Thursday 22 July 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 21st / 22nd July 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 21st / 22nd July 2021

The UK added 39,905 cases today and now has reported a total of 5,602,321 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,038,954 tests yesterday.

The counter says 46,433,845 people (87.8% of UK adults) had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 36,587,904 people (69.2%) had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

4,861 people were in hospital yesterday, 21st July, with 647 using a ventilator.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 84 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 128,980 losses of life in all settings.

Up until Friday 9th July, 153,070 people had COVID written as a cause on their death certificate.

Area: Deaths / Rate per 100,000 population
Wales: 5,594 / 177.4 (1 in 565)
Scotland 7,842 / 143.5 (1 in 697)
Northern Ireland 2,166 / 114.4 (1 in 877)
England 113,378 / 201.4 (1 in 497)

Rep. Of Ireland 289,139 (+1,188) cases and 5,026 losses of life.

There have now been a total of 193,134,081 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 4,147,246. Already 175,540,253 people have recovered.

UK GOV Before YOu Travel checklist includes COVID status and 6 months on passport

"NHS staff are rightly receiving a pay rise this year.
I’m pleased to accept the independent pay review recommendation in full - with a 3% pay rise for all staff in scope, from doctors and nurses to paramedics and porters."
Sajid Javid, winner of worst promotion ever, new UK Health Secretary.

"From 16 August ENGLAND
If you’re fully vaccinated or under 18, you will not need to self-isolate following close contact with someone who has COVID-19. You’ll still need to take a PCR test and self-isolate if it’s positive."
This seems fairly innocuous, but there are 2 big changes there aside from the advice for fully vaccinated adults.
Firstly, children under 18 will be exempt from self-isolating.
Secondly, the English Government don't currently actually advise you to get a PCR test if you are a close contact, you just have to isolate IF you are contacted by Test & Trace (or have any morals). You can choose to book/order a PCR test or your local authority might ask you to do one.
They are pretty much replacing adult self-isolation with PCR testing. 

English and Welsh National Health Service (NHS) employees have been offered a 3% pay rise.
This is obviously 3 times better than the incredibly rude 1% they were offered at first, but potentially below inflation and hardly reflective of the year a lot of them have had. The unions are not best pleased. In fairness to Sajid, we literally have no money, but then he's getting a pay rise, sooo...
It amounts to around £1,000 for your average nurse, and £540 for porters and cleaners (a tenner a week).
This all seems to have caused a bit of a kerfuffle behind closed doors. The pay rise was not announced during Health Minister Helen Whately's speech to parliament when it should have been a main feature. Nadhim Zahawi has apologised today on behalf of the whole health department.
Apparently ministers struggled to come to agreement, and there were originally plans to make 1.5% permanent and 1.5% a one-off bonus.
Junior Doctors and Dentists who are still completing training won't get the 3% increase - which I'm sure will really be a kick in the teeth to any Junior Doctor who has just spent 18 months at the deep end treading water, and risking their health for ours for 48 hours a week. That'll encourage them!
It is very possible strikes may take place, and not just in England and Wales. Scottish nurses have already rejected a 4% pay rise. 

This afternoon Downing Street has said that the NHS pay increase in England should be funded from within NHS budgets, and that it won't affect frontline services.
Quite honestly that's impossible to believe, and impossible to believe - unless Boris is coming good on that £350m a week for the NHS he promised...

220721 Daily COVID vaccinations

The English government have today launched a campaign "to remind public of importance of continuing healthy behaviours to reduce the spread of COVID-19".
Remember kids, it's all on us now.
They are reminding us of "the importance of remaining cautious as those vaccinated can still pass on the virus".
Luckily for us, new research shows that:
- nearly nine in 10 (86%) hope that people will proceed with caution and common sense
- three quarters (77%) will continue to wear face masks
- 81% will practice social distancing where possible
- 83% say they will continue to wash hands thoroughly and often
(eeeuw, what about the other 17%?)
"Everyone across England is being urged to continue letting fresh air into enclosed spaces, take up the offer of twice-weekly free testing, wash their hands and book both doses of their vaccine..."

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi backed up the social responsibility messaging today and gave an important update on the NHS COVID Pass:
"This week, after a successful trial, we have rolled out the NHS COVID Pass.
This allows people safely and securely to demonstrate their COVID status, whether it's proof of vaccination status, test results or natural immunity."
Here's the news that some venues will probably not be happy about:
"Although we don't encourage its use in essential settings, like supermarkets, other businesses and organisations in England can adopt the pass as a means of entry, where it's suitable for their venue or premises, and when they can see its potential to keep their clients or their customers safe.
But for proprietors of venues and events where large numbers are likely to gather, and likely to mix with people from outside their household for long periods, deploying the pass is the right thing to do.
The pass has an important role to play in slowing the spread of the virus, and so we reserve the right to mandate it's use in the future."
He reiterated that from September proof of vaccination will be required as a condition of entry to high risk settings where large crowds gather and interact. A negative test will no longer be sufficient. 

We are well aware that France has around 10% Beta Variant cases (although mainly on Reunion Island), Spain has around 9% and Greece around 13%, and Beta has posed a threat across Europe. Beta Variant has more immunity-escape properties and is more transmissible, yet it hasn't really made any headlines in the UK, and we hardly have any cases. The reason is that we have Delta, and it's more powerful than Beta, so it's crushing it.
The Telegraph has looked at the figures, and Europe might also escape Beta because of Delta. Delta spreads very swiftly, even among a large percentage of fully vaccinated people, but the big difference is that it's highly unlikely to send those fully vaccinated people to hospital - it could be as low as 1%, but lets say between 1% and 5% to be really generous, as opposed to around 15%  of unvaccinated people.
As I did point out last week (very quietly), the added boost to antibodies from catching Delta AFTER full vaccination should (in most cases) leave you very well protected against a whole host of variants. It won't make you bombproof, and there's no guarantee you couldn't (even then) catch COVID again and pass it on, but you really would be incredibly INCREDIBLY unlikely to end up very poorly with COVID any time in the foreseeable future.
(I am NOT advising anyone to catch COVID. I do NOT think it's a clever idea. But, if you do catch it and recover, it's good news.)

Accidental drownings - please be careful near water

A Swiss study ( not yet peer-reviewed) on Long COVID in children has some relatively reassuring results.
They studied children in voluntary classes picked from randomly chosen schools. They tested them in October / November 2020 and March / April 2021, and asked about symptoms each time. 109 children had COVID antibodies (seropositive) back in October/November, and any child who caught COVID in between the 2 study dates was excluded.
"4 of 109 seropositive children (4%) vs 28 of 1246 seronegative ones (2%) reported at least 1 symptom lasting beyond 12 weeks"
So 4% of the children who'd had COVID still had symptoms 3-5 months later, compared to 2% of those who hadn't.
(I'm sure my kids would tell you they've been tired forever - except at bedtime, obviously, then no-one is tired).
"The most frequently reported symptoms lasting more than 12 weeks among seropositive children were tiredness (3/109, 3%), difficulty concentrating (2/109, 2%), and increased need for sleep (2/109, 2%). None of the seropositive children reported hospitalization after October 2020. Similar proportions of seropositive and seronegative children reported excellent or good health."
What this implies, and it's really not a big study, is that around 2% of children may get Long COVID - which seems closer to what I'm seeing personally, and far better than the 50% figures some folk are touting.
What it also implies, is that if everyone caught COVID, there would be a potential average of 19 children with Long COVID in every English secondary school... 

Olympic Hopefuls:
It's on! At least for most of the athletes...
The opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will take place starting at noon (UK time) tomorrow. There will be no spectators there in person, but I suspect a few might be watching on the telly.
Guinea have very sadly dropped out due to "COVID Variants". It's suspected they simply can't afford to send their 5 competitor team, and they can't afford the risk. Guinea have so far only fully vaccinated just over 2% of people, with less than another 2% partly vaccinated.
Sport Equity have said all along that vaccine equity was going to be vital to bring fairness to major international events.

