June 1 2020
Flaming June started with another lovely sunny and warm day, just ideal for the very vulnerable to make a first tentative excursion outside. I hope most of you were able do so. If you are still too afraid to go out do not worry, as you see others managing then slowly you will be able to join in. We must all remember the two metre rule still for the time being.Today’s figures were presented by the Health Secretary himself. There were 3 very encouraging record lows. Only 1570 new cases were confirmed by testing the lowest since figures were kept in March. Only 111 new deaths were confirmed, again the lowest since before lockdown. This brings the total number of deaths to just over 39,000. Thirdly the testing capacity is now 206,000 plus, with over 128,000 done yesterday, a Sunday. We have reached the testing capacity target again. If anyone, of any age, has symptoms of a new dry cough, a fever or a change in their ability to smell or taste, they can self refer to have a test free of charge simply by ringing 119 on a telephone. Do no be afraid to have a test if you have a worrying symptom. Its easy to do yourself and there are clear pictures to help. With the new track and trace scheme it is relying on people to report symptoms and have a test. Unless you get tested the system will not work. The Track and Trace system seems to be up and running although no figures were available tonight. It would seem there are enough trackers to follow up the cases efficiently. Some have complained they have not had any work to do! This is because there are far fewer positive cases now for the tracers and trackers to follow up.I learnt also today that some 70 hospitals have had no deaths in the last 48 hours. one or two have gone 2 weeks without a death. This shows the patchy nature of cases spread around the country. Track and trace can identify these hotspots and local measures including local lockdown can be instituted quickly. There are no longer any active cases on the Isle of Guernsey, a tribute to the Public Health efforts on the Island. The Island was easy to lockdown and with a small community track and trace proved effective.It was back to school today for some children, I understand there were some local hiccups with a few schools not being ready yet. Some 50% of eligible 5 year olds were back at school today. I understand peoples’ reluctance to let their child go back to school but the science is very clear that children are very unlikely to get the virus and even less likely to die. I believe the total number of children under the age of 10 who have died is less than 10.Do not get carried away, its not beaten yet but we are winning. Stick together, support one another keep washing your hands and stay 2M apart.
June 2 2020
Matt Hancock presented tonight’s briefing and he followed the recent trend of giving the daily statistics first. A key priority has always been to protect the NHS, a target we have easily achieved. There were only 436 admissions to hospital in England yesterday with Covid 19. This is the lowest figure since the 20th March, whereas on 2nd April it was at its highest at over 3,000. Only 9% of available ITU beds with ventilators are being used. There are a total of 7,607 people in the UK still in hospital. This figure is falling steadily by about 10% a week. London is showing the fastest drop, but started much higher. The NE and Yorkshire are being rather slow to show a fall compared with the rest of the UK. Just to add to the statistical confusion the ONC Office for National Statistics which counts all death certificates on which Covid 19 is mentioned rather than just those in which it is a primary cause of death. This inflates the figures but reassuringly these figures are all falling week on week.Today has seen a lot of claims and counter claims about the validity and accuracy of statistics. Figures can and have been manipulated to present the pictures most wanted. We all know the quotation “Lies, Dammed Lies and Statistics”. Various authorities are concerned about the way statistics have been used particularly around testing. Have you noticed that for the last week we have not been given details of the number of people tested, rather the number of tests. Some people are tested more than once, some never return their swabs yet still get counted. Reassuringly, the testing capacity is now over 206,000 per day. It remains difficult to collect daily new deaths; we rely on registrations when often there is over a months delay to register deaths especially if a Coroner is involved. What ever the absolute figures it is still very clear numbers are falling steadily and the lockdown and other measures have worked well.The long awaited report on Black and Minority Ethnics (BAME) has been published today. It comes to the clear conclusion that age is the most important consideration. Those over 80 being 70 times more likely to die from Covid 19 than those under 40. The second factor, was gender with men disproportionately represented. Living in a city was the third. The higher the population density, the greater the risk and the final factor was ethnicity. The Bangladeshi community were most at risk. This is extremely complex because there are many other factors which makes statistical analysis very difficult. We have to consider social deprivation, large family groups, comorbidities such as heart disease, obesity and asthma.Racial issues have flared again in the USA this week. This is most worrying and rioting often follows a single trigger and hot weather. As The Health Secretary said tonight “Black Lives Matter.” Having spent a career working in the heath sector which must be one of the most cosmopolitan communities to work in, colour just does not matter, everyone works tirelessly to care for the sick and injured. Our health services would just not function without our BAME friends and colleagues.Hopefully this report will guide us further how to protect our BAME colleagues we cannot afford to lose them. Unfortunately recommendations are notably absent from the report.This epidemic has highlighted the need for reforms to Social Care in this country. It was high on the Government’s Manifesto and they hoped to have it well under way by Christmas. There are many injustices that need consideration.Do not worry if you do not understand the statistics, we are steadily and slowly moving forward to recover from this. Our top scientists are looking out for us, our politicians are exhausted but doing their best as are thousands of other key workers. Your contribution is still the most important. Follow the rules and enjoy the little extra freedoms for everyone but please stick to small steps and do not try to race ahead.
June 3 2020
The Prime Minister, backed by his two top advisors presented the briefing tonight. The statistical data continues to give us the very good news we all want to see, despite all the arguments and debate we are continuing to get it right. Over 4.75 million tests have now been done, of these 171,829 were done yesterday. Of all the tests done, almost 280,000 have tested positive, but there were only 1,871 positive yesterday.There are now less than 7.5 thousand in hospital and this number has dropped by 16% in a week. The number of deaths reported show a rise of 359 since yesterday. Wednesday’s figure is the most reliable in the week as its away from the weekends which skew the results down.The rates have continued to fall significantly to the point where we will deal with outbreaks locally rather than nationally. We need to continue to do everything to prevent a second attack.The next steps involve three strategies for us all to co-operate with. Firstly the Track and Trace schemes needs us to all play a part. If anyone now develops any of the three key symptoms , (cough, fever or loss of taste and smell), you must get a test quickly and the isolate with your family group. If you are contacted by an NHS clinical contact tracer you must cooperate and if asked to isolate you should do so for 14 days, as well as having a test done. Thousands of people are now isolating having been instructed to do so by the track and trace system. If you are asked to do so please ensure you do as instructed.Secondly, we are moving now to prevent reinfection imported from abroad. Numbers are low enough now that this will work. All people entering the UK will be required to complete a proforma indicating where they are going to self isolate. This is a mandatory requirement and those contravening the rules are liable to a substantial fine. There are exemptions for some key workers including NHS staff. The plans for so called international air corridors are being negotiated with several countries at present which will also ease some travelling in due course.The third strand is in international Cooperation. Tomorrow the PM will host a Global vaccine summit, this will review the possibilities of isolated hot spots particularly in the “third world” where vaccines cannot be afforded. The UK financially supports a scheme to help immunise 3 million children against the common childhood disease such as measles, diphtheria and polio around the world.In the battle with this invisible enemy we must never forget the basics when considering the strategic approaches. So keep washing hands, do not gather in groups of more than 6, always stay 2m apart. If it rains do not be tempted to move your group of 6 indoors. Either get wet or disperse. The risks indoors are too great.We will live with this for many months to come. We need a multi-layered defence and can only reduce very slowly.
