COVID-19 'Pandemic'

spaminator

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Federal workers paid $819M to stay home during the pandemic under '699' clause
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Terry Pedwell
Publishing date:Feb 20, 2021 • 23 hours ago • 2 minute read
CP-Web. In this Oct. 8, 2019, file photo a woman types on a keyboard in New York. The Treasury Board of Canada says it has uncovered suspicious activities on more than 48,000 Canada Revenue Agency accounts following cyberattacks in July and August.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Jenny Kane ORG XMIT: 22758139
In this Oct. 8, 2019, file photo a woman types on a keyboard in New York. PHOTO BY JENNY KANE /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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OTTAWA — More than one in three federal public servants were granted paid time off work during the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, at a cost exceeding $800 million, according to a Treasury Board document.

At the onset of the pandemic, civil servants were told to work from home if possible, to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus throughout government offices.


Employees who were unable to work remotely were still paid, however, under a provision known as the “699” pay code, allowing “other leave with pay.”

The number of workers approved for 699 leave peaked in April at more than 73,000. That number had dwindled to just over 9,000 by the end of November, according to the latest figures.

In all, 117,000, or 39 per cent, of federal employees spread across 86 departments and agencies, were approved for the leave.


That number was reduced by 95 per cent as of January 6, 2021, according to a background note obtained by The Canadian Press.

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The special leave must be approved by management and is granted when employees are unable to report to work for reasons beyond their control.

It is separate from sick pay or vacation.

“From March 15 to Nov. 30, 2020, the estimated cost of ‘Other Leave with Pay (699)’ is approximately $819 million, based on the average daily pay rate of roughly $300 for federal public service employees entitled to leave,” says the Treasury Board document, dated Feb. 19.

“This figure is based on data submitted by employees and captured in departmental systems.”

The Treasury Board issued a “clarification” of its leave policy on Nov. 9, instructing managers that 699 leave could be granted on a “case-by-case” basis, and only after remote or alternate work or flexible hours have been considered.

As well, the government said that other types of leave, including accumulated sick time and vacation, would have to be used first.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents a majority of federal employees, has filed numerous grievances over the new guidelines. It has also filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

The union argues the directive disproportionately impacts marginalized employees hardest hit by the pandemic, including women, racialized workers and those with disabilities or family obligations.
 

spaminator

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BRAUN: That paralyzing pandemic fear is called coronaphobia
Author of the article:Liz Braun
Publishing date:Feb 21, 2021 • 18 hours ago • 3 minute read

Toronto Sun files PHOTO BY TORONTO SUN /Toronto Sun
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Terrified you’ll get COVID or give it to someone else?

You’re not alone. Many people feel panic at any symptom, like a headache or a slight cough — is it COVID?!!

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The pandemic has people so fearful that there’s even a name for these fears: Coronaphobia. Extra caution (and masks and distancing) are a reasonable response to a deadly pandemic, but for some people, anxiety about COVID-19 is taking over their life.

Sadly, for people who already struggle with illness anxiety, coronaphobia is just another layer of hell.

Illness anxiety, or hypochondriasis — a preoccupation with having a serious disorder — is believed to be related to depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

What’s now called coronaphobia was dubbed cyberchondria earlier in the pandemic, a reference to how technology is fuelling illness anxiety. People suffering from this kind of anxiety will sometimes go online for hours, visiting medical sites and “Dr. Google” in an ongoing search for answers.

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COVID-19 adds a wrinkle to illness anxiety: There are legitimate health concerns involved, much is still unknown about the coronavirus, and it’s contagious.

“It’s hard to say if coronaphobia is something distinct on its own,” said University of Waterloo psychology professor Christine Purdon, “or a specific manifestation of health anxiety, like the kind we saw during the AIDS crisis, for example. Before interferon and other drugs, people were quite worried about catching HIV.”


A lot of people are preoccupied with COVID, no question, but Purdon suspects people with health sensitivities are likely most prone to coronaphobia.

“People with the same sort of profile are extremely concerned about catching it. They are always sensation monitoring, always assuming something’s a symptom and constantly looking it up,” Purdon said.

“It’s an inability to let go until you’ve figured out what it is.”

How to draw the line between caution and compulsion?

“The person with coronaphobia is really intolerant of any uncertainly. They have a sensation they immediately assume is a symptom, and they can’t let go until they’ve ruled out 100% that it’s not coronavirus,” Purdon said.

“But it’s impossible to rule that out.”


