Tuesday 19 April 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 15th - 19th April 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 15th - 19th April 2022

UK Statistics:
Cases last 7 days: 184,761 (average 26,394 per day - which I think we can safely assume is nowhere near a complete figure, although definitely cases are going down)
Hospital numbers have not been updated since last Thursday, but were steadily decreasing
Losses of life last 7 days: 1,483 (also steadily decreasing)
Tests last 7 days: 2,335,846 (average 333,692 per day)
Vaccinations 1st dose: 53,041,898
Vaccinations 2nd dose: 49,762,640
Boosted / 3rd dose: 39,073,635

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,498,834 cases and 6,932 losses of life (not yet reported today)

World: 505,431,852 reported cases and 6,225,614 losses of life.

UK Gov call 111 for medical advice ridiculous image of child about to fall off a skateboard

"Long Covid will haunt us…We have the right to demand higher performance from vaccines…Vaccines can do more if they are adequately boosted, revised."
Dr Peter Hotez, co-chair of the Lancet Commission on Covid-19 Vaccines and Therapeutics Task Force, in an interview with the Indian Express.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon forgot to put on a mask when entering a barber's shop on Saturday - naughty! It's hardly Westminster level rule-breaking, more forgetful lack of care. (I personally twice walked into shops without a mask when it was the law down here, and I'm sure most of us have slipped up on that one.) Disappointingly she didn't suddenly realise and slap a mask on, in fact the entire barber's is heaving with bare-faced people. Tsk... The police were informed. Luckily for Nicola, they decided "no further action" was necessary - and possibly that had something to do with the fact that Scotland's face mask rulings came to an end at midnight on Sunday anyway. She appears to have escaped with a telling off, and has apologised.

people with visible breath due to cold weather face each other - one mask two masks no masks

The UK MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) have approved the Moderna vaccine for children aged 5-11. It doesn't mean it'll be used, but it's another available option that's been deemed safe and effective.
Europe already approved this vaccine for younger children back on 24th February, so there's lots of data.

In an effort to boost our railways and get everyone moving around again, the English Government and all of the major rail networks have released almost a million cut price train tickets. The 'Great British Rail Sale' (which ironically only applies to English operators) is releasing the 'up to half price' tickets for journeys between April 25th and May 27th. Tickets went on sale today - grab it while it's hot. 

Jacob Rees-Mogg, UK Minister for Government Efficiency, is absolutely determined the frothy coffee economy should pick back up where it left off - he has written to the 4 Secretaries of State:
"Now that we are learning to live with Covid and have lifted all legal restrictions in England, we must continue to accelerate the return of civil servants to office buildings to realise the benefits of face-to-face, collaborative working and the wider benefits for the economy.
To deliver this, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Steve Barclay) and I urge you to issue a clear message to civil servants in your department to ensure a rapid return to the office.”
Crack that whip! I dunno, maybe Jacob is worried about his investment office properties, or he has shares in Costa, or he just hates single parents - who are some of the people who will benefit the most from continuing to work from home. Some people will be desperate to get back into an office environment with other live adult humans, and some will work better on site, but forcing anyone to pay out time and money for travel and childcare when the world is dying from emissions and we are facing a massive cost of living crisis is simply cruelty.
If you aren't in a union, now might be the time to join one. 

Boris has been addressing Parliament this afternoon - and apologising for 'partygate':
"That was my mistake and I apologise for it unreservedly."
He still claims he did not know he was breaking the rules (that he wrote).
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle announced MPs will vote on "whether to refer him to the privileges committee for lying to parliament" - basically "did he lie on purpose?". If he's found wanting, there will be genuine calls for his resignation, which is particularly tricky just now. I believe voting will take place on Thursday, and sit back down! You can only vote if you're actually an MP. 

ITV are reporting that recruiting company Randstad have published results of a survey of 3,000 UK workers. 9/10 want to work from home more often, citing rising fuel costs as the main reason.
Because of the invasion of Ukraine, the International Energy Agency has recommended working from home to reduce demand for fuel. 

190422 daily stats

The UK are masters at fudging figures, but we aren't the only ones. Some countries have long-standing methods of making their medical facilities seem better at saving lives than they really are. China, and specifically Shanghai, is the latest to come under fire for under-reporting deaths due to COVID, but they aren't really doing anything differently to how they've always done it.
When someone with a seasonal virus dies in China, if they have anything else going on, that tends to go down as the cause of death. So, for example, if someone has uncontrolled diabetes or pneumonia, even if it is caused by contracting a virus such as the flu, the virus may never be mentioned. It gives the impression things are going better than they really are. Shanghai has recorded almost 20,000 new daily COVID cases each day for 2 weeks, but officially only reported around 10 losses of life so far. Sadly that doesn't match what people are saying on social media, and it doesn't match logically either. 

The supply situation in Shanghai got worse over Easter - although fingers firmly crossed, it seems a little quieter just now. Deliveries of food and medicines etc have not been working efficiently, partly because of delivery people catching COVID and being quarantined themselves. It is a huge mess. People were originally locked down for 5 days, but 4 weeks later millions of of them are still there - and they've been starving. Massive protests have taken place, with residents from what looks like entire tower blocks all charging officials and breaking through barriers. No-one is escaping this, even billionaire Capital Today founding partner Kathy Xu has been spotted using a milk and bread sharing group, and last week there were videos showing angry residents who had been told to leave their apartment building immediately as it was going to be used for quarantine.
A website has been set up (all links are being removed by Chinese censors), and lists a truly grim "incomplete number" of at least 152 people whose deaths are believed to be directly linked to the zero-COVID policy and stringent lockdowns. The introduction says "They did not die of COVID-19, but because of it".
They are all people, and "They should neither be ignored, nor forgotten."

