Monday 10 May 2021

COVID UK briefing with Boris Monday 10th May 2021

COVID UK briefing with Boris Monday 10th May 2021

UK Cases: 4,437,217 (+2,357)
Losses of Life: 127,609 (+4 - all over 3 days ago in Wales)

"The four UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed that the UK Alert Level should move from Level 4 to Level 3.
It is very important that we all continue to follow the guidance closely and everyone gets both doses of the vaccine when offered."
Boris Johnson, UK PM.
It's a bit of a silly chart, but after all of the times they pretended the UK position was better than it was, it is nice to see them changing something and it actually looking a little cautious. Remember folks - they do not want to go backwards, and nor do we. Slow and steady wins this race.

100521 UK Gov Briefing estimated reductions in severe disease death etc due to vaccinations

From 17th May:
The rules for entering England change depending on where you have travelled from outside the UK. There will be different rules to follow if you’re entering Scotland, entering Wales or entering Northern Ireland.
You are strongly discouraged from all unnecessary travel to red or amber list countries or territories, for example for leisure purposes.
People who live in England who have had a full vaccine course (2 doses), will be able to demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status for outbound international travel to countries where this is recognised.

100521 UK Gov Briefing age distribution of cases

Boris hosted the UK (England) Briefing, with Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK Science Chief. That's the COVID triumvirate, so it's a biggie.
(Nice to see Chris is still actually employed by the UK Government, and they're brave enough to wheel him out for this one. Everything must be good backstage.)

Boris started by listing lots of things we haven't been able to do, and thanking us for our efforts to get back to normal.
"It's precisely because of your efforts that I confirm today that we have met the 4 tests for relaxation."

Step 3: for relaxation of restrictions will go ahead as planned FROM NEXT MONDAY 17th MAY in ENGLAND:
The Rule of 6 or 2 households will apply indoors - a maximum of 6 people or 2 households may mix together.
Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 30.
You may sit inside hospitality - pubs and restaurants
Cinemas and indoor play areas can reopen
Hostels, hotels and B&Bs can reopen
Theatres, concert halls and conference centres can reopen
Sports stadia can reopen subject to capacity limits
Travel within Britain, including overnight stays will be allowed (including school trips).
Face coverings will not be required in secondary schools or colleges.
All remaining university students can return to in-person teaching, with testing twice a week.
The number of named visitors for residents of care homes will be increased from 2 to 5, and residents will have greater freedoms to leave the home without having to self-isolate on their return. 

We remain on target to reopen further to Step 2 on the 21st June, subject to data. 

"From next Monday we are updating the guidance on close contact between friends and family, setting out the risks for everyone to make their own choices."

It doesn't mean run out and hug everyone - you would risk being very sorry indeed. He urges you to consider how protected your loved ones are - have they had enough time for the vaccine to work? One dose or two? Remember outside is safer.
Although you can make that choice with your own friends and family, you do not have the right with colleagues or strangers, so SOCIAL DISTANCING MUST CONTINUE TO BE FOLLOWED when you aren't with your own friends and loved ones, including in workplaces, shops, pubs etc.

We can see from other countries the very real risk from this virus still exists (India are reporting over 4.000 losses of life a day). 

"Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air, and as we mark Mental Health Awareness Week, perhaps also take a moment to check in on friends and family, and see how they are doing after all we have been through together. Or, if you are struggling yourself, get the support that you need."
"Today we are announcing the single biggest step on our road map, and, it will allow us to do the things that we have yearned to do, for a long time. So, let's protect these gains, by continuing to exercise caution and common sense."

