Earth Notes: 16WW Coronalog - Timeline

Updated 2024-03-20 09:55 GMT.
By Damon Hart-Davis.
A corona diary from EOU HQ, London UK, 2020 to 2023 #coronavirus #lockdown
cemetery closed yellow sign 20200408 Kingston
I kept a running log and timeline of some significant and interesting coronavirus items for posterity, living in London UK, including lockdowns and the symptoms from when I think I caught it right at the start (and Omicron later)!

2020-03-21: Coronacast

Listen to my coronacast, from just before the shutters really came down.

2020-03-23: Three-week Lockdown

As of 20:30 we have a three-week lockdown in the UK.

2020-03-30: Nightingale Hospital

2020-03-30: the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital is being built at ExCeL, where I possibly caught my Covid-19 (if that is what I had) at Futurebuild.

2020-04-08: Cemetery Closed

cemetery closed yellow sign 20200408 Kingston

The cemetery has been shut for all but attending funerals. No more taking the day's one allowed exercise walk in there. Bah.

2020-04-16: Fabric Masks

At this stage it was not clear whether masks would be needed, so I preemptively bought four white Silk-Feel Antibacterial Face Masks, ie one of each of us, from my favourite British Boxers. For every one I bought BB donated one to local healthcare workers. At the time PPE supplies were in very very short supply for them. A grand total of about £50. These fabric masks have four tie strings at the back. The family now has others, but as of the turn of 2022 I am still using these!

2020-04-23: Cemetery Open

The cemetery re-opened, after lots of pressure on local councillors.

2020-05-01: Immobility

(From the statscast...) I have relatives in Rome and Paris, and the Citymapper Mobility Index (% of city moving compared to usual) for 1st May is showing Rome at 3%, Paris at 4% and London at 9%. At the other end of the scale are Seoul at 45% and Hong Kong at 51%.

2020-05-13: Graveyard Ambience

With an initial slight easing of lockdown Obviously, recording the ambient sound of a graveyard is the right thing to do...

2020-05-18: Record of Symptoms

For the record, the symptoms that I recall from my March illness were:

  • General (mild) flu symptoms.
  • Quite strong muscle and joint aches. I often get the latter when ill as it aggravates the arthritis that I have had since my 30s, but the former was unusual. The muscle aches took at least a fortnight to go away, I think.
  • Intense shivers a couple of times, though not for long.
  • Loss of taste. I think it's not fully back for coffee, for example. (January 2021 note: it took until maybe November or December for instant coffee to be coffee again, French press coffee a bit sooner.)
  • Slight (dry) cough, like reacting to having breathed in some dust. Chest felt a bit heavy. Took weeks to go away entirely. (January 2021 note: chest still a bit heavy even now, in fact.)

2020-05-20: Silver Lining

The next-door neighbours locked themselves out. With all of the rest of us neighbours on the street at home, they were able to get back in relatively quickly with low drama. 16WW's contribution was a long ladder that we hardly use (and as of July donated to a tradesman down the road who can make good use of it, but only after assisting with yet another lockout across the street)!

2020-06-10: Rebound?

There have been changes (including signs of a rebound starting) in water use (the morning peak is later), Internet use, reshaped and reduced GB electricity demand, changed GB electricity generation especially renewables and coal even at home (record May PV generation here by ~15%, and low imports to boot), and mobility (London having rebounded from ~8% of 'usual' at the start of April to ~20% at the start of June).

2020-06-17: Daily Tread

I (wonkily) counted steps for my 'normal' lockdown exercise jaunt, to and around the edge of the cemetery next door. The circuit seems to be about 2000 steps, or 20% of what should likely should be my daily target.

2020-06-28: Record Low GB Electricity Demand

National Grid later reported that:

... the lowest demand in 2020 occurred on 28 June at 05:30. This demand of 13.4 GW was by far the lowest ever seen (the next lowest National demand outside of 2020 was 15.8 GW).

2020-07-26: Shattered

(From the summer catch-up diarycast...)

I shattered a tooth, probably from clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth in the night from stress! Something crunched when I was biting into a soft roll. Picking chunks of tooth out of my mouth was not good... Luckily I had a (Covid-postponed) routine checkup booked just two days after, so it got seen quickly, with a few more days until a fix. The dentist told me that lots of people have broken their teeth under lockdown...

2020-08-11: Roman Bug?

I learnt in early August that my infection route may have been via family visits that I was not on, with a someone returning from Rome mid-February (and running a high fever soon after) a couple of steps away from me. None of the rest of my family have shown any symptoms.

2020-09-04: D3

D3 vitamin 1000iu 25ug 60 tablets Valupak container plastic 1 DHD

(From the summer catch-up diarycast...)

I don't normally bother with supplements.

However, to reduce the risks of another run-in with Covid, I have started taking D3 (1000iu or 25µg per day) as of today.

Six months' supply was less than £4, so a very cheap risk reducer, along with my squats and pressups and 1-mile walk most days.

2022-01-22: the rest of the family has been taking 12.5µg/500iu tablets.

2020-10-31: Tier 2 to Essentials Only

We in London having been in "Tier 2" (high risk) for a week or so, the whole of England is now due to be in lockdown for November, only allowed out for essentials including work and food. This time, schools (and colleges and universities) stay open.

2020-12-20: Tier 4

We are in tier 4 lockdown restrictions, being in London.

I'll probably stay home for Christmas even though the family will go (as long-standing support bubble) to be with a solo elderly relative on the other side of London.

2020-12-21: Exercise Mile Walk

Listen to a sample lockdown daily exercise walk around the next-door cemetery.

Lots of man-made sounds beyond my footfall (and emergency sirens); wildlife also.

2020-12-31: Swab Test

Jean did a swab antibody test today as she works in a school. It had to be taken in to a collection point to be assessed.

coronavirus self test kit antigen 20201231 090328 DHD coronavirus self test kit antigen 20201231 091449 DHD
Swab test kit.

