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Italy Travel Ideas

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Coronavirus Italy Consecrates Itself to the Virgin Mary

Michelangelo's Pieta during Coronavirus Times

By Enza Ferreri

This article was published on Italy Travel Ideas

While you may have read about or seen videos of Italians in Coronavirus lockdown singing from their balconies to each other and to the rest of the world, different responses to the crisis have emerged in Italy.

From the North to the South of the country, many mayors have consecrated their towns and cities, starting with the Mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro, who on 13 March 2020 visited the splendid Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute on the Grand Canal, magnificently built by Baldassarre Longhena in memory of the relief provided by the Mother of God during the plague of 1630-1631.

Mayor Consecrates Venice to the Immaculate Heart Mayor Consecrates Venice to the Immaculate Heart

Luigi Brugnaro, in his role as Mayor, wearing the symbolic tricolour band of Italian mayors across his chest, in front of the altar of the Madonna recited the prayer to the Virgin composed by the Patriarch of Venice, Bishop Francesco Moraglia, saying: “We are consecrating to Your Immaculate Heart Venice and our Veneto lands”.

Immediately after that, a petition was launched by the website Radio Spada to ask mayors to follow Venice’s example, and many did.

Then it was Siena’s Mayor who, representing the city whose patron saint is the Blessed Mother, by giving Her the keys to the city entrusted the protection of Siena to the Madonna del Voto, as had been done many times before over the Tuscan town’s long and troubled history, during battles and sieges. The last time was in 1944.

Among the numerous other authorities who have responded are the mayors of Sassuolo, Giulianova, Nettuno, Ventimiglia, Tagliacozzo, Terni, Vanzaghello, Casole d’Elsa, Siracusa.

Coronavirus. Italian Police Entrusts Italy to Saint Michael the Archangel
Italian Police Entrusts Italy to Saint Michael

In Ascoli the keys to the city have been entrusted to St Emidio, in Lecco the mayor entrusted his city to St Nicolò, in Silvi to St Leo, in Citerna to the Virgin Mary and St Michael Archangel, and innumerable other towns followed suit. Throughout Italian cities votes were renewed, processions held, rosaries, novenas and prayers said, like in Naples where a week of novenas to St Gennaro is still being recited.

Even Italian State Police on its Facebook official profile posted: “At this difficult time, the State Police entrusts Italy to this force’s own patron saint and protector St Michael Archangel, who reportedly stopped the plague epidemic in Rome in 590 AD. May his protection forcefully guide us for the safety and health of every citizen.”

Above this post is the Pietà, Michelangelo's masterpiece, reinterpreted in these Coronavirus times by Como artist Mr. Savethewall (stage name of Pierpaolo Perretta), who shared it on his social profiles with the words "The thanks of all Italians to doctors, nurses, health operators, pharmacists and all those who are directly and indirectly putting all their energy into protecting our lives and that of our loved ones. You are more than heroes".

The Madonna wears a mask and has a stethoscope around her neck, while the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ is replaced by the Italian flag.

The artist is from Lombardy, in Northern Italy, the country's most affected region, with a total number at the moment of 42,161 cases, a number higher than any whole country in the world except the pandemic's top 6, included Italy, now tragically surpassed by the United States. Italy's total number of Covid-19 cases is now 101,739, with 812 deaths just in the last 24 hours.

The Como artist said:
You cannot explain in words the pain that a woman who loses a child can feel. Each of us feels the intensity of it in a different way based on our own experience, our personal experience. This is the strength of the image and of the profound value it brings.
But then he added:
I want the positive message to emerge just as strongly: this woman is the Blessed Mother and the tricolour is the body of the Son of God made man Who will rise again, just like Italy.
Radio Spada Petition
Radio Spada

La Repubblica
Messa in Latino
Polizia di Stato Italiana

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Pakistan Christians with No Food for Not Converting to Islam in Coronavirus Crisis

Coronavirus Pakistan Christians Left Starving

In these times of great concern and panic over the Coronavirus pandemic we cannot think about the plight of Christians persecuted in great numbers in the world.

