I have just read this article in today’s The Guardian. This is such an important topic that nobody seems to be addressing. Please read it, links below.
China has issued a temporary ban. Why temporary?!?
“Mrema said she was optimistic that the world would take the consequences of the destruction of the natural world more seriously in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.”
I’m not optimistic at all. I have little faith in governments and policy makers worldwide (and mankind, I’m afraid.) I mean, look at the buffoon in The White House. That’s a sad consequence of ‘populism.’ For days now, he’s been publicly pushing an anti-malarial drug called hydroxychloroquine. Why? As one New York Times commentator wrote – “Is there a financial connection between Trump and Merck?” If there was, would anyone be surprised?
I believe that once this pandemic is done, we’ll return to our old ways and “business as usual.” There will be more epidemics.
I read The Guardian every single day for its excellent reporting:
Peacocks, porcupines and pangolins
Well, it’s probably too late now. The number of so-called first-world nations that have bungled and stumbled their way through this pandemic while causing untold, unecessary deaths is mind-blowing. First world? More like dazed, confused and utterly unprepared. Not Germany, though. Maybe because Angela Merkel is a scientist by training?
Despite being among the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, Germany has recorded an astonishingly low number of deaths in comparison to its European neighbors (and elsewhere.) As of April 3rd, the country has witnessed just 1,107 deaths.
The good news on this Sunday April 5th is that death rates are starting to fall in the hardest-hit countries like Spain and Italy. The bad news is the US death rate is doubling every three days. Here are today’s statistics compiled at John Hopkins University:
See this fascinating COVID-19 world map, updated daily, from John Hopkins University –
A tiny glimmer, a flicker of light at the end of a long dark tunnel: yesterday, for the first time since this dreadful nightmare began, the French government began talks to suggest (not confirm) that maybe towards mid-April they might – after appraisal and subject to testing – begin lifting the enforced lockdown, not all at once, but region by region and depending on age groups.
Here are three readers’ comments (which I have translated) from Le Figaro newspaper:
“No! Absolutely opposed to age segregation which is unconstitutional and would represent an unacceptable violation of liberties!! If, after forty days enforced confinement has not produced results, it’s because, quite simply, it does not work with this virus. Other methods based on personal protection, which do not completely sink the economy, should be sought (see the example of South Korea). In a democracy, you cannot put an entire people under house arrest for more than 40 days.”
“Stop dreaming. The end of confinement is not for tomorrow and even less for mid-April. As long as this virus is circulating on our territory, nothing like this will be possible.”
“To think about ending confinement, in the vacuum of government, why not? It is probably already necessary to think about it. But to talk about it in the media, when we are not even at the peak of the epidemic, will make many believe that they can relax their efforts because it is coming soon. I find this irresponsible.”
At the same time, here’s another interesting topic. Right now, four million employees are partially unemployed in France, that’s one employee in five.
The partial unemployment scheme provides that the employer pays its employees compensation corresponding to 70% of their gross remuneration, or even 100% for employees on minimum wage or less. The state will then reimburse businesses in full for salaries up to 6,927 Euros gross monthly, i.e. 4.5 times the minimum wage. (from today’s Le Figaro)
From The New York Times:
In France, the government is spending 45 billion euros ($50 billion) to pay businesses to not lay off workers. Deadlines for taxes and loan payments are delayed. Another €300 billion in state-guaranteed loans are being extended to any struggling company that needs them.
As the coronavirus wallops the world’s economies, France is rapidly emerging as a test case of whether a country can hasten the recovery from a recession by protecting businesses from going under in the first place, and avoiding mass joblessness.
Here’s the article. Take a look:
Less than one year ago I went travelling around Italy. It should be known that Italy is my favorite country, Italian my favorite language, and its cuisine, coffee and design style my favorites too. In fact, I often wonder why I live in France when it is Italy I love.
The photo above, taken by me in the Puglian town of Lecce, says Chiuso, which means Closed. Italy right now is closed.
In June 2019, I spent three days in Rome before slow-travelling down to the Puglia region by train. Five days later, I travelled northwards, by train again, up to Bologna and then to Milan.
Had someone told me back then that in exactly seven months the country would be BROUGHT TO ITS KNEES by a horrendous viral epidemic killing thousands and thousands, for the most part senior citizens, I swear I would have choked on my cannoli.
As we now know, the main factor affecting the country’s death rate is the age of its population — Italy has the oldest population in Europe. Many of those who have died were in their 80s and 90s, a segment of the population that is more susceptible to the ravages of COVID-19.
But surely that in itself – that there are, or sadly, were so many elderly – is testament to the longevity of Italians and proof of something positive in their lifestyle. Genetics play a large role, of course, but there are other reasons:
Italians use extra-virgin olive oil – a lot.
Rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, Italians use the oil for salads, pasta, dressings, baking, and cooked vegetables. The high nutrient content found in olive oil has been linked to decreasing the risk for Alzheimer’s, depression, heart diseases, diabetes and even osteoporosis.
Italians drink a glass or two a day
In Italian cuisine, red wine is regularly used in recipes due to its ability to enhance flavor and taste. A glass or two of red wine accompanies most meals.
Italians have strong family and social bonds
A study revealed that strong family relationships can decrease the mortality rate and improve emotional and mental health. My brother-in-law is Canadian-Italian. He visits his parents almost daily who are in their mid to late nineties and live in their Toronto home nearby. Funnily enough though, when it came to his parents-in-law and sister-in-law, there was no evidence whatsoever of any family bond, only treachery and betrayal.
The Mediterranean diet
The common Italian diet is rich in whole, unrefined grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish and small amounts of red meat – all of which is usually prepared fresh, and very little is prepackaged or processed. When eating these foods, Italians get a healthy dose of vitamins, protein, antioxidants and omega fatty acids
As I sit in confinement in my flat in Paris, I re-read my blog posts from that wonderful June trip (and previous trips) and look fondly at my photographs. I’m so glad I went when I did, and I look forward to going again.
Here are my blog posts and photos:
And here’s a wonderful video to watch:
So the national lockdown has been prolonged to April 15, and will no doubt be extended again after that. We’re in this for the long haul, folks. Things are getting worse, not better. And know this: what you read about in Europe is coming your way in North America. We’re your future.
The good news is (a) I made a delicious Middle Eastern walnut and roasted red pepper dip this evening, and (b) we turn the clocks forward tonight which means we lose one hour in this never-ending hellscape.
The recipe is below. I suggest adding lots of garlic because raw garlic boosts your immune system. I ate it with my own pita bread, because I make my own flatbread, naan and pizza now.
Since Wednesday, the lockdown rules have tightened in France. Now, we can only go outside once a day and for one hour only if it’s for physical exercise. So what the heck are Parisians doing while confined to their small apartments? Don’t forget, we don’t have houses, backyards and gardens here. Well, personally, I’m never bored. As long as I have my creature comforts at hand – books, DVDs, coffee, radio, telephone, the internet of course, booze, the right foods, cooking utensils and my mohair throw from Zara Home – I’m happy. The best part is the uninterrupted time I can now spend on my book project. My memoir will be done and dusted soon, folks.
I guess it’s all about scaling down now, and doing without certain things that maybe weren’t necessary in the first place.
For those of you who like reading, writers and books, here’s one of my favorite websites that I read daily. It’s truly excellent, and chock-a-block full of literary news:
I have no idea who Nathaniel Drew is. But I stumbled across his vlog entitled Trapped in Paris (alone). It was filmed on Wednesday March 25 and describes the current confinement situation in France. Take a look –