2021-01-12: REACT Invitation

I received an invitation to join the REACT (Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission) study. I have signed up to (possibly) be sent a finger-prick test (antibody self-testing kit, 'REACT2') at the end of January, to try to establish whether I have already been infected. (I believe I have, given the above.)

2021-01-22: Dad and Aunt Jabbed

My dad had his first vaccination shot today, and his sister got hers yesterday...

2021-01-31: Antibody and Antigen Tests

negative antibody IgG and IgM result coronavirus self test kit antigen 20210130 121459 DHD coronavirus self test kit antibody 20210130 121639 DHD

2021-01-31: I did an antibody test today (Fortress) which showed negative, and Jean did a swab antigen (Xiamen/Innova lateral flow) test also negative.

From memory (I did not take notes while doing it, so as to concentrate!) when asked in the long REACT2 survey after doing my test what symptoms I had (or still have) I included loss of smell and taste, fever, chills, headache, and muscle ache. I estimated symptoms from approx 2020-03-07 to 2020-03-14. I said that I still have some breathing annoyances. I estimated loss of smell as 4 weeks and loss of taste as 12 weeks. I was asked all sorts of questions about when I left the house, our support bubble with Jean's dad, if either of us is a key worker that is in contact with people outside the home. Jean is, working at a school; me not as there is very little I need leave for.

The antigen test took 30 minutes once loaded, the antibody test 10 minutes. We did them concurrently.

My test had arrived by post on about the 25th. Jean was issued a pack of 7 tests by the school, for her to test once or twice per week ideally.

I thought that it would be best for us to take our tests at the same time.

2021-02-03: Antigen Negative

Jean did another antigen test: negative.

2021-02-04: NHS Coronavirus Vaccine Studies

I signed up to be contacted for coronavirus vaccine studies.

2021-02-06: Daily Exercise

For the record, my typical daily lockdown exercise is ~1 mile walk around the cemetery, 10+ squats, 10+ pushups, arm and shoulder stretches...

2021-02-09: Antigen Negative

Another negative antigen test for Jean today.

2021-03-04: Regular Tests at Home

Jean continues to take lateral flow tests at home twice a week (all negative), and the kids and I will probably take them once or twice a week soon after they both return to school with free kits that will be handed out...

2021-03-05: D3 Done

I finished the last of my first bulk batch of 180x D3 (1000iu, 25µg) tablets!

(I have more, but also we have some sunshine and the prospect of starting to get outside a bit more soon...)

2021-03-06: Back to School Soon

Our children will be back in school from the start of next week. So we are being offered free home (lateral flow) test kits to test everyone in the home once or twice a week. The children will get tested at school for the next two weeks. Jean gets test kits from her school and will continue to test about twice per week. I have been into Kingston to collect two packs (I had been intending to get one, but that's what I was offered) today, for myself initially. I aim to test myself once a week for now. Subsequently we may be ordering or collecting the free test kits for everyone but Jean.

I collected two test packs of 7 tests from The Bittoms behind the Surrey County Council building. I was directed at the gate to a 'guard box' where I was asked if I (currently) had any symptoms. I said no, and was directed to a long open tent/marquee. I was first directed to use hand sanitiser. Then I went to a booth where I was asked on what basis I was collecting tests. "Teacher, parent or key worker?" I think was the question: "parent" my answer. I was then offered two packs (of 7 tests) which I accepted, even though I had originally intended to take one.

2021-03-08: Staggered Return

Schools starting back today, by degrees. We should have an empty house other than me at lunchtime from Wednesday...

2021-03-16: First Shot Booked

I just received an SMS inviting me to book a vaccination appointment. I'm now booked in for the weekend, in the same place that I had my flu shot.

2021-03-21: First Shot In

I received my AstraZeneca AB first shot just before 11am, from batch 4120Z003. (Note: from an Indian-made batch causing some administrative controversy later.) 30 minutes walk each way (and over 3 miles' exercise), and about a 15-minute queue wait in total. Fast and efficient and painless. (I had a slightly disturbed night though that may have been too strong a coffee too late in the afternoon, a slightly sore injected arm, and possibly existing inflamed arthritic joints a little more so; but nothing dramatic. The following (Monday) evening the arm was a bit more sore, and there was some shivering/chills and an early bedtime. On Wednesday felt quite 'off' during the day, as if low blood sugar, not helped by failing to get any tea or coffee all morning!)

2021-03-23: One Year In

Covid: UK marks one year since the first lockdown.

2021-03-29: Women vs Men

From chatting to others after their first vaccination, I'd say that women have had considerably stronger side-effects than men. Women's reactions have run to vomiting and night-sweats and even hallucinations.

2021-04-10: Mobile Unit

I went to have an asymptomatic Covid test done at the KCMU Kingston Council Mobile Unit just outside the Piper Hall . I did the swabbing, the staff will put my results up on https://gov.uk/enter-lateral-flow-test against my unique test barcode.

An email about from NHS COVID-19 Notification said: Your coronavirus lateral flow test result is negative. It's likely you were not infectious when the test was done.

2021-04-12: Pubs Open and Snow

On the that pubs are allowed to re-open, outside only: snow!

2021-04-25: Pubs Exist

I have now been to pub gardens three or four times. The weather and experience have not been great for some of them, eg cold and rainy and windy!

Yesterday was sunny and warm and starting to feel more like the old normal.

2021-05-02: Moar D3

D3 vitamin 1000iu 25ug Valupak and Asda containers plastic 6 DHD

I am about to finish my last Valupak of vitamin D3, and thus my 240th tablet. (The are 4 left as of today.)

Shall I broach my Asda stash and keep going through the summer?

I think so, at least until a couple of weeks after my second jab in June...

"MD" from Private Eye says that he has been taking D3 year-round for ten years, purely for bone health. So there seems no rush to stop.

2022-01-27: New Scientist: Vitamin D supplements really do reduce risk of autoimmune disease: ... a dose of 2000 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day reduced the development of autoimmune disease by 22 per cent ...: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj-2021-066452.

