Thursday, 22 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 21 / 22 October 2020.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 21 / 22 October 2020.

The UK added 21,242 cases today and now has reported a total of 810,467 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 310,322 tests yesterday (I think that's the second time over 300k in a day). 

7,433 people were in hospital on Tuesday 20th (up from 4,941 a week earlier), with 711 using a ventilator yesterday, Weds 21st October (up from 563 a week earlier). 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 189 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 44,347 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 53,422 cases and 1,868 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 41,734,935 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,139,647. Already 31,059,605 people have recovered.

How to self-isolate UK Government advice

"Lockdowns & 'circuit breakers' are a good way to get #SARSCoV2 cases down fast in bad situations.
But they will only lead to long-term containment if you don't commit to fixing the underlying problems that got you to high cases in the first place. 
They must come with a *plan*."
Dr Emma Hodcroft, Co-developer of nextstrain - who are real-time tracking the strains of COVID as it travels around the world.  

Greater Manchester will move to Tier 3 VERY HIGH restrictions from midnight tonight. 

Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield will move into Tier 3 VERY HIGH restrictions from midnight on Friday. 

Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough will move into Tier 2 HIGH restrictions on Saturday

Scotland's restrictions placed on the central belt (Lothian, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Ayrshire & Arran and Greater Glasgow & Clyde) will continue for another week until 6am on Monday 2 November.
In addition, Scotland will announce details of a new Strategic Framework for control of the virus based on a 'levels' approach (with 5 tiers) tomorrow. They are set to begin on November 2nd. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia Game Review (Age 7+) Sent for review

Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia is a video game based on the popular TV series Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia. It was released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows on September 25th and we were sent a code to review on the Playstation. 

It's been a little while since I spent any quality time on a game, but sadly I've had my right hand in a brace since June, so I still can't actually join in this time. My 12 year old has given me his opinion for this review... 
Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia Game pack shot in all available formats

The game is a familiar side-scrolling platformer, and you take the role of  Jim Lake Jr. (in two-player co-operative mode you can also play as Claire Nuñez). The aim of the game is to collect dirty socks and coins, fighting any enemies you meet on the way. Well, okay, the aim of the game is to prevent evil troll Porgon causing a Time-pocalypse.... 

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 19th / 20th October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 19th / 20th October 2020.

The UK added 21,331 cases today and now has reported a total of 762,542 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 260,338 tests yesterday. 

6,431 people were in hospital, with 629 using a ventilator, on Sunday 18th October. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 241 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 43,967 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

According to ONS figures, up until Friday 8th October, 58,164 people had COVID-19 written on their death certificate. 

Cases / Losses of life (going by death certificate, 2 weeks in arrears):
England 647,025 / 50,309
Northern Ireland 28,953 / 913
Scotland 49,164 / 4,301
Wales 37,400 / 2,641

Rep. Of Ireland 52,256 (+1,263) cases and 1,865 (+13) losses of life. 

There have now been a total of 40,874,258 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,126,263. Already 30,481,449 people have recovered.


Wear a face covering wash hands make space

“You cannot, in an epidemic, just take your own risk. Unfortunately, you’re taking a risk on behalf of everybody else.”
Chief Medical Officer of England, Professor Chris Whitty. 

“We can look to happier days, but these are going to be some tough months ahead."
Former head of the US FDA, Dr Scott Gottlieb. 

The UK had a coronavirus briefing with Boris Haircut, Jonathan Van-Tam, (Deputy Chief Medical Officer) and Stephen Powis (NHS England).
Greater Manchester was given until noon today to come to agreement over Tier 3 Restrictions, and the amount of money that would be given to support people unable to work, or the Government said they'd step in. They did not manage it by noon. Nor by 2pm.
"At 2pm, the Government walked away from negotiations"
Andy Burnham, Manchester Mayor (he had asked for £65m).
The press conference started with latest data on case rates per 100,000 population by local authority across England. It's grim.
Estimates of new infections by region are rising in all age groups except the young people, which are levelling off. It's obviously the older age groups who are at greater risk of succumbing to COVID, and these people do need protecting. Sadly though, hospital admissions show that they are rising rapidly among people around 75+.
They did show graphs for Greater Manchester specifically, and it was very black.
Boris said our measures aren't in vain, we have brought the infection rate down below it's natural level, to around 1.3 or 1.5 (erm....whoop?) instead of 3 or 4. (This does slow spread, but it's still spread...)

