that was mounting across Europe. Granted, we were on our backs in the sun, but not for long after it was discovered that a nearby hotel was put into lockdown when an Italian guest tested positive for the virus. The first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Spain had occurred on the island of Gomera in the Canary Islands on January 31, and that case had been the result of an earlier infection by an Italian doctor who was located in a hotel in Tenerife. Several hundred tourists were immediately quarantined in the hotel.

Slow to come light, was the detection of infections in close friends of the doctor. What seemed to get almost no reporting was, there were five confirmed cases. My wife was concerned, as she had only barely made it out of hospital in Dublin after several medical procedures, following an acute kidney infection. I felt we were in a good place, but promised to a keep an eye on developments on the internet.

Despite logging on on several times daily, updates from Spanish authorities or the authorities in Tenerife were non-existent. ‘Tenerife’s official web site’ was in cuckoo land, it just wasn’t happening. It wasn’t until I read some of the blogs and discovered that tourists, British and Irish, could not contact their Consuls and were getting no replies to message left, I jumped.

We were on our own, and a decision had to be made. We booked early flights and returned home.

The Aer Lingus plane was full but calm. Despite keeping the brand name, Aer Lingus had become a British owned airline. Very few had masks on, my wife was one, and was the subject of some tutt-tutting from those who thought they knew better. Before the plane landed, an announcement was made over the plane’s PA.

‘In view of the outbreak of the virus, the HSE will have some people at a desk when we land, if anyone would like to have a chat with them about precautions’ (Paraphrased).

It wasn’t until we walked through an empty Terminal 2 at Dublin airport in the early hours of March 1, I realised how ridiculous the situation had become.

The two Health Service Executive (HSE) officials were at a desk off to one side, and were chatting, with one another, while everyone just passed on by. We had travelled from a small island that had a number of confirmed cases of the virus in lock-down and no one made any attempt to ask…… or even perform a five-second temperature check. Detection and isolation could have been so easy, even if only at a very elementary level, but the facts on the ground beggared belief. The absence of any type of testing at Dublin airport continued, until and as far as I am aware, until almost the total shutdown of the airport. Seemed crazy to me, was there also a shortage of thermometers?

Little did I know that this policy would continue tight up to and after the final entry of this Covid diary.

[Branding, the bread and butter of advertising and public relation agencies, and the plaything of newly appointed CEO’s, has mangled the the Irish Health Services into HSE. I have no doubt that these types of metamorphic hand-stands will continue to please stake-holders. Just to be clear.]

 

Even before the outbreak of this virus, a real problem with the credibility of politics, politicians, and commercial giants in the western world had existed. The problem of rampant capitalism began some years ago with a new doctrine called globalism. Its end was profit, with little or no tax. The argument was that such a loosely regulated and rampaging policy of mass production and free trade would keep the world in wages, and those creating the jobs and paying these wages, really shouldn’t have to pay tax. The model is sick, and won’t work in the long term, but in between, the unfairness has become rampant and all too apparent. Their actions are claimed to have led to what the globalists call, the rise of a repugnant form of populism.

 

March 6. Amongst the clinical recommendations for suppressing the virus, is washing your hands often. Prime minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, recommended today that you wash your hands vigorously for about the same length of time it would take to sing two verses of Happy Birthday. In case anyone was in doubt how long this can be or what the song sounds like, he demonstrated. I hope he’s right.

 

March 10-13. Despite opposition and harsh criticism from many organisations and respected professionals, the Cheltenham races could not be halted. Thousands, over a quarter of a million it was reported, of Lords & Ladies and punters from around the world dressed in funny suits and hats, sipped their champagne and gambled merrily through the days and nights, from March 10 to the ‘Gold Cup’, on Friday March 13. It was a horrible display of ‘up yours’, we have a serious bit of horseplay to get on with here.

From the horse’s mouth if you will, I have it from a reliable source that these were amongst the earliest punters to stock up their private jets with family, medical equipment and personnel, and hightail it off to their idyllic holiday homes. Not in Brighton-On-Sea I might add, where the plebs were warned not to go. See also The Guardian on April 10, when just such a private jet was turned back.

 

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Pope Francis visiting his flock March 15

 

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Covid-191 Berlin March 16

 

March 18. A major problem now is, authorities in western countries face a very real threat of civil disobedience from diminished credibility and trust. The threat has become all the more real as vast swathes of workers are losing their jobs, meagre savings, homes and hope. The threat has been recognised, and a confrontation could result in even more deaths. Assertive action is promised.

 

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Civilian authorities in northern Italy call in the army to manage the growing numbers of deceased.

March 19, and figures confirm terrible suffering in some regions of Europe. The number of deaths in Britain are gaining traction, with the figure of 104 appearing to be low. A lockdown of London appears imminent. The  number of deaths in Italy has exceeded 3000, with the highest recorded one day total anywhere in the world at 475. The number of deaths in Ireland remains unchanged at just two. China is reporting no new domestic cases of Covid-19, with a very small number of imported cases being isolated. The reported number of deaths in the USA is 171. A surprisingly small number, but just like the rest of the countries in the Western world, the curve is sharpening skyward.

There is wide suspicion of official figures, due to a number of factors; one, the low numbers being tested, secondly, the official method of recording the cause of death. Secrecy, or the managed suppression of data is also suspected. In an appeal to young people in the USA today, figures were released that showed that, 40% of people admitted to hospitals with Covid-19 were between the age of 20 and 54. The statement was surprising, as it had been previously stated by professionals in almost every country that the the majority of ‘young’ would only suffer mild and barely noticeable symptoms.

It was also revealed today that, with regard to all matters surrounding the spread of Covid-19 in the UK, a ‘secrecy’ clause will be included in an upcoming legislative bill of special measures. The British Prime-Minister, Boris Johnson, also announced that he intends for future Press briefings to be held remotely – digitally, screen only.

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Covid-19 Paris March 17.

 

March 20, and scenes of bodies being removed in a line of army trucks in the worst affected part of Italy, Lombardy, has frightened people. Hopefully it will also frighten some politicians into more urgent action. The figures continue to rise across Europe and more extreme measures are being planned. The lack of cash in many spheres of daily life has also become a worry.

Sky news screened an exclusive interview from the one of the worst hospitals in Lombardy, Italy. For those who watched it, it will almost certainly have seemed apocalyptic.

One of the most advanced hospitals in Europe was full to over capacity with infected and dying patients. When asked what kind of flu was this, a doctor replied, ‘this is not flu’ it is a pneumonic attack’. His most worrying fear was, doctors and nurses were becoming infected and dying.

Meanwhile pubs and schools are still open in the UK!

The pressure on the British government became overwhelming today, and this evening it was announced that everything barring essential to life work places, would close as and from tonight.

It is the prescribed Covid-19 seven days incubation period since the nags came around the last furlong at Cheltenham, and the signs are beginning. How many more will die as a result of the stiff upper lip and the British way of life.

