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Tuesday, 18 January 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 17th / 18th January 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 17th / 18th January 2022

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 15,399,300 (+94,432)
In Hospital Yesterday 17th Jan: 19,450 (Slightly DOWN from 19,828 seven days earlier)
Using A Ventilator Yesterday 17th Jan: 713 (Well DOWN from 820 seven days earlier - Omicron and being vaccinated really does avoid the pneumonia seen previously throughout the pandemic)
Losses of Life: 152,513 (+438 - this is really high, but is partly due to some under-reporting over the last 3 days)
Tests: 1,363,401
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 52,133,611 (90.7% of UK aged 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 47,989,635 (83.4%)
Boosted: 36,546,583 (63.6%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,109,818 cases and 6,035 losses of life (not yet reported today).

World: 332,512,878 reported cases and 5,567,166 losses of life.

WHO do it all, protect others 6 squares each showing a COVID measure such as sneeze in your elbow or get vaccinated

“I can’t believe we would have gone ahead with an event that people said was against the rules … nobody warned me it was against the rules, I am categorical about that – I would have remembered that.”
Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister and grown adult man who is claiming he wasn't able to understand the rules on gatherings during lockdown that he actually decided himself - and repeated aloud in public many times. Give me strength...

Just to clear up any confusion:
"You can meet one other person outdoors and you must socially distance" WAS ALLOWED.
"You can invite 100 people to a 'bring a bottle' party" WAS NOT ALLOWED. 

In England 16 and 17 year olds can now book a booster dose online. Parents and guardians of people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 between 12 to 15 years old, or those living with people at higher risk, will also be contacted to book a booster.

Self-isolation for positive cases in England has been shortened to 5 FULL days. You can stop self-isolating at the start of day 6 if you get 2 negative rapid lateral flow test results on days 5 and 6 and do not have a temperature. Tests must be at least 24 hours apart. If either test is positive, wait 24 hours before testing again.

Nicola Sturgeon has announced the Scottish restrictions imposed due to Omicron will be lifted on 24th January. They include removing limits on numbers and distancing for indoor events, and the requirement for table service in hospitality. Night clubs will also be allowed to reopen. 

16 and 17 year olds can book their boosters online jan 18th 2022

The Sunday Telegraph might be this month's public opinion tester, as it's running with stories that Boris is looking to scrap English self-isolation laws entirely. Rumour is that could be as early as March.

Following on from the UK decision to cut self-isolation to 5 full days, a small study from Japan is making some waves. The researchers looked into a question which has been bugging me personally - are people with the Omicron Variant infectious for longer?
This isn't yet peer-reviewed, and it is a tiny study, but the answer was yes.
They also found that peak infectiousness was later in the illness than with previous variants - this changes the game if it proves true,  and it is matching with what I'm seeing in real life. (Sorry and all that.)
A total of 83 respiratory specimens from 21 cases (19 vaccinated/ 2 unvaccinated; 4 asymptomatic/17 mild symptoms) were studied.
"The date of specimen collection for diagnosis or symptom onset was defined as day 0. The amount of viral RNA was highest on 3-6 days after diagnosis or 3-6 days after symptom onset, and then gradually decreased over time, with a marked decrease after 10 days since diagnosis or symptom onset."
With previous variants we've seen people are most infectious for a couple of days BEFORE symptoms show, until around 3 days afterwards, so being most infectious on days 3-6 is very different. Being infectious until day 10 is a complete pain in the backside!
"These findings suggest that vaccinated Omicron cases are unlikely to shed infectious virus 10 days after diagnosis or symptom onset."
That's hardly consolation really, although being infectious once you have symptoms makes it easier to control... As I've said before, DON'T EXPECT to test negative on day 5 or 6 - if it happens, see it as a bonus. Aaaaand maybe the UK Government might consider being more 'up to date' (unless this is another herd immunity strategy). 

A warning for anyone who is recovering and hoping to go out straight away - my 24 year old was delighted to be able to go out for his brother's birthday this weekend - he had tested negative for over 48 hours and been told by Test & Trace he was allowed out, but because of his positive lateral flow tests on days 7 and 8, he didn't get his COVID pass until after midnight on Saturday night. 

180122 Daily UK HSA stats

The UK Government "Partygate" scandal continues to rumble, in large part because Tories continue to say obviously stupid things, then jilted ex-aide Dominic Cummings responds by loudly heckling with 'that's not true'.
I'm personally unimpressed with people who try and justify or get off with bad behaviour on technicalities - "I didn't see him, I didn't think it counted on a Wednesday, everyone was doing it, someone else already went to court/jail and you promised to leave me out of it" etc.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab was this morning's 'live press interview victim', and he said that if Boris has lied deliberately to the House of Commons, he would "usually" be expected to resign.
It was UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak's turn this afternoon. Asked if he believed Johnson’s account, he replied:
"Of course I do. The prime minister set out his understanding of this matter last week in parliament. I refer you to his words. Sue Gray is conducting an inquiry into this matter and I fully support the prime minister’s requests for patience while that concludes."
Ooof, careful gents. Either we believe Boris really is so stupid he can't spot his own parties in his own garden and home with his own friends, including his wife, or he's a lying liar.

