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The Corona Files: An explainer

After the Coronavirus reached Italy and created havoc there, it was only a matter of time when it would arrive in Ireland and so it happened and – through visitors in Italy – the virus made it to our little island.

And like in most European countries the confusion was huge at first, the demands on politicians were massive and finally the Taoiseach had not other option but to also declare the closure of schools and universities and cultural institutions.

This is a completely unprecedented situation that nobody in this whole world has any experience with, so there is no real right or wrong yet and I think our politicians have done the best they could.

You might be very worried about this virus, so let me explain what one of the most eminent SARS experts in Germany, Virologist Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, says about the Corona Virus /Covid-19, which has a lot of similarities to the SARS virus.

He explains that it is expected that nearly every one will get infected at some stage over the next few months. For kids, there seems to be an indication that they are only carriers and will not experience severe symptoms. Then there is the age 12-65 where the symptoms will be a general weakness, a persistent cough and – in most cases – a raised temperature. But after about 2 weeks all is over and they will recover. And then there is the groups of elderly people from 65 years of age. In this group it is expected that unfortunately up to 20 or 25% of infected people will die. The virus itself doesn’t kill, but the body (especially the circulatory system) will be so challenged after around 5 days with symptoms, that it will not be able to continue to work in weaker people or people with an pre-existing heart problem and a few other issues. They and younger people with other underlying health problems will be the people that need to be looked after in a hospital.

After the first phase, the Containment Phase, didn’t succeed and the virus could not be contained. We entered the Delay phase. In this phase the focus is on delaying the spread of the virus (not stopping it!). There is no way to stop it, but if all people that could get infected would get infected around the same time, the health system would collapse. (I saw a calculation that described that the UK, for example, would need over 1 million hospital bed if the spread couldn’t be delayed, but they only have 140,000 beds.) So currently they are ONLY trying to delay the infection.

The experts are expecting that the infections will continue until September or even longer. :-O And that nearly all of us will get infected at some time over this time. So all the current limitations, including school, university closures and closures of all cultural institutions will unlikely end on 29 March.

Most flu viruses don’t like the warmer weather, but it seems the Corona virus can handle it, so there is a high probability that the virus will not “disappear” over the summer and then come back in autumn/winter, but that it will stay with us.

In that case – and if it ha immunisation as a result – it would be positive for the healthy among us to get it early on, but the problem is that for a period of 2 weeks BEFORE you show any symptoms, you can already infect people. So this is the dangerous period during which you should stay away from all weak and elderly people.

No vaccines will be available until probably next year, so we can’t hope for that to sort the situation.

In general, try to stay upbeat and try not to panic. Prepare yourself mentally that this virus will be with us for quite some time (And we thought Brexit was an endless story!?) and that the current or some other social distancing rules will either stay in place or will come back again in a few weeks. Oh and stay healthy as much as possible so that you will get over it fast when the virus hits you.


And here is some advise on how to behave in the next few weeks or months:

1. An infected person would have to cough, sneeze or – and we all do that – spit while talking. The droplets fly through the air and would have to land on your face to infect you directly. If you keep a distance from the people you talk to, there is a good chance that the droplets fall on the ground and will be harmless for you.

2. If an infected person coughs into their hands and then touches a doorknob/tap/fridge door/steering wheel/shopping cart, they will leave the droplets there. The droplets are relatively sticky and can survive for up to 3 days and some surfaces and only approximately 3 hours on others. If you then touch that surface AND transfer the droplets to your eyes, nose or mouth you can also get infected. So, don’t touch your face and you are most likely fine.

3. An infected person doesn’t show symptoms for up to 14 days, but can pass on the virus already. So we should be vigilant with regards to all people, not just obviously ill people. You will not get sick just by being in the same room with someone who is infected.

Adhere to this protocol:

◦ Don’t touch your face

◦ Wash hands surgeon style for at least 30 seconds after potential exposure to surfaces that others may have touched. You may think you know how to wash your hands, but you should STILL watch a video and get it right.

◦ Social distancing will decrease the risk of getting infected. Cancel unnecessary meetings, but confidently go to necessary engagements and then use the protocol above.

◦ Carry a large handkerchief at all times, even when you are not sick. Cough into it or at least cough into your elbow. Do not cough without covering your mouth.

◦ Wipe your phone down (at same time as washing hands)

◦ Wipe fridge door, taps, light switches, remote controls, keyboards etc

◦ Use a paper towel to open the door on the way out of a public toilet.

◦ Washing your hands with soap and water is sufficient. Anti-bacterial soap is NOT required. Hand sanitizer is NOT as efficient as soap, but can be used when no soap and water is available. Make sure that the hand sanitizer has 60+% of alcohol in it.

◦ Remember you have an immune system too. Even if the droplets manage to reach you, the virus still has to get past your immune system. So keep that healthy! Look after yourself and don’t run yourself down.

◦ Take care of your emotional self – fear, worry and anxiety wear you down

◦ If you do feel sick, immediately self-isolate, get tested and take directions from your health care provider.

Skirts for the boys? – Gender Neutral School Uniforms

St. Brigid’s National School in Greystones has decided that from September “gender neutral school uniforms” will be introduced, which means that boys will be allowed to wear skirts and girls are allowed to wear trousers.

The change was “entirely student-led” the school says and after a trigger from the students, the school checked with the parents and then decided to go ahead with the change.

On Facebook (and probably in society) this approach is praised by some and ridiculed by others.

In my opinion, it is loooong overdue to allow girls to ditch the nonsensical skirts in cold Ireland. In fact, I think everyone should be allowed to wear whatever they want, but that might still be a step to far.