Greater Manchester will move to Tier 3 VERY HIGH ALERT AT MIDNIGHT THURSDAY.
- Pubs and bars will close unless serving main meals
- No household mixing indoors or out in most settings
- Travel into or out of the area is advised against.
- The Rule Of 6 must be adhered to.
- Additionally to base Tier 3 restrictions -  casinos, bingo halls, betting shops, adult gaming centres and soft play must also close.
He talks about the Job Support Scheme and Universal Credit giving the lowest paid up to 80% of their regular wage (what about people on zero hour or 10 hour contracts?...). Greater Manchester will receive £22m in support (this is far less per head than has been given to Lancashire and Liverpool, which is what they are all arguing about). 

Public asked if the rules can be changed so that they can visit care homes. Boris burbled and then Jonathan Van Tam was overly-sincere. The answer is that it endangers everyone in the care home. It's not wise now.
Press asked why we don't have a national 'firebreak' lockdown. Jon and Steve both said it wasn't fair to do that nationally. Greater Manchester has more COVID patients than the entire South West of the country.
Press asked what difference arguing for 10 days will have made to Greater Manchester (well, the pubs in Bolton managed to open for a whole fortnight). Jon spoke about cases per 100k in age 60+, which have just about doubled. Steve talked about hospitalisations - which follow around 12+ days after people catch the virus. Greater Manchester had 330 patients with COVID 2 weeks ago, and 620 yesterday. At it's peak, on 18th April, Greater Manchester had 1,277 patients with COVID, so in 2 weeks we could be back at that level (and it's already too late to change that).
Jonathan seemed so demoralised. He needs a hug. "We can't afford just to let our elderly die. And we can't afford to let our NHS be completely consumed by COVID, so they can't do their usual work." 

"We are running now with the brakes partially on, and the R is 1.3-1.5 according to the latest estimates, so we can't take the brake off on this, and we may have to push on it a little bit harder."
Jonathan Van-Halen-Morrison. 

Press asked about the £22m being given to Manchester - he said this is half of what Liverpool has been offered, and not the £60m Boris was rumoured to have offered last night. 'So will local leaders be penalised i they aren't compliant?' Underneath that floppy exterior Boris is a hard-hearted soul. He clearly has ice inside. He didn't give a real answer. My guess is yes.
Press asked about contact tracing. All the lolz... *insert non-answers and misplaced credit here*

Myface by Kevin Landt, Young Adult Fiction Book Review (sent for review)

 Myface is a new release from Kevin Landt, and I've been sent a copy for review. This is very modern young adult fiction, which blurs the lines between social media fantasy, and reality, so much so that you don't really know what's real and what isn't until a good way through the book. 

Myface starts with a murder, and then follows twisting and turning paths which all intersect at various points in the book. It has a great cast of people who all have the same thing in common - they care desperately about what other people think of them. Far too much really...

Myface by Kevin Landt book cover with woman's face reflected below. She wears lots of make up, appears emotional

The main characters include Norman, a 22 year old ex-child star and 24 hour a day live streamer. Max, who spends his life watching other people live their lives. Amir, the theatre director, and his financer and wife, Jada. We have Sebastian, obsessed with someone he can never have, and his wife, Liz, who dreams of acting stardom. Finally we have the seemingly perfect, sultry and illusive Angela Fox. 

Sunday, 18 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News weekend update 17th / 18th October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News weekend update 17th / 18th October 2020.

The UK added 16,982 cases today and now has reported a total of 722,409 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 305,315 tests on Friday (obviously they're proud of that, they've not updated it).

Hospital figures have also not been updated: 5,608 people were in hospital on Thursday 15th, with 592 using a ventilator on Friday 16th October. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 67 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 43,646 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 49,962 (+1,283) cases and 1,852 (+3) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 40,149,458 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,116,907. Already 30,017,848 people have recovered. Passing 40m cases is a grim milestone, but passing 30m recovered far less so. 

Japanese COVID advice from March 2020 1

"We do need stronger restrictions if we want the number of infections to go down," says Prof Steven Riley, Professor of Infectious Disease Dynamics, Imperial College London, on the Channel 4 Lockdown Debate about 10 minutes ago. 

