Thursday 19 March 2020

COVID-19 coronavirus UK and World News update 18/19 March

COVID-19 coronavirus UK and World News update 18/19 March

Wednesday lunchtime the global total cases passed 200,000. Just over 81,000 in mainland China. Over 35,000 in Italy.

The UK now has reported a total of 3,269 positive cases of COVID-19. We had tested 61,352 people as of 9am this morning.

The UK has a total of 144 losses of life.

Total cases are: England 2,756, Scotland 266, Wales 170 and Northern Ireland 77..
65 of the UK's positive testing cases have recovered.

Rep. Of Ireland have 557 cases and 3 losses of life.

The world has reported 244,615 cases and 10,014 losses of life.
87,407 people have been reported to have already recovered.

In Norway the Prime Minister Erna Solberg held a press conference especially for children, answering their questions. She told them: 'It's normal to be scared, but everything will be okay.'

COVID is a world problem WHO


Wednesday's press conference with Boris gave us the announcement on England's schools - finally :
They admitted the spike in cases is increasing more quickly than anticipated, and more measures are now necessary. Schools will close at 3.30pm this Friday until further notice. They will remain open to the children of key workers (police, medical staff, delivery drivers and other essential tasks) and they'll be open to vulnerable children, including those who have a social worker, or ECHP. Meals or vouchers will be available to all children who qualify for free school meals.

This Summer's exams will not take place - students are ensured that their progress will not be impeded

Earlier today the Welsh Government said that all schools will close by Friday at the latest, and Nicola Sturgeon announced schools in Scotland will also close by the end of the week. Schools in Northern Ireland close immediately to pupils.

The Coronavirus Bill is massive and worth a read if you are interested, just google it and it's on the dot gov website. It covers, among other things:
- Increasing the available health and social care workforce – recently retired / career break / students.
- Easing the burden - reducing administrative tasks / prioritising care / less paperwork
- Containing and slowing the virus – powers over events and gatherings / quarantine powers of police and immigration officers
- Managing the deceased with respect and dignity
- Supporting people – Statutory Sick Pay from day one / supporting the food industry to maintain supplies / employers with fewer than 250 employees reclaim SSP relating to coronavirus during the outbreak

In Boris Johnson's Press conference today he discussed timescales. He has confidence we can turn the tide within 12 weeks. He stressed we are doing this to save thousands of lives and people must follow the advice we are being given: avoid unnecessary social situations, stay home when you can and wash your hands.

The press conferences drive me mad because the journalists constantly ask when this will all be over. The truth is, even with all we are learning, we cannot know. No-one anywhere in the world can answer this question, not even to the nearest month. It will be over once we manage to stop everyone sharing it amongst themselves. How we behave will have a massive effect on when this is.

The Bank of England have cut their base rate of interest to 0.1%, it's lowest ever in 325 years, in an effort to stop the UK collapsing financially. We are in exactly the same rocky boat as pretty much every 1st world economy.

The government have drafted legislation to protect private renters from evictions due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Queen has left London. Prince Phillip has too - apparently alive despite the rumours he's yet again passed on.

As part of their fairly dramatic u-turn, the UK has decided to step up testing and has said they'll test 25k people a day. They've actually only managed to test 5k people twice so far, so this is a massive improvement and means we will begin to see the sheer size of our problem. DO NOT BE WORRIED because without any doubt there will be a dramatic increase in numbers. Some epidemiologists believe we have as many as 250,000 people infected in the UK already, and that number will only continue to grow exponentially until we quarantine and isolate. We can't do that if we don't know who you are.

The army appear to be mobilising. No official word at all, but lots of photos and rumours, and it's quite likely in the event of a lockdown. We have barely enough police anyway, they can hardly man roadblocks, especially if a large number are off work.

The NHS advice is that if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath), you should take paracetamol. Never take more than the recommended dose.

When schools close the BBC will offer an entire schedule of educational support on iPlayer, podcast and BBC 4.

