Thursday 17 December 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 16th / 17th December 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 16th / 17th December 2020.

"The number of new UK cases reported on 17 December 2020 includes around 11,000 previously unreported cases for Wales as a result of system maintenance in the NHS Wales Laboratory Information Management System."

The UK added 35,383 cases today and now has reported a total of 1,948,660 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 364,388 tests yesterday. 

18,009 people were in hospital on Tuesday 15th, with 1,340 using a ventilator yesterday, Wednesday 16th December. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 532 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 66,052 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 77,197 cases and 2,140 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 74,928,265 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,662,489. Already 52,640,295 people have recovered.

171220 Chart shows Cases per 100k population by age by RP131

There was a UK briefing about Christmas yesterday, and London and other areas of the South West moved into Tier 3 restrictions. 

Matt 'Crocodile Tiers' Hancock made the announcement to parliament that there are a few changes to allocated English Tiers. From Saturday morning:
Bristol and North Somerset move down from Tier 3 to Tier 2
Herefordshire moves down from Tier 2 to Tier 1.
(Well done, all of you!)
Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Surrey (except Waverley), Hastings and Rother, Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant will all move up into Tier 3.
(Sorry guys.)
This isn't universally welcomed. Some Northern areas with steady and dropping cases have been left in Tier 3, and somehow Worcestershire seems to have escaped being moved up. 

Rishi Sunak announced this afternoon that the Government Furlough Scheme has been extended to the end of April 2021.  

The English Government have asked secondary schools in the UK to stagger the return to in-school learning over the first week, so that community testing for all pupils can be set up. Pupils don't get any extra days 'off', they will have to do a full programme of at-home learning instead.
Watch out for information from your own school as to exactly when they'll be ready (they won't necessarily know yet).

Wales will move to Alert Level 4 restrictions on Christmas Eve. It's basically lockdown.
Education, places of worship, playgrounds and public parks can open. Just about everything else is closed. Stay at home whenever you can, and the only bubbles that are allowed are single adult household support bubbles.
The 5 day Christmas relaxation still stands, but people are asked to consider limiting household gatherings to 2 households instead of 3. The full lockdown will come into effect after the Christmas relaxation, on 28th December.
You will have to wait for your January sales.... although, let's be honest. Anyone actually fancy the idea of an instore sale right now? Me neither. 

171220 Cases per 100k by RP131 note Worcestershire

Pregnant women in England are now allowed to take a partner, friend or relative with them to all maternity appointments, including scans, labour and birth. COVID rules meant it was open to interpretation before, but this has been clarified. You DO NOT have to be on your own.  

The USA has now lost over 300,000 people to COVID - officially. The cathedral in Washington DC rang its bell 300 times on Tuesday night to remember them. 

Famous People With COVID:
French President Emmanuel Macron

Lost Their Fight:
The local lady who I have mentioned before. She was mid-30s and previously healthy, with a husband who was also hospitalised (now recovered), and a young son. I am truly sorry to those of you reading who knew her. I am truly sorry to anyone who has lost somebody they cared for. 

Valneva SE have developed a COVID vaccine in Scotland. The "inactivated, adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001" began Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials yesterday. Subject to it being effective, the UK Government have pre-ordered 60m doses. 

BBC News reporter Hugh Pym has got into trouble by asking a tube passenger why they weren't wearing a mask. Lots of the reasons why people don't wear masks are very personal, and not something you might want to share with strangers. The UK Government and other advice is not to challenge anyone. 

Politico have obtained an email from one of Trump's ex-Senior Scientific Advisors, Dr Paul Alexander, sent on July 4th. It includes the following:
“There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD. We continue the public health messages.... but we go on and let our societies open up fully NOW. If the hospitalizations occur in young and they get severe illness, then that's a different story and we will have a huge mess on our hands and real nightmare."

And rather appropriately, The New York Times are reporting that July may have been the deadliest month for young adults in modern American history, with 5,000 deaths above the normal average.
"...among U.S. adults ages 25 to 44, from March through the end of July, there were almost 12,000 more deaths than were expected based on historical norms."

The HSJ are reporting that "The East of England has seen a 45% increase in the number of COVID inpatients in the last week, with occupancy now higher than at the peak of the first wave."
It is now a lot harder to discharge patients who still test positive for COVID (thankfully!), however this leads to longer admissions and may be exacerbating the issue. 

Vaccines exposed spoof answer

South Korea are having a bad time. Despite previous success, the recent outbreak has continued. They reported 1,014 new COVID-19 cases yesterday (around half in the capital, Seoul), and a record high of 22 new losses of life.  

Australia also has a COVID outbreak. They’ve put up a pop-up clinic for 'mass testing' and imposed a stay-at-home order on Sydney's 'Northern Beaches' area. They have so far discovered 17 cases.
(This is how the other half live...)

Disappointing news from Sanofi. They are a huge drugs manufacturer, and many countries have placed orders for their vaccine candidate, but it's not effective enough in older adults. Its a big blow. It's not really an issue with development, as it seems likely they can tweak the mix, but it causes a massive delay, as they have to restart the clinical human trials. Huge shame, but we knew it was unlikely everything would work first time. 

Good news for Americans, bad news for Mexican food vendors. Tamales aren't selling like they usually do. This is being interpreted as meaning less family gatherings are happening. Trump may not be passing on the message, but Americans aren't all naive... 

The World Health Organisation have advised that if households come together to celebrate over Christmas, you should consider wearing face coverings 'even if it feels awkward'. 

A South Korean student has recycled face masks into stools. It takes 1,500 masks to make one of his 3 legged stackable stools. It sounds like a lot, but we are getting through billions and billions every day and it's far better than dumping them in landfill (or the sea), that's for sure... 

In about 4 days time, Saturn and Jupiter will look as if they are almost on top of each other in the sky, forming the very rarely seen and brighter than average "Christmas Star". At the moment they can be seen fairly close to each other, and if you look at the right time, will form a triangle with the moon. Best of luck for clear skies... 

Some numbers. The numbers are all people who were created from parts of the same exploding star:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (in larger countries some states /provinces have yet to report today):

USA 17,449,445 (+55,131) 315,641 (+1,012)

India 9,974,944 (+23,872) 144,786 (+299)

Brazil 7,053,486 (+10,791) 183,959 (+137)

Russia 2,762,668 (+28,214) 49,151 (+587)

France 2,427,316 (+18,254) 59,619 (+258)

Turkey 1,955,680 (+27,515) 17,364 (+243)

UK 1,948,660 (+35,383) 66,052 (+532)

Italy 1,906,377 (+18,236) 67,220 (+683)

Spain 1,782,566 not yet reported today 48,596

Germany 1,420,160 (+12,673) 24,766 (+325)

Mexico 1,277,499 (+10,297) 115,769 (+670)

Poland 1,171,854 (+11,953) 24,345 (+431)

Iran 1,138,530 (+7,453) 53,095 (+212)

Ukraine 931,751 (+12,047) 15,996 (+252).




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