Friday 18 December 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 18th December 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 18th December 2020.

The UK added 28,507 cases today and now has reported a total of presumably 1,977,167 positive cases of COVID-19. (The UK dashboard broke at this point, so I can't be sure what total they've given.) 

18,469 people were in hospital on Wednesday 16th (up from 16,136 a week earlier), with 1,340 using a ventilator also on Wednesday.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 489 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 66,541 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 78,254 (+576) cases and 2,149 (+6) losses of life. 

There have now been a total of 75,641,366 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,674,733. Already 53,089,262 people have recovered.

How to celebrate more safely - isolate / distance / outdoors / open a window

On Wednesday there were just 10 critical care beds empty in the whole of Wales. Surge capacity has been put into place, but the situation is very tenuous. Part of the problem is staff members are also ill or isolating, so overall capacity is reduced. Either way, if there's no bed or no-one to staff it, there's no bed.

Northern Ireland will have a strict lockdown after Christmas. The Christmas bubbles 23-27 December (with an extra travel allowance of 1 day either end if necessary) can remain, but this is the only mixing between households allowed until 2nd January. 
From Boxing Day for 1 week until 2nd January:
- non-essential retail and close contact services close.
- hospitality will be take away / delivery only
- essential retail / business must close overnight 8pm - 6am
- no household mixing indoors or out, including exercise
- no sporting events, including elite sportspeople
After the initial week, for another 5 weeks:
- non-essential retail and close contact services close. (This will be strict e.g. no click & collect or homewares.)
- hospitality will be take away / delivery only
- Sales of alcohol to take home 8am -8pm only.
- Childcare bubbles can resume
Schools will reopen as planned. There will be a review after 4 weeks.
Yesterday Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said that there have only been 5 days since 21st October when the hospital occupancy has been below 95%.

Wales have already announced a strict lockdown for the same time period. 

Scotland are expected to also impose extra restrictions after Christmas. A decision will be made on Tuesday. 

England, pfft, who knows. Probably we'll all have to commit to buying 12 frothy Coffees, 3 suitcases of sale clothing and a room full of housewares, and then we'll be given an 'Alert' badge and allowed to go home. 

181220 dail hospital occupancy ENgland indieSAGE

The Exeter Nightingale Hospital now has 34 patients. 

COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey Round 1, England: November 2020:
105 schools (63 secondary, 42 primary) in 14 local authorities (9 high prevalence, 5 low prevalence) took part in the first round of testing.
Within these schools, 9,662 people were tested.
- 1.47% of staff in secondary schools and  0.75% of staff in primary schools tested positive.
- 1.48% of pupils in secondary schools and 0.89% of pupils in primary schools tested positive.
- Of the 105 schools surveyed, 47 (44.8%) had no current infections, 29 (27.6%) had 1 current infection and the remaining 29 (27.6%) schools had between 2 and 5 current infections.
Levels of positive results were higher in high prevalence areas, mirroring the local community. 

The UK Infection Survey from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) last week estimated 1 in every 110 people in England had COVID. Latest figures released today estimate 1 in every 95 people had COVID during the testing period 6th-12th December:
"Over the most recent week, the percentage of people testing positive has increased sharply in London, with other increases in the East of England, the East Midlands, and the South East; the percentage of people testing positive in the North West and Yorkshire and The Humber has continued to decrease in the most recent week."
(Andy Burnham will be absolutely spitting reading that).
In the most recent week's data, the percentage of people testing positive has increased in most age groups, aside from age 16 to 24, and 50 to 69 years. there are now early signs the percentage testing positive is levelling out among older teenagers and young adults.
In Wales: The percentage of those testing positive has increased for several weeks and estimates are that 1 in every 90 people had COVID during the testing period.
In Scotland: There is an increase. Estimates are that 1 in every 100 people had COVID during the testing period.
In Northern Ireland: The percentage testing positive in Northern Ireland appears to no longer be decreasing. Estimates are that 1 in every 215 people had COVID during the testing period.
The disparity between white people and other ethnic groups hasn't gone away either:
"Individuals from the "Other" ethnic group had significantly greater positivity rates in the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, and the South East."