June 4 2020
Tonight’s headline news is the decision to require face covering in buses and trains in England and this will be mandatory from 15 June. You should wear them from now, as advised, but you must by law from 15th June. Buses and trains are currently quite empty but as we continue to emerge from lockdown it is sensible to wear them. There are controversial issues, and it can increase the risks for the wearer. The aim of wearing them is to protect other passengers, not to protect the wearer. The science says there is no guarantee of effectiveness but as the prevalence of the disease has dropped the social distancing remains the most important, and now face covering provides considerable psychological reassurance for the most fearful. The unions are likely to cooperate as we continue our journey to recovery from the pandemic.Todays figures continue to be most encouraging, Only 176 deaths have been registered since yesterday. This is the lowest daily figure since daily records have been published. This is clearly 176 too many but shows our efforts to combat the pandemic are working well. Hospital figures are also very encouraging. 7,312 people remain in hospital but this is 15% lower than Thursday of last week. Only 604 patients remain on ventilators. Finally over 5 million tests have been done or sent out. Only 1805 were positive yesterday.The regular slides continue to show encouraging results with traffic increasing slowly increasing but not back to the levels of before march. Cycling was the activity which has risen the most and many have enjoyed the experiences of cycling in a cleaner and greener environment. I am told by those living in London that the haze over the city has gone. Let’s hope this will be a permanent beneficial unintended consequence of the pandemic. There are several schemes to encourage the ongoing use of cycles . There is the fix your bike vouchers worth £50 to service and restore a bike, You can purchase a new bike tax free if it is being used to travel to work. This concession also covers e bikes if you have a hilly journey or need extra assistance pedalling. The rule to work from home if you can, remains. if you can’t then try and get to your place of work walking, cycling or by e scooter. Only use public transport as a last resort, remembering the face covering.The PM has been at an important Global Vaccine Conference held virtually today. This body supported by the WHO helps to provide vaccines to countries who cannot afford to buy them They have successfully eradicated smallpox and had nearly done the same with polio when the campaign was halted to combat Covid 19. The UK has committed £764 million for ongoing vaccine research including supporting the exciting partnership between researchers at Oxford University and the drug company Astra Zenica who are committed to make the Covid 19 vaccine when available at cost price across the world.. The PM talked of this as one of the greatest shared endeavours of our generation. We have united to fight a common enemy. He said there were always conflicts with national and personal politics in WHO and that the WHO must change and again lead this fight against all infectious disease.We were reminded to avoid crowded beaches where it rapidly becomes impossible to keep a social distance, No public toilets are open so please stay away if possible.Alock Sharma was taken ill in parliament today and whilst writing this I have heard on the news he has tested negative for SARS CoV which is very reassuring. I wish him well ,now resting but still working at home,We must move forward together. These next few weeks are liable to create conflicts and disagreements. Please avoid them becoming personal be kind and supportive; very many people remain frightened. Take the small steps forward, follow the most important rules, handwashing and distancing . In enclosed public places like small shops and on buses and trains wear a face covering properly to protect others , if you wear it wrongly, under your chin , or keep touching your face you will increase your risks. Stay Alert and Stay Safe
June 5 2020
Tonight the Health Secretary presented the Downing Street Briefing on his own without the support of any medical or scientific advice. The reason for this was not clear.Matt Hancock began by announcing changes in the rules relating to Hospitals, again from 15th June. All members of the public either attending an out patient clinic or visiting a patient must wear a face covering . All NHS staff must wear a surgical type one or two mask whenever working in the hospital. Up- dated guidance is being produced and will be available very soon for all working in or visiting hospitals. Matt Hancock said members of the general public should only use face coverings and not surgical masks. The WHO also announced changes in their guidance about face covering suggesting that those over the age of 65 should be encouraged to use the extra protection afforded by an approved surgical face mask, and those under 65 should use a home made face covering.With contrasting advice, it is no wonder people are challenging the guidance being offered, and why now? I understand the reason why its a good idea now but was not 4 weeks ago. Until now the prevalence of the disease was too high for masks and face coverings to provide much if any protection. Now we are told the risk of contracting the virus has been reduced significantly and therefore masks may marginally further reduce risks. There are also well recognised psychological benefits. As to why wait till the 15th June? You should not do so! If you have a suitable face covering start now. You have about 10 days to get yourself sorted with suitable covering before it becomes mandatory.The statistics today showed we have sadly passed the 40,000 milestone of the number of deaths in the UK. There were 357 new deaths recorded yesterday which is a little higher than the day before but does not reflect the actual number who died but the number whose deaths were registered. Overall the smoothed weekly data continues to fall steadily week on week. Over 5.2 million tests have now been done including some 40,000 antibody tests , 207,231 were done yesterday, over 280,000 have now tested positive and have had the virus. The Health Secretary said that if like him you are one of those 280,000 please contact your local blood transfusion service and donate some of your plasma which will be rich in antibodies. This can be used to treat the severely ill and your spare antibodies could save a life. Matt Hancock had donated plasma today. he said it was easy and simple, It does not affect you adversely in any way. You maintain your antibodies and hopefully immunity from second attacks. The number in hospital with Covid 19 continues to drop each week. The ONS survey suggest now that only about 1 in 1000 of us in the UK now have the virus. This has dropped from around 1 in 400 a few weeks ago.Several hundred NHS and Care home staff are being vaccinatedin a trial of the new vaccine. Front line staff are chosen as they have the greatest chance of being exposed to the virus. Half the volunteers will have the new vaccine the other half with have a control immunisation with meningitis vaccine. If the vaccine is successful the controlled group will then be given the real vaccine.All of us will I am sure be appalled at the death in the USA of George Lloyd. Many will want to protest and campaign against such dreadful behaviour. Matt Hancock said he shared those feelings but reminded us that however angry we were we should remember we have a fight on to get rid of this virus. We will put our loved ones and ourselves at risk if you go out to demonstrate and congregate in groups. He pleaded with us not to do this. We should not be attending meetings of more than 6 people.The reproduction number or R is now, in the UK as a whole, between 0.7 and 0.9. In a few areas it is between 0.7 and 1.0, but has not gone above 1. There was a local hot spot in Weston Super Mare which was quickly brought under control and measures are in place to rapidly respond to any further local outbreaks. Track and trace helps to identify these quickly and is why it is so important that if you have symptoms you have a test quickly. Figures are slightly high in the NW of England but just below 1. Stay safe, be sensible, and no matter how angry you are please do not demonstrate in public spaces. Be alert to everything happening around you. Walk away if too crowded, wear a face covering properly if on public transport or visiting hospitals and keep washing hands and staying 2m apart.
