May 1 2020
You cannot spend 40 years working in general practice without realising the impact of infertility can have on many couples. Most of you will know someone affected by this so it is really good news that NHS fertility services are to be restored. This will give tens of thousands of the population new hope for the future. We can contribute to the creation of new lives by staying at home and protecting the NHS so they have the capacity to resume the care of the infertile.The daily mass of figures continue to show the slow progress to recovery, having passed the peak with the R value less than 1, all attention now must be directed to ensuring there is no second peak.The pit fall of trying to compare statistics of one country with another or even one town with another is illustrated further with some figures from the ONS, The Office of National Statistics, which looked at the effect of deprivation on the numbers of Covid deaths. In the most deprived areas it was 55.1/100,000 and in the least 25.3/100,000. Deprivation is a complex issue and we know that in such a group the most deprived have lower paid work, have been less well educated, are not as well nourished, are more likely to be obese, more likely to be smokers and more likely to have diabetes. Any one or more of these factors could be relevant.Politicians and the media have got very excited about the testing rates but it would seem we reached and exceeded the 100,000/day tests. This has been an enormous collaborative approach with many organisations playing a part. Matt Hancock was right to pay an enormous tribute to the very many involved in making this possible. He referred to the incredible national team who made this possible. It is truly a tremendous achievement when you consider 8 weeks ago we did not really even have a reliable test.The foundation of testing for all puts us in a very strong position to begin tracking and some 18,000 people have been recruited to lead this next step. Watch out for the tracking App which will be available soon and please all sign up to it. In the mean time I hope you are all contributing daily to the symptom App mentioned a while ago.There are preliminary reports from South Korea that being infected with Covid does give you a measure of protection and you should not get it again. Just how long the immunity will last is not known yet. We need to see this study repeated in other areas and much more work on it, but it is what was hoped for and must be good news. It suggests that finding a vaccine will also prove effective in preventing infection.Usually it is well recognised that a prolonged power cut leads to a rise in the birth rate 9 months later. So I am sure that prolonged lock down will have a similar effect. So for the time being we must just continue to stay at home, protecting the NHS and doing our regular hand washing. As well as green shoots at the end of the tunnel there will also be new babies, born either as the result of infertility treatments or the more traditional methods.
May 2 2020
Tonight’s briefing concentrated more on the social and psychological consequences of our lockdown for Covid 19. The message for the time being is still the same; stay at home, maintain the 2 metre rule and protect the NHS. Protecting the NHS does not mean do not use its service. If you have need of medical care please make sure you come forward . If you thought protect the NHS means do not use it, then you are wrong. You can and must use it now we have enabled more than enough capacity to deal with all normal health problems that occur every day.We can just begin to look to the future and some very limited changes will be seen over the next few months. Those 1.8 million people who were ask to shield are particularly vulnerable and face the prospect of at least a further 7-8 weeks confined at home with no face to face contacts. The Government are organising basic packages of food care for those with no family or neighbours to do shopping. This group of people will perhaps psychologically suffer most from lockdown and many charities and local authorities are looking to help them stay safe and then to emerge safely.I have discussed before the rise of domestic violence that is being seen right across the country. A direct consequence of being unable to distance from partners and children. In recognising the risks to life this can involve, substantial funds have been made to support those suffering from domestic violence and child abuse. This is the one situation where you can and should leave home, and if you feel your life is at risk you must. The police will take care of you. There are refuges available with funds to help you and many phone lines for help.Modern Slavery and homelessness are two other areas where there are considerable funds available to help. Please ask for assistance from the relevant charities and local authorities. There are priority schemes to help with housing in all these areas of social need.The figures today continue to follow the predicted course with a slow decline in new cases, critical care bed use and sadly deaths. We will see these figures very slowly fall as we have gone passed the peak. The greatest risk is still this second peak seen in so many pandemics; which is why we need to continue all the social distancing and following the other rules. Please do not be tempted to ease the rules for yourself. It will not work and you can put many more lives at risk.Test Track and Trace is still progressing well and will be rolled out soon once some logistic challenges are resolved.I doubt if many of you are thinking of travelling on Eurostar but if you are you will have to wear a mask when on the train.Some of you however might want to take rubbish to your council tip. You are now allowed to do this with appropriate social distances maintained.Spain has allowed people to emerge from their very strict lockdown with different age groups out at different times, we will watch this very carefully. If case rates go up it will have to be reconsidered.We will move very slowly to ease restrictions but many will be with us for a long time. Please be patient, please keep going with the rules and stay at home unless you are a victim of domestic violence when you should seek the police for help. I was interested to hear the names for our PMs new baby boy. I understand he is named after the two grandfathers and the two doctors called Nic who cared for Boris in the ITU. I wonder if they remembered that Wilfred was the popular nickname of the Victory Medal awarded to the services at the end of WWI. I really do believe Young Wilfred is a sign of victory ahead.
May 3 2020
I have read on other face book streams a tremendous amount of rubbish and rumours which are now significantly impacting on our psychological well being and will affect our ability to move forward out of lockdown towards our new normal life. Please be very careful, do not believe what you read. Check it from more than one source, and check the credentials of who ever has written or posted it.I will start with good news from the World Health Organisation. Over one million people have now been infected and fully recovered. Bearing in mind its a weekend we should expect a dip in our daily reported figures but they are all progressing in the right direction. We are over the peak and we will continue to see a very slow reduction over the coming weeks.We are promised next Sunday a road map to emerge slowly from lockdown taking the maximum steps possible to avoid the second peak. I know from my private messages that many of you are worried about emerging from lockdown, some have lost confidence in going shopping or even driving a car. No one is going to force you out of your home, you can take as long as you like to resume your life. For those looking to return to work, the Health and Safety considerations will be top priority and no one will be forced to use bad practice at work. The WHO again is stressing the need for a slow measured reduction in lockdown. We are seeing that in Singapore they may have relaxed too quickly and a second wave is becoming clear.Germany have relaxed a little today allowing religious worship for Christians, Jews and Muslims, providing they maintain social distances. Singing is not allowed as that could be dangerous. Forceful loud singing can cause an aerosol effect on the droplets in expired air and increase risk of spread.There is much speculation about schools, do not believe the rumours. We must wait a week to learn how the children will be managed.We may find masks can be used more outside if asymptomatic, if it helps to restore confidence and enables people to go out more. If you do not usually wear a mask and have not been taught to use them correctly then I suggest ask a health professional to show you or watch a video on the net.Many of you are senior citizens like me and have been concerned at the arbitrary age of 70 as a cut off age, however fit you may feel. Chronological age does not always correlate with biological age, and it is reasonable to apply the guidelines sensibly if you are close to a cut off age. These are guidance ages not absolute laws that cannot be eased.We learn that a pilot trial of Test Track and Trace will be starting on the Isle of Wight on Monday. This is an ideal location being large enough in terms of population but in a confined geography. They will not be overrun with holiday makers. I am very hopeful these pilot trials will be successful and we can all use it soon. Do not listen to those who fear loss of civil liberties. If you have nothing to hide there is no need for concern about big brother. He is protecting your life.Public Health England are investigating the observation that the Black and minority ethnic community are apparently disproportionally represented in the numbers of Covid deaths. This is a very complex issue and will not be unpicked for some time. There may well be other non racial connections. For instance the BAME community are more highly represented in our NHS than in the general population at large. Let’s not speculate, allow the researchers to sort this out.The practice of better hygiene with disinfecting surfaces and regular hand washing way well mean a drop in other common virus infections such as Norovirus, seasonal flu and even the common cold . It makes sense if we continue this practice long after Covid 19 is out of out minds. For the time being please keep going, ask for support if you are struggling but please stay at home a bit longer, the front door is your best protection at home. Do not go out if you have symptoms or a fever and stay home and contact 111 or your GP for advice. Hand washing helps to prevent much more than Covid. Remember across the world a million have recovered, try and keep it in proportion. Its ok to be anxious but most people are recovering .
May 4 2020
A very encouraging briefing tonight as we all begin to think about emerging from lockdown. How do we make work places safer and how to get safely to and from work? There are no firm plans to be announced before next weekend, so a lot of talk and speculation as the Government listen to their advisors. Whilst you wait to be allowed to return to work you can consider the Health and Safety considerations for your work space, owners and managers will be required to consider Covid 19 in their Health and Safety assessments.More good news is that the number of deaths both in hospital and the community were at their lowest rate since March. There has to be the caveat that the weekend effect will probably mean tomorrows figures will be higher. The number of patients in hospital with Covid 19 continues to fall. There is plenty of capacity with many critical care beds available. There is such good capacity that the Nightingale Hospital in London is to put on “standby” this week. It will remain functional and ready to be re-utilised but every one hopes we will not require its services.The Prime Minister was involved in a virtual global meeting today about vaccine development. This it was agreed was a shared endeavour and not an international competition. The Oxford Vaccine trial is going well with over 600 patients now recruited and Edinburgh reports good progress on their antibody testing programme.The Test, Track and Trace programme is accelerating at a pace and the new App to assist in tracing goes live on the Isle of Wight tomorrow. If all goes as expected, it is expected to become available to the rest of us by mid May. If any of my readers live on the Island please tell us how you get on with it. I am happy with the reassurances given about privacy and security. The data will be held on your own smart phone. Everyone on the island will get a letter in the next few days explaining it all and asking everyone to join in. There is a special system, which I do not personally understand, to reduce the power required for the blue tooth connections to avoid phones needing recharging more often than usual. Testing capacity remains higher than take up . A newspaper survey on the Isle of Wight showed over 80% were keen to use the App. In many ways the Isle of Wight is an ideal location to test this. There is only one Health Trust, Only one Local Authority and limited transport on and off the island. They also have a very enthusiastic and proactive emergency planning team. I have good memories of a very large major accident exercise that I was invited to umpire on the island. The island resources had to cope by themselves as the atrocious weather meant no resources could come from the mainland to assist them. Thank you Isle of Wight you are helping the rest of the UK stay safe and save lives.In response to questions, it was explained that no vaccine will be used until it is deemed to be safe. It is likely to be used for adults first as children are relatively rarely infected. The fear of death from Covid 19 will be a good driver to persuade people to get vaccinated in due course. A very large percentage of the population are expected to have it when available. It is thought very unlikely that there will be any compulsion for immunisation but sensibly would not be ruled out if the picture changed. Historically smallpox vaccine was compulsory for a while.So a very encouraging report today. Thank you to the Isle of Wight. For a bit longer stay at home to preserve NHS capacity. maintain social distancing, think Health and Safety in your work place and homes. Continue washing hands and cleaning surfaces, we must not go back to old habits. Please stay kind to one another and avoid being upset by some of the misinformation being circulated on some media postings. I withdrew from one this morning.
