Breaking news at 4pm tonight was that the Government are to stop all travel between Great Britain and South America from 4am in the morning. Also included are passengers from Portugal who have major trade links with South America. Those holding British passports will be allowed to travel home but must isolate for 10 days on arrival in the UK. An exception is also made for truck drivers coming by road from Portugal who will need the usual negative tests within 72 hours of crossing the channel.
This was in response to the discovery of a new Brazilian mutation of the Covid virus, exact details of this mutation have not yet been released and it is not known yet how it might differ from the original virus or the Kent mutation, which is much more contagious. It is probable that this mutation is also more highly transmissible. There is no evidence that the existing vaccines will not be just as effective. Urgent work is continuing to establish just how much a problem the Brazilian variant could be.
A global team of 10 scientists led by the WHO have arrived in the city of Wuhan to investigate the early origins of the pandemic. The Chinese have promised to be co-operative in the investigation. The team will have to spend the first two weeks in quarantine before they can begin a series of interviews. The results of the study will, in due course, be made public. It may even be that the pandemic did not start in Wuhan but elsewhere in the Far East. After all, the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic did not start in Spain. China has just begun to see a rise in cases again with its first death since May and 138 cases being reported yesterday. Vaccination is proceeding well in China.
As anticipated, the pressure on the NHS is still critical. The number of people on urgent waiting lists for non-Covid related issues is now the highest it has ever been. Nearly 4.5million patients are now waiting.
Large temporary mortuaries have been built around the country. The latest is at the Breakspear Crematorium at Ruislip. It is capable of holding and storing 1300 bodies in total. Others that have been built include one at RAF Coltishall in Norfolk , Headley Court in Leatherhead Surrey, Waterside Industrial Park in Leeds, Salisbury Hospital in Wiltshire , and Aylesford in Kent.
The problem is so great that there must be due consideration given to the use of mass graves. A choice no one will want to make. They were used extensively during the plague pandemics and to a lesser degree in the 1918 influenza pandemic.
Tescos report they have some 30,000 staff currently off work with absences due to illness, self -isolation or shielding at home; that is about 1 in 10 of their workforce. Some 7,000 staff who are extremely vulnerable are on paid leave at home. Some of the 35,000 temporary staff taken on before Christmas have continued in work.
Norway Air are cutting 1000 jobs at Gatwick Airport. Spain has extended its travel ban for UK Residents until 2nd February.
I can confirm that a rumour about Covid vaccines interfering with subsequent fertility is completely FAKE NEWS. There is absolutely NO evidence for this cruel claim by anti-vaccers who tried to frighten young female health care staff not to have a jab at a vaccination centre. We should not feed this rumour but just exterminate it.
There is no sign yet of the daily government statistics usually released about 4pm. I think we can predict them, the Hospital data and deaths will be continuing to rise but I am hopeful the trend of numbers of new positive case has continued to drop a little. The daily mid-week figures are the most accurate as they are not affected by the weekend effects and the 7 day rolling average is the most accurate indicator.
For many of you today the weather is an added hazard and another reason to stay at home in the warm . Do not go out unless essential, remember Hands, Face, and Space . Continue to support one another as much as possible. Only exercise if you really must but don’t risk a fracture in a fall on ice.
Stay safe. If I get the figures soon I will add them here later