Saturday 21 March 2020

COVID-19 coronavirus UK and World News update 20/21 March

COVID-19 coronavirus UK and World News update 20/21 March

The UK now has reported a total of 5,018 positive cases of COVID-19 and 233 losses of life. We had tested 72,818 people as of 1pm today.

Total cases are: England 3,257, Scotland 373, Wales 280 and Northern Ireland 108.
93 of the UK's positive testing cases have recovered.

Rep. Of Ireland have 785 cases and 3 losses of life.

The world has reported 305,268 cases and 12,988 losses of life.
94,677 people have been reported to have already recovered. 186 countries or territories have reported cases.

WHO coronavirus advice children emulate stress


Friday's press conference with Boris was not that much of a surprise. You're all going out too much! SOCIAL DISTANCING guys. Now you have less chance of sharing. All pubs, clubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms, bars, restaurants, leisure centres and basically any leisure facility has to close tonight. The situation will be reassessed monthly.

Rishi Sunak announced an extraordinary financial measure package and if I typed anything wrong I sincerely apologise. I'll triple check it when they type it up:
1. Government grants up to 80% of people's wages, max £2,500 a month. Far more people will now retain their jobs. It's called the "coronavirus job retention scheme". For PAYE it looks like they'll take an average unless you have a contracted number of hours, but don't quote me.
2. No company will need to pay a VAT bill this year.
3. Increasing universal credit by £1k per year for 1 year. Increasing working tax credit by £1k per year for 1 year. (£76.92 every 4 weeks each.)
4. The minimum income floor will not exist for self-employed people claiming universal credit.
5. The self-assessment payments are deferred to Jan 2021
6. Housing benefit will go up to maximum 30% of your local market rents.
7. Business interruption loans are free for 12 months.

Jenny Harries was the third terrified person at a podium and stressed the importance of staying further apart. Physically we need to distance. We need to stop playing and spending time together. If you can spit on them you are too close. (She didn't actually say that last bit.)

A huge sorry to every child or young person in year 6, 11 or 13 who didn't get their graduation, their awards, their final assembly or even a chance to say goodbye to their class or school properly. I think I cried enough for the lot of you when I fetched my own year 6 from his last day at Primary School.

London is a hotspot of COVID-19 and sadly earlier today showed the UK's first signs of strain. Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow declared a Critical Incident on Friday because of the number of coronavirus patients. They could take no more patients. This has since been stood down. This will be your hospital soon. STAY HOME.

Matt Hancock has reasserted the message about keeping away from other people: "A couple of weeks ago when we set out the plan, people looked at it and though it was extraordinary....but it's what we need to do to save lives.

Retired NHS workers are being asked if they would like to return to help.

The UK press conference today was this lunchtime and Boris got to stay away from the camera. Environment Minister George Eustice drew the short straw and talked about profiteering and price hikes, saying there wasn't much evidence, but it won't be tolerated. He assured us food manufacturers are producing 50% more food to try and keep stocks on shelves and there is plenty to go around. STOP STOCKPILING. It is the essential workers, elderly and vulnerable who haven't been able to go shopping every day this week, it's them you are hurting.
We were told by Helen Dickinson of the British Retail Consortium that "There is a billion pounds more food in people's houses than there was three weeks ago". (Please don't let any go to waste.)
Stephen Powis, the Medical Director of NHS England had the clearest message for us all:
"It is absolutely crucial that everybody in the country follows the guidance that's been given... this is the time in your lifetime whereby your action will save somebody's life".

Around 1.4m people in the UK who are most vulnerable to coronavirus will receive a text message or letter from Health secretary Matt Hancock, telling them social distancing measures they should carry out for 12 weeks from Monday.

The government have now listed the key workers whose children can stay in school and every parent should have received it by email or letter. Everyone who possibly can should keep them at home - it's how we beat this virus, we stop feeding it new people.

Hugh Pym says NHS England has "done a deal with private hospitals “at cost and not for profit” to help coronavirus care - 8,000 hospital beds, nearly 1200 more ventilators, more than 10,000 nurses, over 700 doctors and over 8,000 other clinical staff -  almost all private sector capacity".
We only had around 4500 ventilators, so this is a big help.

With the UK population being asked to avoid all but essential travel, Manchester is among the locations cutting back on public transport services. Metrolink Trams will run a Sunday service with more double trams to allow passengers to physically distance from each other.

Transport For Greater London have closed Waterloo & City lines. 'Night Tube' and 'Night Overground' are affected. London buses will operate fewer services, but "TfL's extensive night bus network will continue to provide critical workers with a reliable night option on Friday and Saturday nights and throughout the week" 

The UK have closed all leisure and indoor sports facilities, bars, restaurants etc. in an effort to decrease social interaction and reduce spread of COVID-19. The key part being DECREASE SOCIAL INTERACTION.

