Tuesday, 5 January 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update and UK Briefing 5th January 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 5th January 2021.

Note that today and tomorrow figures contain some extras because of the bank holiday weekend. Scotland for example has not reported losses of life since the end of December. These people all need to be counted, every one, but it won't give a truly accurate image until about Thursday. 

The UK added 60,916 cases today and now has reported a total of 2,774,479 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 464,611 tests yesterday. 

NHS figures show we had 26,467 people in hospital in England yesterday, with 2,378 using a ventilator.   

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 830 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 76,305 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 107,997 cases and 2,265 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 86,490,966 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,869,188. Already 61,269,766 people have recovered.

England Lockdown January 2021

A big soft, warm hug for every parent and carer who had a hard job this morning to explain to a child that school was closed again after 1 day. I know my own children would have struggled with that had they been in school yesterday. And a hug for every child who doesn't enjoy school at home.

Boris did another UK briefing today, this time at 5pm, and with genuine scientists beside him. The big guns - Chris "my eyes, my eyes" Whitty and Patrick "I can blink any time I want" Vallance.

Boris attempted to thank people without actually saying "thank you".  It was weird, and lacking in depth.
The ONS (Office for National Statistics) estimate that currently 2% of the UK population have COVID - that's 1 in every 50 people, and totals over 1 million people in England alone.
Today we have another 60,000 new cases. Hospital admissions are 40% higher than at the height of the first peak.
Boris talks about using the lockdown time to "put an invisible shield" around our vulnerable and elderly.
Over 1.1m people in England have already been vaccinated, 1.3m over the whole UK. This includes over 650k people aged 80+, 23% (almost 1 in 4) of our most vulnerable elderly people will have some protection within the next couple of weeks.
By Feb 15th the NHS is committed to offering a vaccination to everyone in the top 4 priority groups. (Over 70, CEV, H&S care, care home residents and staff.)
Almost 1,000 vaccination sites will be open by next week, with large venue vaccination centres possibly next weekend.

Chris with the slides. In the 2 weeks to 30th Dec, the UK case rate increased by 70%. The map is all black and purple and big numbers.
The new variant is spreading around the whole country. We have the fastest increases in London, the East and the South East, but it is taking off in new areas as well.
There are early indicators that there may be some levelling off in Tier 4 areas while schools were closed, but its too early to say if this is a blip in testing capacity or requests for tests (e.g. over New Years weekend).
Where there was control, areas like the North West and North East are now seeing a rise in new variant cases.
We have a rolling 7 day average of 522 losses of life per day. Better drugs and treatment,  younger populations infected, and delays before people succumb mean currently this isn't as bad as during the first peak, but it will get worse.

Public asked if uni students will get a rebate? Boris says most will be able to learn online, but cost of accommodation has to be looked at. (My son just paid over a grand today for his flat, when he has no idea if he'll even go back.)

Boris says he appreciates how hard this has been for children, parents and school staff.
The BBC is going to run several hours of lessons a day on the TV on BBC 1 and BBC2. Accessible to everyone, every day. Joe Wicks has also said he will resume his P.E. lessons 3 days a week, although you'll need You Tube for that.

The new variant is a very big concern. Press asked about the increased risk of mutation when we give vaccine doses further apart (it works similarly to antibiotic resistance - you have to kill it dead, not just show it your best moves so it learns how to beat you).
Boris blathered - he knows nothing. Chris says the risk of an escape mutant is seen as very minimal, so the public health argument is very strong. The balance of risk is worth it to give twice as many people some immunity.
Patrick reminds us that tweaking vaccines is very quick, expected and the more we vaccinate, the more we'll find "escape mutations", so it's all anticipated.
Press asked if schools will definitely be open in September. Sadly Nostradamus was once again unavailable for comment.
Patrick talked about the South African variant. This is more of a threat to vaccines than the UK strain, but much rarer worldwide at the moment.
Chris says he hopes the vaccines will eventually bring the risk from COVID right down to the sort of level of flu, and we can remove restrictions and resume normal life. He hopes that Summer to Winter next year will be pretty normal, and hints he expects some restrictions next Winter when its flu season again.

Chris confirms that teaching staff will not be vaccinated, unless they are over 50, until after the initial phase. Then priorities among the under 50's will be assessed.

Boris says he'll talk to Internet companies about online learning. 