The Guardian has an excellent opinion piece on Long COVID, and the fact we are going to have to address it as potentially our next big health problem.
The data suggests that "the chances of long Covid in those who are vaccinated but suffer breakthrough infections may be halved, but when you apply this to the huge waves we’ve experienced – 3.5 million people infected at a given time – each 3.5 million cases becomes another 175,000 people with long Covid".
That is 1 in every 20.
Tragically being reinfected for the 2nd or 3rd time just rolls the dice again, and a lot of those people catching COVID repeatedly are our children. I've always said we were cavalier in our attitude towards long term damage, and depressingly 2 years down the line, we still are. 

And more on Long COVID, or 'long term damage', with some particularly grim results from the UK. COVID may be shrinking our grey matter. Welcome to Idiocracy. Researchers studied imaging of the brain after COVID, and compared it to scans already stored in the UK Biobank (not-yet-peer-reviewed).
Scans of 785 UK Biobank participants (aged 51–81) were taken 38 months apart, and 401 participants had tested positive for COVID in the meantime.  Researchers "identified significant longitudinal effects when comparing the two groups". The difference was clear, even when they took out the 15 people who had been so ill they needed hospitalisation.
In an ordinary year people lose about 0.2 to 0.3% of their brain matter because of aging. The study found that COVID patients experienced an additional loss of anywhere between 0.2 to 2% during the three years between MRI scans. For some people that is a loss equivalent to 10 extra years, and while it may not be noticeable while you're fairly young, it could well make a big difference later on.
"Whether this deleterious impact can be partially reversed, or whether these effects will persist in the long term, remains to be investigated with additional follow up."
Yet again, only time will tell us... 

Pope Francis to the left, and in text his Easter message of peace 2022

Thai researchers are warning the public that we should keep our masks on when we go to public toilets. The enclosed space works well to capture and spread virus, especially if an infected person who went in there before us coughed or sneezed. 

More on the strange Hepatitis that's been flagged in kids, and it is not just in the UK.
The UK had 74 cases at last count, there are 3 in Spain, an unspecified number in Denmark and the Netherlands, and the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports 9 cases in Alabama.
COVID-19 or not, we need to find out what the heck is causing this. Leading suspect right now is an adenovirus - most likely of the type that cause chesty colds.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has gone on her first trip abroad since the pandemic began. This week she's visiting Singapore and Japan to talk about climate, and to tell the world New Zealand is now open to business and leisure travellers. 

A judge in Florida has managed to overrule the US CDC mask mandate for travellers, on the grounds that the CDC simply don't have the authority to impose such an order. For now at least, the mandate has been removed. People are reminded that most airlines are still requiring masks to be worn, and looking at the state of what's happened to airlines in the UK and Europe with mask mandate removal, that seems wise. 

Hey, you people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, or those who will always be especially vulnerable to COVID - you still matter. You still deserve protection, and care. 

A devastated bombed Ukraine, with a person inthe foreground painting a picture of bright sunflowers
Ukraine ~ Iranian artist Alireza Karimi Moghaddam

The world does indeed keep turning. There is war in Ukraine, but also elsewhere. Today my thoughts are with the families of the schoolchildren injured and killed due to the bombing of a school in Afghanistan this morning, and the 5 million people stuck in the wartorn Tigray region of Ethiopia - who are thankfully finally getting aid delivered. Sometimes we need to be reminded that a simple bag of rice can be the ultimate in life-saving luxury.

I hope you all had a good Easter - and the return to real life has gone well. Didn't we have good weather! I hope your week goes smoothly, I'll be back on Friday. Stay sensible.

Some numbers. Each number represents a real human being.

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

S. Korea 16,471,940 (+118,445) 21,354 (+130)

Germany 23,502,641 (+45,045) 133,463 (+26)

Australia 5,458,471 (+39,091) 6,804 (+18)

Japan 7,402,533 (+28,282) 29,049 (+26)

Thailand 4,063,844 (+16,891) 27,138 (+129)

Vietnam 10,489,319 (+13,500) 42,975 (+18)

Russia 18,092,791 (+8,640) 373,948 (+235)

New Zealand 839,455 (+8,306) 570 (+6)

Austria 4,064,839 (+5,395) 16,439 (+8)

Hungary 1,884,458 (+4,978) 45,971 (+106)

China 188,351 (+3,316) 4,648 (+7)

Iran 7,210,788 (+1,820) 140,877 (+23)

Switzerland 3,579,867 (+1,737) 13,810

Taiwan 37,710 (+1,727) 856 (+2)

Denmark 2,952,251 (+1,702) 6,019 (+11)

Romania 2,884,114 (+1,524) 65,366 (+19)





Speaker - Boris

The Pope


More Shanghai

Long COVID brains:

More Boris

Ukraine Street art

Alireza Karimi Moghaddam:

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