June 6 2020
https://www.gov.uk/…/slides-and-datasets-to-accompany…. In the absence of a formal briefing today I thought you might like to view the slides shown at the briefings. I find them difficult to fully absorb before they are changed. Now you can look at them carefully. They all report good news and you can see how we are making steady progress. it is worth reading the supporting notes as it helps to understand the problems of comparisons
June 7 2020
As you will all be aware The daily briefings have been discontinued at weekends but I thought those following the statistics would like to see them. The death toll has been very heavy, and all of us will know of someone who has succumbed to the virus. For the first time since March the daily death figure for hospitals has fallen below 100. The reported figures were 72 in England, 5 in Wales, none in Northern Ireland or Scotland. Perhaps even more pleasing is that there were no hospital deaths yesterday in the Greater Manchester area. Remember however they are always lower at week ends as less deaths are registered. It will rise again next week but to lower levels than previously. There had been concern that the R number had crept up in the NW and was hovering at or just above 1. Testing continues at pace with now over 5.5 million tests done, with Saturday accounting for a further 142,123 of which only 1,326 were positive.I am concerned that the behaviour of those demonstrating in Central London may well bring serious consequences in about 2 weeks time . No matter how important the nature of the demonstration , with the vast majority of our population agreeing with the fact it was appalling, it did very little to change any opinions about racist behaviour. Instead they have created a situation where police officers and horses are injured, They have risked conveying the virus back to their own homes and distributing it further among the population. It will be interesting to see in the future how many cases will be tracked back to that demonstration.I have seen pictures of the demonstration in Edinburgh where everyone was properly distanced and well behaved, if it was thought necessary to demonstrate this was how to do it . Well done Scotland.I plan to report again normally tomorrow.
June 8 2020
” This virus is in retreat” said Matt Hancock today both at the briefing and in Parliament. Even allowing for political hype, I believe the statistical evidence continues to support that view. We still have a way to go and we need to move forward together as we relax rules and try to emerge from out of lockdown. In the last 24 hours there have been no Covid deaths in any London hospitals and none in Scotland or N Ireland for the last 48 hours. Only 519 people were admitted to hospital in the last 24 hours, down from 661 a week ago. Only 516 patients are on ventilators.As for tests, 138,183 tests were done on Sunday and only 1,205 were positive. This is the lowest number of new cases since the end of March. The deaths recorded yesterday were only 55, still 55 too many, but the lowest number since the 21st March. Remember Monday’s figure is always low because of the weekend effect and it will no doubt rise again in the next few days. We are winning, but still a lot further to go.This is carers week so care homes were considered in detail. The death rate in care homes has now fallen by 79% since April. a total of 12,739 deaths with Covid 19 on the death certificates have died this year, this is 29.1 % of all deaths in the UK this year.We should not forget that two thirds of the residents in care homes are over the age of 85, many with other significant illnesses or co-morbidities. We also know that the over 85s are 70% more likely to die of Covid-19 than those under 50 years of age. Given the significance of those last two statistics a great deal is now underway to minimise the impact of the disease. Significant extra funding has been provided to support training and provision of PPE in homes. A clinical lead has been appointed in every care home. Testing has been available to all residents and staff of care homes for the elderly. This is now being extended to all adult care homes whether or not they have symptoms.Resilience plans are being prepared for care homes by local Directors of Public Health and Directors of Social Care, the owners and health protection officers. The Health Secretary was supported by David Pearson who is reviewing the care in Care homes. Mr Pearson, who has only just started in this work, said he had been reading their new resilience plans and was impressed by them . He aims to keep both staff and patients safe. In response to a direct question about the safety of allowing a loved one to move in to a Care home, he replied “yes and care homes are getting safer all the time” with excellent measures to ensure good isolation and full PPE available to all staff. The day we can reunite with our loved ones are getting closer.I note New Zealand has been declared Covid 19 free. Well done.The quarantine rules for international travel come into force today.I do not wish to comment on the recent appalling racial motivated incidents other than to try to reassure you about the actual risk of these demonstrations. Lets suppose there were 20,000 at a demonstration. We know now that about 1 in a 1000 people have Covid 19. This demonstration was outside, so reducing the risk of catching it a little. The majority of the demonstrators were young and middle age rather than the over 70s, most were fit enough to march, so not with too serious co-morbidities. This means that perhaps 20 of the demonstrators were affected, and with the R number where it is, at below 1, there would be less than 20 new cases, and lower than that if you consider the crowd profile.Demonstrations were not justified no matter how appalling the trigger. It did put us and our loved ones at risk and our police offices had no choice but be there. They need to stop now. If you want to demonstrate do it with respect to everyone around youSo its all going to plan. Covid 19 is in retreat. We need to stay alert, try and contain your natural fears and slowly move forward together, washing hands and still staying 2 metres apart.
June 9 2020
Alok Sharma led today’s briefing supported by Sarah Albon of The Health and Safety Executive. He began by running through the statistics.Almost 5.9 million tests have now been done with about 103,000 done yesterday . Almost 290,000 have been positive but only 1,387 were positive yesterday . This daily rate is consistently falling each day.Only 486 admissions to hospital yesterday, and this again is consistently falling steadily. There are now only 6,348 people in hospital with confirmed Covid 19. This has fallen by 17% in a week which is very pleasing to see. The numbers on ventilators is now 513 and has dropped by 140 since last Tuesday.As was to be expected the number who have died has increased to 286. This is entirely predictable, we had very few registered over the weekend. Much more important is the rolling average which continues to fall each week. The graphs that we are shown illustrate this very clearly. 62% of Covid 19 deaths are now occurring in hospital and 31% in care homes.As Business Secretary, he wanted to make it clear that closing most shops was the right thing to do. But thanks to the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices of the vast majority of the population, we can now begin to open up the economy. He thanked those in essential key services that rapidly adapted to be able to maintain the supermarkets and other services.We are now able to prepare for the next relaxation on15thJuneAll retail businesses will have to complete a detailed risk assessment and to show they have complied with specific guidance to ensure they have made the store “Covid secure” before they can open. There will be inspections. The HSE can issue enforcement notices if necessary. Work is being undertaken to extend the road map to further planned relaxations on the 4th July at the earliest.Mr Sharma described five new recovery round tables he is convening to help advise further careful economic recovery.There was no confirmation about when pubs or restaurants will open. However there was news that real ale was being made again in anticipation of the market reopening. This will please many including my son who is a connoisseur of such beers!The Government have reluctantly reversed their plans to have all primary schools fully reopen before the summer holidays. It has just not been possible for schools to establish the space for much smaller classes. There are not spare classrooms or the extra staff needed to care safely. It will now be up to individual schools to assess what they can manage to do with safety as paramount. A few schools have not reopened at all but the majority have made arrangements for the classes allowed back recently.Difficult questions were skilfully avoided by the Business Secretary stressing that there will be no further relaxation or changes to the rules at present. Everything is kept under review and will only change when safe to do so. Some changes are likely to remain with us. For now please just keep going, it is getting easier, and a drink or a meal in a garden of a pub near you is a possibility soon. Its still 2M apart in public places, and frequent hand washing with a face covering on all public transport and small confined shops. Please stay alert at all times.