050120 COVID positive new variant

There are a couple of changes between the previous lockdown and this:
- Schools and colleges are closed. Early Years settings such as Nurseries are open.
- Summer exams are cancelled
- Restaurants can offer food delivery, but you cannot have alcohol delivery or click & collect.
- Outdoor sports venues are closed, but parks and playgrounds are open.
- Garden centres are open

Rishi Sunak this morning announced 4.2b in grants and other support for retail, leisure and hospitality. Businesses will be able to claim up to £9k per property. The furlough scheme will run until the end of April to help keep people employed. . 

The UK Variant has a name. It appears to have been universally accepted as B.1.1.7. Snappy... I think it'll struggle to become more universally popular than "UK Mutation"... 

050120 COVID UK case rates

Reopening the schools, even for one day, will inevitably lead to more cases. In lots of schools young people and staff were tested. This will give the UK government (and the world) masses of incredibly useful scientific data. It is a bit of a concern though, that they've intentionally or otherwise managed to secure hundreds of thousands of human guinea pigs. 

Clarification for English University students:
"Those students who are undertaking training and study for the following courses should return to face to face learning as planned and be tested twice, upon arrival or self-isolate for ten days:
Medicine & dentistry
Subjects allied to medicine/health
Veterinary science
Education (initial teacher training)
Social work
Courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled (your university will notify you if this applies to you).
Students who do not study these courses should remain where they are wherever possible, and start their term online, as facilitated by their university until at least Mid-February. This includes students on other practical courses not on the list above."

050120 COVID positive tests

Trump of the Sunday:
"Something how Dr. Fauci is revered by the LameStream Media as such a great professional, having done, they say, such an incredible job, yet he works for me and the Trump Administration, and I am in no way given any credit for my work. Gee, could this just be more Fake News?"
Oh Donald.
A.Have you had a brain injury or large amount of alcohol?
B.How awful for you. Lol jokes, not really. It's actually the clever folk who did the work who usually get to have their name beside it - but nice of you to mention COVID. I'm glad you remembered it existed... briefly.... 

The UK's NUS (National Union of Students) are calling for Vocational and BTEC students to get the same reassurances as A level students, who (along with GCSE) have had this Summer's examinations cancelled. 

China's Hebei province reported 19 confirmed symptomatic cases and 40 asymptomatic cases on Monday. The province has now entered into a "war-time state." Cases are concentrated in Shijiazhuang city, and mass testing of the whole local population has already begun.

The Health Service Journal is reporting that the hospital figures are easily as grim as Boris said yesterday. The South East now has 4,730 patients in hospital, which is more than twice their previous peak back in mid-April. 

Rishi Sunak announces support for leisure and entertainment

Indonesia is going against the grain and unlike pretty much anyone else, they are vaccinating working age people as their main priority. They believe it will save lives by getting them to the stage of herd immunity more quickly, and they'll be able to reopen their economy sooner too.
It's a theory that all countries have considered, but it is risky. If you manage to vaccinate all the people who spread COVID effectively (bus drivers, teachers, shopkeepers, security guards), you may stop it more quickly than vaccinating all of the elderly people who spend most time in one location anyway. But.... you may lose more people in the meantime. Indonesia has an average age of 28, whereas in the UK it's 40, so it would be a far bigger risk here. 

There's a Crimestoppers COVID Fraud Hotline for you to report "fraudsters". I'd imagine most people calling 0800 587 5030 are reporting the loss of billions of pounds for "Track & Trace".
If we actually had an effective Track &Trace app. then maybe we'd be able to locate Dido Harding. She hasn't been seen since she tested positive before Christmas. I checked, she's fine. She congratulated lots of her mates for their OBEs last week. 

India is still struggling with bird flu, and over the last few days around 2,000 migratory birds (mainly geese) have died at a lake sanctuary in the Northern Himalaya region.
Avian Flu can be caught by humans, but thankfully it very rarely occurs. The local sale, slaughter, cooking etc. of all birds, bird products and fish has been banned. Domestic and farm birds within a 1 km radius of the worst affected areas will also be culled. 

University of East Anglia have looked into our November lockdown to find out why it didn't work as well as hoped. They noted a few points
- people in Tier 1 and 2 went pretty wild in the 5 days between the lockdown being "leaked" and occurring. They were shopping and eating out like it was 2019. It didn't happen in Tier 3.
- school transmission was a big issue
- the mass testing in Liverpool wasn't really very effective. (That's disappointing.)

Chart showing NHS bed use by confirmed COVID patients, and how many are using a ventliator

We're still waiting on the efficacy data from India's home developed vaccine, COVAXIN. The vaccine is already being administered, and has a limited use licence which requires patients to be monitored afterwards. The head of the manufacturer Bharat Biotech has said that the final data will be available within a week, and will include efficacy information regarding the "new virus strain" (that'll be B.1.1.7). 