The UK Treasury is reported to be 'giving up' on reclaiming £4.3 BILLION claimed fraudulently by people during the pandemic for furlough or self-employed wages. Goddamnit. I have never claimed a single penny, although obviously now I'm tempted to pop in a last minute claim for about 30 grands worth of fraudulent lost income over the last quarter... Why is it always the criminals and the people who know how to play the game before it starts who win?

Hospitals in Greece are still under massive pressure. Vaccination figures are now EU average (just under 70% have had 2 doses), but case numbers remain high, so, as promised a fine has been imposed for unvaccinated older people. Anyone aged 60 or over who refuses to get vaccinated by choice must pay a monthly fine of €100 (£83 / $114US ) - half price for January and full price begins next month, when boosters will be needed to qualify for 'fully vaccinated' from 7 months after dose 2. 

Particularly grim news from Hong Kong, (which is still attempting zero COVID). A pet shop employee is believed to have contracted COVID from livestock. Because they aren't sure to what extent the pets are involved, and several have tested positive, they will be destroying around 2,000 animals, including around 1,000 hamsters. Anyone who bought pets from the affected pet shops should quarantine and is being tested. 

170122 share of population vaccinated against COVID Our world in data

Many times I have covered the COVID-denying Lukashenko of Belarus, or Bolsonaro of Brazil, but I was unaware of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and his incredibly strong views on whether we should pretend COVID doesn't exist.
News leaving from Nicaragua is carefully monitored, but the 'Telegraph Global Health Security' (not actually a joke name) have investigated.
Officially just 214 people have died and there have been 17,563 cases, in a population of just over 6.6m. NO COVID RESTRICTIONS have ever been imposed (except it appears for funerals, when only 2 mourners can attend with a closed casket). Instead the population have been encouraged to go to mass events and doctors have been barred from wearing PPE, in an effort to keep the public calm and unconcerned. At least 10 medics were fired in back 2020 for suggesting COVID guidance should be considered, and many have been arrested or worse for treating COVID patients. Hospitals have at time been overwhelmed with patients sick and dying from 'hypertension', 'diabetes' and other well-known longstanding ailments (frankly just write anything but COVID), and medics are fleeing the country en masse. It's not been a great situation.
(I don't think I'll ever understand why any nation feels it has to hide the fact they have COVID - however much they feel it'll affect tourism, or worry their citizens, it helps no-one, and it doesn't make it didn't happen.) 

"I would much rather be in a situation that for example, South Korea finds itself in, which is low seroprevalence in the sense of low natural infection, high vaccination and only 6000 deaths over the last two years.
I would much rather be in a situation where the vast majority of my population had never got COVID infection, has now got high levels of vaccine protection and may have a slightly higher risk now because we didn't have massive COVID over the last two years.”
Dr Mike Ryan, The World Health Organisation. 

Sweden has scrapped the requirement for a negative test before travel - they're reporting 20,000 Omicron cases a day, so it's become pretty irrelevant. 

Czech Singer and vaccine-refuser Hana Hork√° (57) intentionally caught COVID in order to get a COVID pass and avoid having to get vaccinated, and has paid the ultimate price.
She posted on her social media a few days ago "I survived… It was intense. So now there will be the theatre, sauna, a concert… and an urgent trip to the sea".
Sadly she was not fully recovered, and she died 2 days later.

E Bug has resources to teach kids about microbes and infection prevention

It looks like we may not have heard the last of tennis player Novak Djokovic. The French Sports Ministry have warned him that he will need to be fully vaccinated if he wants to take part in the French Open tennis competition, and the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has also offered a warning that vaccination is currently essential to enter Spain. He's quoted by CNN as saying:
“The rules are there to comply with and no one is above the rules.”

In other Novak Djokovic news, because he was deported from Australia,  technically he now gets a 3 year ban against returning. (Lollity lol, you really couldn't make it up.) Fortunately for Novak, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that under the right circumstances, that ban can be removed.

