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Is 5G safe?

There is a lot of emphasis at the moment on 5G and the fact that it is already running in some cities around the world and on the way to many countries later this year and next year.  Many scientists believe that electromagnetic fields affect people at levels below what is considered “safe” now and that the risks include cancer, genetic damage, learning and memory deficits, etc. 

The radio frequency radiation exposure limits were based upon behavioural change in rats that were exposed to microwave radiation and there are those that say the limit should be based on a biological effect and not just a change in the behaviour of a laboratory rat.  5G will apparently use millimetre waves in addition to the microwaves that have been used for the current cellular technologies.  Because the 5G masts have to be installed much closer to each other is going to expose a lot more people to the millimetre wave radiation.  Since 5G is a pretty new technology there is very little research on the health effects. 

When consideration was given to the implementation of 5G technology in America, a US Senator, Richard Blumenthal, concluded during hearings, “So there really is no research ongoing.  We’re kind of flying blind here, as far as health and safety is concerned.”  It seems that countries around the world are simply implementing 5G on the basis that the companies have said that it is fine and have not really studied any possible links between the radio frequency and cancer.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 29-Apr-20   |  Permalink   |  41 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Lies, damned lies and statistics - part II

Some of the most interesting reports that have come out so far have been on smaller towns where the entire population has been tested and again and again they come out with figures that indicate that at least 15% of the population in the smaller towns have been exposed to the virus, although the vast majority of them never showed any symptoms.  One British researcher indicated that they thought, and I think this figure is probably too high, that 50% of the British population had already been exposed to this particular coronavirus.  The obvious implication though of those reports is that it does not kill as many people as we thought initially and that there are huge numbers of people, which will include some of my staff, who had the coronavirus and have simply never known about it, while panicking and arguing about somebody who may have sneezed or coughed in the office before the lockdown!  That is to be expected and let’s be honest, that’s human nature.  It is often the person who complains about others that is, unbeknown to them, actually positive and the person they are complaining about may just be suffering a little bit from an allergic season. 

I always take an approach of trying to be very careful before I criticise somebody else because you never know when it will be you.  I don’t want to say for example that it appears that it might be as few as 1 out of 300 people that die when they get the coronavirus, because I am asthmatic and I am aware that that 1 out of 300 people may be me.  If however you told me that the real risk of catching the disease and dying from it turns out to be approximately 1 out of 300 or 0,3%, which is what some of the surveys show, then I would not really be worried about it.  I am after all an attorney who makes his money out of motor accidents and I am well aware that the risks of driving to and from the office every day, and eventually being injured or perhaps killed, probably exceed 0,3%. That does not mean in any way that I am dismissing the seriousness of the disease, but what I am pointing out is that every indication we are seeing indicates that a lot more people have it and the statistics we are reading in South Africa cannot possibly be true – and they start unfortunately with a very low percentage of the population have been tested.  We will need to test 590,000 people before we can say we have even tested 1% of the population and I ask you how long do you think it will be before South Africa has tested only 1% of the population?

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 28-Apr-20   |  Permalink   |  35 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Lies, damned lies and statistics

I am a man of statistics, so I don’t like to criticise them, but there are times when they are highly dubious.  That in particular has been the case with the coronavirus and all of the statistics we hear on a daily basis.  The accuracy of those statistics depends on a whole host of factors such as what percentage of a country’s population has been tested and how deaths are reported.  If a doctor in a small town reports a whole lot of deaths as a result of influenza or pneumonia incorrectly, none of us will ever know what the real death rate from Covid-19 is other than it cannot be less than whatever the statistics indicate. 

We are in the hands of individuals all over different towns, cities, etc and of course many are going to report that people have died of the complications of tuberculosis or of HIV instead of indicating that this was exacerbated by Covid-19.  In the past week New York City alone has added 3,000 more deaths to its death toll, with some organisations included in the death toll and others are not, indicating that although those people were not tested with hindsight they believe that those deaths were from Covid-19. That is quite a liberal approach and it is probably the correct approach, but many countries will find it rather convenient to not take that approach and only include deaths where the person was tested beforehand, found positive and then died.  While that would be a strict approach to follow just by reading those words you have to know that that is not going to be an accurate approach and will result in an under-count on the death toll.  I suspect that that is what is happening in South Africa because if it is happening in countries like the UK and in America, then you can only imagine that it would be happening, probably to a far greater degree, in South Africa.  As it is, despite what President Trump says everywhere, large numbers of people in different States in America have not been able to be tested, and similar reports have come out of the UK. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 24-Apr-20   |  Permalink   |  31 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
How will business be different during Covid-19?

