Pandemic Times: First Actions

This first entry is being written in late March 2020 after over 3 months of the virus creating havoc in China.

The first LTTA Workshop, planned to be in UK between 16th & 21st March was cancelled by partner agreement on 10th March and with formal notification from coordinator on 13th March.

On 21st March the following bulletin was issued:

Week End Report 21st March 2020

It seems (at least from a UK perspective) that this week has seen the realities of what we are facing begin to ‘sink in’. 

Our reluctant UK government recognised this yesterday (Friday) by ordering the closure of all bars, restaurants, theatres etc. 

Schools have also closed with an expectation that they will not reopen until September (at the earliest). It also added financial support to all those affected by loss of work:

“On Friday, the government announced it would pay 80% of salaries for staff who are kept on by their employer.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51984275

We are all operating in a rapidly changing environment which is still not properly understood even by the most experts of such health situations.

An  American report  states:

We learn more about this virus by the day, often by the hour and most of the news is bad. Here are five things we’ve learned in the past week:

  • The virus is much more infectious than influenza or the SARS virus, which it closely resembles. This week, new data showed that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, can live on contaminated surfaces as the SARS virus can, so it may spread, sometimes explosively, from doorknobs, elevator buttons and contaminated surfaces in hospitals and elsewhere.
  • It’s not just older people with underlying conditions who become very ill and can die. Younger adults, previously healthy people and some children develop viral pneumonia. Although prior reports suggested that 80% of people got only mild disease, it now appears that about half of these people, despite not needing hospital admission, have moderately severe pneumonia, which can take weeks or longer to recover from.
  • Explosive spread will almost certainly overwhelm health care capacity in New York City and elsewhere, and lead to the inability to save patients who could otherwise have been saved. Today’s severe cases are in people infected 10 to 14 days ago who got sick five to six days ago and have steadily progressed to severe illness. That means cases will continue to skyrocket for weeks after spread stops. Not only won’t there be enough ventilators, there won’t be enough supplies for the ventilators, hospital beds to support patients — or health care workers to help patients.
  • Health care workers are in peril. Thousands were infected in China, more than 3,000 have been infected in Italy, protective equipment is in short supply in the United States, and as health care becomes overwhelmed, it becomes harder to provide care safely.
  • It’s going to get a lot worse. Not only is the global economy in free-fall but supply chains for essentials, including medicines, are disrupted. Even China, which has successfully tamped down spread, is only now reopening its economy — which produces components of many medicines people rely on — and very slowly.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/20/health/coronavirus-response-must-adapt-frieden-analysis/index.html

The UK NA:

I’ve copied below relevant section of the UK NA online report frm 16th March.

It covers most of the issues that have or will concern us.

I had emailed the NA asking for updates regarding our (lack of) a Project officer

The NA official are working from home and thus the usual helpline is not operating & the process of answering emails is slower than usual (due to number of enquiris).

‘Force Majeure’ clause

Where postponed or cancelled travel is funded through the Erasmus+ or European Solidarity Corps programmes, the Force Majeure clause in your contract may apply, in cases where you are unable to make an insurance claim. 

It is for participating organisations and individuals to decide on the course of action to take in light of the national travel advice and repatriation schemes, for example, cancelling or postponing all non-essential travels to affected areas. 

Please be aware that, although you are unable to claim for costs above your awarded grant, the UK National Agency will accept Coronavirus-based cancellations for planned mobilities which have incurred costs as ‘Force Majeure’. 

Project co-ordinators should explore alternative options to meet the same project objectives (such as travel on an alternative date or a different location) and contact the National Agency to approve any changes outside of Programme rules. 

Project extensions

The UK National Agency will treat any contract extension requests as a result of the Coronavirus sympathetically, provided that the project is still within the maximum duration as stated in the programme guide for the corresponding call year. Maximum project durations differ depending on Key Action and sector, and it may be possible to offer a contract extension in cases where a project is less than 3 years in duration. 

Latest updates from other National Agencies

Most National Agencies have informed us that their Government or health authorities have temporarily suspended certain Erasmus+ mobilities or closed their schools and universities, with limited incoming and outgoing cross-border travel in the next few weeks.

Organisations should maintain regular contact between participants, sending, hosting and co-ordinating organisations”.

https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/news/travel-advice-for-regions-affected-by-coronavirus

Green Bridges Actions

1. We had already covered the  key issues relating to Force Majeure & project extension (forms were sent to Pathways last week).

If you have not presented documents in the partner spcific  ‘unrecovered expenses’ folder on Geegle Drive, please do so as soon as possible (the last entry was 18.31 GMT 16th March – some folders are empty).

2. We have created folders into which  will be placed by end of 23rd March

  • project plans presented at the first meeting (November 2019)
  • Pictorial reports, maps and plans of work since November
  • Other material – research, photos of each partner team/management group

Please ensure that information is placed in folders by the deadline (it is to be copied and placed on the partner pages on our Green Bridges web site

3. We have arranged for a Skype Conference on Wednesday March 25th at 12.00 EET. Four partners (IT, LT, RO, UK) had by 19th March, agreed that time.

Yesterday was the Spring Equinox: in Northern Hemisphere 03.49 UTC (GMT)

It was around the time of the Winter Solstice that the COVID-19 virus began to be recognised as a major threat – but under-estimated in potency (having passed through China at that time I was aware that a new dangerous virus had ‘arrived’ but nowhere, in Beijing or internationally, was preparing for its rapid  spread.)

I wonder how much will have changed by the Midsummer Solstice? ( 22.43 UTC, June 20th)

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