Tuesday 17 March 2020

COVID-19 coronavirus UK and World News Update 16 /17th March 2020

COVID-19 coronavirus UK and World News Update 16 /17th March 2020

The UK added 407 cases today and now has reported a total of 1,950 positive cases of COVID-19. We had tested 50,442 people as of 9am this morning.

The UK has a total of 71 losses of life.
Total cases are: England 1,557, Scotland 195, Wales 136 and Northern Ireland 62.

65 of the UK's positive testing cases have recovered.

Rep. Of Ireland have 223 cases and 2 losses of life.

The world has reported 197,135 cases and 7,949 losses of life. 81,683 people have been reported to have already recovered.

COVID-19 coronavirus UK and World News Update 16 /17th March 2020


There is a hoax that you can obtain baby milk free of charge if you ring 111 or the number on the inside of the tin. You can't.
If you bought loads to stockpile, please think of others. There are shortages in some parts of the country and we don't want babies being fed substitutes. If you have plenty, see if anyone in your local buy and sell groups needs some, and please don't charge them a premium, we are all in this together.

The NHS will contact you from Monday 23 March 2020 if you are at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus. You'll be given specific advice about what to do.

The Dropkick Murphy's are streaming their St Patrick's Day concert live at 11pm tonight - you should just be in time to catch it.

The Grand National is cancelled. Also Manchester Marathon, also Summer 2020.

The UK held another COBRA meeting yesterday. There were NO measures, but several recommendations:
1. If one person in a household has symptoms and needs to isolate, then the entire household should stay home for 14 days to allow time for you all to catch it and get better. If one person lives in a household, 7 days isolation should take place.
2. Social distancing (they really mean PHYSICAL DISTANCING) should begin. Avoid unnecessary contact, work from home wherever possible, avoid crowded areas, don't go to the pub etc. 
3. Restrict social gathering - this is groups of all sizes.
4. This is going to occur for a prolonged period of time. Be under no illusions that it'll take a couple of weeks.
5. Schools are likely to close in future.
6. Older people are not guaranteed to be more ill, some will be fine with mild symptoms.
7. We want to reduce the number of people who die from COVID-19, so we want to protect the vulnerable
8. We want to keep the numbers of people with COVID-19 in hospital low to maintain care for everyone else.
9. Over 70's, and adults with significant health conditions (anyone who would usually be recommended a flu vaccination) and pregnant women should take extra care to avoid social situations.
10. If you have symptoms and need to isolate, it is not necessary to call 111. They are already overwhelmed both online and on the phone.
11. Businesses will be helped, small and otherwise.
12. We are 3, not 4, weeks behind Italy (we have always been 3 weeks behind Italy, we just stopped testing enough so we don't get the numbers! We are around 4 days behind France).

From today PM Boris Johnson and senior ministers will hold daily press conferences on the coronavirus pandemic, supported by scientific and medical experts.

Today's Government press conference today talked mainly about economics. They've not yet written it up, but unless I misheard it included:
- Any business that needs access to cash will be able to access Government loans at favourable rates.
- Airlines and airports will be supported, as will other specific industries.
- Increasing grants for the smallest businesses from £3,000 to £10,000.
- Extending the business rates discount to all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector.
- Introducing a three month mortgage holiday for those in difficulty due to coronavirus.

Scientists around the world are calling on the UK to test more people. We started really well and were an example to the world, but ideally should have been testing 10,000 a day for the last 2 weeks and haven't. Until a week ago we were testing about 1500 a day, and since then around 5000. Not testing, reporting and tracing contacts is against WHO recommendations and out of line with most of the rest of the world, (Sweden and Finland have also said they won't be testing people unless they are in hospital ill).
UK strategy is to allow a percentage of population at a time to catch COVID-19, and never overwhelm health services. By not testing we have no true idea of numbers,

The Isle Of Man TT has been cancelled and anyone arriving on the Isle Of Man has to self-isolate for 14 days.

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, is after ventilators, he's posted an ad on Twitter:
"Calling all manufacturers who can support our National Effort for coronavirus ventilator production - to help, contact Government Business Support team: 0300 456 3565 / ventilator.support at  beis.gov.uk ".

