Tuesday 30 June 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 29/30 June 2020.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 29/30 June 2020.

The UK added 689 cases today and now has reported a total of 312,654 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 133,467 tests yesterday. On Sunday 28th June we had 3,695 people in hospital. On Friday 26th June, 268 patients were on mechanical ventilation. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we lost another 155 people who have tested positive to COVID-19. We now very sadly have a total of 43,730 losses of life in all settings. (If you include ONS data, that figure is nearer 55,000). 

England 160,587 / 39,187
Northern Ireland 4,880 / 551
Scotland 15,822 / 2,482
Wales 15,743 / 1,510

Rep. Of Ireland 25,462 cases and 1,735 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 10,473,475 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 509,735. Already 5,715,993 people have recovered.

1 metre plus rule UK 4th July

Guess who said it? "I want to end the current injustice that means a pupil from a London state school is now 50% more likely to go to a top university than a pupil from the West Midlands. And that is not only unjust, it is such a waste of human talent."

Today marks exactly 6 months since COVID-19 was first reported to the World Health Organisation as a cause for concern. 
"The six-month anniversary of the outbreak coincides with reaching 10 million COVID19 cases and 500 thousand deaths. This is a moment for all of us to reflect on the progress we have made and the lessons we have learned, and to recommit ourselves to doing everything we can to save lives. 
Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world – and our lives – would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus. The COVID19 pandemic has brought out the best and worst of humanity. 
All over the world we have seen heartwarming acts of resilience, inventiveness, solidarity and kindness. But we have also seen concerning signs of stigma, misinformation and the politicization of the COVID19 pandemic." Dr Tedros, Head of the World Health Organisation. 

Boris made an announcement today regarding £5b of funding for business infrastructure. He was standing behind a podium saying "build, build, build", so that gives you a clue. He started by saying: 
"...if the COVID crisis has taught us one thing, it is that this country needs to be ready for what may be coming, and we need to be able to move with levels of energy and speed that we have not needed for generations. And I know that there are plenty of things that people say and will say that we got wrong and we owe that discussion and that honesty to the many tens of thousands who have died before their time to the families who have lost loved ones." 
He then went on to talk about what went right
- the Nightingale Hospitals (pretty much world-beating)
- Dexamethasone (we have awesome scientists)
- Ventilators (9,500 extra were made). 
- Furlough scheme
- Everyone - coming together to help each other, to support the NHS, care workers, the elderly. 
Then he explained we are very financially broke and will be for a while, but:
"I serve notice that we will not be responding to this crisis with austerity. We are not going to try to cheese-pare our way out of trouble. Because the world has moved on since 2008. And we not only face a new and in some ways far bigger challenge."
It was indeed Boris' speech which contained the 'Guess who said it?' quote above. Thoroughly unexpected.
"We will continue and step up the biggest ever programme of funding the NHS, and we will not wait to fix the problem of social care that every government has funked for the last 30 years. We will end the injustice that some people have to sell their homes to finance the costs of their care while others do not. We are finalising our plans and we will build a cross-party consensus."
Next week the Chancellor will be setting out the first phase of economic recovery. 
"But this moment also gives us a much greater chance to be radical and to do things differently. To build back better. To build back bolder."
It genuinely does. I hope it happens. 
He promises to support education, policing, new travel networks, 30,000 hectares of trees planted a year, new buses, new broadband.
He announced:
- Project Speed - to be able to build things more quickly with less red tape. (Keep your eye on this, smells like it could contain loopholes.)
- Opportunity Guarantee - all young people will have guaranteed chance of apprenticeship or an in-work placement
- A new science funding agency to back high risk, high reward projects, "because in the next 100 years the most successful societies will be the most innovative societies"
- Jet Zero - we're apparently making the world's first net zero (carbon emissions) long haul passenger plane.

Mental health awareness regular public

NHS England has confirmed the Nightingale Hospitals in Harrogate and Exeter will be used for diagnostics (e.g. CT, MRI and endoscopy), but can be reverted back to ICU if required. 

It looks likely that if your English children's school is open in September, you'll have to send them, or face a fine. Even though one of mine is back now, it's because I'm happy with the current situation locally and feel our local authority and our school aren't gambling with our health. If you don't feel the same level of confidence, it will affect your mental health. I'm personally very much against making returning mandatory just yet.