100521 UK Gov Briefing number of vaccinations

Chris with the slides and the data behind the 'four tests'.
Test 1 - Clearly vaccination has been astoundingly successful. 2/3 of UK adults have had at least 1 dose, 1/3 have had both doses.
Test 2 - Latest evidence is showing that with a single vaccine dose of Pfizer/AstraZeneca, there is a 55-70% reduction in symptomatic illness, around 75-85% reduction in hospitalisation and 75-80% reduction in loss of life. The 2nd dose significantly increases protection to over 90% reduction in loss of life.
Test 3 - The number of people in hospital is not putting the NHS at risk. We do expect some increase in transmission after reopening, but it shouldn't put pressure on the NHS (it really shouldn't). 
Test 4 - Assessment of risk due to variants is slightly higher because mainly of the Indian variant B1617.2, but we don't have any major concerns right now and nothing is waving red flags. So far the South African and Brazilian variants have not broken out and become widespread, nor have any of the other Variants of Concern that we are watching. 

Public asked what percentage of cases are 'Variants of Concern' aside from the more transmissible Kent/UK Variant which makes up the majority of our UK cases? Chris says the numbers were in the last slide (which hopefully I'll have in time for this post), but they account for around 5% of cases, and the only one which appears to be increasing is the Indian Variant B1617.2

100521 UK Gov Briefing variants of concern

Public also asked about the relaxations with social contact, no masks for students etc, how can we reassure teachers and support staff under age 40, who aren't protected by vaccination? Boris explains that just because the ability is there, you don't have to use it. You only go as far as you are comfortable with. (Presumably he is suggesting school teachers can still wear a mask if they wish.)

Press ask if the roadmap can be brought forward because of good data so far. Boris was clearly very bored by this question, and so was I. If they do it too quickly and it goes horribly wrong, the press will have them for dinner, yet they'll push and push to try and make that happen. Boris reminds them we need time between steps to see the results of the "hopefully irreversible roadmap". What's happening on May 17th is a very considerable unlocking, and it will make a difference. We need time to see the effects. 

Press asked about removing all social distancing measures in July? Patrick says we used to have around 11 contacts a day, currently we have 4. It's a big difference, and it may take a while before it's back to those levels, so we can't be exactly sure how the next few months will pan out. It's actually in our favour to be a little cautious - more ventilation, some people continue to work from home, keep contacts to a lower number etc. Ease into it a little more slowly.
It is pointing in the right direction to a much smoother path, variants aside.

Boris makes some bizarre rambling claim about people meeting via technology leading to more in-person meet ups, then says eventually our city centres will be "full of bustle" with people wanting to meet up again. I'm not even really sure what the question was that led to that. 

100521 UK Gov Briefing hospitalisation chart over time - it's a mountain

Chris again mentions the Indian B1617.2 Variant. It is a highly transmissible variant, possibly more so than our Kent/UK B117 Variant, but clear data isn't here yet. The Health teams are working hard to find cases, and control outbreaks, but we can't say if it will cause significant problems in the Autumn as the weather gets colder and we all move indoors.  We need to be ready in case, and "get on top of this as a global problem".

Scotland are also intending to relax restrictions on Monday 17th - in line with their roadmap. All of Scotland, possibly with the exception of Moray, should move to Level 2.

4 people from 2 households can mix in private homes and stay overnight.
6 people from 3 households can mix in an indoor public place like a café, pub or restaurant
8 people from 8 households outdoors
(under 12s do not count towards the total outside but do count indoors)
You can travel anywhere in Scotland in Levels 0, 1 or 2 but must not enter a Level 3 or 4 area unless for a permitted reason
You can travel to England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands if they permit
You can provide informal childcare, for example to look after a grandchild
Up to 50 people can attend weddings and funerals
Tradespeople can carry out any work in your home
You should work from home where possible
Places and business that can open at Level 2 include cafés, pubs and restaurants, shops, close contact services including hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons. Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools, tourist accommodation, visitor attractions, public buildings like libraries and community centres, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, amusement arcades, casinos and bingo halls, stadiums and events – with maximum numbers
Some business CANNOT reopen, including soft play, funfairs, indoor bowling, snooker/pool halls, nightclubs and adult entertainment.

Back tomorrow with the regular round up of news... have a good evening! 


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