2021-05-06: Voted Very Early

No in-person voting for me in the London elections today!

Normally I am one of the first at the polling station when it opens at 7am.

I have already voted by post to reduce coronavirus transmission risk.

2021-05-21: Beer or Four, Inside

This evening I enjoyed a beer or 4 (3 of them halves!) inside at my local Tap Room.

2021-05-25: Second Shot Booked

Today I was sent a text to book my second vaccination dose. I completed the booking for early next month in maybe a minute or so, including consulting my diary!

2021-06-06: Second Shot In

20210606 short queue for second vaccine shot

I received my second dose today, in the same place as the first and my flu jab.

I somehow forgot to bring a mask with me so had to buy one on the way, bah!

Hardly any queue this time. I was jabbed and out before my 10:22 appointment time I think!

OAZ batch PV46693, with a second sticker on my NHS vaccination card.

Back home well before 11am (BST).

I have taken the rest of the day very easy.

By evening my arm is slightly sore at and around the injection site.

Arm a little bit sore the next day, but not noticeable unless I think about it.

Following day: arm OK except for some soreness at the injection site itself. No other symptoms or side-effects observed.

2021-07-02: an unexpected direct message on Twitter from someone saying: I was searching for my 2nd AZ jab batch and only found it on your blog. ... I am relieved to know it has been administered elsewhere, as my Drs got in a bit of a muddle and it was not uploaded on their system.

The power of search engines and the Internet, hurrah! Pleased to have been of help.

2021-06-09: PCR Tests All Round

Because of the rise of cases in Kingston, and Morgan and Ellie both at secondary school, the whole family is taking PCR tests at home managed via the school.

2021-06-11: negative results from PCR tests for all of us received this morning.

2021-06-13: Isolating!

Excitement!

Ellie has to isolate at home next week (which was going to be exams week for her) because a schoolfriend showed symptoms and then tested positive. We telling us that she should not come in next week. She should go back on the 21st, and may have to do exams here this coming week. There was a background string of announcements from Ellie telling us as each friend got called...

It seems that about 67 are isolating from Ellie's year group, this coming week.

2021-06-21: Ellie was allowed out of the house, back to school, today!

2021-06-22: D3 Pause

I have decided not to take daily D3 from today at least until the autumn. Not that there's much sunshine at the moment (yesterday was cloud and rain), but I doubt that I'll be running a deficiency for now without...

2021-07-03: Rick Fame!

'Euro 2020 is a lifeline for my pub' says Rick at the Willoughby!

2021-07-09: Research Reject

I received an email asking me to consider taking part in study AZD2816, a local COVID-19 clinical study researching vaccines against a COVID-19 virus variant ... specifically against the Beta variant ... as a booster for which the broad criteria for participation are being over 30 and having had two doses of OAZ, Pfizer or Moderna.

I did not pass the online screening checks. Possibly because to the question asking if I had had Covid-19 I answered "not sure" (since I was not able to get tested in March 2020).

2021-07-18: "Freedom" Tomorrow

Most of the rules re social distancing, mask wearing, etc, are being lifted in England tomorrow.

Many think this rapid loosening unwise given the huge rise in infections, primarily with the Delta variant. The UK has ~11% of the world's cases. Also given how much the rules were being flouted even while still mandatory.

Unlocking is happening differently in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

2021-07-23: Unbooked Beer

This evening I was able to visit my favourite Tap Room for a couple of beers without advance booking. Even better, one beer was free!

2021-07-24: Sticking it to the Man

I'm using the train and Tube today. I'd say mask wearing is slightly better than before "freedom day" on the 19th. But on the Tube where wearing is still mandatory, there were lots of people not wearing who were very unlikely to be exempt, eg fit young men carrying heavy golfing gear.

2021-07: Herne Bay UKation 2

Given that France was still out of reach with coronavirus restrictions in practice, we took a calm pleasant final week in July in Herne Bay, Kent, instead.

2021-08-16: Clubbing

Talking to a friend who managed to fit in several (night)club visits recently... I am told that the clubs were busy, and the punters way more friendly than Before. Possibly having been starved of social contact. Ease without Es, maybe?

2021-08-20: 66% London Mobility

London's mobility according to Citymapper Mobility Index (CMI) as of is at ~66% of pre-pandemic levels, though has been in the 70%s and even a peak of 86% on Sunday 2021-07-11. (Weekends seem to be a little higher as percentages of pre-pandemic levels.)

At the top of the CMI chart is Melbourne at 9%, given their current lockdown. At the other end is our very own Manchester at 99%, which has seen values over 100% from the end of July!

Also, tweeted by Justin on eurostar @EurostarJustinp 2021-08-22:

Here's a powerful reminder of the effect of the pandemic on eurostar traffic. Look at this timetable from 2017. On a Sunday there were 15 trains to Paris. We had months and months with only 1. That's still the case for Brussels and Amsterdam but will increase next month.

2021-09-03: School

Kids back at secondary school today (yes, Friday!) with few anti-Covid measures in place, eg no mask wearing in class.

At the primary school where I am Resources chair, we had budgeted for two full terms of the extra covid safety measures such as soap. I urged allowing for all three terms. I would be happy to be wrong, coronavirus to be behind us sooner, and the school to end up with a slight underspend on those lines... Note that at this school Face coverings remain encouraged.

2021-09-12: Clean Finger Pads

Apropos of nothing very much, I note that I like the thorough way we have been taught to wash hands during the pandemic, particularly to rub finger tips against the palms to get the pads much cleaner. Before I often felt it was hit and miss getting them feeling really de-gunked.

2021-09-14: Kids

Today the government announced that 12-to-15 year olds would be offered a single (Pfizer) dose. Our two would like to get it.

I may get a booster shot (likely Pfizer) in December (which would be six months from the second dose to the booster). And possibly a flu jab with it or before.

2021-09-17: Long Covid

I noted before a slight restriction in breathing, like a light cold, and I think that it is still very faintly there but not bothersome. This may or may not a sort of mild "long covid" or simply my imagination!