May 5 2020
Tonight’s briefing was similar to yesterday’s as we continue to wonder how we are going to come out of the lockdown arrangements and what the new normal will be.It is very distressing to me and I am sure to you that the media continue to highlight deaths statistics in a very unreasonable and inaccurate way. The numbers of people we have lost in this pandemic is truly terrible which ever country you are in. The Office for National Statistics however state they are counting death certificates with any one that MENTIONS Covid 19 on a death certificate as a Covid caused death. This is blatantly not a primary cause as in many cases the patient primarily has heart disease, a stroke or diabetes as the main cause of death which could have been anticipated and any covid infection could be incidental. This is a method that will artificially inflate the Covid statistics. For many countries we do not know how many actually record and document their deaths, how complete they are and when there are multiple causes, how are they counted. The media should be saying the declared figures for Covid deaths now SUGGEST the UK has overtaken Italy in the number of reported deaths, BUT the figures are not really comparable. When it’s all over we will be able to look at excess deaths compared with the last few years. I would expect the average number of deaths from cancer to be similar for the same weeks in each year. If we misinterpret the stats. as Covid goes up Cancer deaths will fall.We are all aware of the trolls and cyber hackers around on the internet but the briefing gave a specific warning that a few people are determined to make all our lives a misery and are using Covid to their advantage. These people will stop at nothing to steal our money, our data and cause untold misery. Some are clearly involved in espionage as well. There are major efforts with the US Government and the UK to get on top of this and stamp it out. Remember if its too good be true it probably is.Just as yesterday showed rather low figures due to the weekend effect, today’s are higher than over the weekend but still show a slow overall downward trend. The media are saying with 30,000 deaths this is unique and has never been seen before. They conveniently forget the plague pandemics of the middle ages and the Spanish flu of 1918. They had deaths many times higher than we are seeing now. I am not minimising the scale of deaths but I want you to know the truth and that as a nation we have coped with very much worse in the past and may well have to again at sometime in the future because pandemics will continue to occur.I will not be drawn to speculating and I am pleased our politicians will not budge on this either. We are going to learn the next few steps to recovery at the weekend. We can surely wait a few more days. The best possible road map out of lockdown is being worked on as I write. Clearly the next phase will be different; a new normal. The next phase will be a bit more comfortable and sustainable. We must stay sure footed as we follow the way out.One of the most ridiculous questions tonight from a media representative was — should we go on a diet to avoid covid infections? Obesity is a common problem, it does not get better with a diet, it needs a whole change of life style and is difficult to achieve. It predisposes to many other health problems including diabetes, heart disease , hypertension and strokes as well a mobility issues. It is also associated with the less well off and those living in deprived conditions. All these are also risk factors for covid , so you can see how the various factors all interrelate.So more of the same for the time being. Next week we will see the plans to ease our situation. Stay safe, stay at home unless an essential journey. Let’s concentrate on our personal contribution to saving lives by complying with the rules and washing hands regularly with soap. Listen to the Government spokespeople, read my interpretations, but do not listen to the scaremongers and conspiracy theories.
May 6 2020
It is good to see everyone thinking forward and looking at what our new world will be like, what the new normal will be and how long before it does become back to near normal. Politicians rightly refuse to speculate as to what will happen in phase 2. We will learn of the plans on Sunday afternoon, but this certainly does not stop media speculation, or the many others who want to give opinions based on completely false information.The daily statistics continue to go in the direction expected, the weekend effect has gone but the death rates are falling slowly so is bed occupancy in hospitals. The NHS has plenty of capacity and many of my colleagues are saying there is little to do at work and they are itching to get on with some of the medium urgency work that has been put on hold.It will be some time, perhaps 2 years, before we really get to the bottom of the problems in our care homes. In my career I have dealt with many care homes, both with my patients and with family members. The way they were managed ranged from excellent to atrocious. One or two I would never let my family be in. There are very varying numbers of trained staff on duty, often only one on a shift. The training and experience of the care assistants are very variable. Medical cover is very difficult, the patients are under the care of their GP who could have all the patients in a home, whereas the next home may have 10 or more different practices involved . A lot have quite complex needs and to be honest a lot do not get the best quality care at times. All this adds to the problems long before Covid 19 comes along. Most patients are frail, have complex health needs and waiting patiently for their time on earth to come to an end. Often they or their families want them to die in their care homes. In other places managers do not want deaths in their home and try to get patients into hospital before they die. Finally there is money. Good care costs a great deal and managers constantly have to balance costs with profit. We know how hard that is with our NHS, which no longer looks after care homes directly.The new key words for phase 2 are Adapt, Evolve, Rebuild and Recover. Like test track and trace we will hear much more about this in the coming weeksThe Community Secretary was talking a great deal about financial support for the regions and Local Authorities, with x billion pounds here or y millions here available to assist . It is difficult to comprehend the scale of financial support on offer. It will never be enough and life being what it is, every one will ask for more. What I never hear are comparisons with other countries and how they are supporting their people unable to work. I think the UK is doing exceptionally well with this aid. Many countries will offer little or no assistance, but its bad news that sells newspapers so the media are not supporting good news stories.We heard more about the role of Local Resilience Forums which were established a number of years ago as part of the Civil Contingencies Act. There are 38 such forums in the UK now being supported by military planners. They are taking on more and more locally based support and care for patients with testing and PPE as well as emergency food deliveries.I hope you are planning to have some part in the VE day anniversary on Friday., Check out you local activities that can be shared at the front door. Many of us can remember life in post war Britain with its restrictions and food rationing . We can stand proud about that and give respect to the remaining veterans. We are called now to level up, unite together and unleash our full potential together. We do that with the familiar call to respect and keep to the rules, maintain high levels of hygiene and keep 2 metres apart.
May 7 2020
There are no changes in the rules today. The briefing made it clear that the restrictions remain in their entirety. It means that this three day Bank Holiday will be spent in lockdown. Please do not try to second guess what the Prime Minister will announce on Sunday. Any changes that he announces will be modest, small and incremental. The changes will be monitored very carefully and it will be easy to reverse them if the R number goes up. We must keep it below 1. A second wave would be very catastrophic.The Bank of England is forecasting a 14% downfall and the prospect of 9% unemployment. Probably the biggest recession since the South Sea Bubble in 1706. Recovery will happen perhaps quite quickly, but it remains unpredictable as to how and when it will happen.The figures today continue to be as expected. The 7 day rolling average of deaths is falling, at 539. This mid week figure most accurately reflects the week on week changes and is the lowest since the end of March. Less than a third of the available critical care beds are in use for Covid patients. There is the capacity now for the NHS to begin catching up on other urgent work. I know several of you will benefit from this,The Office for National Statistics is reporting that the overall number of deaths in Care Homes had fallen by 300, with 5117 homes reporting cases. I believe there are about 15,000 Care Homes in the UK so only about one third have been affected. More clinical support to Care Homes is being arranged from the NHS.Tomorrow the 75th Anniversary of VE day is a Bank Holiday. I am sure you will be sharing this in your community. As some of you may know my family history strongly suggests I was conceived on that date. It is therefore a significant anniversary for me. The Government has provided some £32 million to GP surgeries to keep them open and for community pharmacies to provide a repeat prescription service during the afternoon tomorrow.In more general news, The Notting Hill Carnival has been cancelled this year. Also Manchester, Stansted and the East Midlands airports are going to require all travellers to wear both gloves and masks in the airport to protect their staff.The new App has been widely welcomed on the IOW There has been a very high take up and I have had an email forwarded to me saying how easy it is to use. Well done Isle of Wight.We can trust SAGE and COBRA. More and more evidence is being carefully evaluated. Do not trust very much you read on the internet and check to see how reliable the source is, Please don’t pass on or repost false information, The British public deserve our full support they have saved this from being a catastrophic pandemic of the sort that killed a third of the world ‘s population in the middle ages As we clap the NHS and Care Staff as well of Key staff, clap yourselves as well. Every one has contributed to us reaching Phase 2. Please persevere just a bit longer; nothing has changed stay indoors and save lives. Small steps are coming next week as together we overcome this pandemic.
May 8 2020
https://youtu.be/UDY5COg2P2c This is well worth a watch. It seems authentic and shows how much worse things could be. its not for the faint hearted though.
