Tuesday 31 March 2020

A message from Seemorerocks

This short message reflects whereI am today under lockdown in New Zealand

Iran, under sanctions, achieves what the Empire can't

Just compare this with what a crumbling empire can do

Iran Mass Produces Test Kit Able To Detect COVID-19 In 3 Hours With 98% Accuracy

30 April, 2020

TEHRAN, Mar. 30 (MNA) – The Iranian Defense Ministry has unveiled a new generation of test kits that can detect the COVID-19 with high accuracy and in three hours.
 In the unveiling ceremony held on Monday in Tehran, the ministry’s representative Second Brigadier General Amiri pointed to the 98% accuracy of this new kit, which has been confirmed by the Health Ministry, as one of the salient features of this new product.

He said that the kit is totally domestically-produced which means that its mass production, which has already been started, will continue with more speed to fulfill the needs of Iranian armed forces, the medical sector, and even to be exported to other countries if required.
Amiri added this is the second generation of test kits produced in the defense industries after the first one came out almost one month ago.
Iranian Defense Ministry started mass production of face masks, disinfectants, and protective clothes from the early days the outbreak hit Iran. The body also unveiled advanced thermal cameras to be used as a screening tool in crowded places.
According to the Iranian Health Ministry on Sunday, 38,309 individuals have so far tested positive for the COVID-19 across the country. 12,391 patients have also recovered while the death toll has hit 2,640.

Coronavirus: A picture is worth a thousand words

Here is where we are

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Miscellaneous on coronavirus





Audio from the English Underground by Dr Paul 


"I'm a Nurse - and TERRIFIED of #Coronavirus!" Freedomain Call In

Oil price falls to below $20 a barrel

Oil price falls below $20 US a 

barrel, its lowest since 2002

Social Sharing

Quarantines and lockdowns have cut demand for 

driving, flying, factory production

The benchmark price for a barrel of North American oil dipped below $20 US on Monday morning, the first time that's happened in 18 years.
West Texas Intermediate was at one point changing hands for as low as $19.92 a barrel, down more than $1.50 on the day. 

The type of oil from Canada's oilsands is known as Western Canada Select and it, too, is getting hammered, down another $1.41 to $3.82 US a barrel. That's the lowest price for that type of crude on record.  
The true price is, in fact, even lower than that, because that price includes in part the cost of lighter oil that oilsands crude is blended with in order to get it to move along a pipeline. If that part of the mix is stripped out, it's not a stretch to suggest that the bitumen itself is functionally worthless.
The quarantines and lockdowns to combat the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 have completely waylaid global demand for oil, as shuttered factories need less energy, quarantined consumers don't need to drive anywhere, and grounded airplanes don't need refueling.
"Crude oil is getting hammered again on expectations for a steep drop in demand from reduced travel," said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management in Toronto.

Demand has crashed

Canada's oilsands blend almost always sells for far less than other types of oil because it is more difficult to process, and refiners on the U.S. Gulf Coast have to deal with transportation issues like pipeline bottlenecks just to get it.
That's at the best of times, which hardly describes what the current oil market is experiencing.
"Demand for gasoline (no driving) and jet fuel (no flying) has now crashed," said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at Norwegian research firm SEB.
The International Energy Agency estimates global demand for oil is down by about five million barrels a day right now, chiefly because hundreds of millions of locked-down consumers have no need to get on a plane, or fill up their cars with gasoline.
"Inventories for these products are already brimming," Schieldrop said. "Refineries in many places are now losing money for every barrel they process, or they have no place to store their output of oil products. When refineries shut down, then many crude oil producers have nowhere to send their crude oil."

WCS could go to zero — or worse

If refiners are losing their appetite for blends like West Texas Intermediate, the outlook for Western Canada Select is even worse. Canadian oilsands producers are facing "months of lower production at prices close to zero," analysts at JBC Energy said Monday morning.
Indeed, it's not impossible to imagine the price of WCS soon going even below that previously unimaginable level. 
One blend of heavy oil has already gone negative. Wyoming Asphalt Sour, a heavy blend of oil primarily used for making paving bitumen, has already seen some traders offering -19 cents US per barrel for it, in the middle of March. That's "effectively asking producers to pay for the luxury of getting rid of their output," Bloomberg reported over the weekend.
Much like WCS, Wyoming sour doesn't have any easy access to sea ports where it could perhaps be shipped to the highest bidder. So its cratering price is a lesson for other landlocked blends that are likely to soon stop production as demand grinds to a halt, Schieldrop said.
"For land-based or land-locked oil producers, this means only one thing: The local oil price … which they receive very rapidly goes to zero or even negative," Schieldrop said.
"If they have too much oil, they must pay someone to transport it away until they have managed to shut down their production."

