Thursday 26 November 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 25th / 26th November 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 25th / 26th November 2020.

The UK added 17,555 cases today and now has reported a total of 1,574,562 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 356,026 tests yesterday. 

16,341 people were in hospital on Tuesday 24th, with 1,480 using a ventilator yesterday, Wednesday 25th November. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 498 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 57,031 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 71,187 cases and 2,003 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 61,120,943 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,433,826. Already 42,291,588 people have recovered.

Local UK COVID Tiers from 2nd December depicted as a 3 coloured map UK Briefing 261120

England Briefing today with Boris, UK Prime Minister, Prof Chris Whitty, UK Staring Contest Winner 2020, and Sir Patrick Vallance, inventor of the flouncy bit round your bedsheet. 
"We now have reason to hope that by Spring, community testing and vaccinations will combine to end this era of restrictions, but to get there we need to navigate a hard Winter."
If we loosen off now, we risk losing control of the virus and wasting all of our hard work. Italy has a nightly curfew, Germany and France have measures in place until next year too. We aren't on our own. 
Boris then went through some of the information on the new Tier System for England. He says the measures are tough, and he's "sorry about that". 
He admits the previous Tiers couldn't help areas lower infections. They weren't tough enough. 
Liverpool shows what can be achieved with mass testing. Together with the national restrictions, cases have dropped by 2/3. Liverpool City and Warrington on December 2nd are now moving to Tier 2. 
Tier 3 areas will be offered mass testing to try and drive down infection rates rapidly. At least 1 in 3 people with COVID has no visible symptoms whatsoever, only by mass testing (and contact testing, we could try that Boris) can we find them. 
'It may be possible, with negative tests, for people to be released from some local restrictions' (Hmmmm. No further details on that one yet.)
The allocation of Tiers will be reviewed every 14 days, starting on 16th December.
The estimated no. of positives from ONS infection survey shows a clear curve and it's heading downwards. (Whoot!) Except in Scotland - where it's going up! (What the heck Scotland?) Hospitalisations are levelling off. Sadly losses of life will take around 2 more weeks to show an impact. 
Patrick with the slides explains and shows how old Tier 1 restrictions did nothing, old Tier 2 slowed infections really slightly, but they were still going up fast. The overall effect of the national restrictions does seem to have 'turned a corner' where cases are concerned. 
Chris has an animated slide, which sounds great, but it's risky pausing it at the right moment live on Telly. It shows rates of COVID cases are going down almost universally in England (except Kent really. Kent is having a bad time right now). Chris warns that going into Winter, "almost certainly places that go into Tier 1 will rise", which is not the best outcome to aim for. I know it keeps things open, but sheesh guys. (Jacinda would never stand for this sort of talk.)
Only the Isle of Wight. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are Tier 1 (sorry about your future move to Tier 2). I'll add a link below to the gov page with all English Local Authority Tiers, but I'm guessing by now you know your own.
If cases are high or rising, you'll be more likely to be in Tier 3. 
The aim says Chris is to "keep the R below 1". He's clearly bricking it about Winter. 
Press asked why when the 'lockdown' ends, many areas will change over to restrictions that are harder than before lockdown. Boris, Chris and Pat all made it clear that we have to be hard through December, or Winter (and Christmas) will break us. We are used to Summer with this virus - Winter is a bit of an unknown, and don't forget flu will still exist. We can see across Europe that it's looking harder to bring case rates down already.
Chris and Pat talked about being sensible over Christmas - open the windows, go outside in you can, take a walk, wash your hands etc. Chris actually said "If you want people to be alive to be hugged again." Blunt, but it is something you really have to take seriously. 
For some people this Christmas it will always be worth the risk, but for the vast majority, it may not. I know if my partner's parents turned up, I'd post them a warmed mince pie out through the letterbox and talk to them through the window, and that would be their limit. We'll have them round to stay next year. 
UK COVID Deaths to 21 Nov UK Briefing 261120

Tiers aren't just about how many cases you have:
"Decisions on which area goes into which tier are primarily based on 5 key epidemiological indicators:
- case detection rates in all age groups
- case detection rates in the over-60s
- the rate at which cases are rising or falling
- positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
- pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy
The indicators are designed to provide a full picture of what is happening with the virus in any area so that suitable action can be taken."
The Tiers won't eradicate COVID, they are to keep levels down well below hospital capacity, and avoid putting vulnerable people at risk. 

