Friday, 26 March 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 26th March 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 26th March 2021.

The UK added 6,187 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,325,315 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,275,285 tests yesterday.

The counter says 29,316,130 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 3,009,863 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

4,852 people were in hospital on Wednesday 24th (down from 6,544 a week earlier), with 630 using a ventilator yesterday, 25th March (down from 879 a week earlier).

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 70 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 126,515 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 233,327 (+569) cases and 4,651 (+20) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 126,488,927 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,773,505. Already 102,002,868 people have recovered.

March 2021 shops will be able to open until 10pm when they reopen image of shop with Open sign

To enable collective remembrance for those lost over the past year, the Scottish Government will help fund a national memorial garden in Glasgow, and they will support other COVID community memorial projects in locations across the country.

From tomorrow, Saturday 27 March, people in Wales can play out.
- Stay local requirement lifted, moving Wales into alert level 3
- First phased opening of the tourism sector as self-contained accommodation opens (for Welsh people only - no leisure travel over the border).
- Organised outdoor children’s activities resume
- Limited opening of outdoor areas of some historic places and gardens
- Libraries re-open 

1 in 7 people in the UK who were hospitalised with COVID between 1st August 2020 and 21st March 2021 (last week) caught it while they were admitted to hospital for something else.
Initially, in common with most of the world, we didn't understand how COVID spread, we didn't have correct PPE, we failed to get a good start. We've learnt that it is ridiculously hard to keep COVID from spreading in any indoor setting where people live and mix (and that includes prisons, boarding schools, care homes and hospital wards etc.).
Yes, it is a heck of a challenge, but really very shocking and disappointing to still have such high figures. I'm quite stunned. 

Although the official UK Government advice is to "work from home if you can", Chancellor Rishi Sunak is keen to get everyone back in the office and buying 3 frothy coffees a day to support the economy. He's stressing that firms should get workers back as soon as possible after the lockdown ends, or else they'll all leave because they hate working from home so much.
A quick straw poll of people here and 100% want to continue working from home. Okay, that's just 2, but friends mostly seem to say the same, so maybe we are a random minority, or Rishi is talking out of his wallet.
The UK Government is full of very wealthy people, many of who are landlords and property owners. Working from home doesn't just leave no-one to rent all of the office space, it also means a lot of people don't need a commuter home. London has been particularly badly affected. I'm sure that's all just a coincidence. 

260321 indiesage cases by age uk graph showing fall then flatttening off and slight rise

A lot of people ARE desperate to get back to working in an office. For a multitude reasons, working from home may not be ideal for you. You are allowed to make your feelings known to your employer, especially if you feel you are in danger, or your health is suffering. 

Robert Jenrick, UK Business Secretary, has announced temporary measures to make socially distanced shopping easier, give shoppers more flexibility and ease transport pressures.
Once non-essential retail reopens, from April 12th at the earliest, shops will temporarily be allowed to open until 10pm Monday to Saturday.
Flexible working hours for construction also to continue, helping that industry to continue to operate safely. 

The Spanish Government have confirmed their ban on passenger travel from the UK will be lifted at 6pm March 30th.
It has to be legal for you to leave, AND for you to arrive. Even if the UK Government bodies allow free movement, UK tourists are currently barred from entering quite a lot of the world... 

No-one knows what's going on in Tanzania, because they only recently admitted to having any COVID cases, but it was the number of travellers testing positive which first really alerted the world to the fact there was an issue.
Albanian studies, on the samples from 3 incoming Tanzanian travellers in mid-February, found all 3 had a variant of COVID which was almost identical, and "presented highly divergent sequences within the A lineage".
It has a whopping 31 mutations where something has changed, and 3 deletions. (If vaccines/antibodies target something that's been missed off, they simply won't find a target.) It does have that pesky E484K mutation, and a whole host of other things I don't recognise, including several spotted elsewhere and already under investigation.
The GISAID database has 9 other sequences reported to be sampled from cases involving travel from Tanzania, and 2 of them do appear to have the same root source as the 3 in the Albanian study.
Pretending it's not happening doesn't make it "didn't happen". 

The GISAID database is basically a library of all the cases that all the scientists worldwide have looked at so far. They sequence the strain, very much like human DNA is sequenced, and can tell which 'family tree' the virus is from.
Until COVID came along, GISAID just tracked flu. It is non-profit, exists on donations and has proven to be an absolute game-changer where COVID variants are concerned. 