2021-09-18: PCR Tests

The kids' school sent an email last night that we happened to see this morning:

I am writing to inform you that there have been a number of positive cases of COVID-19 within Year 8. We have notified and liaised with Public Health Kingston, and for precautionary measures, they have advised all students in Year 8 to take a PCR test as soon as possible.

...

Please note if your child has a sibling at The Hollyfield School, they too are advised to take a PCR test.

It's good that we saw this when we did, since there are no local PCR tests available on Sunday, and not into very much of the afternoon. And booking the tests seems tricky, and having to bring the kids' passports is more hassle.

Anyway, both were booked in this morning. Test was by swabs. Results expected in 24--48h.

Sunday early morning by text message: both results negative.

2021-09-22: School Amber

I letter from the school today:

I am writing to you as we have seen an increased number of cases of Covid-19 within our school community. We have liaised closely with Public Health Kingston (PHK) and they, along with the team from Public Health England (PHE) have advised we move our measures from green to amber.

...

We have seen an increased number of cases in all year groups, but particularly in Year 8 ...

Request that all students in Year 8 and Year 10 take daily LFTs. ... Reinstate face coverings in communal areas and ask those in Year 8 to wear face coverings in their lessons ... Cancel the school Open Evening on Tuesday 5 October.

New Scientist reports Record cases in school children in England today: More than one in a hundred school children in England have covid-19, but absences are lower than in July because whole classes no longer isolate.

2021-09-17: Provisional Kids' First Jab Date

The school has a provisional data (next month) for jabs for (12-to-15) kids. On-line parental consent is required for these. They are to be on site.

2021-10-01: D3 Again

With the weather having taken a turn for the gloomy, I started taking D3 again this morning. I haven't decided yet if it'll be immediately every day.

2021-01-15: so far I have been remembering to take the D3 daily. We have had quite a few sunny days, so maybe it's been at least partly superfluous!

2021-10-19: Pfizer

Our children both had their (first) single Pfizer vaccination doses today. No problems reported other than sore arms...

2021-10-27: Flu Jab Booked

My GP surgery sent me a text message to invite me to get a flu jab. I'm currently booked in for mid-November at the surgery.

2021-11-05: a paper letter arrived from the the NHS, urging me to get a flu shot.

2021-11-02: Back to School

A note from the children's school today says the following covid measures will apply for the first two weeks (most children return tomorrow):

  • Face coverings will be worn by students and staff in corridors
  • Assemblies and staff training will be held online
  • Staff and students will continue to take Lateral Flow Tests twice a week

From the newsletter for the week commencing 2021-11-15 (received on the 13th):

... Covid cases within the school community remain low and have done so since our return from the half term break. As a result of this, from Monday we will remove the requirement for students and staff to wear a face covering around the school buildings. ... At the moment, we are still not hosting large gatherings of people. This means all of our assemblies and staff training sessions are online. We will maintain this for the next two weeks and if the cases remain low, we will look to remove this restriction towards the end of November. ...

2021-11-11: Flu Jab Received

Today went to the GP surgery and was in, vaccinated, and out early! Slightly sore arm...

2021-11-21: Booster Booked

Having been reminded that booking a booster has been opened up, I went online with my NHS number and booked in for early December. This time at the clinic 5 minutes away from me that is due to be bulldozed for a new towerblock...

I expect this shot to be Pfizer, rather than an AZ repeat.

2021-11-24: Flowflex Lateral Flow Test

Flowflex SARS CoV 2 Antigen Rapid Test Self Testing kit

A new LFT type for me today, and came up negative.

Confession time: as the rest of the family has been taking multiple LFTs per week each, and I am still not exactly out heavily nightclubbing, I haven't been doing regular LFTs. I would expect that one of them would show something on their tests if we were passing an infection around. I am doing today's test because the person I am visiting later requested it. Happy to oblige for their peace of mind. And to get a spot check / data point.

My notification by text from registering the test came back as:

NHS COVID-19 Notification: Dear Damon Hart-Davis
Birth date: XX XXXXXXX XXXX
Test date: 24 November 2021

Your coronavirus lateral flow test result is negative. It's likely you are not infectious. But a negative test is not a guarantee, and there's still a chance you may be infectious.

Keep following coronavirus advice including:
- regular handwashing
- social distancing
- wearing a face covering where recommended

If you've been traced as a contact of someone who tested positive, you may need to self-isolate.

Find out at https://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus and read 'Self-isolation and treating symptoms'.

2021-11-27: Omicron

The BBC reports: Two cases of new variant Omicron detected in UK.

I went out three nights in a row last week: fun but tiring! Apart from being kinder to my liver, it would seem to be a good idea to stay home a bit more, at least until I have had my Pfizer booster.

So I'm not rushing out to my local this evening, for example.

Face coverings will become mandatory again on transport and in shops from Tuesday 30th. Not in pubs and restaurants though. I'd like to see some enforcement.

2021-11-29: Nasal Flu

Our children had nasal flu vaccinations today, which I think would have happened with or without covid.

2021-12-01: Three Month Boost

Now, the government is aiming to offer all eligible adults in England a booster jab by the end of January in response to the new Omicron variant. People become eligible to book a booster jab three months after their second.

2021-12-05: Boosted

queue for booster 20211205 Hawks Road

Just had my booster at the Hawk's Road (ex) Medical Centre. A little bit of queueing outside (with one angry maybe-40s man being turned away without an appointment, apparently misled by the difference between government sweeping statements and practice on the ground). We were all screened for our appointment — booking reference, name, age, etc — in this first queue. The reference for everyone near me seemed to be eight digits starting with '5'. A little more waiting inside (screened twice more including GP, address, phone). Screened again before the injection at 11:37 vs nominal 11:25 appointment time. Given a new/extra vaccination card for the booster. Then a 15-minute post-jab sit-down to check for bad effects. (I cannot see anyone would be getting an injection that should not be!) We were told to deal with mild flu like symptoms with paracetamol / painkillers and drinking plenty of water. For more serious symptoms call the GP or 111.