The UK have vaccinated over 1.3m people with their first dose. This is pretty impressive,  especially over Christmas.
France, on the other hand, seem to have hit some snags with their rollout - they'd only immunised a pretty pathetic 516 patients during the first week. 

Love Island contestant and former Miss Great Britain Zara Holland decided Barbados was the place to wait out the UK lockdown with her boyfriend. On arrival they were tested, he was positive. Whilst waiting for the quarantine official to take them to strict quarantine, they removed their special pox bracelets and ran away, which has to be the most stupid move they'll ever make.
They could be charged with endangering lives, and face fines of up to £18k or prison. 

Sky News was running this morning with a headline that "Michael Gove can't predict when we will be able to lift restrictions". Well, no. He's not some sort of witch or visionary either. Damn shame though, what an asset psychic Tories would be...

COVID daily hospitalisations from yesterdays briefing

The numbers of people that I give at the bottom of the posts go from GMT midnight (universal time) to GMT midnight. It all worked so well until the Americas started getting cases. The USA reports state by state, so we get 50 separate figures. Some report at 8am their time, so we have them around lunch, but others don't report until almost midnight our time, so they're not usually included. Brazil, India and some other larger countries also report provinces or states at different times, and regularly aren't all in by the time I report.
I have to cut off somewhere, or else give yesterday's figures, which I don't want to do all the time. I'd rather it's as 'real time' as I can give you. Occasionally I do show you yesterday's figures, so you can see exactly how many new cases countries in total had over a full 24 hours. I've done so today. These are the countries who reported the highest number of new cases yesterday. The countries having the hardest time controlling COVID at the moment. 

Some numbers from yesterday (courtesy of Worldometer). They look like numbers, but they are all people:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life:

USA 21,353,051 (+190,165) 362,123 (+1,987)

UK 2,713,563 (+58,784) 75,475 (+451)

Russia 3,260,138 (+23,351) 58,988 (+482)

Brazil 7,754,560 (+20,814) 196,591 (+573)

India 10,357,569 (+16,278) 149,886 (+200)

Turkey 2,255,607 (+13,695) 21,685 (+197)

South Africa 1,113,349 (+12,601) 30,011 (+434)

Germany 1,796,216 (+12,056) 35,982 (+877) 

Spain 1,966,201 (+11,489) 51,310 (+119)

Italy 2,166,241 (+10,797) 75,680 (+348)

Colombia 1,686,131 (+10,311) 44,187 (+222)

Canada 611,424 (+9,761) 16,074 (+209)

Switzerland 461,961 (+9,665) 7,918 (+171)

Israel 448,173 (+9,304) 3,445 (+29)

Argentina 1,648,940 (+8,222) 43,634 (+152)

Sweden 469,748 (+6,981) 8,953

Indonesia 772,103 (+6,753) 22,911 (+177)

Netherlands 827,726 (+6,563) 11,675 (+63)

Czechia 746,775 (+6,243) 12,186 (+117)

Ireland 107,997 (+6,110) 2,265 (+6)

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Sources: 

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/

https://twitter.com/arambaut/status/1345662724328579073?s=19

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-hospital-activity/

https://www.news18.com/news/india/bird-flu-confirmed-in-dead-migratory-birds-in-himachal-outbreak-reported-in-four-states-now-3246578.html

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/1346355457741500416

https://twitter.com/i/events/1346090889014198273

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1345749709592342530

https://www.france24.com/en/france/20210105-under-fire-france-extends-covid-19-vaccine-rollout-to-firemen-aid-workers-over-50

https://twitter.com/i/events/1346090889014198273

https://www.news18.com/news/india/bird-flu-confirmed-in-dead-migratory-birds-in-himachal-outbreak-reported-in-four-states-now-3246578.html

https://twitter.com/WilliamYang120/status/1346460725301051392?s=19

https://www.hsj.co.uk/coronavirus/update-5-jan-deaths-shoot-up-across-se-as-region-reels-under-twice-the-covid-patients-seen-in-first-wave/7029235.article

Plan B - https://twitter.com/eggo22/status/1346478934695636992?s=09

https://twitter.com/SteveBakerHW/status/1346413992361816064?s=19

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1345749709592342530

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-hospital-activity/

https://twitter.com/RishiSunak/status/1346395872943370241/photo/1

https://www.uea.ac.uk/news/-/article/covid-19-how-five-days-of-liberty-ruined-the-november-lockdown

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-hospital-activity/

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#universities

https://twitter.com/i/events/1346134838051545088

https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3450147615107406&id=959780427477483




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