Ah, wait a minute: even in times without any hint of Coronavirus, our supposedly, or at least historically, Christian societies never give persecuted Christians a thought.

It can't be because of Covid-19, then.

Oh well, ehm.

Anyway, in the egalitarian country of Pakistan they know how to deal with SARS-CoV-2, which is how they deal with everything else: there are two tracks, one for the Muslim majority and one for the Christian minority. And don't you ever forget that.

Like in other countries, so in Pakistan, with 11,940 total cases and 253 deaths, people must remain in lockdown at home until at least April 30th.

Due to the abrupt interruption of many jobs, a high number of communities found themselves with no food and means of subsistence. Both the government and private Muslim NGOs are helping the poorest, since one in two Pakistani lives below the poverty line.

But aid is not given to needy Christians. The US-based charity Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved (ECSPE) reports: "Islamic foundations, which receive a lot of public funds, force Christians to convert to Islam. Otherwise, they don't distribute the food to them".

The Saylani Welfare International Trust, a Muslim NGO that hands out aid and meals to homeless people and seasonal workers, denies food to both Christians and Hindus.

This is perfectly in line with Islam's concept of charity. Farooq Masih, a 54-year-old Christian in Korangi, said that volunteers who distributed food rations in the neighbourhood purposely skipped Christian homes. As Asia News explains, "The reason for this is that Zakat, Islamic alms giving (one of Islam’s five pillars), is reserved for Muslims."

Robert Spencer on Jihad Watch comments:
Islamic apologists in the West routinely deny that this is the case, but here it is in action.

Anyway, if the reverse were true, this story would receive massive international media coverage. But no one will take any particular notice of this.
In fact, Zakat is not just for Muslims, generically. Zakat is partly for violent jihad .

While unfortunately Christian and Hindu minorities are used to discrimination in Pakistan, at school and at work, nevertheless they hoped that at least during a national emergency like the Coronavirus pandemic it could be different, but no, they still suffer extreme discrimination.

Another incident, reported by UcaNews, occurred in the Sher-Shah neighbourhood of Lahore, where the distribution of government food rations was announced by the speakers of the local mosque. However, when the Christians, identified through the identity card, showed up in line they were sent away.

Christians complained on Facebook of similar discrimination in a small village near Lahore.

In yet a further instance over 100 Christian families from the Sandha Kalan village, in the Kasur district of the province of Punjab, were excluded from the distribution of aid by the local mosque.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Religious Freedom, Constitution Cannot Be Suspended

By Enza Ferreri

This article was published on Italy Travel Ideas

There are constitutional rights that cannot be suspended, and freedom of worship is among them.

The video has become viral.

Mass was interrupted by police last Sunday in Soncino, a small town in the Cremona province of Lombardy, in Italy.

A carabiniere went up to the altar to notify parish priest Don Lino Viola of the 270 euro fine for non-compliance with the government decree and get him to speak to the mayor on the phone. "I am saying Mass, not now", Don Lino repeated several times to the policeman just as the Consecration prayer was beginning.

The brave 80-year-old priest brushed off the police officer and continued celebrating until the end.

There may be sanctions for him and the congregation.

But there were only an organist and 13 people wearing a face mask and gloves, in a 300sq metres church with 30 pews, thus respecting social distancing. Don Lino told the carabiniere: "This is abuse of power".

Later, in an interview, he described the events:
There were six more people than we expected: they were family members of Coronavirus victims who died without a funeral, for whom Mass was being celebrated.

But how could I chase them away? There was a parishioner who just lost his mother and was unable to even give her a funeral.

Never before in 80 years have I seen such a desecration. And to the Carabinieri commander I said: how can you send around officers who do not have respect for the sacred?
Many, including public figures, have considered this a violation of Italy's Constitution.