Wyoming Asphalt Sour, a dense oil used to make paving bitumen, sold at negative prices in mid-March. As in, producers are paying buyers to take barrels off their hands.
How that happens: Unlike Facebook shares or Treasury bonds, oil is a physical commodity that needs to be stored somewhere once it’s pumped out of the ground. When storage costs climb high enough (or space runs out) producers might pay buyers to take it.
  • Storage is an issue right now. With COVID-19 freezing economic activity, demand for crude has fallen off a cliff. 
  • That means reserves are filling up faster than the bar right after social distancing measures are lifted. 
Looking ahead...Wyoming Asphalt Sour was the first crude stream to flip negative, but it might not be the last. A handful of other North American crude grades are trading dangerously close to zero, Bloomberg reports.

Authoritiies tell handicapped THEY DO NOT NEED PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

Are you saying we’re 

expendable spinal injury 

group asks

ACC has reneged on an agreement to supply masks, gowns and other protective equipment to people with severe spinal injuries and their community carers, after the Ministry of Health said hand-washing was enough to keep them safe
The news that the supply of protective equipment to people with spinal injuries and their carers has been blocked comes as it emerges two disability support workers have tested positive for Covid-19.
An incredulous Andrew Hall, national programme manager for the NZ Spinal Trust, contacted Newsroom yesterday after hearing about ACC's decision. He said the organisation was given the go-ahead by ACC last week for personal protective equipment, or PPE, to be funded for its most vulnerable members to protect them if Covid-19 was brought into their homes by unsuspecting carers. 
But yesterday the Ministry of Health refused to allow the release of the protective gear, saying hand-washing was enough protection.
This included when a carer might have been exposed to a person in Covid-19 self-isolation in another household.
Disability care workers test positive
RNZ announced this morning  that one support worker in Auckland and one in Wellington, both with Spectrum Care charitable trust, have tested positive for the virus.
"The two did not show symptoms, and were tested only because of contact tracing from an infected person," RNZ said.

NZ Spinal Trust's Andrew Hall is angry vulnerable disabled people can't get masks and other protective equipment. Photo: Supplied

Hall says people with spinal injuries have no choice but to be in very close contact with their carers.
“Take a tetraplegic relying on 24-hour care. Carers will come in in the morning to get them up shower them, carry out bowel and urinary care, get them into a chair, feed them and look after them all day. They do the same in reverse at the end of the day.
“Many of these are intense hygiene-related tasks for patients who often have severely compromised lung function because of their disability.”
Getting Covid-19 would almost certainly kill some of these people, Hall says. Yet the Ministry of Health will not allow them or their carers access to the country’s mask, gown and glove stocks.
And the reason? Because the Ministry of Health argues that if neither client nor carer has Covid-19 there is no infection risk.
Therefore, says the Ministry, there is no need for PPE.
These Ministry of Health tables say it all. Neither community care workers nor their clients will be supplied with protective clothing or masks - even, as the second table below show, if they visit a household where someone is in isolation because of possible coronavirus infection.
This appears to directly contradict the ministry's own advice for other workers, including police, prison and customs staff.
"People who, due to the nature of their job, may be unable to maintain more than 1 metre contact distance from people with potential COVID-19 symptoms – for them, facemasks and gloves are recommended when this contact is likely to occur," the Ministry of Health website says
"In general, surgical/medical masks prevent the dispersal of droplets by an infected patient and the inhalation of droplets if within 1 metre of a coughing individual."
The UK's Financial Times reported this morning Austria is to join a small but growing number of European countries making the wearing of face masks outside the home compulsory "amid shifting debate over the medical gear’s protective utility".  
"Austrian authorities would start distributing millions of free face masks from midweek onwards," the paper said. 
"Shoppers will only be permitted inside supermarkets and other open stores, such as pharmacies, if they are wearing masks."
The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends high grade P2 masks for healthcare workers coming into contact with "possible Covid-19". If these filtered masks aren't available, then they recommend surgical masks.
Homemade masks
In extremis, people should "fashion homemade masks out of scarves and bandanas if there is a shortage of face masks in clinics and hospitals", the CDC advises.
Some home care workers in New Zealand are already doing that. Disability care company Manawanui is calling for people with basic sewing skills and material from t-shirts or bed linen to help by making masks for its staff.
Pleas to the Government over the last few weeks for health-grade masks have been ignored, Manawanui CEO Marsha Marshall says. So it is following the CDC advice and asking friends, family and supporters to sew masks.