Pretty good overall.

Pfizer Comirnaty (previously known as Pfizer-BioNTech) batch FK9712.

Talking to two of the people marshalling waiting boostees they were variously slightly cheesed off with people being shirty, not listening, not distancing etc.

By 10pm there is, as expected, some mild soreness at the injection site.

Woah! Had a bit of trouble getting warm enough as I was falling asleep... Then massive chills and shivering... Then after a while things calmed down and I got to sleep. I woke with a headache, and will take the day very gently.

The next day by lunchtime I was still feeling a bit woozy and flu-y. A couple of slightly arthritic joints are more sore than usual. But I was able to get some work done, and my appetite was fine. Continuing to take it easy seems the right course of action today. I had an annoying mild headache right up to the end of the day, but then apparently slept OK and my arm was not even significantly sore the next morning.

2021-12-11: as of the 11th I have had a lingering low-level headache on and off since the jab. It may be entirely unrelated. The headache when there has been minor, and has not stopped me from doing anything.

2021-12-22: what I think was a continuing mild reaction to the booster for a fortnight had me feel run down during the day on Friday (17th) and to bed hours early, and then OK again on Saturday and I think a little run-down again on Sunday. All seems to be good now. And all this may have yet been an unrelated bug brought home from school by the kids... Or even a mild Omicron infection!

In contrast, Jean was a bit tired immediately after her jab, and had a sore arm for three days, but no other reported effects.

2021-12-08: New Rules

Tonight the government announced New Plan B rules on working from home and masks for England.

People in England are being asked to work from home again if possible and face masks will be compulsory in most public places, as part of new rules to limit the spread of Omicron.

2021-12-12: Faster Boosting

Tonight the government announced that booster jabs will be offered to everyone over 18 in England from this week. The target is now to vaccinate all adults by the end of the year, ie a month earlier than previously planned.

The Covid alert level was raised to four — a high or rising level of transmission.

A note from the local authority director of public health, sent via schools to parents, and dated the 9th, says:

... our data also shows that rates are particularly high in parents of school age children. At present around 1,000 people are testing positive for COVID-19 every week in Kingston.

2021-12-15: New Symptoms

It seems that Early reports reveal Omicron symptoms are a scratchy throat, a dry cough, extreme tiredness, mild muscle aches and night sweats.

I could have claimed about three of those each of the last couple of nights! Plus such intense tooth grinding that may jaw has been really sore...

I don't think that I'm doomed, but at least a good reason to minimise external in-person contacts...

All of this could conversely be trailing effects of the booster shot too.

2021-12-16: Boost Moved Up

Jean had already booked a booster for the end of December in line with previous guidance.

But given the new urgency and opening up boosters to all adults immediately, she was just able to pop by our (very close, where I went) local walk-in centre, get a booster then and there (10 minute queue, 15 minute wait after), then cancel and release her booked slot. Someone else can now take that slot.

(What we did not want to happen was cancel the existing appointment and then not be able to book a new one sooner or at all...)

Also: Children aged 12 to 15 in England can book a second dose of covid-19 vaccine from Monday.

2021-12-18: London Major Incident Declared

London's mayor declares 'major incident' as omicron surges in U.K. capital. ... The news comes as the United Kingdom reported more than 93,000 cases on Friday alone, breaking the record for a third day in a row.

2021-12-23: Children's Seconds

A letter has just turned up from the NHS inviting us to book a second dose for our younger one to be taken at the end of January.

We anticipate the matching letter for the elder to turn up soon!

(It did not arrive on the 24th.)

2022-01-02: Face Masks in Classrooms

Face masks are to be worn in secondary classrooms in England's schools to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant, the government has announced. Face coverings will be required until 2022-01-26.

Workplaces told to plan for absences of up to 25%, meanwhile. (England is currently under Plan B restrictions, which includes mandatory masks in most indoor public places, Covid passes for nightclubs and other large venues and guidance to work from home if possible.)

2022-01-06: Our two went back in on Tuesday (4th) only to take a lateral flow test (the school found six positive cases).

On Wednesday they started late, Thursday was a normal day, and Friday starts with a practice session of remote schooling in case it is needed (we're all hoping not).

2022-01-13: No Second School Jab

Our kids' (secondary) school has just announced that it won't be organising another round of vaccination.

We're intending to take them instead to walk-in clinics in the next few days (different sessions given their age difference it seems).

But given that a colleague actually could not (and I could not either, using a search engine along with him) find any walk-in info a couple of days ago, we're going to book them both in at Hawk's Road Medical Centre. If we can get them first to a walk-in session then we'll cancel the bookings.

Younger one done afternoon of 2022-01-14 (booked); took a paracetamol because he was a bit sore the following day, and still sore 16th, but otherwise fine.

Older one done morning of 2022-01-16 (booked), sore arm in the evening. (She went by herself to the appointment.) Next day less sore, but flu-y. The day after, basically fine.

2022-01-19: Secondary School Masks

Though the government announced that face masks in English secondary schools are not compulsory from tomorrow, our kids' school head announced:

... we will maintain the wearing of face coverings around the school building and in lessons until at least the end of the week. This will give us time to liaise with Public Health Kingston and take their advice on our own specific situation. I am approaching it like this as we currently have 36 cases of Covid between staff and students ...

2022-01-21: School Masks Continue

Latest from the school:

... the government has announced that face coverings will no longer need to be worn in classrooms and that the use of face coverings in corridors can be eased at the end of next week. However, the government has handed over responsibility for local decisions on this to school leaders and local public health officials. ... Due to the number of cases across the year groups we will retain face coverings in lessons until at least next Friday (28 January). All of our other restrictions will remain in place until at least half term. ...

Also the London 'major incident' over Omicron [has been] stood down.

2022-01-23: Paper Covid Pass

We are aiming to go on holiday to France this summer.

