March 4 2021

May I wish you all a joyous and blessed Easter. My thoughts are especially with those struggling to cope emotionally as well as those finding finances difficult in these very strange times. I listened to Pope Francis’ traditional message, given in a very untraditional way, for the second time. He urged all the 1.3 billion Catholics to remain Hopeful, urging a swift vaccine roll out to those countries who have not seen any yet. The Pope described the vaccine as an essential tool, urging countries not to hoard the vaccine but to focus on the most vulnerable and use what we have when it is available. He went one to urge people to bring the wars in Yemen and Syria to a rapid end.

Our own Archbishop of Canterbury had a very similar message in the virtual service this morning from the cathedral at Canterbury.

It seems to me, three simple words reflect how we should behave through the remains of this pandemic. CARE, AIR and SHARE. We should CARE for one another in all senses, whether practical, spiritual or psychological. There are times when all of us need that support and we should be the first to offer it in times of distress or trouble. Secondly AIR our thoughts with one another, help one another to come to an informed opinion about life’s daily issues and how to cope with them. Whether, it’s having a vaccine or feeling brave enough to leave home we should be there to support and guide. Thirdly SHARE. Are we willing to share more than we do with those in need. It might be just getting some shopping or a lift to see someone special. It may be sharing vegetables from the garden or a piece of equipment like a lawn mower or a power drill, or even some financial support.

There has been great excitement in Libya today when 100,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine arrived, the first seen in the country. The shipment arrived at Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport today. It is the first of many shipments on order. There are only about 6.5 million residents but they have already seen 2,684 deaths, they need this vaccine urgently.

Portugal has strengthened and extended its restrictions on the Spanish boarder until at least 15 April at a time when they had hoped to relax them.

Mumbai has announced stringent Covid 19 restrictions following a very rapid rise in cases. The area now has more than 50% of all new cases across the country. Everywhere is shut down with an 8pm to 7am curfew in place.

There is little new data released today because of the holiday. Here is what has been released. 1,266,685 tests were done on 31st March, there were 2,297 positive cases found in England and Scotland only. Wales and Northern Ireland have not released figures.

Only 10 deaths are recorded in England and Scotland, nothing is available from Wales and Northern Ireland.

With vaccination, 1st doses are paused at about 31.5 million, whereas 2nd doses have risen to 5.38 million.

I did notice one statistic of interest; there are now 52 towns in England who have no cases of Covid 19 in their over 70 year-olds. This figure includes 4 London Boroughs. This is a remarkable achievement and is thanks to the vaccination teams who have worked so well to protect our elderly.

At the same time, I notice that towards the end of the Kill the Bill demonstrations those who stayed behind were determined to create chaos. 107 people were arrested and about 10 police officers injured. I feared this would happen yesterday.

Why can we not get the message over that social distancing is still essential to save lives? Too many of the younger half of our population are not jet protected.

We are scheduled to have the Prime Minister talk to us again tomorrow evening and I will report as usual. He is expected to update us more about holidays and the chances of having one. More about red areas and general travel restrictions is coming as well. Easing of the lockdown is due to be reviewed and also social distancing. We really want to stay on the roadmap he planned for us so we cannot afford any further hiccups with the journey back to normality.

It’s still more of the same, keep going, do not forget Care Air and Share, and stay safe.

You are all in my thoughts and prayers as we do this journey together.

At the next Bank Holiday, I think we shall be on much firmer ground.

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