You have to help people keep their mental focus on the here and now, Purdon explained. “The alternative is a catastrophic fast-forward, where someone goes from a slight elevation in breathing, to having visions of collapsing on the floor and needing a ventilator.

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“That’s a rapid mental progression of events and they feel like they have to get to the bottom of it before they can move on with anything.”

The red flag is when obsessive symptom-and-solution hunting interferes with everyday life.

“That would be the real marker of something clinically significant, that all other goals are put on hold while they research and take their temperature and monitor … and everything else goes by the wayside,” Purdon said.

Yes, coronaphobics will see a doctor — or several — and will get tested. Repeatedly.

But even a negative COVID test is sometimes not enough.

“You start to doubt the results. It’s all about uncertainty,” Purdon said. “‘Maybe I haven’t had it long enough for it to show up, and maybe by tomorrow the test will be positive, or maybe there was an error with the test, or maybe they mixed up my result.’

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“You can always find a reason to doubt, it remains a preoccupation. Even with the best possible evidence that you’re OK, you can still doubt the result and be tortured by this possibility.”

A healthy lifestyle — social contact, exercise, attention to diet and enough sleep — helps keep coronaphobia at bay. Many specialists recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

The World Health Organization and many other agencies offer online resources to bolster mental health during COVID.
 

spaminator

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Snowbirds can still head to the U.S. despite COVID travel restrictions
Author of the article:Jane Stevenson
Publishing date:Feb 21, 2021 • 18 hours ago • 1 minute read

A passenger is pictured at Pearson International Airport on Jan. 31, 2021. PHOTO BY VERONICA HENRI, TORONTO SUN /Toronto Sun
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Given winter’s sub-zero grip on Toronto, snowbirds could be forgiven for still trying to head to warmer U.S. destinations where most flights still exist.

Ottawa has directed airlines like Air Canada, West Jet, Air Transat and Sunwing to cancel flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30 to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 variant.

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Stephen Fine, president of snowbirdadvisor.ca., says he’s unsure of how many snowbirds are still attempting to get on available U.S. flights but “our sense is that there’s been a slowdown in people who aren’t already there and people who are considering going down.”

You require a negative COVID-19 test to get on a plane headed to the U.S. or any other international destination.

Starting Monday, people returning to Canada or arriving on international flights will have to pay up to $2,000 to spend three days in quarantine at a government-approved hotel while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

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“Generally testing comes back in three days or less,” said Fine, whose organization calculates there are more than 1 million Canadians who spend winters outside Canada.

“It could be two days, it could be four days. They’ve come out and said ($2,000) is a ballpark figure.”

Fine said such measures will deter travellers, adding that with all the rules continually changing,”snowbirds are very divided” on what to do.


“Obviously, the snowbirds who are outside the country are disappointed and feel it’s unfair. And many of the snowbirds who decided to stay home in Canada don’t have a lot of sympathy for the snowbirds who left and have a lot of concern,” said Fine.

You can find a guide for Canadian travellers heading to international destinations at the snowbirdadvisor.ca website.
 

spaminator

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Bells toll for lives lost as U.S. reaches 500,000 COVID-19 deaths
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Maria Caspani and Anurag Maan
Publishing date:Feb 23, 2021 • 17 hours ago • 3 minute read

U.S. President Joe Biden leaves after speaking about the American Rescue Plan and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses in response to coronavirus, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C, Feb. 22, 2021. PHOTO BY SAUL LOEB /AFP via Getty Images
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NEW YORK — The United States on Monday crossed the staggering milestone of 500,000 COVID-19 deaths just over a year since the coronavirus pandemic claimed its first known victim in Santa Clara County, California.

In a proclamation honouring the dead, President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff on public buildings and grounds until sunset on Friday.


“On this solemn occasion, we reflect on their loss and on their loved ones left behind,” Biden said in the proclamation. “We, as a Nation, must remember them so we can begin to heal, to unite, and find purpose as one Nation to defeat this pandemic.”

Bells tolled at the National Cathedral in Washington to honour the lives lost – ringing 500 times to symbolize the 500,000 deaths.

“As we acknowledge the scale of this mass death in America, remember each person and the life they lived,” Biden said in a somber speech at the White House after the bells sounded.

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“The son who called his mom every night just to check in. The father, the daughter who lit up his world. The best friend who was always there. … The nurse who made her patients want to live.”

A few moments later, Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses appeared wearing black clothing and black masks. They stood silently as the hymn “Amazing Grace” was played.

