Tuesday 24 May 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update Tuesday 24th May 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update Tuesday 24th May 2022

The UK COVID Statistics page has been amended, and hasn't been updated since Friday, when I last took note of the numbers, so there seems little point having any statistics today. Hopefully on Friday they'll update it promptly, and I will be able to compare week on week differences. 

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,551,835 cases and 7,244 losses of life (not yet reported today).

World: 528,498,202 reported cases and 6,302,354 losses of life.

Monkeypox what to look out for UK HSA collage of 3 images describing symptoms and if in doubt check with your doctor

The UK HSA has announced quarantine guidance regarding Monkeypox - any close contacts with highest risk of exposure should self-isolate for 21 days. This includes sexual partners and households of people who test positive, as well as exposed healthcare workers. There's been a lot of people very shouty about this because it's usually a mild illness - however it can be dangerous for unborn babies, immunosuppressed people, pregnant women, and children under 12. Pretty much everyone who is pregnant or under 50 right now worldwide does not have any immunity via childhood vaccination for Smallpox. The spots can really cause nasty scarring too. I think it's fair, and I'm pretty sure most people who test positive or are direct contacts will too. 

The latest total number of Monkeypox cases in England is 56, and 1 in Scotland. Worldwide there are now 178 confirmed cases, with another 92 suspected. Although Monkeypox has rarely been seen outside Central and Western Africa before now, there are odd cases each year. Because of this larger outbreak, people are looking, and they will find cases which ordinarily would have gone undetected or been dismissed as Chicken Pox. The vaccination of high-risk contacts of cases in the UK is underway, with 1,000 doses of Imvanex issued to NHS Trusts (we have another 3,500 doses in stockpile). The risk to you personally remains incredibly INCREDIBLY low, but now is probably not the best time to become sexually promiscuous, or share towels or bedlinen with strangers.

Excellent news regarding Monkeypox in that it doesn't seem special. It is human behaviour that may have changed, or just bad luck, but the first sequenced genomes don't show any adaptations or mutations which may account for the increased human to human transmission. 

Right now we have a lot of people who are susceptible, when 20 years ago that wasn't so much the case, and 50 years ago almost everyone was Smallpox vaccinated. Until the last couple of decades any imported Monkeypox cases simply wouldn't have found it easy to spread. 

Talk to your loved ones about organ donation

On Sunday Belgium was the second country to introduce a mandatory 21 day quarantine for anyone who tests positive for Monkeypox.
The first country to announce a quarantine for people testing positive for Monkeypox was The Netherlands, who are also quarantining close contacts. This includes sexual partners, family members and anyone who has contact with skin blisters (e.g. medical workers).

The US CDC say they maintain a good stock of Smallpox vaccine in case of an outbreak, and are releasing vaccines to the people most at risk of Monkeypox - close contacts of their confirmed case and 4 suspected cases.

Quite honestly the last thing I expected to be reporting on right now was another virus outbreak. Thank heavens this one isn't so free-moving as COVID. 

"So if you’re sick to death of s#@* like monkeypox and SARS-CoV-2 and Ebola and Zika and…whatever is next (hopefully not Nipah or a novel respiratory virus w/ high mortality)…then demand for across-the-board investment in preventing and preparing for emerging viral pathogens."
Professor Angela Rasmussen, virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.
She's a wise woman, and as humans encroach more and more into animal territory, and travel around the world is so common, these sort of outbreaks will become more regular. We do need to invest in protecting ourselves. 

Drawing of arm with vaccination needle and text

Boris Johnson's teammates continue to support him over partygate, even in the face of over-riding evidence. Photos during lockdown showing a grinning Boris with a drink and toasting a member of staff who was leaving are accompanied with caveats stating "he wasn't partying", he was raising a glass after his Mum died (10 months after the photo was taken), he never drank the drink, he didn't enjoy it blah blah blah. Quite honestly it's a joke, and not a funny one. The future will judge this very badly - or else it'll all be left out of history, like that time Winston Churchill invented concentration camps. 

Nursing Notes reports that 6 UK NHS trusts have set up food banks or developed food voucher schemes to support staff who are struggling to make ends meet. 

In certain areas of the USA COVID is surging. Connecticut and Delaware have both seen cases more than double in the last fortnight. Cases nationwide are up over 50% in the last 2 weeks, and hospitalisations are up 30%. That said, it is still at a very low level compared to the peak in January. 

