Friday 23 February 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 23rd February 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 23rd February 2024

World COVID Statistics: 703,586,078 officially reported cases and 6,985,448 losses of life.

"This week, Member States from around the world are meeting in Geneva to discuss the new Pandemic Accord.
This agreement is being developed, shaped and decided on by the 194 Member States that make up the World Health Organization.
Building on the lessons of COVID-19, I broadly see 3 key benefits; the agreement would help countries drive a more equitable response, it will boost collectively health safeguarding and it will enhance cooperation."
Dr Tedros, Head of WHO (World Health organisation). 
Word is that the talks haven't gone entirely smoothly, with some disagreements and failure to commit, and frankly a jaded response - seems everyone is a bit bored with pandemics right now and can't really face having to learn from their mistakes and get ready for the next one... 

Infections hurt people quote from UK doctor

In the UK all of the COVID stats are going down - positives, hospitalisations and mortality. The unusual double wave has passed, and so has any fear about JN.1. It could have been responsible for the extra peak, but it hasn't got out of control and it's not proven any more dangerous than previous variants. Ahhhh... 

Tuesday 20 February 2024

The Traitors Strategy Card Game Review for 4-8 players aged 8 or over. (Sent for review by Ginger Fox Games)

Missing the BBC TV game show The Traitors already? Don't panic, because now you can play it yourself at home. Ginger Fox Games have released a card game version for 4-8 players aged 8+, and they've sent us a copy to review. 

Pack front The Traitors strategy card game showing Egyptian style mysterious decor and mystery human wearing black hooded robe

Firstly I have to admit to never having watched The Traitors on telly, so this was a complete unknown for all of us. I was worried it would be a vicious and heartless game, but it turns out that isn't the case. This is a very quick game to play, each round takes about 30-45 minutes depending on the number of players, and although it's all about strategy, there isn't really enough time to be mean to anyone else - especially good if you are playing with younger gamers. 

Friday 9 February 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 9th February 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 9th February 2024

World COVID Statistics: 702,882,810 officially reported cases and 6,980,637 losses of life.

In England the unusual second peak in hospital admissions for flu over the last few weeks seems to have finally eased (although this cold snap won't be helpful in keeping it down, and we are still likely to see some increased mortality due to having a lot of very sick people already). From Stuart McDonald (COVID Actuaries):
"Today’s surveillance report from UKHSA shows hospital admissions from flu are within the medium threshold and are no longer on the rise. 
Other indicators such as primary care consultations and ICU admissions are consistent."
Thank goodness for that.

England COVID Actuaries chart Hospital admissions by area
via COVID Actuaries

In other good news, hospital admissions with COVID are down 20% on last week... ahhhh... and relax (but not too much!).

Friday 26 January 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 26th January 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 26th January 2024

World COVID Statistics: 702,382,516 reported cases and 6,973,669 losses of life.

"In the week ending 12 Jan 2024 (Week 2) of deaths registered:
▪️ 17.7% involved influenza or pneumonia (2,425 deaths)
▪️ 2.8% involved COVID19 (388 deaths)"
UK ONS (Office for National Statistics). 
These figures are higher than a normal week in part due to delays from Christmas and New Year, and a lot of people are unhappy that many folk hospitalised with pneumonia are not even being tested for COVID, nor is it considered relevant to these stats if they tested positive a couple of weeks or more previously.
The good news is that alongside preliminary figures since then, we don't seem to have quite as many people sick with COVID as this time last year. 
The bad news is that we already have a lot of people in hospital with flu, and significant pressure on the NHS, causing 'critical incidents' in several trusts (including Leicester). Unusually we have had 2 flu waves and may not be at the peak of this one for hospitalisations, so fingers crossed that tapers off.
If you are ill, whatever it may be, please stay home if you can.