The reason they won't bring the Easter holidays closer is because it'll become irrelevant. Arlene Foster hinted at it the other day - schools could easily be closed for the next 14 weeks or longer. Sorry guys!

In a joint letter, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York John Sentamu said it was now necessary to put public services (except Weddings and Funerals) on hold until further notice.
“Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day.
“We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people. And we can certainly offer practical care and support.
“Please do carry on supporting the local foodbank and buy extra provisions for it.  Ensure the night shelters wherever possible are kept open.  There are many very encouraging schemes happening right across our country in communities to focus on caring for the most vulnerable and do continue to play your part in those."
...“This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly are a church for all, or just the church for ourselves."

Chris Whitty has stated he would like to keep extra deaths from COVID-19 down to around 20,000. We usually lose around 8,000 people to seasonal flu.

"NHS England: we are now in process of block-buying capacity in independent hospitals - should be completed within a fortnight - staff and facilities will then be flexibly available for urgent surgery, as well as repurposing beds, operating theatres, recovery facilities."
Maybe I'm missing something, but why are we paying terribly rich people even more money in a Pandemic? We actually have many options for just telling them we are borrowing them - thanks.

Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Matt Hancock said the UK had “around 5,000” ventilators but expected to need “many times more than that and we are saying if you produce a ventilator then we will buy it. No number is too high”.

The UK Foreign Office have advised against anything but essential travel abroad. Best of luck travelling anywhere before they bar entry to UK visitors.

The UK government have asked JCB and Rolls Royce to help by manufacturing ventilators.

The government have updated their advice over who counts as being in a vulnerable group. Those people are fully listed on the Public Health England and NHS Coronavirus pages, but include people who:
•are 70 or over
•have a long-term condition
•are pregnant
•have a weakened immune system

For clarity - pregnant women have been added to the list of vulnerable people because it's a brand new virus and we don't have experience of COVID-19 and the baby during pregnancy. No-one anticipates any problems. No pregnant woman has yet died from COVID-19 and nor has any baby. Coronavirus don't usually have an effect on an unborn child, but this is a new virus and so it is sensible to take extra precautions. That is a standard call - it was explained in the press questions after the press conference, so you may not have seen it if you watched on the telly news.

Boris didn't close anything, he suggested we avoid it. Most theatres around the UK have taken the decision into their own hands and closed for the safety of their patrons. Cineworld have closed all cinemas.

UK banks including Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and TSB have already said they will offer repayment holidays on mortgages and loans, increase borrowing limits and offer relief packages on a case by case basis, such as short term loans, loan extensions and removing date restrictions on withdrawals.

The MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College have published a modelling study which was commissioned by the government and may have had part in their plans. It compares mitigation (what the UK are doing now) with suppression (reducing transmission to as low a level as possible), and it's final statement is:
"We find that that optimal mitigation policies (combining home isolation of suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect cases, and social distancing of the elderly and others at most risk of severe disease) might reduce peak healthcare demand by 2/3 and deaths by half. However, the resulting mitigated epidemic would still likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over. For countries able to achieve it, this leaves suppression as the preferred policy option." (Source links below).

The Rest Of The World News:

The EU has closed all external borders. The people of Italy, Spain, France and Czech Rep are all under lockdown.

Taiwanese who visited 21 other countries and 3 US states will undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Hong Kong has introduced a mandatory 14 day quarantine for visitors.

Ireland closed all the pubs at midnight last night, and tomorrow is St Patrick's Day. If that doesn't show the severity of the situation in one sentence, nothing will.

Ireland have closed all schools and colleges and cancelled all large events. People are advised to work from home if you can and self isolate 14 days if necessary.

Thailand is postponing their new year holiday and closing schools, bars and entertainment venues.

Macau is closing borders to everyone except Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwanese from midnight.

Iran has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners in an attempt to stop prisons becoming overrun by COVID-19.

Euro 2020 has been postponed until next year.

Taj Mahal, Humayun's Tomb, Red Fort and Qutab Minar are shut till March 31st.

Spain has closed land borders.

France has imposed a 15 day lockdown on the population.