260321 indiesage cases in educational establishments Bar chart showing high figurs, then a drop after Christmas, and now an increase again

Today's indieSAGE started with sombre words from Dr Alice Roberts:
"We're now a year into the pandemic. A year ago the death toll had just passed 1,000, and now Coronavirus has taken the lives of almost 150,000 people in the UK. We are grieving for those lives lost, many of which we know could have been saved if things had been handled differently. We are also grieving for time spent away from loved ones, for time spent away from normal life, and for the social and economic damage that has happened.
But there are reasons to be hopeful now. Half of all adults in the UK have now had their first dose of the vaccine."
Cases have stagnated - they are flat at the moment, possibly with a very tiny rise even. We are still doing a lot of testing of children, and the age group 0-19 is showing a bit of a rise. Break that down, and ages 5-8 and 10-14 have roughly doubled cases in the last 3 weeks.
It's impossible to say what is going to happen next - we haven't seen the full effect of schools reopening to all pupils yet. (If those extra children now infect their parents, we'll see older age groups rise - that's also something we need to watch.)
Positivity rates are around 5%, which is good, but it could be better.
Deaths are continuing to fall rapidly, reflecting the massive drop in cases over the last month.
Every area of the UK is now running below 80% of Intensive Care capacity - this is what they want to run at, in order that there's always a bed ready for those who need it. We have about 1,000 extra beds open than pre-pandemic.
26% of people over 80 have had their 2nd dose of vaccine.
Vaccine hesitancy (unlikely to say yes, declined, or unsure) may be a big issue among the people COVID affects the most, which will only make the disparity bigger.
The ONS have found that 44% of people who identify as black are vaccine hesitant, compared to 8% of those who identify as white.
In the most deprived areas, 16% of people are vaccine hesitant, compared to just 7% in the least deprived areas.
We can't let COVID become a disease of the poor, or a BAME problem - this isn't Victorian times for goodness sake.
When looking at Europe, clearly cases over there are rising, and regardless of what Boris says, their 3rd wave is our wave that's spread out over there. Rising cases in Europe do NOT automatically lead to a rise in cases over here. (It might be airborne, but COVID can't make it over the channel without help.)
"And if cases do rise in the UK, it will be because we have released restrictions and allowed the Reproduction number to get above 1, or potentially imported a variant that is resistant to vaccines".
A chart of 'Variants of Concern' does show steady rise in variants. The South African Variant isn't as responsive to vaccination, and obviously the P1 Brazilian variant isn't as responsive to antibodies or vaccination, so we do need to keep an eye on them and ensure they don't take over.

Lateral Flow testing is safe and sterile UK Government text only message

When asked about foreign holidays, indieSAGE were unanimous in saying that travel abroad for leisure is risky, and the UK is gorgeous, so just stay here. Scientifically we are at a critical point, and border controls have contributed to onward transmission, however, they appreciate that not everyone wants to sit on a beach and sun themselves, people want to go abroad for many reasons. (I have 2 good friends who just want to see their parents.)

Lessons we should have learned over the past year:
Professor Gabriel Scally - restoring the health system.
Dr Zubaider Haque - a stronger public safety net, and financially supporting isolation.
Professor Stephen Reicher - trust the public. The Government has patronised the public and treated it as a problem, rather than a partner. The dangers haven't been clearly explained, and we haven't been trusted to understand what we need to do - instead we've been threatened into submission, when in fact, Government restrictions or not, we're all a bit more sensible than that. 

Hoax Alert:
There are apparently people going around suggesting the lateral flow tests give you Cancer. How old are these people, 12? NOT TRUE.
You poke a sterile swab in your mouth and up your nose for less than a minute. You aren't heating it, scraping it, leaving it there for 10 years or otherwise doing anything exciting. (Do NOT leave it there for 10 years.)

The BBC have a great little article about COVID myths which people are still telling a year later. Some of the things people believe are astounding. Most are because they just don't want the truth to be real. It's understandable, all of us would quite like to wake up now. I can't actually mention most of the hoaxes or Facebook will only show my post to about 12 people and add a fact check warning. 