I am sure many of you, like me have followed with interest the media coverage of the 75th anniversary of VE day. I mentioned yesterday why it was of special importance to me. Additionally with my grandmother driving Red Cross ambulances, my mother a Red Cross VAD in the navy and a father as a Chief Petty Officer Sick Birth Attendant in the Navy, its no surprise I ended up with a career in Medicine.Earlier today I posted a good video history of how the 1918 pandemic affected the USA. It can be quite gruesome to watch but it made me realise how much worse things could be. A lot of our planning for pandemics today originate from methods adopted to cope with that epidemic Today’s figures continue to show an encouraging trend down, with the number of patients in hospital dropping day on day. We recognise that deaths in Care Homes are still a cause of concern. I am so pleased to see the NHS stepping in with support and training for care staff who often have had little or no experience of isolation nursing.The team of nurses my daughter leads have developed an excellent idea which I commend to any of you having to wear PPE to meet patients or even customers. They have taken a head and shoulder picture of themselves and added their name and either Doctor or Nurse. they have duplicated a lot of them at A5 size . Each time they dress in full PPE to see a patient they use sticky tape to attach their picture to their chests. Patients are greatly reassured that there is a human being there, not just a pair of eyes. Very simple and very effective. Well done HillingdonHospital Respiratory Unit.In more general news our Prime Minister spoke to President Putin today to thank Russia for their amazing contribution to winning the war in Europe. Russia suffered enormous losses compared to other countries (more than 27 million), Mr Putin has been invited to a virtual global vaccine summit next month.A new payment of some £16 million is to be given to fund front line food charities to enable them to continue and expand capacity to provide food to those shielding, those in shelters, refugee centres, and rehab centres. A whole army of volunteers are now delivering food to those in need.Despite many probing questions from the media speculating on what the PM will say on Sunday, the Secretary of State stood firm and gave nothing away. It is a great pity that those in Wales and Scotland have chosen to break with agreements and gone ahead announcing their local plans early.Today and for the Weekend the rules remain the same; enjoy the VE Celebrations within your social groups, perhaps in the front gardens. Be encouraged by listening to our Queen tonight whom I am sure will rally us all to carry on. She is the only serving monarch in the world to have worn a uniform during the war. The story of her aged 19 going out into the crowds is well known. She will not go out in the crowds tonight and neither must we.
May 9 2020
Tonight’s statistics continue to be very encouraging but we must remember yesterday was a Bank Holiday which with the usual weekend dip, will tend to lower the figures more because of incomplete reporting. Nevertheless a drop of daily recorded deaths in all settings is pleasing . The number of Covid 19 patients in a hospital bed has dropped by 17% over the last week. The Critical Care beds are plentiful and if you need one there are plenty available. As a result of all our efforts our NHS is up and running and is here for you still.The last few days we have been marking time as we await the Prime Minister and his next measured steps to phase 2 of the pandemic. My report tomorrow will be a lot later than normal. I will endeavour to post it as soon as I have absorbed the message and taken the political hype from it. The PM’s broadcast does not start till 7pm.Grant Shapps tonight spelt out some of the difficulty the transport system will have opening back up fully and yet maintaining social distancing. He estimated that only a tenth of normal passengers would be able to travel without over crowding. Norman Tebbit in 1981 urged us all to get “on our Bike” and that message is coming back now. Such changes will help the green campaign and make us fitter. Already it is estimated that walking and cycling has increased by 70%. To assist this the Government are providing 2 Billion pounds for Local Authorities to create wider space for pedestrians and more cycle only routes. There is a new cycle to work campaign which could save up to 30% of the cost of a new bike. There are to be voucher schemes to enable them to be repaired. Have a look in the shed for that old bike, it could be worth more than you think as everybody will want one. If you use it yourself for local shopping you will improve your health and help play your part in reducing emissions. There are a significant number of deaths due to nitrogen dioxide emission from cars.The top two new car sales this year have both been electric, and the Government have announced a further £10 million to install more charging points. This further enhances our national effort to reduce our carbon footprint.There are a few general snippets of news worth noting. Firstly a report from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York that breast fed babies may gain antibodies from their mothers who have had Covid 19 infections. So it is considered safe for mothers to breast feed their babies, and the disease cannot be spread by breast feeding. This paper has yet to be considered in a peer review and needs to be replicated before being certain. The trials of an antimalarial drug have found to be ineffective despite early promise. It made no difference to the severity or the length of the infection. You may remember this was Trump’s recommendation at one point. The report is in the reputable New England Journal of Medicine.It’s going to be cold tomorrow so please do not go out. We will need to continue to be socially distant from one another. We may find some very small incremental steps forward and we may find some of the rules are actually tightened. I will tell you tomorrow. Till then nothing changes. Political messages do come round again so if you can …….On your bike!
May 10 2020
Tonight I thought the Prime Minister presented a straight forward and very clear guidance for the next 3 steps in England, The new Slogan “Stay Alert” means use your brain, think before you act. We can minimally relax if we at all times retain our social distancing. There is a new monitoring system to carefully monitor the situation and if the social distancing fails, the R number will rise and an even more stringent lockdown reapplied.The new system mirrors the WHO pandemic monitoring. At level 1 there are no new cases and the disease is not present. Level 5 is a full raging pandemic with up to 500,000 deaths in the UK alone. The UK was at level 4, when 2 months ago the lockdown was imposed. It seems, with continual evidence showing we have passed the peak, that we are ready to move very cautiously to level 3. At a Colossal cost we have done it. It would be madness to risk another peak .The next 3 steps are designed to tread a path between two fears, the disease and potential death and the future and economic well being of us all.Remember this plan is conditional and can at any stage be stopped or reversed. You still should work from home if you can. If you can’t work from home you should go to work if possible. Your place of employment will be making health and safety assessments to allow you to work 2 metres apart, if that is not possible, proper and effective PPE must be available. You should avoid public transport if you possibly can. They recommend walking and cycling where possible or failing that your own car. Instruction about your work will be sent to you soon as it is safe to go. From Wednesday, if you stay alert and think, you can go out for exercise and to relax. You should always stay in household groups and any games played should be between people in the same household. Being alert means being sensible . For those that can’t or won’t be sensible the law is to be changed to bring heavier fines. This will allow more movement in open spaces but you should always stay 2 metres from any one else. Fresh air and exercise is essential for ongoing good health. It also reduces the risk of transmission. You can go out as much as you wish. We abuse this at our peril. Heavy fines and a return to lockdown is the inevitable consequence of people ignoring the rules.To prevent new cases arriving from abroad , all new arrivals will be required to isolate for 14 days. details of this are still to be provided.If we can achieve Step 1 and keep the R below 1, We should be able to look towards step 2 at the beginning of June. Attention will then turn towards schools . The hope is that the reception classes and year 6 may begin to return to school in a careful controlled and distanced way. Secondary school children facing national exams next year should also be able to have contact with their teacher before the school Summer holidays, many children will not see a classroom till September. Remember we must be alert and use our brains, if we do not do this step 2 will not be implemented.The 3rd planned step is due to come into force in July when it is hoped to begin to open some other public places. This is still a long way off but it will happen, if we are all alert to the rules and continue to apply them accurately. Remember these three steps are a very gentle measured footpath rather than a road map to recovery. We can do this, We will beat this virus and move to a new normal, but different world of the future.The great British public have worked extremely well to bring the epidemic under control with 99% of us complying with the rules. Most of us are more than capable of understanding what “Be Alert” means. Those that do not understand seem to be the Scottish people. Their first Minister does not trust them. She, like a mother, wants them still to stay at home. The media will not want to understand either but I believe you and I will be able to understand “Stay Alert”. If not, it’s all lost and a second peak can bring many thousand more deaths.For Now Stay Alert, Preserve the NHS and Save Lives.