Manawanui is asking people to make masks for its workers because the Ministry of Health will not supply them. Photo: Supplied.

Second class citizens?
Having different rules for different workforces makes absolutely no sense, Hall says, and makes home and community care workers feel that their health - and the health of the people they care for - is of less value than that of other groups, like police.
His sentiments are echoed by many others in the community health and care sector - as other Newsroom stories on this topic make clear. 
They say the Ministry of Health argument that home care workers don't need PPE because they and their patients are healthy  contradicts everything the Government is saying about community infection risk.
That is, that we all have to stay away from each other, and from anything someone else might have touched, because no one knows who might be infected.
ACC had agreed to fund the additional PPE. They were being incredibly reasonable.
ACC’s last minute back-tracking
Hall says until yesterday the team at the NZ Spinal Trust was quietly confident it would get the masks, gowns and other protective supplies its clients and their carers need.
“ACC had agreed to fund the additional PPE. They were being incredibly reasonable,” he says.
He believes that all changed when the Ministry of Health stepped in.
“ACC came back to us [on Monday] and said: ‘You know that thing we agreed to do last week, well we are going to go back on what we said. The Ministry of Health says all patients and carers have to do is wash their hands.
“This is a nonsense. The whole economy is shut down for people to maintain their bubble.”
Hall says he doesn’t believe this is anything to do with ACC trying to save money.
“They told us: ‘We’ve kicked this upstairs [to the Ministry. And what has come back isn’t a guideline, this is a directive.”
Fear in home care sector
Spinal patients and their carers aren’t the only ones frightened of Covid-19 infection - the call for PPE to be widely available is coming from community health and home care workers all over the country.
Kirsty McCully, a director at care workers union E tÅ«, says DHBs and the Ministry of Health must act quickly to distribute the PPE that support workers need before it is too late. 
“Unless something is done fast, this could become a public health disaster – clients are beginning to cancel their care, and ultimately if they become unwell they will end up in hospital at a time when our health system must be prioritised for those requiring Covid-19 and other urgent treatment.”
The same message is coming from Kerry Davies, national secretary of another union, the Public Service Association.
"Some clients are already refusing to allow workers to visit them, and some workers have already had to resign out of concern for their safety. This cannot be allowed to continue or there will be devastating consequences.
"All our members want is the ability to do their jobs without getting sick or infecting others. If safety equipment is not provided, our members have the right to refuse unsafe work and a growing number will do just that."
Why are we treated differently?
Meanwhile, Hall says given the high risk to disabled patients should they catch Covid-19, it is hard not to feel that the Government was applying a double standard to people with a disability. 
Is the Government saying we are expendable?
The majority of the population was being exhorted to keep away from everyone else to protect them from accidentally catching the virus from someone in the street.
Yet disabled people reliant on a rotation of carers - carers who might go into a variety of homes in the course of a week, who shopped in the supermarket, and returned to their families in the evening - were being denied access to what they saw as potentially life-saving masks and other protective equipment. 
“People with disabilities are hyper-sensitive because of the feeling they have that because they  have a disability they are seen as somehow less of a person. So when you are treated in an unusual fashion, as we are being here. It heightens your sensibilities.
“Is the Government saying we are expendable?
“If there’s a shortage of gear let’s have a debate on who is prioritised.”
A Ministry of Health spokeswoman told Newsroom it was looking into the issue. ACC has not yet replied to our questions.

Coronavirus comes to India

For the first time in 9 years I have lost much of the functionality on this Blogger programme and can no longer format anything without text being jumbled up and unreadable.

My apologies for something that is beyond my control

India On Lockdown: No Clear Plan to Feed 1.3 Billion

Coronavirus finds its way into 

Mumbai slums

Read article HERE

Residents of Srikrishna Nagar slum in Wadala tread with caution.

Boarded-Up Stores in USA in anticipation of civil unrest

Retailers Prepare For Civil Unrest; Boarded-Up Stores Seen From SoHo To Beverly Hills

High-end stores across the country have been boarding up their stores in anticipation of civil unrest due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
In Beverly Hills, the Pottery Barn and West Elm stores near Rodeo Drive were spotted with boards across the windows according to TMZ.
Meanwhile, stores in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Paris, Vancouver and elsewhere were similarly boarded up.
The “Magnificent Mile” in Chicago today. It looks like Chile in November. All fancy stores boarded up. Are they afraid of or of something else? @DMatamala
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San Francisco looks like a town expecting a Hurricane, with storefronts boarded up, and people lining up at stores, while others wander around without any apparent destination or plan, as if propelled by Brownian motion.

Everyone is waiting for Hurricane Covid-19 to crest.
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