WHO Measles is one of the world's most contagious diseases

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Ad | Simple Steps To Get More Proactive With Your Healthcare In 2024

Simple Steps To Get More Proactive With Your Healthcare In 2024

In the pursuit of well-being, a proactive approach is paramount to ensuring a healthier and more fulfilling life. This comprehensive guide provides essential steps and insights to empower you on your journey towards proactive health in 2024. You can lay the foundation for a thriving and balanced lifestyle by addressing various aspects of physical and mental well-being.

National Health Service launch leaflet explaining we are all paying for the NHS

Embrace A Holistic Approach To Fitness

To kickstart your journey towards proactive health, consider adopting a holistic approach to fitness. Instead of fixating solely on traditional gym workouts, explore diverse activities that engage both your body and mind. Activities like yoga, Pilates, or even outdoor exercises can contribute to your overall well-being. This approach not only keeps you physically active but also promotes mental clarity and emotional balance.

Prioritise Mental Well-Being

A proactive stance towards health extends beyond physical fitness, encompassing mental well-being. Engage in mindfulness practices such as meditation or deep breathing exercises to alleviate stress and enhance your mental resilience. Consulting with a mental health professional can also provide valuable insights and coping mechanisms tailored to your specific needs.

Drawing of young man sitting on the ground looking scared

Cultivate Nutritious Eating Habits

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in proactive health. Rather than adhering to restrictive diets, focus on cultivating sustainable and nutritious eating habits. Incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains into your diet. Consult a registered dietitian for personalised advice, ensuring you meet your nutritional requirements while enjoying a diverse and satisfying range of foods.

Address Skin Issues That Have Been Bothering You

Your skin is a reflection of your overall health, and addressing skin issues is a proactive step towards well-being. If you've been dealing with persistent skin problems, consult with a dermatologist. Whether it's acne, eczema, or other dermatological concerns, seeking professional advice ensures effective treatment tailored to your skin type and condition. You can find a lot of medications for skin issues, as well as problems like migraines and hay fever, at an online pharmacy. The Independent Pharmacy treats 88 medical conditions online, and they offer speedy delivery. Visit their website to find out more.

Overhead view of 12 small plastic cups filled with different coloured juice drinks

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is often underestimated but is crucial for maintaining optimal bodily functions. Make a conscious effort to stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking an adequate amount of water. Carry a reusable water bottle to encourage consistent hydration, supporting your overall health and well-being.

Foster Quality Sleep

Prioritise a good night's sleep as an essential component of proactive health. Establish a consistent sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and ensure your sleep environment is conducive to rest. Quality sleep positively influences physical and mental recovery, contributing to improved focus, mood, and overall vitality.

Young boy fast asleep leaning over the back of a Manchester tram seat

Regular Health Screenings And Check-ups

Being proactive with your health involves regular health screenings and check-ups. Schedule routine appointments with healthcare professionals to monitor key indicators of well-being. Address any concerns promptly and work collaboratively with your healthcare team to implement preventive measures.

Final Thoughts

Embarking on a journey towards proactive health requires a commitment to holistic well-being. By incorporating these essential steps into your lifestyle, you can cultivate a foundation for lasting health and vitality. Remember that proactive health is an ongoing process, and small, consistent efforts lead to significant and sustainable results. Prioritise your well-being and embrace the positive transformations that come with a proactive approach to health in 2024.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Futliit LED Backpack Reviewed By Teenagers (Sent for Review).

We recently moved to rural Scotland, and a big change for my teenage boys has been walking a mile to and from the school bus down an unlit country lane, often in the dark. I'd seen LED backpacks for younger children, but was delighted when Futliit got in touch to see if we were interested in reviewing their much more teenager-appropriate light up backpack. 

Futliit Backpack review with 6ft tall teenager wearing backpack 2 LED strips lit up

My initial reaction upon opening the package is that this is an excellent quality bag. The material is still soft, but feels incredibly robust and waterproof. 

Futliit Backpack shoulder strap and padding close up

The stitching is very well done, and the inside lining is soft and will wipe clean. There are some lovely details which make all the difference, including a strong carry handle on top, and neatly shaped thick padding on the straps and the rear of the bag, as well as the base - this bag is designed to last a long time. 