India have had 16 days of rising case numbers, and yesterday saw the highest daily total this year of 59,118 new cases.
In light of the problems they are having, and after a request from the Indian Government, the Serum Institute India (SII) has just announced that they will be retaining more vaccine doses for domestic use, and this WILL impact on supply worldwide. It's likely supplies to the WHO's COVAX facility will be delayed, as well as some countries individual purchases *cough* UK *cough*. (At least we saw it coming.) 

Artist Daan Roosegaarde has been experimenting with low level UV light, to fill outdoor spaces at night, and allow people to mix without distancing. He has created an installation with a large area of invisible UV light, surrounded by a ring of ordinary light, so you can see where it is. Within the ring, up to 99.9% of COVID is destroyed, but sadly only after it's been exhaled.
Remember kids, you cannot inject light. The UV in Sunlight is excellent at killing COVID though. It'll be a big barbie Summer... I can't wait. 

The tiny, densely packed population of Gibraltar have suffered very badly with COVID. 4,000 of their 33,000 residents tested positive, and they have lost 93 people. The picture is now more positive, and Euronews have a lovely report about them. Those close-knit conditions which made it easy for COVID to spread have thankfully made it very easy to vaccinate. Every adult over 16 should be vaccinated by the end of the month.
Large scale spectator sports are set to resume, with a World Cup qualifier at the end of March, and it's hoped that around that time, residents will also be able to stop wearing masks. 

Around a quarter of 50-54-year-olds in the UK had their first dose of COVID vaccine in the space of just a week according to Public Health England. You don't hang about do you! Excellent news.

Have a good weekend. Get outside if you can, feel the sun on your face, and listen to those birds. Don't forget your treat! Your thing just for you, not for the kids or the neighbours, or the family, just for YOU. You have earned it - this has been a heck of a year. Don't be hard on yourself, you did good. Look behind you, how far you've come already. You have already proven you are stronger than you think. You know you can do this now.

Don't drive into a canal wall, BOOK YOUR VACCINE APPOINTMENT BEFORE MONDAY, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. All with an individual face, and a story. Today I am showing you the countries which reported the greatest number of new cases yesterday - the countries in the most trouble at the moment. These are the figures at midnight GMT last night:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life YESTERDAY:

Brazil 12,324,765 (+97,586) 303,726 (+2,639) 

USA 30,774,033 (+67,046) 559,744 (+1,165)

India 11,846,082 (+59,069) 160,983 (+257) 

France 4,424,087 (+45,641) 93,912 (+285)

Poland 2,154,823 (+34,153) 50,862 (+522)

Turkey 3,120,013 (+28,731) 30,619 (+157)

Italy 3,464,632 (+23,798) 106,799 (+460)

Germany 2,732,130 (+22,258) 76,116 (+205)

Ukraine 1,596,575 (+16,669) 31,135 (+362)

Hungary 603,347 (+9,637) 19,224 (+272)

Russia 4,492,692 (+9,221) 96,612 (+393)

Czechia 1,495,454 (+8,841) 25,552 (+163)

Philippines 693,018 (+8,743) 13,095 (+56)

Jordan 571,290 (+8,433) 6,277 (+96) 

Argentina 2,278,115 (+8,238) 55,092 (+146)

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Sources:

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


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


https://twitter.com/i/events/1374418928856834056?s=09

https://www.euronews.com/amp/2021/03/23/rock-n-rollout-could-gibraltar-be-a-vision-of-the-coming-reopening-of-europe

https://gov.wales/welsh-government-updates-coronavirus-control-plan

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/1374364858712481800

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/55949640

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJwhb9k942c

https://www.stirworld.com/see-features-we-dreamt-about-an-urban-sun-floating-above-our-cities-daan-roosegaarde

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/mar/26/40600-people-likely-caught-covid-while-hospital-inpatients-in-england

https://www.krisp.org.za/publications.php?pubid=330

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GISAID

https://news.sky.com/story/reopen-offices-after-lockdown-ends-or-your-staff-may-quit-rishi-sunak-warns-british-businesses-12256912

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extended-opening-hours-to-continue-when-non-essential-retail-returns

https://www.independentsage.org/who-are-independent-sage/

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-live-march-26-2021-updates/article34166534.ece

https://www.hsj.co.uk/uptake-leaps-among-final-vaccine-priority-cohorts/7029791.article


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