The English and Welsh COVID App., and most of the others, work by pinging a location every few minutes. If you pass by someone who later tests positive,  you might have 1 ping in common. If you spend 20 minutes sitting beside them,  you should get at least 2. When it finds 2 together, the app. triggers and you get a notification to self-isolate.
With the English and Welsh app. it seems to also be sending a flash alert after 1 ping, just to make you more 'alert'. If you get this, it flashes up, but when you try to find out more or do anything, it's gone. It's confusing a lot of you. This is  not a notification to isolate, you just had a close call. 

The row between Greater Manchester and the UK Government continues. After Boris gave a thinly-veiled attack implying Andy Burnham was putting lives at risk, Andy Burnham's comeback was to point out that Sir Patrick Vallance has now joined Jonathan Van Tam, Dr Jenny Harries and Chris Whitty in saying that the baseline Tier 3 measures aren't enough to bring down levels of COVID. There really does seem to be no positive evidence and no point. 

Friday, 16 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 16th October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 16th October 2020.

The UK added 15,650 cases today and now has reported a total of 689,257 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 304,315 tests yesterday. 

5,311 people were in hospital on Wednesday 14th (up from 3,660 a week earlier), with 580 using a ventilator yesterday, 15th October (up from 436 a week earlier). 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 136 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 43,429 officially reported losses of life in all settings. (57,690 people have had COVID written on their death certificate.) 

England 584,843 / 38,524
Northern Ireland 25,177 / 608
Scotland 45,232 / 2,594
Wales 34,005 / 1,703

Rep. Of Ireland 47,427 (+998) cases and 1,841 (+3) losses of life.  

There have now been a total of 39,416,753 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,106,120. Already 29,510,661 people have recovered.

160420 Banksy painted his bathroom with rats

"The new restrictions we have seen brought in this week have made little practical difference to restrictions faced by most people. Cases will continue to rise in the majority of areas.
Waiting to discover the impact of the new 2 Tier system, is allowing time for the virus to spread further."
independent SAGE advisory group. 

From 4am Sunday 18 October, people arriving in England from Italy, San Marino and Vatican City State will need to self-isolate, as they will be removed from the travel corridor list this week .
The Greek island of Crete will be added to list for England.

The University & College Union have done a tally, and this morning said that over 20,000 university students have now tested positive in the UK.
That is an awful lot of worried parents, and food parcels...

At midnight tonight Wales close the border to anyone from Northern Ireland, England's Tier 2 and 3 areas, and the central belt of Scotland. You are not welcome, you disease ridden Angles. Fod wedi mynd.
Obviously this is bad news for anyone who was hoping to take a break in Wales, and I do sympathise with you, but at the same time you can hardly blame them. Movement restrictions are one of the very best ways to contain and suppress any virus.
Welsh Ministers are also reported to be considering a circuit-break lockdown. 

Thursday, 15 October 2020

#TBCSmiles October 2020 74 Months...

 It's the 15th and the grinniest day of the month - and I think we all need that at the moment. 

How is your mental health? How are you coping? Take a bit of time to think about yourself and do a wellness check. Are you sleeping well, eating well? When was the last time you treated yourself to a few hours doing something just for you? 

It's easy to become distracted by the fact there's a pandemic, and a lot of things have had to be put on hold, but life hasn't stopped. You still need to cook, clean study, work, and likewise you still need time off. If you haven't built it into your week, try to do so - you still earned it. 

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who joined in with #TBCSmiles this month over on Instagram. It was a busy one with the return to organised chaos for parents of schoolchildren, and if you are anything like us, you've also experienced the joys of 2 week's self-isolation (and 7 days trying to get at least 1 of us tested - thankfully that situation has improved a bit). It's definitely not 'normal', it is a new and temporary normal, but we are still making those smiles. 

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 14 /15 October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 14 /15 October 2020.

The UK added 18,980 cases today and now has reported a total of 673,622 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 295,690 tests yesterday. 

4,941 people were in hospital on Tuesday 13th, with 563 using a ventilator yesterday, 14th October. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 138 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 43,293 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 45,243 cases and 1,835 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 38,947,653 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,099,641. Already 29,239,129 people have recovered.

be kind to people with covid drawing from WHO

"It is wrong to place some of the poorest parts of England in a punishing lockdown without proper support."
Andy Burnham, on behalf of the Greater Manchester local leaders. 

On Tuesday teatime, after the publication of the official SAGE meeting recommendations from 24th September, the leader of the UK political opposition, Kier Starmer MP, publicly called for more strident action against the virus immediately.
"We are at a decisive moment in the fight against the coronavirus. That’s why I'm calling for a circuit break in England - to protect the NHS, fix testing and get control of the virus."
He'd like a 3 week lockdown break around half term, and to be honest I'm still stunned that Boris didn't announce one at the press conference on Monday. Kier believes the government have lost control of the pandemic. I don't think that's entirely true, I think this is their plan, and wanted to allow younger, less vulnerable, people to be exposed purposefully in order to achieve a level of herd immunity by transmission. At some point they WILL lose control, because freewheeling down a hill with no brakes rarely ends well. It's a game with stakes that are too high for me to be comfortable. I'd like to stop playing. 

Ad | What Do You Need To Know Before Buying A Smart TV?

What DO you need to know before buying a smart TV? I needed a guide before I bought mine, and I think most of us do, as technology is constantly evolving and capability is expanding. This is a guest promotional post by Maria Lopez - who knows far more than I do... 

Since technology is always evolving, most electronics come with the word “smart” attached to them. What exactly makes a device smart? Some gadgets can work on their own to execute commands without the use of a human. Not only that, but they can connect to the internet and create the Internet of Things (IOT). Additionally, some gadgets can have context-awareness, data storage, portability, and flawless user-interaction. 

Simpsons Smart TV all on sofa

Does this mean that your smart TV is going to have all of these features? Quite possibly! It honestly all depends on the make and model of your smart television. However, I am going to take the time to debunk some common myths about smart televisions. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Hedgeways - Eco-Friendly 2 Player Strategy Tile Game Review - Sent by Sprout & Gherkin

The people behind the gorgeous wooden tile game Sproutword are back with another equally beautiful eco-friendly wooden game. Hedgeways is for 2 players, although we've also played a light-hearted game with 4, and recommended for anyone aged around 3-99+ (best for anyone aged 6+ in my opinion). 

The first thing you'll notice is the box. Hedgeways is packaged in an incredibly clever all wooden box, and it instantly calls out to be wrapped in colourful tissue paper and given to someone you really like as a gift. 

Hedgeways strategy game for 2 players of any age. Sent for review.

The box is all-in-one, and you just flip the lid to open it. The front, back and hinge are created from  a single piece of wood, carefully cut and shaped, and it's really very clever, and quite special. 

Hedgeways wooden ecofriendly game locally sourced wooden box

Inside the box nothing is wasted and the entire thing is plastic-free. The instructions are very simple and printed on recycled card, and there is a cloth drawstring bag holding all of the wooden tiles. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 12 /13 October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 12 /13 October 2020.

The UK added 17,234 cases today and now has reported a total of 634,920 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 219.074 tests yesterday. 

4,367 people were in hospital on Sunday 11th (up from 2,833 the same time last week), with 507 using a ventilator yesterday, 12th October (up from 393 the same time last week). 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 143 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 43,018 officially reported losses of life in all settings. 

Up until Friday 2nd October, 57,690 people in the UK have had COVID given as a cause on their death certificate. 

Rep. Of Ireland 43,351 cases and 1,827 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 38,243,553 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,088,221. Already 28,739,127 people have recovered.

UK Alert Levels MEDIUM October 2020

Remember the English Government's announcements yesterday only apply from midnight tonight, so if you are in the North West or North East, no garden visits until afterwards. 

The Nightingale Hospitals in Manchester, Harrogate and Sunderland have been put on standby, as local hospitals are starting to feel the weight of COVID cases. 

UK student exams next Summer will be delayed by 2-3 weeks to allow for extra 'catch up' tuition time. They will start on 7th June rather than mid-May. 