I attended the pharmacy today for to have a prescription filled. I proffered cash for the items and was told that cash will no longer be accepted after March 29 – card only. When I asked, what if, for whatever reason, the card won’t work – the reply was, ‘that won’t happen’.

 

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Covid-19 Buckingham Palace, March 18.

 

March 21. This is a Saturday like no other before, so quiet and so much bad news. Church bells seem to ring eerily louder and remind me of my childhood schooldays.

Italy reports a further increase in the 24 hour fatality reports – 627. Coffins are spilling out of churches and its army continues to be tasked with their removal. Amid further appeals to their colleagues across Europe and beyond, for ‘all possible speed’ in fighting their own pandemic, they announced a worrying trend of younger people beginning to die from the virus.

Despite the warnings, cohorts of NHS staff in the UK cannot get tested.  ‘Test, Test, Test’, the desperate urgency of these words seems lost.

TV footage shows last last-drinks- revellers in the UK giving the fingers before the nationwide closure of its pubs restaurants, etc..

Fears are growing for the African townships where there are widespread cases of TB and HIV. North Korea seems unmoved by the emergency and the devastation of lives, and has tested two more missiles!

European officials have accused Russia of spreading misinformation – and that the spread of the virus was the result of a biological attack mounted by American Special Services in China. ‘Crying Wolf’, so often has its consequences.

This evening it was announced that Italy was seeking over 300 doctors after a new 24 hour record for deaths was announced – 793. Deaths in Spain are also escalating rapidly.

It would seem from the lack of case reports emanating from China now, that Europe and others, although paying a heavy price for slow and insufficient measures. It is sure that a similar escalation of cases will follow before figures fall, even after an application of total lockdown.

I remain surprised at the apparent low figure of infections and fatalities in the UK. People here (Ireland) remain calm and well behaved – this is both surprising and comforting.

 

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Covid-19 New York, March 18.

 

March 22, and the blame game is hotting up. The president of America, Donald Trump and his ‘war’ with China is also hotting up. Mr Trump is calling the virus a Chinese one, and China is blaming the US for its introduction there in 2009. Social media pretty much repeats every bit of less than useless conspiracy rubbish out there.

There is concern about the level of secrecy the authorities are maintaining. A public letter signed by 4000 care and public health staff, are decrying the lack of testing and PPE has appeared in newspapers today. When asked, politicians state that these measures are being delivered, and health staff say, they are not receiving them. Why there should be such contradiction is worrying people.

Severe lockdown measures in several countries is said to be imminent – no going out at all. Necessary items for health and survival (food) will be delivered. Longer periods of isolation, such as three months, are now suggested.

Death tolls continue to escalate and are even rocketing in Italy and Spain. A number of states in the the USA have declared a state of emergency.

 

March 23. Monday, and it was announced in news items this morning that the situation across Europe continues to get worse. Shortages of medical staff are affecting the delivery of treatment and people are dying because of it. The shortages of equipment in the UK’s health system continues to resemble a ping-pong match – ‘we sent it’ – ‘we haven’t got it’.

France admitted to dwindling stocks of equipment and overcame their obsession with the Russian Bear’s capacity for fake news, allowing eight Russian military transport planes stuffed with medical equipment to land. The West’s ‘enemies’, are there helping. Should we suspect dangerous motives or just put our hand out? Does it matter if we receive dictates from Washington, Bejing or Moscow. Will it be different if ever it’s all over?

The Chinese continue to report improvement, but also continue mass testing. There is no apparent let up from their strict diligence. Further experiments in Italy on people in lockdown within closed areas are promising, the ‘Test, Test, Test’ advice is being actively embraced by some and rewarded with success.

Social media, continually criticised for mixed and bad messaging, can also deliver balanced comment from individuals. It is surprising that someone who you may have had only a lightweight friendship with, can turn out be so solid. The news from Philip Lecane (RMS Leinster website) that ex pat Cilla Murphy has just emerged from seven weeks of lockdown and e-learning in China, is sobering and reassuring. ‘Humbled’ and semi-released from full quarantine, she and her colleagues are free to return to some duties, but continually have their temperature taken.

It is regretful that, such a short and basic procedure could not have been introduced at all airports – at least at first, and that it is not still practised in some affected countries. The simplicity of such basic monitoring continues to elude so many super-intelligent people. Her advice to go light on media consumption and just obey the rules, is of course, well intentioned, but so many still seem to think they can continue as before. And as Mr Lenihan (RIP) put it in our previous but financial emergency, ‘we all partied’. He was wrong then, and those who continue to flout good advice that will save lives, are wrong too.

I have returned from my daily walk. Despite visiting a number of pharmacies, there was no hand-sanitizer in stock. Hasn’t been for the past number of days and they are unaware when the stuff might be on the shelves. One pharmacist decried, ‘we haven’t got anything’ !

I was reminded that the self distancing limit seems to have stretched once again. It began with instructions that a person should not touch another. It was soon increased to one metre. Then two metres became the European norm, and today I heard commentators recommend ‘in excess of two metres’. Such a distance suggests to me that the virus could be infectious while airborne for some unknown distance.

Social interaction varies. Some people are very friendly and others pass you with a wide sweep. I’d swear some children are coughing on their parents instructions when they spy an adult coming in their direction. On a narrow flight of steps on a hill in the local park, a busy lady who had not observed me coming up towards her, and that we would pass each other unavoidably close about midway, as she had been very busy peering into her phone, suddenly turned for some unexplained reason and took flight in the opposite direction. Fear is understandable and so is the irrational behaviour of some members of the public, now.

For a moment, it makes me feel lonely and disappointed, and thinking of the poor sufferers of leprosy in the past, who were cruelly shunned and banished from society. All the more poignant when it was later discovered that it is very difficult to contract the disease, person to person.

A real fear has emerged today that, the UK government have deliberately delayed testing and isolation in order to reach that 60% goal of infection amongst the population, in order to derive the ‘herd immunity’ it advocated in earlier briefings. If true, the strategy might be seen as criminal.

In fits of citizen comforting, a number of world leaders have declared war against the virus, and one is left to wonder if negligence or even a strategy bordering on the criminal, and on such a vast scale, will amount to ‘war crimes’. It is familiar to the term Senicide, and has only occurred very rarely in our history. Maybe the over 70’s shouldn’t be allowed to vote either.

This evening closed with the long awaited news from Italy, that the 24 hour death toll has finally begun to fall, 602 died today. Spain is in the grip of a rapidly deteriorating situation and enforcement of a total lockdown has been introduced in the UK. Europe holds its breadth tonight.

 

March 24. Good news this morning from China, and Italy continues with an ever-increasingly more optimistic curve. The news in the UK is like waiting for a bad storm to break – its full of anticipation and dread. There are signs, talk anyway, that medical supplies will begin to reach all those in need very shortly.

Italy has recorded in excess of 6000 deaths due to the Coronavirus. Spain has reported a terrible situation of rising infections and deaths at a rapid rate. The number dead form the virus is well in excess of 2000. One of the worst reports emanating from any country affected by the crisis to date was from Spain today.