June 10 2020
The Prime Minister presented the briefing today together with his top medical and scientific advisors. He began by reminding us of the 5 tests that had to be met before we can continue to relax rules. He confirmed that we continue to meet all five, so very slowly we can ease things further,The statistics show how we are protecting the NHS . There are only 443 admissions today with positive Covid 19 test and only 492 people on a ventilator. Both these figures continue to fall steadily.The daily death rate continues to fall on the weekly rolling average. The weekly average is now 200/day compared with 300/day only a week ago. You will remember the daily figures fluctuate but Wednesdays give a reasonably accurate result as it avoids the low numbers at and after weekends.Over 6 million tests have now been done, with over 170,000 done yesterday . 290,000 have been positive but only 1,419 were positive yesterday. The daily rate continues to fall steadily.The figures although falling cannot allow us to be complacent. We have a way to go yet but the government believe we moving in the right direction and some further easing of the rules are possible.As from tomorrow outdoor zoos and safari parks can reopen. Drive in cinemas can also reopen.Providing they can be compliant and have completed a risk assessment, all retail stores can open from Monday. You will have to maintain the two metre distancing, wear masks in smaller confined shops and remember there are not likely to be any toilet facilities in the shops.Churches and mosques may open this weekend for individual private prayer but not yet for general worship. People who live alone, and who are often lonely, are now able to choose one other person who lives in another household to form a social bubble with. They can then meet indoors still 2m apart, but can enjoy one-another’s company. You can only form one social bubble with one person. In practice this will only help a few individuals. Sadly those who are very vulnerable and are shielding are not allowed this concession yet.The Prime Minister defended the government’s change of heart about opening primary schools. He confirmed that there were logistical problems in schools complying with the reduced class sizes. He insisted it was his firm plan to continue to have all schools back to normal in September. He confirmed that the numbers, although falling, are not yet low enough to relax the rules in schools.He reminded everyone that if you have any of the 3 symptoms you must get a test as quickly as possible and if you are instructed to isolate by the track and trace staff, you should do so and get a test. We should all aim to get the R number down a bit further, it is below 1 right across the country now and there are plans to deal with local hotspots or outbreaks quickly if located.A great deal of research is being done to establish the best times in an epidemic to introduce the best combinations of measures to combat it. This research will go on long after the epidemic finishes.We all now have a personal responsibility to balance and manage risks. It is much harder to come out of lockdown than it was to go in to it. Stay Safe, Stay Alert, be sensitive to the needs and fears of others and keep those hands regularly washed.
June 11 2020
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary reported at the briefing tonight supported by Baroness Dido Harding the Executive Chair of the Track and Trace system. The statistics of the first week of Test and Trace were available.In the first 7 days of testing 8,177 people tested positive and were referred to Track and Trace, of those 5,407 responded to being contacted that’s 67% and they gave details of their recent social contacts. Of those giving details, 75% gave details within 24 hours. A total of 31,794 people were identified as contacts and some 85% immediately agreed to isolate (almost 27,000).I can be sure that the Media will report this negatively, claiming a third of people did not cooperate by track and trace. These figures, in my opinion, are most encouraging. There are bound to be problems in the first few weeks and as Matt Hancock said they exceeded his expectations as well as mine.More work needs to be done to improve the Tracers ability to make contact with people referred as positive. There were problems with contact tracing, no replies to phone calls (up to 10 were made over 24 hours) or to emails where it was possible email addresses were wrong. I am sure this will continue to improve in the next week as the Tracers improve their skills and become more efficient. Baroness Dido confirmed that this was a good start. She suggested that amongst those contacted a few may have been contacted twice from different contacts. A few may not have responded because they had already had the virus and a few may already have been self isolating. They will continue to improve on this. Please cooperate with this effort to take the virus out of circulation. Trust track and trace It will keep improving as we keep learning. It is a great positive for week one, make it even greater for week two.The regular statistics are again very encouraging . All figures are moving in the right direction. Almost six and a quarter million tests have now been done with 197,000 done yesterday. The total number positive is 291,409 with only 1,266 being found positive yesterday. The seven day rolling average confirms a steady reduction in the number found positive, despite the number of tests done being much higher.The number of people in hospital with Covid 19 continues to fall steadily. There were only 462 admissions (excluding Scotland) yesterday and now only 440 individuals are on a ventilator. Again we see a steady and sustained drop in these figures.The number of deaths reported yesterday was 151, still far too many, but coming down steadily and the last week has been the lowest number since March. The Plans are working, we are able to slowly restore the freedoms we all crave for.Despite the passion we may feel about demonstrating about our various concerns, you are still urged not to join demonstrations. Your group outside should be confined to 6 people. It is your Civic duty to comply with all the guidelines, cooperate with Track and Trace. If you have symptoms get a test. Keep wearing your face covering appropriately and have very clean hands at all times.At the moment you will hear various opinions from all sorts of “experts” about many of the current policies, often at conflict with one another. If the system is working and it is, stick with it. If its not broken don’t mend it! We have many brilliant minds working together, let’s give them a chance to finish the job. If we cooperate and comply with the asks, we give them the tools to finish the job.
