24 Mar

I write to wish anyone who reads this blog my best wishes over the coronavirus storm.

In the UK the virus numbers and deaths are mounting steadily and we are told to expect many more. The advice is that by self-isolating now, we can avoid a ‘peak’ in cases, and flatten the ‘peak’ into a ‘curve’. In this way it is hoped to avoid an overwhelming number of patients requiring ventilation – as is happening in Italy and Spain; such a demand could overstretch the National Health facilities.

It is incredible to me that so many people simply flout this advice, on Sunday 22nd March (Mothers’ Day here), London traffic was at a third of normal, the parks were busy, scores headed for beauty spots in Wales and to the seaside.

In response to this we are now at the stage where Boris Johnson has imposed draconian measures. People are banned from leaving home except for food or medical treatment, plus we are advised that we can go out for exercise once a day –keeping away from each other. ‘Essential’ workers continue their work.

We get regular updates from the Prime Minister, the health advisers, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (financial support) and others, on progress and on-going advice. We are fortunate that the National Health system IS national, as this facilitates cooperation between hospitals throughout the regions. But a major problem for health professionals and other front-line workers has been a shortage of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment – this is being addressed urgently), and insufficient testing kits for diagnosis and for virus antibody.

I was, some years ago, a Consultant in the National Health and vividly recall the numbers of patients needing assessment in the Accident and Emergency department when I was on emergency duty. The thought of what it must be like now is truly alarming.

For myself I am going for walks (but not seeing anyone!), watching TV, listening to the radio and trying to get to grips with all those books I have been looking at for years. Also writing a blog (Sir Clements Markham). I am trying to do an exercise programme, this is MUCH more difficult at home, than in the gym!

I hope you are keeping occupied, safe and well.  Bon chance!


  1. Ursula Rack March 31, 2020 at 11:09 pm #

    In New Zealand, we are also in total lock-down since 25 March, and it is not easy to adjust to the new rules – working from home is not that flash as one would imagine. Many things which work now for the emergency situation will be kept in place, I know that from the earthquakes and aftershocks we had in the last 10 years here in Christchurch. E.g. Office spaces have been reduced, people are forced to use their own internet and not get the costs reimburse. We will be working longer hours when working from home and our work-live balance will be massively out of balance.
    You as physician know the impacts when people do not keep their distance and some don’t get it, really. Selfishness and ignorance are often the driver for irresponsible behaviour. However, most of the people stick to the new rules, and so we will break the cycle as our Prime Minister always says. In New Zealand, it started already mid January that Chinese students were not allowed to come in because of the spread of the virus. Our country was already proactive at some point.
    We teach from home now and do our research. I hope that this situation is changing sooner than later – and it will when we stick to the rules.
    I find it interesting that you write now the Blog on Markham, it will be interesting to see what you have found out about him. His account “Antarctic Obsession” is an interesting source – especially when you know also the other side who was involved in Antarctic research at this time, like the Germans and Swedish scientists.

    • isobelpwilliams April 1, 2020 at 12:16 pm #

      I am delighted by your full response. I am sure you are right,that working from home will tend to become the norm after this episode – it is an advantage for many in the UK in that tiring and frequently long commuter journeys are avoided. When I worked in London it took an hour to cover the 8 miles from home to work.
      Here people mostly seem to be obeying the instructions though, of course, there are exceptions The police are involved in enforcing the restrictions. I was in a pharmacy queue when a man weaved through coughing prevocatively and the police were there within minutes.
      I am impressed that you are able to continue your research – I imagine via with internet sites as well as books. Do you do use Zoom or the like for discussions?

  2. Ursula Rack March 31, 2020 at 11:32 pm #

    I just confused the system when I used another email account, hope my previous comment went through. However, I am looking forward to your Markham blog.

    • isobelpwilliams April 2, 2020 at 10:49 pm #

      I hoped to do a short blog on Sir Clements, but find it impossible to summarise his life in one “edition”.

      This is currently being reviewed – than I will attempt the second part. I have started with his Presidency of the Royal Geographical Society and am going to work backwards thereafter. This is because he is mainly remembered for the Presidency – which was dominated by his determined plans for Antarctica.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: