Thursday, 3 December 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 2nd/3rd December 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 2nd/3rd December 2020.

The UK added 14,879 cases today and now has reported a total of 1,674,134 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 352,990 tests yesterday. 

15,236 people were in hospital on Tuesday 1st, with 1,315 using a ventilator yesterday, 2nd December. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 414 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 60,113 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 73,228 (+162) cases and 2,080 (+6) losses of life. 

There have now been a total of 65,225,729 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,506,493. Already 45,187,474 people have recovered.

031220 weekly positives by upper tier authority England

Some harsh milestones today - the UK official total losses of life has surpassed 60,000 people (ONS report almost 70,000). The number of losses of life worldwide has surpassed 1.5 million. The USA has exceeded 100,000 people currently in hospital with COVID (this has doubled since early November).

This week's English surveillance report shows cases are DEFINITELY going down and the lockdown has had a good effect. The graph has a nice 'n' shape. It looks to me as if losses of life has also turned. Good stuff. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

COVID UK Data Briefing and vaccine news 2nd December 2020

 COVID UK Data Briefing and vaccine news 2nd December 2020
 
There's sooooo much COVID news today that tomorrow's report would be the size of a cow, so I've done an extra today covering the vaccine news...

The huge news today is that the UK MHRA have approved the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for use in the UK. We are the first Western country to approve a vaccine, and deliveries are expected next week. 

"The UK was the first country to sign a deal with Pfizer/BioNTech - now we will be the first to deploy their vaccine.
To everyone involved in this breakthrough: thank you.
In years to come, we will remember this moment as the day the UK led humanity’s charge against this disease."
Alok Sharma, UK Business Secretary. 
Don't let the irony pass you by. We are on the very brink of leaving the EU, and our urgent emergency vaccine supplies have been developed in the USA /Germany by a Turkish-led company and manufactured in Belgium. We actually won't even be able to complete this sort of transaction as swiftly in 4 weeks time. 
And then take a moment to consider that Trump attempted to force the hand of manufacturers and regulators in order that a vaccine was ready before the US election a whole month ago, and yet miraculously his urgency has now gone, and the UK have approved it before the USA... 

First vaccine approved Pfizer BioNTech image of bottle and text

There was a UK Coronavirus data briefing this morning with Dr June Raine of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), Prof Sir Munir Pirmohamed from the Commission on Human Medicine Expert Working Group, and Prof Wei Shen Lim, from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 30th November / 1st December 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 30th November / 1st December 2020.

The UK added 13,430 cases today and now has reported a total of 1,643,086 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 214,835 tests yesterday. 

15,438 people were in hospital on Sunday 29th (down from 16,158 a week earlier), with 1,415 using a ventilator.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 603 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 59,051 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Up until Friday 20th November, 69,752 people had COVID listed as a cause of death on their death certificate. 

Rep. Of Ireland 72,544 cases and 2,053 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 63,903,886 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,480,308. Already 44,229,797 people have recovered.

Face coverings should cover your nose 2 people with incorrect and correctly worn masks

It is one year since the first known patient showed symptoms of COVID-19 in the Chinese Hubei provincial capital, Wuhan. 
I don't know exactly why that little news story caught my attention, but it did, and I kept my eye on it... 

"Last week saw the first decline in newly-reported COVID19 cases globally since September, due to a decrease in cases in Europe, thanks to the effectiveness of difficult but necessary measures put in place in recent weeks.
This is welcome news, but it must be interpreted with extreme caution. Gains can easily be lost, and there was still an increase in COVID19 cases in most other regions of the world, and an increase in death.
This is no time for complacency, especially with the holiday season approaching in many cultures & countries. We all want to be together with the people we love during festive periods. But being with family & friends is not worth putting them or yourself at risk.
We all need to consider whose life we might be gambling with in the decisions we make.
The COVID19 pandemic will change the way we celebrate, but it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate."
Dr Tedros, Head of the World Health Organisation. 

The UK's Imperial College REACT study results are looking good. As hoped, the infection rate has dropped by 30% so far because of the lockdown.  (I mentioned this more in the England briefing post yesterday.)

Monday, 30 November 2020

England Coronavirus Briefing 30th November 2020

 Today's English Coronavirus briefing was with Matt Hancock the Health Secretary,  General Sir Gordon Messenger, the Head of Operations for the Community Testing Programme, and Professor Stephen Powis, Medical Director of NHS England. 

Today the Government published the data behind their decisions regarding COVID and the lockdown. It's been requested often, as sometimes numbers they've quoted haven't quite matched anything anyone is aware of. There hasn't been a huge amount of controversy instantly, so I can't see that there's anything striking there. It's not obvious yet anyway... 

Tomorrow night the national restrictions in England come to an end, to be replaced by the tier system, subject to agreement by Parliament tomorrow afternoon. 

Local UK COVID Tiers from 2nd December UK Briefing 261120

Sunday, 29 November 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News weekend update 28th / 29th November 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News weekend update 28th / 29th November 2020.

