Sunday, 22 March 2020
I woke up grumpy this morning, wanting to go to the pool or for a bike ride, and angry at the incompetents who by their ineptitude have ensured our confinement will last closer to three months than three weeks. We’re in the ninth day of this damn lockdown, the ninth day I haven’t been able to get to my pool or on my bike and ride up the mountain. Yes, unlike Belgium and France, in their infinite wisdom our noble rulers have banned any form of exercise outside the home, even in situations where you are exercising solo, your feet never touch the ground and you remain at least fifty metres from any other living being at all times. We are expected simply to endure with little thought for the logistics of how the goal might be achieved while still ensuring our sanity.
The ninth day of lockdown, knowing this is likely to last for months and we haven’t nearly approached the peak yet. A lot of people still have to die before this is over. New Zealand will no doubt be locked down for about three weeks and sort it quickly. But thanks to those in charge, Spain is more likely to be locked down from here to eternity. And this morning as if on cue, it was declared that Spain’s lockdown will be extended by a further 15 days.
Why am I not surprised? The Catalan first minister, Torra, has repeatedly asked for Catalonia to be sealed off. He has asked Sánchez to stop cleaning airports and start closing them. His plea has fallen on deaf ears, as did the plea to properly seal off Madrid. From the Spanish point of view, the fears about closing off Catalonia are that those borders may never open again and Catalonia may become de facto independent as a result of the crisis. Hmmm, maybe we should have a referendum on that?
Below, I give the grim statistics, but before that, let’s stay positive (yes, up till now this has been positive – hadn’t you noticed?) and talk about keeping ourselves in shape during the lockdown.
Day nine and my affirmations are to start playing more music and doing exercise on a regular basis. This morning my body was screaming out for stretches and a proper workout, so to Velvet Velsen’s beats, I finally kicked my lazy arse into some semblance of a half-hearted routine. Reader, I exercised! I’ll do another short session this evening, turning it into a twice-daily habit – at least that’s the plan.
If exercise is difficult for you (as it is for me), break it up. Do half an hour in the morning and the same in the evening. Or even just ten minutes, go and do something else, then do another ten minutes and so on. I have a friend who works at home and has installed a lifting bar in his kitchen doorway, so that every time he goes to the kitchen for something (which us work-at-homers tend to do several times an hour), he does a few pull-ups to give the trip the patina of a virtuous goal. Otherwise, pick a spot in your house that you pass through several times a day and set yourself an exercise task to do every time you pass that spot: for example, five push-ups, some leg stretches, or ten star jumps. Keep it brief and easy but frequent.
Okay, here are the grim statistics* for those interested:
In the last 24 hours, 394 more deaths in Spain and 3,600 new cases. So officially, 28,572 cases and 1,720 deaths in all. Bear in mind that testing is only being carried out in hospitals so this doesn’t include people catching it on the street and self-isolating. Therefore the real figures are bound to be far higher.
This is a 15% increase in cases compared to Saturday. If true, it means the increase statistic is beginning to peak: 20%, 18%, 18%, 15% … (Or are they just testing less?) My friend working at a hospital tells me not to trust the statistics as they are being whitewashed. For example, a recent figure claimed that 57% of cases were in Barcelona and Madrid, whereas it breaks down into 47% of cases in Madrid and 10% in Barcelona, but this was part of an effort to conceal Madrid’s poor management of the crisis. Where infections have jumped is in the community of Castilla-La Mancha, probably from Madrid residents heading out of town to “escape” the virus.
Deaths have increased by 30%, half of them in the community of Madrid, and the rate of deaths is not levelling off. Madrid, still the main focus in Spain, now has over 1000 coronavirus deaths, with almost 10,000 officially infected. Its health system has collapsed. Two hospitals in the community, the Príncipe de Asturias in Alcalá d’Henares and the Severo Ochoa in Leganés, have asked for patients to be diverted to other centres because their emergency services can no longer cope.
In Catalonia, official infections increased by around 500, with 69 more deaths.
“The worst is still to come and we must prepare”
The experts are not optimistic. Seventy scientists from all around Spain have requested that everybody is confined to home to avoid collapse of the health system. They also demand – as Torra has repeatedly requested for Catalonia – that the worst-hit areas are totally sealed off. These include Madrid, Catalonia, Castella i Lleó, Castella-la Manxa, la Rioja, the Basque Country and Navarra.
Spain’s prime minister summed it up: “The worst is still to come and we must prepare”. Yeah right, like we didn’t know that already.
I swear for the duration of this crisis and to preserve my sanity, I will henceforth leave politics alone and focus on pastoral pursuits such as painting and writing.
* The statistics in this article were drawn from CCRTV’s 3/24 news channel on 22/03/2020.