181220 weekly average New cases uk nations indieSAGE

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said this morning on Sky News that volunteers will administrate COVID19 tests in schools, teachers won't be expected to do it. All secondary pupils will be tested on their return to in-school learning. 

Today's indieSAGE briefing was, and it's not a surprise, grim. There's no sugar coating it. Cases and hospitalisations are rising pretty much everywhere, and it's not slow movement either. Areas with Tier 2 restrictions have almost universally risen, but more concerningly, so have Tier 3.
"Even our toughest set of measures is not enough to slow the spread of the virus down, and with Christmas mixing on the horizon, I personally find this extremely worrying."
In the first peak we saw around 113,000 people in total admitted to hospital. So far in this second wave we've seen about 92.000 people admitted. This second wave will overtake the first wave within a couple of weeks.
Vaccination is our good news story. We should mention it more often. Somewhere over 140,000 people in the UK have been vaccinated with their 1st dose so far. England 108,000 / Wales 8,000 / Scotland 18,000 / N.I. 4,000.
Modelling about Christmas suggests that if every other household was to get together with 2 more households, the R number (reproductive number) would potentially rise to between 2.8-3.5. If every household pairs with 1 other, it could still rise to 1.9-2.4. indieSAGE believe that relaxing restrictions over Christmas is the wrong move. They are strongly advising households to follow guidance on reducing COVID risk at Christmas.
They suggest making a Household Plan - consider where and when you'll meet, for how long, and who will be there. Get together with everyone who'll be meeting up, and agree on how you'll all behave. Extra consideration should be given to the people who are most vulnerable within your group, they have to feel comfortable with arrangements, and so do you.
Always consider:
1. Maximising space between people
2. Ensuring enough ventilation
3. Using face masks if it feels comfortable
4. Making sure hands, objects and surfaces are regularly cleaned
5. Planning your activities so that you limit those that have a higher risk of spreading the virus

The USA is on the verge of approving the Moderna Vaccine according to Vice President Mike Pence. - hopefully before the end of the day. Nice one. 

German company BioNTech is headed by 2 brilliant scientists who also happen to be Turkish Immigrants. They are unhappy that this is being used as a 'political prop' (they're being hailed as the 'ideal immigrant') and seems to be the main focus of attention.
Their vaccine with Pfizer is incredible technology that could change the way vaccines are made in the future, and it is so far outperforming all rivals. It does have to be stored at -70 degrees, but it's genius. Ozlem Tureci and Ugur Sahin genuinely may get the Nobel Prize for this. 

Ironically, today is World Migrants Day, and the World Health Organisation briefing started with the story of Ozlem and Ugur, and how successful they are. 

181220 percentage of New cases positive UK Nations indieSAGE

The Australian Open Tennis Tournament has been delayed by 3 weeks to allow for COVID quarantining. (Frankly this news is far too... normal...)
The New York and Indian Tennis Open Tournaments have been cancelled. 

I think it's fairly obvious that most of the Northern hemisphere of the Earth will be under lockdown after the midwinter festivities. 
For anyone still in doubt, hospitals are beginning to feel the pressure across Europe and the USA. And we are barely into flu season.
Most COVID patients need a little oxygen and then they recover enough to go home, those who need more care can be there for weeks. As long as you can treat them, the mortality rate seems to be around 1%, but if you can't... Estimates in Lombardy put the mortality rate around 14% when they ran out of capacity. That's COVID patients. If your hospital is full, they have to start deciding who to treat, and who to send home. Those with most estimated years left get priority. That applies to anyone who arrives at hospital, and don't forget, even when things are pretty bad, only around half the patients admitted are COVID patients.
Remember: Now is not the time to run down the stairs carrying scissors, or be reckless crossing the road. 

The ONS have also looked into Long COVID. I know that a significant number of you guys are suffering with this, and you definitely aren't alone:
"Around 1 in 5 respondents testing positive for COVID-19 exhibit symptoms for a period of 5 weeks or longer
Around 1 in 10 respondents testing positive for COVID-19 exhibit symptoms for a period of 12 weeks or longer"
Most common long term symptoms are fatigue, headaches and coughs. Day after day, after day. It's incredibly debilitating and demoralising. I have genuine sympathy for anyone suffering. 