The country had recorded more than 28 million COVID-19 cases and 500,264 lives lost as of Monday afternoon, according to a Reuters tally of public health data, although daily cases and hospitalizations have fallen to the lowest level since before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.


About 19% of total global coronavirus deaths have occurred in the United States, an outsized figure given that the nation accounts for just 4% of the world’s population.

“This is the worst thing that’s happened to this country with regard to the health of the nation in over 100 years,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease adviser to President Joe Biden, said in an interview with Reuters on Monday. He added that decades from now, people would be talking about “that horrible year of 2020, and maybe 2021.”

For most of 2020, Fauci served on former President Donald Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force, a job that often put him at odds with Trump, who sought to downplay the severity of pandemic despite contracting COVID-19 himself, and refused to issue a national mask mandate.

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Political divisiveness, Fauci said, contributed significantly to the U.S. death toll.

The country’s poor performance reflects the lack of a unified, national response last year, when the administration of former President Donald Trump mostly left states to their own devices in tackling the greatest public health crisis in a century, with the president often in conflict with his own health experts.

In 2020, the virus has taken a full year off the average life expectancy in the United States, the biggest decline since the Second World War.


Sweeping through the country at the beginning of last year, the U.S. epidemic had claimed its first 100,000 lives by May.

The death toll doubled by September as the virus ebbed and surged during the summer months.

Pandemic-weary Americans, like so many around the world, grappled with the mountain of loss brought by COVID-19 as health experts warned of yet another coronavirus resurgence during the fall and winter months.

Americans lost mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, brothers, sisters and friends to the virus. For many, the grief was amplified by the inability to see loved ones in hospitals or nursing homes and by the physical distancing imposed by authorities to curb the virus spread.

By December, the death toll had reached 300,000 in the United States. In the three months after Thanksgiving, the virus would claim 230,000 lives.


With numbers that made the appalling toll early in the pandemic pale by comparison, deaths recorded between December and February accounted for 46% of all U.S. COVID-19 fatalities, even as vaccines finally became available and a monumental effort to inoculate the American public got started.

Despite the grim milestone, the virus appears to have loosened its grip as COVID-19 cases in United States fell for the sixth consecutive week. Health experts have warned, however, that coronavirus variants initially discovered in Britain, South Africa and Brazil could unleash another wave that threatens to reverse the recent positive trends.

In his White House remarks, Biden called on Americans to remain vigilant in fighting the pandemic by continuing to wear masks, observe social distancing and receive vaccinations when it is their turn.
 

spaminator

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Philippines offers to swap nurses for vaccines from Britain, Germany
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Neil Jerome Morales
Publishing date:Feb 23, 2021 • 6 hours ago • 1 minute read

Filipino workers, including nurses applying to work in United Kingdom, attend a lecture in Manila, Philippines, April 2, 2019. PHOTO BY ELOISA LOPEZ /REUTERS
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MANILA — The Philippines will let thousands of its healthcare workers, mostly nurses, take up jobs in Britain and Germany if the two countries agree to donate much-needed coronavirus vaccines, a senior official said on Tuesday.

The Philippines, which has among Asia’s highest number of coronavirus cases, has relaxed a ban on deploying its healthcare workers overseas, but still limits the number of medical professionals leaving the country to 5,000 a year.


Alice Visperas, director of the labor ministry’s international affairs bureau, said the Philippines was open to lifting the cap in exchange for vaccines from Britain and Germany, which it would use to inoculate outbound workers and hundreds of thousands of Filipino repatriates.

Nurses are among the millions of Filipinos who work overseas, providing in excess of $30 billion a year in remittances vital to the country’s economy.

“We are considering the request to lift the deployment cap, subject to agreement,” Visperas told Reuters.

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Britain is grappling with the world’s sixth-highest coronavirus death toll and one of the worst economic hits from the pandemic, while Germany has the 10th most infections globally.


While the two countries have inoculated a combined 23 million people, the Philippines has yet to start its campaign to immunize 70 million adults, or two-thirds of its 108 million people. It expects to receive its first batch of vaccines this week, donated by China.

The Philippines wants to secure 148 million doses of vaccines altogether.

The British embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment while calls to Germany’s mission went unanswered.

In 2019, almost 17,000 Filipino nurses signed overseas work contracts, government data showed.

While Filipino nurses have fought to lift the deployment ban to escape poor working conditions and low pay at home, the workers-for-vaccine plan has not gone down well with some medical workers.