After a sudden increase of cases into ICUs, the Spanish defence and security e forces were sent to investigate. They discovered that old people had been abandoned, dying and dead, in a number of nursing homes. An investigation is promised. It doesn’t get much dirtier than that, making a case for not so natural selection.

Fears grow for the USA, where it is suspected to become the epicentre of the disease.

This evening’s reports put the death toll in Spain in excess of 2,800, and the depressing reversal and upsurge in the 24 hr figure for Italy, which rose to 743.

 

March 25. A relatively quiet day, bad-reports wise. The number of deaths continues to rise at a rapid rate in Spain, in the USA, and now in Germany. Figures for Italy remain extremely high.

The supply of medical equipment remains contentious in the UK, and now there are rumblings in Spain & France over similar issues. Some hospitals in the UK have formed charities and are no longer relying on the government promises of ‘soon’ and ‘as soon as possible’, and are buying their own.

Cases of profiteering in the food supply chain and travel are growing. Another disease, greed, is beginning to show its ugly head.

 

March 26, Thursday and the news continues bad. Despite the President of Peru, Jair Bolsonaro, demonstrating a bout of frustration, calling the disease a case of the ‘sniffles’, and just ‘a little flu’, New York is considered to be tipping into being overwhelmed by cases of the virus. The number of deaths and infections are spiralling beyond what anyone had expected. What exactly anyone ‘expected’ from the spread of an unknown virus, could not have been based on any previous experience. More worrying now, are declarations by a number of ICU specialists who stated that this disease is not only affecting and killing old people, it is infecting and killing old and young alike.

The global figure for infections has exceeded a half million. There are over 70,000 positive cases of Corvid-19 in the US, and over 1000 deaths. Providing a ray of hope, there is a small decrease in the figures out of Italy, although the situation is up and down, fears for the South of the country remain high.

The death rate, 0.4%, deaths against infections, remains low in Germany for a number of speculative reasons. It is expected to change, but in which direction and to what degree is unknown. Recording the data, the news, everyone seems to be good at it. What we can learn from the data and predicting outcomes with any degree of confidence, seems a lot more difficult.

 

Spanish figures continue to soar, with over 50,000 infected and well over 4000 deaths.

The policy of testing in the UK is coming under scrutiny from commentators, who inquire, why has testing ceased ? Answers, so difficult to square, suggest a change in testing from infection, to detecting those who have developed antibodies. Major cities in the UK are bracing themselves for a rapid peak in admissions.

Just now, it is comforting but also strange, how everybody seems to have adjusted so well. The children are all being thought at home now. Dogs and daddies are all getting out for their exercise. Dads who went to work every day, can now be seen walking with their wives and children every day. Some husbands and wives seem a little awkward with their new arrangement. Behaviour remains commendable.

Nevertheless, there is a growing sense that we may not be able to continue like this. Life seems just a case of preservation, the day to day quest for achievement has been suppressed, gay abandonment is shelved, and there are those who believe that at some point, pointlessness might overcome.

There is every reason to believe that mental issues in the medical profession, as well as in the general populations, will be a serious factor whenever the disease recedes.

 

March 27. Friday, always a day looked forward to by many. Pay-day, marking a weekend of free-time and a few beers with friends and family. Today, figures reveal the unrelenting march of the disease. The USA has officially become the epicentre of the disease, where more than 85,000 cases have been recorded, and still rocketing.

The Spanish medical authorities are overwhelmed and exasperated. Almost 60,000 have contracted the disease in Spain and in excess of 4,500 have died.

A worrying factor for some observers is the extent to which the world’s financial system might collapse. Property (Private) sales in the UK have been suspended. That is, lenders have agreed to suspend the provision of finance.

Arguments are erupting in Europe over the proposal of Euro Bonds, which would effectively be used to write off debt in Europe. The more financially prudent and stable partners in Europe, like the Scandinavians, Germany, Austria, Holland etc., are hesitant, suggesting that, the more flaky ones, whole-heartily support the suggestion.

Another invisible contagion, if you like, trust, has been eroded in recent years, ever since the exposure of corruption in so many lairs of political and commercial life, and now when it is needed  most, it is in short supply. It is a quality that is becoming like a Will O’ The Wisp, hard to grasp and easy to lose.

Other worrying factors are the fuzzy replies at e-press briefings. Suspecting pre-prepared questions, the few concerning testing and the distribution of medical equipment, only solicit unclear replies. It must be reassuring for officials and politicians to only have to reply to an inanimate object – a computer screen. Some journalists have been clear and frank, openly asking why testing has ceased. Anything resembling direct answers, seemingly the norm now in such briefings, have been confusing and upsetting. What I am drawing from their remarks, is that routine testing of people for infection, if it was ever or intended to be routine, has ended, and selected testing of people for antibodies has been substituted with similar aspirations for success.

Passengers landing in London from Spain on the 26th were not tested or screened in any way, while at the same time testing on the German-Hungarian border is mandatory. This is not omission, it is policy.

It is comforting on the other hand, that the first world leader to be diagnosed with ‘mild symptoms’ of the virus, Boris Johnson, has finally heeded the clinical advice from the WHO. Unfortunately, he tested positive. Verses of ‘Happy Birthday’ having failed, he is self isolating, and has reassured us that he would remain at the helm of the affairs of state, remotely.

He and all the other MPs may have ticked the clinical boxes, and succumbed to testing, but the optics of health-care workers being unable get tested is in stark contrast. The UK Royals too have also been able to get tested and scoot off to isolate in their holiday castles, when it was a no-no for so many of their subjects a few days earlier.

 

The adequate supply of PPE continues to dog the authorities throughout Europe. Scenes of the British army delivering masks from beautifully manicured trucks with little in them, and thousands of testing kits from China being returned because they are faulty, is not encouraging. The beacon of light in all of this has been the humanity and stoic attitude shown by health and care worker across Europe. In the face of a tsunami of sickness and death, at times not helped by bureaucracy, they set the gold standard that many of others have fallen short of.

 

The Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, announced in Dáil Eireann today that, both his party, Fianna Fáil, and the other birth of the state party, Fine Gael, are putting aside their preferred position that was expressed before, during, and after the recent elections, of not entering into coalition. They would, in view of the Covid-19 crisis, forget their differences – and were negotiating to form a government.

The two together, unable to form a majority, Mr Coveney appealed to ‘others’ in the Chamber, ‘Ireland needs you’, to help form some kind of strong coalition. No one believed that he was including the party that received the largest number of first preference votes in the election – Sinn Féin.

The Green party had already ended negotiations with the former two parties, suggesting that a cross-all-party unity -government would be a better way forward. It remains to be seen if it is Ireland or just the ‘old guard’ that needs ‘others’.

 

Evening of March 27th and the world’s barometer, the country everyone is watching to gauge the course of the virus reads, Italy, 919 deaths in 24 hours. The news has cast a dark cloud of despair.

The WHO has now made it clear that all ages can be susceptible to serious infection and death from Covid-19.