Futliit Backpack light and good handle on top of bag

The backpack has long straps with plenty of room for adjustment, and they're well secured, with lots of stitching to hold them on firmly - great when your teenagers insist on carrying their PE Kits, damp towels, 48 school books and everything else inside one bag.

Futliit Backpack from behind showing extendable shoulder straps

Moving on to what is possibly the most important school bag feature, and there are two generously sized zip up main sections. The first has a padded laptop pocket and plenty of space for A4 folders and sheets. The second front zipped section also has plenty of room, plus a large inside zipped pocket, 2 further smaller pockets and a clip for your keys.

Inside front section showing pockets Futliit LED Backpack

The LED lights are the feature that impressed me most before I saw the bag myself, and they don't disappoint. There are 2 completely independent plastic- sleeved strips of LEDs which run alongside the outside zips on the main sections of the bag. 

Futliit Backpack LED strip around smaller outside section

Each LED strip has it's own battery and power button, cleverly located at the base of the straps, in a small pocket which fastens neatly closed using press together hook and loop (velcro style) to protect the electrical parts from weather. You only need to open these when changing the batteries - which shouldn't be for a long while yet - and you can feel and press the buttons easily through the fabric, even with gloved hands. 

Futliit Backpack LED lighting switch and battery velcro pocket

Press once for rapid flashing LEDs, twice for slower flashing lights, and a third time for static lights. The fourth press turns the lights off. It's super easy to do without even removing your bag from your back, and you can easily see if the lights are on in the dark. Futliit's name is a play on words for Foot and Light, and even with the backpack on your back, it does indeed light up the area around you. 

Futliit Backpack Review both strips of LEDs showing

If that all wasn't enough, the Futliit backpack also has 3 substantial reflective patches (should you forget to turn on the LEDs), rubber tags to pull the zips open easily while wearing gloves, and tall bottle pockets to either side - with an elasticated top to help prevent you dropping your bottle of water when you inevitably bend over to tie your shoelaces or pick up dropped items. 

Futliit Backpack in distance one strip of LEDs showing

The Futliit Backpack is excellent. My son has been using it for 2 weeks now and he's happy with the size and utility, and he feels much safer walking in the dark. It stands up nicely even when he dumps it on the floor, and it's been fully tested in some pretty heavy wind and rain - without leaking at all. The switches are invisible and subtle, so his schoolfriends don't turn it on every time they walk past, nor does he accidentally turn it on very often - although it has happened once when he stood on it by accident in class. 

I feel much happier that my son can be seen by traffic much earlier than when car lights catch his reflective jacket - in fact the Futliit backpack itself makes the hi vis glow, so double bonus (you can just see it in the photo below). He's 15, and when he stays out after school he catches a bus 'home' to a nearby town, and as he walks towards the farm we can spot him coming from a very long way away. 

Teenage boy around 500m away wearing Futliit Backpack which even highlights his hi vis jacket

The Futliit LED Backpack is an excellent quality bag that is big enough and strong enough to be a 'proper' school bag for a teenager. It protects excellently against rain and is very comfortable to wear. Both of my boys would far rather carry a Futliit bag than wear the yellow hi vis, and it really does feel like it'll easily last my son the next 2 or 3 years, however hard he is on it. 

The Futliit LED Backpack currently retails at £79.99 and is available in a warm neutral grey - and at the time of typing they are offering free standard delivery, as well as a 35% discount code on the Futliit LED Backpack website. Frankly this is a very fair price for what you get (fabulous with the discount), considering that any good quality water-resistant bag is going to cost you around this price anyway - without the addition of LEDs. Futliit have excellent reviews aside from mine, and are hoping to expand the range - they're looking into making bags with multi-coloured lights, and red lights for cyclists. I really do wish them well. 

We were sent out Futliit LED Backpack for my teenagers to review. Natural lighting has been appalling over the past 2 weeks, so I've tried to pick photos which show the true colours, but some variation is unavoidable. I was not offered any other incentive to give a review, and I wasn't paid. I was asked to give my true thoughts, and those of my teenagers, and I have. 