Northern Ireland begin a 2 week Circuit Breaker lockdown tomorrow. 
All leisure, hospitality, close contact and non-essential retail must close, although retail will be able to operate Click & Collect
Places of worship will remain open
Drive-in services can continue (I honestly can't decide if they mean Church services or just services, but if it's Church - wahey!). 
Work from home if possible
Education remains open. 

The Republic of Ireland have also asked people in the mainland UK to consider very carefully, and even reconsider, visiting for Christmas. 

English Support Bubbles are being expanded slightly. From 2 December, you can form a support bubble with another household, if at least one has:
• only one adult; (including a household where any children are under the age of 18)
• only one adult carer (i.e. living with any additional adult(s) in the household that have a disability and require continuous care);
• a child under 1 (regardless of how many other adults are in the household) ; or
• a child under 5 with a disability that requires continuous care (regardless of how many other adults are in the household)
These are separate from childcare bubbles for children under age 14. 
In Scotland single adult households can form a support bubble with another household. 
In Wales and Northern Ireland 2 households of any size can form a support bubble. 

Estonia and Latvia will be removed from the UK Travel Corridors at 4am Saturday morning. (Quarantine will be necessary.)
UK COVID hospitalisations to 21 Nov UK Briefing 261120

Hospital admissions in most UK areas are beginning to show a definite flattening and even a downward trend, but not quite everywhere - the Exeter Nightingale Hospital has opened for COVID care. 
This is the first use of a Nightingale for COVID patients since Spring. The Manchester Nightingale has been taking non-COVID patients needing rehabilitation and aftercare for the last few weeks. 

Rishi Sunak did a 1 year UK budget forecast yesterday. Usually it's 3 year, but there's a pandemic on and a bit of uncertainty. In our desperate aim to spend as much money as possible on unsuitable PPE and ineffective Test & Trace, we have basically overspent by as much as we usually earn in a year, and it is anticipated we'll overspend again next year by several billions, but substantially less than this year. It was to be expected, and lives are at stake. Once COVID lockdowns and tight restrictions come to an end, there'll be a pretty good bounce back. It'll never replace all of the losses, but life will return to one of 'year on year profit' and 'shareholder's bonuses'. 

It's all Andy Burnham's fault that local leaders weren't consulted about the new Tier system, because he was a royal pain in the behind about the old Tier system according to Matt 'Bear A Grudge' Hancock. He used different words, but not very different. He then placed the whole of Greater Manchester into Tier 3, while London is Tier 2. Cases in London have risen by 18% over the last 2 weeks, cases in the North West have dropped by 39% over the same period. There are a lot of people who don't feel fairly treated. 

UK School attendance is DOWN, after remaining pretty stable for the first half term, it's a bit of a mess now, and we have around 1 IN EVERY 10 PUPILS AT HOME because of COVID. Figures are a weekly snapshot of the Thursday attendance, so these refer to Thursday 19th November. 
- Overall attendance has been in the region of 87-90% since September, but on 19th November attendance in state-funded primary schools was 87% (down from 90% the week before) and in state-funded secondary schools it was 78% (down from 83% the week before). That certainly feels true here.
- 99.0% of state-funded schools were open, compared with 99.6% a week earlier. 
- "We estimate approximately 9 to 11% of pupils in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on Thursday 19 November. This includes:
0.2% of pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus. Similar to last week.
0.4%  of pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus. Up from 0.3% last week.
8.2 to 9.3% of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus, up from 5.8 to 6.7% last week.
0.8% of pupils in schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons. Up from 0.3% last week."
- 36% of state-funded schools reported that they had one or more pupils self-isolating, who had been asked to do so due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school (up from 29% a week earlier). 
Clever figures those, because there are several primary schools for every secondary school, so that's actually 73% of state-funded secondaries (up from 64% last week) and 29% of state-funded primaries (up from 22% last week).
- 25 to 27% had 30 or more pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school. This figure was 8 to 9% on 5 November and 18 to 20% on 12 November.
- Early years are definitely down a bit too. Figures are less accurate because of part-time children who aren't present at the time/day when the totals are given. 
"On a typical day in the autumn term we expect attendance to be 887,000, due to different and part-time patterns of childcare during the week. We estimate that the 806,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 91% of the usual daily level."