The UK Health Security Agency's New Variant Assessment Platform (NVAP) looks for new variants of COVID and tracks them to see if they spread rapidly or otherwise look concerning. It sequences COVID genomes from other countries as well as the UK (because we are actually world-beating at genome sequencing). Through NVAP, UKHSA is already working with Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, The Cayman Islands and Singapore.

Pfizer 's preliminary trial results from the USA show that a 3rd dose of their vaccine is 80.3% effective at preventing illness in young children aged 6 months to 5 years. This is current, so it refers to Omicron, which we know scores less well in all age groups, and it's a very good result. They will now apply to the Food and Drug Administration to authorise the vaccine for emergency use. The 'safety profile' was similar to the group given a placebo (the same number of children had anything which could be considered a side effect). 

Autumnal leaves behind text

In China the slow reopening of Shanghai is continuing, despite more infections in the Jing'an area, where residents have been locked back down and must participate in 3 days of testing. Lockdowns are now tightening in Tianjin and Beijing, after COVID outbreaks there.
In Beijing thousands of COVID-negative residents have been forcibly (and overnight) relocated to quarantine hotels, and city restaurants, schools and tourist attractions are closed indefinitely. 

Unlike Chinese mainland, Taiwan decided severe lockdown was a bad idea and some COVID was inevitable. They pretty much behaved like Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia etc and let go. The difference is stark. Taiwan reported +82,435 new cases today (total 1,469,019) and the loss of 42 people (total 1,478). China reported +156 new cases today (total 223,488) and one loss of life (total 5,224).
China lost over 4,600 of those people back in the original outbreak in 2020. A month ago their total was 4,725. Taiwan only had 23 deaths this time last year, and a month ago their total was 856.

North Korea's nightmare continues. It's hard to tell, but new cases could be beginning to level off from a very high peak, although we all know by now that hospitalisations and losses of life will follow several weeks behind. There is some question over the very low loss of life at this point, and suggestions they may be downplaying in order not to upset the population. North Korea is not wealthy, and they will struggle to lock down their population for any length of time. They are also suffering from food shortages, which reportedly have been made worse by COVID measures, so they really are in a bit of a mess at the moment.   

Famous People With COVID:
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.  

Two young people hugging and grinning with text alongside

Sanctuary, a 20m (65ft) tall temporary wooden COVID memorial, has been built at the Miners' Welfare Park in Bedworth. Members of the public can leave messages and tokens on the memorial, which is not permanent, and will be set alight on Saturday. The creator, artist David Best, is quoted by Sky News:
"We have faced terrible tragedy and great loss. I believe in the power of collaboration and community, that by recognising pain and sadness, and laying down our burdens, we can face the future from a place of hope and renewal."

The Queen is granting 6 historic sites Protected Status for her Platinum Jubilee. They are the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch, London; All Saints Church in Shard End, Birmingham; Imperial Hotel, Stroud, Gloucestershire; the Art Deco Sun Pavilion and Colonnade in Harrogate, North Yorkshire; the Hampshire Archives in Winchester; and the motorway markers on the M62 from Yorkshire to Lancashire. 

I am off to parents' evening, so it's an early finish for me, and I'll be back on Friday - by which time Sue Gray's full report on the Downing Street and Westminster lockdown partying should have been released. That'll be a fun read! (I jest. I think we all have the measure of it now.) 

Stay sensible.

Some numbers. They are all people.

Countries / Cases / Losses of life YESTERDAY in the full 24 hours up until midnight GMT:

World 528,073,779 (+458,963) 6,301,741 (+1,033)

DPRK (N.Korea) 2,814,380 (+167,650) 68 (+1)

Taiwan 1,386,584 (+66,227) 1,436 (+40)

USA 85,113,962 (+53,287) 1,029,121 (+106)

Australia 6,983,004 (+34,036) 8,110 (+13)

Japan 8,618,683 (+31,262) 30,307 (+15)

Germany 26,103,628 (+18,011) 138,738 (+26)

Brazil 30,803,995 (+12,775) 665,727 (+47)

S. Korea 17,967,672 (+9,975) 23,987 (+22)

Italy 17,257,573 (+9,820) 166,032 (+80)

New Zealand 1,105,317 (+6,067) 1,017 (+10)

France 29,359,336 (+4,386) 147,917 (+82)

Chile 3,647,361 (+4,225) 57,810 (+8)

Russia 18,297,608 (+4,158) 378,426 (+76)

Thailand 4,415,593 (+4,099) 29,778 (+29)

Singapore 1,272,386 (+2,751) 1,377 (+2) 









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