“We are disgusted on how nurses and healthcare workers are being treated by the government as commodities or export products,” Jocelyn Andamo, secretary general of the Filipino Nurses United, told Reuters.
 

spaminator

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Double-lung transplant recipient dies after getting COVID-19 from donor
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Andrea Salcedo, The Washington Post
Publishing date:Feb 23, 2021 • 3 hours ago • 4 minute read

Lung transplant Getty Images
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Three days after a woman received a double-lung transplant at a Michigan hospital last fall, she became seriously ill. She had difficulty breathing and a high fever, and her lung scans showed pneumonia – all symptoms of a severe case of covid-19.

When a nasal swab test for the virus came back negative, the woman’s doctor, Daniel Kaul, was not convinced she did not have the coronavirus. So, Kaul dug deeper. He ordered a coronavirus test of a sample collected from the woman’s new lungs.


When the results came back positive, Kaul wondered, “Could this [have] come from the donor?”

Additional tests would soon confirm Kaul’s suspicions: The unnamed woman, who died of COVID-19 two months later, had indeed contracted the virus from her donor’s infected lungs. Kaul’s discovery was published in a peer-reviewed paper by the American Journal of Transplantation earlier this month.

“This is at least the first proven case of transmission of COVID-19 via organ transplantation in the United States,” Kaul, director of Michigan Medicine’s transplant infectious disease service, told The Washington Post on Monday night.

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Although the paper identifies a novel new path for the virus, Kaul said the risk of contracting it from a transplant procedure is extremely low and says his report should not discourage anyone from considering a transplant. Instead, he said, it points for the need for more testing to prevent similar cases in the future.


Last year, more than 39,000 transplants were performed in the United States, according to data compiled by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), including around 2,500 lung surgeries. Some COVID-19 patients have also begun receiving lung transplants. Last June, a woman in her 20s whose lungs were punctured by the disease became the first known COVID-19 patient to receive a double-lung transplant in the U.S.

Kaul declined to disclose specific details about the donor and the recipient, as well as additional details regarding the time frame of the surgery, to protect their identities.

The donor, a woman from the Upper Midwest who became brain dead after a severe car accident, and the recipient, a woman who suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, were matched last fall, according to Kaul’s report.

Both women underwent multiple tests and clinical assessments before the surgery was approved. The donor, who was given a coronavirus nasal swab test within 48 hours of procurement, tested negative. Lung scans also did not show any indication of COVID-19, Kaul said. The woman’s family told doctors she had “no history of travel” or any recent symptoms, including fever, cough, headache or diarrhea.

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The recipient also tested negative for the virus 12 hours before the transplant.


The day of the procedure at University Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., the surgery went off without any complications, the report states. Later that day, the recipient was taken to the ICU to begin her recovery. But three days later, the woman began exhibiting severe COVID-19 symptoms. After her negative nasal swab, doctors also collected a fluid sample from deep inside her lungs, which came back positive.

“I was seeing the patient and I was very concerned that this could have come from the donor because it would be really unusual that it would be down deep in the lungs but not in the upper respiratory tract [nose and throat,]” Kaul told The Post.

He added, “So then, the question became how do we prove that? How do we figure out where did it come from?”

To answer that question, Kaul tested fluid that had been collected from the donor’s lungs during procurement. It came back positive.

“That said: These lungs were infected,” Kaul told The Post. “These lungs had COVID in them before they got into the recipient.”


Around this same time, about three days after the procedure, one of the surgeons who had direct contact with the lungs also began showing symptoms. He later tested positive for the virus, but did not require hospitalization, Kaul said.

Kaul performed one last round of tests to confirm that the recipient contracted the virus from the donor’s lungs, a procedure known as sequencing, which he described as similar to the DNA sequencing performed when analyzing a crime scene. “That sequencing showed that it was the same virus that spread from the donor, to the recipient, to the surgeon,” Kaul told The Post.

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As weeks went by, the woman’s condition deteriorated. Kaul’s team gave her every treatment they had available, including two rounds of remdesivir and convalescent plasma therapy on two occasions, but her body weakened, the physician said. She was put on a bypass machine to oxygenate her blood, but was disconnected after it became clear she would not sustain another lung transplant. She died 61 days after the surgery.

The surgeon who was infected has since recovered.


Kaul said his report offers important guidelines for doctors and organ donation organizations.

“The lesson that we learned and that we feel strongly about is that all lung donors should have a lower respiratory tract specimen checked” for coronavirus, Kaul said, noting that currently about 1 in 3 lung donors get this type of test before transplant surgery.

