Thursday 3 December 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 2nd/3rd December 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 2nd/3rd December 2020.

The UK added 14,879 cases today and now has reported a total of 1,674,134 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 352,990 tests yesterday. 

15,236 people were in hospital on Tuesday 1st, with 1,315 using a ventilator yesterday, 2nd December. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 414 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 60,113 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 73,228 (+162) cases and 2,080 (+6) losses of life. 

There have now been a total of 65,225,729 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,506,493. Already 45,187,474 people have recovered.

031220 weekly positives by upper tier authority England

Some harsh milestones today - the UK official total losses of life has surpassed 60,000 people (ONS report almost 70,000). The number of losses of life worldwide has surpassed 1.5 million. The USA has exceeded 100,000 people currently in hospital with COVID (this has doubled since early November).

This week's English surveillance report shows cases are DEFINITELY going down and the lockdown has had a good effect. The graph has a nice 'n' shape. It looks to me as if losses of life has also turned. Good stuff. 

There's a bit of kerfuffle over the ever-changing UK priority list for vaccination. Yesterday alone 3 different variations were given - I was beginning to feel like I'd gone mad. Is it NHS frontline staff first, or care home residents? Neither. 
People over the age of 80 who happen to be visiting one of the 50 COVID vaccine 'hospital hubs' will be immunised first, followed by people over 80 and care home staff, and then any remaining vaccines will be offered to NHS frontline staff. 
Not so much a mass immunisation as a damp starter, and disappointing/confusing for NHS Staff who were trying to plan ahead.  Logistics of getting the -70 degree vaccine out to care homes are pretty complicated, so for the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine at least, it wouldn't be a huge surprise if they give up on getting more of the elderly into hospital specially, and the NHS end up using a lot of it for staff anyway. 
In the hands of scientists the vaccines have gone so well. Now we hand responsibility over to the people who brought us the World-Beating Track & Trace. (Please, don't mess this up.) 

English school attendance is still poor, but thankfully no worse:
"On 26 November, attendance in state-funded primary schools was 88%, up slightly from 87% and attendance in state-funded secondary schools is 78%, the same as last week."
"We estimate approximately 8 to 10% of pupils in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on Thursday 26 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. Similar to last week.
7.6 to 8.4% of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus, down from 8.2 to 9.3% last week.
0.8% of pupils in schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons. Similar to last week."

The English government have published guidance for Further Education students and universities for January:
- The return of students should be staggered over 5 weeks - this is to minimise transmission risks from the mass movement of students, with practical and placement students returning first.
- All students should be offered testing on return to university
- Students shouldn't return to their term-time accommodation until their face-to-face teaching is scheduled to resume
- To minimise the risk to themselves and others on their return to university, before travelling, students who have spent the break in Tier 3 should (if available) use the local community testing programme and take a test.

Weekly confirmed COVId cases per 100k by region England

Adolf Hitler has won an election in Namibia - bet you didn't have that one on your "OMG 2020 is just so messed up" Bingo Card. 
Thankfully it's not THAT Adolf Hitler, it's Adolf Hitler Uunona, who won with 85% of the vote, and presumably has a long-standing grievance with his parents.. 

I was looking up some wording and discovered the UK Government website has this FAQ: 
"I think I have had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, but I have not been notified and advised to self-isolate. What should I do?
Contacts who need to self-isolate will be notified and advised accordingly by the NHS Test and Trace service. If you have not been notified, this means you do not need to self-isolate."
I'm agog. You can literally play bedsheet tennis with someone on Sunday, they can get ill Monday, be in hospital Wednesday, and you don't need to self-isolate unless you develop symptoms, or win the Test & Trace spin of destiny? 
I personally wouldn't be prepared to take that risk. I think Test & Trace has a big hill to climb before it's that effective, and I'm not really a fan of COVID... I'll be isolating if I'm a close contact of anyone who tests positive. 

Children in England will be sitting exams next Summer, children in Wales won't. Scotland have massively reduced examinations, and Northern Ireland have put them back to give students longer to prepare. 
There are concessions for English students, it isn't entirely bad news:
- a three-week delay to exams to free up extra teaching time
- more generous grading than usual, in line with national outcomes from 2020
- students receiving advance notice of some topic areas covered in GCSE, AS and A levels to focus revision.
- exam aids - like formula sheets - provided in some exams giving students more confidence and reducing the amount of information they need to memorise;
- additional exams to give students a second chance to sit a paper if the main exams or assessments are missed due to illness or self-isolation
- a new expert group to look at differential learning and monitor the variation in the impact of the pandemic on students across the country.
Gavin 'looks like the Chitty Chitty Child Catcher' Williamson, Education Secretary, was on the telly this morning saying it disadvantages the poorest and BAME students most if exams don't take place.
Maybe in a normal year Gav, but kids in the biggest schools and poorest areas are the ones who will miss most in-person schooling this year through self-isolation, and they're also the ones most likely to have no access to the Internet, shared computers or who are trying to work on their Mum's phone. 
A lot of kids need exams to round off their year and feel 'completion', but making it compulsory still seems somewhat cruel. 