Art critic and TV journalist Vittorio Sgarbi, whose religious beliefs are not obvious, nevertheless has said:
Article 19 of our Constitution does not limit the freedom of religion and worship. For this reason, law enforcement agencies should be careful not to prevent all this: with only one exception, that of the distance of one metre, an indication given by the health decrees issued by the Prime Minister.
He added that in the environment of Don Lino's Mass (which I've described above) the government's regulations were fully respected.

Italian lawyer Antonino Ennio Andronico has written a long letter published by La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana (all references are at the end), after expressing his support for the lockdown-imposed restrictions, explains why last Sunday's specific example of authorities' behaviour is against the Constitution:
The current emergency legislation uses the word "suspension", not a legal but pragmatic and plastic concept, therefore dangerous because it risks appearing innocuous but in reality tends to limit those constitutional rights enshrined in articles 13 and following of the Italian Constitution, which - as is known - can be limited only in rare exceptions.

Thus personal freedom, of communication, of movement, etc., can be limited on the basis of a law (issued by Parliament, mind you, not by an administrative authority, such as the Government or the Region), and under the control of the judicial authority.

But there are citizens' constitutional rights which are "very special", which it is not possible to limit even in this way, as they are part of that distinctive genetic makeup of the human being who is not only homo faber, but also homo religiosus, that is, a subject capable of dialogue with a supernatural being who has revealed himself as God.

The Constitutions and Concordats between States and Churches provide for specific protection of "religious sentiment" since they are part of human DNA: thus art. 7 of our Constitution declares the state and the Catholic Church "independent and sovereign", and art. 19 of the Constitution establishes that "Everyone has the right to freely profess his religious faith in any form, individual or associated, to propagate it and to exercise its cult in private or in public, provided that these are not rituals contrary to morality". So the only limit to worship is given by "morality", the constitution fathers wrote, worried, in 1947, to avoid future abuses of the executive!

There are constitutional rights that cannot be suspended, and freedom of worship is among them, because it is part of the deepest dimension of man. The Constitution recognises the "independent and sovereign" State and Church and the Concordat reaffirms the full freedom of the Church. A notice for believers and non-believers: .

In Italy, then, there are the Agreements of Villa Madama of 1985 - an international treaty between the State and the Church hierarchically equivalent to the Constitution and superordinate to the law and government administrative acts - which in art. 2 establish: “The Italian Republic recognises the Catholic Church's full freedom to carry out its pastoral, educational and charitable mission of evangelisation and sanctification. In particular, the Church is guaranteed freedom of organisation, of public exercise of worship, of exercise of the magisterium and of the spiritual ministry as well as of jurisdiction in ecclesiastical matters".

Well, in Gallignano [the area of Soncino where the event occurred] law enforcement officers entered a church, interrupted the worship (not the "ceremony", as government decrees incompetently write), and both the parish priest - who fortunately was not intimidated - and the faithful were fined.

Illegal and illegitimate act of enormous gravity that violates all the constitutional and international principles set out above (but many others would have to be enumerated), while no one worries about the queues and assemblies that we find daily at supermarkets or post offices. Of course, it will be objected, but it's necessary to eat ... but if it is true that "man does not live by bread alone" it is also true that the Covid-19 disease cannot become an excuse to trample upon constitutionally guaranteed rights to individuals and communities ... and make money!

For those who really believe in it - unlike those for whom Coronavirus was a holy liberation from Sunday Masses too - the religious act, the exercise of worship, the participation in Mass is constitutive of one's being, it is man's own inner self. It is [in Latin] re-ligio, that is, bond with the supreme being! Beyond the abuses of power and the articles of the penal code that I hope will be used to challenge those who made themselves responsible for such abuses, I want to warn in a secular manner all citizens, including non-believers: our fathers have obtained certain constitutional rights with blood, do not take them for granted. Keep a copy of the Constitution with you and reread it, because there is no disease that can "temporarily suspend" even a rule of law ... we would already be in a dictatorship.