Liam Gallagher has challenged his brother to an Oasis reunion to raise money. I've blanked out the swears.
"Listen seriously a lot of people think I’m a blank and I am a good looking blank but once this is put to bed we need to get oasis back for a 1 of gig rite for charity c’mon Noel we can then go back to our amazing solo careers c’mon you know LG x"

Northwick Hospital in Harrow was the first UK hospital to become overwhelmed by the number of COVID-19 patients. When your hospital is completely full, you are unlikely to be able to get help, whatever your ailment.

If you have received an email or text from HMRC offering a tax refund because of coronavirus, it's a scam. Never give credit card or bank details to anyone who contacts you out of the blue. If it's real you'll be able to log in/ring up and find out that way.

If you do not live with your mother, especially if she's a bit wrinkly like mine, and you aren't the sort of person who would usually run at her with a flaming torch or strap her into a car and drive at 120mph, please consider very carefully if she really needs to see you tomorrow. Things you can do instead:
Talk through the window.
Call her.
Video call
Teach her to use video calling
Give up on video calling and ring her

There is a new online tool to generate self-isolation notes for your employer on the 111 dot NHS dot UK website.

There are many calls for SSP to be temporarily increased to an amount a real live human can live on. I shan't list all the people who have said it, but they include pretty much anyone who isn't independently wealthy, or knows someone who isn't.

If you sitting in your own home right now, you are saving lives. I'm sorry you are scared, but you are doing an amazingly important job. Thank you.

Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three are among the mobile firms that have said they will give their customers free online access to the latest NHS health information about coronavirus.
It will be free to access the 111, NHS and some Public Health England coronavirus pages.

There is a second UK COVID-19 hotspot besides London, and bizarrely it's the West Midlands. 28 confirmed losses of life have occurred there.

UK holidaymakers are among the people trapped around the world as borders close and countries refuse entry. Ryanair, Jet2 and easyJet have all been cancelling passengers’ flights and sending emails offering a refund or re-booking at some future date. Passengers say they're struggling to get help from embassies. I imagine that'll have something to do with the worldwide Pandemic. Just a guess.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has been advising the UK government, who have published "the statements and the accompanying evidence to demonstrate how our understanding of COVID-19 has continued to evolve as new data emerges, and how SAGE’s advice has quickly adapted to new findings that reflect a changing situation".
They've released the explanation of why they chose to tackle COVID-19 as they did and as they are doing now. I found it mesmerising reading and it's incredibly honest and transparent of any government to publish something like this, so thank you. It's also useful for the rest of the world to read - we're all in this together.

SAGE looked at a number of the steps we went on to take, and steps we may take, and assessed how useful they thought they would be at slowing COVID-19, and how compliant they thought the UK public would be. They stressed lots of points, but here are some I've pulled out:
- We are hoping to slow the virus and flatten the curve, but aren't keen on this outbreak lasting until late Autumn or Winter.
- We need 4 different things together to actually reduce cases:
1. Closure of schools (and children shouldn't all play together outside school either).
2. Home isolation of symptomatic cases (this is the 7 days isolation if you are ill, and we know that isn't long enough for a large number of people).
3. Voluntary household quarantine (this is the 14 days isolation for all of you when someone in your household has COVID-19).
4. Social Distancing. PROPERLY. (No renting a holiday cottage so you can share COVID-19 with the lovely people in a small town in Devon, no booze night, no birthday parties, no coffee afternoons, no tag rugby, no licking strangers etc). STAY HOME.
SAGE believe only 50% of the UK would be compliant with social distancing - prove them wrong or you won't have a choice. Remember, you are actively saving lives by sitting on your sofa. How easy can it get?

The Government has banned the export of 80 drugs used in intensive care. These include insulin, morphine and paracetamol. It's been a fairly standard move by countries who are about to have a big problem with COVID-19 and we aren't massive manufacturers of drugs anyway - 90% of UK medicines are imported. We can't afford to give them away.

WHO coronavirus advice children mental health

Rest Of The World: 

Italy has asked for help from the EU crisis fund. They reported another 5,986 cases on Friday for a total of 47,021, and lost an utterly heartbreaking 627 people. The figures today are even worse.

Argentina has gone into lockdown until March 31st.

New Yorkers have been ordered to stay at home. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign an executive order mandating that 100% of the workforce must stay home, excluding essential workers.

The USA have closed the Mexican border for anything but essential travel.

Trump reacted very snappily to a journalist when he asked: “What do you say to Americans, who are watching you right now, who are scared?”
Trump's response: “I say that you’re a terrible reporter. That’s what I say. I think it’s a very nasty question and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people.”
Donald, we are all a bit scared, all of us. I can tell you are too.

California has issued a 'stay at home' order, meaning everyone who isn't an essential worker has to stop work and stay home.

Netflix and You Tube are going to temporarily cut streaming quality throughout Europe to ease the pressure on the system. Internet service providers are already feeling the weight of all of those people working from home or in quarantine. Better low res than patchy. I'm partly blind by the end of the day anyway, so it'll probably be ages before I notice.

German state Baden-W├╝rttemberg has offered to take in patients from France’s overwhelmed Alsace region.

