M-M-M-My Corona

Disquiet is starting to spread regarding the coronavirus and arguably more briskly than the virus itself.

You can never be too sure of any kind of data pinging and ponging out of China, and in recent days the number of reported cases and deaths has been throwing shapes like a 50-year-old acid-dropper at a Stone Roses revival gig. WHO data suggests a mortality rate of approximately 2%, though some suggest it may well be lower than that. Roger Daltrey is apparently going higher, but Pete Townshend is not so convinced. In fact, Pete was so upset, he smashed up his hard drive. He clearly didn’t want anybody to recover what he’d worked out.

So, statistically in the UK, you would have a much greater likelihood of succumbing to the complications of a prolapsed rectum.

Yes, that particular ailment has a 2.5% mortality rate for its worst scenario (and I mean death – not that your tailpipe has unceremoniously discharged itself through the old balloon-knot into the back of your pants). 2.5% people from every hundred with a buttski like a discarded sock aren’t going to be squeezing the cheese again. Although you might argue that even if they did survive, they wouldn’t be able to muster the required colonic clamp (or clench) to float another air biscuit in the good old-fashioned way.

So, the coronavirus has a mortality rate of just 2%. While nothing to be sneezed at, I drove past several office buildings yesterday to see swarms of bureaucratic ants huddled under shelters, puffing away without a care in the world. So why worry too much about a bad cold when you’ll uproot trees just to snag a fleeting 5-minute opportunity to ingest smoke containing 7,000 chemicals that include 250 that are scientifically proven to be toxic.

They’d be better served licking the feathers off pigeon muff.

Interestingly, coronavirus is not the actual name for the virus per se. It is a new strain for which they’ve not yet decided a name. You may remember the SARS virus outbreak of 2003 that had everybody scuttling for cover? Well that was in fact the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV).

You see, a coronavirus is a generic name for a specific group of viruses that lead to disease in mammals and birds. The effect on humans is respiratory illness, which in many cases will be nothing more than a common cold. More muscular strains may lead to bigger problems with patients who are more susceptible to illness through supressed immune systems. They’ve been on the epidemiological radar since the 1960s – it’s nothing new. Of the 7 identifiable strains, 4 circulate the globe like clockwork and are the reason why twice a year your average Westerner spends a week with a throat like sandpaper and the breath of a marathon runner’s gusset.

For this (novel) coronavirus, the advice from the NHS is to not visit a GP, stay at home, rest, and drink plenty of fluids.

You can all take off your spacesuits on a count of three.

SARs did reappear again after 2003 – thrice as a result of laboratory accidents (likely some spoof-related drinking game of ‘spin the test tube’ variety) and once in southern China, where the cause was unconfirmed. In that latter case, there was some circumstantial evidence of animal-human transmission (wink). So, unless you are boffing chimps, it’s all going to blow over.

And if you are chimpan-teasing, then expect a bad cold and an even worse hairball.

You’ll see the numbers continue to ricochet up and down in coming weeks for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Chinese don’t have the resources to undertake any considerable degree of accurate testing in the hotspot areas, or arguably anywhere. Add to this that a consequential affliction of the virus is pneumonia, and any non-standard testing is likely to get a just tad skewed in a country of 1.6bn. You may even have millions who have it but think it’s just a cold, and they will not ever be diagnosed. That could then steer the true mortality rate downwards.

And of course, we do have to rely on official state media to confirm any combination of the above. Crazy how the West will believe all these figures but assesses every other piece of Chinese news with a healthy dollop of scepticism?

Well, maybe not so crazy.

In fact, you might wonder whether helping this coronavirus story to go viral (yes, indeed) is just a ploy to deflect from the linguistic hanky-panky currently being romped through by Boris and his chums on his unfolding Euro-Odyssey. After all, the claims to be a champion of free trade (after steering our departure from the largest free-trading block in the world which is right on our doorstep) and the fall-back option of an ‘Australian’ trade deal (which the EU doesn’t even have with Australia) seem to be bordering on mental, even by the current political yardstick.

But it’s not attracting the same degree of scorn that you might have anticipated. Maybe the real virus spreading through the UK is ‘fatigue with everything’. This most recent speech prior to EU talks by Baurice seemed so blatant it was like an obvious litmus test of whether other bullshit might fly. You know, drop in something provocative in the earlier salvoes on which you can change course quickly if you need to.

And do you know what? I think it will fly.

But at the moment, I don’t think he wants us to realise that there’s no plan B, so the coronavirus story gets beefed up to bury the big story, namely that the whole country is being buried. Newspaper editors used to slot in a Royal story to obfuscate bad news, but things are so grave on that front that even a panic-inducing epidemic is preferable.

Meanwhile, they all get some breathing space at No.10. See what the EU line is and then we can use what they say as a basis for our position. Like when an uninformed interlocutor piggybacks onto your words to finish your sentences in an attempt to demonstrate that their knowledge is greater than it is.

Good luck with that strategy in Brussels, chaps, but all these Cummings and goings won’t be cutting the Dijon in Brussels.

While all this is developing, David Cameron has turned down a job heading up the UK’s delegation at a major climate change summit, which was a neat swerve of a hospital pass. He’s apparently ‘got lots of things to do’, which presumably means beefing up his own cover story for when the Brexit supermarket trolley overturns and the knives really are out.

Let’s hope that the bodyguards all remember to re-holster after checking their rectal prolapses. If of course that is what people do in aeroplane khazis.

Any way, it’s probably a bit rich (pun intended) to be called in to represent the interests of a PM who admits that he ‘doesn’t get’ global warming. Perhaps if he and other Conservatives did, they wouldn’t have abolished the Department for Energy and Climate (DECC) in 2016 and might at least have reinstated it in the meantime if they were serious about the whole topic.

So, back to the coronavirus and BoJo’s reach-out to the Chinese, as is customary during times of crisis. Whom does he pack off to see the Chinese Ambassador? The Foreign Secretary? The Health Secretary perhaps? Surely not a junior minister for such a predicament? Nope, none of these.

He sent Stanley Johnson, his own Dad. And we all thought that Donald Trump leaving his daughter to hold the fort with Chancellor Merkel at a formal dinner was a somewhat witless?

You might think these are the actions of a man who either doesn’t believe the hype or one who cannot grasp the reality. I would say neither. He’s grasped it alright and completely understands the hype. The hype is the prize. It’s all about the diversion, the misdirection.

And as a tactic at a precise moment in time, it seems to be working. Everybody is watching his old man discussing the flu with a Chinese guy nobody knows, and nobody is watching the Government.

Old Boris is a great campaigner; of that there can be no doubt. But once the rousing and the hurrahs have subsided, the strategic stuff – backed with facts – has to materialise and take root. You can’t govern anything in campaign mode.

However long it takes for that penny to drop will determine the depth of the chasm into which we will plunge.

So, hold onto your hats (and your distended rectums, if applicable). The virus will soon be old news, but what is brewing behind the scenes will soon be hitting us harder than a cold and unlubed colonoscope.

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