Friday, 25 September 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 25th September 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 25th September 2020.

The UK added 6,874 cases today and now has reported a total of 423,236 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 245,363 tests yesterday.

1,616 people were in hospital on Wednesday 23rd (up from 1,020 a week earlier), with 243 using a ventilator yesterday (up from 127 a week earlier).

(Today it's Scotland who have a technical problem, and are unable to report people lost to COVID). In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, the UK (excluding Scotland) officially reported the loss of another 34 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 41,936 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland +326) cases and 1,797 losses of life. 

There have now been a total of 32,564,743 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 989,815. Already 24,048,380 people have recovered.

standing 2 metres apart is standing up to the virus

"Early next week the world will cross 1m reported COVID19 deaths.
If we continue at the current pace we will end up with 1.5m reported deaths by the end of the year.
It is those 500,000 lives that we can help to save with our actions in the next three months."
Dr Tedros, Head of WHO

The Independent SAGE Group briefing today wasn't as bad as you might think. Yes, cases are going up, but there's a possibility it's slowed slightly during September. UK data is really not the most helpful, so everything is a 'possible', but what we can see implies we've gone up to 7 days  doubling time, slowed a little over the past couple of weeks, and over the last couple of days it's speeding up again. Their estimates are pretty similar to the UK Gov, in that we have an average doubling time currently of around 8 days, and are heading towards 1,000 new hospital admissions per day by mid October. (This was the point that we were at when we locked down in March).
There's a massive number of new cases in the 17-24 age group, which correlates with reopening of Universities. It's particularly obvious in Scotland.
The Netherlands opened Universities on 2nd September. Almost 40% of their outbreaks are currently in education, mainly Universities.
Testing data suggests that care homes are being prioritised, but it's hard to really tell for certain. Although cases have spread from young people to older age groups, the over 70's aren't yet being really affected - a very good thing.
ONS data suggests only 10% of people are isolating properly after contact with an infected person. We need to get support systems in place to enable people to do this, and they need to have better understanding of why they should self-isolate, even if they feel well. 

Professor Gabriel Scally, Royal Society Of Medicine, talked about a paper he's recently released called "A Deliberate Population Immunity Strategy Before A Vaccine - Why It Wouldn't Work And Why It Shouldn't Be Tried." I think you get the gist already... It's not just about the thousands of people who would die. He mentions long-term effects and says we simply don't know what they will be, and it's even possible that people whose brain is affected now may suffer decades into the future. We have no idea. It's too risky. He's quite blunt. "We haven't really tried to suppress this virus." (Tell it like it is!) Then he talked about Sweden, which made me feel smug, because last night I wrote up the paragraphs about Sweden which you'll find below... 

Thursday, 24 September 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 23 /24 September 2020.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 23 /24 September 2020.

The UK dashboard is 'experiencing technical difficulties' today, so the information is incomplete. 

The UK added 6,634 cases today and now has reported a total of 416,363 positive cases of COVID-19.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 40 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 41,902 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 33,994 (+318) cases and 1,797(+3) losses of life. 

There have now been a total of 32,246,557 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 984,180. Already 23,783,826 people have recovered.

240920 Flu JAB eligibility UK

"For the next 6 months at least, the virus and restrictions are going to be a fact of our lives."
Rishi Sunak, UK Chancellor. 

There was a 3pm UK briefing with Rishi Sunak. His style is the opposite of Boris, and he belted through his speech in just over 90 seconds. He announced 5 new measures today to support business and people's jobs:
- Job Support Scheme will start in November and last at least 6 months.
- Extending the self-employed scheme
- Pay As You Grow - up to 10 years to pay 'bounce back' loans.
- Extra time to pay deferred taxes
- Cancelling the planned rise in VAT for hospitality and tourism
The big one for employees is the Job Support Scheme - and the BBC and others made a right mess of trying to decipher this earlier, so fingers crossed I don't. . .
Under the scheme an employee has to be working a minimum of one third (33%) of their usual hours, for their regular pay from their employer. The government and employer will then each pay 1/3 of the shortfall in usual wages (and the employee will lose 1/3 of their shortfall). What this actually means when you sort out the maths is:

If an Employee works 1/3 of their usual hours (33%).
Employer pays 55% of their usual wages
Government pay 22% of their usual wages
Employee receives 77% of their usual wages (just over three quarters).