Gavin Williamson is expected to announce full guidance for schools later this week, but according to Huffington Post, from September it includes:
- A return full time for all pupils
- Bubbles of one class for primary, and whole year for secondary (that isn't a bubble!)
- Reduction to 1m physical distancing for secondary (11+) when possible,  no physical distancing limits for primary. 
- Teachers and staff will attempt to maintain 2m physical distancing when possible. 

Wales has reopened schools to some pupils,  and yesterday announced that 2 households of any size can now pair up to form a bubble. You may only be part of 1 bubble. 

Matt Hancock released a statement last night regarding Leicester,  which has not seen the reduction in cases we'd like. They are seeing 6-10 hospital admissions a day and have 135 cases per 100,000 people.
"Given the growing outbreak in Leicester, we cannot recommend that the easing of the national lockdown, set to take place on the 4 July, happens in Leicester.
Having taken clinical advice on the actions necessary, and discussed them with the local team in Leicester and Leicestershire, we have made some difficult but important decisions.
We have decided that from tomorrow (Tuesday) non-essential retail will have to close.
And, as children have been particularly impacted by this outbreak, schools will also need to close from Thursday, staying open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers as they did throughout
Unfortunately, the clinical advice is that the relaxation of shielding measures due on the 6 July cannot now take place in Leicester.
We recommend to people in Leicester, stay at home as much as you can and we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester."
This also applies to areas surrounding the city, and mobile testing has been brought in. The situation will be reviewed in 2 weeks. 

The US CDC has added diarrhoea and vomiting to their list of official symptoms of COVID-19. In some studies as many people had gastrointestinal problems as had a cough or a fever. 

New Zealand have 20 active cases of COVID-19 now, all imported and already in quarantine hotels or hospitals. It shows just how essential quarantines will be if we are going to stop Covid-19 re-infecting populations. 

Greece reopens to more international visitors from Wednesday 1st, but has now extended it's travel ban for visitors from the UK until July 15th.

The EU have released their list of 'safe' countries (on top of the other EU countries) that members can visit for inessential travel: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay.

Scientists have discovered that when the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects a human cell, it tells the newly infected cell to sprout filipodia, which the LA Times cutely describes as "multi-pronged tentacles studded with viral particles". The filipodia stab into nearby cells and infect them too. This secondary way of infecting ensures it has a much better chance of taking hold. Pesky thing.... it does mean scientists now know it's worth taking a closer look at some cancer treatments to see if they might be effective against Covid-19. 

Hundreds of people were found camping in the Lake District this weekend, which isn't allowed until July 4th. Even worse, yet again there is rubbish left everywhere. I can't understand the mentality of anyone who doesn't take everything home. Leave only footprints. 

So far it looks like US states reporting high numbers and clusters are tracing them back to parties and bars,  music events and social gatherings - and not protests. Protests were mainly outdoors and the vast majority of participants wore masks, unlike Nan's 90th birthday bash or the high school graduation parties. Participants were also sober, and not hugging each other repeatedly, or leaning all over each other rambling. 

Inovio Pharmaceuticals has announced that it's candidate Covid-19 vaccine has led to “immunological response rates” in 34 of 36 patients in the trial. The full study isn't yet out and we don't know how many patients actually produced antibodies which killed the coronavirus, but it looks hopeful. 

Dr Rich Davis of Sacred Heart Medical Centre, Providence, has demonstrated how useful masks can be at stopping spread of "respiratory droplets". These are the regular droplets we breathe out every time we exhale. Fabulous photos below and more on his feed. Hopefully he won't mind me sharing. 

Dr Richard Davis Providence Sacred Heart Virus spread masks v no mask
The CEO of Gilead, the company which makes Remdesivir, has written an open letter explaining how he set the price. 
"In normal circumstances, we would price a medicine according to the value it provides. The first results from the NIAID study in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 showed that remdesivir shortened time to recovery by an average of four days. Taking the example of the United States, earlier hospital discharge would result in hospital savings of approximately $12,000 (£9,762) per patient.... We have decided to price remdesivir well below this value. To ensure broad and equitable access at a time of urgent global need, we have set a price for governments of developed countries of $390 per vial. Based on current treatment patterns, the vast majority of patients are expected to receive a 5-day treatment course using 6 vials of remdesivir, which equates to $2,340 per patient.... In the developing world, where healthcare resources, infrastructure and economics are so different, we have entered into agreements with generic manufacturers to deliver treatment at a substantially lower cost. These alternative solutions are designed to ensure that all countries in the world can provide access to treatment."
(Private insurers will be charged $520 (£423) dollars per vial.) 

