Friday 1 May 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 1st May 2020.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 1st May 2020.

The UK added 6,201 cases today and now has reported a total of 177,454 positive cases of COVID-19. We have 15,111 people in hospital with COVID-19.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we lost another 739 people to COVID-19. We now very sadly have a total of 27,510 losses of life. (This total includes ALL positive-testing loss of life, wherever it occurs.)

England 120,614 / 653
Northern Ireland 3,623 / 347
Scotland 11,654 / 1,475
Wales 9,972 / 925

Rep. Of Ireland 20,833 (+221) / 1,265 (+33)

There have now been 3,363,946 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is now 237,458. Already 1,069,041 people have recovered.

Health Workers Stress

"If you open the door a little bit ... it comes back strong," Bill De Blasio, New York City Mayor.

Today's UK briefing was with Matt Hancock, Health Secretary.
NHS fertility services are being restored - it's massively time-sensitive and I'm sure this news will come as a relief to a lot of people.
The number of tests yesterday was 122,347 - we met the national goal of 100k per day. I have to say well done on that, I doubted them. Now, keep it up.
He thanked us for what we've all done so far, and asked for the same assistance when they begin the contact tracing. (We have saved potentially hundreds of thousands of lives from our living room.)

Prof John Newton, coordinator of the national testing effort, talked about testing. He said the virus circulated widely and at first testing wouldn't have made a difference (hmmmm). The lockdown wouldn't have been shorter if we'd tested as many people as we possibly could (hmmmm). Then he said some more things, including Germany doing better than us because they had extra tests to begin with (errrrm... yes). At this point I fetched a drink.
Then he talked about how useful testing will be with contact tracing. That's so true. Every country which is on top of their outbreaks uses contact -tracing, testing, isolating. It catches asymptomatic cases, low symptom cases, and sometimes it even finds people who actually need hospital care and were trying to muddle on through.

He answered press questions. We have completed over 1 million tests. The testing yesterday included 79,522 completed by the new Lighthouse Laboratories, including 39,153 drive through / mobile / research. 27,497 home testing kits. 12,872 satellite tests. 3,072 antibody testing study.
He answered questions about immunity and said we have encouraging results, but need more studies to know exactly how effective it will be, how long it will last etc.

Prof Stephen Powis of NHS England went through the slides. We still have enough beds, and always have had - spectacular timing, and a good dose of sheer luck. Our 'trajectory' for lives lost isn't yet showing any sign of turning, it is still heading straight upwards.
He answered press questions about 'transmitability' in children. He was honest, we know if they have symptoms they can definitely spread COVID-19, we aren't sure how well they spread it if they don't have symptoms (see yesterday).

Public asked if children will 'have to' return to school when it re-opens, or parents might be fined. Good question! Matt Hancock said we will only re-open schools when it is safe.
Steve said it affects children much less than older adults, and although there are reports of a very small number of children becoming seriously ill, overall it isn't a serious disease for children or younger people. (In my world most children live with people older than themselves.) He did mention we still aren't entirely sure what part children play in transmission (see yesterday's post for studies).

Public also asked about the NHS Nightingale hospitals. They stay for now. We might have a second wave, lets keep that insurance as back up.

Beat the virus by staying at home UK Government

The WHO Press briefing today talked about the fact it is now 3 months since they called a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. They thanked everyone for their support.
"As we have done clearly from the beginning, we will continue to call on countries to implement a comprehensive package of measures to find, isolate, test and treat every case, and trace every contact."

Testing will now be available in Scotland for:
* over 65s with symptoms (and members of their households)
* anyone with symptoms required to leave home for work
* all residents and staff in care homes where the virus is present

The Guardian have discovered an NHS Procurement Officer has opened up a sideline business selling PPE at profit. He claims he disclosed and the NHS said it wasn't a conflict of interest, the NHS say they've launched an investigation.

Social Care workers in Wales will get a one-off bonus of £500, in recognition of the risk involved. This will benefit around 65,000 care home and home care workers.

India will extend its nationwide lockdown until May 18th, with "considerable relaxations" in lower-risk districts. Nationwide schools, colleges, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, cinemas and places of worship will remain closed, and air, rail and metro and inter-state movement of people by road is prohibited.

