Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 23 2022

In it

So as I mentioned last month, Taiwan is in the middle of a huge (for us) covid surge, as a result of the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant as well as the central government’s decision to “Live with it”, by which it means continuing to relax restrictions, decoupling case numbers from policy. And so while we’re seeing our daily official case numbers approach 100,000 at this point, the actual number is most likely far higher since the reporting only includes those people who are infected, symptomatic, have been tested and those test results reported to the government. As we’ve seen, most cases are asymptomatic, so those people have no reason to test except if they have been in close contact with an official case for a certain amount of time. However, though the contact app has been useful in the past with hardly any cases, as cases skyrocket, contact tracing is far less effective. Rapid testing kits were scarce for a week or so but are plentiful now, but that doesn’t mean everyone is testing all the time, and a positive result on a rapid test means going in for a PCR test, which means lining up at a clinic or hospital with a bunch of other likely positive people, so…not that attractive an option. And those with mild symptom also are likely to dismiss them as allergies or an ordinary cold. And those who do test might see an initial negative result and dismiss it, even if they are infected. And those who get a positive result may just keep it to themselves. And the significant others of positive cases might just…shrug, dismiss it and go out to meet up with other people because fuck them, I guess. No, I’m not making that scenario up.

So those who are listed as official positive cases are a tiny subset of the actual number. And nobody knows what that is. By the way, I highly recommend Cookiebandit on twitter as a good resource on this topic.

Basically, we might as well assume that it’s everywhere. But as we as a culture are committed to the idea of being at physical places of employment, oblivious to the possibility or advantages of telecommuting because the bosses are paranoid that their workers might be goofing off at home instead of goofing off at work, people are still going out. Restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, etc. are all still open. Concerts are still going on, for some reason. Fewer people are taking the subway, so the MRT decided more people should be crammed into the cars and therefore reduced the number of trains. So far, most of the dozens of people dying daily from covid are older, unvaccinated, and/or have prior conditions, but not all. Looking at the vaccination numbers inching up so verrrry slowly even over the last couple of months, it’s clear that those who are unwilling to get their shots are simply not moved by anything, and it just ain’t gonna happen.

So in April I said that Taiwan seemed to be going for a middle path between the US/UK “Let ‘er rip” approach and China’s “Zero Covid” approach. On paper, perhaps we still are, but it’s looking like we’re veering a bit towards the former while paying mere lip service to many of the reduction measures. Which tracks, I suppose. I’ve seen a greater proportion of white people without masks than I have Taiwanese people without masks, and even those expats who claim to be concerned about covid will, immediately after saying so, pull their mask down, possibly to smoke but also possibly just for no apparent reason. And I don’t know what happens after that because I. am. gone.

But I am still in the office every day, on the subway every day. Classes are still going, concerts are still scheduled. I can’t do anything about the two coworkers in my office who don’t bother wearing masks, but I can at least insist that my students do. Other than that, we’re on our own. People have been throwing darts at the “When will it peak?” board, with most landing on some time in June. We’ll see, I guess.

Or at least most of us will.

posted by Poagao at 10:50 am