Famous People With COVID:
5 of the USA Olympic team (Coco Gauff - Tennis, Kara Eaker - Gymnastics, Taylor Crabb - Beach Volleyball, Bradley Beal - Basketball)
3 of the Great Britain Olympic team (Amber Hill - Shooting, Dan Evans and Johanna Konta - Tennis)
2 of the Czech Republic's Olympic Team (Pavel Sirucek - Table Tennis and Ondrej Perusic - Beach Volleyball)
2 of the South African Olympic Football Team (Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi)
2 of the Mexican Olympic Baseball Team (Hector Velazquez and Sammy Solis)
Russian Olympic Swim Team - Ilya Borodin
Netherlands Skateboarding Team - Candy Jacobs
Australian Tennis Team - Alex de Minaur
Chilean Taekwondo Team - Fernanda Aguirre
UK opposition leader Kier Starmer's child (not an Olympian)

While we're on sports, the Australian Rugby League Commission and the New Zealand Rugby League have announced that they are dropping out of the Rugby League World Cup, which is due to take place in England this October and November. Unsurprisingly they have concerns regarding player welfare and safety, and have requested that the tournament is postponed until 2022, when the risk of players catching COVID-19 will hopefully be substantially reduced.
Can you blame them? They are major contenders, so this really leaves the organisers in a very difficult position. 

The World Health Organisation a couple of weeks ago asked China for a second investigation into the origins of COVID, as the first one left a few unanswered questions, gave no actual proof of anything and was thoroughly disappointing. Also, on the flight home they probably thought of loads of things they should have said.
China yesterday expressed displeasure at the idea, saying it's a waste of resources and the 'lab leak' theory defies common sense, primarily because SARS-Cov-2 (the virus which causes COVID) was never at that lab.
I think China won't really have a lot of choice - or they'll risk ruining diplomatic relations with a lot of the world. (Honestly guys, just let them look, I know it isn't your style, but your trust rating is going to plummet otherwise.)

Tips for dealing with stress - every mind matters

With increasing numbers of the UK workforce being told to self-isolate, a couple of the papers have reported on potential food shortages. I know it makes a great headline, but if you can't get 3 types of Lollo Rosso next week then I'm sure you'll cope. The toilet roll will always get through...
The head of Iceland (store, not country) on Radio 4 this morning said photos of empty shelves really are isolated incidents (and we can all take 'empty shelves' photos if you go at the right time of day anyway) and there's no point stockpiling. It's plausible that temporarily closed shops due to outbreaks among staff will cause retailers far more of a problem. He's employing 2,000 temporary workers so that they can cover for staff self-isolating. If you live somewhere with just 1 shop, it's probably worth getting some long life milk in, just in case.

Scottish hospital admissions appear to have peaked and are on their way down. Solid drop of 12% over the last week. Fingers crossed that sticks!

It's World Brain Day. Mine feels like mush, I'm sure a lot of yours do too. How on Earth people who live at these temperatures every day manage to do anything is beyond me. The warning for extreme heat is continuing tomorrow, so please take care of yourself, and everyone else...

Some numbers. All people very much like you:

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

Indonesia 3,033,339 (+49,509) 79,032 (+1,449)

UK 5,602,321 (+39,906) 128,980 (+84)

India 31,289,115 (+32,276) 419,471 (+450)

Spain 4,249,258 (+29,535) 81,194 (+28)

Russia 6,054,711 (+24,471) 151,501 (+796)

Iran 3,623,840 (+20,313) 88,063 (+226)

Mexico 2,693,495 (+15,198) 237,207 (+397)

Thailand 453,132 (+13,655) 3,697 (+87)

Malaysia 964,918 (+13,034) 7,574 (+134)

Iraq 1,526,943 (+8,106) 18,101 (+81)

Cuba 308,599 (+7,745) 2,137 (+65)

Myanmar253,364 (+6,701) 6,133 (+319)

Netherlands 1,827,273 (+6,233) 17,789 (+3)

Philippines 1,530,266 (+5,828) 26,891 (+17)

Kazakhstan 509,998 (+5,708) 5,180 (+64)

Italy 4,302,393 (+5,057) 127,920 (+15)

Japan 852,517 (+4,943) 15,097 (+18) 




Daily hospital admissions

The Guardian: Threat of nurses’ strike over 3% pay award for NHS staff.

The Independent: Nurses consider action over 'appalling' 3% NHS pay rise.

Delta Europe:

Olympics -

UK Supermarkets Iceland -

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