Tag: coronavirus

Covid-19 Keep Apart
Coronavirus, News

Covid: Regional rules ‘probably going to get tougher’, says Boris Johnson

Regional restrictions in England are “probably about to get tougher” to curb rising Covid infections, the prime minister has warned.

Boris Johnson told the BBC stronger measures may be required in parts of the country in the coming weeks.

He said this included the possibility of keeping schools closed, although this is not “something we want to do”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for new England-wide restrictions within 24 hours.

Sir Keir said coronavirus was “clearly out of control” and it was “inevitable more schools are going to have to close”.

It comes as the UK recorded more than 50,000 new confirmed Covid cases for the sixth day in a row, with 54,990 announced on Sunday.

An additional 454 deaths within 28 days of a positive test result have also been reported, meaning the total by this measure is now above 75,000.

Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Johnson said he stuck by his previous prediction that the situation would be better by the spring, and he hoped “tens of millions” would be vaccinated in the next three months.

But he added: “It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in many parts of the country. I’m fully, fully reconciled to that.”

“And I bet the people of this country are reconciled to that because, until the vaccine really comes on stream in a massive way, we’re fighting this virus with the same set of tools.”

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-55521747

Covid-19 Vaccine rollout
Coronavirus, News

Covid vaccine: When will you be eligible?

The NHS has begun the biggest mass vaccination campaign in its history, with a jab that protects against Covid-19.

So far, two vaccines have been approved in the UK. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first to be approved for mass use in over-16s.

More than 600,000 people in the UK have been vaccinated since Margaret Keenan became the first in the world to get that jab outside of a clinical trial.

Four weeks later, a vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca was also judged to be safe, and roll out of this second vaccine will now begin alongside the Pfizer jab.

Read more at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-55045639

Coronavirus, News

Mass testing for covid-19 in the UK

An unevaluated, underdesigned, and costly mess

Quick turnaround mass testing for covid-19 is to be made available to everybody, initially to those without symptoms, across England at a cost of £100bn (€110bn; $130bn).1 This follows a still uncompleted “pilot” in Liverpool, which started on 6 November at the invitation of Liverpool City Council in October, after incidence had peaked. The objective is “to demonstrate that massive asymptomatic testing can help identify far more cases and break the chain of transmission of coronavirus.”2

Participation in this pilot is voluntary. There is no call or recall. All participants receive two tests, the standard PCR test and the rapid turnaround (within 1 hour) lateral flow Innova test. Those with a positive result in either test are asked to self-isolate and are registered with the national track and trace programme, which initiates contact tracing. Key workers, health and social care staff, school staff, and children aged 11 and over are being targeted, but anyone can get tested, preferably at least twice within two weeks.

This is a screening programme, not opportunistic case finding: people are invited to have a test they would not otherwise have had, or asked for. If judged against the criteria drawn up by the UK’s National Screening Committee for appraisal of a programme’s viability, effectiveness, and appropriateness,3 it does not do well and has been already roundly criticised.4

Many asymptomatic people testing positive for covid-19 are probably relatively uninfectious.5 Evidence suggests at least a half may develop symptoms6 requiring self-isolation without the need for a test. Since few currently adhere to self-isolation,7 this is an obvious area for improvement before we embark on an expensive screening programme. Without a systematic approach to call and recall, those most at risk of being infected and transmitting may be least likely to present for screening.8

Source: https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4436

Coronavirus, News

Coronavirus: Doctors spell out how to exit England’s lockdown

Lifting lockdown must be handled better this time round to avoid a surge in Covid that could overwhelm the NHS, doctors say.

The British Medical Association has published a blueprint for how it thinks England should proceed with any easing.

It includes replacing the “rule of six” with a two-households restriction to reduce social mixing and banning travel between different local lockdown tiers.

Government has yet to say if or exactly how England will exit on 2 December.

