Soon after I published last night, a decision was announced to close all London Primary schools and some in parts of Essex and Kent. It is interesting to see how this has been reported. Some reports suggest it was a very embarrassing U turn by the Government. Other reports say the Government caved in under pressure from the Unions, yet more say the situation was evolving and that new evidence suggested immediate action was required. I respect the view that education should only be disrupted as a last resort. I acknowledge we are at ‘the last resort’. It is now necessary. Younger primary children can be supervised much easier than older ones. I personally would like all schools to be closed for 2 weeks as an emergency fire break. I recognise the pressures on parents and extended families this will cause. I cannot support the unions claiming that schools are no longer safe for their members, one union is threatening legal action. I suspect its safer to be in a junior school all day teaching than it would be to spend a day at the West End sales in London. SAGE exercised practical common sense when they first predicted the danger after Christmas and they recommended schools close for 2 weeks in January by delaying the return after the holiday. This they did on 22nd December.
The reasons this is necessary are seen in the daily statistics. Only the most important ones are still published daily, a lot has not been collected over the holiday. Sadly, records continue to get broken and the situation is still deteriorating. We will not see the benefits of the Tier 4 restrictions for at least another week.
57,725 new cases were detected, the highest ever, a new record for the whole pandemic. This is a 34,8% increase in the 7day rolling average. There have been 445 deaths reported, this will be an underestimate because of the Bank holiday. Now there have been over 4,000 deaths in the last 7 days. The death rate per 100/k remains above 5 at 5.4/100k, a full 20% rise in the last 7day average.
There has been seemingly different advice about giving a second dose of the vaccine now we have choice of more than one, The DH and PHE both advise that normally the same vaccine as the first should always be given as the second. However, the DH go on to say that if a second dose is due and for whatever reason the name of the first vaccine is not known or if none is likely to be available very soon it would be better to give whatever is available rather than nothing. I do not think they are at odds as the media would like to suggest just two different perspectives. My advice is to have what ever you are offered but do be clear whether you are being given the flu vaccine or the Covid vaccine . I have come across several people confused about what they have been given. If you are having both allow at least a week between them.
I was appalled to see a shouting demonstration outside St Thomas’ Hospital with the protesters really intimidating the staff going about their crucial work. They were shouting that Covid was a Hoax. I understand Piers Corbyn was behind this again. He was arrested yet again. What should be done with persistent trouble makers like him. Certainly, do not make him the next Mayor of London. It’s a pity the UK does not have an Isle of Elba to send him to.
Lorry drivers bound for the continent can now (as from Monday) book a Covid test at 20 new centres on other trunk roads leading to Kent like the M11 and M1. The centres are mostly on service areas. The idea being to avoid the jams in Kent during the next few weeks as they adjust to new Brexit requirements as well.
The Whittington hospital is the latest hospital to consider itself unsafe with conditions unbearable. Some patients using oxygen cylinders ran out of oxygen without it being noticed because staff were too busy to check. This caused staff much distress that they can no longer do the basics properly for all their patients. I think they may have to introduce the buddy care idea used in mass casualty situations where one more able patient is tasked to keep an eye on two or three others next to him or her and to shout or use a call bell if any of them develop a problem.
The London Excel centre is now expected to admit patients next week for the first time.
Up to 20 people at a Belsize Park restaurant party have been fined after a large Christmas party and French police have broken up a large rave in a warehouse near Rennes. Several thousand people were involved.
It still has to get worse before it gets better but its probably less than two weeks before we turn the corner. Meanwhile, please all cooperate, it is too dreadful to think of losing the battle now. Remember Tier 4 means stay at home. As you know I have had probable contact with the disease so I am self-isolating as though I have the disease. I show no signs or symptoms fortunately yet and its 8 days since contact so soon will be out of isolation.
Look after one another, Stay Apart and Stay Safe.