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Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

Random thoughts from a Brit in the North West. Sometimes serious, sometimes not. Quite often curmudgeonly.

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 4 August 2020
04 August 2020 @ 10:08

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.  

- Christopher Howse: 'A Pilgrim in Spain'*


Early in the virus saga, a Spanish doctor forecast that, eventually, we'd all get it. She didn't, however, give a time frame and, of course, back then we had no idea that many who did so would be asymptomatic. But we did know/think that the infection rate of Covid (the R number) was high to very high. 

Surely by now, then, we'll all have come into contact with the virus, somehow, somewhere. And we should be well on our well to herd immunity. 

So, how to explain that the percentage of cases among the population is extremely low, even in those countries with high levels of testing. For example:-

Spain: Pop. 47m  Testing 143k per million. Infections: 344k. Percentage of population infected 0.7%.

Belgium: Pop. 11.6m.  Testing 174k/m. Infections 70.3k. Percentage of population infected 0.6%. 

The UK: Pop. 68m. Testing 246k/m. Infections 305.6k. Percentage of population infected 0.5% 

Sweden: Pop. 10.16m. Testing low at 80.2k/m. Infections 81k. Percentage of population infected 0.8%

The USA: Pop. 331.2m. Testing 184k/m. Infections 4,900k. Percentage of population infected 1.5%%

Deaths as a percentage of the population is even lower, of course,

Spain: 0.06% 

Belgium: 0.09% 

The UK: 0.07% 

Sweden: 0.06%

The USA: 0.05%

And deaths as a percentage of cases has steadily reduced, giving the overall rates of:-

Spain: 8%

Belgium: 14%

The UK: 15%

Sweden: 7%

The USA: 3%

As it's falling, this rate will be lower among recent/current cases. Though possibly not in the USA, where deaths are rising rapidly.

Of course, these stats (from this site) are national. There are cities where the percentages are much higher and where lockdowns might make more sense. New York for example:-

Pop. 19.5m  Testing 313k/m. Infections 445.8k. Percentage of population infected 2.3%. 

Deaths as a percentage of the population 0.17%

Deaths as a percentage of cases 7.4%

So, the questions arise: What is really going on? Have we overreacted? Will herd immunity ever be reached? Was Sweden's strategy right all along, especially if they don't experience anything like a 'second wave'? Will we have to live with this virus for at least until a vaccine comes along, if one ever does? If so, should we rely on measures less severe than lockdowns - masks, distancing and limited gatherings, for example (a la Sweden, of course)?

Or have I got the wrong end of more than one stick??

Living La Vida Loca in Spain 

  • Some evidence here that, while infection rates are rising here in Spain, the death rate remains lower than ever. 
  • Mink farms are a source of Covid infection, it’s reported. So, it wasn’t good to read yesterday that: Spain has 38 active mink breeding operations, most of them in northwestern Galicia.
  • I’ve spoken of the efficiency/officiousness of Spain’s police in levying fines. As it’s hot, it’s time to note that one of the several (minor?) offences you’ll be done for is having your arm/elbow outside your window. And then there’s not having an extra pair of glasses in your glove compartment . . .
  • Living in Galicia, this looks like an interesting novel - All This I Will Give to You, by Dolores Redondo. Investigating the death of a friend in a car crash here, a novelist is led deep into one of Spain’s most powerful and guarded families.  And, in the shadows of nobility and privilege, he  unravels a web of corruption and deception. Sounds about right.
  • Meanwhile, back in the real world, I was yesterday midday assailed by a group of jolly Disney-like characters, led by a toy car loudly playing American marching tunes and a very slow rendition of Anchors Aweigh. Spooky, as Dame Edna would say.    
  • I see our disgraced ex-king has finally exiled himself. Possibly. Not a huge surprise.

Finally/English  . . .

  • I’m halfway through a novel set in Japan in the late 18th century, among Dutch traders there. I haven’t learned much Japanese or Dutch so far, but I have met these English words new to me:





To scratchiest

Prismatic (of pain)

Paulownia (wood)

To scull (cheat)


Finny (way)

To cark

Crimped (shanghaid?)


To scrit

To clirk





It’s always a pleasure to come across new words. Assuming you can later use them. Which I’m rather doubtful of in this case. Meanwhile, I’m hoping reader Perry will either know or delve into the meanings of these . . .


* A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant.

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