Tuesday 12 May 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 12th May 2020.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 12th May 2020.

The UK added 3,403 cases today and now has reported a total of 226,463 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 85,293 tests yesterday. We have 11,605 people in hospital, up from 11,465 yesterday.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we lost another 627 people who have tested positive to COVID-19. We now very sadly have a total of 32,692 losses of life in all settings.

England 137,940 / 29,260
Northern Ireland 4,193 / 438
Scotland 13,763 / 1,862
Wales 11,573 / 1,132
Rep. Of Ireland 23,242 (+107) cases and 1,488 (+21) losses of life. 

There have now been a total of 4,309,359 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is now 290,361. Already 1,555,092 people have recovered.

nurses day image from the RCN
Image from the Royal College Of Nurses

This afternoon UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak made this announcement:
"The job retention scheme will be extended for 4 months, until the end of October. By that point we will have provided 8 months of support to British people and businesses. 
Until the end of July there will be no changes whatsoever. Then from August to October the scheme will continue for all sections and regions of the UK , but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work. Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part time, and we will ask employers to start sharing, with the government, the cost of paying people's salaries."
Employers will, from August, be asked to put money towards the furlough, in order to continue paying people 80% wages. 

It's Tuesday, so the UK's ONS (Office for National Statistics) mortality figures are out: 
Week ending 1 May 2020 (Week 18): 
"The number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 17,953, a decrease for the second week running, but 8,012 more than the five-year average for Week 18."
"Of the deaths registered in Week 18, 6,035 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”, which was 33.6% of all deaths."
The number of deaths registered in the whole UK was 20,033, of which 6,676 deaths involved COVID-19.
Yearly totals: 
"Of deaths involving COVID-19 registered up to Week 18, 68.5% (22,873 deaths) occurred in hospital, with the remainder mainly occurring in care homes (8,312), private homes (1,562) and hospices (386)."
Northern Ireland’s government has published a science-led (no dates) 5-step plan for gradually emerging from lockdown. It will be reviewed every three weeks.

The UK Government briefing today was with Alok Sharma the Business Secretary, Sarah Albon the Chief Executive of HSE (she's really good, especially for a newbie, very clear and succinct) and Prof Stephen Powis of NHS England (he's had a haircut). 
They reiterated the Furlough Job Retention Scheme is costing £8b a month. The slides now have pictures, and clearer colouring, and ONS figures have been mentioned, so people who were suspected to die from COVID-19 without an actual test are counted - which is very honest of them. 
Public and Press Questions:
He was clear he doesn't think universal income is a good idea. 
He was asked to support care homes - who are busier than ever, but struggling to pay the extra costs, struggling to maintain staffing, and don't qualify for most of the financial packages already announced. He had no real answer. Let's hope he sleeps on it. 
He was asked why all employees are back in work, when younger people have a far lower chance of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. He replied that risk assessments have to be performed for every member of staff and the HSE has guidance for this. Any employee who feels unsafe should speak to their employer, and if it can't be resolved, should contact the HSE (Health and Safety Executive). 
Employers have a duty to inform themselves of the employees who should be shielding and not at work, and employees who are especially vulnerable. (I'd add, be mindful of the people in their households too.)

Health Workers Stress is not failure

With COVID-19 running through the White House, West Wing Staff have now been ordered to wear masks. 

Spanish government is imposing a 14-day quarantine for all travellers arriving from abroad during the state of alarm. 

On March 22nd UK transport workers Belly Mujinga and a colleague were spat at and coughed on by a member of the public, who said he had COVID-19. They both became ill with COVID and last week Ms Mujinga died. 
And that is exactly why the crime of spitting or coughing on another person will be dealt with very severely by the authorities and the courts. 

Donald Trump is dizzy on lemonade or something. He's posted a series of quite erratic tweets today, including a random new slogan:
Another reminder of why we should be delighted we don't have an obsession with approval ratings: 
"Remember this, every Governor who has sky high approval on their handling of the Coronavirus, and I am happy for them all, could in no way have gotten those numbers, or had that success, without me and the Federal Governments help. From Ventilators to Testing, we made it happen!"
 And a tweet which pretty much accuses China of causing the entire pandemic. I'm guessing it won't be entirely well-received:
"Asian Americans are VERY angry at what China has done to our Country, and the World. Chinese Americans are the most angry of all. I don’t blame them!"
A quick straw poll of Asian Americans replying didn't seem to agree... 

Russia has reported more than 10,000 new cases for the 10th day in a row. They are mega-testers and trying to catch every case, including those with low or no symptoms, but they are definitely having a problem. 

The World Health Organisation have warned about the dangers of smoking. There is no clear evidence smoking reduces your chances of dying from COVID-19, but it definitely increases your chances of dying or becoming seriously ill from a large number of causes.Your overall chance of succumbing as a smoker is greater. 

