February 14 2022

Today’s data suggests that all is on track with our gradual withdrawal from the Covid pandemic and the country can continue to get back to more normal day to day living.

There were 784, 455 tests performed yesterday resulting in 41,648 people being found to be positive. Figures are usually low on Mondays but there are only half as many positive as last Monday. Looked at over a full 7 days, there are 166k less positive cases, a drop of 30%. Now the positive case rate is only 678.5 per 100k.

On the 8th February there were 1,413 people admitted on a single day, a drop of over 200 from 7 days ago. The number in hospital on 11th February was only 12,357. A full 2,000 less than a week earlier. The number on a ventilator has also dropped, it is now just 416.

65.7% of the eligible population have now had a third immunisation and the more vulnerable are having a fourth jab now. Do please have it if you are invited.

Death reporting showed only 35 but remember that is a weekend effect and regrettably it will be much higher tomorrow. This is where weekly statistics are much better. There have been 464 less deaths in the last 7 days compared to the week before. This represents a drop in the death rate of 27.2% and the overall death rate is now only 1.7 per hundred thousand of the population.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is one of the latest victims of Covid 19, just a couple of days after her husband tested positive. We must be concerned that Her Majesty has had contact with them and will be at risk of infection.

South Korea have announced their programme of fourth doses.

The rent-a-mob protesters have moved on from Paris and 500 cars are converging on Brussels where water canons are prepared and ready.

In Bologna an interesting situation has been resolved in court with a temporary removal of parental responsibility for a child. The child urgently needs a blood transfusion in connection with heart surgery. The parents refused to consent to the transfusion if the donors had been vaccinated against Covid. The court has given the go ahead.

On Friday I discussed some of the public health measures introduced in the UK during the plague pandemics. Tonight, I want to look at the threat of a measles epidemic. Whenever society breaks down you can expect to see disease become rife. So it is no surprise that measles has become endemic in Afghanistan. In 2019 and 2020 figures were relatively low but since January 2021 the number of cases began to rise quickly. There have been 35,319 cases and 156 deaths reported in the year.97% of the cases were in children under 5. Only just over 3,000 cases were confirmed in a laboratory. Fortunately, this disease is easily diagnosed clinically, and laboratory tests would not be necessary. Many younger family doctors in the UK will never have seen a case of measles thanks to the very high levels of vaccination, above 90%. However, the number of young children having both doses of measles vaccination have considerably dropped below 90%. This means we are very vulnerable to an outbreak.

It would seem that many put of getting their children immunised because of Covid. Now is the time to get that sorted out. Please ensure all children you know have had both immunisations. Measles is a horrible disease with a considerable mortality. It can also leave children with brain damage, reduced vision and damaged hearing. It is by far the worst of the common children’s diseases and not one to risk catching.

The situation in Afghanistan is likely to be significantly under reported. It is made worse also by poor nutrition, lack of vitamin A and those with weakened immune systems from other diseases.

The WHO and its partner organisations are working to strengthen the immunisation programmes and surveillance systems. 8.5 million children were given vitamin A in Afghanistan whilst administering polio vaccine.

Here in the UK we have the infra structure, we have the knowledge, we need our children immunised. We can stop an outbreak in its tracks very easily.

Covid has most certainly not gone away but it is becoming more manageable and less virulent. Providing we do not come across a new resistant strain we can share a little of Boris’ enthusiasm, but only a little. We should probably follow the science for another couple of months. As you saw from the plague, isolation of infected cases has been the basic principle in Public Health for 500 years. Why stop now?

Some healthy debate last time, please keep it going but please do not make it personal. Just stay safe, keep the children safe and enjoy a special evening on Valentine’s Day.

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