I was a grumpy yesterday because we've had garden visits banned since July, and now they're allowed, when my area has over 40 times as much COVID as it did in July. I agree with Chris Whitty, the measures announced yesterday by Boris do nothing to actually decrease transmission of COVID, they can only slow the rise slightly. I've always been annoyed that the English government have decided to attempt 'controlled herd immunity by transmission' among the less vulnerable population. They are playing with fire at our risk, and potentially our expense, and some areas are about to get burnt. Well done to the Mayor of Liverpool for daring to stand alone and impose Very High Tier restrictions. 

Monday, 12 October 2020

England COVID Briefings 12th October 2020

 England COVID Briefings 12th October 2020

"Within Greater Manchester, we have seen a three-fold increase in the number of patients admitted to intensive care in the last 5 weeks, and an eight-fold increase in the number of patients admitted to our hospitals. The situation at the moment is that 30% of our critical care beds are taken up with patients with COVID, and this is starting to impact on the services that we provide for other patients.....  I stress to you the importance of us taking this disease extremely seriously."
Dr Jane Eddleston, Greater Manchester Medical Lead.

the power of soap - shows illustrated hand soap bottle

This morning Jonathan Van Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, gave a Coronavirus Data Briefing, along with Professor Steve Powys of NHS England, and Dr Jane Eddlestone, Greater Manchester Medical Lead.
Case numbers are rising rapidly, and hospitalisation will follow around 2-3 weeks later. Losses of life will inevitably follow suit.
The UK picture is visibly getting worse by the week.
Steve told us The Netherlands and France are seeing record numbers of cases, around 40% of Paris intensive care beds are occupied by COVID patients. Spain has declared a State of Emergency in Madrid, around 40% of their intensive care beds are taken up with COVID patients. The situation in the UK is no better.
"We now have more patients in hospital with COVID-19 than we did when the Government announced restrictions on March 23rd."
We are reminded about the improvements in understanding about the virus, treatments and therapeutics. We are getting much better at this and saving lives.
In areas where COVID is especially high risk, NHS staff will be regularly tested whether they have symptoms or not.
The Nightingale Hospitals in Manchester, Harrogate and Sunderland have been asked to stand by and prepare for the possibility of having to treat patients over the next few weeks.
We will try to avoid delaying treatments for anything else during this wave. Go to your GP or ring 111 if you are ill, have a lump, get chest pain, etc. The NHS is open to everyone.  

Sunday, 11 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 10 /11 October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 10 /11 October 2020.

The UK dashboard is a bit iffy today, so not everything has been updated. 

The UK added 12,872 cases today and now has reported a total of 603,716 positive cases of COVID-19. 

3,837 people were in hospital on Thursday 8th, with 442 using a ventilator on Friday 9th. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 65 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 42,825 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 41,714 cases and 1,824 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 37,611,948 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,079,274. Already 28,202,212 people have recovered.

wash hands new

On Friday and Saturday the number of daily cases across the world exceeded 350,000 per day - the highest figures of the pandemic. This isn't only due to the rise in cases across Europe (which is very real), but also the whole world is testing more, and finding more low or no symptom cases. 

Tomorrow there's a UK Coronavirus briefing and it's pretty certain that blonde bloke who was Mayor of the Danny Boyle Olympics will announce the Tiers Of Restriction/Intervention.
It seems likely Tier 2 will trigger at 100 cases per 100k population - so a huge amounts of England are well over, by several times in some cases - from Liverpool right over to Newcastle, plus Sheffield, Nottingham etc.
No leaks yet about exactly what triggers the next tiers will have, or what exactly it will mean for people in those areas, but hospitality WILL be closed in some places, and the government’s favourite paper-to-leak-to is reporting there'll be some restrictions on inessential movement in harder hit areas.  

Friday, 9 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 9th October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 9th October 2020.

The UK added 13,864 cases today and now has reported a total of 575,679 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 285,015 tests yesterday. 

3,660 people were in hospital on Wednesday 7th, with 436 using a ventilator yesterday. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 87 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 42,679 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Up until Friday 35th September, we had lost 57,347 people who had COVID noted on their death certificate. 

Rep. Of Ireland 40,703 (+617) cases and 1,821(+4) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 36,950,832 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,069,577. Already 27,782,381 people have recovered.

Take a Break WHO COVID advice

"An estimated 224,400 people (95% credible interval: 203,800 to 245,700) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 25 September to 1 October 2020, equating to around 1 in 240 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 270 to 1 in 220).
The estimate shows the number of infections has increased rapidly in recent weeks."
UK Office For National Statistics. 

