Covid levels today are reported to be at the highest levels since the pandemic began. We probably all know friends and family currently infected. There was no mention of Covid in the first 10 minutes of the news tonight, neither was there any mention of the humanitarian efforts in Southern Ukraine where thousands are still trapped in their ruined city. The headlines were all about the rises in energy prices and the cost of living. These are a real problem I recognise for thousands in the UK but are they more important than the 1100 dying each week of Covid or the almost 20,000 in hospital? Are they more important than the millions leaving Ukraine with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. It is not just the weather that’s strange at the moment, we are living through very strange times.
The number of tests being done each week continues to fall. Only 4.6 million were done in the last 7 days. 427,000 less than the previous week. A drop of 8.4%. The number testing positive is now 527,550 for the last week, a drop of 12% or 71,000 on the previous week. The positive rate has also begun to drop back. it is now 873.9 per 100,000 of the population. With no requirement for most people to test, and the fact they now have to be paid for, means these figures will be increasingly inaccurate in predicting progress in the pandemic. I was asked about costs of tests. Lloyd pharmacy are now selling kits at £9.29 for a pack of 5 both online and in their stores. Tesco’s pharmacy is charging from £2 per test and Morrisons Pharmacy is £1 75 each. There will be all sorts of fake tests and frauds developing. Please if you buy a test make sure its reputable. If an employer insists on a test, you should expect them to pay for it.
The number of deaths is still climbing with 1,097 deaths recorded in the last week, a 21% rise over the week before. The death rate is still at 1.4 per 100,000 cases or if you like 14 in every million cases results in a death.
Much more slowly growing is the number of people admitted to hospital in the last week. This was 15,907 in the last week, 11% more than the previous week. The number in hospital remains below 20,000, On the 30th March the total was 19,534, just 400 more than Wednesday’s published figure.
There has been no significant changes in the vaccination statistics. We still need many more people to have them.
The official Government advice changes today. Now the official message is “if you have a new cough, stay at home and avoid contact with others”, that’s all very well, but there are many other causes of a cough. If you are feeling ill, running a fever, have other complicating conditions and particularly if you smoke and are not getting better do please get to see a doctor. If you are ill with Covid there are now antivirals to help you. If its not Covid but acute bronchitis or pneumonia you will need other medication. One of the earliest symptoms of lung cancer can be a persistent cough. Similarly tuberculosis may start with a cough. Please do not follow the Government advice, if a new cough is making you ill, go get medical advice.
Because there is so much Covid amongst school children, some 200,000 have been off school with it this week, The Easter holidays begin at the right time. Hopefully it will ease the spread.
There is a campaign starting to maintain the covid memorial wall as a permanent feature of the pandemic. I am sure this is a good idea.
India, who at one time had some of the harshest of lockdown conditions have ended all Covid restrictions today against the advice of the Indian public health department, in the same way as our government overruled the advice of public health experts here.
Canada has seen a recent resurgence of new cases, but Health officials there say they are confident the hospitals will cope with the increased load even though there is a 26% rise in new cases.
Those of you that follow ladies rugby will be looking forward to the weekend Wales v Scotland match. I understand a number of Scottish players have Covid and are not available for selection.
Remember to be sensible. Masks in enclosed spaces are sensible, there is still a lot of Covid about. Your risk of being very ill is small and only 14 people in a million will die from it. If your persistent cough lasts a week please get it checked by a doctor in case it’s something else . please continue to stay safe.