The UK Govt. published extensive guidance yesterday for return to workplaces and schools. There are hundreds of pages and I've not read them all. 
Workplace guidance details ways of reducing transmission by removing fingerprint entry, keeping doors open, changing layout of seating, when to use masks etc. and it's up to your employer to ensure you are as safe as possible.
 Five steps to safer working together:
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment and share the result with people at work
- Have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with guidance
- Take all reasonable steps to help people work from home 
- Take all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace
- Where people cannot be 2m apart, do everything practical to manage transmission risk

Some of the main points for UK schools returning, to go alongside what was said yesterday are:
Parents will NOT be fined if they choose not to return their children to school.
Children should not attend if a member of their household has symptoms of COVID-19, they should isolate for 14 days as usual. 
Special schools will work towards a phased return for more pupils.
Shielded children should not attend. 
Children with shielded household members are not expected to attend.
Classes will be limited to 15 pupils
All staff and pupils will be tested if they exhibit symptoms.
Start/finish times will vary and may be staggered to prevent crowds.
Childcare and childminders can reopen from 1st June
If a classmate tests positive, the entire class will stay home and isolate for 14 days. 
Students and teachers should stay together in the same groups and physical locations wherever possible, to minimise mixing. 
Masks are not considered to be necessary in school for students or staff (except for staff dealing with a pupil who becomes ill during the school day).
They also state very clearly:
"unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff."

English public can do these things

After an increase in cases, The Lebanon will have a 4-day nationwide lockdown starting on Wednesday at 7pm until Monday at 5am. 

The USA's Dr. Fauci on the prospect of US students returning to school this fall:
“The idea of having treatments available or a vaccine to facilitate the re-entry of students into the fall term would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far.”

The Manchester and Liverpool Mayors have both written to the UK Government asking that local area R rates are published, after the North West has seen a recent rise in cases, and is now the worst affected area in the UK. They believe the UK wide message is changing too quickly for the North West. As a North West resident, I think I might agree. 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has declared gyms and hair salons to be essential services that can stay open. He did not consult his health ministry or local government before making his announcement. He previously declared lotteries essential services too. 

"Yes of course, the message that we were giving out initially was incredibly clear and incredibly stark, and the UK population actually obeyed it more thoroughly perhaps than other populations around the world. We really did stay at home." Boris Johnson
Remember SAGE, the Scientific Advisory Group, told the UK Government they believed the UK population would only be around 50% compliant to a lockdown. And the random antibody screening is implying very few of us nationwide have actually had COVID-19. If I was a sceptic, I might have an opinion on the change of message... 

South Korea's club night outbreak has now risen to 94 people who test positive. Around 2,000 people haven't yet been traced, and they've been offered anonymous testing. Anyone who doesn't come forward and is later discovered faces a fine of $1800USD. 

In an article in Science Mag, David King,  who was previously the UK chief scientific adviser, explains why he and around 11 other specialist scientists have set up an Independent SAGE Group,  and are holding their meetings live on You Tube. Clarity and transparency - and so that the public can see the real debate and how all the different ideas come together. Well worth a watch. 

the power of soap

The UK Statistics Agency has complained about the Government's reporting of data on testing. They aren't happy it's entirely transparent, and there's some blatant fudging of numbers. Tests being put in the post counted as "tests carried out" for starters... 

Taiwan has reported zero new cases in an entire month. Well done guys - fingers crossed. 

Today is #nursesday Worldwide hundreds of thousands of student and previously retired nurses are working alongside regular nursing staff in COVID-19 wards. They are frontline, risking their lives to care for others, breaking their hearts when they lose patients, and in many cases having to distance from their own family to keep them safe. 
Already worldwide thousands of nurses have lost their lives to COVID-19.  
Thank you to all of you for what you have done so far, and what you have yet to do. 

You can shine a light from your window at 8.30pm tonight to show your thanks to nurses, although it's not been massively advertised, so if you are a nurse and you can't see any, please know that they would be there. 

Some people, each of whom has a nurse they would want to thank: 

Countries / Cases /Losses of life (Some states yet to report):

USA 1,392,976 (+7,142) 82,276 (+481) 
Spain 269,520 (+1,377) 26,920 (+176)
Russia 232,243 (+10,899) 2,116 (+107) 
UK 226,463 (+3,403) 32,692 (+627) 
Italy 221,216 (+1,402) 30,911 (+172) 
France 177,423 not yet reported today 26,643
Germany 172,812 (+236) 7,676 (+15)
Brazil 172,243 (+3,100) 11,980 (+355) 
Turkey 141,475 (+1,704) 3,894 (+53) 
Iran 110,767 (+1,481) 6,733 (+48) 
China 82,919 (+1) 4,633
India 73,981 (+3,213) 2,408 (+114)
Canada 70,343 (+362) 5,049 (+56)
Belgium 53,779 (+330) 8,761 (+54) 
Netherlands 42,984 (+196) 5,510 (+54)
Saudi Arabia 42,925 (+1,911) 264 (+9)
Mexico 36,327 (+1,305) 3,573 (+108) 
Pakistan 32,674 (+1,733) 724 (+57) 
Chile 31,721 (+1,658) 335 (+12)



"White House directs West Wing staffers to wear masks after at least two aides test positive for COVID-19" https://twitter.com/i/events/1259952400216977408

Asian papers are saying Scientists from Taiwan’s National Chinese Medicine Research Institute have developed a Chinese medicine treatment that can remove all traces of virus from a patient's body within 8 to 10 days.  https://t.co/m9njVzruAS
Non recovery 

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