Thursday 24 September 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 23 /24 September 2020.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 23 /24 September 2020.

The UK dashboard is 'experiencing technical difficulties' today, so the information is incomplete. 

The UK added 6,634 cases today and now has reported a total of 416,363 positive cases of COVID-19.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 40 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 41,902 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 33,994 (+318) cases and 1,797(+3) losses of life. 

There have now been a total of 32,246,557 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 984,180. Already 23,783,826 people have recovered.

240920 Flu JAB eligibility UK

"For the next 6 months at least, the virus and restrictions are going to be a fact of our lives."
Rishi Sunak, UK Chancellor. 

There was a 3pm UK briefing with Rishi Sunak. His style is the opposite of Boris, and he belted through his speech in just over 90 seconds. He announced 5 new measures today to support business and people's jobs:
- Job Support Scheme will start in November and last at least 6 months.
- Extending the self-employed scheme
- Pay As You Grow - up to 10 years to pay 'bounce back' loans.
- Extra time to pay deferred taxes
- Cancelling the planned rise in VAT for hospitality and tourism
The big one for employees is the Job Support Scheme - and the BBC and others made a right mess of trying to decipher this earlier, so fingers crossed I don't. . .
Under the scheme an employee has to be working a minimum of one third (33%) of their usual hours, for their regular pay from their employer. The government and employer will then each pay 1/3 of the shortfall in usual wages (and the employee will lose 1/3 of their shortfall). What this actually means when you sort out the maths is:

If an Employee works 1/3 of their usual hours (33%).
Employer pays 55% of their usual wages
Government pay 22% of their usual wages
Employee receives 77% of their usual wages (just over three quarters).

*If an Employee worked 1/2 their usual hours (50%)
Employer pays 67% of their usual wages
Government pay 17% of their usual wages
Employee receives 83% of their usual wages (just over four fifths)

Hope that makes sense!
The government contribution is capped at £697.92 a month.
He basically acknowledged that they can't just support all businesses forever, when we don't know what the future holds. This scheme is for 'viable business' - for example your employer can't be making redundancies and applying at the same time.
The Autumn budget has been cancelled. 

Kindly, after I'd worked all of that out, the Government posted an example... 

Job Support Scheme Beth example and table

The English and Welsh Test & Trace app. is available nationwide today. Are you excited? Remember, it's not managed by the NHS, it is brought to you by SERCO and a range of private partners - who would no doubt want their own names big and bold if Test &Trace had a better reputation and was actually working well.
Most of the code the app. needs is already on your phone - it uses your Android or IOS GPS location information. If you test positive, you tell the app.
It alerts location services, which anonymously pulls your location information and pings it to other app. users. If it finds any other app. users who have recently been within a few feet for about 15 minutes, it triggers their Test&Trace app. That will notify them they have to self-isolate, and get a test if they develop symptoms. At no point does it know who any of you actually are, or link to your phone number, so if you have a house full of phone users and someone tests positive,  you'll all be automatically anonymously informed (or should be). Obviously if you've been locked in a box for a week and only seen 1 other person, you might just be able to work out who it was, but otherwise it's entirely anonymous and all data deleted after 14 days. 

The University reopening in Scotland is going well.... erm... well, maybe not. In fact, it's going so, so badly. Last week there was an outbreak in student accommodation for Edinburgh's Napier University, and this week outbreaks at accommodation for University of Glasgow (124 cases, over 600 students self-isolating), Aberdeen University, St Andrews, and Abertay University in Dundee (500 students self-isolating).
Students have been warned they will be breaking the law if they attempt to leave and go home to their parents. That is going to be really harsh on some of those young people who only left home a couple of weeks ago.
I hate to say it, especially as I know a lot of you have freshers, but COVID loves shared accommodation. 

UK full school reopening is (tentatively) going okay so far. Latest data shows an estimated "94% of state-funded schools were fully open on 17 September" (without any closures or groups of pupils self-isolating), and approximately 87% of UK state school pupils were in school. 

England's official case numbers may be as big as they were at our peak, but we're nowhere near being in as bad a place just yet. Estimates suggest we are still only catching around 1/2 the true number of cases, but back in March we were only catching as few as 1 in 20. 

UK Job Support scheme brought in November 2020

Boots has stopped taking bookings for the flu jab, due to unprecedented demand. They're booked up.  And this is why....

This year's UK flu immunisation programme is the biggest ever, and intends to vaccinate around 30m of us against the most potent and likely strains of flu expected this Winter. Lots of new people have been added to the list, including year 7 pupils, and anyone living with or caring for a shielded person. Your GP surgery has probably started clinics already.
Very importantly, no-one wants to catch COVID-19 AND FLU at the same time. You will likely be incredibly poorly. The chance of survival for patients diagnosed with both simultaneously so far (mostly elderly) has been around 50/50. DO NOT miss that appointment, and if you get flu, for goodness sake stay home. .  

