505,744 tests for Covid were done yesterday and only 4,712 were positive. This continues to fall steadily with a 26% fall in the last week the positive rate is now 65 per 100k of the population.
On the 4 March, 10,898 patients were in hospital with Covid 19. 688 more were admitted on 4th March. This, is a 30% reduction on the number admitted a week ago. 1,542 were being treated on a ventilator on the 5th March.
Even allowing for the weekend effect the figure of 65 deaths is very pleasing. It is 34.4% lower than that 7 days ago. The death rate is only 2.1 per 100k. As for vaccinations, 22.37 million first doses given and 1.14 million second doses. Hidden in these figures is the fact that the daily number done has dropped somewhat. This is because of the temporary supply problem of some vaccines. More are expected very soon and this will be corrected. Supply has always been the limiting factor in the operation to immunise everyone. Despite the difficulties, the ability to immunise a whole population in this way is quite remarkable.
The Prime Minister described today as “an emotional day as we started our journey on the irreversible road map to freedom.” Do you see it like this or is it just more typical encouragement, Prime Minister style? As you can see the new infection rate was still near to 5,000. We really must not loosen our guard in any way. We must not trade urgency and haste for security. The steps we take out of lockdown are deliberately spread out with changes every 5 weeks. This allows us to see the effect of easing restrictions. The first two weeks cover the period of time to come into contact with and then be infected with Covid. The second two weeks allows us to see the severity of the disease and whether admissions are needed, and a week to plan any changes to the next step.
I hear questions suggesting that as our rate of recovery is good why can we not speed up, I hope the explanation is a bit clearer. Our priority must be to get every single adult vaccinated as quickly as possible. Schools and colleges must continue in a calm and efficient manner. How did today go for you? I think children are more resilient than many adults, especially if they have support at home. I think many will adjust to normal teaching again quite quickly and that catching up on the curriculum will not be as difficult as some suggest. Many other skills needed to survive in modern life have certainly been learnt whilst adjusting to Covid and all that came with it.
Ofsted hopes masks in school can be stopped after Easter. I am not sure this would be a good idea. Its too early to see. It may be possible to relax their use outdoors but we may well still need them in classrooms next winter. If they are as effective at reducing flu and coughs and colds as they have been this year, we may find we regularly use them in the winter season. Decisions must be based on scientific evidence not on random hunches.
There is still a lot to be done to help those hesitant to become confident in having the vaccine. If you are black, young and poor you are likely to be most hesitant. If you have the confidence of a hesitant person you can do a lot to help them, set an example and many will follow you.
I do not particularly want to go and sit on a park bench with a friend, I know many will, but it could be more comfortable to have your coffees together and chat on Zoom from the warmth of your own homes. For now its still more of the same. We still have to stay apart and stay at home except for specific reasons. We still need masks and our hands should be regularly sanitised.
Please stay safe. I have no intention of discussing the main topic of the news today. In the long term Covid will be much more important.