May 11 2020
I want to make it clear to all my Scottish friends that I in fact have the highest regard for Nicola Sturgeon and for the many friends I have in Scotland. I apologise for any misunderstanding my post may have caused, I also knew that most of my friends in Scotland wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom.My great concern is that we act together as the United Kingdom. If if we do not act together with small step by step actions to ease lockdown, this crisis will be so much worse. We will have many problems across borders. Today I think we will see more clarity as the plans outlined yesterday are enlarged both in parliament and in the briefing. Lockdown will continue for many especially the shielding but for others there can be small relaxations. This will only work if we stick together and use our minds and work out what is sensible for us in our situations. We cannot make rules for each and every situation. We must be alert to the environment and understand the actions and fears of those around us. It would seem reasonable to see family members from different households, if they arrange to meet locally in a park and keep social distancing. Should they be allowed to travel 10 minutes, or an hour perhaps but not 4 hours? This is where being alert and sensible comes in. Best to walk or cycle there rather than take a bus!Read one of the several good books available about the 1918 pandemic. they give a really good insight. Despite being perhaps the most controversial posting I have made about Covid 19 more people than ever have either liked or commented on it. I am trying to present a fair non political assessment. We have a very treacherous path a head of us. Going down the mountain is always more difficult. No one is telling you to leave home, if its right for you, stay at home. We have to slowly move forward to get schools and industry working. No one wants to stay as we are for ever and no one wants a second wave of deaths or rioting and discontent in the streets that other countries have seen. We must avoid vigilante groups at all costs. For our Kingdom. United must be the word, because divided we fall.Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently .This is still a vital message
I thought it more important to listen to the Parliamentary exchanges today rather than wait until the media briefings later this evening.You will not be surprised that I have not read the 50 page document the MPs had in front of them. I am not covering every issue in it .There is no doubt that to quote the PM ” Our Journey has reached a most perilous point taking the wrong route now will be disastrous. ” The plan today is conditional on continuing common sense. It can be stopped or reversed at any time.It seems to me that we all need to be extremely careful of the language that is being used. Words like Could, Should, Must, Might all have slightly different meanings . As you listen to politicians and scientists note carefully the word they use. Much of the confusion from Staying Alert is due to short cuts and sensational reporting.Two supportive documents are in preparation, one on the arrangements for public transport and one covering the rules on the work place.We were NOT told to go back to work today despite many reports to the contrary. We were told to continue to work from home whenever possible. If not possible, as in the construction industries, then consider returning to work IF it can be such that the workplace can be made safe. The awaited guidance will set out the requirements of a Covid safe work place. If not you MUST wait until it is, If you cannot work because of isolation or child care issues you MUST remain at home. There are to be spot checks of the workplace to ensure safe distancing and a whole range of health and safety regulations. They will have power to close down unsafe work practices. Additionally employees who are being pressured to work in an unsafe way can report the problem to the Authorities,As it stands at the moment relatively few will be able to return to work normally at once, so there should not be a sudden great rush back over whelming our still much reduce transport system, where social distancing WILL be required. It will take time for many business to work out how to open safely. You are expected to walk, cycle, or use your own car whenever possible.Exercise has also been relaxed from Wednesday and now you can go out as much as you like to exercise. If you go in household groups you should stay together. You CAN meet one other person from another household if you wish to play golf or tennis as its possible to stay 2 metres apart with some careful thought. You should use your intelligence and be Alert if considering long journeys. When ever possible stay local. You can plan to meet one other household group in an open space providing again you stay 2 metres apart. This may allow families to catch up with others from a different household. This relaxation is intended to help grand parents to see their grand children. Remember it is see NOT touch, cuddles are still not allowed.Face covering is to be encouraged in enclosed public spaces. note carefully the words face covering it does not mean clinical face masks They should be reserved for medical and other clinical work places. Face covering may mean a home made covering or a scarf . It is encouraged it is NOT compulsory and remember it is only protecting OTHERS from you. The science for this step is very poor. My concerns, and that of many others, is that this is like a child’s cuddle blanket. It may give false security. Firstly it might encourage you to go out with symptoms when you should stay at home. Secondly the covering itself may become heavily contaminated with droplets containing the virus and is a hazard to remove. Thirdly they are uncomfortable to wear and the temptation to touch them is great and some even lower them to speak. Lastly they may encourage you to move closer to other people than social distances require. For these reasons I personally will not go out anywhere with the slightest of symptoms but will not be wearing a face covering unless it is made compulsory to enter a shop, which the guidelines are not recommending.I know all about asymptomatic carriers but firstly I believe staying 2 metres apart makes that risk negligible, I also recognise the fears and lack of understanding of the general public, that has caused our leaders to give way a little on this issue.Remember 90% of us are still susceptible to this virus. That is why we are at a perilous point. You are not being told you cannot Stay at Home. If you are in the shielding group you MUST. if you can work at home you SHOULD. If you can’t work from home you SHOULD liaise with your employers to establish a safe way of going to work. You should avoid Public Transport. You can play tennis if safe with one other person. We should respect the local environment so please do not rush to the coast. All the public toilets will be closed and no food or ice cream available. I have to wait for a much needed hair cut!!.
The PM has just clarified who can meet who in the park and it seems to be different to what I reported earlier, it shows the importance of noting the meaning of every word. In response to a question he said that household groups can go to the park. If however there is to be a meeting of anyone from another household then as a first step in relaxing the rules one person from a household can meet one person only from another group in the park. In this first step a family group cannot therefore meet the grandparents, That will come a little later as connecting with loved ones is a high priority.To my mind the PM is still quite breathless tonight but he has done a lot of talking today.Figures continue in the right direction. The 100,000 tests a day was met yesterday. Deaths from all sources were low at 210 in last 24 hrs, Bed occupancy continues to fall, and there are now only 11,401 in hospital. Plenty of capacity in the NHSWe are getting there We must stick together, ensure the media and others do not divide us, Remember the basic rules especially hand washing. As the PM says baby steps to recovery.
May 12 2020
I have now had time to read and digest the 50 page document released to Parliament yesterday. It is actually easy to read and sets out very clearly the progress of this pandemic. The Prime Minister tried to reduce this to a ten minute talk and it would seem caused more confusion than reassurance. I felt what he said yesterday was clear but this document makes it very much clearer. It may be useful for some of you to download it to your computer as a useful reference document. it is called “Our plan to rebuild” the UK Government’s Covid 19 recovery strategy. You will find it free to download on the Government’s web site.Tonight’s briefing by the Business Secretary built on the Chancellor’s announcements this morning in which we learnt that the furlough payment scheme will be continued until October, which means some 7.5 million people will have had 80% of their salary paid for up to 8 months. This amount of financial support is by far the greatest ever made available and is far superior to most other countries. It will be paid in full until the end of July but after that as businesses get on to their feet again they will be expected to contribute.Both in today’s briefing and in the document referred to above there is much more clarity about going to work. It remains the case that if you can work safely from home that is what you should do. If you cannot do your job at home as in the construction industry you should liaise with your employers about a phased safe return to work whilst always respecting social distancing. If that is not possible as in the hospitality industry and hairdressing you should stay at home and not try to work. There is a requirement on all business to do a Health and Safety assessment of each employees’ work space . They must ensure it is safe to work using the best model of practice. A further £14 million has been given to the Health and Safety Executive to help employers understand risk assessments and to employ more inspectors to see that best practice is maintained. If you are not satisfied that your work space is safe you should take it up with your employers or Union rep. Failing that you can complain to the HSE or your Local Authority. Ultimately the HSE can make enforcement orders, stop a production line and failure to comply is a criminal offence. Where necessary all appropriate PPE must be available to you from the Employers. You cannot be forced to work in an unsafe way.There was a change to the general format of the briefing tonight with the Business Secretary using slides with visual aids which made it easier to follow. Unfortunately they do not seem to be available now to share with you. They are available on the Gov. websites later. The statistics continue to go in the direction we want to see. There is evidence that the daily deaths in Care homes is now dropping as well as the hospitals. We are moving from level 4 to level 3. We must go very cautiously. If the reports of crowds on the underground are true we will not progress with our baby steps to recovery . We will end up with even tighter lockdown, There is so much new guidance which the sensible will act on correctly. I am thankful for one of my readers who summarised the compliance problems by saying “Rules are guidance for the wise but compulsory for the idiots.” We must always stay 2 metres apart and regularly wash hands with soap and water.If in Any doubt stay at home, otherwise Be Alert, Control the Virus and Save Lives.
I suppose now I am only reporting about England, and although a lot of this applies to the whole of the UK there are now sadly differences in the devolved administrations. It would be good if someone from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would like to add a daily local perspective, that would be helpful. It has been sad to see pictures suggesting widespread overcrowding and lack of social distances. This is pure ignorance and deliberately affects our chances of living through this crisis. Today in England was the day a very few rules were relaxed to allow those first baby steps to recovery. The vast majority should still be staying at home and negotiating with employers about how a return to work place could be achieved. How the workplace can be made safe . How to get to and from work need to be addressed before there is a general return. Working from home can continue as before.The rules about exercise and one person meeting one other in an open place has caused a lot of confusion. I do not intend to discuss this today. There are other issues to consider.From today the first steps in opening up the housing industry has allowed estate agents to open up and the complex process of buying and selling your home has become possible. Apparently some 450,000 people are on hold whilst trying to buy or sell a home. I am told there are the three Ds in the housing market, Death, Divorce, and Destitution. Sadly all three are likely to follow this pandemic. If you are trying to buy and sell your home detailed guidance is available from Gov.UK. Safe distancing and viewing a house are covered in detail. Speculative viewing is strongly discouraged. Consequently the removal industry have to resolve safe distancing practice so they can reopen.The problems with care homes do show signs of improving. There have been unpleasant political exchanges today. I do not take sides, but now is not the time to argue about what has happened. We need a united front to solve today’s problems. Another £600 million has been made available to care homes for infection control. in the past detailed protocols for infection control have perhaps not been as good as they should be. There will now be named clinical leadership in each home. Environmental Health teams from the Local Authorities will have a much higher profile and training guidance is available from the NHS.The daily statistics show steady progress in the right direction. The daily graphs are also showing progress in the right direction. The number of people in hospital with Covid has dropped by 13% in the last week. Only 11,186 patients remain in hospital. Only 21% of the available critical care beds are occupied. Of yesterday’s deaths only 4 people had no underlying health conditions, The youngest to die was 49 and the eldest 99. It is tragic that 144 NHS staff have lost their life and 131 people in Social Care.For most, and especially those shielding the message is still stay at home. It has not changed. Still work from home if you can, and only go out if you strictly need to according to the rules. Only go to work when you are certain it is safe to do so. Always maintain social distancing and regular hand cleaning. Stay Alert means everyone. If we let things slip we will have a disastrous second wave which a few countries would seem to be facing. Stay Alert, take baby steps and we will win this war.
May 14 2020
I have been thinking about safe return to work with the tube system in London. Each passenger must occupy 4 square metres of platform space in order to remain 2m from another passenger. In normal rush hour conditions you are lucky to have 1 sq. metre each. There were often well over 1000 people waiting for a train in the morning rush hour. So if they still all insist on going to work at the same time only 250 will get on the platform and the remaining 750 will queue up outside 2 metres apart. That makes the queue 1.5km long and growing all the time. So you must work from home if you can and only go to work on public transport if there is absolutely no alternative. Shift working with many different start times will help.