The Johnson&Johnson vaccine candidate is beginning Phase 3 large scale human trials. It's going to be tested on 60,000 volunteers, which I think will make it the biggest - most others look for 40,000 volunteers. This is a really attractive vaccine on paper, because it only needs a single dose and can be stored in a regular fridge - making it accessible across most of the world.
For reference Oxford/AstraZeneca (possibly 2-8 degrees C, fridge), Moderna (minus 24 degrees C, low or specialist freezer), Pfizer (minus 70 degrees C, specialist freezer/ dry ice). 

The Financial Times are reporting that in January the UK is going to start testing vaccines on patients deliberately infected with COVID-19. These are called "human Challenge" trials, and the patients are vaccinated, and then exposed to the virus a few weeks later. Apparently 2,000 people have signed up to volunteer already. At first it sounds super scary, but it's actually how vaccines were invented in the first place, and by January we are going to have a very good idea of how well our vaccine candidates are performing. 

If you are entitled to a flu immunisation, get it booked.

An Indian study looking at antibodies has found that 79 of 257 people who had recovered from COVID-19 did not have antibodies against the virus. 15,000 samples were taken in Delhi in the first week of August, in an attempt to discover how many people had already had COVID-19. A very high 29.1% of people had antibodies. (For reference the UK is well under 10%, with London around 17% at last measure).
Remember antibodies are a shorter term memory, and our T cells (which tell us to produce antibodies), should continue to offer us protection for considerably longer. 

A YouGov poll of 3,436 British adults found that a massive 78% support the new restrictions, with only 8% strongly opposed and 9% somewhat opposed. That supports the reminder that a photo of 50 people crammed into a bar, isn't actually a photo of what most people are doing. In fact 45% of respondents felt the new measures don't go far enough. 

The Washington Post have discovered that the $1 billion 'Cares Act' fund the US Pentagon was allocated to “fight, prepare for and respond to COVID” (buying swabs, masks etc.) was redirected to defence contractors, and actually spent on dress uniforms, jet engine parts, body armor, and drone technology.

Raab Of The Day:
"We've succeeded in getting a grip of this deadly virus."
No we haven't Dominic, what a numpty thing to say. Have you been asleep since July and thought it all went the right way while you weren't looking? 

Israel is in trouble. They only have a population of 8.6m, and reported over 11,000 new cases yesterday - this is currently the highest infection rate per head in the world. A second 3 week lockdown went into effect last Friday, and today they tightened it. All schools, most workplaces and markets are now shut, and even prayers and protests are limited to outdoors, maximum of 20 people.
"Over the past two days, we've heard from experts that if we don't take immediate and harsh measures, we'll reach an abyss." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Remember how I said changing pubs to take away only, without any movement restrictions, has actually just spread the problem? People from Bolton have been going to Bury and Manchester to drink instead. Latest (week ending Sept 20th) cases per 100k population  - Bolton 212 , Bury 172, City of Manchester 153, UK 32. As a reminder the Government actually said the threshold for further local restrictions was 50 (and the quarantine threshold for arrivals to the UK is 20). Expect a hard crackdown once they've stopped having meetings about it and actually decide to stop it. No-one in Government /local authority really wants to look this inept. Do they? 

Face coverings UK Government

Trump of the Day:
Reporter: 'Will you commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election (should you lose).'
Trump: "Well, we're going to have to see what happens."
I can answer this. Riots Donald. Whoever wins, the other one doesn't get to live in the White House and be President or there'll be more riots.
(Not technically COVID, but the outcome of the election will have a massive effect if you are an American during this pandemic.)

Kingfisher, the DIY group behind B&Q, Screwfix, Castorama and Brico Dépôt,  plans to return £55m of furlough pay claimed during the pandemic, including £23m to the UK government. Sales and profits at its UK, Polish and Romanian business have grown enough to support the drop in business in Russia, France and Southern Europe. They also say they won't be claiming the £1,000 that they will also be entitled to in January in the UK for each retained furloughed employee.  

COVID sniffer dogs have started work at Helsinki airport. They have been trained to detect the coronavirus on wipes used by volunteer passengers. We could do with them wandering around city centres, beaches and pubs!

Some people. They've all felt a bit scared at times: 

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

USA 7,153,419 (+13,866) 206,974 (+381)

India 5,788,037 (+57,853) 91,691 (+518)

Brazil 4,627,780 not yet reported today 139,065

Russia 1,128,836 (+6,595) 19,948 (+149)

Colombia 784,268 not yet reported today 24,746

Peru 782,695 not yet reported today 31,870

Mexico 710,049 (+4,786) 74,949 (+601)

Spain 704,209 (+10,653) 31,118 (+84)

South Africa 665,188 not yet reported today 16,206

Argentina 664,799 not yet reported today 14,376

France 481,141 not yet reported today 31,459

Chile 451,634 (+1,731) 12,469 (+124)

Iran 436,319 (+3,521) 25,015 (+175)

UK 416,363 (+6,634) 41,902 (+40)

Bangladesh 355,384 (+1,540) 5,072 (+28) 




Accessible Test and Trace information PDF -

"Hundreds of students in Scotland told to self-isolate after suspected COVID-19 cases in universities"

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