The UK added 12,155 cases today and now has reported a total of 1,617,327 positive cases of COVID-19. 

15,712 people were in hospital on Thursday 26th, with 1,417 using a ventilator on Friday 27th November. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 215 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 58,245 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 71,942 cases and 2,050 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 62,882,389 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,463,107. Already 43,431,307 people have recovered.

Cristmas bubble UK Gov small illustrated snow globe with house inside, and test

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed that since the Welsh 'Firebreak lockdown', cases have risen far more quickly than was expected, and more measures are necessary to bring the reproductive number back under one and stop cases rising exponentially. At the moment the R rate is 1.4, meaning each infected person is passing it to an average of 1.4 more. Cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will close ahead of Christmas, and pubs, bars and restaurants will face extra restrictions from Friday 4th December. Final decisions are yet to be made, an announcement will be along early next week. 

There isn't any conclusive evidence that Vitamin D helps you fight COVID, but it was long ago proven to be essential for a healthy immune system. The UK Government will be offering supplements to millions of people, including all care home residents, and those people extremely vulnerable to COVID. 
Most of our Vitamin D comes from sunlight, so if you have darker skin, low levels of sunlight in your area, or you've spent little time outside, you are more likely to be deficient. It you've been recommended to take supplements, do it. 

Hospitals in England have been told to prepare for vaccine rollout from as early as December 7th. This came as official approval has been requested from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for the USA's Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine (which has an effectiveness of over 94%). As soon as the MHRA give the green light, it's on. 
Despite what the Government previously said, it is expected NHS Staff will be first on the list, followed by care home residents and staff. Everyone needs 2 jabs, 2 weeks apart, and will only be fully protected around 2 weeks after the second dose. 

"We’re buying a further 2 million doses of Moderna's vaccine to help the whole UK in our fight against coronavirus. 
We've now secured 357 million vaccine doses & are ready to deploy a vaccine if approved by MHRA."
Matt Hancock, UK Health Secretary. 

Friday, 27 November 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 27th November 2020.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 27th November 2020.

The UK added 16,022 cases today (DOWN from 20,252 a week earlier) and now has reported a total of 1,589,301 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 383,521 tests yesterday. 

16,064 people were in hospital on Wednesday 25th (DOWN from 16,444 a week earlier), with 1,456 using a ventilator yesterday, 27th November (UP from 1,426 a week earlier).  

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 521 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 57,551 officially reported losses of life in all settings. (Up until Friday 13th November, 66,713 people had COVID written on their death certificate). 

Rep. Of Ireland 71,494 cases and 2,036 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 61,631,826 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,443,856. Already 42,617,154 people have recovered.

The Rebel Bear (Glasgow) drawing of a nurse in a mask with her hands making a heart
The Rebel Bear (Glasgow)

There are big UK headlines today about "some areas could come out of Tier 3 before Christmas" and "PM refuses to rule out harshening of restrictions before Christmas" yada yada. It's a pandemic. We can guess what's going to happen next, but we can't know. That's the hardest bit for all of us. Any politician making promises is a fool who will struggle to back down if they need to, and that could be very costly.

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Thursday, 26 November 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 25th / 26th November 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 25th / 26th November 2020.

The UK added 17,555 cases today and now has reported a total of 1,574,562 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 356,026 tests yesterday. 

16,341 people were in hospital on Tuesday 24th, with 1,480 using a ventilator yesterday, Wednesday 25th November. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 498 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 57,031 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 71,187 cases and 2,003 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 61,120,943 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,433,826. Already 42,291,588 people have recovered.

Local UK COVID Tiers from 2nd December depicted as a 3 coloured map UK Briefing 261120