*If an Employee worked 1/2 their usual hours (50%)
Employer pays 67% of their usual wages
Government pay 17% of their usual wages
Employee receives 83% of their usual wages (just over four fifths)

Hope that makes sense!
The government contribution is capped at £697.92 a month.
He basically acknowledged that they can't just support all businesses forever, when we don't know what the future holds. This scheme is for 'viable business' - for example your employer can't be making redundancies and applying at the same time.
The Autumn budget has been cancelled. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Big Potato P For Pizza Family Party Game Review (age 8+) Sent by Big Potato

Big Potato have got some brand new games this Autumn, and they've sent us a bunch to take a look at. The first is P for Pizza - and as usual there's no lengthy set-up time, it has easy instructions and anyone can play. 

P For Pizza is suitable for 2-4 players aged around 8+. It's a fast-paced game and you'll need to be pretty quick to be in with a chance of winning! It's far more funny than seriously competitive though... 

P for Pizza game resting in grenn shredded paper with card saying get it while it's hot

Big Potato have amazing modern design, and their packaging is always bold and really attractive. P For Pizza is no exception, and naturally it's shaped like a Pizza slice. EVERYTHING is plastic-free, the cards are even held together with paper during transit (nice one). 

Included is a sheet of cool little stickers, which we did fight over (so hide them before you show anyone else)....

Contents of P for Pizza game box displayed on table

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 21/22 September 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 21/22 September 2020.

The UK added 4,926 cases today and now has reported a total of 403,551 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 188,865 tests yesterday. 

1,319 people were in hospital on Sunday 20th (up from 972 a week earlier), with 181 using a ventilator (up from 106 a week earlier).  

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 37 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 41,825 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 33,121 cases and 1,792 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 31,633,884 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 971,881. Already 23,227,439 people have recovered.

Manchester restrictions explained GMP with pretty drawing of 2 people

"We know this will be a concerning news for many people. Please follow the rules, look after each other and together we will get through this."
Joint statement from the 4 Chief Medical Officers for the UK nations. 

“Unless we palpably make progress we should assume that the restrictions that I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.”
Ouch. Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister and social gadabout. 

Boris will be addressing the nation at 8pm - that's too late for me (my family would be starving). I'll add any salient points below. I'm hoping I've actually covered most of what he'll be saying anyway (as it was leaked to the press and then he told parliament this lunchtime).

The UK have now moved back up to Level 4 in the COVID Alert Levels. Cases are rising across all 4 nations, and the Government can no longer pretend we are at level 3. If we are brutally honest, we never quite managed it anyway. We were always at 3+ caveats.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Hexbug Junk Bots Large Dumpster Review (Age 3+) - sent for review

We've not reviewed a lot of toys this year, but the latest additions to the Hexbug range are always welcome, and we've been sent Hexbug Junk Bots and Hexbug Nano Orbit to review. Both are suitable for age 3+, and while the Orbit opens up a new world for familiar Hexbug Nano bots, the Junk Bots are something entirely new and different... 

Hexbug Junk Bots Large Dumpster review collage of photos from post

Both the Junk Bots and the Nano Flash are collectibles which can expand with more sets. They are available in different sized packs at different prices, with different features included. You can find my Hexbug Nano Flash Orbit review here... 

Hexbug Junk Bots review Age 3+ dumpster full of really exciting  trash

Hexbug Flash Nano Orbit Review (Age 3+) Sent For Review.

This Autumn Hexbug have some new products, including Hexbug Flash Nano - and we've been sent the Orbit set to review. New Hexbug are always welcome here, they're very well played with. Suitable for age 3+, the Orbit opens up a new world for familiar Hexbug Nano bots, and the brand new super-sized Flash Nano Bot...

Hexbug Flash Nano Orbit package showing bots through little window

The Hexbug Flash Nano Orbit Set (£12.50rrp) is a great 14 piece set with 6 walls, 6 joints and 2 bots - 1 regular Hexbug Nano and 1 new Flash Nano. The Flash Nano Bot is really big, really fast, and lights up, so it is a bit special. If you haven't seen Hexbugs before, they are small powered robots with plastic legs, and they vibrate in such a way that they run about like little robotic bugs. 

Hexbug Nano and Nano Flash side by side on top of instruction leaflet

Packaging is very much card, with a small amount of plastic, and it's great to see that Hexbug are making that change. You can pop the window out and use the box for storage afterwards. 