Matt Hancock has reasserted:
"GDPR does not inhibit use of data for coronavirus response. GDPR has a clause excepting work in the overwhelming public interest. No one should constrain work on responding to coronavirus due to data protection laws."
Among other things, GDPR usually prevents anyone sharing specific details of how someone dies and their health beforehand.

ASDA stores have reduced their opening hours so that they have opportunity to re-stock empty shelves.

Don't forget to collect the lunchbox and PE Kit tomorrow. And if you have a child in year 6, take tissues.

40 of London's Tube Stations close today and the night tube has been suspended at weekends. London is now worse affected than anywhere else in the UK, and it's very possible it could even face restrictions or a lockdown separately from the rest of us.

The government have met with energy suppliers to try and ensure customers struggling financially don't suffer. I've read it all twice and frankly there's very little I can see that isn't usually in place anyway. Contact your supplier if you have any problems at all paying a bill or topping up credit during the whole coronavirus outbreak. Most hopeful paragraph is:
"More broadly, any energy customer in financial distress will also be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary, while disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended."

According to Nadine Dorries, Health Minister and COVID-19 patient, Londoners 'working from home' are filling cafes and coffee shops. That defeats the whole point guys...stay home.

Footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs have offered their hotels free of charge for use by NHS staff, and have said they will not make any staff redundant or place them on unpaid leave for the duration of the hotels’ closure. Gentlemen, you are indeed worthy heroes for our kids. 

The English Football League has made available £50m to help clubs survive the crisis. Professional football in England has been suspended until April 30th. 

An inmate at HMP Manchester has become the first inmate to test positive in the UK.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett - the most senior judge in England and Wales - has decided no new trial should start in any Crown Court unless it is expected to last for three days or fewer. All other cases are temporarily postponed.

Panic buyers and hoarders have made life very difficult for anyone who can't repeatedly trawl the shops for what they desperately need. Supermarkets are stepping up to help with quiet opening hours specifically for vulnerable people, priority and reserved delivery slots for disabled and older people, and limits on the numbers of items you can buy.
We are ALL in this together. Be thoughtful of others, and when someone is kind to you, pay it forward when you can. If you are quarantined you can still get deliveries, and if we are locked down, you will still be allowed to visit the food shops regularly. Chill.

UK companies sent thousands of masks to China back in January. China are repaying the kindness by sending several times as many masks back to the UK now that we need them. Their increases in manufacturing have provided a current surplus.

If you have any underlying health condition it's worth looking at international and national charity and support group websites for advice specific to you.

Glastonbury Festival is cancelled. As are June and July.

Chelsea FC have offered the Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge for NHS workers. Roman Abramovich is going to pay the entire costs himself. Legend.

Virgin Hospitals.... nah I'm joking (just an idea though Richard).

TV soaps are struggling to come up with storylines that are more depressing and sensational than real life, so they have temporarily suspended filming. (Also because of COVID-19 and actors being ill and stuff.)

Don't forget to collect the lunchbox and PE Kit tomorrow. And if you have a child in year 6, take tissues.

I have my own medical student in the family and so I was aware yesterday that final year medical students are being fast-tracked to their degrees so that they can assist in hospitals. Huge congratulations to you all.
Don't think they have it easy. Would you rather take your finals or be launched into unknown months of the hardest and most heartbreaking work anyone around you is likely to ever experience?
Eva Crossan Jory, NUS Vice President for Welfare said: "NUS want students to be fully supported both financially and professionally and if such a scheme is activated, it should not be mandatory.”

Rest Of The World: 

Toyota have suspended production at all European factories.

The people in the German Big Brother house have been in there since Feb 10th and didn't really know anything about COVID-19 until a live TV special yesterday where they were informed. ", really. No, really really...."
If you don't speak German, Charlie Brooker made a very similar Black Mirror episode back in 2008 called Dead Set.

There's a brilliant thread of Trump's coronavirus tweets which NBC have put together on Twitter. I have no comment.

Italy have lost an astounding 902 souls to COVID-19 in 48 hours. They have now lost more people to COVID-19 than China.

The US and Canada are temporarily closing their border to non-essential traffic.

