A couple of days ago we received a call with the very sad news that a near neighbour, a man my wife as known for most of her life, had lost his fight wit covid.
This man was personally responsible for the erection of the bell-tower on our local church. His family home is less than 200m away.
Another denizen of this village, a first cousin of my wife’s, has also been taken into hospital with the graver form of the disease.
Guatemala is currently reporting around 50 deaths a day, especially around mid-week, but this is only the mortality recorded in hospitals, so that individual who dropped dead in the pharmacy outside the Bodegona last week, or the woman who passed away on a Litegua doubledecker, will presumably not have made it onto Worldometer.
Yesterday, as they announced a record 91% drop in profits, the Australian airline Qantas suggested that international travel is unlikely to recover at all before the middle of next year — and even if a vaccine should turn up in the meantime, they won't be restoring the US to their market before the conclusion of 2021.
This has to be a clear indicator of the ongoing challenges faced by countries like Guatemala, which have tended to depend on the more adventurous, longer-haul forms of tourism.
Spain tried to salvage its short-haul summer holiday season, yet it has been left in tatters. In per-capita terms they now have post-lockdown infection levels on a par with us here in Guatemala.
Unlike Spain — Italy and France too — the UK is now comparatively well off. For levels of active infection in England are now at the equivalent of ‘green’ status in Guatemala.
Yet the late summer surge on the continent has to be a source for worry for the government, especially as local spikes continue to occur in northern cities, in particular those with a larger proportion of families of south-Asian ancestry. Oldham may be about to be put in localised freeze.
The enormous challenge presented by the re-opening of schools nationwide is also just around the corner.
A new poll just released seeks to tease out just how brave Britons are feeling amidst the prevailing mood of uncertainty...
95% say they have left their home in the last seven days.
However, 26% say they still feel uncomfortable about doing so.
73% have met up with friends or family to socialise. Of these, 47% say they observed social distancing.
Just 40% say they would feel comfortable sitting inside a pub or restaurant.
20% have cancelled plans to travel abroad.
Only 14% say they would be comfortable visiting a swimming pool.