Monday 9 March 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK And World News Update 07/03-09/03

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK And World News Update 07/03-09/03

The UK now has reported a total of 319 positive cases of COVID-19, and we have 4 losses of life on home soil (plus 1 on the Diamond Princess).

18 of the UK's positive testing cases have recovered. 24,641 people have been tested.

Total cases for England 290, Scotland 18, Wales 4 and Northern Ireland 7 (based on news reports).

Rep. Of Ireland have 21 cases.

The world has 111,784 cases and 3,893 losses of life. 62,722 people have already recovered.

Another milestone we didn't want as over 100 countries have now reported positive cases of COVID-19.

Getting your workplace ready advice from the WHO

UK News: 

Rishi Sunak, UK Chancellor, has pretty much held out a blank cheque for the UK NHS. “I can say absolutely categorically the NHS will get whatever resources it needs to get us through this and to respond to the health crisis.”

A London tube worker has tested positive for COVID-19.

Shops and supermarkets, including Tesco, Boots, Costco and Waitrose, have started rationing products which are in big demand. Among rationed items are toilet rolls, paracetamol, hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial gels, wipes and sprays. Bleach, dried pasta, long-life milk, canned vegetables, water and children’s medication.
Remember - panic buying raises prices and creates shortages where there are none. You only need a couple of weeks worth of toilet roll, paracetamol, soup and/or noodles. Most students will find they already have this.

Cases of COVID-19 wordwide (excluding China) are currently doubling roughly every 4 days. If that occurs in the UK (and we have no reason to suspect it won't) then around March 25th we will have the same number of cases as Italy do now.

WHO advice reduce your risk

The Rest Of The World: 

Northern Italy late Saturday night learned they were about to go on a Chinese style lockdown until April 3rd. The lockdown was in place within a few hours. Measures include shops and cafes only being able to open from 6am until 6pm, with customers having to be 3 feet apart. Almost all other public buildings are closed. There is a ban on travel around, and entry and exit from Lombardy and 14 other provinces, and the extension of the controlled areas to Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna: including Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Venice, Padua, Treviso, Asti and Alessandria.
This directly affects around 14 million people.

It does sadly seem that Italy's intensive care beds are full to capacity. At time of typing they had 650 seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients reported. Around 1 in 10 of their patients need intensive care and a ventilator. This is why I keep banging on about slowing the virus down, to prevent health services collapsing for as long as possible.

Italy on Sunday  reported another 1,492 new cases of coronavirus and 133 new deaths, and are the worst affected country outside China. They currently have a 5% mortality rate, but it is hoped and expected many thousand less severe cases will yet be discovered.

A GP in Melbourne, Australia who saw 73 patients despite having flu symptoms, and who has now tested positive for COVID-19, has demanded an apology from the Victoria Health Minister, who called him "irresponsible". It's hard to say who is in the right there.

Barcelona have postponed next Sunday's marathon until October 25th.

Wuhan in China built 14 temporary hospitals in all, and by Sunday afternoon 11 had closed. It's hoped by tomorrow (10th March) all 14 will have ceased operation. This is fabulous news and shows how effective the Chinese quarantine and containment measures have been in stopping COVID-19. It has a human cost. Some people have been locked down for over 6 weeks. Wuhan has a population of around 11m people and was overwhelmed before the effects of COVID-19 were even known. Chinese people start returning to work and school today.
If necessary any of the temporary hospitals can re-open. Fingers crossed they don't need them.

Saudi Arabia has banned travel to and from the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, South Korea, Egypt, Italy, and Iraq. It has also closed all schools.

The Italian government are quite annoyed the news of their lockdown was leaked, allowing thousands of people around 3 hours to leave, and potentially take COVID-19 back to their loved ones. When a government decides to lock down or quarantine a population, it is a drastic measure and never taken lightly. The whole point is to stop people moving and prevent them spreading the virus, so you don't get warning. It just happens, usually overnight.
(I only shared the news once Italian and American national newspapers had already reported it).

Children in Wuhan, China have missed a lot of school, and an app. called DingTalk was introduced to allow them to have lessons at home. Being kids they gave the app. so many negative reviews that it was removed from the app. store. Nice one kids.

South Korea have released data confirming that none of the 51 people who have so far lost their lives to COVID-19 is under age 29. They have a very low 0.7% death rate, which they attribute in part to age of those infected. A large portion of those who have caught COVID-19 in South Korea have been part of a Christian religious group comprised of mainly healthy young people. In Italy and Iran almost 5% of cases currently succumb.

A member of maintenance staff at Disneyland Paris has tested positive for coronavirus.

COVID-19 has now reached the sub-Saharan African nations. Their health infrastructure is unlikely to be able to cope, and if it escapes into the community the results could be devastating. African countries with cases include Algeria (20), Senegal (4),  Togo (1), Nigeria (2), Cameroon (2), South Africa (3),  Morocco (2), Egypt (55) and Tunisia (2).

Dublin, Sligo, Blarney and Cork are among cities and towns who have cancelled their St Patrick's Day parades in an effort to prevent crowds.