Some laboratories lack experience beyond nasal swab testing, Kaul said, while in other cases, organ donation groups don’t have enough time to perform the tests while the organ is still viable for transplant.

“We need to overcome those barriers and do this testing for every lung,” Kaul said. “The reason that we chose to report this is that we think it’s really important people in the transplant community are aware of this transmission so that we can work to have a system were lower [respiratory] tract specimen are checked on all lung donors.”

It is still unknown whether other organs beside lungs could becapable of transmitting COVID-19, Kaul said.
 

Blackleaf

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We envy Britain! Germany's biggest newspaper Bild praises UK's incredible vaccine success and contrasts Boris Johnson's optimistic lockdown exit plans with Merkel's doom and gloom

Germany's biggest newspaper praises Britain's vaccine success

The article in Bild (pictured above, with the headline reading 'Dear Brits, we envy you') said the UK's 'successful' vaccine programme had allowed the PM to promise a brighter future while Germany is 'stuck in lockdown' and languishing behind on vaccines. The German gloom marks a stark turnaround from earlier months of the pandemic when Merkel (bottom right) was widely praised for her handling of the crisis, Johnson (bott left) heavily criticised and Germany kept its death toll significantly below Britain's. Now, Merkel is warning of a looming 'third wave' as Covid-19 infections start to increase again with only 4% of the public vaccinated - while Britons (26% of whom have been vaccinated) are already counting down the days to freedom on June 21
 
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spaminator

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TikTok user regrets pre-pandemic 'refuse to wear a mask' tattoo
Author of the article:postmedia News
Publishing date:Feb 24, 2021 • 18 hours ago • 1 minute read • comment bubbleJoin the conversation
A TikTok user, who goes by @wakaflockafloccar, shows off her tattoo.
A TikTok user, who goes by @wakaflockafloccar, shows off her tattoo. PHOTO BY @WAKAFLOCKAFLOCCAR /TikTok
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A TikTok user says she thinks she’s “won” the dumbest tattoo challenge on the video sharing app.

In response to a new TikTok trend in which users share stories about the dumbest tattoo they’ve ever gotten, the young woman, who goes by @wakaflockafloccar on TikTok, showed off her tattoo with the words, “Courageously & radically refuse to wear a mask” on her forearm.

NANNY TOUTED AS "HERO": Pushes two little boys to safety as she is struck by a car
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“I got this tattoo, I’ve wanted it for a couple of years. It basically means being true to yourself and real and not pretending to be something you’re not,” she said in the video, which has garnered more than two million views since it was posted Tuesday.

She said she got the tattoo last March, just before the pandemic. She then lifts the right sleeve of her sweatshirt to show off the mark of shame.

“I could NOT have had worse timing,” she wrote in the video caption, adding, “P.S. I’m not anti-mask I promise.”


The video prompted thousands of comments, including one user who asked if she was going to have it removed.

She said she wore long sleeves and is handling her embarrassing mistake with a positive attitude, writing, “But I don’t think I’ll get it removed/covered up. It makes for a good story.”
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bob the dog

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Aug 14, 2020
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Thinking there must be some economy of scale associated with ordering 640,000 doses of a vaccine and curious what it ends up costing per shot?

Can't see it being that expensive even if it does have to cover the 6 months of research and development that it took to develop the magic serum.
 

taxme

Electoral Member
Feb 11, 2020
671
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The British Government knew way back in July that the lockdowns will kill more people than the coronavirus. So why do they keep putting us into lockdown?

"...when morbidity is taken into account, the estimates for the health impacts from a lockdown and lockdown induced recession are greater in terms of Quality Adjusted Life Years than the direct COVID-19 deaths. • Much of the health impact, particularly in terms of morbidity, will be felt long after the pandemic is assumed to last (1 year for this exercise, though this is a scenario not a forecast)."

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dhsconsgadho-direct-and-indirect-impacts-of-covid-19-on-excess-deaths-and-morbidity-15-july-2020

The problem that we all have to live with today is the fact that our globalist communist puppet on a string politicians and the fake and lying media are to be blamed for all of this bull chit and the crimes that they have committed to we the people. Our politicians are responsible for all of society's woes and they need to be held accountable for their crimes against humanity and arrested and charged for their crimes. They must not be allowed to get away with what they have done to their own people and society. They all know that it is a lie but yet they kept the lie going. Shameful. (n)