Tuesday, 18 August 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 17/18 August 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 17/18 August 2020.

The UK added 1,089 cases today and now has reported a total of 320,286 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 169,276 tests yesterday. 896 people were in hospital on Sunday 16th, with 73 people using a ventilator yesterday. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we lost another 12 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 41,381 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 27,313 cases and 1,774 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 22,153,380 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 779,677. Already 14,881,168 people have recovered.

1 metre plus rule UK 4th July

The latest ONS (Office for National Statistics) report shows that for the 8th consecutive week, the number of people who died in England and Wales was slightly below the 5 year average. Coronavirus stole months and weeks from many people who were already ill, elderly or vulnerable.
"Looking at the year-to-date (using the most up-to-date data we have available), the number of deaths up to 7 August was 389,008, which is 52,737 more than the five-year average. Of the deaths registered by 7 August, 51,879 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate, 13.3% of all deaths in England and Wales."
Worryingly, the number of people who are losing their lives at home is still far higher than the average - you aren't going to hospital quickly enough! - especially women and people over 70. If you have a medical emergency, please ring 999 as you usually would.
"The year-to-date analysis shows that, of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) up to Week 32 (week ending 7 August 2020), 63.4% (32,906 deaths) occurred in hospital, with the remainder occurring in care homes (15,375 deaths), private homes (2,443 deaths), hospices (738 deaths), other communal establishments (220 deaths) and elsewhere (197 deaths)."

English and Welsh A Level results gave us a frantic few days there. First it was algorithms deciding your future, then confirmation they can be appealed based on mock results, and on Monday afternoon an apology and an acceptance of public opinion:
"We understand this has been a distressing time for students, who were awarded exam results last week for exams they never took. The pandemic has created circumstances no one could have ever imagined or wished for. We want to now take steps to remove as much stress and uncertainty for young people as possible - and to free up heads and teachers to work towards the important task of getting all schools open in two weeks.
After reflection, we have decided that the best way to do this is to award grades on the basis of what teachers submitted. The switch to centre assessment grades will apply to both AS and A levels and to the GCSE results which students will receive later this week."
(There is reliable word that they are about to make the same announcement for BTech and vocational students, if they haven't already.)
This won't help many students who have already been told they've lost their place at uni, but would now qualify. I'm so sorry for any young person, wherever you live or whichever educational establishment you went to, who is a victim of this debacle. 

GCSE Results in Northern Ireland: "After consulting CCEA & having listened to the concerns of principals, teachers, parents & young people, I have decided that all GCSE students on Thursday will now receive the grades submitted by their school." Common sense from Peter Weir, NI Minister for Education. Wales have followed suit. 

I'll just quote David Schneider on this next story, because he said it best:
"Congratulations to Dido Harding on being appointed head of the new National Institute of Health Protection (replacement for large part of Public Health England and Track &Trace) after a rigorous selection process which consisted of being a pal of Matt Hancock's and presiding over our omnishambolic track and trace system.
We are now in safe hands." 

Omnishambolic really is an excellent word. He forgot to mention that her husband is part of a group lobbying to privatise the NHS and scrap Public Health England. Ooh, hang on a minute.... tick that one off then. 

august half price meals england

Bad news if you fancied a night out in Congleton. Apparently a woman took a COVID test on Saturday and then spent the evening visiting 'various pubs' before receiving a positive result on Sunday. Expect closures for deep cleaning at minimum... 

Good news if you live in Leicester. Health Secretary Matt Hancock:
"The rate of infection in Leicester has now dropped to a safe enough level to allow further businesses including beauty salons, nail bars & some outdoor venues to reopen.
Current restrictions on gatherings must remain in place to further bring down the rate of infection. My gratitude goes out to the people of Leicester who have all made sacrifices to keep the virus at bay and protect their local communities.
We must remain vigilant, and I urge everyone in Leicester to continue to follow the rules."
So you can finally get that Brazilian wax, but you can't go sit in your Dad's garden - pretty much the same as we have in Manchester. Even though I understand the logic behind this, it stinks. Businesses have to follow strict rules on wiping and cleaning, hand washing, masks etc, and won't want to give you a big squeeze and kiss your cheeks. Your Dad /son /sister /bessie mate might. What we actually need is clear education about COVID risks and using common sense, not a government dancing about with restrictions in an effort to get the perfect balance with everyone at work. It really just creates a situation where people are constantly tempted to bend and break the rules. 

