HAMNET Report 19th April 2020


Univadis Medical News has published some statistics regarding patients with COVID-19 that have needed hospitalisation and admission to an Intensive care Unit.

In a study of 1591 consecutive patients in the Lombardy region of Italy, 82% were male, with an average age of 63. 68% had at least one other illness that might have made their situation worse. 99% needed respiratory support, 88% by mechanical ventilation, and the other 11 less invasive procedures. After roughly a month of observation, 58% were still in the ICU, 16% had been discharged, and 26% had died in the ICU. Mortality was higher in older patients, of course.

In that radio amateurs are usually older males, and many with co-morbidities, (which means additional illnesses to worsen our outlook,) we are more likely to make heavy weather of COVID-19 should we catch it. So please, do not place yourselves at unnecessary extra risk. Stay at home and play radio!

And Tech Financials notes that South Africa’s communications watchdog has allocated a special phone number for COVID-19 emergencies.

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) has allocated the phone number “111” for use for COVID-19 emergency services.

“The service code ‘111’ is hereby harmonised and mandated for COVID-19 national emergency services,” Dr. Keabetswe Modimoeng, ICASA’s acting chairperson, said in new regulations published today.

Calls to the COVID-19 emergency number will be free.

“The ‘111’ service code is mandated for COVID-19 national emergency services during the National State of Disaster. The service code “111” will cease to be harmonised and mandated within three (3) months after the termination of the National State of Disaster,” said Dr Modimoeng.

In case you missed the announcement, the biggest Hamfest in Europe, HamRadio2020 at Friedrichshafen, has been cancelled. According to the announcement, HAM RADIO acted in accordance with an April 15 decision by federal and state authorities that no major events are to take place until August 31. HAM RADIO 2020 was set for June 26 – 28. The event is Europe’s major ham radio show, attracting some 15,000 visitors from around the world each summer. This year’s show would have been the 45th HAM RADIO.

Greg Mossop G0DUB is nevertheless planning an on-line option for the emergency communications meeting on 27th June from 11h00 to 15h00 UTC. Stay tuned for more information. We may even be able to link in and participate!

The other cancellation announced this week, concerns the Comrades Marathon, which has formally been postponed, no new date being given. HAMNET-KZN, which normally plays a huge role in the communications during the race, will have to wait awhile to hear if it will take place at all this year.

Rick Palm, K1CE, writing in his editorial in the ARES E-Letter of 15th April says that the current COVID-19 crisis is unlike any emergency any of us have been through, with extended periods of time at home – and in the shack for him and many other hams. He has spent the time on small projects that he’s always meant to do; for example, he secured his 12-volt batteries (in their battery case boxes) to the bottom metal shelf of his operating platform, using clips and the box straps. He’s checked into the local FM repeater and simplex nets, and a local/regional 6-meter SSB net for wellness checks, information, social connection, and morale. He’s logged many new HF contacts and garnered QSLs in the ARRL Logbook of the World. All of these activities have served him well in maintaining some semblance of sanity these days.

Looking for something to do? University of Mississippi Professor of Emergency Management Mike Corey, KI1U, offered this great suggestion: “Try to work as many of the STAYHOME suffixed call signs as possible.” [Some countries are allowing radio amateurs to use special “STAYHOME” call sign suffixes. In Canada, for example, Michael Shamash, VE2MXU, is using VC2STAYHOM “to raise awareness for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.”]  Corey said “Many of these stations are active on FT4/FT8, so it’s a good time to try out digital modes and test station set-ups.”

I mentioned Cyclone Harold in last week’s bulletin as it pummelled Vanuata, Fiji, and other islands. Well, the WMO has reported on it this week.

Latest World Meteorological Organisation news is that low-lying islands in the South-west Pacific Ocean are counting the human and economic toll of Severe Tropical Cyclone Harold, which destroyed key infrastructure and highlighted the challenges of disaster and public health management in the COVID-19 era. At its peak, Harold was the equivalent of a Category 5 level hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “deeply saddened” by reports of loss of life and property in Vanuatu, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Tonga.

“The Secretary-General commends the governments and first responders in the affected countries for their pre-emptive work to make people safe ahead of the storm and to meet their immediate needs afterwards. The United Nations stands ready to support these efforts,” he said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General expresses his deep solidarity with the people of the Pacific as they face the impact of this cyclone, along with other climate-related challenges, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, which adds a worrying new dimension to existing vulnerabilities,” he said.

The tropical cyclone underlined the imperative of activities of all WMO projects that help to strengthen early warning systems and increase resilience of vulnerable members impacted by severe weather and climate change associated hazards, such as coastal and inland flooding, including those from storm surges, river floods, and rising sea levels.

The coordination of the forecasts and early warnings for tropical cyclones in the region is provided by the WMO Tropical Cyclone Committee for the South Pacific and South-East Indian Ocean, the Regional Meteorological Specialized Centre in Nadi, Fiji, and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services.

The WMO-supported Climate Risk and Early Warning System (CREWS) is helping to strengthen early warning systems and increase resilience in Pacific Islands.

Thanks to the WMO for this report.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR, hoping that you are all staying at home, and being careful, and reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.