The Transport Secretary was at today’s briefing and naturally emphasised what is happening in the transport world. We were told that while the railways and roads have been very quiet it has been possible to push many building and infrastructure improvements ahead of schedule. Over Easter alone, some 419 rail improvements were completed. I also learnt that the long running improvements on the A14 have been completed many months ahead of schedule. These roadworks have held me up on trips to London for about 4 years, and now I can look forward to reducing my travelling time, when I am able to travel again! There has also been a vast injection of money into local roads to fill potholes which will make cycling safer. There are to be many more electrical car charging facilities. The benefits of fewer cars on the roads has greatly improved air pollution. We need to be creative to maintain that improvement.Johnathan Van Tam is a Boston boy and tonight he expertly presented the daily statistics we have become used to. The news is very encouraging, All the figures show an improving trend with a further 14% drop in hospital admissions for Covid. The number of daily tests conducted was the highest daily figure since testing began at 126,064 done yesterday.There is more good news about antibody testing . A very reliable test with very high specificity has been developed and made by Roche. This will help us ascertain that having had this disease we may have antibodies and therefore be immune. The Prime Minister said this would be game changing. It is remarkable this has been developed so quickly and if it is as reliable as hoped, it will indeed be game changing and makes the advent of a vaccine a little closer. Our reaction to adversity defines our recovery. It is our collective determination that will take us along the road to recovery with the baby steps we know about. Many of us have gardens in which we can relax or work in alone. An alarming figure released today suggests 1 in 8 of us have no access to a garden and in some parts of London as many as 40% have no garden access. We must sympathise with those who have to stay indoors. We must understand the desire to bend or break the rules, but at the same time encouraging every one to stick to the rules for a bit longer. We no longer only need to focus on restrictions, we can look forward to easing those conditions.Please remember the NHS is ready to welcome you if you have an urgent problem Please go and get it sorted. I have had many reports of people being referred, investigated and sorted within a week. There is concern amongst my colleagues that people with heart disease , strokes and cancer symptoms who are frightened of going to hospital have stayed away. A and E departments are very quiet, even the regular time wasters have stopped turning up. In the history of the NHS there has never been a better time to get urgent help.There is some concern about those with learning difficulties and autistic spectrum disorders. The Office for National Statistics are going to report on how this rather neglected community are being cared for. Many have underlying health conditions and are at higher risk of Covid and cannot communicate their symptoms so easily.On the Isle of Wight over 50% of the population are using the new app. This will bring a great deal of information in the next few weeks.Please be encouraged ,there is no reason to be frightened if you stay alert. Only 0.27% of the UK population have been infected, That’s only 27 in every thousand people . We have to reduce that risk still further by sticking to the familiar rules. Stay Alert and Think what you are doing.
May 15 2020
I fail to understand why the media never headline good news. They always lead on dramatic headlines aimed to shock and scare us. Tonight I will start with headlining some good news.Only 0.27% of the population of the UK have been infected by the Covid virus, which means 27 cases per thousand of the population. The rest of us are free of it.Almost 2/3rds of Care homes in the UK have not had a single case of Covid Virus and have kept the virus out thanks to careful vigilance.The R value is falling in London which is well past the peak in cases and is now estimated to be 0.4. The figures reported today of a rising R relate to 3 weeks ago so are not related to any relaxation of rules this week. In other parts of the country the figures are between 0.7 and 0.9.The work on a Vaccine at Oxford has reported promising progress with a study on monkeys in which they appeared to produce antibodies to the virus. It does not follow that humans will behave in the same way but it is a significant step on the road to an effective and safe vaccine for everyone.The daily death rate remains most distressing but the graphs continue to show a steady fall in all deaths, 384 reported in the last 24 hours.The numbers of patients in hospital with Covid 19 continues to drop steadily and the number of available critical care beds have never been so high in the history of the NHS. They have plenty of capacity and are keen to help anyone with urgent non Covid problems.The risks for the younger children returning to school are very small. Children rarely catch the disorder and given an over all figure for adults and children at only 27 per thousand almost all will be adults. Teachers are working on plans to reduce risks still further before they return to a safe environment at school.All the above could have made the headlines but no we are back to the statistics about Care Homes from 3 weeks ago. There is no point in pointing fingers. We are dealing with now, and as outlined recently many plans are in place to support infection control in these homes.One statistic that worried me was that 80% of the population have only left home for reasons allowed under the rules. This means 20% or 1 in 5 have ignored the rules and admitted to it, and 1 in 10 have not avoided social contact. This shows why this is taking longer than it should do. If these people do not stop flouting the rules it will be enough to push the R rate above 1Please Mr Media take these people to task, we have to find ways to reduce this behaviour.In London, the bad news is that the congestion charge is to re -imposed and to be increased at the same time as being told to avoid public transport and use your car if you cannot walk or cycle. Underground fares are set to rise and it appears TfL have almost run out of money.These baby steps are working, the good news above is worth just a little celebration IF you are the 80% following the rules. If you do not listen, think you are immune or just too arrogant to understand you will jeopardise our progression to the next stage of recovery. Try and understand: Stay Alert, wash your hands, stay 2M apart and save lives.
May 16 2020
Tony Blair’s speech on Education, Education Education set the tone for the placing of Education firmly in the forefront of our future. It is not surprising there is a great deal of debate about how education can get restarted in this country . Tonight’s Briefing was led by the Education Secretary and Dr Jenny HarriesGavin Williamson had a very calm and reassuring voice as he spoke about our school children, recognising the great anxiety children normally cause their parents. He apologised for the impact Covid 19 had on the children who should be doing state examinations this year and those hoping to take them next year. He said ” I am so sorry, its no fault of yours.” He thanked all staff associated with education for the outstanding efforts that people have made to keep some sort of education available. He reassured us all that children will only be allowed back if the 5 familiar tests are met. They will at all times follow the science. The knowledge is growing daily and it is clearer that children are less likely to infect one another than is usual compared with other childhood diseases such as measles. Children are super spreaders for some infections but probably not in Covid19.He announced we have to start the planning for a very slow and measured return to schools. As the rate of new cases goes down this gives us the green light to go ahead. Priority is to be given to those children who are likely to loose most . So the first to go back will be those in reception and years 1 and 6. It is also the vulnerable and the disadvantaged who are suffering most when not at school. The consequences for the disadvantaged not being at school can be considerable and long lasting.Schools are being asked follow the detailed plans being published; class sizes will be reduced, children will be cared for in small bubbles, recognising social distancing is impossible for the youngest children. Frequent hand washing will be supervised and considerable extra hygiene provided.I think it fair to say there is some reservations from unions and parents who naturally are worried about safety. We are assured all steps will be guided by the best science available. Education remains a most important gift and we should let the children go back when advised to do so. Testing is to be made available to any school staff or pupils with symptoms. If they have symptoms they should be at home with social isolation of the whole family group.Interesting discussions with the media about the greater risk from pencil cases than from lunch boxes. As a little exercise think about the different risks they can bring.School are not swarming with infection. They are going to be relatively safe as we move forward. It will all be stopped if the R number creeps back above 1.Figures today remain very encouraging, but we have the weekend effect now of incomplete reporting. The highest daily total yet in testing brought almost 136,500 yesterday. We are on track for 200K per day by the end of May.We must remember the other three Rs, Restraint, Responsibility and Respect. We can get through this. Remember the value and importance of your education. Please all do your part to get education restarted. We can both save lives and save livelihoods if we Stay Alert and only leave home if we have a valid and justifiable reason to do so.
May 17 2020
One of the most remarkable developments since we were all engulfed by the Covid virus has been the hunt for an effective and safe vaccine. This was the main feature of Alok Sharma’s briefing tonight. It was reassuring that even Government and the BBC can have problems with Zoom as we were not able to hear the journalists ask questions. They also could not ask follow up questions, so the briefing was over quicker than usual. The ultimate way to defeat this virus is an effective safe vaccine to protect the whole population from its effect. I am aware that amongst my readers are many, especially dog breeders, but including others, who have strong views about vaccination. I am not inviting the anti-vaccers to have a field day. Vaccines used correctly play a major role in keeping the world population safe from infectious disease. Small pox has been eradicated, there are very few pockets of polio left and epidemics of typhoid and cholera can be brought under control with public health measures and immunisation. Childhood diseases like diphtheria, whooping cough and measles are rare. Tetanus is a dreadful disease. I have only ever seen one case and never want to see another.Normally a new vaccine takes several years to develop so the news tonight that centres in both Oxford and Imperial College have both made very significant advances is exciting. At Oxford the first group of volunteers have had their trial vaccine and will be now subject to multiple tests. The work at Imperial College will move to clinical testing in a few weeks. The Government recognises that all this research may come to nothing but are being most supportive, providing already some 50 million pounds with a further cash injection now of some 90 million pounds to support their on going work. Highly skilled scientists supported by their lab staff are working night and day to expedite this work. Never in the field of vaccines has so much been achieved so quickly by so few.If we finally have vaccines that deliver in 6 months it will be truly remarkable and against all expectations. These scientists will save many lives. There is a Global licensing agreement with Astra Zenica to provide 30 million doses quickly and more later.I know and have seen the value and effect of vaccines. When one is available I will be in the queue. I hope there will not be compulsion, if you do not want it for you or your families that is your choice in this free world. However remember the herd immunity created when 90% are immunised will protect those who refuse it. So NO arguments against immunisation please. It still remains a possibility that no effective safe vaccine will be produced despite all the financial support and human efforts involved.At the same time efforts continue to find an effective drug to defeat the virus is stepping up and there are now 6 drugs being trialled and showing promise. Several proposed treatments have proved non effective and been discarded.With the statistics tonight, they showed over 2.5 million tests have now been done, including over 91,000 today. Note due to technical problems figures from Northern Ireland were not included today. The daily death figure was right down at only 170, but remember the weekend effect, it will rise again tomorrow. Only just over 10,000 people are in hospital today. The figure is steadily dropping and is 15% less than a week ago.So with deaths coming down steadily and hospital numbers dropping we are meeting the criteria to move from level 4 to level 3. The NHS is pleased that people are now coming forward to seek help for urgent problems, those presenting with heart attacks and strokes are nearing normal levels. The weekend drunks and the time wasters are still staying away so remember there is space for you if you need it.Remember the rules; for many it’s still stay at home, only go out for an allowed reason, keep washing hands and above all stay 2 metres apart . With universal compliance to the rules and our great vaccine scientists being successful, we will have very encouraging news for the future as together, in baby steps, lockdown is eased.