June 12 2020
The news tonight is very encouraging. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, led tonight’s briefing. He started with the usual daily statistics.Almost 6.5 million covid tests have now been done. Allowing for some being done twice it suggests approaching 1 in 20 of the population have now been tested. Each person has two tests done so the number of tests is not the same as the number of people tested. Over 193,000 were done yesterday and only 1541 were positive which is significantly below 1 in a 1000 being found positive,In our hospitals, there are now only 5,607 in hospital with Covid 19. This is a full 20% less than were in hospital a week ago. only 535 were admitted with only 392 patients now using a ventilator. Sadly 202 deaths from all locations were registered yesterday. This means the weekly rolling average continues to fall (this smooths the data when skewed by the weekend effects). The average daily deaths are now below 200/day.There remains concern about the general health inequalities of our country. This concern has been highlighted many times over the years. The Covid deaths have again brought this concern to the fore. Poor social conditions, crowding, lower social class, BAME community, obesity, heart disease, smoking, nutrition and other factors are all associated with increased mortality. Covid deaths are exactly the same with all these risk factors as well as old age. This is an ongoing challenge for the NHS and they will endeavour to tackle these inequalities vigorously in the future. Its very complex and extends far further than just health. Sage remain confident that within the UK overall the R number remains below 1. There are numerous models used to arrive at this number, one model gave a range between 0.8 and 1.1 , whereas all the others showed it between 0.7 and 0.9. Even allowing for confidence limits the mean remains below one . The statistics continue to confirm the rates of disease are falling,It’s tight and we cannot be complacent. If we all play by the rules we should go past this point in the next few days. Please do not join in the demonstrations planned for the weekends no matter how strongly you feel about the issues. We do have a lethal pandemic on our hands and the lives of our loved ones depend on us. We can all play our part to combat racism by leaving public demonstrations for the time being. As from Monday morning, face coverings will be mandatory on all public transport, that includes all trains, buses, underground, trams and ferries as well as aircraft. Without a face covering you may not be allowed to travel. Ultimately you can be fined for doing so. We should not use public transport at all unless it is essential and you cannot travel any other way. If you can work from home, if you cannot try to find a better way to get to work. If you are an employer, encourage flexible ways to travel and look to stagger start and finish times . Remember the work place now has to have been fully risk assessed and Covid compliant before you go to work.We need a new and improved transport system that continues to reduce toxic emissions and move us towards a carbon neutral society. A greener future should be the ambition for us all. Grant Shapps described the Jet Zero Council he has established to help continue the movement to be carbon neutral in the future.The Economy has shrunk by some 20% rapidly and suddenly in April. Sadly this what was expected and compares favourably with other countries’ experience. We will recover from this, it will take time but if we have a second wave of infections we will lose more loved ones and it will take a great deal longer. Its up to each and everyone of us. We have come through the worst, we must not throw it away at this point. Stay Alert.
June 13 2020
As you will be aware the weekend briefings have now stopped, a sign of the progress we are making. I have decided to also have a break as I have nothing new to report. Today’s figures continue to show the good progress that is being made.The rules are getting harder to remember in detail but just Stay Alert, and be patient better days are coming soon.
June 14 2020
A picture to look at tonight Shows just how well we are doing The dips around weekend reporting show clearly
Another picture to show positive tests reducing steadily
June 15 2020
Today England opened up just a little more as we follow the roadmap out of lockdown. Have you been in a queue for the shop today, or gone to church for private prayer? Some secondary school children in years 10 and 12 have been able to spend time with their teachers in preparation for their examination years starting in September. Dominic Raab presented the briefing on his own tonight and as usual presented the statistics first. 1,056 people tested positive yesterday which was 109 fewer than a week ago.5,507 people are in hospital today. That’s 19% less than 1 week ago. 430 people were admitted on 12 June and only 395 ventilator beds were occupied, both showing a continuing downward trend. The deaths reported, today 38 and yesterday 36, are the lowest figures since March, this however has the usual caveat about the weekend effect. The figure is expected to be higher tomorrow and Wednesday as registrations catch up. The seven day rolling average is now down to 163.Don’t forget your face covering if travelling on public transport, it could be costly to ignore this advice. The track and trace programme continues to develop. If you have been contacted by them please tell us of your experiences.A week ago I estimated across the country only 1 in 1000 people have active disease. The figure has now dropped to about 1 in 1500. There are some regional variations with the SW having a few more cases than other areas in England.An important aspect of contingency planning is known as “horizon scanning”. I have been horizon scanning today and looked at what would seems to be happening in Beijing China, 36 new cases have been reported connected to an enormous wholesale food market at Xinfadi. It covers an area of 160 football pitches and is 20 times bigger than the market in Wuhan where it all started. I understand the virus was found on a chopping board used to cut up imported salmon. All attendees at the market some 76,499 people have been tested, 59 were found positive.I note in India there is a problem now with hospital beds and some trains have been taken over to be used as hospitals. It looks as though there could be a second wave.There is much debate about whether the two metre rule could be relaxed in the UK to enable the economy to restart more quickly. I am very doubtful of the wisdom of this at present. There is to be an urgent review of the science and the risks which will be reporting back in a few weeks. I would be surprised if this is relaxed before 4th July. I also note that Dr Kluge, the WHO Director for Europe has today warned the UK not to relax its 2M rule yet.We began this pandemic being urged to wash hands frequently to sneeze or blow noses into a tissue and bin it. These changes in behaviour should continue well after this is all over. We may well review our practices of hand shaking or hugs. A polite smile or bow might be the norm in the future,Stick with the rules, they are getting easier now; for those still shielding you too will have some relaxation soon. Please just Stay Alert and help avoid the second wave.
June 16 2020
The news of an apparent medical break through brought the Prime Minster out to lead today’s briefing. He started by going through the daily statistics which continue to be encouraging with the number of new cases falling, the number in hospital falling and the weekly deaths also falling.6.9 million tests have now been done, with over 100,000 done yesterday. Only 1,279 new cases were found to be positive yesterday.5,254 people are remaining in hospital which is 16% lower than a week ago. Only 410 new admissions were arranged yesterday and only 385 now occupy ventilator beds.Sadly 233 new deaths were registered yesterday which reflects the well established weekend effect. This still reflects good progress when the weekly rolling averages are considered.The Prime Minister said he was pleased to see shopping was coming back and commended the public on their careful return to the shops and complying with the social distance rules. He acknowledged the concerns and desires to reduce the 2M rule soon, and said this was urgently being reviewed by the scientists. As the prevalence in the community is falling so the risk of randomly catching it will reduce whatever the social distance. Only about 6 people in 10,000 are infected now. So the chance of meeting someone on a train or in the street who is positive is becoming much less likely. New Zealand has found 2 people positive after some time without cases, they were related and from Britain. They were half way through their quarantine process but had been allowed to go to see a dying relative on compassionate grounds.Marcus Rashford spoke to the PM today after he had persuaded the PM to provide meal vouchers for eligible school children during the summer holidays. This amounts to some £15 a week of food vouchers . Rashford had benefitted from these himself as a child.”The Medical break through” was Dexamethazone that has been around for some 60 years, it is very well known and equally very cheap. It has been used for years for many patients with severe inflammatory disease especially in conditions like severe asthma attacks requiring ITU treatment. The findings come from an enormous clinical trial of some 11,500 patients put together in 3 months and coordinated from Oxford. It is known as the “Recovery Trial”. A total of 6 drugs have been under investigation. The first drug to be dropped from the trial was Hydroxychloroquine which showed no benefits. Now Dexamethazone was shown to reduce the death rate of those on a ventilator by 40%, and those only needing oxygen therapy by some 20%. It had no benefit on the milder cases. This news may well not surprise my medical colleagues. We have used this drug for many years but what is important that this trial has proved it is specifically effective in Covid 19 cases requiring treatment in hospital. Its use will now be recommended globally to treat cases in hospital as soon as they require oxygen. It is only about £5 per course. Vast stocks are available, it is manufactured all around the world and there is enough to treat the whole world even if we have a second wave.I am sure none of you want to have this treatment even though it is very safe as it means you are seriously ill. Much better to continue with all the rules carefully; hand washing, face coverings and 2M apart should keep you safe, so please just stay alert.