A 53 year old man in Kentucky who has tested positive discharged himself against medical advice and refuses to isolate, so officials are surrounding his house to keep him there reports CNN.

In a long-running battle of smears, snide remarks and mistrust, China have just thrown out US journalists.

Kansas have become the first US state to close schools for the entire academic year.

The Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled.

France have a one-person rule with their population quarantine. Only one person can leave the house at a time.

Flags of countries affected by the spread of COVID-19 were projected onto the statue of the Christ Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil last night in a show of solidarity for the world. I don't usually borrow other people's images, but I made an exception in this case. (Everyone else was sharing it too. If the photographer comes forward, I'm happy to link to you.)

Christ the redeemer Rio De Janeiro Coronavirus solidarity

At 8pm every evening from now onwards French citizens will open their windows and applaud medical workers to thank them for their work so far and the work they have yet to do.

Spain's ministry of health has placed their private hospitals under the control of regional health authorities until further notice. Regional health authorities can also requisition any public spaces and to do whatever is required to convert them into medical facilities.
4th year medical students are also being asked to help.

We could have just requisitioned all the hospitals, instead we are block-buying them for several months. It's a ruddy pandemic for goodness sake.

The Dutch, Spanish and Monaco F1 races have been postponed.

Schools will not be off for 2 weeks or 3, in reality we are probably looking at September and the Department Of Education agree. Earlier is a miracle and by crikey it would be an amazing achievement.

The Whole World:

In the press conference yesterday the WHO reminded us of countries like China, Taiwan and South Korea, who have the epidemic under a large degree of control:
“At this point 100% of nations that got it under control, did so based on testing and tracing, isolation, quarantining”, says Marcel Salathe. He said it takes determination to find every single infection and break every chain of transmission.“I'm still not seeing that in Europe.”

The WHO have made a comment about Ibuprofen, and the advice is not to treat symptoms of COVID-19 with ibuprofen, use paracetamol instead. There is growing concern that ibuprofen may make the effects of COVID-19 worse.

This is really important!!!
A lot of cases of younger healthy people who become very Ill with COVID-19 follow a similar pattern, and it's the Belgians who seem to have talked about it first:
"They all have the same complaints," says Dr. Demeyer of the OLV hospital in Aalst. "They have been sick for a week, stayed home with the flu. The flu attack is over, they think. They feel fine for two days. And then they report with complaints of a dry cough and shortness of breath. When we then have their oxygen saturation (level of oxygen in our blood), we see that they have very low oxygen saturations for their age. "
In these cases people can become very ill very quickly, so it is really important to keep a close eye for a couple of days on anyone who has recently recovered, in case they haven't.

With the humans away, the animals will play. The cats at Disneyland are apparently already in full song, and wild boar have been seen in the streets of Italy, including in Venice. 

A pre-print study which has not yet been peer-reviewed (double-checked) in Wuhan has found: "People with blood group A have a significantly higher risk for acquiring COVID-19 compared with non-A blood groups, whereas blood group O has a significantly lower risk for the infection compared with non-O blood groups."
They studied 2,173 patients confirmed with COVID-19 from 3 hospitals and found compared to the general population, there were around 1/5th more COVID-19 patients with type A blood than expected, and around 1/3 less patients with Type O than expected.
Before you panic or whoop, for the general population the risk you'll catch it hasn't actually changed (keep washing your hands, don't breathe in people's faces and stand 6ft apart),  it's when you roll that dice lots of times that it really begins to make a difference.
If the study proves to be true, it will be very useful for medical staff working with COVID-19 patients to know if they should have additional personal protective equipment.

When we have disaster and no time to formulate an expensive and perfect solution, innovation and repurposing is essential. Medics in Sudan and Africa are advising Italian medical teams on ways to create emergency oxygen delivery for their thousands of patients at shoestring prices, and often using kit they already have.

At the WHO conference on Wednesday Dr Tedros stressed that Africa has to wake up, and made some thinly veiled comments about Europe being on the right track. He also reminded us that just being young, fit and healthy does not ensure you will only get a mild case of COVID-19. Likewise being older or vulnerable doesn't mean you will even develop a severe case of the disease, let alone succumb to it.