Denmark saw a small rise in cases when they reopened schools and kindergartens. According to Denmark's infectious diseases agency SSI, the R rate (reproduction rate) as measured using the number of people admitted to hospital each day, increased from 0.6 to 0.9, which for them was still below 1 (each infected person on average infects less than one other), but after a couple of weeks it dropped back down and stayed down. Bear this in mind, because we are likely to see a blip when the kids go back. It's likely areas of the UK couldn't currently stand a rise of 0.3 without tipping over 1 and seeing a rise in cases. It may be a play off, and something else may have to close instead. Danish schools were slightly better placed to deal with new measures. Average class sizes were around 20 students before COVID-19, and these classes were divided into two to three smaller groups. Lessons were held outside whenever possible. 

Face coverings public transport

BGR has done a great round up of some of the latest studies on antibodies. We can see that antibodies are formed, and even with mild cases, the T cells recognise COVID as a threat (they are like guardians and tell your body what antibodies to make). Antibodies may have a short lifespan, possibly 3 months, but T cells recognise COVID for longer, possibly 6 months or more. (A study of recovered SARS patients found a T cell response in some patients 17 years after infection.) It is all hopeful regarding a vaccine, and immunity. Even if we would need a new jab regularly,  it's doable. 

If you thought you'd seen protests over the last couple of months, Belarus has surpassed them all, with a truly immense crowd of tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people gathering in Minsk to protest Lukashenko. He "won" the election a week ago, with 80% of the vote, and the electorate are not happy with the result. Official observers say Belarus hasn't had a fair election since 1995, and Lukashenko's failure to accept COVID-19 as any kind of threat (he called it a psychosis), coupled with claims of government corruption and vote-rigging, have tipped the population over the edge. The size and noise of the "March For Freedom" crowd chanting "resign" makes the Pyramid stage crowd at Glastonbury look like nothing. Lukashenko's response may be a challenge he'll regret: "We held elections already. Until you kill me, there will be no other elections." He has been in power since 1994. 

He obviously did regret that. Within 12 hours he began hinting that elections could be possible, subject to some constitutional changes first. Last night TV journalists went on strike in protest at having to report lies as truths, leading to the evening news opening on an empty studio. 

Proper hand rub guidelines the World Health Organisation

3 different Scottish schools have already had a pupil test positive. No transmission within the schools has been reported to this point. 

At the US Democratic National Convention,  a woman named Kirstin Urquiza gave a really stark and moving speech about her father's death from COVID-19: “My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump and for that he paid with his life."
A lot of politicians and leading health figures worldwide will find themselves in a really hard place once this is 'over'. 

South Africa has eased restrictions. They've moved down to Level 2, and the list is exhaustive, but includes:
- Masks must be worn in ANY public place
- There is a curfew between 10pm and 4am daily.
- No gatherings of more than 10 people at any residence
- Most public businesses and leisure can reopen, with a limit of 50 people maximum in any indoor venue or at any event, including weddings.
- Night clubs remain closed
- Tobacco may now be sold
- Off licences may sell alcohol from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Thursday only.

Paul Tambyah, senior consultant at the National University of Singapore and president-elect of the U.S.-based International Society of Infectious Diseases, has said that the fact we are seeing far more countries have the European strain of COVID is a good thing. It may be more transmissible (up to 10x as catchy), but it's not deadlier. It's impossible to accurately measure, but it appears to overwhelm significantly less people than the initial, Wuhan strain. Viruses can't survive if they kill too many of their hosts, so it is in their best interests to evolve to be less deadly. 

Trump of the Day:
Donald has upset Jacinda (how very dare he!). Well, maybe she wasn't too upset, she did look like she concealed a giggle at one point. His comment:
"You see what's going on in New Zealand. They beat it, they beat it, it was like front page they beat it, because they wanted to show me something. (They did?) The problem is, big surge in New Zealand. So, you know, it's terrible. We don't want that."
Errrrrr yeah. New Zealand have reported 61 cases in the past week. They include suspected cases until the test results come back, so that may be revised DOWN. The USA in comparison have reported 301,038 new cases during the past 7 days alone. That's almost 1/3 of a million more cases, in ONE WEEK. Jacinda has a message for you Donald:
"Obviously I don't think there's any comparison between New Zealand's current cluster and the tens of thousands of cases that are being seen daily in the United States. Obviously, every country is experiencing its own fight with COVID-19; it is a tricky virus, but not one where I would compare New Zealand's current status to the United States."
Me neither. Soz Donald, but you just aren't in the same league. In fact, I'm pretty sure you're playing a different game... 