June 17 2020
Tonight’s briefing was led by Oliver Dowden on his own and did not bring any major developments, He began as usual now with the daily figures in the fight against Covid 19.Over 7 million tests have now been done, but it has become clear that some people are having regular repeat tests and this does not represent the number of people tested. Just over 140,000 tests were done yesterday, only 1,115 were tested positive. This number continues to drop daily.In hospital, only 387 new patients with Covid were admitted on 14th June. There are now only 379 people in ventilator beds. The media were speculating that this group would immediately be started on dexamethazone and we would see an improvement in the numbers. I would be very surprised if they are not already being treated with dexamethazone. It would have been used in the expectation it would help and now it’s proven it does.There are still over 5,300 in hospital but this figure is steadily falling, down 13% in the last week. As for deaths, a further 184 have been registered, bringing the total down to 42,153. The seven day rolling average is now 146 and this figure gets less every week.After 100 days premier football is back so if you are an avid fan settle in the armchair to watch the matches on free to view channels. If you are supporting a team please claim the home advantage and watch from home. Please do not congregate outside stadiums. It will not help your team and it may harm your health if you do not cooperate. Gatherings like this remain illegal and the police will have powers to act if people do not comply. The minister pleaded with fans to show restraint and common sense.There were questions and discussions with the media about the logistic difficulties with bringing audiences back to live theatre and musicals and a great deal of effort is being used to find a safe and effective way round the problems.Others are getting into the right mood to watch Royal Ascot. One person I know tells me he dressed up in his top hat to watch it today! In other news it would seem the trial on the Isle of Wight track and trace App has not been the success hoped for. The more direct human contact seems to be more effective. Has any one had contact with them yet? Watch what is happening in Brazil. 35,000 new cases today and also in Beijing with an enormous lockdown.The Prime Minister’s jet he uses for official purposes is being painted red, white and blue, the colours of the Union Jack. This it is said will help promote the UK further?Efforts continue to make schools safe and to reassure parents it is safe to let them go back.This opens up a whole debate about what the word safe means. What is safe for you may not be safe for me. What risks you are prepared for are not the same level of risks you would expose your child to. Do you remember the first time you allowed your child to cross the road on their own ? For you that was a very big risk. How much money would you put on a horse at 1,000 to 1? That’s the risk of meeting someone positive now if out shopping.If you fancy a walk in one of the Royal parks you will be pleased to know at least one toilet is now open in each park.Enjoy the football tonight from the comfort of your armchair. Stay safe and Stay Alert.
June 18 2020
The sad announcement of the death of Dame Vera Lynn this morning, aged 103, will have affected many of us. Her Majesty the Queen in her recent broadcast to the nation reminded of us all of her amazing work of support and encouragement to “our boys” throughout the second World War. Her words dominate the Piccadilly Circus billboards:”We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”If you have heard any radio or television today you will had heard the immortal words– “We will meet again” sung time and time again.I was at the concert at Buckingham Palace in 1995 for the 50th Anniversary of VE day, on duty, caring for the thousands of veterans that had turned out to hear her sing their favourites. It was a most memorable occasion and was similar to the experiences my parents had in the Mall in 1945. Matt Hancock added his tribute at the start of the briefing and he then began with the daily statistics.Over 7.25 million tests hade now been done, with 136,516 tests done yesterday. There were only 1,218 new positive tests yesterday.The number of people in hospital continues to trend downwards, there were 5,193 in hospital yesterday, down in all areas except a very slight rise in the East of England. There were 135 deaths yesterday bringing the total to 42,288. Sadly this included a 13 day old baby. It is significant that for the first time in three months the number of daily deaths from all causes was lower than the average number of daily deaths for all causes that is usual in June.There were 490 new admissions to hospitals and only 360 ventilator beds are occupied. Both figures continue to fall slowly but steadily.Matt Hancock then turned to vaccines. He reminded every one not to neglect the normal routine immunisations. Generally childhood immunisation programmes have continued but if you have left one or think you are due another immunisation for your child please get it done, this particularly applies to the MMR vaccine. If you are eligible please get your pneumonia vaccine before the winter.Vaccine development continues at a pace. Astro Zenica are now manufacturing stock piles of vaccine in anticipation of regulatory approval (which it might never obtain) so mass immunisation can start quickly. Vaccine being developed by the Imperial College team has now started human clinical trials.The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has established priorities for vaccine use, once it has gone through all the regulatory hoops. Top priority will be given to front line health care workers. The second priority will be adults over the age of 50 with heart or kidney disease. The Track and Trace programme reported its second week of activity, Despite intense media criticism it is still early days and the figures for the second week are better than the first week.14,045 cases found positive were referred in the first two weeks and 10,192 were reached . Some 44,895 contacts were isolated and 40,695 were asked to self isolate. That was 90% of the contacts identified. It’s important to recognise that these 40,000 are removed from the general public circulation and they are not posing a risk to the rest of us. It is disappointing that there are still some 25% not giving contact details which frustrates the system but there will always be a few who do not want to be found or identified.Baroness Harding reminded us of the rules. If you or your children develop symptoms go on line and order a test (or dial 119), Then self isolate or stay at home with your child. If you are approached by a track and trace worker please cooperate, give both your details and those you have had close contact with. If you are asked to isolate you must do so.There are technical problems with the App being tested on the Isle of Wight. It is not good at identifying the people in contact. The other Apple Google App can do this but is not good at calculating the distances people are apart. As in most parts of the world this is still not resolved. The Government have tested both systems and announced that Apple and Google are going to cooperate to develop an App with the best of the technology from each, to create one that will perform adequately whether or not on an android system. The new hybrid will not be released until it is functioning well. Northern Ireland, where the population is much smaller and so proportionately are the number of cases, announced a raft of relaxations to lockdown including reducing the social distancing to 1M in schools.Our turn in England will come soon, We will all meet again sometime soon . Please Stay Alert and Stay Safe.