Given the wobble on recognition of my first OAZ shot, and not understanding quite how the system works, I called 111 to get a Covid pass on paper. For security and privacy reasons I don't want to run any pass 'app' on my phone. (The poor chap taking my call had a heavy cold!)

A fat NHS envelope turned up a few days ago, which took a little while to understand.

It contained a "TRAVEL" part (two sheets) with records of all three of my shots. (2 x Vaxzevria "SARS CoV-2 Antigen Vaccine", 1 x Comirnaty "SARS CoV-2 mRNA vaccine".) Unexpectedly The 2D barcodes ... on this pass expire after 30 days. So assuming that the system remains similar, I'd have to call 111 again, timing it so that the pass is still valid when we return. We had a gap of about a week in post deliveries recently, so timing is not totally trivial.

Also in the NHS envelope was a Domestic NHS COVID Pass. This is marked as expiring in about a month too.

So, I won't get to use any of this, but I have done a dry run which suggests everything I'll need is available.

2022-01-26: Tube Exempt?

It is remarkable that the people travelling without masks on my Victoria Line journeys today were largely (and implausibly) men travelling alone, mainly sub-30s I'd say.

A patient TfL chap explained that much of the enforcement activity from BTP is happening in the morning rush hour (so I would not get to see it).

2022-01-27: Plan B Winding Down

Face mask rules and Covid passes end in England, ie are no longer legally required.

... some shops have said they will continue to ask people to wear [masks].

Rail operators also said passengers would be expected to wear face coverings. But all said they would encourage, not force, customers to comply.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said masks will remain mandatory on Transport for London services, calling on people to "do the right thing".

Public health guidance urging people to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces when coming into contact with strangers will remain, the government said.

... Other measures brought in to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant — including work-from-home guidance and advice on facemasks in secondary school classrooms — have already been dropped.

Also:

Covid restrictions on adult social care will be eased in England from Monday, the government has announced.

There will be no limit on the number of visitors allowed at care homes, self-isolation periods will be cut and care homes will only have to follow outbreak management rules for 14 days, not 28.

All this even though: Infections in England remain at 'extremely high' level.

2022-02-08: Tube Better

On the morning ride into London on train and Tube (proper, ie nose also) mask wearing was reasonable, though mainly youngish-men who were not.

Masking was much lower at King's Cross Underground station itself.

And even lower in the evening on the return journey.

2022-02-09: Special Test

Today Jean did an extra swab test and survey (for the DHSC, Imperial College REACT, Ipsos MORI, and NHS) that apparently looks for both Covid and flu.

COVID-19 remains a threat. Measuring and understanding the spread of COVID-19 and any interaction with flu will help the NHS and help keep businesses and services running.

This test promises a £10 gift voucher for participation.

2022-02-12: One Hundred and Eighty!

I just finished the last D3 from my Asda pack of 180. (Probably only about one "floor loss" out of this pill box/tube.)

Will I continue? Well, it's not summer yet, D3 is protective against bone issues, and against auto-immune problems (though in much higher doses), and it's cheap and it does not seem to do any harm with Covid. And I have the next pack (Wilko's 90) waiting!

So yes, for now!

2022-02-16: French Med

Today we put down a massive £99 deposit on a summer holiday near Agde again. I'm fairly hopeful that it will all be possible!

2022-02-17: Train Better

On the morning ride into London on train and Tube proper mask wearing was reasonable, less good on the Tube and stations.

And mask wearing dropped hugely in the evening, Tube and train...

2022-02-22: England Rules Going

Sajid Javid defends timing of end to Covid rules and free tests:

  • From 21 February the government is dropping guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing.
  • From 24 February self-isolation no longer legally required, routine contact tracing will end, and other changes.
  • From 1 April: free mass testing will end.

Also, All legal restrictions in Scotland will end on 21 March.

2022-03-09: Heat Battery Finally In

After about two years' delay, the heat battery is in.

2022-03-20: Maskless

Popped into Kingston today, to the Bentall's Centre, and very very few people were wearing masks inside. Probably 5% or less.

There was no obvious common factor in which adults were or were not masking, eg by gender or age.

2022-03-23: French Train

Today we booked Eurostar and the TGV for our holiday: hurrah!

(The BBC reports on the second anniversary of the first national Covid-19 lockdown. And it's not fully over yet...)

2022-03-24: Near Maskless

On the train into London, few mask wearers, but not none. Not much obviously in common for those wearing, ie including young men, women, etc. The pattern was the same on the Tube, and in the evening on my return, though not as much as drop in wearing at King's Cross Tube compared to elsewhere as before.

Average mask wearing across all my journeys today was maybe 5% to 10%.

All this while London Covid cases rise by 28% in a week and there had never been a riskier time to travel.

2022-04-01: April Fool

Today cases are at some sort of record high, and there is no longer free testing for most people.

Masking on train and Tube journey today similar to before, maybe a tad lower. I worried that there would be some hostility to mask wearing: not yet at least.

2022-04-06: Mildly Ill

For the last couple of days (ie since Monday overnight) I have had a scratchy throat and running nose and mild flu-like wooziness. Not enough to stop working, though I have been getting more sleep, and I'm not going to travel anywhere until symptoms are gone at least.

Morgan has had something similar. It could be cold / flu / Omicron!

On Friday (8th) I'm still messily streaming and sneezing, so I will forego my usual pub visit tonight!

By the 15th the last dregs are fading of what appears to have been a cold.

2022-04-16: Teen/Train Boost

Ellie (being 16) has just had a Pfizer booster today, at a Boots walk-in.

Also, 3 months ago Eurostar was only running 5% of pre-pandemic services; now it's back to 80%, and 90% is predicted in the next few months.

2022-04-29: SATs Sitting?

I'm due to help invigilate SATs in the second week of May, and Ellie has her GCSE exams coming up shortly after (the first bit on the 5th).

All assuming that Covid does not strike another blow; sickness absence rates are still high in schools...