May 18 2020
A lot of good news hidden in the increasing political controversies on display at tonight’s briefing led by the Foreign Secretary, supported by Prof Van Tam.The death rate at 160 in last 24 hours is subject to the weekend effect but continues to steadily drop in a sustained way.The symptom Tracker app now has 1.5 million reporting symptoms. Are you all doing this, if not why not ?Testing is now available to anybody over the age of 5 with symptoms suggesting Covid 19 infections. Its free , unlike many countries where it has to be paid for.The 100,000 target was met again yesterday, a good figure for a Sunday.Hospital admissions continue to drop and now only 19% of critical care beds are occupied.There is plenty of capacity if you need the NHS, there are beds available for any one who needs it.Some 21,000 people have now been recruited to work on contact tracing and the work will soon be in full flow.The WHO official diagnosis of Covid 19 has thirteen symptoms listed as possibly to be found in victims of the disease. The two commonest are a fever and a new persistent dry cough. It is also true that some are ill with no apparent symptoms and are only identified by testing. The other symptoms that have been reported include headache, diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, skin itching, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle aches and pains and Anosmia.Anosmia means lack of taste and smell. The media and even the BBC fail to understand why this has been added today to the symptoms, which if you develop, you need to quarantine yourself and get tested.None of these symptoms are specific to Covid. We all have most of them from time to time with normal transient infections or gastric upsets. In winter and early spring many people lose the sensation of test and smell and developing those symptoms was much more likely due to a common cold. Now the cold season has largely past. If you develop Anosmia now it is much more likely to be due to Covid than it was 2-3 months ago.This is why our expert scientists now consider it is worth emphasising that Anosmia may be a presentation we should recognise. They have not suggested D and V be considered a symptom, it can be, but is far more likely due to injudicious eating of food. Neither do they suggest conjunctivits because again, it is more likely to be an infection or hay fever and not Covid as the first in the differential diagnosis.So now if you experience a fever or a dry cough or a loss of taste and smell you should consider you could have Covid 19 so quarantine yourself with other family members .Contact the HNS via 111 and arrange to be tested.You can avoid loss of taste and smell by staying Alert, keeping 2 metres apart , regular hand washing, good hygiene Please help Save lives , help us all get our livelihoods back follow the rules exactly with no cheating. We need the news to continue to be good.
May 19 2020
Tonight’s briefing from the Environment Secretary seemed a bit short on detail tonight other than the daily graphs and charts we have all got used to. At one point the journalists’ questions veered off course and they discussed the difficulties facing the fishing industry in the difficult Brexit negotiations. Environment Secretary, George Eustace expressed concerns that British farmers are very anxious about bringing in the summer fruit and vegetable harvests. In past years there has always been a large influx of Romanian and Bulgarian workers working to ensure the fruit and vegetables are picked in a very safe and efficient way. This year some 2/3rds of the usual work force will be missing. A new web site has been set up called “Pick for Britain”. The idea is that thousands of British workers are encouraged to sign up to help. You may be furloughed from normal work, Students trying to support themselves at University or others looking for a second job. I have tried twice to look at the web site to give you more information but apparently it crashed within minutes of it being mentioned at the briefing. Hopefully this means there is a lot of interest. Garden Centres have had to ditch a lot of stock they could not sell. It will be an absolute tragedy if the same happens to our soft fruit.President Trump’s extraordinary decision to take the drug hydroxychloroquine to prevent himself from contracting Covid 19, has attracted medical incredulity all round the world. The last idea he allegedly had, to drink bleach was totally stupid and probably fatal if people tried taking it. There have been several trials around the world with this drug and it failed to demonstrate any benefit in treating or preventing the disease. What’s more it has potentially serious or fatal side effects. It could cause serious heart rhythm abnormalities or a cardiac arrest . Long term treatment can also cause blindness. If Trump wants to take it fine, but please do not copy him, it will not work and could kill you.The daily statistics continue to be very encouraging, the lockdown has worked. Only a fraction over 10,000 people are now in hospital, a drop of 17% since last week.Two and three quarter million tests have now been done, with almost 250,000 positive results. The number of daily deaths was expected to rise today after the low weekend figures and tonight was at 545 in all areas. However when the smoothed weekly line is added, the weekly rate shows a sustained and steady fall.One suggestion from the media tonight suggested that the planning back in 2016 did not recognise the vulnerability of Care homes. Certainly the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions were recognised as most at risk . I cannot believe it was not obvious that they lived mostly in Care homes. We must always remember that two thirds of all the homes are virus free. People in Care homes do die regularly. They are there because of their frailty and age related chronic diseases. Some 11,000 deaths are attributed to the virus in Care homes.There is nothing to suggest the first easing of lockdown has affected hospital admissions. This is particularly encouraging. Well done everyone for sticking to the rules. We all want to see further safe relaxation in the rules particularly so we can see our families. If we all stay Alert, Stay apart , use the face coverings in enclosed spaces where the 2 metres apart is difficult and wash hands regularly. We are getting there on track.
May 20 2020
Tonight, the briefing was led by Oliver Dowden, The culture, Media, and Sports Minister. He began the briefing in the familiar way offering the daily statistics. The number of Covid 19 tests done is fast approaching the three million mark with over177, 000 being done yesterday. Nearly 250,000 tests have been positive. There was a daily increase of only 2472 positive tests in the last 24 hours. For the first time since March there were less than 10,000 patients in UK hospital with Covid 19. Best news of all was that no new cases were reported in London yesterday. He presented the usual slides to illustrate the statistics and reminded us of the 5 levels of the pandemic. We are currently at level 4 but moving very slowly to level 3. With falling admissions across the country and falling deaths, we have managed to get that R number to stay below 1. In some parts of the country things are better than others and this is to be expected. We need to be very Vigilant and very Alert as we gently progress along the road map to recovery.In more general news he announced that the usual birthday honours list will not be published until October so that the many volunteers and others who have worked tirelessly to bring us through this crisis can be recognised. He did however praise Col Tom Moore who is to be knighted, following a special application, his achievements in fund raising inspired the whole nation. The Secretary of State praised the hundreds of small and medium small charities that support all aspects of the NHS work and confirmed a considerable sum of money to help continue their work. Apparently some 70 million pounds was raised following the “Big Night In” and this is being distributed to the larger health charities.A special task force is being established with a number of leading celebrities to assist the Secretary of State steer the Arts and Sports industry to a safe return and a more normal existence in the months ahead.One media question about how we as a country are supporting poorer countries had a firm and positive response from the minister. He assured us that the full Aid budget will be maintained as usual and that extra support will be available to support them with the provision of vaccines in due course.In answer to another question about admissions to Care homes of patients with the virus, it was pointed out that there were 40% less admissions to Care homes in March than there were in January and February.Concern about the safety of children returning to school continues but the scientific evidence supporting this decision is clear. I will try and expand this in more detail in the next few days. We need to continue to carefully monitor the gentle relaxation of the rules. You would expect a two week delay before noting any real changes.For now and until at least the end of May stay at home is still the best message, another Bank holiday is coming please put celebrating on hold for a while. Be Alert and Sensible about where you go. Work from home if you can. Hand washing must not be forgotten and we still need to be 2 metres apart and wearing a face covering if away from home in an enclosed space.