June 19 2020
Tonight it was the turn of the Education Secretary to present the briefing and naturally Gavin Williamson concentrated on schools and the education arrangements for all the pupils. He began with the good news that the UK alert level across the four nations has been reduced from level 4 to level 3. It is a while now since these 5 levels were last in the news. Level three threat indicates that the virus remains widespread and active in general circulation but that number of cases are falling steadily. This does not mean its over. It is still very active, we must go on very slowly and cautiously, as we relax the lockdown rules. SAGE, the scientific advisors, have confirmed this move.The statistics show that now 7,433,114 tests have now been done. In a population of 64 million it is still a very small percentage that have had tests. A significant number of people have had multiple tests. A further 169,600 tests were performed or sent out yesterday. A total now of 301,815 have tested positive. 1,346 new cases were detected yesterday.In hospitals there are still 5,020 patients are in hospital with Covid 19, which has dropped by 10% in the last week. There were 494 new admissions yesterday and 354 ventilator beds were being used. These figures also continue to fall week on week. The number of deaths sadly continues to rise with 173 deaths reported yesterday. However the rate of new deaths is still falling steadily and now the seven day rolling average has dropped to 140 per day. SAGE has confirmed the R number remains between 0.7 and 0.9.The Prime Minister stated it was his aim to get all school children in both primary and secondary schools fully back to work in September. The Education Secretary confirmed this aim. I noted everyone assumed they meant by the normal beginning of term in early September but both very carefully and deliberately said “by September ” that could be the 30th . Most commentators think this is impossible to achieve without relaxing or removing the social distancing rules and both the PM and the educational Secretary suggested this was coming soon once the current review by SAGE is available.1 billion pounds have been put aside to provide catch up teaching, providing individual personal tutors and individually prepared plans to assist each child. It would seem this fund does not include preschool children or students in Further Education. Its a very ambitious programme to ensure they can all catch up from the lost teaching time. School heads will play a key part in determining locally how this fund will be used for each child. Although a billion pounds seems a lot of money it only amounts to around £80 per child. The Educational Secretary assured us that these steps will only be taken with the utmost care ensuring the safety of both teachers and children. There will be a clear published plan that can respond quickly and flexibly if the need arises. 2 hours a week spent with a personal tutor will make a big difference.Remember this virus is still very active, it’s no where near over. We must not relax because the threat level has reduced, the R number is still only just below 1 but the incidence of the virus in the community is reducing steadily. We can move forward slowly following the science. Those shielding are told good news is coming, changes in social distances are on the horizon and even haircuts are not that far away. For now please still follow the rules. It’s going to be very hot next week so please stay safe and Stay Alert.
June 20 2020
There’s no official briefing today being Saturday so I have done some horizon scanning for you.There is an interesting clinical trial being led from Southampton with patients in a 40 mile radius. It’s known as the Synairgen trial. Patients are supplied with a hand held nebuliser device and a new drug which is administered direct to the lungs via a nebuliser. Everybody in the trial is given a kit with, in addition to the drug and the nebuliser, a pulse oximeter and a thermometer. They remain in daily video contact with trial organisers and report daily on symptoms and clinical signs. I am following this with interest.Problems in Delhi seem to be getting worse with all medical leave being cancelled and all staff called back to work. The hospitals are at crisis point.Nearer home there have been several localised epidemics in the food industry identified by track and trace. The outlets have all been locally closed down to contain it. All staff are now in isolation. One was in Wales and another in Yorkshire. Local to me there has been an outbreak at the local abattoir which has also been closed.I will finish with good news, only 128 deaths reported yesterday, the lowest Saturday figure for a long time. It’s still far too many. I look forward to sometime in about 4 weeks time when I will say there were no deaths in the UK yesterday. Meanwhile stay out of trouble and stay alert.
June 21 2020
Another quick horizon scan tonight for you in lieu of the briefing.A total of 43 recorded deaths are announced today bringing the total to 42,632. This figure is actually 7 higher than last Sunday. This is not significant because it reflects the day it was recorded not the day it happened. A much more accurate figure is the 7 day rolling average which continues to fall and is now at 133/day.There were a total of 175,018 tests done with 1,221 positive. The number of deaths in English Hospitals was only 26, the lowest since 17th March. Merseyside reported only 1 death in the region and only 3 deaths in the large Manchester group of hospitals and 1 in the Blackpool Trust.Now there are no cases in Guernsey or the Isle of Man and both are declared free.I am slightly concerned by reports from the Robert Koch Institute in Germany who allegedly have found that the R number was rising again from 1.06 on Friday to 1.79 yesterday. This it was thought due to several local outbreaks in places where large numbers of people work. 1300 people in a meat processing factory in NW Germany have tested positive, The plant has been closed, local schools and day centres closed. Many of those affected are migrant workers living very close together in company owned accommodation. Further local lock down will happen if it is not brought under control. Because the overall infection rate across Germany is smal,l one local outbreak can significantly affect the R rate as has been demonstrated.I believe we can still look forward to more good news and relaxations in the lockdown next week. Our measured slow emergence is paying dividends, please be patient a while longer and Stay Alert.
June 22 2020
I promised good news this week and the first announcements came today with more good news expected tomorrow. It was Matt Hancock tonight who led the briefing with support from Dr Jenny Harries.Yesterday there were 139,659 tests done but only 958 proved positive. This is the first time this figure has dropped below 1,000.I said on Saturday that I looked forward to reporting no deaths in the last 24 hours . Well I can say that for Scotland tonight! and there were only 12 new cases recorded. In the UK as a whole the number of deaths was only 15. Remember Monday figures are always lower because of the weekend effect. The much more accurate weekly rolling average continues to fall.Less than 5000 people are now in hospital with Covid 19. Only 380 people are now in hospital compared with 432 a week ago. only 330 are on a ventilator compared with 395 a week ago.If you go out tomorrow you now have an estimated chance of meeting some one with active disease of 1 in 1700. up from 1 in a 1000 a week or so ago. I notice that in Wales you are still not allowed to normally go more than 5 miles from home. In rural areas you would not even get to any shop. This rule must surely change soon.Another interesting statistic which shows how a pandemic grows is ; with a first case in January it was mid May when the number of cases reached 4.5 million. It has taken just 5 weeks to double the number to 9 million. Globally, the peak has not been reached in some countries particularly Brazil and the USA.There have been some 2 million people in the UK shielding at home because they were potentially very vulnerable. Tonight the Health Secretary brought the long awaited news it is now safe to start relaxing the rules. They have been well supported with regular food parcels and medicine deliveries by an army of volunteers.From July 6th those shielding can go out doors and meet outside in groups of six providing they follow social distances. Those living alone may now form a social bubble with one other person and can be indoors without social distancing and staying overnight if necessary.From the 1st of August all shielding will be paused. those shielding will be able go to the shops, to their church for private prayer and even go to work if your employer has done his risk assessment and the business is covid secure. If figures begin to deteriorate it is possible but I think unlikely, the shielding rules could be reapplied.It is now much better understood that the vulnerable children shielding may not be so much at risk as thought at first. The incidence in children has been very low and only 36 children have needed ITU admission. Children who have been shielding should be able to go back to school in September as lack of education may do more harm than infection risks.I know a significant number of those reading this have been very patiently shielding and a number of you will be very anxious about re-emerging. Dr Jenny Harries recognised this and suggested it was ok to be cautious and careful but you should not be anxious. Every one who has been shielding will receive a letter in the next week or so explaining the changes and why it has now become safe for you to begin to go out. As more scientific evidence has become available about the behaviour of this new virus so it is going to be possible to vary the list of conditions and the possible impact on the risk of the virus from your own personal underlying medical conditions. This is all good news. if you need any further help or advice your family doctor will be able to help you and will have all the latest advice.Its going to get hot, if you are out remember your skin has not had much sun exposure this year so do not forget the sun tan lotions. I anticipate more good news tomorrow. Stay Safe, Stay Alert and don’t be afraid, just cautious !
