The mass testing of school children has led to a doubling of the number of tests done each day. 1.61 million tests were done in the last 24 hours. The number found positive is 6,609 which still is a drop of 7.3% and the rate is now only 59.4 /100k. The actual number being found positive is probably rising a little, or the rate of reduction of new cases has dropped. There have been at least two school outbreaks detected this week resulting in whole years going back to 10 days isolation. This does need to be watched carefully as we assess the results of letting children back to school.
175 deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours. This is encouraging as it’s a further 35% fall from 7 days ago. The death rate is now only 1.6 /100k of the population.
On the 10th March 8,404 patients were in hospital with 1,194 on a ventilator on 11 March. 575 new patients were admitted on 8th March. This is the number we need to see decimated quickly as proof we are going along the path to recovery in the way anticipated.
Vaccines are certainly being done rapidly now. 23.3 million 1st doses and 1.4 million 2nd doses are now given. We do need to persuade those hesitant to have a jab. It will help to protect all of us if we do.
There is some interesting local data available tonight. Derbyshire Dales have the unlikely title of having the highest rate in England, they have seen 178/100k in this last week. Second comes Hull with 157/100k and 3rd Preston with 150/100k. The accolade for the lowest rate goes to West Devon with only 3.6/100k followed by South Hampshire at 4/100k.It is interesting to see West Devon doing so well. The police and the CQC are investigating an outbreak in a Devon Care home in Sidmouth where there have been 33 positive cases, three have died and a number in hospital. Also, in Weymouth a school year 10 have all been sent home to self- isolate following finding positive cases in the mass testing programme.
New phase 3 studies suggest the Novax vaccine is at least 86% efficient against the Kent Variant. It also has been shown to be 100% effective in preventing severe disease, hospital admission and deaths. The UK has 60 million doses on order for when the regulator gives its approval.
Another important myth has been challenged by a big study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, three other Universities and the local CDCs. They analysed 25,000 Health care workers in Baltimore, Atlanta and Chicago. They discovered that the highest risk of infection came from the community and not their place of work. Most had efficient measures in place at work to minimise cross infections with Covid. There were not the same levels of protection in the community. They continue to recommend priority immunisation for Health Care workers because of their frequent prolonged exposure at work.
For Wales there are some important changes today, the 12 week stay at home is finished and in its place is a ‘Stay Local’ message. You should not travel more than 5 miles from home until Easter when the rule of distance may be relaxed to allow some holiday options for the Welsh over the Easter weekend.
Up to 4 adults with children not being counted can now meet up to exercise or socialise. They can also use private gardens. They can come from 2 different households. Barbers’ shops can reopen on Monday15th but you will need a prebooked appointment. From Saturday 13th golf tennis and basket ball can restart.
A single pre identified relative can now visit someone in a care home with a full range of PPE and testing. Mark Drakeford ,the First Secretary, made it very clear that no English visitors can cross the border into Wales . So, there is no point in having a day out in Wales to get a haircut. Scotland also have some changes. From today 4 adults from 2 households can meet outdoors ad private gardens as they can in Wales. In a new arrangement, not seen before, children aged 12 to 17 can meet with up to 4 different households out doors and can even cross Council boundaries to take part in organised activities. Adults can take part in non-contact sports and organised exercise for up to 15 people. From Monday 15th March, school years 4 to 7 will go back fulltime and all secondary children will go back for some face-to-face teaching on a part time basis.
By contrast, Italy is to start a 3rd national lockdown over the Easter weekend. All shops will close from 3rd to 5th April. Italians will only be allowed to leave home to work or in an emergency. Italy have seen a 10% rise in cases in the last 7 days and the general situation is deteriorating.
We should take serious notice of this because if our cases begin to rise again in England we might have to experience a severe lockdown like this.
Our rate of continuing improvement shows some signs of slowing. We have absolutely to stick to all the rules, the most important is still staying at home and staying apart. I know Wales have said it’s alright to just stay local but just because you can does not mean you have to go out yet.
Wear your masks, remember the basic sanitising and stay safe.