Today's independent (not-Government) SAGE group briefing started with a warning that I think won't surprise anyone. This is "not a good news week." It was Dr Alice Roberts presenting though, so that made it a little better.
Test and Trace mislaid almost 16,000 cases, results for contact tracing are the worst ever. The time taken to receive results is longer than previously. It's not gone well.
ONS results out today show that cases are rising really rapidly, and doubling around every 2 weeks. The Public Health England REACT Study suggests doubling around 3 weeks, but with massive regional differences.
Northern Ireland has seen a very rapid rise in cases.

Happy Anyway by Jane Hanford (Sent for review) Young Adult Book Review

Happy Anyway is a self-help book especially suitable for young people with anxiety. Author Jane Hanford has sent me a copy for review, and although I'm a little older than the main target market, I can certainly appreciate the problems anxiety brings. Managing worries and fretfulness are also something that at least one of our children has really struggled with.... 

Happy anyway by Jane Hanford  book cover plain with rainbow coloured writing

The book starts with an introduction, and you can instantly feel the enthusiasm of the author. She wants to tell you everything, and has a friendly, easy to read style that won't be off-putting to a teenage reader. The main body of the book itself is split into 'chapters' or what the author refers to as "40 short insights into how your mind works". 

Thursday, 8 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 7th / 8th October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 7th / 8th October 2020.

The UK added 17,540 cases today and now has reported a total of 561,815 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 254,579 tests yesterday. 

3,412 people were in hospital on 6th October, with 442 using a ventilator yesterday. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 77 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 42,592 officially reported losses of life in all settings. 

We have a new figure today, and that is people for whom COVID was mentioned on the death certificate. The total up until Friday 25th September is 57,347.

Rep. Of Ireland 39,584 cases and 1,816 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 36,591,174 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,063,529. Already 27,548,442 people have recovered.

Cloth masks How to wear a non medical mask safely

It may be about to get a bit harder in England, especially for people in the North. As per usual, the UK Government haven't made any public announcements, they've just leaked it to their favourite Fleet Street hamster cage liners. Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle have the highest rates of infection in the UK, and word is, the health system is beginning to feel the weight of the increased hospital admissions, so pubs and hospitality are about to be ordered to close. The affected Mayors are yet again complaining that despite meetings with government ministers this week, this was not discussed. They also found out when they read this morning's papers...  

The UK Government are thrashing out arrangements for their Tiers of Restriction/Intervention plan. We are expecting a Coronavirus Briefing any day to announce exactly what the Tiers will be, and which areas will fall under which tier.
No school will be closed except as a last resort, but it doesn't look as promising for pubs, bars and restaurants, and other hospitality and leisure. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 5th / 6th October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 5th / 6th October 2020.

The UK added 14,542 cases today (the same time last week we added +7,143) and now has reported a total of 530,113 positive cases of COVID-19 (Up 83,957 since the same time last week, when the total was 446,156). We completed 273,100 tests yesterday. 

There were 2,833 patients in hospital on Sunday 4th October, with 393 using a ventilator yesterday.  (Up from 2,049 / 297 the same time last week). 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 76 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 42,445 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Yes, we clearly have a problem. Never forget though, that we still aren't in the position we were in during Spring, when we might have only been catching 1 in every 10 to 20 cases. Now we believe we catch around 1 in 2. That doesn't mean we can be complacent, but keep it in perspective. 

Rep. Of Ireland 38,549 cases and 1,810 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 35,893,179 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,051,146. Already 26,998,272 people have recovered.

WHO children emulate stress be calm

"Our best estimates tell us that about 10% of the global population may have been infected by this virus."
Dr Mike Ryan, World Health Organisation

As we spotted when the guidance for schools changed last week, the English Government is about to bring in a Tier System, which will hopefully simplify all of the various rulings in place in England. Rather than having to refer to your local authority to find out exactly what you can and can't do, each location will be given a standardised 'Tier' and that will have restrictions associated with it.
I covered what this means for schools on 28/29 September, and further information is probably also buried within different guidance pages, but few humans have time to read them all. Further announcements are expected imminently. 