My closeness, solidarity and support to the parish priest and the faithful of Gallignano, for the civil and faith witness given.
Antonino Ennio Andronico, Lawyer [Emphasis added]
The episode of Don Lino was not alone: the same day saw two more police raids in churches during Mass celebrations, both in Northern Italy.

Messa interrotta
Maurizio Blondet
Intervista con Don Lino Viola
Lettera dell' Avvocato Antonino Ennio Andronico a La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana

Monday, 20 April 2020

Italy Covid-19 Possible Breakthrough, Heparin Drug

The Monna Lisa with Coronavirus Mask

By Enza Ferreri

This article was published on Italy Travel Ideas

The mistake pretty much everywhere has been treating seriously-ill Covid-19 patients with ventilators, which requires a highly-invasive surgery for intubation, the insertion of a tube attached to artificial ventilation into the trachea, and didn’t achieve a good rate of success.

The hypothesis has now started to make headway that the main cause of death is not pneumonia, but a generalised venous thromboembolism.

Embolism is the obstruction of an artery or vein caused by a body foreign to normal blood flow, the most common of which is blood coagulation, i.e. clotting, in which case it is known as thromboembolism. The most frequent venous embolisms are pulmonary embolisms, in which a deep vein thrombosis gives rise to a thrombus, a blood clot, a part of which detaches and is transported by the bloodstream to obstruct a pulmonary artery, causing embolism.

Pulmonary embolism symptoms include breathing difficulties, and can even lead to death.

Treatment usually is by the administration of anticoagulant drugs, such as heparin and coumadin.

"Thrombosis Possible First Cause of Coronavirus Deaths"

Those above are the words of Dr Giampaolo Palma, expert in Echocardiography and Interventional Cardiology, who also said:
Gentlemen, Covid-19 first of all damages the vessels, the cardiovascular system, and only then does it reach the lungs. It is venous microthrombosis, not pneumonia that determines fatality.
He is one of the many Italian physicians who are using the anticoagulant medication heparin and exchanging information about it through a wide nationwide network.

One of the first was Professor Sandro Giannini of Bologna, who states:
Ventilation of the lung where the blood does not reach would be useless therapy; in other words, the cause of the lung damage is the development of a coagulopathy, disseminated intravascular coagulation.
This was discovered through autopsies and echocardiograms, following the disconcerting results of analysis of large samples of ventilated COVID-19 patients, which showed that mortality rates among them could be as high as two thirds.

The UK's Intensive Care National Audit and Research Center (ICNARC) published data of a study on the first 24 hours of 3,883 patients with confirmed COVID-19 (the illness from SARS-CoV-2) admitted to intensive care units (ICUs).
Among patients whose ICU outcome is known, 66.3% of the 1053 patients who required mechanical ventilated died, compared with 19.4% of the 444 patients who required basic respiratory support.
This mortality rate is much higher than for ventilated patients with different types of viral pneumonia, which is 35.1%.

These results are similar in the observation of smaller samples of patients in China and the USA.

Something was obviously wrong, and there have been recent claims of excessive use of ventilators and even risks of ventilator-induced lung injury.

Autopsies on patients who were ill from SARS-CoV-2 revealed signs of massive thrombosis.

In addition, from echocardiograms performed in Italy for Coronavirus patients it seemed that patients go to resuscitation for generalised venous thromboembolism, especially pulmonary.

The echocardiogram (or echo) is a type of ultrasound scan to look at the heart and neighbouring blood vessels.

In Lombardy, the region most affected by the novel coronavirus in Italy and one of the most hit in the world, cardiologists became convinced that a new approach was needed. The frontline Lombardy doctors announced:
The main problem is not so much the virus as the immune reaction that destroys the cells which the virus enters. Rheumatoid arthritis patients have never been hospitalised in our COVID-19 wards because they are under cortisone or an anti-inflammatory therapy. It has not been easy to understand this because the signs of microembolism are tenuous even through echocardiogram. By taking care of the infection at home, we could avoid not only hospitalisation but also the thrombotic risk. We have thus been able to ascertain that the most exposed hospitals are administering low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) to their patients, with good results.
The drug allows you to maintain the right fluidity of the blood, limiting the possibility of coagulation.

The Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) has already launched an efficacy study on the administration of heparin, recommending a case-by-case evaluation for the time being.

At the moment, some data confirm its effectiveness, because anticoagulants are proving able to reduce at least by 25% hospitalisations in Covid-19 wards in Tuscany.

In addition, enoxaparin sodium, another anticoagulant medication used to treat and prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, seems to have a double effect: not only it prevents thrombus formation but also it makes the SARS-CoV-2 bind with the drug thus preventing the virus from entering our cells and reproducing.

I'll keep you posted.

All emphases are added.

Ventilators' Higher Mortality Rates
Cardiologi lombardi
Professor Sandro Giannini di Bologna
Il coronavirus danneggia i vasi sanguigni
Covid-19, la cura sperimentale con l'eparina in Toscana funziona
Image by Sumanley xulx from Pixabay

Saturday, 18 April 2020

The Two Popes Film: Much Fiction, Little Truth & History

This article has been published on the website Italy Travel Ideas .

During the Christmas holidays I watched the film The Two Popes, directed by Fernando Meirelles, recently released by Netflix.

It is based on the 2017 play The Pope by Anthony McCarten, in which he imagined conversations that never occurred between Pope Francis when he was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Pope Benedict XVI, and the screenplay is also by McCarten.

What is bad about this movie is not so much that fiction is vastly more abundant than the meagre quantity of reality as the fact that, if a viewer does not know the events already, he receives no clue from the film about what is truth and what is fantasy.

As if to help people in discerning that, in the infant 2020 year new serious conflicts have been widely reported in the media between the two real Popes, whose fictional cinematic counterparts in Meirelles's work are fundamentally on the exact same page. In reality there are many divergences of ideas between them.

As most people will probably know, we are now in that historically unique situation of actually having two Popes in the monarchic institution of the Church (the adjective, stemming from the Greek monos, meaning "one", and arché, "authority", should give a hint).

This is because Pope Benedict XVI, when he abdicated in 2013 (another near-unique event in 2,000 year's history, further sign of the exceptional times the Church is going through), declared he was not renouncing the spiritual role and duties deriving from the "munus Petrinum" (Peter's function) but only the active office of his ministry as Pontiff.

The Pope, successor of St Peter, is the visible head of the Catholic Church; the invisible head is Jesus Christ, Who founded it with these words:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock
I will build My church,
And the gates of hell will not prevail against it:
And I will give you the keys
To the kingdom of heaven.

Whatever you bind on earth
Will be bound also in heaven;
And whatever you release on earth
Will be released also in heaven. (Matthew 16:18-19)
So Benedict XVI kept living in the Vatican, dressing in white, and more importantly maintained his title of Pope, with the addition of "Emeritus", a Latin adjective for a person who, no longer exercising a specific office, still keeps its title and honours. University professors are more common recipients of this name. In short he remained Pope too.

In that sense, "the two Popes" is an expression which never before could have been used in reference to the same period of time.

There have been only six other Popes to have abdicated in the Church's bimillenary history, but no Pope in renouncing the Throne of Peter assumed the title of "Emeritus" before Benedict XVI.

The Popes Upside Down

This is the context. Going back to the film, far from a portrayal of reality, the movie The Two Popes runs dangerously close to turning reality upside down, pandering to all falsities and prejudices spread by the media in all these recent years, driven by ideological and political motivations.

Therefore, we see or are led to believe that Joseph Ratzinger is the culprit in sexual abuse cover-ups whereas he is the one who, both as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before becoming Pope and after ascending the Chair of St Peter, made it possible to remove those who used the priesthood to assault mostly teenage boys and then removed hundreds of them, whereas in this area Francis left unanswered many accusations of protecting homosexual high-ranking prelates like former US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick preying on young men.

