Monday, 30 November 2020

England Coronavirus Briefing 30th November 2020

 Today's English Coronavirus briefing was with Matt Hancock the Health Secretary,  General Sir Gordon Messenger, the Head of Operations for the Community Testing Programme, and Professor Stephen Powis, Medical Director of NHS England. 

Today the Government published the data behind their decisions regarding COVID and the lockdown. It's been requested often, as sometimes numbers they've quoted haven't quite matched anything anyone is aware of. There hasn't been a huge amount of controversy instantly, so I can't see that there's anything striking there. It's not obvious yet anyway... 

Tomorrow night the national restrictions in England come to an end, to be replaced by the tier system, subject to agreement by Parliament tomorrow afternoon. 

Local UK COVID Tiers from 2nd December UK Briefing 261120

Average rolling average number of positive tests is 14,778 a day, down from a peak of 25,331 on 16th Nov.
Today we have 15,712 people in hospital, down from 16,612 on 23rd November.
In England the week before peak cases grew by 11%, but in the last week cases have dropped by one third. It shows the national restrictions have been successful.
We have a current rolling average of 460 losses of life a day (today we reported 205 people lost - bear in mind weekend reporting is lower).
The R is back below 1, but only just, and it's due to the restrictions, so if we let go too much, it'll just go back up again. 

The COVID Winter Plan sets out the end to restrictions and how we'll move towards Spring. (It details mainly the Tier System.)
The NHS stands ready to deploy a vaccine as soon as it's been approved.
Matt talks about positive figures and impending authorisation for the Moderna vaccine. He reminds us we have purchased 357m doses of vaccines. (Across 7 different vaccines). 

Today we begin the rollout of Uni student mass testing and community testing - we won't just test people with symptoms, we're going to try and find some of the 1/3 of people who have no symptoms. The case rate in Liverpool has come down by 3/4 since we started there (nice one), so they can go into Tier 2 when lockdown ends. 

Tier 3 areas (or equivalent in Wales/Scotland N.Ireland) will be offered community testing in order to react to high levels of cases and bring it down quickly. 

Steve had a slide showing hospital admissions. It is looking like a tentative plateau, and over the next week or 2 should reflect the drop in positive case numbers that we are seeing. 

Public asked, "I'm in Tier 2, can I get together with my long-term boyfriend despite us living in different households?"
Matt referred her to the Gov dot UK website - it is pretty clear and easy to follow to be honest. He also gave the answer, in Tier 2 they can mix outdoors, but not indoors. 

Press asked if it was possible that people who don't get vaccinated won't be allowed in pubs and restaurants etc?
Matt says clearly "We do not intend to mandate a vaccine". He believes take-up will be very high, and we have a high degree of confidence o]in the protection for the vaccinated people, but we don't yet know if they would still be able to spread the virus at any point, despite not becoming ill. We will continue with all of the measures for as long as we need them. It's critical we have the testing programme alongside the vaccine programme. 

General Sir Gordon says he doesn't like the term 'mass testing', as it's locally targetted and not just blanket. Although the army will support, most delivery of testing will be through local health services, and there's no realistic chance they can immediately start testing in all Tier 3 areas. (Bad news if you thought a strapping great soldier was about to rush round and assist you with your rapid Lateral Flow COVID test.)

self employment coronavirus scheme apply from 30 nov

Matt says being able to announce the rollout of mass testing for uni students, and then communities, is a sign of the success of Test & Trace. Yes, it is (but it should have happened back in June. If it was June now, I'd be proud. It's December tomorrow). 

Press asked, 23m people will be going into Tier 3 restrictions, will Test & Trace cope? (probably not, but the less cases we have, the better any test and trace works). 

Matt tries to sell the idea of the Tiers - it will be put before Parliament for voting tomorrow, and some Conservative MP's are very vocally against. He urges them to vote for the Tier System.  

The first review of the Tier System allocation will be on December 16th, with fortnightly reviews thereafter. 

The Uni Student travel window is 3 to 9 December, to try and prevent students being trapped at uni self-isolating over Christmas. Students who have tested positive or been notified by the NHS test and trace system must self-isolate and cannot travel until after this has finished. 

The Christmas Bubble is 23rd and 27th of December, when up to 3 households can form an exclusive ‘bubble’ to meet at home during this period.
When a bubble is formed it is fixed, and must not be changed or extended further at any point.
Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place. 

Back tomorrow with the regular report! 


Additional Sources: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/student-movement-and-plans-for-the-end-of-autumn-2020-term

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/joint-statement-on-uk-wide-christmas-arrangements-from-the-uk-government-and-devolved-administrations

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