I have written before about how I believe that many things are going to change.  The first place that will have to change in any company is going to be the work environment.   Offices around the world are going to be reopening without a vaccine for Covid-19 and until there is a vaccine, things will have to be different.

I would imagine in my offices for example, apart from all the notices and training we have given staff on washing their hands with soap, techniques as to the opening of doors (door handles are a particular problem) and all the usual safeguards, there will have to be other interesting developments.   Whether one puts up plasti-glass screens between staff who sit close to each other would be one idea, but I think that one of the most obvious things that many companies will implement is the policy of wearing masks while at work.  It is not always tremendously convenient to wear a mask, but we have all done it, we all can do it and I suspect that that is going to be one of the requirements when back at the office. There are of course going to be those all round the world who choose to give up their jobs and lose their income rather than return to the office and for those who are really in risk groups that may well be the best decision for them to make and I think the vast majority of people are going to return to the office. 

Once they are back there they need to be far more careful than they have ever been before and take much more prudent steps and actions to safeguard, not only themselves, but those they work with.  I would suspect it is going to take a long time before antibody tests are actually available.  When I say actually, I mean that certain politicians, particularly Donald Trump, will always claim that tests are available, and they might well be to him and doctors, but they certainly are not to normal regular people and to normal regular companies and the antibody tests are going to take much longer to be mass produced to be able to see who has already suffered the symptoms and is allegedly safe.  I say allegedly, because there is no scientific verdict on that at the moment and whether having had the disease already protects you forever, for three months or for two years and some would say – if at all. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 23-Apr-20   |  Permalink   |  46 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Covid-19 and the UIF - ridiculous

Sometimes government policies absolutely boggle the mind.  One that has recently come to my attention is the situation with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and compensation for workers during the shutdown.  The law makes it clear that employers do not have to pay workers during this time and can deal with it in a variety of ways.  The Government however has said that it is going to assist workers, like governments do around the world.

That assistance though comes in the form of UIF payments that require the employer to agree to all sorts of onerous terms affecting the employer only - so that staff can get help via the UIF.   I wonder what sense this makes to government?  The employer is not getting a cent out of the UIF and it is only the employee who is benefiting, so why should the employer then tie themselves to a whole lot of onerous conditions?  It might make sense if the employer was legally obliged during this time to pay and needed the assistance of the UIF, but the employer is not.  In other words, for the man in the street to get some benefit from the UIF the employer - who is getting no benefits at all - has to agree to a whole lot of strict conditions imposed by the government so that their employee can actually get some benefits.  Or, the employer can choose not to agree to any of the strict requirements and simply allow the employee to go unpaid during this time!  Any employer who is sensibly advised by lawyers is going to decline the “benefits” from the UIF and if need be, allow the employees to go unpaid.  Why it is that the government has thought, in order for an employee to benefit, that the employer has to assume all sorts of onerous conditions is something that only they know?  Perhaps one could be cynical and say that they did give quite a bit of thought to it and decided that they did not want to pay out too much and so made benefits available only on conditions that they know that most employers would never accept.  The ANC can then claim that they have made provision for people to get support during this time and they can rest assured that not much will be claimed from the UIF because the conditions they have made are such that no sensible employer will actually take them up.

I think it is a tragedy because if the UIF is not going to pay out at a time like this, then when will it?  Other countries around the world imposed terms on businesses when the business is getting financial support.  They don’t impose terms on the business when it is the employees that are getting the support and of course in successful economies in most cases it is the government who is now picking up the salaries of the employees and not the companies.  It is not wonder that so few international companies want to set up shop in South Africa and as a result we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the world and will continue to do so until we start getting our labour policies and approach right.  Unfortunately, the ANC’s form of socialism has not worked anywhere in the world and our approximately 30% unemployment rate is a clear sign of that. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 22-Apr-20   |  Permalink   |  47 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
BCG immunisation and Covid-19

There has been a lot of talk for quite some time now about the BCG vaccinations and Covid-19. It seems that the countries that have compulsory, across the board BCG vaccinations seem to have less fatalities, relative to their population, than those countries that did not have the vaccination.  In an interesting paper issued by the American bank, JPMorgan, they noted the correlation between BCG vaccination and lower case numbers as well as the correlation between warmer more subtropical temperatures and lower rates.  There are very interesting reports and although all of this is less than scientific at the moment, there are more and more indications that seem to suggest that there are some truth in these theories. 

Of all the emerging nations the only one that did not have the universal BCG vaccination policy was Equador and Equador has more fatalities per million of their population than just about any other emerging country other than Iran.  Iran they say has the much colder climate and has a relatively old population compared to other emerging countries.    

By way of example they say the average age in Africa is, believe it or not, only 19,7 years old whereas the average age of people living in Europe is 43,1 years old and that to a certain extent explains why we see much higher death rates in Europe than in Africa.