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Simba Hybrid All-Year Duvet Review (with temperature control technology). Sent for review.

What could be more timely than a duvet review? In this cold, Wintery weather we all want to feel snug and warm, and the Simba Hybrid Duvet really does do the trick. 

Simba Sleep have sent me their 10.5 Tog all-year Hybrid Duvet with Stratos® responsive temperature control technology. Not only is it warm in Winter, it dissipates excess heat so that you won't be too hot in Summer, so you can use this duvet all year round. 

Close up of Simba label showing some duvet fabric all around

The duvet arrives covered in a 50% recycled plastic bag, with a recycled textile zip up storage bag inside - storage bags are always handy, and it's a really nice touch - plus I love the fact we don't have loads of waste plastic. 

Simba Duvet inside recycled fabric storage bag

I unzipped the bag and the first thing I noticed was just how luxurious this feels. The plain cotton on the underside of the duvet is super soft, it's almost a shame you won't be sleeping without a duvet cover. 

The plain cotton layer is breathable, which helps prevent any clamminess, or sweating in Summer. 

Simba duvet folded inside open storage bag

The top side of the duvet is also cotton, and is a geometric patterned fabric which has a distinct feel to it. Brand new out of the packet it rustles a little, but once you have the cover on and start using the duvet, any perceptible rustling swiftly goes away. 

Simba Stratos fabric close up and folded over so you can compare cotton underside and topside

The pattern isn't just there to be pretty. This is the Stratos® responsive temperature control technology. It works by drawing excess heat away, so you can be comfortable and cosy, but not too hot - this is especially handy for people going through menopause or otherwise prone to heating up during the night. 

Simba duvet with Stratos temperature control label close up

Simba's website explains that within the duvet are super soft polyester Simba Renew Bio-fibres, to keep you cosy and warm. I can't argue with that. It's plump and soft, but not heavy - it was easy for me to change the cover alone. It's also nice and warm - my partner was away with work last night and our bedroom dropped to around 8 degrees, but I still woke up this morning snug and comfortable.

Simba duvet rolled up showing fabric

There are some really nice details with the Simba Duvet. There are tags attached with information, including which way around the duvet should be used - so you don't end up turning it around or trying to fit it into the duvet cover the wrong way. 

Simba Duvet label showing which way to be used on the ed

The tags also show you size (UK King size 225 x 220cm), density of filling (10.5 tog 650gsm) and care instructions. Simba duvets are machine washable, and can even be tumble dried on a low heat.

Simba Duvet fabric label cotton outers and polyster filling

Simba are keen on being green, and the scannable QR code on the duvet tag takes you to a page explaining how to recycle your packaging, and care for your new Simba duvet

Simba Sleep Duvet on the bed

We were sent a King Size Hybrid Duvet, Simba Sleep Hybrid Duvets are available in all standard UK sizes, including Super King. Quite honestly I can't fault it. I've slept under my new duvet for 5 nights and been warm and cosy, but never too hot. I haven't woken up clammy or uncomfortable, and I've slept through for over 6 hours on 2 of those nights, which is a really rare thing for me, and has probably only happened on 2 other nights in the previous 2 years. 

My youngest 2 boys and I sat on the bed last night and watched a movie, and they were full of praise for how comfortable it was to sit on, and even Sonja the cat seems to have taken particular delight in jumping about on it, and settling down for her twice hourly catnaps. 

Cat lying comfortably on duvet without any cover on

I've also found that my duvet hasn't moved about within the cover - which is possibly one or all of 3 different reasons as far as I can see, and they're all good:
1. It fits incredibly well and is perfect 'king size'
2. Clever design and patterned fabric hold it nicely in place
3. We don't move about as much when we are asleep, because we are already comfortable. 

The years have taught me that beds and duvets are an area where you really do 'get what you pay for'. A £50 duvet might be handy for camping or occasional guests, but if you want to look after your own wellbeing with a regular good night's sleep, and don't want to have to buy a new duvet every few months, then you definitely shouldn't skimp on quality. In that respect I think it's well worth spending some money on a product that not only cares for you, but will outlast any cheap alternative, and quite likely save you money (and sanity) in the long run. 