Canada has closed it's borders. Anyone who is not Canadian, a US citizen or permanent resident will not be allowed to enter the country,

New York, California, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington have closed bars, restaurants and venues. Restaurants can still do carry-out, curb service and drive thru.

Yes. You did read that right. UK policy is that if someone in your household catches it, you should all stay home together for 2 weeks so that you all catch it. Unless you are in a vulnerable group.

In press conference Donald Trump just called on Americans to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, avoid non-essential travel and avoid eating and drinking in bars and restaurants.

The Washington Post has a brilliant simulator showing how physical distancing saves lives. I'll add a link below. Don't stand closer than 6ft to people and you'll drastically lower your chances of breathing infection into each other's faces.

Luxury Cruise News:

The Braemar cruise ship is stranded off the Bahamas after being refused permission to land. There are 20 guests and 20 crew members ill, with five confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board. 600 passengers are from the UK as are the owner, Fred Olsen Lines,  who are said to be considering travelling across the Atlantic to Southampton, a 10 day trip.

Chile have refused to allow the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship to land, after announcing yesterday that it has quarantined 1,300 people aboard two other cruise ships,The Azmara Pursuit and the Silver Explorer. An 85-year-old man on the Silver Explorer ship tested positive for the virus.

A distillery in Portland, Oregon, realised they had the ingredients for hand sanitiser, so they made some and gave it away. A Scottish distillery have also done the same.

Czech Republic have locked down, banning people from moving around except for work, shopping and some other limited activities until March 24. Yesterday they closed most shops and restaurants for at least 10 days. Other measures recently brought in include a ban on nearly all international travel from March 16, closing schools and prohibiting public events.

Egypt have closed schools and universities for 2 weeks, as estimates come in suggesting they may have far more cases of COVID-19 than the numbers imply.

Donald Trump tried to convince a German pharmaceuticals company to let him buy exclusive US rights to their vaccine (in development).  They refused, reported it to the German government and now everyone is side-eyeing Trump and tutting very loudly.

Montenegro, with no confirmed cases, has closed the borders, bars and restaurants.

The French government appear to have initiated the lockdown because they asked for physical distancing and people didn't take it seriously.

Donald Trump has his foot in his mouth again, and this time it tastes like racism.
"The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!"
This is NOT a Chinese virus, it is a virus which came from animals and affects humans. People of all nationalities, all over the world. It could equally have started anywhere in the world.

Whole World News: 

WHO Europe have made comment on the Ibuprofen situation reports Kai Kupferschmidt:
"For now what is being interpreted as a warning against ibuprofen is just their “holding line” while they evaluate the evidence. Essentially they are saying: We have no evidence of any risk, but if you have not been prescribed ibuprofen, you might as well use an alternative."

A recently released pre-print study (not yet peer reviewed) has found SARS-CoV-2 (or HCov-19 as they call it) died on copper after 4 hours and cardboard after 24 hours.
"No viable virus could be measured after 4 hours on copper for HCoV-19 and 8 hours for SARS-CoV-1, or after 24 hours on cardboard for HCoV-19 and 8 hours for SARS-CoV-1".

The 'recovered' count is a bit 'hit and miss' for several reasons. Many countries don't report or report occasionally and group loads of cases all together. There are a lot more people who have recovered, including in the UK.
If around 80% of people don't need hospital, the UK alone has probably 1000 known positive people recovering at home, and some countries more than 1 negative test to prove they're officially 'recovered'. No-one is going to be rushing to do those in some places.

The first human testing of a vaccine has begun. This will take 9-12 months at minimum - to ensure it is effective and safe (and doesn't harm or kill us a different way).

The Facebook fundraising you'll have seen is part of a massive fund set up by World Health Organisation and the UN Foundation on 13th, the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. It enables private individuals, corporations and institutions anywhere in the world to directly contribute to global response efforts, and has been created by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, together with WHO. Facebook and Google have a matching scheme for funds raised through their platforms.

A person in Japan has tested positive for a distinct second time. Very rarely a person will catch something twice, whatever it is. This is the 3rd case I'm aware of, but other cases were considered to have possibly almost beaten the virus and then had a resurgence so that they became ill again.