On the evening news it was announced that a severe lockdown is in place in Ireland until at least April 12, and that the over 70’s (me) will be ‘cocooned’. Similar measures are now in place across Europe. The medical services are overwhelmed and armed forces are now serving the public. Moving rapidly now, it only remains for us to wait it out the spread of the virus, until the grim reaper has finished with humanity.

 

March 28 is the 1st day of this upgraded lock-down. It also Spring, and gratefully, the days are sunny with beautiful blossoms appearing on the trees. The wind will follow, and as it always does, will blow the colour away. After its annual interval the colour will return, as it always does. A simple gift of nature that makes the dark times more bearable.

I popped around some street corners to visit my sister, Pauline, and her husband Paul Farrell. Chronically challenged somewhat similarly to myself, I sometimes drop in with a couple of beers and we have a chat over old times in the garden. Paul was a garment manufacturer, cutter by trade, and I jested, he might get back into the industry and start producing masks & gowns. Paul’s long held opinion was that, garment production in Ireland all went to China, and he couldn’t compete with them on price. He retired from the business earlier than he would have liked.

 

March 29. The global figure of infected is put at excess of 650,000 and the death toll at over 30,000. Along with many others around the world, I believe most European countries are now in in an advanced form of lockdown, and the battle against the virus is in full swing. With the exception of some Scandinavian countries, even where figures continue to rise, social distancing and closures have been left to the best sense of their citizens. I suppose no marks can be expected why this should be the case. There is an extra hour of sunlight today and it is very welcome.

 

March 30, and most countries are singing from the same hymn sheet now. The chorus is pretty awful. This is going to get worse before it gets better, we must not expect this or that, and the lockdown could continue for an excruciating three further months! Spain and Italy are ahead of the the field with terrible tolls of deaths and infection, with some levelling off being shown in northern Italy.

Mexico is in denial, as you where, with the truthful excuse that no one is going to feed or pay workers for staying at home.

Less justified, are the die-hard tough guys in Belarus, who continue to go to football matches.

Partners in Europe continue to argue over the introduction of Covid or Euro Bonds, effectively, to write off the mounting debt. Not trusting some of their partners, Germany suspects that there will be a dumping of existing debt that the remainder will have to pick up. It will be solved one way or another if only because it has to be!

 

The infection is spreading in Ireland, albeit not rapidly, with unusual incidences of clusters in nursing homes, reminiscent of similar outbreaks in Spain some days earlier. This seems odd, as visiting has already been stopped and the only ones coming and going are staff.

Contacted for advice from a younger member of the family who is employed as nursing assistant in one of these nursing homes, I was shocked to learn that they had two confirmed cases in the hospital, and that the staff not only hadn’t got an adequate level of PPE on ward, but that they were being refused masks. The staff were assembled in the canteen and advised that they were not to inform anyone outside of the hospital of the cases within. I advised my relative to buy a mask and refuse to work unless allowed to wear it. Next day some members had bought their own masks and refused to enter the building unless they were allowed to wear them. The demand was conceded to – what’s going on?

 

Shortages of PPE in Nursing Homes around Ireland and by the HSE itself, have been known about on or before March 30, when it this was conceded in The Journal, March 31.

It seems clear to me that there is something untoward going on in some nursing homes and it may be no coincidence that the running of many of these is contracted out to those who maintain their own priorities. I don’t trust coincidences.

 

Cocooning for over 70’s (Meaning I cannot go out for anything.) has been in place now for three days. Supposedly a system was to have been put in place by local authorities for making contact and for home deliveries of food. No contact yet. I wonder can I go out on a stretcher?

On the up side, figures released by Ireland’s police force show a marked decrease in crime, at least the recording of it. To the over 70’s, now confined in their homes, the fall in the crime statistics will come as no surprise, after years of clambering for more boots on the ground. Inversely there is steep rise in stay at home crime – online hacking and fraud. Pennies continue to drop all over the place.

 

It is a common belief that census figures are tabulated to a very high standard of accuracy. These are then put into computers and statistics are extracted. Now everyone knows that you can present statistics in all manner of ways, depending on what you want to demonstrate. It is no surprise then, to discover that Corvid-19 ‘statistics’ trotted out to the general media to date, by Skype, i.e. deaths from, have only represented those who have died in hospital and after diagnosis of the disease. The overall figures for deaths from the virus, having to be extrapolated from additional statistics.

I am afraid that the ways of Admiral Hall are still being practised in the back rooms.

 

March 31. The population in Ireland are hunkering or is bunkering down without objection but the length of the lockdown time that is been bandied about by politicians is of concern.

I can remember a period when the ‘Cold War’ was blowing its chilly predictions, there was a brisk trade in the provision and building of bunkers – the ones you get into to survive a nuclear holocaust.

Some over 70’s are being criticised for going to the Post Office to collect their pensions, even though most have not been contacted by the new service that would provide them with help and food, which was announced by local government.

RADIO UPDATE – just announced, forms will be issued online and that a help-line is being established, comforting!

The Seanad, a tier of pier oversight by an Upper Chamber, was able to get around the social distancing regulations today, and vote – electing themselves for a salary & expenses. ‘Essential work’ and age exceptions. The number of seats is 60, 11 of which are nominations, 6 by and from universities, and the remainder are elected by members of Dáil Éireann and City Councils. Anyone over the age of 21 can run for election. There is no upper age limit for candidates.

Despite valid returns from polling on February 8, a new government for Ireland has still not been formed.

 

There is a glimmer of hope in the marked decrease in Italian figures today, although death rate remains in excess of 800 per day. Similarly in Spain.  And a warning that, a resurgence of the virus is expected in China, and that Asia is facing dramatic rates of infection. A walk in the park and the beautiful show of tulips has helped.

 

April 1. No April Fool jokes. ‘The science’, or at least some scientists have admitted that they expected Covid-19 would only be a mild disease. I wonder at what point between January and April did they arrive at that conclusion? Equally comforting was the instruction given to the banks by the Bank of England today, to suspend the payments of bonuses and dividends. The optics were all wrong. After some push back from the banks and a visit to their armoury of exceptions, the suspension of the payments of dividends and bonuses, most of the latter which were already paid, was suspended until September, albeit still with a little fuzziness around the bonuses. It was also pointed out that this would not affect investments made in foreign branches of English Banks. Nice one lads, were all in this together!

 

On the other hand it may be comforting to know, that some things don’t change.

 

The announcement that Russia has sent supplies of medical equipment to the USA must be fake news? But it’s not. I wondered if today’s report in the Guardian, that the US nuclear powered aircraft carrier, Theodore Roosevelt,  with 5000 personnel in the Western Pacific, and appealing for help after ‘scores’ of its crew have tested positive with Corvid-19, is also fake news? No its not. Reports also state that some personnel have already been removed, and I presume there are few over 70 years of age on board.