It will decide next week, based on whether cases have fallen enough and how much strain hospitals are under.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54973530

Coronavirus, News

Moderna: Covid vaccine shows nearly 95% protection

A new vaccine that protects against Covid-19 is nearly 95% effective, early data from US company Moderna shows.

The results come hot on the heels of similar results from Pfizer, and add to growing confidence that vaccines can help end the pandemic.

Both companies used a highly innovative and experimental approach to designing their vaccines.

Moderna says it is a “great day” and they plan to apply for approval to use the vaccine in the next few weeks.

However, this is still early data and key questions remain unanswered.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54902908

Coronavirus, News

Coronavirus: Denmark shaken by cull of millions of mink

There was shock last week when Denmark decided to cull all its mink – up to 17 million animals – because of the spread of coronavirus. That national cull has turned into a political outcry, now that the prime minister has admitted the plan was rushed and had no legal basis.

Danish authorities worry that a mutated form of coronavirus found in mink could potentially hamper the effectiveness of a future vaccine.

As the politicians argue, mass graves have appeared in the Danish countryside filled with the slaughtered animals.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-54890229

Coronavirus, News

Covid-19: Medical chief insists hospital infections ‘tiny’

Patients should be reassured that if they do go to hospital they will be treated “safely and effectively,” says Wales’ deputy chief medical officer.

It follows concerns about growing numbers of people catching Covid when in hospital.

The number has risen across Wales by 50% in the past week.

At least 57 deaths and 284 cases have been linked with outbreaks at hospitals in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board in recent weeks.

But Dr Chris Jones insists the number of infections is “absolutely tiny” compared to the number of patients being cared for the NHS.

“I want to reassure people that hospitals are safe places to come in for the care you need,” he said.

“It’s vitally important we maintain normal healthcare while tackling this pandemic – the number of cases we’ve seen of hospital transmission is absolutely tiny compared to the number of people coming through the door”.

The statistics suggest less than 5% of patients are becoming infected in hospital with the vast majority of people catching in households or within the community.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-54643983

Coronavirus, News

England is in the second lockdown

People will only be allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons under the new lockdown measures.

England is now under stricter nationwide restrictions in an attempt to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new measures just after confirmed COVID-19 cases passed the one million mark across the UK.

The new restrictions will initially be imposed until 2 December across the whole of England, with the plan to then ease them on a local and regional basis.

The furlough scheme will remain until then.

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have their own restrictions.

These are the new restrictions for England:

  • Only leave your home for specific reasons –
    • Childcare or education
    • For work if you cannot work from home
    • Exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place
    • Medical reasons, to escape injury or harm
    • Shop for food and essentials
    • To provide care for vulnerable people or visit people in your support bubble, or as a volunteer
    • To attend an event commemorating Remembrance Sunday
    • Visiting estate agents and show homes
    • Moving house
    • Visits to waste disposal or recycling centres
  • No mixing of different households inside homes, except for childcare and other support
  • No mixing of households outside, except for exercising or visiting a public place with one other person
  • People who shielded in March do not have to shield again, but clinically vulnerable and over-60s are advised to limit social contacts and follow rules carefully
  • All pubs, bars and restaurants to close – takeaways and deliveries are allowed
  • All non-essential retail to close, but deliveries to customers and click-and-collect can continue
  • Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open. For the full list of what can remain open click here
  • Some venues will be allowed to remain open for specific exempt activities, like childcare and support groups
  • Support groups that are essential to be in-person can remain open, with up to 15 participants, where organised to give mutual aid, therapy or any other means of support. For example, support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people with long-term illnesses, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement
  • International travel out of the UK banned, except for work
  • Avoid all non-essential travel by private or public transport
  • Overnight stays and holidays away from your home are not allowed, including holidays in the UK and abroad. This includes staying in a second home, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with. Staying away from home for work purposes is allowed
  • Work places should stay open where people cannot work from home
  • Support bubbles remain
  • Children allowed to move between homes if parents separated
  • Outdoor exercise and recreation encouraged and is unlimited – only with your household/bubble, on your own or for an individual to meet one other person from a different household (golf and tennis not allowed)
  • Children under school age who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside – so a parent can see a friend or family member with their baby or young children
  • People can sit on park benches and have picnics as long as it is with their household
  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be allowed except in exceptional circumstances
  • Services in places of worship banned but private prayer permitted
  • Funerals allowed to continue with a maximum of 30 people, with only close friends and family advised to attend
  • Linked ceremonial events like stone settings and ash scatterings can also keep going ahead, with up to 15 people
  • Manufacturing and construction to continue
  • Childcare settings, schools, colleges and universities to remain open
  • University students must not move back and forth between their permanent home and student accommodation during term time and should only return home at the end of term for Christmas
  • Playgrounds to remain open
  • Medical appointments to continue as normal
  • Vets to remain open
  • Courts to remain open
  • Job centres to remain open
  • Professional sports, including the Premier League, allowed but amateur sports are not
  • Hotels and hostels to remain open for people travelling for work and limited other reasons.