UK COVID Cases to 21 Nov UK Briefing 261120

The England/Wales Track & Trace has been investigated by Reuters and it's a brilliant article. They discovered that if you exclude 'other members of the same household' they only contact 1 person for every 2 cases of COVID. 
Lots of people have complained to me that they got multiple calls when several people in the household tested positive, because Test & Trace try to contact all of the other household members to tell them about every other case. If there are 5 of you in the house, that can be 20 calls. If Mum gave her phone number as a contact for the kids, she'll get calls on behalf of her kids to tell her that she has COVID. 
It's a ridiculous waste of time and resources - and the last people you should need to contact because they'll be well aware someone has COVID and should be isolating anyway. 
Honestly. I have no words. 

The serendipitous AstraZeneca vaccine results are making folk a little twitchy. 2,741 people accidentally received the half dose/full dose combo which was most effective, and it seems none of them were over 55, which may have affected the outcome, and made it look more effective. The efficacy of the 2 full doses across the broad age range was 62%. AstraZeneca have announced they will be running a brand new trial purely to study this on a larger scale and check it wasn't a fluke. 
Frankly, in much of the less affluent world fewer people live beyond 55. People living in Mumbai slums have life expectancy as low as 40. 
Efficacy with the original 2 full doses is still more effective than the current flu jab, and should be enough to knock transmission rates right down - and offer personal protection for 2/3 of those who need it most. 
Finalised study data isn't yet out - expect it any day now.

Denmark culled millions of mink after discovering they were carrying COVID with a slight mutation that could make current vaccines less effective. They did it in a rush, and didn't quite think it through. Many were only buried a metre deep in mass graves, in Denmark's sandy soil. Natural decomposition involves some bloating, and despite workers throwing more and more soil on top, the social media headlines over there are currently along the lines of "Zombie mink escape from their graves, run for your lives". 

Deciding what to do over Christmas is going to be incredibly difficult for a lot of people. 3 families isn't actually a lot, and most of us will have other people we'd like to see. Some of us won't want to mix with anyone. Don't let pressure about Christmas ruin Christmas. 
Respect other people's fears, don't put pressure on them, and remember that from December 2nd, whatever Tier you are in, you CAN meet up with 5 other people in many outdoor public spaces, including parks and grounds. 

2 years ago my household all had proper flu and my partner was only released from hospital at 4pm on Christmas Eve. My big kids went out with my cashcard and bought what they could find to eat. Everything was wrapped Christmas Eve night in whatever I could find behind the wardrobe. My step-son came up from Uni in London and stayed with his Grandparents, so only visited us through the window. My partner's parents had to stay away until the New Year. 2 of the big kids cooked (a brilliant) Christmas dinner. I had to take a 2 hour nap on Christmas Day - twice. None of it was what we expected. 
Looking back, we made some of the best Christmas memories ever... 

It'll be okay. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of the American readers! Go zoom a Granny! 

Some numbers. All with a smile for a twinkling Christmas tree:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (in bigger countries, some states/provinces haven't yet reported today):

USA 13,191,694 (+53,475) 268,909 (+688)
India 9,308,751 (+42,054) 135,734 (+473)
Brazil 6,170,827 (+3,929) 170,832 (+33)
Russia 2,187,990 (+25,487) 38,062 (+524) 
France 2,183,660 (+13,563) 50,957 (+339)
Spain 1,622,632 not yet reported today 44,037
UK 1,574,562 (+17,555) 57,031 (+498) 
Italy 1,509,875 (+29,003) 52,850 (+822)
Argentina 1,390,388 not yet reported today 37,714
Colombia 1,270,991 not yet reported today 35,860
Mexico 1,070,487 (+10,335) 103,597 (+858) 
Germany 987,124 (+3,393) 15,425 (+44)
Peru 954,459 not yet reported today 35,727
Poland 941,112 (+16,687) 15,568 (+580)
Iran 908,346 (+13,961) 46,689 (+482) 

1 comment:

  1. You are right. You make your own memories with what you have. It doesn't have to be perfect or elaborate. Being well, together in whatever format, even with a long cabled phone like the olden days, chatting or just watching a christmas film. We will get through this and health is what's important here xxx


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