There is potentially good news tonight. The reported figures are encouraging and, although early days, are suggesting we are at the peak of this surge of the pandemic. The figures are static or beginning to drop across the board.
Today we have recorded 1.65 million tests being done. This is a rise of 2.3 million in the last 7 days it is a rise of 24% over the same period. Today 142,224 tested positive. There were very similar figures over the weekend, and a lot less than the 218,000 reached in the middle of last week. Looked at over the week there has only been a small overall increase of just 6.6%. Today there has been a drop in the overall positive case rate. It now stands at 1,919 per 100,000 compared with 1,982 /100k yesterday. It is the first drop for several weeks.
Death figures are difficult to interpret, we will see the true picture with tomorrow’s data. Only 77 were reported today but there have been 442 more deaths in this week compared with the week before. This appears to be a rise of almost 50%but is based on rather low figures. Only 1.6 deaths per 100,000 people are being reported.
The number of patients admitted on a single day was 2,332on 4th January compared with 2,434 on 3rd January. We can hope this is the beginning of a new trend downwards. The total number in hospital is 18,464 reported from 6th January and 18,665 on 7th January. The numbers being ventilated are 844 on 7th January compared with 868 on 6th January. This means pressures on the ITUs is at least static and may be beginning to ease.
The reluctant stragglers are beginning to have a first jab. It now stands at 51.97millon or 90.4% of the eligible population. Every single extra jab helps. Please help this get to 95%. Over 60% of the population have now managed a third jab. We need that extra 30 million as soon as they can have it. We now have good evidence that a third dose gives considerable extra protection from severe of fatal disease. The media have rather been exaggerating the current threat from a newly identified variant. It has been detected in 12 people in SE France. The outbreak seems contained and probably originated in the Cameroons. It was first identified in November. At present there are no concerns, despite the fact that it carries 46 potential mutations. Its officially named as the B.1.640.2 variant.
It might be helpful to explain the differences between the PCR test and the LFT test especially as the rules for testing have changed. The PCR test (polymerase chain reaction) detects the presence of the Covid virus RNA in a sample. If you have a positive test it confirms you have a Covid infection or have had it recently. You should not do a second test for at least 3 months after a positive first test as small amounts of virus can remain detectable for up to 3 months. The LFT or lateral flow test detects the level of viral proteins called antigens if present. It is only positive if a sizeable amount of these antigens are present. This is why the LFT is more helpful to confirm whether someone is infectious.
In an attempt to get more people back to work after mild Covid infections there are plans to reduce the isolation time after infection from 7 days to 5 days. It has already been reduced from 10 days. On- going research shows the peak of infectivity is usually 3 days after symptoms and then dropping off quickly. By 5 days most people who are well can return to work and the risk of residual infectivity is minimal. Remember many who have the disease more severely are certainly not fit to return to work for several weeks or even months.
Pfizer have announced a new version of their vaccine has been developed especially to deal with the Omicron variant. it will hopefully be ready in March and production has already begun.
We have come very close to an NHS collapse, due more to staff sickness and absence rather than rapidly rising numbers of Covid cases in hospital in hospital. Changing isolation rules can help. What else can we do? Stay away from A and E unless it’s a true medical emergency. Facebook today had the annual list of trivial calls the 999 service receives. They may seem funny but they are real time wasters. It is vital that you still use the 999 service if you have a genuine reason such as chest pain, severe haemorrhage or unconsciousness. Please continue to go for you mammogram or cervical smear or BP checks at the GP. These all help to avoid emergencies.
It will help if we avoid accidents by being cautious at home and when driving a car. We still need to wear masks, socially distance, stay in a well-ventilated room and wash hands frequently. Make sure you have a batch of LFS at home and use them before social mixing, going shopping etc. It might be obvious, but people are still going out and about with a positive LFT. Please don’t!
Please continue your comments and stories, they make the regular reports worthwhile. Please support and care for the many at home alone and stay positive. Things are beginning to suggest we could be overcoming this.
Stay safe and stay positive.