What is the guidance for care home visits during the second lockdown?

  • All care home residents can receive visits from friends and family. However, measures must be in place to ensure safety – such as floor to ceiling screens, visiting pods, and window visits
  • Outdoor visits with one other person are permitted, provided it can be accessed by the loved one without going into the main building
  • The guidance allows care home providers, families and local professionals to work together to find the right balance between the benefits of visiting on wellbeing and quality of life, and the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to social care staff and vulnerable residents
  • Care homes are encouraged to arrange “virtual visits” using video calls.

Scotland has a five-tier system in place, with different areas under different levels of restriction.

The tiers begin at Level 0, described by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as “the closest to normality we can safely get to without more effective treatments for COVID or a vaccine against COVID”.

The most severe is Level 4, under which non-essential shops would close but the government will seek to keep manufacturing and construction firms open.

Northern Ireland is under a four-week circuit breaker that started on 16 October.

Pubs and restaurants there are closed except for takeaways and deliveries. Schools were shut for two weeks.

Retail outlets remain open, along with gyms for individual training.

People have been told they should work from home if possible.

Wales is under a two-week “firebreak” system that will end on 9 November.

People there can only leave their homes for limited reasons and must work from home where possible.

Leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses, community centres, libraries and recycling centres are all closed. Places of worship are shut except for funerals or wedding ceremonies.

When that ends, two households will be able to join together to form a bubble and up to 15 people will be allowed to meet indoors for an activity, with 30 outdoors. Schools will reopen in full however travel outside Wales during the England lockdown will be prohibited.

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-what-you-can-and-cant-do-after-england-goes-into-second-lockdown-12119939

Coronavirus, News

Coronavirus: Human rights watchdog investigating impact of COVID-19 on BAME healthcare workers

It follows a study which found black people are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as white people.

Britain’s human rights watchdog is investigating the impact of coronavirus on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) healthcare workers.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it will consider the “structural issues which have left people from a range of ethnic minorities at greater risk” from coronavirus across England, Scotland and Wales.

It comes after a study commissioned by London mayor Sadiq Khan last month found that black people are at almost twice the risk of dying from COVID-19 as their white counterparts.

Research published by the Resolution Foundation think tank last month showed that around 22% of BAME workers who had been supported by government subsidies were unemployed in September, compared with a figure for the general population, which stood at 9%.

EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said the inquiry would help to answer questions about racial inequality “and make recommendations that can be applied to a number of other working environments where ethnic minorities are over-represented at the lowest-paid levels”.

“This includes those on the front line who have been supporting all of us through the immense challenges we have faced this year,” she added.

A call for evidence is set to be announced in the coming weeks, along with more information about an external advisory group, which will guide the investigation.

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-human-rights-watchdog-investigating-impact-of-covid-19-on-bame-healthcare-workers-12124228