Donald Trump has been out of the limelight for a couple of days, so he's back. He has publicly blamed China for COVID-19 and press asked: "Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?". He said yes he had. He won't give any further details, but pffft.... I have a feeling this won't go well.

The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence today issued the following Intelligence Community (IC) statement:
“The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China. The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.
As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security. The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”

Azerbaijan has extended it's partial lockdown until May 31

weekend Lets play it safe

1/3 of critically ill COVID-19 patients in the UK are from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds. We still aren't sure why. Public Health England and UK Universities, as well as health care leaders and universities worldwide, are trying to find any links. Deprivation is being touted as a possible factor.

New UK figures from the ONS show you are MORE THAN TWICE as likely to die if you live in a deprived area of England of Wales, compared to the least deprived areas:
"The age-standardised mortality rate of deaths involving COVID-19 in the most deprived areas of England was 55.1 deaths per 100,000 population compared with 25.3 deaths per 100,000 population in the least deprived areas."

Despite being utterly brilliant at containing COVID-19, Taiwan is not itself represented in the World Health Organisation, as it is counted as a breakaway province of China. They negotiated observer status under the name "Chinese Taipei" between 2009 and 2015, but it was removed by the current government. There have been many calls for them to be reinstated, and now Australia has said they will officially back their return at the World Health Assembly in mid-May.

South Africa today begins easing its strict lockdown. Some industries can reopen, restaurants can open for takeaway deliveries, but controversial bans on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol remain. Social distancing and wearing masks in public and at workplaces will be mandatory, and cycling, walking and running are allowed - for just three hours in the morning.

Plans to make India's contact tracing app. mandatory for travel or work are facing opposition from people concerned about privacy.

America's biggest outbreaks are not in care homes, although they do account for at least 100,000 cases. According to a really horrifying article in the New York Times, the top 5 US outbreaks are:
Cook County jail — Chicago, Ill. 940
U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt — Guam 969
Smithfield Foods pork processing facility — Sioux Falls, S.D. 1,095
Pickaway Correctional Institution — Scioto Township, Ohio 1,641
Marion Correctional Institution — Marion, Ohio 2,182

I mentioned before that America had a massive problem with meat-packing plants - they really do. Aside from Smithfield above, here are just a few more:
JBS in Green Bay, Wisconsin (348 cases)
JBS in Greeley, Colorado (245 )
JBS in Grand Island, Nebraska (230 )
American Foods in Green Bay (197)
Donald Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act, and signed an Executive Order forcing them to stay open. Employees seem happy to return to work - if they can have safer conditions.

The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix on August 2nd will take place behind closed doors.

Airlines including Alaska, Delta, United, American and JetBlue are imposing rules requiring all passengers to wear face coverings.

COVID is a world problem WHO

There are now 102 vaccine candidates in development and testing, including 8 which are already being tested in humans.

The Philippines are beginning to loosen restrictions. From today from people can begin to return to work, and public transportation and commercial establishments, including shopping malls, can re-open with social distancing rules.

Special trains have been allowed to run in India, to allow migrant workers and students (who have been stuck for 2 weeks) to return home.

Some numbers. Every single one, whether rich or poor, tall or short, happy or sad. A person just like you:

USA 1,111,236 (+16,213) 64,876 (+1,020)
Spain 242,988 (+3,648) 24,824 (+281)
Italy 207,428 (+1,965) 28,236 (+269)
UK 177,454 (+6,201) 27,510 (+739)
France 167,178 not yet reported today 24,376
Germany 163,542 (+533) 6,640 (+17)
Turkey 122,392 (+2,188) 3,258 (+84)
Russia 114,431 (+7,933) 1,169 (+96)
Iran 95,646 (+1,006) 6,091 (+63)
Brazil 87,364 (+1,984) 6,017 (+116)
China 82,874 (+12) 4,633
Canada 53,669 (+433) 3,224 (+40)
Belgium 49,032 (+513) 7,703 (+109)
Netherlands 39,791 (+475) 4,893 (+98)
Peru 36,976 not yet reported today 1,051
India 35,043 (+180) 1,154
Switzerland 29,705 (+119) 1,749 (+12)
Ecuador 26,336 (+1,402) 1,063 (+163)

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