England Briefing today with Boris, UK Prime Minister, Prof Chris Whitty, UK Staring Contest Winner 2020, and Sir Patrick Vallance, inventor of the flouncy bit round your bedsheet. 
"We now have reason to hope that by Spring, community testing and vaccinations will combine to end this era of restrictions, but to get there we need to navigate a hard Winter."
If we loosen off now, we risk losing control of the virus and wasting all of our hard work. Italy has a nightly curfew, Germany and France have measures in place until next year too. We aren't on our own. 
Boris then went through some of the information on the new Tier System for England. He says the measures are tough, and he's "sorry about that". 
He admits the previous Tiers couldn't help areas lower infections. They weren't tough enough. 
Liverpool shows what can be achieved with mass testing. Together with the national restrictions, cases have dropped by 2/3. Liverpool City and Warrington on December 2nd are now moving to Tier 2. 
Tier 3 areas will be offered mass testing to try and drive down infection rates rapidly. At least 1 in 3 people with COVID has no visible symptoms whatsoever, only by mass testing (and contact testing, we could try that Boris) can we find them. 
'It may be possible, with negative tests, for people to be released from some local restrictions' (Hmmmm. No further details on that one yet.)
The allocation of Tiers will be reviewed every 14 days, starting on 16th December.
The estimated no. of positives from ONS infection survey shows a clear curve and it's heading downwards. (Whoot!) Except in Scotland - where it's going up! (What the heck Scotland?) Hospitalisations are levelling off. Sadly losses of life will take around 2 more weeks to show an impact. 
Patrick with the slides explains and shows how old Tier 1 restrictions did nothing, old Tier 2 slowed infections really slightly, but they were still going up fast. The overall effect of the national restrictions does seem to have 'turned a corner' where cases are concerned. 
Chris has an animated slide, which sounds great, but it's risky pausing it at the right moment live on Telly. It shows rates of COVID cases are going down almost universally in England (except Kent really. Kent is having a bad time right now). Chris warns that going into Winter, "almost certainly places that go into Tier 1 will rise", which is not the best outcome to aim for. I know it keeps things open, but sheesh guys. (Jacinda would never stand for this sort of talk.)
Only the Isle of Wight. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are Tier 1 (sorry about your future move to Tier 2). I'll add a link below to the gov page with all English Local Authority Tiers, but I'm guessing by now you know your own.
If cases are high or rising, you'll be more likely to be in Tier 3. 
The aim says Chris is to "keep the R below 1". He's clearly bricking it about Winter. 
Press asked why when the 'lockdown' ends, many areas will change over to restrictions that are harder than before lockdown. Boris, Chris and Pat all made it clear that we have to be hard through December, or Winter (and Christmas) will break us. We are used to Summer with this virus - Winter is a bit of an unknown, and don't forget flu will still exist. We can see across Europe that it's looking harder to bring case rates down already.
Chris and Pat talked about being sensible over Christmas - open the windows, go outside in you can, take a walk, wash your hands etc. Chris actually said "If you want people to be alive to be hugged again." Blunt, but it is something you really have to take seriously. 
For some people this Christmas it will always be worth the risk, but for the vast majority, it may not. I know if my partner's parents turned up, I'd post them a warmed mince pie out through the letterbox and talk to them through the window, and that would be their limit. We'll have them round to stay next year. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

(Ad|Review) Gift Ideas For Pre-Teens - 8-12 Year Olds

Choosing gifts when your child enters that 'in between' stage can feel like you are entering the wilderness. They don't play with toys very much, but they aren't necessarily ready for gig tickets, make up and alcohol. We've been there 7 times now, and actually there are tons of things that have been universally enjoyed here, so there must be at least a couple of other kids out there who would enjoy them too... 

A Telescope.

It doesn't matter who you are, the sky is vast and full of possibility, and the stars are hypnotic. Wishes waiting to fall. We were sent a couple of great examples this year for review, and they're incredibly different. 

Boys messing about and making each other laugh  with telescope in garden

The GeoSafari Vega 360 Telescope (Age 8+) from Learning Resources just needs the large parts screwing together and you are good to go. We spent a long time examining the moon with this, and the owl in our tree! 

GeoSafari 360 Vega Children's Telescope review for Learning Resources

Comes with different eyepieces, a guide and activity booklet. Rrp £48 in store or direct from Learning Resources.  Here's our full GeoSafari Vega 360 Telescope Review

A Paper or Card Construction Craft Kit

If you are a bit more interested in how things work, and yours is the type of child who takes things to pieces, or gets joy from making something themselves, then we also reviewed the Build Your Own Telescope Kit (age 8+). They have several different models available, including a fantastic marble run. 

Build Your Own Paper Telescope STEM toy review Age 8+

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

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

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

The UK added 11,299 cases today (a good drop, but testing was a little low. Still looks very hopeful) and now has reported a total of 1,538,794 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 212,533 tests yesterday. 

16,158 people were in hospital on Sunday 22nd, with 1,487 using a ventilator yesterday, 23rd November. 
 
In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 608 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 55,838 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Up until Friday 13th November, 66,713 people had COVID written on their death certificate. 

Rep. Of Ireland 70,930 (+219) cases and 2,028 (+6) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 59,846,963 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,408,656. Already 41,389,630 people have recovered.

Cloth masks How to wear a non medical mask safely

Michael Gove has confirmed that the 4 UK nations have reached an agreement over Christmas, and up to 3 households will be able to come together indoors over a 5 day Christmas period 23-27 December (there is a 1 day extension either end for people travelling between the mainland UK and Northern Ireland)  

Russia had good vaccine news today from their Sputnik V vaccine study, although it doesn't seem quite as robust as some of the other vaccine data. They have released their findings with just 39 infections during the trial. (Most seem to be hoping for around 100 or more.) Bizarrely for the worldwide press conference, one of the developers was sat in the back of a car with the camera pointing up his nose. It makes Boris' cupboard press conference yesterday seem very well-organised. 
Russian figures are:
Placebo group 4,699 people/ 31 infections. 
Vaccine group 14,095 people / 8 infections. 
That actually works out at an excellent 91.4% efficacy - slightly higher than the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and slightly lower than BioNTech or Moderna, but all flipping marvellous. 
Sputnik V costs less than $10 a dose, can be stored at 2-8 degrees C in a fridge and up to 500m doses will be available for international use next year. 
(See yesterday's post for more about the other vaccines).