 

President Trump has come face to face with a new and stark reality. His usual banter of guff will not wash anymore. The projected number of possible deaths in the USA is now put at 250,000. Just like in China and a growing number of other countries, masks are to become compulsory in America. The same masks I must remind the reader, that we in northern Europe were told weeks ago, were not necessary, and that we wouldn’t know how to put them on! The same masks were found to be 70% effective in preventing the spread of an earlier Coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), in 2003. It is very difficult to convince someone to do something that is counterintuitive.

 

[SARS was also called Coronavirus 2, the 2020 version is called Covid-19, which gives some indication of the amount of these viruses knocking around.]

 

This afternoon, it has all kicked off in the UK. The testing and PPE is promised again, but to be fair, supplies and testing are earnestly said to be increasing, albeit slowly. The number of deaths has taken the leap feared but expected, 563 have died in the last 24 hours. Anger and frustration is palpable, and blame is in the air. Journalists are still participating in the Skype, TQ&AV, Two Questions and Answer Video or Virtual) session of briefings, that politicians are surely intending to maintain, post Pandemic.

herd-immunity

Illustrator,cartoonist Stephen Bell imagines what Herd Immunity might look like.

 

April 2. The news from Italy, the yardstick everyone is observing, is mixed. The death toll is well in excess of 14,000 but infection rates continue to decline. For the rest, excluding China, it is terrible. There are more than a million recorded infections across the world. Spain has set another daily record of people dying from the disease and their total has passed the 10,000 mark, and in France the figure has risen above 5,000.

This morning, Boris Johnson made a Churchillian like plea for more testing, which would unpuzzle the pandemic. He could have have waited a bit, he looked and sounded a bit out of sorts.

The testing and supply row continues and commentators have called for the appointment of a Minister for Testing – Jeffrey Hunt seems to be the front-runner candidate and possibly the only candidate.

There are signs today that equipment shortages are world-wide now. The home of capitalism, the USA, is also reporting shortages.

Cull, a word synonymous with reducing herds of animals is not being used, but apparently in view of the worsening financial situation, at the same time as fighting a losing battle against the virus, culling of a kind is being openly discussed. It is suggested by professionals and institutions in a number of countries that, we, society, may be forced to let the disease run its course through unprotected populations. And that older people (I guess they mean the over 80’s, but who knows, it might include myself?) might have to forego medical attention in favour of the younger – those with a better chance of survival, at least until some kind of vaccine has been developed.

It also suggested that some areas of countries affected might have their restrictions lifted, in order that commerce can resume. This might have seemed too early, when three months lockdown was suggested only a few weeks ago, but I guess things have changed. It feels like the chips are down.

 

It is interesting how we turn to ‘final solution’ type fixes when the chips are down. Wise old people, of maybe two generations or more, who are seldom listened to, are suddenly expendable. While younger party-goers, the life-blood of capitalism, are more valuable. Who is going to say to a decorated veteran – ‘sorry mate can’t save you today – next’?

At this moment, my gut reaction would be to resist any kind of discrimination. First up – best dressed. At the very least, such a decision should be made by medical staff on the spot, and not acting under some kind of ageist protocol, cobbled together by politicians, who in some cases, can’t even form a government to guide their citizens.

Those who have fled in their jets with staff and equipment are fortunately free from the torment of such choices.

Lest we forget, there is always a debt to be paid to those who have made sacrifices in order that we may arrive on a later date at our own day of reckoning.

 

The crisis has concentrated political minds today, albeit not crushing them, and the leaders of the main political parties in Ireland have agreed that a consensus cross-party government is needed. Four parties, FF, FG, Greens, & Lab., would work well, but Michael Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil (FF), has voiced his doubt about a fifth, meaning Sinn Féin, the party with the largest number of first preference votes after the recent general election, saying that; he believes a fifth would have a destabilising effect. The strength of democracy and hope in trust seem to be fast disappearing in the fog of crisis.

And this evening, the WHO appears to have relented and agreed that, wearing masks is a good idea. I’ve no doubt they will become compulsory by the end of the week!

 

April 3. A beautiful sunny morning, I just have to get out, even alone. A recent companion  woke me this morning, just before 5 o’clock – a black-bird singing in the dead of night, a beautiful song. How do I know it is the same bird each morning? He includes the same few bars in his song, same volume, and keeps within a radius of about 100 meters from the house –  its the same beautiful bird alright.

 

Well the poor old captain of the aircraft carrier, USN Roosevelt appears to have been relieved of his command for seeking assistance in order to save his crew from the outbreak of Covid-19 aboard his ship. Some reported that this modern type of decorated officer was sacked – this was denied by Department of the Navy. Commanders of carriers are not sacked, they are allowed to retire – at least that’s how Gene Hackman got it. It probably wasn’t so much that he sought help for his crew, but more that his communication was leaked to the Press. One wonders what preceded and prompted his actions.

 

The president of Hungary has rebuked Brussels for their accusations of passing laws allowing government by decree, thus threatening democracy. The type of response from Hungary was to be expected, when they referred to France, and accused Brussels of double standards. Their inference was obviously a criticism of the European Parliament’s Nelsonian Eye, when it came to President Macron, who had already introduced several pieces of legislation by decree.

A funny word and method of ruling in a modern democracy, one that I thought France had left in bloody baskets centuries ago. And not to forget the incarceration of elected Catalonian politicians accused of treason for holding a referendum on independence. It is beginning to kind of feel like the establishment is battening down for something.

 

And while we are on Hungary, Euronews reported this morning that despite pleadings, all the senior staff walked out of a hospital there, and were replaced by members of the armed forces. The walkout occurred after they were refused adequate PPE.

Rows over PPE continue to erupt in several countries. Particularly, over the new ‘White Gold’ – masks. In some countries armed escorts are accompanying the delivery of masks.

 

A spokesman for WHO announced a moderation of their advice on masks this morning, assuring us that, they are very helpful in most scenarios. But because there is a shortage of masks worldwide, they are unnecessary in general low risk-of-infection places. They can also give wearers a false sense of security, which is not desirable, and that there is the added risk from constantly handling the mask. Mixed messaging, but maybe it’s necessary ?

A plane load of the White Gold bound for France was commandeered on the tarmac of a Chinese airport yesterday, in exchange for cash, and flown to America. Not quite the end of the week, it was announced today that lower face covering is compulsory in California – even if it is only home-made.

 

The wearing of masks was made compulsory in several states of America during the 1918 pandemic of influenza under pain of fine and or imprisonment.

 

The figures in mainland Europe continue to rise but are stabilising – whatever that means. New infections and deaths continue in high numbers but are slowing.

 

Figures, the collection of data, have become a bone of contention today. Despite a plethora of agencies, media, academic, medical etc., recording day to day data on the spread of Covid-19, there is not a universal approach to its methodology. A figure for the number of deaths in London might not mean the same thing as a similar figure from say, Madrid or Rome. The methods of recording the cause of deaths are different. There are whole swathes of people dying from the disease that are not included in the figures at all. Such as those who die but have not been diagnosed positive with the disease, those in nursing homes and at-home deaths. France is changing their methodology today.