The Chinese City of Wuhan, where COVID-19 first broke out last December, hosted a massive water park festival at the weekend. The rest of the world is wincing watching it, but remember they tested every person in Wuhan, and haven't had a community case of transmission since mid-May. This is what a strong and decisive response can bring, even without a vaccine. We will beat this. NEVER lose hope. 

Some people, all of whom were born on the same rock as you: 

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

USA 5,623,512 (+11,485) 174,141 (+425)

Brazil 3,363,235 not yet reported today 108,654

India 2,752,765 (+51,161) 52,853 (+928)

Russia 932,493 (+4,748) 15,872 (+132)

South Africa 589,886 not yet reported today 11,982

Peru 541,493 not yet reported today 26,481

Mexico 525,733 (+3,571) 57,023 (+266)

Colombia 476,660 not yet reported today 15,372

Chile 388,855 (+1,353) 10,546 (+33)

Iran 347,835 (+2,385) 19,972 (+168)

UK 320,286 (+1,089) 41,381 (+12)

Saudi Arabia 301,323 (+1,409) 3,470 (+34)

Pakistan 289,832 (+617) 6,190 (+15)

Bangladesh 282,344 (+3,200) 3,740 (+46)

Italy 254,636 (+401) 35,405 (+5) 

Turkey 251,805 (+1,263) 6,016 (+20)

Germany 227,791 (+1,105) 9,304 (+8) 

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Sources: 

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus//

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/

https://www.thelocal.dk/20200430/reopening-denmark-has-increased-rate-of-infection-spread-ssu/amp

"'March for Freedom' demonstrators gather across Belarus as protests for free elections continue" https://twitter.com/i/events/1294273385866727424?s=09

https://news.sky.com/story/belarus-uk-condemns-appalling-violence-against-protesters-and-does-not-accept-results-of-election-12050864

"GCSE students in Northern Ireland to be awarded their predicted grades" https://twitter.com/i/events/1295282363472076800?s=09

https://twitter.com/peterweirmla/status/1295258860391927810?s=19

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/aug/15/english-students-must-meet-eight-criteria-to-appeal-exam-results

https://reut.rs/346TYX2

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/statement-from-roger-taylor-chair-ofqual

https://metro.co.uk/2020/08/18/leicester-lockdown-relaxed-nail-bars-beauty-salons-allowed-reopen-13144766/?ito=cbshare

https://businesstech.co.za/news/trending/426092/here-are-the-official-level-2-lockdown-rules-for-south-africa-including-the-new-limits-on-social-visits/

https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-asia-china-53816511

https://twitter.com/HotepJesus/status/1295508748035936261?s=19

https://twitter.com/davidschneider/status/1295463144350003207?s=19

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-husband-test-trace-chief-22128892.amp

https://twitter.com/davidschneider/status/1295482364026597377?s=19

https://www.news18.com/news/india/infectious-covid-19-mutation-may-be-a-good-thing-says-disease-expert-2796725.html

https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/tv/dr-hilary-good-morning-britain-18786999

"Daughter of COVID-19 victim denounces Donald Trump in speech delivered at Democratic National Convention" https://twitter.com/i/events/1295558757171134469?s=09

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/aug/17/not-all-uk-students-will-get-first-choice-place-universities-warn

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/08/jacinda-ardern-hits-back-at-donald-trump-s-patently-wrong-claim-of-covid-19-surge-in-new-zealand.html

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/08/coronavirus-donald-trump-calls-auckland-covid-19-outbreak-big-surge.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-scotland-tayside-central-53817688?__twitter_impression=true

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/17/belarus-media-strike-if-we-cant-do-honest-journalism-we-wont-work

https://propermanchester.com/news/woman-visits-several-bars-and-pubs-hours-after-coronavirus-test-which-turned-out-positive/

https://bgr.com/2020/08/17/coronavirus-immunity-after-infection-asymptomatic-vs-symptomatic-cases/

https://twitter.com/MattHancock/status/1295743952704987136

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2020/07/06/reopening-the-world-reopening-schools-insights-from-denmark-and-finland/

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/may/17/denmark-can-teach-england-safe-reopening-of-schools-covid-19

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52550470

https://twitter.com/AndyBurnhamGM/status/1295414325813882880

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregisteredweeklyinenglandandwalesprovisional/weekending7august2020


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