Mask wearing on the train and Tube into King's Cross were probably marginally lower than last time. 5% still feels like a reasonable estimate. Again, no obvious demographic wearing/not... Also somewhat fewer masks being worn circa midnight on the way home. Our MP was in Surbiton station as I was exiting, so I had a brief chat!

2022-05-05: Voted Early and Often

Today we have local elections, but as a hang-over from lockdown I have already voted by post. It actually reduced tension a little when canvassers and so on came to the door to say gently "too late"! It also means that I will not be leaping out of bed to be at the polling station at 7am when it opens! Another small silver pandemic lining.

A couple of the councillors that I know are standing down this time.

2022-05-07: Unmasking

Very few masks being worn on the 65 bus this afternoon and evening.

2022-05-13: Unpilled

I just (6am) finished my last vitamin D3 pill from my "wilko wellbeing high strength" 25µg tub of 90. I have a new (Asda, 60 tablets) pack waiting, but I probably now won't open it until autumn.

2022-05-25: Thousands of Fines

According to the BBC today: Nearly 4,000 maskless London passengers hit with fines:

Nearly 4,000 passengers were issued fines for not wearing face coverings on London's transport network when it was mandatory to do so, new figures show.

...

Data revealed 7,283 people were stopped on London's transport network for not wearing a mask.

The figures also showed 2,325 passengers were asked to leave the network.

Meanwhile, on the train in and out of London this afternoon/evening, I was almost the only mask wearer...

2022-05-31: Three's The Charm

Three doses of the same or mixed covid jabs work equally well against infections says a study, as 2 million people in UK have long covid...

Three doses of either the same vaccine or a combination of different vaccine types work comparably well in preventing covid-19 infections, even against different variants, finds a study published by The BMJ today.

...

After taking account of differences in study design and quality, the researchers found that three doses of any mRNA vaccine appear to be most effective (96%) against non-severe covid-19 infections and most effective (95%) in reducing covid-19 related hospital admission.

Using an mRNA booster after two doses of adenovirus vector vaccines also has a satisfactory effectiveness of 88%.

2022-06-15: Kingston Invents!

I attended an in-person meeting of Kingston Invents! for the first time since the 'rona took off, in the same building (and possibly same room) at Kingston University as before. It felt almost as if there had been no break, which gives me hope that the social aspects may heal well in many cases.

2022-06-24: Unpacking

Because we could not take our France trips from 'rona for two years, when taking a large suitcase down to repurpose, we discovered a couple of 'treasures' that we evidently failed to fully unpack from three years ago!

My daughter will be astonished to be reunited with her nail varnishes. We also found some sauce sachets now a couple of years beyond expiry!

2022-06-27: Thorny

Our Pyrocantha at the front between us and the footpath had been left to its own devices for the last couple of years because of covid.

Getting it back into some sort of reasonable shape took ten hours today, with a van (and green bin) full of clippings!

The kitchen is somewhat less gloomy now.

2022-06-30: Board

A board meeting tomorrow has had to be rearranged because one of the other directors has covid!

2022-07-15: Booster

All over 50s to get an autumn Covid booster ... however, it is still uncertain which vaccine will be used.

2022-07-18: Ofsted

Ha! Tomorrow, the school that I am a governor of is getting a two-day Ofsted inspection. Right at the end of the school year, and starting in what is likely to be the hottest UK day ever to date. And I'm having to take a rapid covid test because I have some matching symptoms! Joy! (And I'm meant to be giving a presentation on Wednesday evening, etc, etc!)

Thankfully the test is negative. What I have is likely a boring cold.

2022-07-20: Retest

Ofsted meeting is happening this morning, and presentation to Kingston Invents! this evening, and revolting cold-like symptoms persisting, so re-tested. Still negative, thankfully.

2022-07-23: Lone Mask

On train and Tube today I was nearly (but not quite) alone wearing a mask. Wearing mine was at least in part to try to avoid passing on my cold.

... And on the way back (from Margate) on Monday a few more masks on the Tube, but virtually none on the trains. And the Margate train journey was unpleasant with all sorts of bad behaviour including aggressive rude sweary fare evasion, and some working examples of "toxic masculinity" playing out too.

2022-08-01: Roehampton Unmasked

I was the lone mask wearer on the 85 bus to and from Roehampton that I could see.

I had two meetings today, and because I felt a bit 'off' (another bug?), we had them both outside as far as possible.

2022-08-09: To Agde and Back

2022-08-09: To Paris

No masks on SWR train to Vauxhall, nor me since infection rates falling. A couple of masks on the Tube. Some masks in St Pancras underground. A few above ground. A few in the looooooong Eurostar queue. (No need to show covid passes to enter France.) One visible on the Eurostar itself. None visible on the hot-hot-hot RER. A few on the streets of Paris.

2022-08-10: To Agde

A few masks on the TGV to Agde. More than on any of the UK services. Basically no masks at the campsite or in Marseillan Plage.

2022-08-24: From Agde

No masks on the TGV to Paris.

Almost no masks on TGV, none on RER, a few in Eurostar waiting area. None visible on Eurostar itself. The ES info screens still say to wear a mask however.

Few on Tube or train.

2022-08-26: Dentist Unmasked

Six-monthly checkup today at the dentist. The dentist and assistant were wearing masks, but the receptionist was not and patients were not required to. (I did ask!)

2022-09-14: Train/Tube Unmasked

About twenty masks being worn on the train and Tube into London today. Almost all of them below- and above- ground at the King's Cross end! I am not wearing a mask today, though I have (more than!) one with me.

Train and Tube were on the quiet side today, unexpectedly.

2022-10-05: D3 Again

I have (this lunchtime) re-started taking D3 (1000iu or 25µg per day) as of today.

We are really seeing a lot less sunshine than a month or two ago.

2022-10-14: Jabs Booking

Apparently from today, National Health Service England will open online and phone bookings for covid-19 jabs to around 12 million people aged between 50 and 64. Many will also be able to book a flu vaccine at the same time, as health leaders warn of a “twindemic” of flu and covid-19.