It is uniquely ironic that given all of the high powered computers and professional statisticians, we will not have a true record of the march of this killer disease, because we failed to provide for reporting, adequate testing, and recording. The data will be so corrupt in places that assumptions and modelling will have to substitute for the raw data we either threw away or failed to record.

 

tetsing-cartoon

It could easily have been so different, if we had only kept something for a ‘rainy day’.

 

In a remarkable example of how agencies can and should pull together at such times, a new field hospital catering for 4000 patients opened in London today. The Excel, an Abu Dhabi owned exhibition centre in London’s docklands, was converted in record time, just under two weeks, into a state of the art hospital facility and named, the NHS Nightingale Hospital. After some misunderstanding initially, it was later announced that the owners were providing the site, ‘rent free’.

A number of field hospitals have been erected in England and right across Europe. China having led the way by building a number of large hospitals in one week, from scratch.

 

April 4. Another beautiful day and weather prospects are good. Sadly, due to the fine weather, and the increased number of people about for the weekend, precautionary warnings have been issued to remain vigilant in our social distancing, and our trips out of doors.

I nearly threw up my cornflakes this morning while watching President Donald Trump making an announcement on TV. Fresh from inner circle briefings, a review of the wearing of masks by the latest ‘science’, the CDC in this case, was announced. It delivered a mixed message of Godzilla proportions. Beginning fine, he advised everyone in America that they should cover their lower face, but that this was purely voluntary-voluntary- at this time. He couldn’t just leave it at that, and added, ‘I won’t be doing it’.

 

The financial packages that have been announced in several countries to date were welcomed across the board and eased markets. However, just as with PPE, announcements and action have had time lags before implementation.

Complaints have emerged that the soft loans and financial packages that were announced for business sectors, have not materialised. Designed to help with cash-flow and to part-pay salaries, keeping employees at work and on the payroll, had been applauded as uniquely innovative.  Accusations however, indicate that banks have been doing what they always have done, when parting with money, seeking to offset risk by demanding personal guarantees and demanding certification that applicants are unable to get loans elsewhere. Orders have been given to the banks to cease these demands and guarantees and distribute the money.

It would appear to me that the across the board lockdown might end sooner rather than a lot later in its present format, for a number of reasons.

(1) Economies will buckle under the strain of continued commercial and financial           stagnation.

(2) A prolonged lockdown will become physically and mentally intolerable.

(3) This approach is already working in China.

 

The death toll in Spain continues to fall, while it rises in the UK. Turkey has announced the seemingly drastic measures of confining all those under the age of twenty years, and a number of cities, to be quarantined.

Much to the relief of front-line staff, Spain’s figures continue a downward trend.

 

April 5. Announcing a very generous consideration, the Irish Revenue Commissioners have said that, the 183 day non-national tax rule is being relaxed. This is a facility where one has to show that he has been out of the country for 183 days or more in order to avail of non domicile tax status. Force majeure will be accepted by the authorities as a reason for being unable to comply. Conveniently, this works both ways, and notwithstanding any change, I am sure the extended relief for non-domicile tax internationals would not have been missed in any event.

 

Thankfully, in Europe the figures continue to moderate and fall, except for the UK, where they expect the worst. There so much talk now of plans to ease lockdowns in certain areas. Lockdown and distancing on a sunny weekend in England is proving challenging. America is trembling in the face of the Covid onslaught and is girding itself for much worse. Attitudes in Belarus begin to change in the face of a rising curve.

 

There are signs that journalist are getting fed up with the Skype form of press briefings and TQ&AV, and of the wool pulling predictions on latest statistics.

 

Surprisingly, there are a number of European airports still operating flights in and out. It came as an even bigger surprise to discover that there is still no testing of London arrivals. Dublin seems to be similar. In other countries it is compulsory. The WHO and experts from China seem to have been wasting their time offering valuable advice. It is almost like there is twin approach to the pandemic in the UK. One is little, slow, or no testing, and freedom of travel for others, without testing. It would seem the original plan of mass infection is still operational.

 

April 6. Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, was admitted to hospital for closer care. Figures for infections and deaths in Europe continue to stabilise and fall in many areas. Leader of Brazil continues with his walkabouts to help spread mild cases of the ‘sniffles’. Luckily, and having it both ways, his medical services are following guidelines from the WHO as best they can.

 

This evening it was announced that Mr Johnson has been put into intensive care. Dominick Raab has been filling in as deputy prime minister. There are anxious enquiries about just when the lockdown will be lifted, and if there are any plans for it. The projected unemployment figures for the period of extended lockdown are horrendous, making one wonder if the cure could be worse than the disease?

 

April 7. Despite confused leadership in Britain, the markets have decided this morning that it is all over, and have rebounded strongly. It might be more to do with the prospect of handling all that cheap money that is about to cascade out of the fruit machines from Brussels into Canary Wharf. Loans, loans, grants, structural funds, long term cheap money, is a bone of contention between the European partners, and how best to distribute funds from a type of Marshall Plan.

Still anxiously awaiting on peaks in Britain and the US, the number of deaths around Europe is grotesquely high and still growing. Italy has over 16,500, France 9,000, Spain 13,500, Germany 1,800, UK 6,000, USA, 11,000. Although the graph and its peaks match the general activity of this virus in other countries, the number of deaths in Belarus remains remarkably low at 13, considering the population is almost twice that of Ireland.

 

It is ten days since I was told to cocoon, stay at home and not to go out, with the promise that ‘we’ll be in touch.’ Not one got in touch, and apparently it was decided that cocooners should ring a help line if cold or hungry. If feeling unwell, continue to isolate.

 

April 8. Boris Johnson remains in intensive care and seemingly the most important things to know are, when will he be getting out, and is who is in charge? The two-step answers are frustratingly time wasting. It appears now that ‘the science’, supports a rapid programme of ‘test, test, test’, not in line with the recommendation by the WHO, but the German model – the same.

The WHO came under fire from Donald Trump his morning after he threatened to withhold his country’s contribution because ‘they missed the call, with Covid-19’. In another swipe at the WHO, it was also announced that everyone in the USA, (Figures for recorded cases of infection are at 500K) would get masks in the post, and that wearing one will be compulsory. Will he – or won’t he?

 

While China is up and running again, trains, planes, and citizens back in the workplace, Europe is beset with problems. Some differences between Totalitarianism and Democracy becoming glaringly obvious.

In the first instance, Covid-19 pandemic figures in Europe are beset with constant change in the methods used to record infections and deaths. In Spain for example, the fall in the death rate reversed today and rose once again, but supposedly because the recording method changed. Some people are not convinced.

A strategy for mass testing in Europe cannot be agreed. A financial strategy for a recovery cannot be agreed. The division, mistrust, between northern European countries and southern ones, is exposed. Germanic financial propriety is in conflict with the laze fair populations of the Mediterranean rim.

 

Europe now has four major problems in the air. Brexit, Migration, Financial and Covid-19. It’s not an easy task to solve one, four together is way too optimistic, without unity, one or more may prove impossible.

