Saturday 2 January 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 1st / 2nd January 2021.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 1st / 2nd January 2021.

The UK added 57,725 cases today (up from 30,501 on 27th December) and now has reported a total of 2,599,789 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 420,492 tests yesterday. 

23,823 people were in hospital on Monday 28th December (up from 20,917 a week earlier), with 1,847 using a ventilator (up from 1,529 six days earlier). 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 445 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 74,570 officially reported losses of life in all settings. (We haven't been getting all of the data over the Christmas and New Year period. Bear in mind numbers will bounce a little until around next Wednesday.)

Rep. Of Ireland 96,926 (+3,394) cases and 2,252 (+4) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 84,649,345 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,839,554. Already 59,838,067 people have recovered.

Mary Bousted head of NEU says Close all schools

Happy new year! 

Well, it will be eventually. Let's hold that thought. 

So the new UK variant is causing a headache. It is transmitting quickly. Very quickly. Any areas without large numbers of new variant cases are likely to see it explode there too without pretty harsh measures. During lockdown while the regular cases stayed low and controlled, and in many areas showed a fall, the new variant grew. It spread fast amongst students and children, and is most common in teenagers. 

Did it find a way to spread because schools were open? Would it have been a nothing strain if people had been catching other strains at the time? Is spread among kids because everything else was shut? Are there more kids catching this strain than other strains because it's easier for kids to catch? We still don't see any evidence it's actually worse for children than other strains, although there are some reports of more children ending up in hospital down in London. That could simply be because more children currently have this virus. We can't really tell, and the situation is changing constantly. Your gut feeling is probably as good as anyone else's.
What we do know is this strain really spreads, and it's so fast that it is filling up hospitals. Be extra observant with things like handwashing and keeping your distance. This strain isn't magic, but it's ruddy robust.

On New Year's Eve bosses at Royal London Hospital put out this request: “Unfortunately we now find ourselves really short of nursing support all weekend starting from tonight. We really need anyone who can do healthcare support duties to come forward please."
On New Year's Day surgeons were taking on nursing shifts - good on you. Thank you. I just wish it hadn't had to happen.  

The NHS Nightingale Hospitals in London, Birmingham and Exeter now show as having admitted COVID patients. 

The number of cases in England and concerns about the new variant have led to a bit of a spat regarding education over the past few days.
Boris announced a random selection of London,  Kent and South West primary schools would be remote learning (see 30th December for full list), and everyone nearby, or with more cases, or faster rise in cases, said "Oy!". Or something similar. Hackney Council even threatened to go rogue and take legal action, and they told their schools they'd support them staying closed to most pupils. By yesterday teatime all London schools had been told they should school-from-home.
That just leaves everyone else in the rest of England saying "Oy!"

Michael Rosen who to believe is COVID a hoax

The school-from-home remote learning, or "Contingency Framework" as the government snappily call it, is very likely to be extended - there is MASSIVE opposition.
The NEU (National Education Union) today demanded all English schools remain closed to most pupils and advised members not to work.
The NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) have advised heads not to take action against staff who refuse to work.
Legal action has been started against the government, asking that they make public the information on which their decision has been based.
At this moment I don't think anyone can reliably say their child will be in school next week - even on the Scilly Isles. Expect a press conference with Frank "Gavin Williamson" Spencer any moment... 

The plan for testing and return of pupils in special schools was published at 5.50pm on New Year’s Eve, and is meant to be implemented from Monday. Teachers throughout this pandemic have been expected to just drop whatever they're doing and become instant expert at the next thing - repeatedly - and often during holidays and weekends. They're human beings. They need a break too.
It just adds to the feeling of hurtling downhill wondering when someone will start jamming the brakes on.
Next week: Teachers snap fingers and become "mass testing of pupils with additional needs" specialists. 

The only part of England that isn't Tier 3 or Tier 4 is the Isles Of Scilly, which is Tier 1. Sadly they do already have some cases, and figures are rising. Best of luck over there.  (Don't let any mainlanders over!!!)

Surge capacity in London this year vs last year

People have been protesting COVID outside a hospital.
Give. Me. Strength. There are videos of quite a crowd outside St Thomas' Hospital in London, reportedly they'd been chanting "COVID is a hoax" half the night, and they shouted it at a doctor as he left - after yet another exhausting shift looking after St Thomas' hundreds of sick and dying COVID patients.   
Utter cretins.
Everyone present at such a protest should sign a document to say they're prepared to forego treatment in the event they catch mythical COVID, and then be treated to a free tour of the imaginary COVID wards. 