The number of cases in South Korea is in decline for the 4th day running and we're holding or breath, but their policy of TEST EVERYONE YOU CAN may well be working. They charge half the cost of a test to the patient, and it is refunded if you test positive - so people aren't hiding symptoms. They have tested over 190,000 people and have the lowest death rate for COVID-19 anywhere in the world, implying they are catching hundreds of cases who would otherwise be missed. Luck may play a part in their success - they ran a full table-top simulation of a disease outbreak in December, so they were on top of COVID-19 as soon as it appeared.

The US managed to test a handful of people over the last few days and now have 545 positive cases of COVID-19. Classes have been cancelled in some school districts and universities on the West Coast, and officials in some areas have urged older residents to avoid large gatherings.

American Senator Ted Cruz is in isolation after shaking hands and chatting to someone who later had a positive test for COVID-19.

The Bahrain Grand Prix will take place behind closed doors.

A hotel used for quarantine in China has collapsed, trapping 70 people inside. At least 10 people have lost their lives.

The Pope delivered his first ever live-streamed Sunday prayers in an effort to prevent people coming out and forming the usual crowds.

El Salvador is trying to protect itself by taking a hard line. They just added France and Germany to their quarantine list. Anyone entering from listed countries will be quarantined for 30 days.

How to protect others from getting sick from the WHO

Luxury Cruise News continues.... 

The Caribbean Princess has received a no-sail order from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is heading back from Costa Rica to test two crew members for COVID-19. They transferred from the Grand Princess within the last fortnight.

The Grand Princess begins disembarking today in California. It has at least 21 people who have tested positive on board. 3500 passengers and crew from over 50 different nations will be allowed to disembark in stages. It will take several days to transport everyone to suitable locations for quarantine or treatment.

Egypt has it's own cruise ship woes. A cruise ship that had travelled between the southern Egyptian cities of Aswan and Luxor now has 45 people on board who have tested positive for COVID-19. 171 people total are on board.

The Costa Fortuna is now heading for Singapore after being turned away from Thailand and Malaysia. 64 people on board have been to Italy in the last 14 days.

Malaysia have now imposed a blanket ban on all cruise liners.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest just now may not be the wisest time for an international cruise.

When to wash your hands WHO advice

Whole World News & Medical Updates:

A study of 9 Munich patients discovered viral shedding (they were infectious) at onset of mild symptoms but not beyond 8 days. This is really positive as previously we had no clue how long people were infectious for after recovery. More research is obviously needed.

With the realisation from Italy that so many patients are older people, some countries have started giving ages of the deceased in press releases.

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) is calling for the immediate injection of at least $8bn of new funding.
They thanked the International Monetary Fund for their $50bn contribution, and the World Bank for the $12bn of support for the COVID-19 country response "which will help strengthen the preparedness and response capacities of countries with the weakest health systems", but they stress there are still urgent gaps that this money doesn't cover.
"China is expected to lose up to $62bn in the first quarter of 2020 with global losses estimated to be $280bn within the same period. Such losses would be greater than the economic losses from SARS (2003), Ebola (2014-2016), MERS in South Korea (2015), and Zika (2015-2016) combined".

Over 100 countries have now reported positive cases of COVID-19.

Supramolecular and Nanotechnology Chemist (coolest job title ever) Palli Thordarson has emphasised the usefulness of soap. COVID-19 has a structure which is basically a pile of stuff held together by fat. Dissolve the fats and destroy the virus.
"Water is not very effective alone in washing the virus off our hands. Alcohol based products work better. But nothing beats soap – the virus detaches from the skin and falls apart very readily in soapy water".
Tyler Durden said it first "use soap".

In an interview for Channel 4, Richard Hatchett, the CEO of CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) said COVID-19 is the "most frightening disease I've ever encountered in my career" due to the "combination of infectiousness and the ability to cause severe disease or death".

The Italian government have released details of the ages of those who have so far died from COVID-19. The percentage of deaths by age group:
90+ years old: 6% of deaths
80 – 89 years old: 42% of deaths
70 – 79 years old: 35% of deaths
60 – 69 years old: 16% of deaths

Updated Chinese research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, has found recovered patients do have immunity to the virus and this is suspected to last a minimum of several months. Further research will follow.

A team of genome researchers at Academic Sinica in Taiwan have developed a rapid testing method that can shorten the time for RNA testing, the standard test used to confirm coronavirus cases, from 4 hours to 15 to 20 minutes. Several similar projects worldwide are also completing.

The World Health Organisation delivered a stark message with their figures on Saturday:

"As of today’s reports, global number of COVID19 confirmed cases has surpassed 100K.

WHO reminds all countries & communities that the spread of this coronavirus can be significantly slowed or even reversed through robust containment & control activities.

WHO calls on all countries to continue efforts that have been effective in limiting the number of COVID19 cases & slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Every effort to contain the coronavirus and slow the spread will:
-Save lives
-Give health systems and all of society more time to prepare
-Give researchers more time to identify effective treatments & develop vaccines.
Allowing uncontrolled COVID19 spread should not be a choice of any government, as it will harm not only the citizens of that country but affect other countries as well."


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