Simba Sleep offer very fair value for money for the quality of their product. At the time of typing they have duvet discounts of 35% for anyone buying a mattress and duvet together, a 40% off Hybrid Mattress sale, and also offer carbon neutral, free, next day UK delivery. Our King Sized Hybrid Duvet with Stratos responsive heat control technology for all-year-round use is currently priced at £249 (single £139), and if every good night's sleep was worth £2, I think you'd get your money's worth very quickly. 

We were sent our duvet for review by Simba Sleep, but I did not accept any payment or other incentive, and my review is all my own words. The review is positive because I am genuinely very happy with my 10.5 tog Simba Sleep Hybrid Duvet. 

Friday 12 January 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 12th January 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 12th January 2024

World COVID Statistics: 701,603,634 officially reported cases and 6,967,340 losses of life.

Hello again after my longest break in 4 years - and Happy New Year to you all! I hope your festivities went well and you spent time with people you love. Glad to have you with us... 2024 off we go... 

"We are entering the 5th year of the pandemic and we are certainly in a different phase.  This phase is marked by an evolving virus (with the XBB and BA.2 sublineages circulating and JN.1 becoming dominant).
It’s marked by reduced impact compared to the peak of COVID19 a few years ago, but it’s still a global health threat and it’s still a pandemic causing far too many (re)infections, hospitalisations, deaths and long covid when tools exist to prevent them."
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID technical lead for The World Health Organisation (WHO), trying very hard in her end of year message to remind us that the COVID pandemic isn't over, and we should all do the simple stuff like stay home when you are ill, and wearing masks when in busy enclosed spaces. 

120124 UKHSA Stats

Over the past 3 weeks the UK Health Security Agency and mainstream media have avoided saying "COVID" as much as possible. We've had warnings about Flu, RSV, seasonal illness and 'cold weather making lung conditions worse', but if you can find COVID mentioned, it usually isn't in the headlines. 
The Guardian ran an interesting piece about a surge in English hospital admissions due to flu, with "an average of 1,313 people in hospital with the virus each day during the week ending 31 December", but read on and you discover "an average of 3,929 people in hospital" with COVID each day during the same week. This is despite very little testing, even reportedly in people admitted to hospital with obvious symptoms. 
You just can't make something go away by pretending, however hard you try.

Friday 22 December 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 22nd December 2023

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 22nd December 2023

World COVID Statistics: 700,057,262 officially reported cases and 6,958,594 losses of life.

Seasonal affective disorder can affect anyone, helpful hints from UK NHS

"UKHSA estimates that prevalence of COVID in England and Scotland has nearly tripled in the month since the ONS restarted its COVID infection surveillance."
John Roberts, COVID Actuary.
We expected a rise, but yowsers. Aren't we glad we got our surveillance data back... erm... hmm. 
Here from the UKHSA:
"There has been an increase in prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in England and Scotland during the 2 weeks leading up to 13 December 2023."
- England, estimate 4.3%, equivalent to 2,333,000 individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2. Around 1 in 24 people. 
- Scotland, estimate 4.1%, equivalent to 215,000 individuals. Around 1 in 24 people.
- Prevalence was higher for individuals aged between 18 to 44 years than for those aged over 65, and was estimated to have increased across all age groups in the 2 weeks up to 13 December 2023.
- In some areas of London prevalence looks like it might (last week) be as high as 1 in every 12 people.

Friday 8 December 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 8th December 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 8th December 2023

World COVID Statistics: 699,001,023 reported cases and 6,948,566 losses of life.

3 years ago today, 90 year old Margaret Keenan was the first person in the UK (and the world) to be vaccinated against COVID as part of a general immunisation rollout.
Last interview I can find with her was a few months ago, at which time she was healthy and well with no regrets. 

WHO COVID Isnt over get vaccinated text and image of lady