Worldometer, one of the very best online coronavirus tracking tools, has been subjected to repeated attempts to hack the site, and displayed incorrect information for a period of 20 minutes yesterday. Seems hackers will stoop lower than we even realised.

Famous people with COVID-19:
Game Of Thrones actor Kristofer Hivju
Ex Bond girl Olga Kurylenko
Labour MP Kate Osborne
Idris Elba

Lost their fight:
Atletico Portada Alta Junior Coach Francisco Garcia (age 21)
Italian Architect Vittorio Gregotti (age 92)

There isn't a person on the planet right now who isn't worried about money, keeping a roof over their heads and feeding their kids. (No-one is paying for advertising right now, so I'm not earning either.)
The entire world population are not about to be made homeless. These are extraordinary times:
France have suspended all electric, gas, mortgage and rent bills.
Italy have suspended mortgage and loan payments for families and small businesses.
America have frozen interest on student loans.

The British Medical Journal have made comment about Ibuprofen too. Charlotte Warren-Gash, associate professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “For covid-19, research is needed into the effects of specific NSAIDs among people with different underlying health conditions. In the meantime, for treating symptoms such as fever and sore throat, it seems sensible to stick to paracetamol as first choice.”

A study last week by John's Hopkins University has set the average incubation period at 5.1 days. They found most people caught the virus around 5 days before they showed symptoms, and by 11.5 days 97.5% of people showed symptoms. This backs up earlier research which proved a 7 day quarantine is pretty much useless.

At Monday's WHO Press Briefing it was reasserted that they aren't seeing massive transmission in schools and still don't understand what role children play. Children can become ill, some children have even died, but overall they are far less likely to have severe effects of COVID-19.
They were very strong in their opinion that countries HAVE TO TEST to understand their situation.
"..the most effective way to prevent infections & save lives is breaking the chains of COVID19 transmission. To do that, you must test & isolate.
You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected"
"We have a simple message for all countries:
Test every suspected #COVID19 case.
If they test positive, isolate them & find out who they have been in close contact with up to 2 days before they developed symptoms & test those people too".
Dr Tedros also spoke of the support for health workers and vulnerable people which is being shown around the world:
""This amazing spirit of human solidarity must become even more infectious than the coronavirus itself. Although we may have to be physically apart from each other for a while, we can come together in ways we never have before"
"We’re all in this together. And we can only succeed together".

No-one under age 10 has yet died, but being young doesn't make you immune from COVID-19. The 21 year old coach of Atletico Portada Alta died yesterday, and the youngest person currently in ICU in the Netherlands is 16.

People over age 70 are more at risk, but being older doesn't mean you'll become seriously Ill or die from COVID-19. The oldest survivors so far are 100 and 103, and even if you are 85, you have an 85% chance of returning home safely after treatment.

Andrea Crisanti, professor of Microbiology & Virology, and director of the Diagnostic Complex Unit of Microbiology at Padua, found as little as 10% of COVID-19 carriers show any symptoms at all. He repeatedly sampled the entire 3k+ population of Vo and isolated all positives and recent contacts. The infection rate dropped by x 12. The only people left with COVID-19 now are positive asymptomatic people in strict isolation.

Some numbers... Every single one is a person who used to think a monster was under their bed:

China 80,881 (+21) Deaths 3,226 (+13)
Italy 31,506 (+3,526) Deaths 2,503 (+345)
Iran 16,169 (+1,178) Deaths 988 (+135)
Spain 11,409 (+1,467) Deaths 510 (+168)
Germany 8,604 (+1,332) Deaths 23 (+6)
S. Korea 8,320 (+84) Deaths 81 (+6)
France 6,633    Deaths 148 (not yet reported today)
USA 5,672 (+1,009) Deaths 96 (+10)
Switzerland 2,742 (+389) Deaths 27 (+8)
Netherlands 1,705 (+292) Deaths 43 (+19)
Portugal 448 (+117) Deaths 1
Brazil 301 (+67) Deaths 1 (+1)
India 142 (+13) Deaths 3 (+1)
Bangladesh 10 (+2) Deaths 1 (+1)

Full suppression/mitigation report: https://t.co/7A77NXZ3iw

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