May 21 2020
After two rather quiet briefings, tonight’s lead by Matt Hancock was packed with new and encouraging developments. The breaking news was that the Prime Minister has asked the Chancellor and the Health Secretary to ensure that NHS and Social Care Staff coming to the UK to work should now be exempted the NHS surcharge that foreign nationals have to pay to be eligible for NHS care whilst working in the UK. It is due to rise to £623 in October.Having heard the clamour for this to be removed and reflecting on his own experience recently of care from those from abroad, the Prime Minister changed his mind over the issue. Many people and including Sir Kier Starmer and many other politicians claimed this as a political triumph and an important U turn. The ability to reflect, consider and change an approach is an important characteristic of an effective leader and surely one to be applauded. Deals have been reached with two major companies, Roche and Abbott to continue the development of new antibody tests . Several early tests failed to reach the required standards but these two have now passed careful scrutiny and are to be produced in bulk. We still do not know whether the presence of antibodies will protect us from re-infection, neither do we know how long they will last. The first tests will be allocated to NHS staff and they will become part of a very large research exercise to assess the value and effectiveness of the tests.This is Mental Health awareness week, a fact not missed by the Health minister who always seems passionate about the care of those with mental health issues. He recognised the extra pressure that Covid has brought to the anxious, the depressed and the lonely. He announced a further £4.2 million to support mental health charities such as the Samaritans and Every Mind Matters and he urged every one having a tough time to talk about it. He reassured everyone these are normal feelings but you can and should get help if you want someone to talk to. I am also assured that the various occupational health services have geared them selves up to assist those stressed as they find way of returning to work.If you are considering reopening any food business you should refer to guidance produced by the Food Standard Agency who have set out a detailed check list for safe working . Please seehttps://www.food.gov.uk/…/reopening-checklist-for-food…Donald Trump continues to influence research, two studies , one at Oxford and one at Brighton are about to trial hydroxy- choroquine in the prevention and treatment of Covid 19. This slightly surprises me because earlier trials failed to find any benefit. It is an excellent drug for treating lupus and malaria but is not without risks and requires careful monitoring.The figures today continue to be encouraging, there were 338 deaths reported in all sectors yesterday. Over 3 million tests have now been done, with just over 250,000 being positive including only 2,615 new positive tests since yesterday. The number in hospital with positive tests is now well below 10,000 and falling by 14% since last week.There is a random testing programme up and down the UK aimed to assess prevalence and run by the ONS. It involved random nasal swabbing. Results are becoming available. In London some 17% of the population are thought to have had the virus and in the rest of the country some 5% of the population. Across the whole population only 0.25% of us have Covid at present, that’s only about 1 in 400Nasal swabbing is also in the news with a new system being trialled which gives a reliable result within 20 minutes and does not need to be sent to a laboratory.With no changes to the rules until, at the earliest, the 1st of June, we must continue to help keep R below 1. All the parameters we measure show we will reach that date and be able to move to step 2. I do not need to repeat the rules every night but you need to follow them every day and night. Just stay Alert.
May 22 2020
There was further encouraging news tonight at the briefing led by Priti Patel, our home Secretary. She brought with her Paul Lincoln, head of our Border Force who explained in detail the arrangements which will come into force on the 8th of June.The number of people arriving at our airports and sea ports have been so dramatically reduced that only about 1% of the usual numbers are being seen. This means it is now feasible to realistically tighten our rules so that people will be required to record and register where they will self isolate for 14 days after they arrive. No one should travel if they are in any way symptomatic. Some people will not be required to self isolate. These will include medical staff coming to work in the UK. Neither will lorry drivers conveying vital goods to the UK. Agricultural workers arriving for the fruit picking season will be allowed in but must remain at their place of work and cannot travel freely around the country. The reason for doing this now is simply it is easier to manage the numbers and gives us a substantial chance of preventing new imported cases from abroad when our own figures are dropping steadily. There will be spot checks to ensure compliance. The government expects high levels of compliance but for the few that refuse to cooperate they could be refused entry to the UK or fined up to £1000 if they fail to quarantine themselves correctly. These arrangements will play a significant part in reducing the risk of a second wave. The press challenged why this has not been done long ago but there are clear scientific reasons for starting now, it would have had very little impact at the beginning of the lockdown.The Border Force Chief paid tribute to his staff who protect our borders. He mentioned large amounts of drugs smuggled in with supplies of masks. Thousands of fake and useless Covid tests have been identified and removed from the market. Some 84 consignments of poor quality and fake face masks have also been intercepted.The Home Secretary reminded us, that guided by the science, the rights steps are being taken at the right time. The daily statistics continue to move steadily in the right direction. 140,497 new tests were done in the last 24 hours with only 3,287 new positives. The number in hospital continue to fall, now just 9,307, a fall of 14% since a week ago. The number of new deaths was 351. The death rate when smoothed continues too show a steady downward trend. The R number remains between 0.7 and 1 across all areas of the UK.The antisocial behaviour of the very reckless few will be outlawed by us all. The Police will continue their approach of Engage, Explain, Encourage and as a last resort Enforce.The progress at Oxford with the development of a new vaccine is growing at speed with recruitment of many more volunteers from within the health service at a number of new locations.An interesting idea from St Paul’s Cathedral and supported by the Prince of Wales is an online virtual Book of Remembrance launched today. It would include the name and a picture of everyone who has lost their life to Covid 19. In due course it may be possible to create a real memorial.The briefing ended with a reminder to remember all those impacted by the terrible terrorist attack in Manchester 3 years ago today.Please stay Alert and sensible as we go into another Bank Holiday, do not travel more than essential. Keep your distance, exercise freely in a safe way and most of all do not forget hand washing.
May 23 2020
Controversy dominated the briefing tonight presented by the Transport Secretary. He wanted to discuss the future plans for opening up the various transport systems in this country. however the media with only one exception all tried to score political points and were clamouring for the resignation of Dominic Cummings, following the conflicting story of his journey to Durham to isolate with his wife when they were both unwell. What ever the rights or wrongs of his actions, it should not be deflecting from the pathway to recovery. Politics must not play a part in this, yet both politicians and the media are determined to remove him. No laws have been broken, guidelines may have been bent in the interests of safeguarding a 4 year old child. I have been taught to believe you never need rules if there are never occasions, when for good reasons, they are broken or bent a little.Recovery of the transport system was meant to be the main thrust of the briefing as we begin to prepare to ramp up services. What was very clear was that when the service is running the previous normal number of trains only 20% of normal passenger numbers will be able to travel.To get round this, there are plans to employ travel marshals as they did during the Oympics to advise travellers on the optimum way of getting from A to B. People should only travel on trains as a last resort. People travelling to work should stagger their journeys, and look for other innovative ways to avoid congestion, Use of a car is always preferred if you cannot walk, cycle or use an e scooter. Several schemes are being developed with out of town parking facilities so that the journey can be continued on foot or cycle.The Covid 19 epidemic has helped significantly in reducing both pollution levels and the effects of global warning. If one good thing can come from this pandemic it might be the way we travel in the future is permanently changed.During the last few weeks it has been possible for several major rail improvements to have been pushed ahead of schedule, an example being work at Leeds station. Further work is progressing quickly to reverse some of Dr Beeching’s famous cuts. The Ivanhoe line is being reinstated from Leicester to Burton. A restored branch line on the Isle of Wight and several other schemes.Road works have also been speeded up whilst traffic flow has been reduced . A new dual carriage way on the A66 route was announced to day.The bicycle voucher system worth £50 to service and repurpose that old bike in your shed might be worth consideration. Get on your Bike has a new contemporary message. Every day now I continue to say that the statistics are all showing we are on the right track. They really are and it is thanks to the vast majority following the rules. It is a bit like herd immunity, we can get away with a small percentage of us flouting or ignoring the rules if the vast majority of us do comply. For heard immunity we need 90% compliance. The number in hospital with Covid continues to drop, some 11% in the last week. It stands at 9,331. Deaths continue to drop week on week with 282 declared in the last 24 hours. Over 160,000 tests were carried out yesterday.For today and the rest of the Bank Holiday the message remains stay at home whenever possible, get your exercise and look after your mental health. Please respect the social distancing. Do this, and prevent the second wave, then we can really look forward to a healthier, less polluted, more green way of life in the years to come. Stay safe, Stay Alert and positive, better times are on the horizon now.
May 24 2020
Controversy continued to night and the briefing was delayed by an hour so it could be conducted by the Prime Minister himself. Boris Johnson made it very clear that he had spent considerable time today talking with Dominic Cummings, and he said he would begin by answering the big question on every body’s mind. He stated that he was absolutely satisfied that as there were significant child care concerns. His wife was already symptomatic with Covid 19 and it was likely he would develop it in the next few days, so the actions the family took to travel together was entirely lawful and responsible. Cummings had acted with integrity to safeguard his child’s needs, isolate as a family and work to save lives. Neither member of the public mentioned it in their questions but political motives were clearly present in every member of the medias questions. It took too much time last night so I think this should remain a private matter. If the PM is satisfied then so am I. We should not need to discuss it further. Few of us can claim we have never bent or interpreted rules differently to suit our circumstances. The statistics are behaving exactly as expected. Only 8,591 people are now in hospital with Covid 19 a drop of 11% in the last week. Only 118 additional deaths have been registered. Remember this is artificially low because of the weekend/bank holiday effect. Despite it being a weekend the number of new tests remained at over 100,000 yesterday and the number testing positive continues to fall.Faced with these persistently falling figures and the R number below 1 in all areas the PM is increasingly confident we can move to stage 2 on the 1st of June. This will be formally confirmed as is legally required, at the Cabinet meeting on Thursday. Remember every step with the easing of the lockdown is contingent on keeping the R number down. We must not let this go now.The PM acknowledged that not every school may be able to make all the changes necessary by the first of June to open safely. He believed however, most of them will be able to accept the year 1 and year 6 children back in a manageable safe way. All the measures are to be published. These include a range of steps to reduce class sizes, then to teach in small groups. All activities like start and finish times, meal times and breaks will be staggered. More time will be spent outside if possible. There will be more cleaning . Testing will be available for any child, parent or staff with symptoms. It is the government’s intention to strive for the best possible and safe education. Pupils with state examinations will have arrangements for them to have safe contact with teachers starting in the middle of June, assuming all continues in the right direction.One question from a member of the public asked about our international cooperation. The PM confirmed the extraordinary international effort now to share scientific evidence, and to cooperate with treatments, therapeutics, and clinical trials, as well as our understanding of the biology of the virus. Understand the rules, maintain safe distancing, be kind to one another, especially those with child care concerns. It is going to get easier. The average time to see obvious improvements in previous pandemics is about 12 weeks, We would seem to be on track. Lets work together in our national interest rather than score political points.