June 23 2020
“Our long hibernation is coming to and end.” so announced our Prime Minister tonight. Exactly 3 months since our lockdown, major relaxations are now permissible mostly from the 4th of July. It was made very clear that the changes were not risk free especially by the scientific advisors who usually accompany the Prime Minister at his briefings, and that these measures could to be removed and return to the lockdown rules should it be required, either locally or nationally.The Prime Minister began by reminding us that on the 16th April he set out 5 tests we were required to meet before easing of the lockdown. Firstly, it was to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed. Yesterday only 283 people were admitted to hospital compared with 438 two weeks ago. 340 patients are now in ventilator beds compared with 513 two weeks ago. The first test was met.The second test required a consistent fall in the death rate. The 7 day rolling average of deaths has now fallen to 121/day so the second test was met.Only 874 tests were positive yesterday with 237,142 tests being done. With more tests done and a falling rate of new positives it is estimated that the pandemic is shrinking by 2-4% per day. Only about 1 in 1,700 people are now infected. So the third test is met.The 4th test is met when you appreciate that some 87,000 people have been asked to isolate with the track and trace scheme. The provision of PPE is resolved with 175 new contracts signed for their provision Finally the 5th test is met when there is now no significant risk of a second peak.On the 11th May the Government announced its recovery plan. Step 1 was taken to allow us to be outside moreStep 2 came on the 1st and 15th June with more relaxation and the 3rd step is to be on 4th July in England. The devolved administrations will make their own arrangements.The 2M rule can now be relaxed from 4th of July and replaced with a 1M plus rule. This means 1M with other mitigation measures s such as face masks, shields and not directly facing one another. If you can stay 2m apart you should do so. If you can’t then make it 1M with other mitigation measures. The two measures are now thought to be roughly equivalent.The media have not been very accurate and in their usual sensational reporting, they are saying the 2M rule is scrapped. It has not and it is still preferable please when you can to stick to 2 metres apart and only if its not possible reduce it to 1 metre.A whole list of places are set to reopen on the 4th of July provided they are Covid compliant . These include Cinemas, Pubs, Restaurants, Museums, Hairdresser and Barbers. Similarly caravan sites, bed and breakfasts and hotels.Weddings with up to 30 can now take place. Church services with small congregations can happen after the 4th July.If you are looking for night clubs, indoor gyms or beauty salons they are not open yet. There is still more to report but I need to post this now as Facebook cannot cope with this being any longer. I shall complete it later tonight.
June 24 2020
Here is the rest of my briefing notes from last night regarding meeting people from outside your household. In England you can meet people you do not live with in three types of groups:- 1. You can continue to meet in any outdoor space in a group of up to 6 people from different households.2. Single households – in other words adults who live alone or with dependent children only- can continue to form an exclusive support bubble with one other single household.3. From 4th of July, you can also meet in a group of 2 households ( including your own support bubble ) in any location public or private, indoors or outdoors. This does not need to be the same household each time.It remains the case – even inside someone’s home – that you should socially distance yourself from anyone not in your household or support bubble.Those that have a support bubble ( those in single adult households) can continue to have close contact as if they live with the others in their bubble. This should be exclusive and should not change.This change does not affect the support you receive from carers.Also from July 4th you should only gather indoors in groups of no more than two households including your support bubble; this includes dining out and visiting pubs.Only gather outdoors in either a group of 6 people from different households.Only gather in slightly larger groups of up to 30 for major life events like weddings.At all the above you should maintain social distances of 2M where possible if not 1M plus (see yesterdays notes).You should not hold or attend celebrations of any size (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing.Do not stay overnight away from your home with members of more than two households including your support bubble.Limit social interaction with anyone outside the group you are attending a place with, even if you see people you know as at a place of worship or a restaurant.Try to limit the number of people you see, especially over short periods of time.Avoid sharing plates and utensils with others outside your household or bubble. Practice good hygiene at all times cleaning surfaces and hand washing regularly with soap and water.You can stay at hotels or apartments in groups of up to two households. You should avoid sharing sports gear or gardening tools. It must be cleaned thoroughly before and after use.You can find more details on these guidelines now on the web site www.gov.ukAs you will be aware the daily briefings have finished and there will only now be further reports if something important changes. I was asked a few days ago when could someone hug their grand child? I feel the answer is on July 4th. If you are well you can invite two grandparents to join your household and stay over night. You are supposed to stay 1M apart. Obviously you should not go if you have symptoms but toddlers do not understand distancing so have a cuddle. The risk now of of a child catching Covid is very small indeed. A few days later the other set of grandparents can come. Everybody happy!If you want me to continue writing news of lockdowns and many deaths, please go out and ignore every rule. There is still to be a lot of caution as this epidemic still needs very careful management. We are on it and will win. If you don’t want me popping up with bad news then please stick to the rules, wash the hands, wear the masks and stay at least a metre apart. But you can safely cuddle your grand children.
June 30 2020
Despite the isolated problem around Leicester things continue to move in the right direction. I suspect that there has been a super spreader and he or she may or may not even have been aware they were infected. Having assessed the situation carefully and weighed the evidence, I am sure the decision to close non essential shops and schools is the right action.It is probable over the next month we shall see one or two other hotspots emerge, and similar actions will be necessary.Almost 9.5 million tests have now been done with 312,654 being positive. Only 689 were positive in the last 24 hours , Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to have higher death figures because of the weekend effect There were 155 deaths reported in the last 24 hours and only 25 yesterday (Monday)We shall soon be thinking of the regular autumn seasonal flu jab and this coming autumn it is more important than ever. You are entitled to one if you are over 65, a pregnant woman, a child aged 2-3 or you suffer from diabetes, asthma or heart failure. Last year only 72% of those eligible bothered to have one. I really urge you to have one if it is offered to you. It’s free under our NHS. We must aim to get 85% immunised and then we can begin to see the benefits of herd immunity.Doing my usual horizon scanning, the situation in Arizona in the USA is alarming with 24% of the population now infected with an equally concerning death rate. South Carolina and Arkansas are two other states badly affected.An interesting peer reviewed article in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reports a study in China where researchers took 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs and blood samples from their human handlers. The study began back in 2016 when a new strain of influenza (G4 EA H1N1) was identified in pigs. It is genetically similar to swine flu. In 5 years there has been NO evidence it is circulating in humans. However amongst the pig handlers they did find a number with circulating antibodies, suggesting human infection possible. It would need a mutation to make it a risk to humans though it is right and proper to watch the situation carefully. That’s why these ongoing studies are so important in the global fight against pandemics. Think of those collecting all the swabs to help keep us safe.Remember the rules about being sensible and being alert. Don’t join a queue for something if it means being too close. We can afford to wait a little longer for a meal out or a drink in the pub.