Trump seems to have relied almost entirely on testing everyone in order to 'prevent' COVID-19 ever reaching him. He rarely wore a mask, didn't socially distance, and I can't comment on whether he even washes his hands. New York Times has it in one headline:
"Trump campaign officials say his illness shows the futility of precautions, many of which he did not take."
Nailed it. 

Hexbug Nano Flash Playground Review (age 3+) Sent for review.

This Autumn Hexbug have released a whole load of clever new sets, and they've sent us the Hexbug Nano Flash Playground to take a look at. We've looked at a couple of the new sets, and the Playground really is what it says - a playground for your Hexbugs to run safely around in.

Hexbug Flash nano playground in box

Packaging is really getting much better, but still contains some single-use plastic. Inside the box are over 30 pieces, including: Hexagonal base board, 2 x ramps, 8 x jelly walls, 4 x mini wall corners, 8 x mini walls, 8 x joints, 2 x merry-go-rounds, plus 3 Hexbugs - 2 x Hexbug Nano, and 1 x Hexbug Flash Nano. 

Hexbug Flash nano Orbit set pack contents spread on table

The Hexbug Flasj nano is bigger, faster, and lights up. It isn't quite as pretty as the regular Hexbug nano, until it's running about. They move by vibrating, which moves the little legs and propels them along. 

Monday, 5 October 2020

Elegoo Smart Robot Car Kit 3.0 Plus Review (Age 13+) Sent for review.

Robots are one of my favourite things, and thankfully my children enjoy them too. We've been sent the Smart Robot Car Kit to review by Elegoo, and it's genuinely a great set for any young engineer who has some very basic experience with robotics and electronics, but who wants to expand their ability and practise their skills, and maybe get more involved in programming. 

The set is recommended for age 13+, and looked quite daunting, but it actually took my 12 year old just over 2 hours from in-the-box to bathroom floor line-following robot - with very little help. Genuinely pleasing...

Elegoo Smart Robot Car Kit collage of closed box front, and completed

The packaging has some minimal single-use plastic, which would be hard to avoid, especially the static-free bags for the electrical components. It's mainly card, and is a gorgeous arrangement in bright yellow, which really feels like opening presents. 

elegoo robot car kit - boxes inside the box

There was just enough cute to stop my son feeling it was beyond him, but clearly this isn't a set for little ones. There are a lot of small parts, wires and circuits, and they've included 3 small screwdrivers, which is always very welcome (and saves hours of searching). Batteries are also included, and the main robot is rechargeable. You don't need anything aside from what's in the box. 

Elegoo smart robot car kit for teenagers review box contents all displayed o table

Sunday, 4 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News weekend update 3rd and 4th October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News weekend update 3rd and 4th October 2020.

The UK Coronavirus dashboard page has this message:
"Due to a technical issue, which has now been resolved, there has been a delay in publishing a number of COVID-19 cases to the dashboard in England. This means the total reported over the coming days will include some additional cases from the period between 24 September and 1 October, increasing the number of cases reported."

Today's report is incredibly late (9.25pm), and incredibly large, and includes the message: "An issue was identified overnight on Friday 2 October in the automated process that transfers positive cases data to PHE. It has now been resolved. The cases by publish date for 3 and 4 October include 15,841 additional cases with specimen dates between 25 September and 2 October — they are therefore artificially high for England and the UK."

The UK added 22,961 cases today (+12,872 yesterday) and now has reported a total of 502,978 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 264,979 tests on Friday 2nd October. 

2,428 people were in hospital on Thursday 1st October, with 368 using a ventilator on Friday 2nd. 


In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 33 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days (yesterday +49). We now very sadly have a total of 42,350 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 38,032 (+364) cases and 1,810 losses of life.

There have now been a total of 35,327,777 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,040,491. Already 26,294,462 people have recovered.

Protect each other and wear a face covering

"We want people to behave fearlessly but with common sense."
Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister and shower-time phrase-creator, on the Andrew Marr Show this morning.
For reference, fearlessness is appropriate when doing something risky, whereas common sense avoids risk. If you're being incredibly safe and sensible, you shouldn't need to be brave about it. Possibly the best example of a UK Govt. mixed message yet. 

Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, Poland and Turkey were removed from the England travel corridors list at 4am, Saturday 3 October 2020.