What exactly the correlations are between warmer weather and this particular coronavirus and the BCG vaccination are things that we will only really know in the months and possibly years ahead, but at the moment there are certainly quite a few positive indications in that regard and SA might very well get lucky on all three of those factors – a relatively low average age, nationwide BCG vaccinations and subtropical, warmer temperatures than many of the countries with higher death rates.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 21-Apr-20   |  Permalink   |  45 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
South Africa – a nanny state?

A nanny state is a government whose policies are over-protective or interferes with people’s personal choice.  I think that description fits our labour laws and in particular our CCMA laws perfectly.  The reason I am writing about this today though is not to do with our labour laws – which one day, sooner or later South Africa will have to change if it wants to try and get itself out of the economic hole in which it is in.  I would say though in that regard that so many people who say that they do not support the ANC or anything that it stands for, are very happy to run whining off to the CCMA like good socialists when it suits them, and then criticise the ANC and the government the rest of the time – while voting DA - when they don’t want to embrace their socialistic policies. Rather hypocritical.

In any event, not being able to buy alcohol or cigarettes during a lockdown must be a perfect example of a nanny state.  I am well aware that there are many people that will drink alcohol and assault or abuse people or their family at this stage, but should we really be over-policing the entire nation to that extent?  I am not a fan of smoking, in particular the fact that we have to pay for many smokers’ hospitalisation in their later years when they die slowly of cancer, but are there no rights in South Africa to either choose to drink alcohol or smoke a cigarette?  But you can buy sweets and have the drug called sugar? I think what we are seeing at the moment is the very definition of a nanny state and while many people love to be nannied, when it is time to have a fight with their employer and have a big helping hand to look after them I guess they are now seeing the other side of the story.  Those overbearing nanny tendencies also lead to government telling you that you cannot d rink or smoke cigarettes during a lockdown.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 20-Apr-20   |  Permalink   |  50 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Covid-19 - the future will be different

The future is going to be very different in many ways as a result of Covid-19.  Let’s remember that this is not the first coronavirus, and it will undoubtedly not be the last, especially if China continues to have its wild animal open markets.  Hopefully there will be international pressure on them in that regard. 

How the world changes and what will be different remains to be seen in some areas, but I certainly think there will be much more emphasis, for example, on wearing masks – they will never be considered uncool again and people will not look at people wearing masks as if there is something wrong with them.  Hopefully younger people, especially growing up in this time, will learn the importance of washing your hands thoroughly with soap a number of times a day.  I certainly think in future that people will understand when they get home from a shopping trip or any public event that it is a good time to wash their hands, as opposed to just getting on with the cooking or going to bed!

Whether home gyms, biking at home, etc are going to be much bigger in future is another thing.  I think people are much more social than many of the experts make out and will not really want to be doing all of those things alone.  How long it will take people to get the confidence to go on cruise ships again is another question – I certainly would not be rushing to buy cruise ships shares right now, although once they announce their second quarter results some time in July, it might be a good time to bottom feed.  I was surprised that so many people who got off cruise ships made a big fuss about how all the cruise ships were making them wash their hands before every meal – indicating to me that they have never been on cruises before.  Cruise ships have always done that, because I think they are well aware as to the tremendous risks they have in terms of gastroenteritis, amongst other things.  I would certainly be interested in companies that produce hand sanitizers because I think that is going to be one of the things that last.  There is no doubt that a lot more people, and it will not just be politicians in the future who have always used lots of sanitizers for the hands they have to shake, keep some spare in their cars and probably on their desks at work as well. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 15-Apr-20   |  Permalink   |  54 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Haircuts - will there be a stampede?

I know that a lot of ladies’ love to have their hair done once a month.  I think amongst the less serious implications of Covid-19 will be the pent-up demand to get an appointment with one’s hairdresser when they all start working again!  I can imagine the literal war there would be to try and get bookings once the hairdressers are back.  As it is, I was scheduled to get my hair cut, and it is already looking ridiculous, but I am obviously not going to get a cut in the next three weeks and who knows after that how soon it will actually take to get an appointment?  Before anybody complains, yes, I am well aware that that is one of the trivial effects – although of course with the loss of income to all of those hairdressers in the meantime is certainly not trivial to them and as with many others who are now out of work. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 03-Apr-20   |  Permalink   |  51 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Trump prepares America for deaths

It is always fascinating to watch politicians try to manipulate and prepare people for what is coming.  In this case Donald Trump of course only a few weeks ago was saying there were 15 cases in America and it would soon be down to zero.  He congratulated himself on the speedy action he had taken, even though he has been slow to react on everything.  He is not the only leader who was slow to react – South Africa and many other countries should have closed off their flights a lot sooner and warned citizens to come back within a day or two or stay overseas. They reacted slowly and that helped to spread the disease internationally. 

