Sunday 7 March 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 7th March 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 7th March 2021.

The UK added 5,177 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,218,520 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 992,812 tests on Thursday 4th March.

The counter says 22,213,112 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. Over 1 million people are now fully vaccinated, having had both doses - 1,122,402.

10,898 people were in hospital on Thursday 4th, with 1,542 using a ventilator on Friday 5th March.

UK data on death is delayed (again) today. Up until 5pm on Friday, we officially reported the loss of a total of 124,419 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. ONS data shows that up until 18th February, 140,062 people had COVID listed as a cause on their death certificate.

Rep. Of Ireland 222,699 cases and 4,419 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 117,263,514 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,602,486. Already 92,790,235 people have recovered.

Weekend at home is making a difference

“In our everyday lives, we have had to become more accustomed to connecting and communicating by our innovative technology, which has been new to some of us."
Queen Elizabeth II

People in the UK aged 56-59 will be invited to have a COVID vaccination from next week (although I know some people have already had their jabs because your area is running ahead of schedule). Letters have started to go out this weekend. Anyone 60+ who hasn't yet received an invitation, you are allowed to book an appointment online. 

From tomorrow in England:
- All school pupils and some practical university courses go back to in-person learning. It will no doubt leave a lot of you cheering, a lot of you a little empty, and a lot of you a little scared. They aren't mutually exclusive, you can feel a bit of all 3, and you aren't on your own.
- Wraparound childcare is also allowed to open.
- You can meet up socially outdoors in a public place with 1 other person who is not part of your household or a support or childcare bubble.
- Care home residents are allowed 1 regular visitor. There are strict guidelines for infection control, which are all in place because we know how vulnerable care homes are, so visiting won't be a free-for-all and there will be some times it isn't permitted.
- Anyone wishing to leave the UK from England MUST complete a Travel Declaration Form stating the reason you are leaving - and you will be travelling illegally without it. (This does not apply to travel within the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or IOM.) 

All businesses in England can now receive free regular lateral flow testing for employees, however many there are. Previously only businesses with 50+ employees could register. Fill in the form online by March 31st. 

Education Minister Gavin Williamson was on the telly today confirming that the government are considering 'catch up' options for the future, such as longer school days, shorter summer holidays and five-terms in a school year.
The head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, has already spoken out against it, as these type of plans rarely ever work in the longer term.
(It's true. The catch up needs to target kids who aren't engaged - the same kids are least likely to attend anything extra, or engage for longer.)
Sillily, Gav also said children would definitely be back after Easter. What he should have said is that 'it's their hope and their expectation, and we'll know more when we have the data after the first 3 weeks'. Now, if it all goes horribly wrong, the press will blame him and call it a U-turn. 

040321 vaccinated people UK total 20,920 something

Nurses have held socially distanced protests today against their 1% pay rise, mainly in London and Manchester. Unions are asking for around 12%.
HMRC (the government's tax departments) have negotiated their staff a whopping 13% over the next 3 years, so I'm losing patience with being polite on this one, as are quite a few other people.
Nurses are threatening strike action. When nurses, or firemen, or police or anyone else in this sort of position strikes, they don't do it during an emergency or a pandemic, and they don't put lives into immediate danger. They won't walk out this week. This is a warning shot for later. 

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has suffered a severe adverse event. A whole batch has been put on hold after 1 health worker at a clinic in Austria died from a blood-clotting disorder, and another suffered a blood clot in her lung. At the moment there isn't a proven link, and it's the first event of it's kind, so obviously investigations are ongoing.
Sadly, when you are vaccinating millions of people, by sheer chance it's likely some will succumb randomly within minutes, hours and days, but any adverse event has to be taken very seriously unless proven otherwise.