NHS data shows that before we had testing capacity, over 25,000 patients were discharged to care homes between 17 March and 16 April, even if they had suspected covid. Against all WHO guidelines and every bit of common sense.

If you see stories about divorces rising, remember the same was reported in Wuhan, but when I looked into it, the 300% rise in divorces amounted to 9 couples who hadn't actually been able to start divorce proceedings for 3 months while they were in lockdown anyway, so overall, it was down. 

Dr Richard Davis Providence Sacred Heart Virus spread

While the government tell us they publish all testing data nationally, passing regional information on to local authorities is very shoddy. Pillar 2 results, which includes posted tests and basically anything not done inside a hospital, are shared with local authorities 2 weeks in arrears, meaning those in charge in Leicester found out the gravity of their situation via Matt Hancock's press briefing. 

The Karnataka area of New Delhi is suffering particularly badly. The state reported 918 new coronavirus cases and 11 deaths on Sunday, and the governor has imposed more restrictions:
- Full lockdown every Sunday. No activity except essential services.
- Night curfew from 8 pm until 5 am.
- All government offices will have a five-day week, closed Saturday.
- Authorities will set up more wholesale vegetable markets to avoid crowding.
- The number of hospital ambulances will be raised to 250
- Authorities to reserve wedding halls, hostels and other institutions, to be converted into COVID-19 care centres. 
- Railway coaches with beds to be used for additional facilities.
Just when you thought it might be safe to go back in the water... Scientists in China have been studying a new pig flu strain 'G4 EA H1N1' since 2016:
"Of concern is that swine workers show elevated seroprevalence for G4 virus."
The humans are developing antibodies... * insert creepy music here *.

The national blood and transplant bank are asking for men who have had Covid-19 to come forward and donate plasma for recovering patients. They've found some people have very high levels of antibodies and they are more likely to be:
- male
- over 35 
- those ill enough with COVID-19 to be treated in hospital
- from Asian communities

Michael Rosen is home and well enough to record a short message for BBC Radio 4 (and their social media) to everyone who wished him well:
"Hello, first of all let me say thank you. Many of you have been sending me best wishes and cards and messages on social media, hoping that I'll get better, which is very comforting and very reassuring, so I want to say thank you for that. And as you can see, look, I'm not in hospital, I'm in my ordinary clothes, I'm at home. So you know I'm getting better. So it does look a little bit as if this illness can be beaten with kindness and care from the NHS. So thanks again, and who knows, I might see some of you soon."
Best wishes to EVERYONE currently suffering coronavirus - hope you are also home and recovering soon. 

Mental health NHS workers help

"We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is: this is not even close to being over. We’re all in this together, and we’re all in this for the long haul. We will need even greater stores of resilience, patience, humility and generosity in the months ahead. We have already lost so much – but we cannot lose hope." Dr Tedros. 

Today is 100 days since UK 'lockdown' was put into place. The UK's definition of 'lockdown' is really a 'stay at home' request, and incredibly loose compared to many countries. The pandemic and the lockdown WILL have had an effect your mental health. Other fears and anxieties around COVID, money, boredom, family, business, relationships, loneliness etc. will have piled on top. The good news is that the Samaritans said yesterday "There is currently no evidence of a rise in suicide rates".Thank you if you've been there for someone who needed it. If you are struggling, reach out. There are always people waiting to listen, and to help. 

Back Thursday, you might just about have finished reading by then... by crikey it were a longun today.  

Some people. All around the world, with the same fears as you: 

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (remember time zones vary, and in larger countries some states /provinces yet to report):

USA 2,695,685 (+13,874) not yet reported 129,031 (+248) 
Brazil 1,373,006 (+2,518) 58,406 (+21) 
Russia 647,849 (+6,693) 9,320 (+154) 
India 574,926 (+7,390) 17,038 (+134) 
UK 312,654 (+689) 43,730 (+155) 
Spain 296,351 (+301) 28,355 (+9) 
Peru 282,365 not yet reported today 9,504
Chile 279,393 (+3,394) 5,688 (+113)
Italy 240,578 (+142) 34,767 (+23)
Iran 227,662 (+2,457) 10,817 (+147)
Mexico 220,657 (+3,805) 27,121 (+473) 
Pakistan 209,337 (+2,825) 4,304 (+137) 


G4 EA H1N1 virus 
Study in journal Cell - zombie covid cells 
"This is a time for renewing our commitment to empowering communities, suppressing transmission, saving lives, accelerating research and political leadership" Dr Tedros

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