Trump of the last night:
Donald released a pre-recorded video on Facebook and it's a smash hit. It's also got a warning that it's fake news and is basically him standing at a podium for 45 minutes saying he should have won the election, all the votes for him were thrown away, all the votes for Joe Biden were faked, and Joe's team smell of wee. 
The comments are great if you want cheering up at all. 

What is lateral flow testing

UK children's Key Stage 1 SATS have been scrapped for next year (yeeeay!), most Key Stage 2 SATS will go ahead (boo). The Department for Education have said that they need the exams to take place so that they can judge how much children's education has been affected. 
I don't think anyone's doubting that, but Teachers are actual experts. They are well aware of how students usually perform, and perfectly capable of making an assessment themselves. SATS take up a lot of time and add a lot of pressure to perform, when those children could actually be focussing on getting back into learning interesting stuff in a less stressed environment.

Anthony Fauci, Donald Trump's least favourite director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, talking about the vaccinations said on Fox News:
"The UK did not do it as carefully. If you go quickly and you do it superficially, people are not going to want to get vaccinated."
I think that's a bit mean, because he can't actually know. He's attempting to bolster support and trust for the vaccine in the US, but it doesn't help us over here. (Watch your wording Fauci!)
The FDA plans to meet on 10 December to discuss approval for Pfizer and BioNTech, and on 17 December to discuss the Moderna vaccine. The UK boards reportedly spent over 40 hours on Zoom instead...

The HSJ have an exclusive look at the UK's private sector hospital capacity which was booked up by the Government at the start of the pandemic. At least 2/3 was unused. 
That's really wasteful. 

The CDC have found COVID in blood samples taken in the USA in December. The paper's authors tested 1,912 blood samples collected between Dec 13 and Dec 16 2019 and observed 39 definite positives (2.0%) from donors resident in nine states (California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin). 
"These findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may have been introduced into the
United States prior to January 19, 2020."
We already know that wastewater samples from Milan and Turin show COVID was present in Italy at the end of last year, and Bologna in January. What we don't know is was it spreading in the local community? Was it travellers? Holidaymakers? Tracing back to find out how this thing started spreading is going to be one heck of a job. 

Remember to let fresh air in Image of an open window

Interpol are warning that gangsters may try to steal COVID vaccines. It is a genuine possibility. Back in Spring when there were worldwide PPE shortages, it was being nicked from airport runways, hospital foyers and all sorts. It could be handy having the army involved in distribution - COVID vaccines are currently worth a heck of a lot more than the price on the label. There's a personal warning too:
“Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives."

Covidiots isn't a phrase I've ever used before in these reports, but health authorities are having to remind people that:
1. Everyone entering a hospital should be wearing a face mask, and if you are COVID+, or visiting someone who is, any other PPE that is deemed appropriate at the time. 
2.You can't sneak into hospitals to bring things or visit with COVID+ patients. 
3. COVID+ patients shouldn't be sneaking out of hospitals to meet with friends or family in the grounds. 
4. You shouldn't sneak into hospitals to visit anyone if you have COVID yourself. You shouldn't be going anywhere... 

English transport plans for Christmas have been announced. It feels like they're trying, and hopefully everyone will get where they want to go safely, with minimal disruption. It will be RIDICULOUSLY busy between Wednesday 23rd and Sunday 27th December:
- 778 miles of roadworks have been cleared
- we've bought 93 new gritters
- rail upgrades are postponed for the Christmas period (over 95% of the rail network will be unaffected by engineering works).
- longer trains and extra services have been added
- admin fees to cancel or change advance rail tickets have been waived
- book and plan whatever you can in advance, and allow for delays or a lengthy journey
- consider carefully the timing of your journey, and the route - is a less busy option available?
- be considerate of other passengers and staff - it's their Christmas too. Wear a face covering and respect physical distancing. 

Some numbers. All born under the same sky as you:

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

USA 14,387,136 (+72,871) 280,980 (+1,113)
India 9,556,881 (+23,410) 138,946 (+289) 
Brazil 6,445,691 (+9,041) 174,647 (+116)
Russia 2,375,546 (+28,145) 41,607 (+554)
France 2,244,635 not yet reported today 53,816
Spain 1,693,591 (+6,104) 46,038 (+254)
UK 1,674,134 (+14,879) 60,113 (+414)
Italy 1,664,829 (+23,225) 58,038 (+993)
Argentina 1,440,103 not yet reported today 39,156
Colombia 1,334,089 not yet reported today 37,117
Mexico 1,133,613 (+11,251) 107,565 (+800)
Germany 1,116,136 (+10,304)18,012 (+200)
Poland 1,028,610 (+14,838)18,828 (+620)
Iran 1,003,494 (+13,922) 49,348 (+358)
Peru 967,075 not yet reported today 36,076

"The government says GCSE and A-Level exams will go ahead in England in 2021"

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