January 26 2021

The Prime Minister gave a press briefing tonight to remind us all that today we passed a very sad landmark in this pandemic with 100,000 deaths being reported within 28 days of a positive test. He offered a very genuine message of condolence to everyone in any way affected by these deaths.

He promised that when this is all over we will come together as a nation to commemorate them, the sacrifices many made as well as the many extraordinary gestures of kindness in the pandemic. The enormous efforts made by our NHS to continue to provide care in the extraordinary high level of severely ill patients will also be celebrated. We certainly have a Health Service to be proud of.

We are the 5th country in the world to meet this dreadful milestone. Germany reached the 50,000 deaths milestone as well today. The figures cannot be compared because of the different way countries count the deaths.

It boils down to the question that for people with underlying medical conditions who contract Covid 19, did they die with Covid or did they die because of Covid? We know that relatively few people who have no underlying health conditions die from Covid but a significant number do. Amongst the elderly with heart or breathing problems catching Covid is the last straw and clearly hastens the end. The systems we have with a Coroner is not the same everywhere and what is written on a certificate is very variable. It is common in the UK to list several different conditions contributing to a death. Quite early in the pandemic the UK defined a death due to Covid as a death occurring within 28 days of testing positive. This will catch most cases but people can die after a fractured pelvis they got whilst positive, but not ill with Covid and miss someone who dies of Covid complications 2 months after a positive test. Many countries have not established a criteria and what is on a certificate is down to the doctor signing it.

Decisions are to be made tonight about if and how to use hotels to quarantine people coming or returning to Britain in the same way as Australia and New Zealand. People are likely to have to pay costs which could be £1,000 or more. People would be required to stay in a hotel room for a week not being allowed into communal areas. Staying in a home would give more freedom but much more difficult to enforce, we shall know the plans by tomorrow.

In other news there is a story breaking that 31 police officers face £200 fines for having their hair cut in the police station whilst on duty. A friendly barber did them all in the station and the officers all made a donation to a charity. The UK is the leading country in the world for sequencing viruses and identifying variants. And the WHO will be referring requests to identify new variants from countries unable to do this to labs in the UK.

An Italian doctor has been charged with the murder of 2 patients on a Covid 19 ward. He is alleged to have given large doses of anaesthetics, as if he was about to intubate, but then not doing so. He vigorously denies the claim and is currently being held on house arrest whilst police look into some other deaths on the ward.

In almost all parts of England the number of new cases are at their lowest levels this year. London shows a drop of over 200 cases per 100k of the population in the last 2 weeks. Today 542,893 tests were done which is a slight drop of 0.4% . Only 20,089 of the tests today were positive . this figure has dropped by 26.4 % of the 7 day rolling average. The rate has dropped to 374 per 100k of the population.

These figures are now clearly falling day on day, It is very clear evidence the lockdown arrangements are working to reduce infections.

The hospital data is also encouraging, it looks as though the peak of admissions is around now and we can see a slight fall in the daily admissions. 37,561 people remain in hospital on 24th January, with 4,032 on a ventilator on 25 January. A total of 3,341 were admitted on the 22nd January. This is a fall of 7.2% of the 7 day rolling average. We need to see this figure continue to fall.

The death figure is always high on a Tuesday, after a weekend it represents the number of deaths reported on that day not necessarily having occurred on that day. The number 1,631 still shows a rise of 5.1 % of the 7 day rolling average and a rate of 12.0 per 100k of the population. The rate of rise should hopefully fall over the course of this week and we may see deaths plateau by the end of the week. This is a very high level still, inevitably it means thousands more deaths before we can see rapid reductions. Lockdown has to remain and possibly still made tighter.

Although it’s a sombre day with this sad milestone we can see a clear path out. We must stick to the plan, staying at home, staying apart, rolling out the vaccine Please do not relax one iota, it requires all of us to be vigilant all the time. Take comfort and support from one another. Kindness is essential.

Let’s maintain the mental health of us all and look forward to the commemorations the Prime Minister has promised.

Just Stay Safe.

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