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Corona virus threat to birding

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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 17:24   #26
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One other thing that occurred to me this morning. Wuhan has some pretty significant air pollution as do most major cities in central China. Given that scientists have been saying that Chinese levels of pollution are hazardous and long-term life threatening, and also that CoVid19 is a respiratory virus, all other things being equal you can bet it will hit Chinese cities a lot harder than it will in other places.

FWIW, Korea doesn't exactly have the cleanest air either, but it's certainly a lot better than China (except of course, when the pollution and dust from China are blown to Korea).

I also wonder how much the prevalence of cigarette smoking is skewing the numbers. The Chinese are notorious smokers. Many of the Koreans I worked with smoked even though they knew they shouldn't. That may even have something to do with the higher risk rates for men over women since significantly more men smoke than women in most countries.

And one last thought related to smoking: There were 68 deaths and 2800 hospitalizations due to vaping last year. Compared to 58 cases of Coronavirus in the US (not associated with the quarantined cruise ship) and 6 deaths. Perspective.

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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 17:33   #27
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One other thing that occurred to me this morning. Wuhan has some pretty significant air pollution as do most major cities in central China. Given that scientists have been saying that Chinese levels of pollution are hazardous and long-term life threatening, and also that CoVid19 is a respiratory virus, all other things being equal you can bet it will hit Chinese cities a lot harder than it will in other places.

FWIW, Korea doesn't exactly have the cleanest air either, but it's certainly a lot better than China (except of course, when the pollution and dust from China are blown to Korea).
At the moment you are probably more likely to die driving to the airport or walking across the road whilst on holiday, all true. How it will all pan out though is an unknown.

You have to look at places like Iran where it wasn't taken seriously at first to see how it can affect people (especially in the older demographic) and if no restrictions are put in place once it has a hold.
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 17:51   #28
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How it will all pan out though is an unknown.
Agree with that. Hard to say what is an over- or under-reaction until we know more. We will probably only know for sure in hindsight; unlike the flu, there is no vaccine for this, so not really comparable. A 2% death rate for the global population at large would result in a staggering amount of deaths. I say prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Unless you are in the U.S., where grossly incompetent boobs are running the executive branch and about all you can do is hope this doesn't become a real crisis.
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 20:04   #29
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Agree with that. Hard to say what is an over- or under-reaction until we know more. We will probably only know for sure in hindsight; unlike the flu, there is no vaccine for this, so not really comparable. A 2% death rate for the global population at large would result in a staggering amount of deaths. I say prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Unless you are in the U.S., where grossly incompetent boobs are running the executive branch and about all you can do is hope this doesn't become a real crisis.
In reality, the flu vaccine isn't as sure fire as some make it out to be. They guess which strains will be likely in any given year, and give you a blend of vaccines for the three most probable. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don't. In fact, last year, they gotit wrong.

WRT to the Executive Branch, there are hopefully enough competent people left in the actual agencies who do the actual work, that I think we can have a "decent" response, albeit not a robust one.
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 20:18   #30
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Many of the Koreans I worked with smoked even though they knew they shouldn't.
I think all smokers, wherever they are from, know this

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How it will all pan out though is an unknown.

Prophecy...? or just an unfortunate (or maybe malicious ) pun?

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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 20:22   #31
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In reality, the flu vaccine isn't as sure fire as some make it out to be. They guess which strains will be likely in any given year, and give you a blend of vaccines for the three most probable. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don't. In fact, last year, they gotit wrong.
I know, but it usually greatly reduces the number of people who are readily susceptible to infection, so the vaccine usually makes it much more difficult for the virus to spread rapidly. Reducing the number of infection targets is often the key to stopping these things according to mathematical models.
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 20:27   #32
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One other thing that occurred to me this morning. Wuhan has some pretty significant air pollution as do most major cities in central China. Given that scientists have been saying that Chinese levels of pollution are hazardous and long-term life threatening, and also that CoVid19 is a respiratory virus, all other things being equal you can bet it will hit Chinese cities a lot harder than it will in other places.
Another interesting quirk: quite likely that the coronavirus has saved more people from death, than it has killed - due to the reductions in pollution, and road deaths, as a direct result of the shutting down of factories etc.
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 21:30   #33
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soon as the US begins testing there will be better info to make a better informed decision
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 23:31   #34
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I know, but it usually greatly reduces the number of people who are readily susceptible to infection, so the vaccine usually makes it much more difficult for the virus to spread rapidly. Reducing the number of infection targets is often the key to stopping these things according to mathematical models.
Fair point.
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Old Wednesday 4th March 2020, 03:50   #35
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And one last thought related to smoking: There were 68 deaths and 2800 hospitalizations due to vaping last year. Compared to 58 cases of Coronavirus in the US (not associated with the quarantined cruise ship) and 6 deaths. Perspective.
But the last time I checked, vaping was a free choice in my country. I chose not to. Getting a virus is, especially if you take all precautions, not a choice.

