This is about the time when I’d be telling you about my programming assignments for BristolCon and World Fantasy. However, I have no idea whether I will be at either of them.
Here’s the problem. COVID infections have been rising rapidly in the UK over the last couple of weeks. We are now over 50,000 new cases every day. For comparison, that’s roughly where we were at Christmas last year.
The government says that it is not worried, because the death rate is very low. It is just over 100 a day, which compares very well to the over 600 a day we were seeing last Christmas. Vaccines work. Of course 100 deaths a day is still horrific, but the government is very happy with it. Their ideology states that anyone who dies was obviously weak and not worth saving.
So a death rate of 100 a day isn’t going to result in any change in government policy. Probably 200 a day won’t either. But that’s not the number I’m watching. The key indicator is the number of people admitted to hospital, because that tells you whether the NHS is likely to be overloaded. That number has been rising steeply through October, and is roughly tracking the level we had last winter. That’s not good.
It doesn’t help that the situation here in the South West is far worse than the national average. This is in large part because one of the testing labs that serves the region had been discovered to be returning a large number of false negatives. This is apparrently what happens when you hand out government contracts on the basis of who you know and how much they donate to Tory Party funds, rather than their ability to do the job. Anyway, lots of people around here who had COVID were told they didn’t, and as a result infections have skyrocketed.
Right now the government is trying to bluster its way through the situation. They insist that there is nothing to worry about. This is rather like when a football club says that it has total confidence in the manager. You know that a dramatic u-turn is coming soon.
There’s also the attitude of other countries to consider. Morocco closed its borders to the UK last night. Other countries are likely to follow suit in the coming weeks. Canada might be one of them.
I’m still planning to go to both conventions, but anything could happen between now and the end of the month.