Famous People With COVID-19
NBA star Kevin Durant and 3 other teammates.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier
Prince Albert of Monaco

I've not said it for a while but the reason COVID-19 is so devastating is because around 17-20% of people who catch it need to go into hospital. For most of them the treatment is mostly some oxygen, which is really easy to provide if you have a bed and oxygen supply.
Around 1/3 of those hospitalised patients will become more seriously Ill and might require a bed in Intensive Care for 2 or more weeks.
If all of your beds, corridors and side rooms are full, you have to make choices about who to treat. This is the position Italy have been in for 2 weeks.
We are around 3 weeks behind Italy. This IS coming.

A huge thank you to medical workers anywhere in the world from me too. You are the heroes and the reason the mortality rate will not be 18%. I know that medical staff in the UK now, including newly qualified medical students, are scared, but ready. Strength to you all - don't ever forget to look after yourselves too.

The US CDC have released figures for 2,449 cases reported to them up until 16th March. The figures aren't dramatically different to what we saw from China, I'll add the table at the end because it's easy to understand. It shows clearly that although fatalities are very low in young people, needing hospital admission is far more common. YOU ARE NOT IMMUNE BECAUSE YOU ARE YOUNG, FIT AND/OR HEALTHY.

Figures from USA ICU Admission age
Thanks to US CDC

A New England Journal Of Medicine  study trialling the combo of lopinavir-ritonavir, which are HIV drugs, has unfortunately not found evidence it improved survival or speed time to recovery.

A Chinese study found less than 1% of positive cases were children 0-10. Looking at 171 children aged 1 day to 15 years who tested positive:
104 Male / 67 female
No symptoms - 27
Upper respiratory tract infections - 33
Pneumonia - 111
Family member positive/suspected - 154
Cough - 83
Fever - 71
(Fever lasted 1-16 days, average 3 days)
Diarrhoea - 15
Tiredness - 13
Vomiting - 11
Runny nose - 13
Blocked nose - 11

Regarding blood groups being more or less susceptible from yesterday, it makes very little difference for most of us, and this is my best explanation of why, in under a million words:
You or your child would probably catch it from a mate or family member who they spend a long time / afternoon with. At the time you probably won't have a clue they are infectious. Because you spend ages with them, and it's your sister or something, you are just going to catch it regardless of blood group and susceptibility.
 A doctor or nurse working all day or night with 100 or more different patients can step up their personal protective equipment 'just in case' if they know they'll catch it themselves more easily from brief contact.

Some numbers. Spain and France are really struggling. Switzerland have either massively stepped up testing or are about to have a disaster. Watch Indonesia because they too could be about to have a disaster.
Germany continue to test and contact trace massively, and the results of that are paying off. The USA still aren't quite able to test as many as they'd like. The best testers in the world are South Korea, who have tested hundreds of thousands of people. They have managed to almost flatten the curve of their epidemic.

Every single number represents a human being, with hopes and fears very much like yours:

China 80,928 (+34) Deaths 3,245 (+8)
Italy 35,713 (+5,322) Deaths 3,405 (+427)
Iran 18,407 (+1,046) Deaths 1,284 (+149)
Spain 17,395 (+2,626) Deaths 803 (+165)
Germany 14,544 (+2,217) Deaths 43 (+15)
USA 11,354 (+2,095) Deaths 171 (+21)
France 10,995 (+1,861) Deaths 372 (+108)
S. Korea 8,565 (+152) Deaths 91 (+7)
Switzerland 3,939 (+824) Deaths 36 (+3)
Netherlands 2,460 (+409) Deaths 76 (+18)
Australia 709 (+113) Deaths 6
Czechia 694 (+172) Deaths 3
Brazil 534 (+5) Deaths 6 (+2)
Indonesia 308 (+81) Deaths 25 (+6)


1 comment:

  1. Another great update. Interesting about the blood groups. And I have a P7 or year 6 kid, my heart breaks for him & the other kids. Hugs & thank you xx


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