 

April 9. Deaths in the UK have almost reached 1000 per 24 hours. Deaths in France are at 550. Travellers from both of these countries into Ireland, and those that can just walk over the border from UK territory in Northern Ireland into southern Ireland, are not been tested! The guidelines that attach to the transport of pets, the non human type, for the same journeys, remain the same. They must have veterinary certification to show that they have their inoculations and are free from this and that.

Despite the evidence of simple testing almost everywhere in China, where they have lifted lockdown, there is still a lack of testing taking place in Ireland or the UK , with even the most basic of clinical implements, a thermometer. Someone is going to have to explain why such basic and simple procedures cannot be implemented.

 

Additional security measures in Ireland came into force for the Easter holiday period. People are been stopped by police patrols all over the place, and the spread of Easter Eggs has come to a halt. People must stay at home and abide by the 2K limit.

 

Nursing homes in Ireland are suffering similarly with many others in Europe. Six deaths were reported in one undisclosed Dublin nursing home yesterday. The lack of diligent oversight in nursing homes has been a contentious issue even before this pandemic.

The Irish Times today has reported a letter by Dr D. Graham, local GP of Peamount Road, that senior medical staff at Peamount Hospital, also a residential nursing home facility, are being removed by the hospital board and a court injunction to halt the process is being sought by the staff affected. Interestingly, he expresses fears about the spread of Tuberculosis.

 

The US is in the depths of despair, with President Trump making swipes at anyone resembling a commentator who is in the ‘half empty’ category. Europe, despite a reversal of numbers in Spain, considered to be temporary, and the UK peaking, the remaining countries are settling into a period which has become ‘the plateau’.

 

A spread and rise in the figures is expected in Eastern Europe and Russia.

 

There was a remarkable and moving display of solidarity across Britain this evening, when millions came out to applaud their National Health Service and its employees. This was the third time for such a show of appreciation.

 

April 10. As the figures producing one catastrophe begin to level off and even decline in Europe, those of yet another, are beginning to rise everywhere. Unemployment. It was announced that there are 17 million people signing on in America for unemployment benefit. The figures too in Europe are rising swiftly and the EEC has just announced a new emergency fund of 550 billion, in order to alleviate countries worst affected.

As is customary with European bureaucrats, the small writing has not yet been teased out, but northern Europeans still consider Euro Bonds an unacceptable concept.

 

It was reported today that Sweden’s top virologist has misgivings about his country’s approach to combating Covid-19. He believed that the authorities had taken the ‘herd immunity’ approach, and that the lack of a strict policy of social distancing, similar to ones applied in Europe, will lead to the spread of the disease and an unnecessary number of deaths.

 

April 11. Almost inevitably, European authorities and security services seem to be competing for the longest period of ‘lockdown’. Ireland’s Taoiseach has announced that the lockdown will be pushed out until May 5. This is a difficult ask from people who are not affected as hard as others in Europe. The crackdown may have more to do with the herd mentality of European officials, and how best to weal such a blunt instrument.

Personally, I find it very difficult to understand why my discipline of social distancing has to be confined to the home, 2 kilometres, or beyond. I am not fraternising with anyone. The park and all its new ruts are beginning to become a bit too familiar.

I visited my old diving buddy, Jimmy Elworthy today. I travelled the few kilometres by bike and we shared tea and biscuits in the garden. His wife Margie and children are all fine, and still casting a shadow. We caught up on old times for an hour or two, and remembered some of our old friends not with us anymore. It was nice.

Today’s global figures (Wikipedia) are like many of the forgoing daily tallies  – staggering. 1.7 million have contracted the disease. 1.4 million have recovered. 102 thousand have died from the disease. An even later announcement from the USA of 2000 deaths in 24 hours, is devastating.

The spread of the disease is at different stages across many countries and the figures will continue to rise for a long time to come. It is regretful that, even after almost three months devastation, the ping-pong battle between politicians and front-line medics for PPE, is still being waged on a TV screen.

 

Now that it has been reported animals have contracted Covid-19 (Examples of cats, big and small to date.) there is a rush to pronounce that humans cannot get it from animals. I wonder how the animals got it in the first instance. Sounds all too familiar. I also wonder how we can work that one out, when we do so little testing?

 

April 12. Easter Sunday. News is pretty grim. Although chocolate making has been declared and essential industry in Belgium, it looks like we are to be confined for a lot longer than first expected. My heart goes out to those who are on their own, particularly the young. You might say, what about the old? Well, they are lonely of course, but they tend to heroically stoic and have memories to visit. Young vulnerable people, with little life experience, no family, or estranged, may become very anxious and resort to rash behaviour in such unprecedented circumstances. Who knocks on their door?

The predictions for England are dire – from experts. The situation in the USA is dire. The site of mass graves on old industrial sites is depressing. If the images were in black and white they could be 100 years old.

Experts have said that Germany avoided the worst because of early testing, that word again, accompanied by isolation measures. Not alone, the UK was slow to recognise the severity of the threat and a very high death toll is expected, possibly the highest in Europe.

 

It remains puzzling why outbreaks of this virus in underdeveloped countries have not produced more severe consequences before now. Some point to data collection, or the lack of it. Unless there is some kind of unidentified immunity attached to people living certain parts of the world, then I am afraid the worst is yet to come. So many people living in degraded conditions of hygiene will almost certainly result in terrible levels of mortality.

 

Easter would seem to be an appropriate time to bring this diary to a close. For one thing, the record of Covid-19 is being well documented, and my own will be of little interest to statisticians or social behavioural experts. Besides, the practise of recording so much misery, is beginning to get me down. It shall remain, just a window into one person’s view of a unique period.

 

Religious story-tellers teach that, a fair man was once judged to have committed a crime around this time of the year so long ago, and was punished with the loss of his life. He reputedly rose from his final resting place into a life again. Perhaps faith and hope is all that we really need.

 

 -

We Promise to do Better

 

All the academic graphs demonstrated the course/time, sudden peaks and plateaus of the Coronavirus in the various countries affected. Not measured, there was another aspect to the same graphs, one that mirrored the reaction of governments and the medical services.

 In the beginning there was disbelief…it won’t happen here, and then very little, only basic reaction. And whether it was a deliberate policy, lack of resources or inadequate pre planning, the disease got a foothold and rampaged through the populations of the world. When the graph lines began to rise and peak, the authorities were forced to apply maximum effort, and then the rise of the line stalled.

Front line medical staff were decimated, those still standing were exhausted, and many brave ones died.

The catastrophe was very similar to the one a century earlier, and as being ‘behind the curve’ takes on a new resonance, maybe we can beat the graph the next time, and ‘flatten the curve’ much earlier.

 

The thing about graphs is; they represent something that has already occurred. In the fight against dangerous viruses, there are no marks for afterthought, despite how colourfully dramatic it is presented. What is required, is preventative action before the event. Few have been wise or even brave enough to tell the King about his lack of clothes. And shame on the politicians and officials who were told and ignored sound genuine advice. We have got to stop ticking boxes on the financial spread-sheets and look more closely at the human cost of jack-boot financial propriety.