Only time will tell if the virus can spread. In anyway, I feel that measures taken are always better than no measures taken, especially at this point in time:
If e.g. the US would just let it spread and we get to 100 million infected and take the death rate of around 2-3%, you have 2-3 million people dying. While this sounds like worst-case scenario, would anyone dare to prove this scenario 100% wrong? That is the theoretic potential but as you said, some factors could be at play that increase the death rate in certain parts of the world (pre-existing conditions related to smoking for example), there could be factors increasing the reproduction rate of the virus closer to its source, etcetera.
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Old Wednesday 4th March 2020, 06:28   #36
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Another interesting quirk: quite likely that the coronavirus has saved more people from death, than it has killed - due to the reductions in pollution, and road deaths, as a direct result of the shutting down of factories etc.
So its generally a negative thing for the environment then?

I think the thread title is wrong. Frankly its only foreign trips that are at risk from coronavirus. For normal birding from home base, being outside and away from other people is going to be the safe bit of the day. Get out there with your bins and survive the coronavirus!

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Old Wednesday 4th March 2020, 07:56   #37
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So its generally a negative thing for the environment then?

I think the thread title is wrong. Frankly its only foreign trips that are at risk from coronavirus. For normal birding from home base, being outside and away from other people is going to be the safe bit of the day. Get out there with your bins and survive the coronavirus!

John
Yep, that's how it is. For me "birding" means travel and I do not consider myself being a worse person because of that. The current situation heavily demotivates me from international travel, partly due to many specific circumstances of my life that put me at a high risk of "general trouble" in this time. So I for one see the pandemic as a serious threat to my birding and I am pretty sad and angry about it.
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Old Wednesday 4th March 2020, 08:00   #38
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Prophecy...? or just an unfortunate (or maybe malicious) pun?
Hopefully not a prophecy ... inadvertent (I did notice it after posting) though.

More panic -

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-51731422

(notice they used the word 'pans' in there too - maybe as a pun in a different sense though.)
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Old Wednesday 4th March 2020, 17:28   #39
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Yep, that's how it is. For me "birding" means travel and I do not consider myself being a worse person because of that. The current situation heavily demotivates me from international travel, partly due to many specific circumstances of my life that put me at a high risk of "general trouble" in this time. So I for one see the pandemic as a serious threat to my birding and I am pretty sad and angry about it.
For anyone feeling hard done by, you might be surprised how rewarding it can be to "look inward" and study other nature on your doorstep. Be it Butterflies, Moths, Flowers, Fungi, etc. there are tonnes of new species to look for in your home county, and low risk of any infection, (until you have to fill your car up with petrol!)
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Old Wednesday 4th March 2020, 17:52   #40
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It is probably evolving steadily to be less lethal, too - the strains that cause minimal symptoms are the ones most likely to escape notice and get passed on. People with more severe strains are more likely to be noticed, and put in isolation before they pass it on to many others.
In the First World War, with the Spanish Flu, the opposite happened - the flu evolved to be more serious. It's thought to have been because the most sick soldiers were brought back from the front, so spreading the stronger strains. Fortunately we don't have anything like WWI at the moment, but there are Russian and Turkish soldiers in Syria who might be repatriated in a similar fashion if they fell ill. And Syrian soldiers I suppose too, who might be brought back to Damascus.

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Old Wednesday 4th March 2020, 18:21   #41
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I would think that one of the worst places to pick this up ( at least as it spreads over the next couple of months ) would be on a flight, especially a longer one. Sharing the same recycled air with 200+ others over several hours in a confined space and all sharing 3 or 4 toilets. Itís well known how easy it is to pick up something on these flights - certainly happened to me. Last flight I was on ,there was a girl coughing almost continuously - donít think that will be acceptable soon.
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Old Saturday 7th March 2020, 09:29   #42
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I have two long haul wildlife watching trip planned this year plus a family city break. My asthma also seems to be getting worse. For the first time ever, I wished I'd gone for a UK year.
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Old Saturday 7th March 2020, 10:07   #43
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I would think that one of the worst places to pick this up ( at least as it spreads over the next couple of months ) would be on a flight, especially a longer one. Sharing the same recycled air with 200+ others over several hours in a confined space and all sharing 3 or 4 toilets. Itís well known how easy it is to pick up something on these flights - certainly happened to me. Last flight I was on ,there was a girl coughing almost continuously - donít think that will be acceptable soon.
The air in the airplane is not recycled though, the whole volume of air gets exchanged every few minutes. If anything is not in short supply when you are ramming into more and more atmosphere ahead of you at 0.8 Mach, it's definitely the air :) Currently the experts don't consider a significant risk of airborne transmission unless you are sitting really close to an infected person, the main risk is due to touching surfaces - as you mentioned the toilets are definitely a big risk and then also sadly the tables and such, contaminated by previous passangers.

This having said, I still get sick a lot after flying, but very often with bacterial diseases - I am not sure why, it may even not be transmission, but mucous membrane damage from the dry air and thus increased susceptibility. If pandemics blows up, there will be hand sanitizers freely available on flights, significantly reducing transmission risks, so that will be probably even better than today.