Brazil really is in trouble. Several areas have been at 100% hospital capacity for a while, and that number is growing. Oxygen ran out in Manaus a few weeks ago, and relatives of patients had to try and get supplies themselves. That situation seems more stable, but the overall picture isn't.
Because they have a President who mocks COVID restrictions, reaction has been wildly different from state to state, and any governors who have attempted hard restrictions might be merely miles away from one with no restrictions at all. A lack of national support means even when restrictions are in place, they aren't very well kept to in much of the country, and for the past year Brazil has maintained a fairly high level of COVID. They are now reporting day on day record numbers of people succumbing.
Part of why everyone is so cautious about Brazilian variant P1, is that areas which had large surges of cases last year, are the areas suffering still. Manaus in the Amazonas for example, where the P1 variant originated, should have achieved a level of herd immunity by transmission (along with the associated loss of life and Long COVID - it's been horrendous for them), but they have a new wave of infections and it's at least 80% P1 variant. Previous antibodies aren't preventing it surging. Hence when the UK are finding anyone with P1, we have increased "surge testing".

Mild for you serious for them if in doubt get a test

Several countries will now accept visitors without quarantine if they can prove they have had a full course of vaccination. Some state it must be within a specific time frame, such as 6 months, and generally you must have had the final jab at least 2-3 weeks before you travel.
Some countries will also accept visitors who can prove they have had COVID and recovered.
It is all subject to change at any moment, so when you are allowed to travel, or you are thinking of booking, remember there are still no guarantees.

The US Senate has passed a $1.9 trillion relief bill. Among other things it will provide direct payments of up to $1,400 for most Americans, and extends the $300 unemployment benefits until September 6th. Schools and welfare will also get additional funding. 

I gave English / Welsh Test & Trace a win on Friday, but really I was being kind. At the UK briefing Matt or Susan did mention that the missing person with the P1 Brazilian variant had come forward by ringing 111, but I assumed it was because they'd had a contact from Test & Trace directly. Whether they did or not isn't really clear. What is clear is they were under no doubt they had COVID, even without their official test result, and they had stayed home. 

The UK NHS are reminding us that your offer of a COVID vaccination is 'evergreen', and will always stand. It doesn't have a time limit, you can still book, even if your invitation was weeks or months ago. 

Rangers have won the football to be Scottish champions for the first time in 10 years. Within moments fans were breaking COVID restrictions. I imagine that will go on for a few hours yet... 

Tips for dealing with stress - every mind matters

COVID won't leave first thing before you wake up tomorrow. It is still here, and it's strong enough to kill close to 1% of the younger, fitter, unvaccinated people who are still out there.
Keep your distance for now, be sensible, complacency can't get the better of us 5 minutes before the final whistle. We've come an incredibly long way already, and we're tired, but we get to a much better spot to rest really soon.

There was an illegal rave near Bolton last night, because some people can't understand the link between breaking COVID restrictions and the pubs being shut for almost an entire year.
12 people were issued fines, and they left a ton of rubbish everywhere. Because presumably they also can't understand the link between somewhere being a nice place to hold a rave, and keeping it that way. 

The Queen addressed the Commonwealth today, and thanked everyone for everything they've done over the past year, notably those on the 'frontline'.
Next week is Commonwealth Week, where we celebrate our Imperial past by re-enacting the UK's invasion and pillage of 53 world nations. Except we don't, thankfully.
If you can name 15 Commonwealth countries, award yourself a lollipop. I'll give you a head start - Rwanda, Pakistan, Guyana, Australia. 

Some numbers. Each number represents a unique human being:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (since midnight GMT. In larger countries some states /provinces have yet to report today):

USA 29,660,138 (+6,247) 537,312 (+193)

India 11,228,288 (+17,708) 157,875 (+84)

Brazil 10,939,320 not yet reported today 264,446

Russia 4,322,776 (+10,595) 89,094 (+368)

UK 4,218,520 (+5,177) 124,419 (not reported)

France 3,882,408 not yet reported today 88,444

Spain 3,149,012 not yet reported today 71,138

Italy 3,067,486 (+20,765) 99,785 (+207)

Turkey 2,780,417 (+11,187) 29,030 (+65)

Germany 2,502,872 (+750) 72,473 (+3) 

Mexico 2,125,866 (+6,561) 190,357 (+779)

Poland 1,794,914 (+13,574) 45,285 (+126)

Iran 1,689,692 (+8,010) 60,687 (+93)

Ukraine 1,401,228 (+7,167) 27,022 (+103)

Indonesia 1,379,662 (+5,826) 37,266 (+112)

Czechia 1,321,331 (+9,066) 21,717 (+93) 





"As schools in England reopen, Gavin Williamson says they will also be open after Easter"

"US Senate passes $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill"

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