Contents of Hexbug Nano Flash pack cardboard packaging

The set has flexible rubbery 'jelly' triangular tubes and white connecting joints, and it's really well designed. It's incredibly light and easy to put together or take apart, even during play, but the Hexbugs can't move it because the rubbery texture grips to the surface. 

flexible hexbug nano flash jelly walls

You really can create whatever shape you like, and there's plenty of scope even in this set, but you can collect and put sets together to create an even bigger play area / arena / race track etc. 

Flash Nano Orbit playground set up on table

Loads of fun. I'm sure anyone who has played with Hexbugs has yearned for an easy solution to stop them running away and falling off the table, this is far better than our usual trick of surrounding them with books and coffee mug coasters! 

Hexbug Flash Nano jelly wall layouts and Flash Nano Bot

It really is incredibly well done. It looks great, it feels lovely and tactile, and the Nano Bots don't catch on the edges at all - ours haven't become stuck once. Completely frustration-free instant play. You can find all of my Hexbug reviews here.... 

Flash Nano Orbit jelly walls flexible

The Flash Nano sets start at under £7 for a starter pack. Replacement and additional Nano Bots are under £5 each. Here's a handy affiliate link to the Hexbug Store on Amazon, where you'll find all of the new products, as well as some long time favourites.  



We were sent our Hexbug Flash Nano Orbit for review. Amazon links are affiliate, which means I earn a few pence thank you if you order through my link, but you don't pay any more. 

Sunday, 20 September 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News weekend update 19th / 20th September 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News weekend update 19th / 20th September 2020.

The UK added 3,899 cases today (+4,422 yesterday) and now has reported a total of 394,257 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 233,199 tests on Friday

1,081 people were in hospital on Thursday 17th, with 138 using a ventilator on Friday 18th. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 18 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days (+27 yesterday). We now very sadly have a total of 41,777 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 32,933 (+395) cases and 1,792 losses of life.

There have now been a total of 31,113,280 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 963,293. Already 22,713,152 people have recovered.

How to self-isolate UK Government Coronavirus advice

Exciting news - for me at least. I managed to get 2 of us tested. I went for a "last attempt" late on Friday night and was offered a walk-in appointment a far more reasonable distance away. It meant an 8am trip to Darwen - where they had a really a slick operation going, and were a really nice bunch. 5 minutes and we were back on the way home. No results as yet, but we're all doing okay anyway, which is really the important thing. 

The fact I was sent to Darwen, which has a far lower incidence of positive cases than my own local authority, does make me wonder just how much lack of local availability skews the figures... 

This is a biggie, and I don't see it making big news as yet, but it will do.
"From 28 September people will be required by law to self-isolate, those breaking the rules face fines starting at £1,000, increasing up to £10,000.
A £500 Test & Trace Support payment will be available for those on lower incomes who can't work from home."
This is a huge move to the English Government and probably indicates that in the next 10 days, they'll actually start clamping down. Supporting people on a lower income is fantastic news (although you do not have to be claiming benefits to be unable to manage if you lose 2 weeks pay).

Fines are hard, and don't only apply to the person self-isolating - pay attention to this bit:
"New fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000 – bringing this in line with the penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel - but could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for the most egregious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.
For example, this could include business owners who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work, sending a clear message that this will not be tolerated."
Quite obviously the government want to keep the economy open as much as possible, and allowing spread will just hamper that.
All of a sudden, they've grown up in their approach and started doing up their laces.... 

Friday, 18 September 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 18th September 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 18th September 2020.

The UK added 4,322 cases today and now has reported a total of 385,936 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 233,199 tests yesterday.

1,020 people were in hospital on 16th Sept, with 127 using a ventilator yesterday, Thursday 18th Sept.  

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 27 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 41,732 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

England 332,984 / 37,054
Northern Ireland 8,943 / 575
Scotland 23,776 / 2,502
Wales 20.233 / 1,601

Rep. Of Ireland 32,023 cases and 1,789 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 30,549,837 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 953,029. Already 22,206,538 people have recovered.

The NHS is OPEN for any complaints or ailments

"There's no question, as I've said for several weeks now, that we could expect (and) are now seeing a second wave coming in."
Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister. 

Turns out some members of the UK SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) have asked for a second national lockdown in October. This was reported yesterday as including Chris Whitty, retracted, and re-reported. 

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock was on telly this morning talking about it:
"We'll do what is necessary to keep people safe, and the first line of defence is that everybody should follow the social distancing... hands, face, space....  The contact tracing system, which is working very well. That is the second line of defence.
After that these local lockdowns, and the last line of defence, is full national action, and I don't want to see that, but we will do whatever is necessary to keep people safe in a very difficult pandemic."
Errrrrrm..... yeah.... about that contact tracing.... 