That having said, I usually fly at least 30 legs per year and this year I am at two (from the return from New Years' holiday) and have not bought anything more, so I am sort of drinking wine and preaching water here :)
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Old Saturday 7th March 2020, 10:20   #44
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For anyone feeling hard done by, you might be surprised how rewarding it can be to "look inward" and study other nature on your doorstep. Be it Butterflies, Moths, Flowers, Fungi, etc. there are tonnes of new species to look for in your home county, and low risk of any infection, (until you have to fill your car up with petrol!)
I am going on a bit of a personal tangent here, but while I understand this thinking, it's simply not "enough" to let me be fine with it. I do love the nature around my place a lot - it's actually one of the reasons I went through with this somewhat absurd arrangement of living in Poland while working in Czech Republic, because there is simply much more nature here (and many things are new for me, making it even more interesting). But it's still hard to measure this up against the wonders of the nature that exist worldwide, especially because I have already seen and felt how great this can be. Up to the last year, I would be regularly spending several months per year abroad cummulatively and this is simply hard to give up.

Honestly I feel like my life has been a properly scripted drama for the last few years as at any moment in time when I feel "now I have everything figured out and am going to enjoy the rest of my life greatly" something absurd turns up and throws a winch into everything. When I first heard about the virus (back when it was a "small outbreak") I sighed internally and thought, yep, that will be the next thing ...

Sure, this will eventually blow over one way or the other, but as someone in a significant risk of not being able to walk at some point in the future, waiting is my least favorite activity.
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Old Saturday 7th March 2020, 23:14   #45
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The air in the airplane is not recycled though, the whole volume of air gets exchanged every few minutes. If anything is not in short supply when you are ramming into more and more atmosphere ahead of you at 0.8 Mach, it's definitely the air :) Currently the experts don't consider a significant risk of airborne transmission unless you are sitting really close to an infected person, the main risk is due to touching surfaces - as you mentioned the toilets are definitely a big risk and then also sadly the tables and such, contaminated by previous passangers.
The air in a plane is also very dry (low humidity), which will significantly shorten the lifespan of shed virus on surfaces. Whether enough to render the surfaces fairly safe, I don't know - I've seen a figure of 3 days survival cited in more normal indoor conditions.
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Old Saturday 7th March 2020, 23:57   #46
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I plan to go away mid-April for a week max - I would hate to get stuck somewhere!! On the plus side if less people travel would there be some real cheap deals? I think it will get worse.
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Old Sunday 8th March 2020, 00:02   #47
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Old Sunday 8th March 2020, 05:59   #48
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Sure, this will eventually blow over one way or the other, but as someone in a significant risk of not being able to walk at some point in the future, waiting is my least favorite activity.
There is nothing new:

"Then we do nothing?" said Hugh.

"We wait," said De Aquila. "I am old, but that is the most grievous work I know."

(Rudyard Kipling, Puck of Pook's Hill: Old Men at Pevensey.)

The coronavirus will pass. Until then, we wait, frustrating though it is

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Old Sunday 8th March 2020, 09:35   #49
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Without wishing to minimise the seriousness of this outbreak, I'd argue that for most of birdwatchers most of the time the impact should be minimal. Yes, those planning on going on an exotic holiday may find flights and/or the trip canceled or may wish to avoid visiting areas with poor or minimal levels of health care but surely that accounts for a small % of the time we go birding. In the longer term, some bird tour companies may go bust but that shouldn't make a big difference to our day-to-day birding. Those in vulnerable categories might wish to avoid birding in larger groups but most birders go out alone or in small groups (i.e. four or less based on the size of most vehicles). Even if some restricted entry reserves close many other birding sites will be open for us to visit. "Social distancing" shouldn't be too difficult for birders who like wide-open spaces.

We have to tread a fine line between necessary caution and hysterical overreaction. As a corrective to the latter (whilst not minimising the distress and grief this outbreak will cause) I offer the sage words of writer-activist Craig Murray (himself in a very vulnerable group) - "100% of those who contract coronavirus are going to die. 100% of those who do not contract coronavirus are also going to die. The difference in average life expectancy between the two groups will prove to be only very marginal." We all want to avoid this contagion & should do our best not to catch it or pass it on but it's not the automatic death sentence some of the hype suggests.
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Old Sunday 8th March 2020, 09:56   #50
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Stats for Italy (7th March) -

Percentage of deaths by age group:
90+ years old: 6% of deaths
80 - 89 years old: 42% of deaths
70 - 79 years old: 35% of deaths
60 - 69 years old: 16% of deaths


Note none younger than 60. Age/prevalence of underlying health issues causal ...

It's about the restrictions to travel in the authorities trying to reduce the spread that's the problem. Foot and Mouth probably would have been more restrictive to birding on a local level than this will be?

One of the issues with businesses going out of business is to do with business models and cash flow. If a hiatus can be taken (ie a pause) then ...
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