Francis is portrayed in the movie as the darling of the crowds, friendly and good-tempered, unlike Pope Ratzinger who is shown as rigid, harsh, austere, and even pronouncing that he is not liked. And again, the truth is entirely different: the number of people attending celebrations in St Peter's Square was higher for the latter than the former.

In conclusion, let's hear on First Things John Waters, who is a playwright himself:
Having tried it a couple of times, I understand the difficulties of converting a real-life story to fictional form, either for stage or screen. Life is too detailed and complex to translate unedited into drama. To marshal the energies of a real-life story, it is always necessary to nip and tuck, elide, compress, transpose, foreshorten, conflate. But in doing this, it is all the more vital that the essence of a story be protected and respected.

McCarten, speaking of writing versions of real-life figures, has said: “Whether they’re alive or dead, you still have to do justice to them. You can’t do injury to their character. You can’t have them doing terrible things when they didn’t do terrible things.” How, then, can he justify The Two Popes? It treats Benedict XVI as though he were not human, as though he were not alive, as though he were unbeloved, as though he had never existed. This is outrageous, yes, but it is also not good art. The propulsion of story is an insufficient justification for the levels of invention, prejudice, and partisanship on display here. The movie title is elaborated by the weasel words, “Inspired by true events.” Yes, but this inspiration has resulted in a farrago of falsehoods. McCarten owes Benedict an apology.
There are perhaps only two good things in this movie. One is the way the two main actors resemble the Popes, respectively Anthony Hopkins Benedict XVI and even more Jonathan Pryce Pope Francis. The other is the setting of some scenes, like the occasional glimpse of a reconstruction of the Sistine Chapel and the scenes filmed outside or near the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, the Papal summer residence in the lovely countryside close to Rome, simply stunning.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Coronavirus Lockdown Effectiveness, Other Doubts

One of the few certainties about this novel virus and the pandemic it is spreading is that, being new (or at least new to us, namely newly discovered), we don't know very much about it, and we are constantly learning about it all the time.

But, being human and not liking uncertainty in a similar way in which nature abhors vacuum, we try to jump to conclusions, any conclusion, in fact, just to avoid doubt, chaos and disorder (a very natural feeling). So we grab at many different explanatory theories, whether supported a lot, a little or not at all.

This is The Times of Israel reporting on the theory held by someone the newspaper describes as a top Israeli mathematician:
"I have no explanation but the numbers speak for themselves."

Top Israeli prof claims simple stats show virus plays itself out after 70 days.

Isaac Ben-Israel, who is not a medical expert, says analysis worldwide shows new cases peaking after about 40 days, slams economic closures; leading doctor dismisses his claims.
So, according to Professor Ben-Israel, head of the Security Studies program in Tel Aviv University and the chairman of the National Council for Research and Development, "simple statistical analysis demonstrates that the spread of COVID-19 peaks after about 40 days and declines to almost zero after 70 days — no matter where it strikes, and no matter what measures governments impose to try to thwart it."

What is intriguing is that, minus the mathematical and statistical calculations, a similar view, at least in its practical conclusions, is supported by another person in the news, who has been accused of "anti-Semitism", ie David Icke:
On Wednesday night Icke shared his unsubstantiated views in an edited interview for London Real: COVID-19, and shared baseless claims on coronavirus including that mandatory vaccination for the virus would be 'fascism' and include 'nanotechnology microchips'.

… he appeared to justify attacks on 5G masts around the UK, adding 'human life as we know it is over' if the construction continued.

The 5G theory has been discredited by experts, with Public Health England stating that 'the overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to guidelines and, as such, there should be no consequences for public health.' The new coronavirus is also spreading in places without 5G networks, including in Iran.
Strange bedfellows as they may be, Icke shares with Professor Ben-Israel the hypothesis that the lockdown doesn't help to limit the spread of Covid-19, as shown on this tweet of his with a diagram comparing countries with and without lockdown measures:

Covid-19-Lockdown Countries Compared

Compare this image, though, with the one pictured above this post and you'll see how focusing only on deaths per million and removing cases per million gives a very different picture: this should provide an indication of the complexity of the issue, which doesn't lend itself to over-simplifications, much as we would love to rely on them.

