Privacy versus lockdown

There is a new outbreak at a chicken processing plant in Perthshire. It’s disappointing that we use the euphamism “chicken processing plant” rather than slaughterhouse which is what it is. Outbreaks in slaughterhouses have been quite common and it’s not yet clear why. It could be the cold temperatures or the conditions people have to work in. In the US, slaughterhouses are notorious for having questionable working conditions. I’m not sure what it’s like here.

What is becoming clear is the impact of farming animals on every aspect of our lives from our health to the environment to the economy and we all suffer regardless of whether we eat animals or not. I would like to see a tax on meat to help pay for the cost of this virus.

Losing your job must be quite frightening. For many people around the world I suspect it’s more frightening than the virus. Millions of people live from pay packet to pay packet and without an income they cannot pay bills or buy food. We are all anxiously waiting for a vaccine to ride to our rescue but this won’t be the last pandemic. There’ll be another and another and probably with increasing frequency as we continue to destroy habitats to feed our growing appetite for meat. We must be better prepared next time.

If you hadn’t noticed I’m feeling down about it all this week. I’m tired of Aberdeen’s lockdown and I feel helpless when I see our poor efforts at test and trace because if it doesn’t improve then there’ll be more of this to come. People have written to me to tell me about the QR code scanning in their countries – Australia, New Zealand, Germany, South Korea. It’s pretty basic technology and less draconian than house arrest for an entire city so why aren’t we doing it? In New Zealand they’re trialling a card which is even simpler and requires no scaninng and no phone. But technology is not even required. Just a simple interview with the person to retrace their steps over the previous week and then sharing this publicly would make a big difference.

When I go to the supermarket I am in a building with lots of other people. Of course I wear a mask and try to keep 2m distance but neither of these can completely stop transmission. If I later test positive I am not able to contact any of the people in the supermarket because I have no idea who they are and neither do the team at test and trace. I don’t know every person in Aberdeen. But if I were to publish my movements for the week prior to testing positive then people who had crossed paths with me would be able to take precautions. This doesn’t require an app or any form of technology. All that’s required is an interview and then dissemination of the information.

When the pub outbreak started in Aberdeen, none of the businesses affected were informed. The first they heard of it was when it got published in the local paper. The staff at those places were free to go out and potentially spread the virus further because they didn’t know. Similarly, none of us know what other places the infected person or people visited prior to the pub. Maybe they went to a supermarket or sat on a bus. This information is not shared but it’s vital and in sharing it we do not need to disclose any information about the patient; just the public spaces they visited and when. People may find this is still an invasion of their privacy and to some extent it is but if the alternative is city-wide lockdowns repeatedly for the next year then I will willingly share my movements if I test positive so that other people have information which could benefit them and their loved ones.


5 thoughts on “Privacy versus lockdown”

  1. I’ve been on this planet for nearly 63 years, and during that time I have seen the same thing over and over – people want things to change for the better, but few want to personally put in the effort to make that happen. A token change here and there maybe, but not much that seriously inconveniences them. Industrial animal farming and the spin-offs from that are the biggest threat to our existence on this planet, yet most people won’t stop eating animals and their by-products at the rate they do, or even reduce their consumption. Yep, I’m jaded, and have seen too much to believe that humans will save themselves from themselves. Something else will have to happen. Maybe a pandemic?

    1. Yes, 100% agree. I used to do some voluntary work for Animals Asia (I still donate to them on a montly basis) and it was easy for people in Australia to be horrified of bears on farms because it was not something they did or depended on and they could easily criticise Asian nations while feeling virtuous themselves. But the minute you point out something on a factory farm in their country or something horrific they are directly culpable for then they become defensive and block it out. They don’t want to know.

      1. The UK is a specialist in intensive meat farming, and most Brits don’t even know or understand how many millions of animals are ‘manufactured’ in the UK in appalling conditions. We need more awareness on this.

  2. Terrific post Rachel, and agree with all of it.

    There definitely seems to be a link with the meat processing plants and factories, and a tax on meat is a great idea, which would be a great starting point to wean humans off their meat addiction.

    1. Thank you! A meat tax seems so sensible – we just need to make it happen. I think there will be some resistance initially but I suspect in future it will be accepted in much the same way as taxing cigarettes.

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