"Birmingham Nightingale Hospital (which had been mothballed) is now on “higher alert” which means it can be ready to go within 48/72 hours"
Becky Johnson, Sky News. 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 16th / 17th September 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 16th / 17th September 2020.

The UK added 3,395 cases today and now has reported a total of 381,614 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 236,219 tests yesterday. 988 people were in hospital on Tuesday 15th, up from 837 the previous week. 124 people were using a ventilator yesterday, up from 80 the previous week. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 21 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 41,705 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 32,023 (+224) cases and 1,789 (+1) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 30,234,786 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 948,320. Already 21,940,164 people have recovered.

Take a Break WHO COVID advice

"The issue of testing is one, that we have gone from a disease that no-one knew about a few months ago, to nearly a quarter of a million people a day can be tested. The Prime Minister is expecting that to go up to half a million people a day by the end of October.
And instead of this endless carping, saying it's difficult to get them, we should actually celebrate this phenomenal success of the British nation."
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of 'Commons', who can literally lift his finger and be supplied with as many tests as he wants, instantly, and will never know the joy of getting through after 20 or more attempts, followed by the deflation of being offered a test 61 miles away. Twice. 

There are unconfirmed reports that in the absence of comprehensive testing, the English Government estimate we have around 38,000 new cases a day, and Chris Whitty is pushing for another 2 week national lockdown. He's an epidemiologist, I honestly wouldn't expect him to be calling for anything less with those figures. It's literally his job to advise to prevent spread.
There are people now saying that Chris has denied the comments, and the figure is misquoted - although no actual word from Mr Whitty, and no-one seems to agree on what the actual figure really is (but it seems likely it's under 10k, possibly between 3.8k-7k per day). I'll leave you to make what you will of that...  

"Singapore and Thailand to be added to the England travel corridor list at 4am Saturday 19 September 2020. Guadeloupe and Slovenia to be removed from the list at 4am Saturday 19 September."
(You won't need to quarantine on return from Singapore and Thailand, but you will on return from Guadeloupe and Slovenia.)

Today Baroness Dido Harding said the latest English daily testing capacity figure is 242,000. Demand for tests is outstripping capacity 3 to 4 times - implying that up to a million people a day are attempting to request tests. Requests for tests for children under 17 have doubled.
Yes, that doesn't bode well, but before you go into a complete panic:
-  I personally have tried at least 50 times over the last 3 days (and although I wanted to test more than 1 person, I don't want to test 50).
- It wouldn't really be a surprise to discover that about 1 in every 68 people has a cough, or a fever - even in places where there are many cases, only a relatively small percentage will actually have COVID.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 14/15 September 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 14/15 September 2020.

The UK added 3,105 cases today and now has reported a total of 374,228 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 227,075 tests yesterday. 972 people were in hospital on Sunday 13th, with 106 using a ventilator yesterday, 14th September. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 27 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 41,664 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 31,192 cases and 1,784 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 29,617,178 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 935,946. Already 21,419,484 people have recovered.

Images of one person urinating on another, with and without trousers, to demonstrate why we should wear masks

"As we often say, there is no zero risk. But with the right combination of measures, we can keep our kids safe and teach them that health and education are two of the most precious commodities in life."
Dr Tedros, Head of the WHO.  

I completely forgot to mention these, so I am sorry if it affects you:
"French Polynesia, Hungary, Portugal and RĂ©union removed from the travel corridors list at 4am Saturday 12 September 2020. Sweden added to the list at 4am Saturday 12 September."
Confusingly that means you DO need to quarantine if you come back from French Polynesia, Hungary, Portugal and RĂ©union, and you now don't when returning from Sweden. 

English COVID Testing is now in an even worse mess. Lab capacity is so overwhelmed,  we've been sending tests to Germany and elsewhere, and it appears all of them won't be making it safely home.
Personally I know someone who's been waiting on a COVID result for 9 days and been told there's no-one available to chase lost results (it's clearly never coming). My kids have temperatures and despite trying for 2 days, we haven't been able to book anyone a test. Far worse than our situation, NHS workers can't even get tested, so they're at home when they're really needed.
Expect an announcement very soon about rationing tests, because they're trying to play catch up with time-sensitive samples, and they're falling further behind by the day.