After that, frequent references were made by Trump and the television channel that promotes his standpoint, namely Fox News, that this disease is almost exactly the equivalent of influenza and they don’t understand the fuss that the rest of the media is making. That ignores the fact that firstly you have a vaccine for flu and actual medication that generally assists with treating it.  Then we heard wildly inflated death numbers alleging that 120,000 Americans die a year from flu, when in fact the real number is approximately 34 000 to 65 000 per year on CDC figures for the last 2 years.

It took until Sunday for the Trump administration to prepare America for the fact that there would probably be 100,000 deaths and possibly even 200,000 from Covid-19. He stuck to 100 000 and his medical adviser floated the 200 000 figure.  Of course, now that the entire story of saying that the cases would disappear to zero, or that it was the same as influenza, is proving to be another lie, the propaganda machine sprung into action rather quickly and the new version says if Trump had done nothing, as if any leader of a country would do nothing, 2,2 million Americans would have died.   In other words, the new theme is if 100,000 people die, it is not so bad, because Donald Trump took such decisive action and was such a great leader that he stopped 2,2 million people from dying which is obviously based on assuming that a leader of a country seeing this unfold in front of them decided to do absolutely nothing and not ask people to keep a safe social distance.  It also obviously ignores the fact that they are simply implementing and copying, to a large extent, the steps that China took, even if not as drastic – which is probably why it spread more easily through America and European countries – because they did not take the drastic action that China did in Wuhan.  In other words, he hasn’t done anything new, come up with any amazing idea or anything else – he has just implemented some of the steps China took – but more slowly and less strictly on a bit by bit slow basis.

It is nevertheless, however tragic this whole story ends up being, fascinating to watch people deny that it is serious, then to try and compare it to the flu and when they finally, weeks later, start to realise their mistakes and the extra people that will die due to the slow way they have acted, suddenly change their entire story!   That is literally how he tried to present it repeatedly during a press conference on Sunday, while of course as usual berating the media, accusing them of reporting false stories and, as he always does, claiming that they are failing and losing money.  In fact, the New York Times, one of his favourite newspapers to attack, is doing better financially and has more subscribers to its website now than it did before he became President, so even those allegations are simply not true. 

The saddest thing for America though is that people generally choose to watch the propaganda that they want, and those that watch Fox News, presumably with an uncritical mind, will believe what they are told.  I say with an uncritical mind, because it obviously requires them to erase from their memory the fact that only a few weeks ago they were told, “When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that is a pretty good job we’ve done.”  The tragedy about all of this is for those who naively watch one channel and who might have been able to take more steps sooner to prepare themselves against this – they did not, because the President of America and the TV channel that supports every story he makes - minimised the seriousness of this disease. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 02-Apr-20   |  Permalink   |  39 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Covid-19 - learning from Asia

Asian countries are generally far better at dealing with these weird and exotic viruses, probably because so many of them emanate from there.  South Africa has in many ways attempting what China did, in terms of a lockdown, although it must be remembered that in Wuhan what actually happened was that the people were locked up in their apartments, were not allowed to go into the streets and food was actually brought to their door.  That is why they were able to stop things. 

South Africans sneaking off and having parties in the townships and continuing to go shopping is not exactly adopting the Chinese solution!  Amongst the other things that the Asian countries have done, which need to be implemented, are:

  • You cannot enter any shops in countries like Singapore without having your temperature tested – how many international travellers to SA were even stopped?
  • All travel must stop including travel between cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg.
  • Everybody needs to wear masks, because if everybody doesn’t wear masks then everyone assumes the people wearing masks are sick and then the sick don’t want to wear masks because they think everybody can identify them. If you force everybody to wear masks we will all be safer.
  • Social habits like shaking hands and hugging have to stop and hopefully this pandemic will mean the end of them.
  • Keeping the sick at home does not work – 75% to 80% of all infections in China happened within the family cluster and so they built makeshift hospitals where the not so sick were taken to and they did not stay at home where they could infect the rest of the family.
  • Some hospitals need to be set aside to deal with normal types of cases – people who had motor accidents, heart attacks and strokes – and those hospitals should be identified and Covid-19 cases should not be going there at all.  This is another way that the Chinese dealt with this in Wuhan.
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 01-Apr-20   |  Permalink   |  47 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It

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Johannesburg based attorney specializing in personal injury matters including Road Accident Fund claims and medical negligence matters. My interests include golf, reading and the internet and the way it is constantly developing. I have a passion for life and a desire for less stress!
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