If you have missed the news completely then the biggest volcanic eruption in 30 years might have passed you by. Underwater volcano Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai in Tonga erupted on Saturday 15th January, causing a tsunami of around 1m-1.5m (3-5ft) to spread out across the Pacific Ocean as far as Chile, Ecuador, Peru, California, Alaska and Japan. Loss of life has been astoundingly low, with only 3 souls lost in Tonga and 1 in Peru, as far as we are aware at this point. Because of ash (clouds and on the ground), it was impossible until last night to even get a good look by plane at the damage caused, and most of the islands which make up Tonga are still beyond communication at this time.
New Zealand has launched a ship with around NZ$1m of aid. Even the water in Tonga is contaminated with ash, so it is not suitable for drinking, and the dust cloud is likely to cause acid rain to fall in the coming weeks. Tonga has only ever reported one single case of COVID (a traveller), and New Zealand has promised to respect their strict COVID safety measures.

The only remaining countries which have never officially reported a single case of COVID are: Kiribati, Nauru, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu.
I suspect that at least 2 of these may be telling fibs... 

The Government of Turkmenistan have imposed a lockdown. They locked down last Autumn for 4 months and reopened in December, but unofficial word is that hospitals are struggling with a recent surge in hospitalisations, including a lot of young people.
Officially Turkmenistan's authorities still maintain they have no cases of COVID. None at all. Vaccinations are mandatory - Turkmenistan was the first nation on Earth to impose a blanket ruling for all adults aged 18 or over. They haven't reported since 29 August 2021, when a total of 7,580,976 vaccine doses had been administered for a population of just over 6 million people. 

Olympic Hopefuls:
It's less than 3 weeks before the Beijing Winter Olympics, so get yourself ready for moguls, luges and ski jumpers.
China aren't entirely confident they've cracked the zero COVID, so to prevent disasters, only specially invited spectators will be able to attend - tickets won't be available to the general public.
Beijing detected a first case of Omicron in the community last week, and all arrivals are now under obligation to have a Nucleic Acid COVID Test (PCR, LAMP or other highly sensitive lab test) within 72 hours of arrival. 

Health Canada are the latest authority to approve Pfizer's COVID-19 therapeutic tablet Paxlovid. Hopefully it is making all the difference (it's very likely we are seeing a good dose of how effective it is in the UK right now, as it is being given to higher risk patients who have just tested positive, to prevent them becoming severely ill).

180122 deaths in uk over time

Finnish company 'Deep Sensing Algorithms' (maybe that company name doesn't translate quite so well into English) last year developed a breath test for COVID, and it has now received approval for distribution and use across the EU.
The breathalyser test actually measures discarded particles from the human response to the COVID infection (bits of battle debris), so it can spot a positive almost as soon as your body has, and results are given in 45 seconds.
This is the first device of its kind to receive widespread approval, and it could be a really useful tool for areas such as hospitals, airports, education and dentistry. Because it is authorised as a medical device, it has to be operated by a trained medical professional, plus supply chain shortages mean they can't just manufacture thousands instantly, but I think there's little doubt we'll be seeing a lot more of these kind of devices in the future.  

"Looking at it from a UK point of view, there does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel… I think that it’s going to be bumpy before we get to the end."
Dr David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation has said to Sky News that it is “possible to start imagining that the end of the pandemic is not far away."
Let's not get too carried away, but it looks like London has peaked and is falling, and overall UK case numbers and hospital admissions are falling. A few areas are still on the rise, but there is plenty of hope there.

Back Friday...

Some people. I've shown them as numbers because I don't have space for all of their names.

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (since midnight GMT. In larger countries, such as the USA and India, some states /provinces have yet to report today):

Brazil 23,083,297 not yet reported today 621,261

UK 15,399,300 (+94,432) 152,513 (+438)

Russia 10,865,512 (+31,252) 322,678 (+688)

Italy 9,018,425 (+228,179) 141,825 (+434) 

Germany 8,073,598 (+28,250) 116,448 (+37)

Mexico 4,385,415 (+17,101) 301,469 (+59) 

Poland 4,343,130 (+19,652) 102,686 (+377) 

Indonesia 4,273,783 (+1,362) 144,183 (+9)

Ukraine 3,768,088 (+8,558) 98,549 (+188) 

Netherlands 3,642,696 (+31,345) 21,168 (+10) 

Philippines 3,270,758 (+28,471) 52,962 (+34)

Czechia 2,624,121 (+20,270) 36,910 (+11)

Belgium 2,484,027 (+22,891) 28,661 (+15)

Thailand 2,337,811 (+6,397) 21,959 (+18)

UK 15,399,300 (+94,432) 152,513 (+438)

Russia 10,865,512 (+31,252) 322,678 (+688)

Italy 9,018,425 (+228,179) 141,825 +434)

Germany 8,073,598 (+28,250) 116,448 (+37)

Mexico 4,385,415 (+17,101) 301,469 (+59) 

Poland 4,343,130 (+19,652) 102,686 (+377) 

