At the 5pm briefing by the PM tonight supported by his two medical scientific advisors, all were showing signs of fatigue and unusually for the scientists both got a bit tongue tied and used wrong words on a couple of occasions.
The Prime Minister was trying to sound upbeat about the vaccines, claiming we have already given more than the whole of the rest of Europe. He said 1.1 million have so far been immunised and in the most vulnerable over 80s some 600, 000 doses given which is about 23% of those in that top group for immunisation. He went on to say there will be over 1,000 immunisation sites up and running, and that as from next Monday there will be daily Vaccination Reports. The Government’s target is to give 13 million doses by mid- February. All that then remains is for the manufacturers to deliver sufficient doses.
You must remember, because the PM did not say so, that none of those immunised since Christmas have very much protection yet and could still catch it. Immunity starts to build up two weeks after the first vaccine but is not completed until after the second dose.
Mr Sunak announced a 4.6 billion pounds package to support property for businesses forced to close. Local Councils have also been given half a billion pounds to support local business. The Furlough scheme is to be extended to April.
Donald Trump is reported to be planning a holiday at his golf course in Scotland to avoid having to attend the new President Biden’s inauguration. Nicola Sturgeon got to hear of this and has reportedly stated firmly he will not be allowed into Scotland as coming to play golf is not essential travel. The rules apply to everyone. I hope she stands her ground as we will all support her. All Buckingham Palace Garden parties have been cancelled for this year. I do hope no one had an invitation to one. They are good fun and an interesting experience.
Germany is to limit travel from home to a 15km radius in an attempt to reduce travel unless for essential reasons. We in the UK still have this option to use if it becomes necessary.
A former much respected GP colleague of mine died in Walthamstow last week from Covid. He was at least the 16th GP to die from Covid. I have sent my condolences to his family and staff.
Under the latest lockdown rules alcohol takeaways are to be banned until mid- February.
We need a lot of good old-fashioned cheer at the moment so following a suggestion from English Heritage I have decided to follow the medieval tradition of leaving my Christmas lights outside until Candlemas. The tradition of removing them for the 12th night after Christmas at the feast of the Epiphany is a modern one. Candlemas is the 2nd of February so if they keep working, they will stay to cheer my few neighbours and myself. I am not sure twinkling lights were part of medieval decorations, when there was no electricity! Still, it will be cheerful. Essex , has already declared a major incident and today have made a formal request under the MACA regulations. MACA is the name for Military Aid to the Civil Authorities for help in building emergency community hospitals. The Military have already helped building the Nightingale Hospitals and are crucial to the testing and immunising of the public.
Lincoln hospital has also declared a critical incident today . The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) is concerned at the worsening food poverty in the UK. They are concerned at the effect of Lockdown and the stay at home policy. IFAN represents over 400 independent local food banks. A kitchen in north London has had to close because several staff and volunteers were tested positive. They were feeding 1.000 people a week from 250 households who have now lost a major source of food for them.
I understand some dentists are being recruited to help staff the Excel Centre to work as health care assistants not dentists!
Statistics published today show 60,916 cases tested positive. This is the first time we have reached 60,000 in the pandemic. The rate is now 519.3, a rise of 43.7% in the 7 day rolling average. As I predicted last night, the death toll is much higher at 830 deaths, the rate remains at 5.7 and represents a rolling 7 day average rise of 45.3%.There is no published hospital data since 28th December.
As always, I welcome feed back and discussion on how best to manage this crisis. I continue to warn it has to get worse before it gets better. We are in this together, we will get through it if we work together, support the vulnerable and those with psychological and financial pressures. It’s time to be creative in finding things to do. Use our electronic devices to the best advantage. Learn a new language, start researching family history, try some creative writing. Look up friends from the past. This blog has put me back in touch with people I have not seen for 60 years.
One of the best ideas I have heard involves that box or draw of old photographs. Get them out, sort them out. Write on the back who it shows and where and when it was. If you do not do it your descendants will not know who they are and perhaps dispose of them. Perhaps scan and send copies to those you can.
We will get there.
We will get things back under control.
Remember to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.