Donald Trump has invoked the Defence Production Act. This is an act which allows him authority of requisitioning, wage setting and all kinds of other powers around being able to control production in the US. 

The Manx Government has today arrested a man who defied their 14 day quarantine for new arrivals to the island. In many countries you can actually be shot for endangering human life, so he should consider himself fairly treated.

Germany is advertising for "Containment Scouts" to do contact tracing and testing. 6 month contract.

People in Hubei, China, where COVID-19 was first discovered, have been allowed to leave their homes for the first time in up to 8 weeks, after no new domestic cases of coronavirus were reported by China. It CAN be beaten.

Columbia has declared a mandatory nationwide quarantine.

Bondi Beach is closed.

Jordan has declared a nationwide curfew.

Venice has very strict lockdown rules. All journeys except a trip to walk the dog or buy food are forbidden.

Whole World:

The World Health Organization has a warning for young people: “You are not invincible.”
COVID-19 can "put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else.”

The British Association of Otorhinolaryngology (ENT UK) have alerted us to the fact that very often patients who test positive but have 'no symptoms' are reporting they have lost their sense of smell (anosmia). In South Korea as many as 30% of positive asymptomatic cases report anosmia, and it's been spotted in China, Germany, Italy and Iran too. ENT UK say it should be added to the list of symptoms so that people can self-isolate.
I've had anosmia for 35 years so this information is little use to me, but I can tell you that one of the first signs you have it, is when food tastes flat and boring. (Click image to enlarge.)

ENT UK Coronavirus anosmia no smell

The World Health Organisation still hasn't yet found evidence Ibuprofen makes COVID-19 symptoms worse, but advice, including from UK NHS, is to take paracetamol as it'll be better for the effects of COVID-19 anyway.

Personally I think people would take COVID-19 more seriously if we had buboes, like with the black death. Big black bloody pus-filled lumps might actually make people stand 6ft apart. Instead COVID-19 hides all the nastiest bits in the lungs where you can't see them.

The reason around 17-20% of COVID-19 cases end up in hospital is almost always pneumonia. This virus is a type of SARS (sudden acute respiratory syndrome) and specifically likes to settle in the lungs. The dry cough and breathlessness with COVID-19 are often symptoms of pneumonia. Mild pneumonia can very often be treated at home, you may not even realise you have it. If it gets worse, your oxygen levels start to drop too low or you might really struggle to catch your breath - then you may need hospital attention. In the UK if you feel you cannot cope, call 111 for help. If you have a genuine medical emergency, you call 999 as usual.

Over the next 3 or more months hundreds of thousands of people in the UK and all over the world will genuinely require medical help in order to survive, which is why we need to leave medical services alone if we don't actually need them.

The WHO have a message for any breastfeeding mothers: "If someone who is breastfeeding becomes ill with COVID19, it is important to continue breastfeeding.
The baby who has already been exposed to the coronavirus by the mother and/or family will benefit most from continued direct breastfeeding". Remember to drink plenty of water, especially if you have a fever. I know you'll do your best ladies, that's as much as anyone can ever do.

Different Coronaviruses can infect different types of animals, including humans, bats, pigs, cattle, mice, chickens, civet cats, raccoon dogs, ferret badgers, pangolin and camels. It's very rare that a coronavirus from another animal makes the jump to a human.
We still don't know the exact source of COVID-19, but almost all of the scientist agree it is likely to have come from bat via an unknown small mammal to humans.

Some numbers. Every one of them is a person who was tiny and scared on their first day at school.

Belgium and the USA are in a very precarious position.
Parts of the USA and the UK are about to trip over.
Germany are using South Korea's tactic of testing as much as possible, and are keeping a certain degree of control.
Iran are neither in control or freefall, with similar numbers day after day.
Sadly it looks like I was right about Indonesia.
Italy, Spain and France have reached saturation and their numbers are horrifying. I've said many times, as a guide, we are around 3 weeks behind Italy, we are 4 days behind France.

China 81,008 (+41) Deaths 3,255 (+7)
Italy 53,578 (+6,557) Deaths 4,825 (+793)
Spain 25,374 (+3,803) Deaths 1,378 (+285)
USA 22,085 (+2,702) Deaths 282 (+26)
Germany 21,682 (+1,834) Deaths 75 (+7)
Iran 20,610 (+966) Deaths 1,556 (+123)
France 14,459 (+1,847) Deaths 562 (+112)
S. Korea 8,799 (+147) Deaths 102 (+8)
Switzerland 6,192 (+577) Deaths 64 (+8)
Netherlands 3,631 (+637) Deaths 136 (+30)
Belgium 2,815 (+558) Deaths 67 (+30)
Canada 1,145 (+58) Deaths 13 (+1)
Australia 1,072 (+144) Deaths 7
Brazil 1,021 (+51) Deaths 18 (+7)
Pakistan 720 (+219) Deaths 3
Indonesia 450 (+81) Deaths 38 (+6)
Algeria 139 (+45) Deaths 15 (+4)

Boris says stay home

Sources: - SAGE report

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