Indonesia 4,273,783 (+1,362) 144,183 (+9)

Ukraine 3,768,088 (+8,558) 98,549 (+188) 

Netherlands 3,642,696 (+31,345) 21,168 (+10) 

Philippines 3,270,758 (+28,471) 52,962 (+34)

Czechia 2,624,121 (+20,270) 36,910 (+11)

Belgium 2,484,027 (+22,891) 28,661 (+15)

Thailand 2,337,811 (+6,397) 21,959 (+18)

Vietnam 2,062,128 (+16,838) 35,972 (+184)

Portugal 1,950,620 (+43,729) 19,380 (+46)

Romania 1,928,306 (+16,760) 59,327 (+65) 

.

.

Sources: 

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

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

https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Nicola

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/1483449822933880840?s=20

Turkmenistan:

https://www.rferl.org/a/turkmenistan-covid-new-lockdown/31658602.html

https://covid19.who.int/region/euro/country/tm

https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/374/bmj.n1766.full.pdf

https://www.thebrickcastle.com/2021/11/covid-19-coronavirus-uk-and-world-news_26.html

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/health-canada-pfizer-therapeutic-1.6317505

Japanese Study/ Infectious Period:

https://www.niid.go.jp/niid/en/2019-ncov-e/10884-covid19-66-en.html

https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj.o89

"Boris Johnson looks to scrap COVID-19 self-isolation law" https://twitter.com/i/events/1482846674321956866?t=8i9rV5f4IgagTxRuRp298w&s=09

https://t.co/U93RzsH9Xu

https://twitter.com/WilliamYang120/status/1483357370474725377?t=YDBiUQYKL4qehsq5ohNMIw&s=19

https://twitter.com/Dominic2306/status/1483129651975315459?t=2l4AUuoWoMubTeTMIF5tOQ&s=19

PM would be expected to quit if he lied deliberately to Commons, Raab says

https://f7td5.app.goo.gl/uBNL44

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2022/01/17/1073623759/in-greece-unvaccinated-people-ages-60-and-up-now-face-monthly-fines

COVID breathalyser

https://yle.fi/news/3-12273616

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/naats.html

https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/beijing-2022-olympics-tickets-sold-public-due-covid/story?id=82306403

Silenced with violence: doctors pay heavy price for treating Covid patients in Nicaragua" https://twitter.com/i/events/1483060433044926467?t=XNPfkV6ThkrAwkrR3qBy8Q&s=09

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/silenced-violence-doctors-pay-heavy-price-treating-covid-patients/

https://deadline.com/2022/01/novak-djokovic-barred-from-french-spanish-open-1234914011/

"No vaccine, no French Open for Novak Djokovic, says French Sports ministry" https://twitter.com/i/events/1483107556767588353?t=5HPa7lI_3ilYz2jfJzEXGw&s=09

"Australian PM offers Djokovic hope of return after deportation" https://twitter.com/i/events/1483066556636532741?t=WNnPTeNg0363B2QtAJ0TQw&s=09

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/17/asia/tonga-volcanic-eruption-tsunami-explainer-intl-hnk/index.html

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2304822-volcano-eruption-in-tonga-was-a-once-in-a-millennium-event/

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/treasury-writes-43bn-public-cash-25968971

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/light-end-tunnel-uk-covid-who-b1994858.html

https://inews.co.uk/news/health/uk-can-see-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel-in-tackling-covid-who-envoy-says-1406891

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-latest-news-live-covid-plan-b-restrictions-omicron-daily-cases-12507015

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-latest-news-live-covid-plan-b-restrictions-omicron-daily-cases-12507015?postid=3235685#liveblog-body

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/jan/18/boris-johnson-nobody-warned-me-no-10-party-was-against-the-rules

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2022/jan/18/uk-covid-live-dominic-raab-cummings-boris-johnson-lies-parliament-lockdown-parties-latest-updates?page=with:block-61e6bc408f086a15bacd3d4a-pinned#block-61e6bc408f086a15bacd3d4a-pinned

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2022/jan/18/uk-covid-live-dominic-raab-cummings-boris-johnson-lies-parliament-lockdown-parties-latest-updates?filterKeyEvents=false&page=with:block-61e6b4c18f08a112a0e9649f#block-61e6b4c18f08a112a0e9649f

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-60039868

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/how-long-to-self-isolate/ 

https://twitter.com/ConsulateKoT/status/1483384039826464768

https://www.thebrickcastle.com/2022/01/covid-19-coronavirus-uk-and-world-news_11.html

https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations

https://twitter.com/kakape/status/1483480956841381893

https://twitter.com/WHO/status/1483469303470964737

https://praguemorning.cz/hana-horka-died-covid/






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