Growing up in Germany where school uniforms don’t exist, I still find it odd that schools in Ireland still have school uniforms in 2019. I had many discussions with friends about this topic and understand that the opinion is that a school uniforms reduces the pressure and competition for students to wear “cool” clothes, but uniforms are part of adult life and I think we should give our kids the chance to live their individuality as long as they are in school.

The new approach in the National School in Greystones is at least a little step in the right direction. People panic about boys suddenly wearing skirts and – you know what – this is stupid argument! I would bet money on the fact that it is extremely unlikely that any of the boys will suddenly wear skirts, but why did it take until 2019 to let the girls wear trousers if they wish to? It is time to change!

However, there is still a problem in my eyes: Why do schools force kids to wear ties? Pupils in St. Brigid’s National School have to wear green ties, no matter if they are boys or girls. Can we PLEASE simplify the uniforms and make them child compatible.

www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2019/0620/1056436-st-brigids-national-school-greystones/

www.independent.ie/irish-news/education/weve-had-a-few-negative-calls-wicklow-school-on-decision-to-introduce-genderneutral-uniform-policy-38238725.html

Father’s Day Presents Without Imagination

Father’s Day is ahead! I don’t really rate Father’s Day and think it is equality-triggered nonsense to have a Father’s Day as a counterbalance to Mother’s Day. This is not because father’s in general don’t do a great job with kids, but it is because no matter what we tell ourselves, mothers will ALWAYS do much more and give up a huge amount more than father’s in connection with raring kids.

But let’s park that for now and let’s have a look at the Father’s Day presents in super markets. Without question, you will find Slippers (preferably with Star Wars, Simpsons or Batman symbol on it), Pyjama’s, Shavers and then the absolute favourite of any man (I assume), the “Nose & Ear Hair Trimmer”. I mean, come on, if you got any of these presents wouldn’t you be ecstatic? The supermarkets think you should be! Shame on you if you expect more imagination! ;-)

And just to make sure that this doesn’t seem like a one-sided post. ;-) Yes, I also think that Mother’s Day presents are outrageously unimaginative. How about a hand mixer or a blender? Or a weighing scale? Or if you are lucky, you might get a footspa or an acrylic nail starter kit. :-O

Deranged opinions of legal profession in Ireland! – Rape case in Cork

I have complained many times over the last few years about nonsensical judgements by Irish judges that let criminals off with super low or with no penalties in cases where we, the public feel that serious misjustice has been done.

So many judges in Ireland clearly can not be trusted with the law, which is a shocking realisation in itself. But we would hope that other part of the justice system are at least more trustworthy and show a better understanding of right and wrong.

A trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, however, showed that the next level down, i.e. the people that are not (yet) judges are as deranged in their opinions as many judges.

At that trial in Cork a 27 year old man was accused of raping a 17 year old girl in a laneway.

In her closing words, the senior counsel for the defence, Elizabeth O’Connell SC said:
“Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.” :-O

The job of a defence lawyer is to achieve an acquittal of the accused and they do whatever it takes, even defending someone who is clearly guilty. We don’t know if the accused in this case was guilty or not. He claims that she consented, she says she didn’t. BUT he was acquitted in court by a jury of eight men and four women and it could well be that the outrageousness of “wearing a thong with lace front” contributed to that acquittal.

First of all, how can the clothing that a woman is wearing justify a rape? That is totally ridiculous! Some men might not have much of a brain, others are happy to switch it off, but NO man should EVER be allowed to use the defence that he couldn’t stop himself after he saw a woman dressed in a certain way.

Secondly, how does it matter what clothing is worn UNDERNEATH the normal (outer) clothing? Unless I run around showing everyone my under wear, it is MY decision what I wear underneath and NOBODY has the right to assume that I am inviting any sort of behaviour based on my choice of under garment!

But it is the third thing that shocks me most! This stupid argument about the “thong with a lace front” justifying what might have been rape was not raised by an old, crusty, misogynistic, out-of-touch-with-life, male solicitor/barrister. No, it was used by a middle aged FEMALE barrister and I can only assume that she never wore a “thong with a lace front” in her life! (Her picture is in this article, but has been removed by the Law Library it seems where it was originally found.) If women think that another woman’s clothing choice justifies any sort of behaviour by a man, then what chance do young women that were attacked have in this country?

Even more oddly, though, the FEMALE judge in the court did not stop that misguided defence strategy, but seemingly accepted the victim blaming based on her choice of clothing.

The Irish legal system is in a bad state if the professionals in it have no better understanding of right and wrong!!

The Irish Examiner brought this court case to our attention.

Useless laws in Ireland? Why only here?

In some parts of Dublin, there is a problem with motorised youths on footpaths and in parks. They use quadbikes and small motorbikes (nicknamed “scramblers”) and in 2016 a total of 71 people got injured and in 2017, 62 people suffered injuries, Now I have to be honest and admit that I don’t really care about injuries to people that drive them. It is only injuries to people that are hit by them that count.

You would think that if an illegal vehicle is used (the quadbikes and motorbikes have no insurance and pay no tax), the gardai would make sure that the bikes will be impounded and the drivers will be charged and punished. You would think that! But that is not what is happening!

Instead it emerged this week that Gardai are told NOT to pursue quad bikes and it also emerged that Irish laws are not so clear on what a street is.

I can’t get my head around this: There are around 190 countries in this world and there are many countries (mainly in Europe) where the legal system is quite similar to the system in Ireland. If ANY one of these countries has effective laws and effective law enforcement in ANY area that Ireland can’t get under control, why do our lawmakers not just copy the laws that others have put in place?

We constantly hear of loop holes for drunken drivers. Now there is a problem with quadbikes and motorbikes and there are many other areas as well where the Irish laws are ineffective. Is it that our law makers are just not smart enough or why can’t they get it sorted?

Here is an example of a story that shows the ineffectiveness of laws and law enforcement.

 

 
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