Icke is not the only one to believe in the uselessness of lockdowns, there are many, especially among conservative and Right-oriented people, who are sceptical of their government's policies and think the same.

Now, I am in no position to categorically declare that this idea is right or wrong. As I said at the beginning, we don't have enough information.

I do have some doubts about using pure mathematics to arrive at conclusions like those of Ben-Israel on this. Correlation doesn't mean and doesn't necessarily involve causation. In Latin, this supremely logical and succinct language, it's better: post hoc ergo propter hoc is a fallacy.

For example, is it possible that countries with less contact with the rest of the world and therefore fewer opportunities for contagion (ah, the joys of globalisation! we have finally discovered them in their full glory) have had lower numbers of cases of Covid-19 and therefore had a comparable smaller need for lockdown than those with more international traffic and Coronavirus spread which as a consequence resorted more to lockdown, inverting the cause-effect direction?

Has this been considered as a contributing factor, anyway?

At least we have a glimmer of hope, though: it's the prediction on the progress of the disease in Israel made by Professor Ben-Israel on last 12 April on Facebook, which I have to reproduce in its online translation:
It turns out that the expansion of the expansion [meaning, I presume, the peak] has been behind us for about a week, and apparently it will fade almost completely in about two weeks.
Assuming the translation is accurate, we can wait about two weeks to see if his prediction for Israel materialises and test whether his theory might be correct.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Walkers, Joggers, Cyclists Coronavirus Risks Study


I've noticed that in and around London pedestrians, joggers and cyclists don't always respect the minimum 2 metres' distance of social distancing recommended to limit the spread of Coronavirus.

The Guardian, helpfully, points out another anti-social behaviour in the streets which is more dangerous now: spitting.

But new research has uncovered that the 2 metres' distance deemed sufficient for people standing still, for example when queueing outside a shop, is not enough in times of COVID-19 when someone is exercising.

These are the conclusion of a Belgian-Dutch study.

There is some confusion among the public on this question, in view of the widespread notion, supported by the WHO (World Health Organisation), that the new virus is not spread via the air but by contact with people or surfaces. This is because the aerosols - minuscule particles floating in the air - containing the virus don't remain in the atmosphere long enough to cause a risk.

However, in a situation in which a person is walking, running or cycling after another, the droplets may still be in the air before they settle down on a surface.

Civil Engineering and Sports Aerodynamics researchers at Belgium's University of Leuven and the Netherlands' University of Eindhoven created simulations to investigate these risks.

Professor Bert Blocken, Study Coordinator of the white paper just published, in an interview to The Brussels Times explained why the measures for people standing still are "ineffective" for those walking, running or cycling:
When people speak, exhale, cough or sneeze they generate droplets, and while the largest droplets tend to fall to the ground first, the smaller ones can remain in the air a bit longer, so it is important that a person who is behind another does not walk into this cloud of droplets.
The Urban Physics, Wind Engineering, Sports Aerodynamics expert has extensively studied the aerodynamic advantages of slipstreaming in cycling, which is the act of a cyclist riding behind a team-mate or rival to save energy and thus gain a benefit: in sport terminology this is usually called "drafting".

But in the Coronavirus pandemic the disadvantages and dangers of this behaviour are remarkable.

The simulations show that the respiratory droplets of someone potentially infected with the virus could come into contact with anyone located behind him by travelling through a slipstream or wake, the area that a person in movement creates behind him.

From Blocken's simulations it appears that social distancing requirement may be smaller for two people running or walking beside each other, as the droplets land behind them. When they are positioned diagonally behind each other the risk to catch the droplets of the lead runner is also smaller. The risk of contamination is the biggest when people are just behind each other, in each other’s slipstream.