Doit dot life is trying to ensure far less people spend Christmas on their own. They are working with NHS Volunteer Responders and DoItTogether, pairing volunteers around Britain with people on their own - for calls, shopping and medical supply drops, and doorstep chats. If you are going to be alone and don't want to be, or you can offer a little time to someone else, the website is Doit dot life 

181220 New cases by specimen date indieSAGE

A year ago Samoa was under strict stay-at-home lockdown due to a virus. That virus was Measles. Vaccination take up had been very low for a while due to mistrust and misinformation, and the outbreak infected 5,700 of the tiny 200,000 person population. 83 people died, mainly children under 5. Translated to a population as big as the UK, it's the equivalent of over 28,000 people. Even now, it is easy to forget how fortunate we are to have vaccines. 

The Washington Post asked readers to come up with a word or phrase to sum up 2020. A 9 year old from Michigan nailed it:
"Like looking both ways before crossing the street and then getting hit by a submarine."

Bloomberg have created a vaccine tracker for the biggest vaccination programme in history:
Country / People vaccinated / Last updated
China 650,000 Nov 28
Russia 320,000 Dec 15
U.K. 137,897 Dec 15
England 108,000 Dec 15 (Over 180,000 Dec 17th)
Scotland 18,000 Dec 15
Wales 7,897 Dec 15
Northern Ireland 5,300 Dec 15
U.S. 49,567 Dec. 17
I remember when the COVID Case Trackers were this size, and it's been no fun watching them get bigger and bigger. I'm very much looking forward to seeing this tracker add more nations, more numbers, more people.

Can we have a round of applause for the very few places on the Earth who have managed to completely avoid COVID. The following countries haven't officially reported a single case. Well done to all of you (we are insanely jealous)... Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu and *ahem* North Korea and Turkmenistan.  

Today is "Mad Friday", the Friday before Christmas when traditionally people break up from work and go out on the lash. My partner is currently 3 large rum and cokes in with his zoom works do, and I wouldn't be surprised if you could hear him from there. It's all different this year, but that doesn't mean we can't make it work. We've done a fabulous job all year - we can do this. All of us. 

Have a lovely weekend. If you haven't got the tree up or baked any mince pies yet, do it. There are tons of Christmassy carol concerts and family movies (including Die Hard!) on Netflix/ Prime etc. It's food for the soul. Enjoy what you have, and make some unique memories. Don't waste the chance to think completely outside the norm and plan whatever you want to celebrate next week - it's the one year you can pretty much get away with anything, and no-one will think it's weird... Just remember... Physically Distance, Open A Window, Save The NHS. 

Some humans. They look like numbers here, but they're really people:

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

USA 17,683,332 (+50,182) 318,923 (+885)

India 10,004,620 (+26,786) 145,167 (+338)

Brazil 7,120,103 (+8,576) 184,992 (+116)

Russia 2,791,220 (+28,552) 49,762 (+611)

France 2,427,316 not yet reported today 59,619

Turkey 1,982,090 (+26,410) 17,610 (+246) 

UK 1,977,167 (+28,507) 66,541 (+489)

Italy 1,906,377 not yet reported today 67,220

Spain 1,805,633 not yet reported today 48,777

Germany 1,460,365 (+21,927) 25,681 (+516)

Mexico 1,289,298 (+11,799) 116,487 (+718)

Poland 1,182,864 (+11,013) 24,771 (+426)

Ukraine 944,381 (+12,630) 16,256 (+260)

Netherlands 664,456 (+11,931) 10,405 (+84)

Indonesia 650,197 (+6,689) 19,514 (+124)

Belgium 618,204 (+3,146) 18,371 (+93)

Czechia 610,006 (+7,590) 10,163 (+53)

Romania 582,786 (+5,340) 14,157 (+188)

Canada 492,701 (+4,063) 13,992 (+76) 



Measles in Samoa -


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