 

The First World was caught with its pants down. There is no other way to put it. Despite the gross unpreparedness and even negligence, many lives were still saved from the virus that spread across the world like a bush fire in 2020. Man-made systems did prevent an even greater toll, and will continue to improve and save even more lives. There were no such systems in 1918 and for many years afterwards, and millions died.

 

There is no doubt that if the medical institutions and professions in many countries had not been prepared in the way they were, albeit inadequately as it appeared, many more would have died. And despite our criticism, no efforts were spared by armies of professionals and volunteers to heal the sick and prevent further spread of the disease.

 

‘Systems’ is a catch all word, and in this case it should be thought of in terms of all the medical and epidemiology professionals across the world whose everyday concern is care. Their life’s work is to prevent harm and to save lives.

It should also be thought of in terms of all the ‘essential’ workers who turned up for work to keep civilisation from descending into chaos; shopworkers, communications technicians, cleaners, waste disposal operatives and so many more behind the scenes to whom a thought would not ordinarily be given.

 

The same cannot be said about some of our so called leaders. We mustn’t dwell on this sort of criticism, itself being a harmful infection. But we should not forget either, those who did not act at all, who acted slowly, and those who acted against our best interest, either from ignorance or some other imperative.

Particular pests against I would like to see the full weight of retribution being concentrated, are those who attempted to profit from our weakened state. And those that fled to the comfort of safer and palatial surroundings, possibly spreading disease even quicker, when Joe citizen was being told not to collect his pension.

 

Will it ever be asked, who should pay for cleaning up the world arena in order that absent capitalists can return to a sanitised financial forum in search of increased profit?

 

Particular circumstances occurred in the UK and other countries, where a choice was seemingly made at the outset. On the one side it was the value of ‘Test, Test, Test,’ recommended by WHO, and exampled by those who were presumed to have been the source of the virus – Chinese. On the other, it was ‘the science’ this elusive backroom super-intelligence, which seemed to have recommended that the population of Britain, and by infection, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and even Eire, should be allowed to become infected, thus promoting what was described as ‘a herd immunity’. The plan sounded suicidal, and when it was pointed out that this might mean that 250,000 citizens could die as a result, there was no direct response.

There is instead, every indication that this policy was indeed pursued, until the rising figures and projected numbers of serious infections and deaths began to rise sharply. I am sure ‘modelling’ or ‘the science’, is a very effective science in politics, but for saving lives, our model is clearly not good enough. And it may very well be the case that, other countries made the very same choices.

 

Despite the warnings and all of the criticism, from the very moment that the Cheltenham Races and football matches were allowed to continue, at the same time that large gatherings were being cancelled in neighbouring Ireland, Patrick’s Day celebrations for instance, and thousands already dead and dying throughout Europe, it was obvious there was a problem with credibility. No one can claim not to have known. That is, the warnings, the evidence right up in the face of the British Bulldog were not being taken seriously. Despite the dreadful situation in Italy, British officials were still quoting and relying on ‘the science’.

 

Equipment was another major problem and need not have been, if the recommendations of the still classified report, Cygnus, carried out across Britain in 2016 had been heeded. In a simulated pandemic, it clearly found failings (Sky News April 1.) in the supply and distribution chain of vital equipment. This particular failing continued and was purely down to planning and financial considerations. Was Cygnus not ‘science’? It was produced by professionals and scientists, so why was its findings not acted on?

 

Despite what some will say, it is not easy to criticise, we all have failings of one kind or another, but we must accompany criticism with a view of better.

 

Unfortunately, it will become necessary to establish an international protocol for travel and the medical suitability of travellers. A medical passport system will become the norm, hi-tec, a chip, or low- tec, a medical certificate. These will indicate the holder is ‘free from whatever’.

The consequences of messing around with animals and the cross-contamination and infection of foodstuffs across international borders and its freedom to travel the world, are with us, and out of control. A raft of new measures or even completely new systems will be required. Many of the liberties we have enjoyed will be lost. The alternative, next time, does not bear contemplation – but we must.

 

A comparison not hitherto mentioned and a sobering thought if one considers that, if the thousands of lives that were saved by the use of ventilating machines and modern medical equipment, were instead lost by not having them, then the mortality rate of the Coronavirus, Covid-19, may well have been very similar to the 1918 pandemic of ‘flu’. And even so, it may still become comparable or even greater.

[Early models of the modern ventilation machine were not in use until after WW2.]

 

We are an arrogant and a sometimes dangerous species, and we must humble ourselves in the face of things we know little about. Let’s put our differences and greed aside and make the earth a better place.

 

 

Once again we applaud our real heroes – citizens.

 

 -

Acknowledgements

 

Thanks to my family and friends for showing no interest in such a morbid subject. It kept my feet on the ground, and prevented me from sinking into the morass of a depressing subject. I have done my best to remain faithful to, and stick with the facts contained in the original version of ‘All Measures Necessary’, and also relying heavily on contemporary newspaper articles. The books referenced and written between the world wars were invaluable references, demonstrating a very unusual and little discussed aspect of WWI.

The original ‘All Measures Necessary’ was resurrected and included in Part I and Part II of this book. In addition, I relied heavily on modern books and internet accounts of the investigations into these diseases that regretfully, continue to this day.

Part III describes the unbelievable shock the world experienced as a new strain of Coronavirus, Covid-19; rampaged through a society that was almost totally unprepared for the level sickness and death it wrought on citizens around the world. It continues to shatter the misguided sense of invincibility we had so vainly presumed.

The Corvid diary is my own. At first, its importance had not sunk in and the reader can see the stop-start approach in the early entries. It soon became a daily snapshot of my own activity and from unfolding events reported in various media sources. Where paraphrasing occurs, I apologise in advance for any inaccuracies, or what appears as bad taste.

This has been a rare opportunity to compare two pandemics, separated by a century, and remarkably, remain very similar. Was it coincidence?

 

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America’s Forgotten Pandemic. – Alfred W. Crosby. Cambridge University Press, 1989.

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The Life And Letters Of Walter H. Page.- B.J.Hendrick. London, 1924.

The Plague of the Spanish Lady. – Richard Collier. McMillan, London.

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The Zimmermann, Arthur Telegram. – Barbara W.Tuchman. MacMillan Publishing Co.,  New York,1958.

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PLEASE NOTE. No part of this post, text or images should be reproduced with the author’s permission.

All Measures Necessary Part I  http://ouzelgalley.net/ouzelgalley/all-measures-necessary-part-1-of-iii/

All Measures Necessary Part II  http://ouzelgalley.net/ouzelgalley/all-measures-necessary-part-ii-of-iii/

All Measures Necessary Part III   http://ouzelgalley.net/ouzelgalley/all-measures-necessary-part-iii-of-iii/

Epilogue of a Disease   http://ouzelgalley.net/ouzelgalley/epilogue-of-a-disease/