The researcher compared slipstreams to a vacuum or drag effect which occurs when the regular airflow is disturbed by someone who is in motion.

Luckily, although slipstreams can even be as long as 10-15 metres, Blocken observed that they remained quite narrow and that respiratory droplets tended to evaporate quite quickly.

Based on this study's results, the scientist advises greater social distances for people on the move:
  • those who walk in the same direction in one line should maintain a distance of at least 4–5 metres
  • for running and slow cycling the distance should be 10 metres
  • for hard, fast cycling it should be at least 20 metres
  • for overtaking, cyclists should be in a different lane at a considerable distance, e.g. 20 metres.
I don't wish to unnecessarily worry anyone, but we all should be cautious in these times of pandemic for the sake of others as well as ourselves.

Image by Maciej Cieslak from Pixabay

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Chinese Communist Regime Caused Coronavirus Pandemic, Says Asian Catholic Church Head

China communist regime created Coronavirus pandemic, says Asian Church head Cardinal Bo

This is, in its bare truth, what communism, in spite of all its edulcorations, wishful-thinking illusions of a better world, lying promises, and deceiving claims of self-alleged philanthropism, really is.

Cardinal Charles Bo, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, said in an official public statement on 1 April:
The Chinese regime led by the all-powerful Xi [Jinping] and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – not its people – owes us all an apology, and compensation for the destruction it has caused. At a minimum it should write off the debts of other countries, to cover the cost of Covid-19. For the sake of our common humanity, we must not be afraid to hold this regime to account. Christians believe, in the words of the Apostle, Paul, that “the truth will set you free” [in reality it is the Gospel of the Apostle John 8:32]. Truth and freedom are the twin pillars on which all of our nations must build surer and stronger foundations.
Cardinal Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon, in Myanmar, added: "[T}he Chinese people were the first victims of this virus and have long been the primary victims of their repressive regime".

The Cardinal recalled how the Chinese authorities silenced doctors, journalists and intellectuals who raised the alarm as early as December, and waited until 23 January to isolate Wuhan and Hubei:
When the virus first emerged, the authorities in China suppressed the news. Instead of protecting the public and supporting doctors, the CCP silenced the whistleblowers. Worse than that, doctors who tried to raise the alarm – like Dr. Li Wenliang in Wuhan Central Hospital who issued a warning to fellow medics on 30 December – were ordered by the police to “stop making false comments”. Dr. Li, a 34 year-old ophthalmologist, was told he would be investigated for “spreading rumors” and was forced by the police to sign a confession. He later died after contracting coronavirus.

Young citizen journalists who tried to report on the virus then disappeared. Li Zehua, Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin are among those believed to have been arrested simply for telling the truth. Legal scholar Xu Zhiyong has also been detained after publishing an open letter criticizing the Chinese regime’s response.
Moreover, he cited a damning study from an English university:
An epidemiological model at the University of Southampton found that had China acted responsibly just one, two or three weeks more quickly, the number affected by virus would have been cut by 66 percent, 86 percent and 95 percent respectively. Its failure has unleased a global contagion killing thousands.
The Chinese Communist Party is a "threat to the world" were the words of the Yangon Archbishop, and Xi’s regime "is responsible, through its criminal negligence and repression, for the pandemic".

And even now, the subterfuge continues:
On top of all this, there is deep concern that the Chinese regime’s official statistics significantly downplay the scale of infection within China.
The British newspaper The Telegraph on 29 March reported the UK's Health Minister accusing China of hiding the true scale of Covid-19 and shockingly exposing China's reopening of the "wet" markets which were identified as the cause of the spread of Coronavirus.

China's communist government oppresses religious freedom, destroys thousands of churches, imprisons Muslims in forced labour camps, practice the removal of organs from prisoners of conscience, suppress the freedoms of lawyers, dissidents, intellectuals.

[All emphases are mine.]

Catholic Archdiocese of Yangon