Donald Trump was taken to hospital on Friday night. He is at Walter Reed Medical Center Military Hospital, and he has a suite where he can work, so as of now he's still on duty. Different medical authorities have different policies regarding COVID, plus he's the President, so hospital admission doesn't imply serious illness. 

He's been reported to be experiencing mild symptoms, including lethargy. He's also been reported as being ill, with a critical 48 hours treatment-wise. It’s also been reported he may have had some oxygen back at The White House, and on 2 occasions his oxygen levels have dropped below 93%, but he definitely wasn't on oxygen during his transfer to hospital from The White House. Unsurprisingly US journalists are complaining about confusing messages.
Donald meanwhile has been tweeting away regardless, including a 4 minute "Thank you" where he referred to drugs to treat COVID as "a miracle from God", and said the country were very happy Melania is doing well. Glad to hear it. If he can still ramble for that long, it's looking like he's okay so far. Also....he didn't have his Wotsit face on, he almost looked pink, like a real human boy. 

Friday, 2 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 2nd October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 2nd October 2020.

The UK added 6,968 cases today and now has reported a total of 467,146 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 264,979 tests yesterday.

2,376 people were in hospital on Wednesday 30th Sept, with 341 using a ventilator yesterday. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 66 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 42,268 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 36,597 cases and 1,806 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 34,665,646 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,030,027. Already 25,778,405 people have recovered.

021020 PHE Public Health England weekly surveillance report

"It's perfectly reasonable to make the argument that we should just let the virus rip. I just think that the hundreds of thousands of deaths that would follow is not a price that anyone should pay."
Matt Hancock, UK MP for Health and Social Care, and face of the UK COVID response. 

Well, where do we even start.... 

Trump Of The Day:
"Tonight, FLOTUS (Melania) and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!"
Obviously Donald liked the UK press briefing message of "togetherness". I genuinely wish both of them well - as I do any human being who is ill. Doesn't mean I won't be taking the pee though! 

UK University reopening is going astoundingly badly. Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne has just reported an eye-watering 770 students have tested positive. 78 students have symptoms (around 1 in every 10). 

Thursday, 1 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 30th Sept / 1st October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 30th Sept / 1st October 2020.

The UK added 6,914 cases today and now has reported a total of 460,178 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 255,915 tests yesterday. 

2,276 people were in hospital on Tuesday 29th, with 332 using a ventilator on Wednesday 30th. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 59 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 42,202 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 36,597 (+442) cases and 1,806 (+2) losses of life. 

There have now been a total of 34,330,504 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,021,295. Already 25,543,210 people have recovered.

011020 Test and Trace stats to date

Matt Hancock has announced that Liverpool, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough are the latest places in the UK which will face extra restrictions - from 10pm on Saturday:
"We will bring in regulations, as we have in the North East, to prevent in law social mixing between people in different households in all settings except outdoor public spaces like parks and outdoor hospitality.
"We also recommend that people should not attend professional or amateur sporting events as spectators in the areas that are affected.
"We recommend that people only visit care homes in exceptional circumstances and there will be guidance against all but essential travel. Essential travel, of course, includes going to work or school."

No real surprises that the UK's Coronavirus Act was renewed in parliament with an overwhelming majority of 330 for, and 24 against. They have said that discussions and even voting will take place in future, before important national measures are enforced. 

Time's Up! Party Game Review (age 12+) Sent by Asmodee

Time's Up! Party has been sent to us by Asmodee for review, and it's another game which is great for a party or larger group, but it still works for 4 of you. Suitable for 4-12 players aged around 12+, in 2-4 teams.

It is familiar as this is a party game which is far older than you or I, but it's a genuine classic reworked, and guaranteed to create more than a few laughs... 

Time's Up Party Game Review Age 12+ Sent by Asmodee

The game is well packaged in a really sturdy box. It's not far off single-use-plastic-free, and a great size and shape for storage. Inside the box you have a sand timer, 220 cards, rulebook, biographies book and a pad of scorecards - and a drawstring cloth bag to keep everything in. 

Times Up Party Game Review box contents

This is a really quick-fire game, with a very short timer, and it leads to quite frantic gameplay at times. It's played over 3 rounds, and on each round you can answer as many cards as you can manage. (We are not doing as well as this implies, 3 is our current record!). 

Times up game review example cards to guess characters who am i