Wednesday 16 December 2020

UK COVID Briefing 16th December 2020

There was a UK Briefing today with Bozza and Mr Christopher "still not blinking" Whitty. (Crikey they both look absolutely shattered. I can see why this briefing is really early - they'll be asleep by 7pm.)

"It's just a week since we began the biggest vaccination programme in our history. 138,000 people have already received the vaccine. 

Now the bad news: "We are already seeing worrying rises in some parts of the country."

Tomorrow Matt Hancock will announce the outcome of the latest tiering review. (I'm going out on a limb to say it won't be great news.)

Welsh restrictions Alert Level 4 from Christmas Eve

"This is a moment for us to exercise extreme caution." Boris reminds us about asymptomatic spread (up to 1/3 of cases). "Having looked at the latest data with our colleagues in the devolved administrations.(Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) we've decided that the overall situation is alas worse, more challenging, than we'd hoped when we set the rules. So while it would not be right, we think, to criminalise people who have made plans and simply want to spend time with their loved ones, we are collectively, across the UK, governance at every level, asking YOU to think hard and in detail about the days ahead. And whether you can do more to protect yourselves and others."
We're keeping the laws the same, but we all want to send the same message:
"A smaller Christmas is going to be a safer Christmas.
A shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas."
Up to 3 households can meet for up to 5 days. This is not a target, it's a maximum. It's always going to be safest to meet with fewer people. We are asking people to reduce contacts from this Friday. Avoid staying away from home overnight if you can, or travelling to a different Tier.
If you have an elderly (or vulnerable) relative, you might want to avoid seeing them until after they're vaccinated. We are aiming to vaccinate all elderly or clinically vulnerable people by early next year.

Don't cram into Boxing Day sales (why not cancel them then Boris?)
No-one should be gathering in large groups for New Year
The rules in your local area will still apply. 

Chris re-emphasised - from the point of view of Doctors and healthcare professionals. He says it's very important that decisions over the next few weeks are made with consideration that most vulnerable people will be vaccinated imminently, and the community spread will go down, and you'll be in a lot safer position in 2-3 months.
"Anybody who gets into trouble as a result of actions this Christmas would have been protected in the very near future. So it is very important people think about that when they make decisions over the next few weeks."
1. Keep is small
2. Keep it short
3. Keep it local. (Travelling from high incidence to low passes on the virus to communities which might otherwise escape.)
4. Think of the number of vulnerable people.

161220 137000 people already vaccinated

Chris says that 'just cancelling Christmas' will have negative mental health effects. (A lot of people NEED to see other people. It's been a long time.)
Both options (cancel Christmas / relax the restrictions as we are doing) are bad options, but we have to have balance. People must minimise risk, and pay special attention to vulnerable people. 

The Pfizer vaccine reduces risk of serious disease by a very large amount (about 95%), and the Oxford vaccine, and Moderna (which will be 3rd) also reduce it by a very large amount. It isn't an invisible shield, you will still be able to catch COVID, but mostly you'll be able to fight it off pretty darn quickly. We do not yet know if it will stop you spreading any COVID while your body is fighting, and only time will tell us that answer. It's hoped it will reduce community transmission mahoosively. (He said it in different words.)

Press asked if it's an individual's fault if they give COVID to a vulnerable relative, or the Government's for not making it law?
Boris and Chris referred to common sense and not wanting to just cancel Christmas.
I'd add that it's not the Government who have to spend the rest of their life potentially feeling that they recklessly killed Granny. It's you. You have to use your own common sense. At the end of the day, you have a brain and free will. If you know you did your best, then you can do no more. 

Chris mentioned people at the end of their life. There are lots of reasons why people will feel some risk is worthwhile. For some people any risk will be worthwhile. It's all about balance, and limiting that risk. 

Boris was asked what he'd give Nicola Sturgeon for Christmas and he made a quite sour Brexit joke about her having plenty of fish. 

Basically. You will have to live with whatever happens this Christmas. If you have a young and healthy family, your risk of something dreadful is minimal, but never forget that it still exists. If your loved ones are more vulnerable, seriously consider if Christmas wouldn't be just as good, and a hell of a lot safer, in April, or June maybe. Or even just 7 days after their second vaccine dose. Are you sure it's not worth waiting? 

"Have yourselves a merry little Christmas, and I'm afraid this year, I do mean little... but with the vaccine and all the other measures that we are taking, we do know that things will be better in this country by Easter, and I'm sure that next year, Christmas will be as normal as usual for every family in the country." 

Self isolating stay at home except to get a test

The Christmas Relaxation period is 23rd-27th December. Up to 3 UK households can legally meet in private homes or gardens: 
In Wales, the government have asked that people limit their Christmas gatherings to 2 households.
In Scotland, the gatherings are limited to 8 people (children under 12 do not count towards the total). They are recommending people should only meet with other households on 1 of the 5 days.
In Northern Ireland, you get an extra day either end to allow for travel time. 

No mistletoe / Fetch your own gifts from under the tree / Wash your hands regularly - especially before eating/drinking/preparing food / Open the window.  

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