If you are in England, over 18 and on the clinically extremely vulnerable list, don’t forget to opt in for your free vitamin D supplements before 4th January. I'll add the link below in the comments - do it now while you remember. 
Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system, and people with a deficiency may be at greater risk of severe COVID. 

India yesterday approved the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use. They have an agreement to make bajillions of doses at under a fiver a patient, and already have 40m doses ready to go. Excitingly they call it COVISHIELD, and we boringly just call it 'the Oxford Vaccine'.
The regulator then today approved the India-developed vaccine COVAXIN from Bharat Biotech, a state-run manufacturer.​ This hasn't yet finished Phase 3 trials, so although we can be pretty sure it's safe, there aren't any figures for how well it actually works.
They intend to immunise up to 300 million people by July in the first vaccination phase. This will include health care workers, frontline workers, the elderly, and those with comorbidities. Go India! If they can pull that off, it'll be amazing. 

most infectious new years eve

The Deputy Editor of the HSJ, Dave West, has a great thread on Twitter explaining why "spare hospital capacity" goes up and down.
All hospitals have "surge capacity", which they open up as they need it. Each time more surge capacity opens up, more beds become available. The aim is to always have some beds empty ready for the next patients. Of course you do need staff, and oxygen, and other things as well as beds, so there are variable limits on what "surge capacity" might be on any given day.
If a newspaper says a hospital is running at 95% capacity, it probably means they're currently trying to turn a different room into a COVID ward. If a hospital announces surge capacity is full, then you know it's gone past being serious.

I try not to make my own opinion the focus of my posts, but I've already been asked several times if my children will return to school next week. Here's one of my latest tweets to explain my position:
"I have a 10yo who understands all too well the guilt you can carry after someone close to you dies, and he has just told me "I am very concerned about going to school next week. Very, very concerned."
So am I mate..."
I have literally no argument to oppose what my son said. The science is also very concerned, teachers are very concerned. Unions, hospital staff, and other parents are very concerned. I personally feel reopening schools to all pupils is reckless and the chance of my child catching COVID is higher than at almost any other point. I'm his mother, it is my most base instinct to try to protect him, it's why I exist. It's also my belief in-person schooling can only make the hospital situation in other areas become as dire as it is in areas of the South, and therefore it's my moral, humanitarian and community responsibility to ensure I do my best not to add to that problem. Now is the time I feel we should be extremely cautious.
I won't be learning to juggle chainsaws, I won't be running down stairs with scissors, and I won't drag a scared 10 year old to school when I don't have any opposing argument. 

Every single person's situation will be different. I don't judge anyone on your decisions, I'm not you. i'm a teacher (albeit 16+), I work from home, I have as much internet as I need. I CAN have my children school from home and it just means a few late nights for me. I'm not advising anyone to do anything that goes against your own governmental guidelines (especially if you live in New Zealand, Taiwan, Vietnam... )

Health workers care for your mental heath

The openness and collaborative effort displayed by the UK’s Recovery trial and the WHO’s Solidarity trial is being cited as one of the best things of the year. Scientists around the world were able to share tons of useful data, including clear evidence about which therapeutics (drugs and treatments) actually worked. Discoveries about best practise, of BiPap over ventilation to save lives and recovery time, and Dexamethasone to save lives and reduce need for ventilation, were available to everyone instantly worldwide. We are all in this together. 

"There is light at the end of the tunnel, and we will get there by taking the path together.
WHO stands with you – WeAreFamily and we are InThisTogether.
I wish you and your loved ones a peaceful, safe and healthy NewYear2021.
Dr Tedros, WHO. 

530,000 doses of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine will be arriving ready for vaccination across the UK next week.... good news. Very good news. 

Some numbers. All would appreciate the beauty and calm the snow brings:

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

USA 20,653,265 (+35,919) 356,743 (+298)

India 10,324,539 (+21,130) 149,470 (+265) 

Brazil 7,703,916 (+3,338) 195,511 (+70)

Russia 3,212,637 (+26,301) 58,002 (+447)

France 2,639,773 not yet reported today 64,765

UK 2,599,789 (+57,725) 74,570 (+445)

Turkey 2,232,035 (+11,180) 21,295 (+202)

Italy 2,141,201 (+11,831) 74,985 (+364) 

Spain 1,936,718 not yet reported today 50,837

Germany 1,767,594 (+5,069) 34,658 (+139) 

Mexico 1,437,185 (+11,091) 126,507 (+700)

Poland 1,312,780 (+6,945) 29,058 (+102)

Iran 1,237,474 (+6,045) 55,438 (+101)



Register here for Vitamin D supplements for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people 18+ in England:

Michael Rosen image

Surge capacity

"Teaching union calls for schools to be closed across England, not just London"

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