A Driving Instructor's Blog

Dodging virus in The MatrixNottingham’s number of COVID-19 cases has gone through the roof. We’re now sixth fifth fourth worst in the country and rising for cases per 100,000 (we went through those struck-out positions as I was drafting this). We have been told to go into local lockdown mode in anticipation of a formal announcement, and I am already cancelling lessons.

I had a pupil text me just as I was getting ready to start calling people, and he informed me he’d been sent home from school and had to quarantine for 14 days, because a teacher had tested positive. I last saw him a week ago. That’s on the back of another pupil who didn’t have a lesson this week (or last) because someone at his workplace had tested positive, and I’d seen him the week before that. And those were on the back of another pupil who recently started again after a two-week quarantine, because his sister worked at a school which had been hit with several cases among teaching staff. I’d seen him the week before, too. And from what he told me when I called earlier to cancel his lessons (and if I deciphered his teenaged mumbling correctly), his school now has cases.

To make matters worse, I have heard on the grapevine that an examiner at a Nottingham test centre took someone out on test, and that person then tested positive the following day. Although the examiner is quarantining, they cannot get a test unless they become symptomatic, which is f***ing stupid – if they do develop symptoms, what about everyone who has been in contact with them, and all their subsequent contacts, in the meantime? It also raises the big fat question of how and why the idiot learner who tested positive in the first place actually managed to arrange a COVID-19 test. They must have been suspicious or at high risk of being infected in order to do so, so what the f**k were they thinking taking a driving test?

Right now, it seems like I’m in The Matrix, bending this way and that to dodge more and more bullets coming my way.

COVID-19 testing is a shambles. By now, anyone who wants one should be able to get one. They should be able to test themselves at home. There should be no backlog of any kind. But there are problems everywhere within that list. Tests are taking days or even longer to be carried out. The backlog is such that the system is overloaded. Some results are not being returned. Samples are being lost even before being tested. Testing kits are going missing or not being used – even though the government is classing them as ‘tests done’ to try and make itself look better than the carve up it really is. And that is why the examiner – someone who is right at the top of the list of people who really ought to be tested for at least a dozen reasons on an almost daily basis – can’t get one unless they endure the risk of ending up in an ICU first.

The two main reasons we now have this situation in Nottingham is 1) pubs and restaurants, and 2) students. People have been behaving as if nothing is wrong since the main lockdown was eased, and since the students came back, they’ve been behaving as they do every year with knobs on. The kind of people who are going to pubs – students are high among those – lose any sense they might have had to start with once they take a sip of beer. And since they didn’t have much sense, the fall into stupidity is so much greater.

Nottingham University is somehow managing to do its own testing, and it was revealed recently that 425 students and 8 teaching staff have tested positive. Most of them will have been freshing it up all week. Nottingham Trent University is refusing to say how many of its students are infected, but it is almost certainly of the same magnitude. There have been numerous reports locally of students not adhering to distancing guidelines or wearing masks, especially on the trams. Several house parties have been broken up, the most significant one involving that guy who was slapped with a £10,000 fine a few weeks ago.

All of that makes this story is almost unbelievable. Nottingham University – like all other universities – was absolutely desperate to get students back, along with the £9,000 each of them brings in (or £15,000, I believe, if they come from the Pacific Rim). And now – in one of the very halls which is the location of a COVID-19 outbreak – it wants to move students out and into alternative accommodation (other halls, or a 4-star hotel) because the halls they’re in are a fire risk!

You simply could not make this up. The level of incompetence being demonstrated is off the scale.

Then, as I was finishing up this article, I was reminded once more of how being clinically stupid doesn’t stop you from becoming a driving instructor. Someone on a forum has claimed that their ‘God given immune system is better than masks’. They have also added later that COVID-19 has been ‘downgraded from a HCID to… no more than the flu/common cold’.

This is a clear demonstration that being a complete f***ing imbecile is no barrier to being an ADI.

Faith in your immune system as a barrier to COVID-19 is part of the anti-vaxxer canon. It is usually supplemented by a belief that Vitamin D and diet will provide the necessary Aegis which protects the bearer from absolutely anything. Anyone who cites any one of these ‘solutions’ is, by definition, completely clueless. The more so when they start talking about ‘government control’.

HCID stands for High Consequence Infectious Disease. It is a technical classification, and any assessment of a candidate involves a box-ticking exercise. At the start of the pandemic, not enough was known about COVID-19, in particular the level of mortality and how to test for it. As it turned out, the mortality was not as large as initially feared, and a greater understanding was built up. Consequently, it was no longer given the HCID classification. However, the government – all governments – have never said that it isn’t dangerous, and only one government, led by someone even more stupid that the person who reckons their immune system can repel it, has tried to claim it is ‘just the flu/common cold’.

COVID-19 is still classified as a serious public health emergency. It can – as evidenced elsewhere in this article – spread quickly. And it can only have escaped the attention of the most clinically stupid among us that around 50,000 people in the UK have died from it. And it is not – and never has been – the same as ‘flu or the common cold’. It isn’t flu or the common cold (even those two are completely different from each other). That’s why it has a different name.

Masks do not protect the wearer. That has never been their purpose. They protect others from the wearer, by reducing the number of droplets ejected from the nose and mouth. Masks do not eliminate contamination. They just reduce it. And refusing to wear one because you think you know better is criminally irresponsible.

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