Day 28 – Sunday 12th April
Four whole weeks of being stuck indoors and at least four more to go. Let’s be honest probably more than that. I’d like to say that I am used to this life now, that I have managed to be super productive and enjoy the down time it has given me. It would be a lie. Yes, I appreciate the down time, I’ve managed to get things done and certainly have got myself into a routine. However in comparison to my old life it is boring as hell. I want that old life back please, sooner rather than later. Selfish of me, but true.
Unfortunately there are no easy options here, and what I want doesn’t count in the grand scheme of things. New cases and death rates are going down in Spain but we are a long way from being in control of this virus. If they stop the quarantine now we will almost definitely see a new spike in cases. Barring a vaccine, which we all know is months away, our only hope is better, faster and more wide spread testing, followed immediate isolation of any cases away from their family. I only watch the Spanish news once a week, so I’m not fully up to date, but I’m pretty sure we do not yet have the testing capacity required.
I guess one of the reasons this irritates right now is that as of Monday non essential workers who are unable to work from home can go back to work. They have been quarantined the same as the rest of us for the last two weeks. This includes construction workers, plumbers, electricians etc. Now in fairness when the quarantine started, and these guys were still allowed to work, movement around Madrid went down by 70%. When these workers were further quarantined we only gained an additional 10% drop in movement. So letting them back to work isn’t a great difference. The government has made masks available to be handed out to anyone on public transport and companies have been told they must put necessary safety measures in place.
The reason it irritates is there is a sensation of them and us. If I had a different job, or didn’t live so near to the supermarket, or I had a dog I would be allowed out more often. As it is I’m out only once or twice a week to go to a supermarket only 5 minutes away. I totally understand why this is necessary and having seen the trauma on the faces of medical staff trying to cope with the flood of cases, I certainly wont be contributing to this virus’ spread. I will continue to remain at home, but I’m becoming jealous of those who are allowed out. Not the key workers, as I’m sure their frontline jobs put them under severe stress and they’d rather be at home. No, it’s this second tier that will go back to work this coming week.
Not that they asked for it, and if the news articles are to be believed they are not all happy with this development. It would be wrong to hold it against them, but it just goes to show how fed up we are all becoming. It would help to see a clear exit strategy and to know when this will all end, but as I said before there are no easy options. They all come with major downsides whether through an increase in cases and death, or damage to the economic and social fabric of society.
This quarantine works because we all understand and agree with it. It works because we choose to co operate. I’m a pretty steady person and not one to get unduly upset or go against the grain. If I’m feeling fed up I wonder how much worse some others may be and for how long the government can count on people’s co operation. I do not envy them their job. Making decisions during this crisis is a minefield with no ideal solution. They’re trying to pick the least destructive path and doing so with limited information and against the usual background of political bickering. Even to get out of this quarantine that is not a job I would accept.
Sunday always gets me down a bit because it’s the day I let myself catch up with the news, which is rarely good. Regardless of that let’s end with some positives. Some group at Oxford University reckon they could have a vaccine by September. I think they may have done some short cuts, which is worrying, and I assume it would still need to be manufactured in quantity and therefore not available to the general public for months after that date. Still it’s progress. Medical staff are also seeing some signs of hope in treating intensive care patients with plasma donated by individuals who have had the virus and been cured.
Finally there’s the ever decreasing number of new cases and deaths in Spain which says we have passed the peak and that the quarantine is working. We just need to keep it up and hopefully the new cases and new deaths per week will continue to decline as they have done this week. As of Sunday night there were 169,496 confirmed cases in Spain (47,146 in Madrid) and 17,489 deaths (6,423 in Madrid). The chart below, which I put together from the numbers provided by the Guardia civil at N332, shows how this week has seen a significant drop in both new cases and deaths.