2022-10-15: No Jabs

I used the NHS site to search for walk-in covid vaccination sites (a seasonal booster) near me. There are none very close: at least not reasonably walkable.

I visited my local pharmacy to get a flu jab: they don't have the right formulation for my age range yet!

2022-10-21: Missed Jabs

Shortly after 9am I received an SMS from my GP surgery inviting me to book a dual flu and covid jab, just as a friend was arriving for coffee. By the time I went to complete a booking a few hours later there were no appointments available!

2022-10-28: Old and Daft

As part of a follow-up to the REACT study, probing what covid may have done to our brains, I took an optional cognitive function test. I did not much like the results!

20221028 REACT followup DHD cognitive function online test results spider diagram
A spider diagram of various cognitive abilities; I did well on crystalised intelligence and badly on spatial memory for example. And I thought that I had done slightly better than average on all of them, per Lake Wobegon!

2022-10-29: Jab Offer

An NHS letter arrived in the post this morning offering to let me book a covid jab (though no mention of flu). Slots are available at the Boots in Kingston morning and afternoon each weekday next week. I have booked mid-week. Your appointment should take 30 to 45 minutes.

2022-11-02: Jabbed

I went to get my booked covid booster in a corner upstairs at the big Boots in Kingston. The process was efficient and friendly and in a few minutes I had Comirnaty Bivalent batch GD6800 in my left arm. In my right arm a few minutes later I had a flu shot as a walk-in. They checked my NHS number, booking reference, date of birth, etc, so that someone does not get shots that they should not, I think, and so that my NHS records are updated.

Everyone waiting for their shots, and all staff in that area, were masked.

The covid information leaflet is headed: Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.1 (15/15 micrograms)/dose dispersion for injection Adults and adolescents from 12 years COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine (nucleoside modified) tozinameran/riltozinameran

Both the BioNTech and Pfizer logos appear at the end of the leaflet.

I was told that I could deal with any flu-like symptoms with paracetamol.

The flu shot information is headed: Cell-based Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (Surface Antigen, Inactivated) Seqirus suspension for injection in pre-filled syringe Influenza vaccine, prepared in cell cultures

The contents are: Influenza virus surface antigens (haemagglutinin and neuraminidase), inactivated, of the following strains*:

  • A/Wisconsin/588/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like strain (A/Delaware/55/2019 CVR-45) 15 micrograms HA**
  • A/Darwin/6/2021 (H3N2)-like strain (A/Darwin/11/2021, wild type) 15 micrograms HA**
  • B/Austria/1359417/2021-like strain (B/Singapore/WUH4618/2021, wild type) 15 micrograms HA**
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013-like strain (B/Singapore/INFTT-16-0610/2016, wild type) 15 micrograms HA**

per 0.5 ml dose

* propagated in Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells

** haemagglutinin

The Seqirus logo appears at the end of the leaflet.

Starting to feel a bit chilly in the afternoon, so I have added to double socks and fleece gilet some thermal long johns, fingerless gloves, heated insoles, big hair, and my firmly window shut!

By evening my left (covid jab) arm was starting to feel sore and stiff. Other than that, no noticeable reactions yet...

By bed time the left arm was more sore and the 'flu' symptoms were rising. Chills, sneezing, running nose, joints aching. So I put on my warm dressing gown and buried deep under duvet etc, and tried to get to sleep.

In the morning my left arm was even more sore, but most of the the other symptoms were mild. Maybe will be OK! (Mainly a mild headache since I took the day very easy, but then a distinctly nasty wobble at bed time...)

On just a little residual soreness in my left arm at the injection site, less for the flu site on the right.

So this is my fourth shot in total: 2 x AstraZenica, then 2 x Pfizer Comirnaty boosters.

2022-12-06: D3 Again

I finished Asda's finest tub of 60, and I am on to the next from tomorrow... Meanwhile I have some sort of filthy cold. Life is full of excitement.

2023-01-23: Cache

I just found a cache of old covid booklets and other paperwork from two years ago, including from my participation in the Imperial College REACT in-home coronavirus antibody testing research study (IRAS number 283805, S5-R5-V18 21/12/20). Now all in recycling! I have taken a couple of pics possibly for the Gallery...

2023-02-05: FOSDEM, Brussels

I visited FOSDEM in Brussels this weekend for the first time in years, given Brexit and covid.

There was a small amount of masking at the conference, less on public transport (eg including Eurostar) to and fro.

I took masks, in case, but did not wear them.

2023-02-06: D3 Again

I finished Asda's latest tub of 60, and I am on to a 180 from tomorrow. Time to take up darts?

2023-03-07: Selective Boosters

The BBC reports that Covid booster jab to be offered this spring and says:

A spring booster vaccine against Covid-19 is to be offered to people at most risk of serious illness from the disease to protect them this summer.

UK vaccine experts say it should be available to everyone over 75, care-home residents and anyone extremely vulnerable aged five and over.

No one in our household then...

2023-04-02: D3 Off Again

I did not take a D3 this morning, and probably will not until autumn. Plenty left in the pill box!

2023-05-14: No Mask

Since the WHO has decided that the pandemic has passed, and I haven't used it in ages, I am not routinely carrying a mask in my back pocket any more from today.

As of 2024-03: a mask is sitting on my desk but rarely makes it to my pocket. I do still have a mask in my bag.

2023-07: Not Gone Away

In the last few weeks at least a couple of my friends have gone down with covid (and tested positive).

2023-10-03: Less Sun, More Vitamin D

I am wearing a long-sleeve shirt for the first time in a while. I have resumed taking vitamin D (one 1000iu tablet per day, when I remember) given that sunshine on my skin will be a rarer thing...

D3 does seem to be generally helpful [lariccia2023d3].

There is neither a free NHS flu nor covid booster being offered to me. It seems that I could not get a covid jab even by paying for it at the moment.

(2024-03-18: today is my last vitamin D supplement for now...)

References

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