May 25 2020
After a considerable delay I am back to report on the daily briefing tonight. A big thank you to all the many who posted, sent messages or phoned last night with apologies. I am glad the messenger was not shot and I appreciate the concern many of you expressed. With these notes I try to explain and interpret the medicine and the science behind the statistics and scientific advice in a way that is easy to understand. Turning a negative presentation from the media to a more positive position. As an example, if the headline is 3% of a population will die, I prefer to say 97% will survive. This disaster is the biggest to hit the world since the Chenobyl explosion. That had only minor impacts in the UK. We have to look back to the second wave of Spanish flu in 1918 to find a comparative uncompensated disaster in the UK. No one alive remembers that so we must learn the lessons of disasters and not repeat the mistakes. The amount of fake news and conspiracy theories that are circulating are worrying. We should not however be surprised they have occurred many times before in past pandemics.Dominic Cummings spent over an hour this afternoon giving a press conference. He gave a clear and detailed explanation of the circumstances around his recent actions. He explained the extreme difficulty he was facing, with the need to care for his wife and child, with his boss very ill and his concerns he was becoming ill as well. He explained he had to use his discretion and judgement in the situation he found himself in. The Prime Minister accepted this. Whether or not you accept his explanation is up to you. It is not really relevant to the battle against Covid. Its time to move on. I will use my discretion and judgement and make no further comment on this.When the PM finally emerged at 7pm for the daily briefing he began by referring to the daily statistics. Over 3.5 million tests have now been done with over 260,000 being positive. More importantly that figure has only risen by 1,625 since yesterday. Only 8,834 are in hospital with Covid 19 and this figure continues to fall daily. The downward trend of deaths is now quite marked on the slides. There were only 121 deaths registered in the last 24 hours, but there is the usual weekend effect. Tomorrow’s figure will almost certainly be a bit higher, but nothing like the figures of 4 weeks ago.The Prime Minister referred to his published roadway to recovery. On Thursday this week the Government have to legally review progress as is required every three weeks. He gave notice that with all the parameters being monitored, including the R number being below one, he is confident he will be able to further relax things on 1st of June.We have already been given notice that the schools will begin to receive reception classes again providing all the issues about safety are resolved. There are detailed guidance notes published for schools.The next thing to open up are car showrooms, many of which are outside. They must adapt a way of working to accommodate social distancing. Along aside car showrooms, outdoor street markets can open again dependant on compliance with social distances. Essential retail shops are next in line to open and by the middle of June the nonessential retail shops can open in a controlled way with social distancing. Further detailed guidance is to be published for retailers so they can safely manage the safety aspects of reopening with the social distancing required. I imagine this will mean reduced numbers in the shops and perspex screens around check outs. Life may not be back to normal for shoppers but people will begin to get used to a new way of doing things.The PM pointed to the way the food industry has been creative in overcoming problems with social distancing as an exemplar for other retailers. There will be legislation to ensure compliance but the hope is everyone will go forward together; baby steps can become toddler steps as we emerge from lockdown slowly and safely.I apologise again for posting this rather late due to circumstances beyond my control. Let’s move forward together being kind and supportive, look after one another. If the media hype gets to much remember the off switch on your radio or television. Finally social distancing and hand washing remain the most powerful actions we all should take.
May 26 2020
Tonight’s briefing led by Matt Hancock provided a lot of good positive news. Sadly the media wanted to ignore that and raise issues I do not intend to discuss further, other than to say I was impressed by the way Matt Hancock steered the meeting back to the key issues.Nearly 3.7 million tests have now been done including almost 110.000 done yesterday on a Bank holiday. With just over 2,000 testing + yesterdayThere were no deaths from Covid 19 in Northern Ireland yesterday. Well done to Health Care Services in Northern Ireland, a significant milestone. In the rest of the UK, the death rate at 134 remained low, even considering the bank holiday effect on registrations, the graphs shows a most encouraging rolling weekly reduction in deaths.Only 8,802 people are now in hospital and tested positive, of these 98 are NHS staff and sadly some are very ill. Only 11% of available ventilators are being used.The number of new admissions was only 431, the lowest since counting began.The Government have signed major contracts with manufacturers both within the UK and abroad to provide billions of pieces of PPE. They are now in a position to rebuild a significant stockpile as well as providing the huge amount required every day. They will ensure that we will not run out of PPE even if we have to combat a second wave.More good news on the treatment front. The Recovery trial is now the biggest in the world. There is a drug that has been used both in the USA and Japan, known as Remdesivir manufactured by Gillead Sciences. it now has approval for use in the UK as well. Early trials suggest it may shorten the duration of symptoms by 4-5 days allowing a quicker recovery.The Office for National Statistics have produced death figures that are higher than those officially quoted today. The reason for this is that the ONS count all certificates on which COVid 19 is mentioned. Other figures from the NHS refer only to the prime cause . You must understand the difference between cause and being mentioned . This is why statistics are a headache for us all to comprehend.There appears to be a slight delay with rolling out the App for track trace and treat but we were given clues about what the impact will be when tracking and tracing is up and ready to go. If hotspots are identified there may well be temporary re-imposition of lockdowns for local locations, be it a school, a factory or a town. Local Health Protection teams, the local Authorities and local directors of Public Health will play key roles. If as a result of track and trace you are contacted and instructed to self isolate you will be required to do so. This requirement will come from the NHS and is for your benefit, your families, work colleagues and the wider community. It really is a civic duty to cooperate with these important steps to come though our corporate nightmare safely.We are doing very well despite apparent obstacles, we must stick together, not be distracted. if we want to meet up with our families again we need to work together and remember we are all on the same side . Please stick to the Rules; Stay Alert and stay apart two metres. it is going to get a little easier every week.
May 27 2020
The Prime Minister announced the new Track and Trace programme starting tomorrow. This was enlarged by Matt Hancock and Baroness Harding at the briefing. The rules have changed so:As from 9am tomorrow if you have a positive test for Covid 19 you will be contacted by one of the new Clinical contact tracers to inform you of the result and you will be instructed to self isolate at home. This contact, where possible, will be electronic but if necessary by phone. You will be given clinical advice about care of your health if you have symptoms. You will then be asked to list ALL possible contacts you may have had in the last 7 days, and details of how to contact them. They may also ask which shops you have been in and which buses trains etc you have used. When the App is rolled out soon, that will also pick up contacts where you have been closer than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.As from 9am tomorrow you may have contact out of the blue from a clinical contact tracer. They will tell you that you have had significant contact with someone who has tested positive. They will then tell you that you MUST self isolate immediately for 14 days. You should do this in your own home but your own family in your home group will not need to isolate UNLESS one or more of you develop symptoms. This instruction to start with will be very firm and you should consider it a civic duty to follow the instructions to protect your own life, that of your family and friends, as well as the wider community. Matt Hancock was confident people will comply with this big ask but if people refuse to cooperate they will not hesitate to make it compulsory. I hope people will cooperate. It’s quite simple.if we do not do this we will not get out of lockdown, many more lives will be put at risk. Every one recognises this is going to be tough, it may impinge a little on Civil Liberties but will be very worth while.The virus exists to only to reproduce. If it cannot reproduce it will die out. Isolation prevents reproduction. Its as simple as that . Track and trace will become a way of life in the future and its not clear how long it will last, We are now in a position to do track and trace efficiently. We had done it at the beginning of the pandemic but it soon became impossible because of the very large numbers. They are down to manageable levels now, because we have flattened the curve and the numbers affected have gone right down.Based on the results of track and tracing much more local responses will be possible to deal with local hotspots. If there is a cluster in an office block, a factory or even a whole town. Local lockdowns could be imposed to curb local spread. The local Directors of Public Health and their local teams will be responsible for dealing with local situations but with national support and back up if required.The Prime Minister, in response to questioning made several important announcements in the midst of all the usual political wrangling. He confirmed that the scientific evidence developed by SAGE as well as the minutes of the meetings are going to be made public. He went on to agree that the scientific evidence for the 2 metre rule would be published. Apparently the WHO are currently recommending only 1 metre and a few countries are saying 1,5m. He also said they hoped to be able to relax this rule in due course. It will help the public transport system in their return to more normal working. For the time being the rule must apply please ALL stay apart 2M .The PM agreed he did not read all the scientific papers that SAGE considered but he did see a very helpful summary of all the papers which was regularly produced by SAGEThe Prime Minister apologised for the pain and anguish so many of the public had to face and said many across government had experienced the same pain and anguish. He did not want to see political ding dongs , he hoped to put aside political point scoring and move forward in a more united way supporting the vital messages for the public.Another important admission tonight was that there had not been lessons learnt from previous epidemics like SARS and MERS. There was very inadequate stores of vital ingredients for testing and the Country did not have the capacity for testing it should have.Matt Hancock and Prof Van Tam presented the daily statistics. Nearly 3,800,000 test have been done, of which over 117,000 were done yesterday. There have now been 267,240 positive tests a rise of only 2,013 since yesterday. There were 412 deaths registered. This figure is little higher than the last two days which were artificially low due to the Bank holiday. The weekly smoothed curve continues to show a very satisfactory decline week on week. Hospital cases continue to fall and only 11% of ITU bed are being used. We have come a long way since April. Thanks to the efforts of almost everyone we have got on top of this pandemic, we can continue to do this by accepting and adopting the track and trace principles. Do please tell us of your experiences if anyone is contacted by a clinical contact tracer. I am personally anxious that it could be a way of hoaxers to play cruel tricks so I hope there is a built in way of verifying a contact tracer’s bone fides.I hope Good news has been worth waiting for. All is going according to plan, it will get better for most of us. Track and trace will pinpoint hot spots and I am sure we will all continue to play our part to care for ourselves, our loved ones and our wider community. Civic duty is all our duty. Stay Safe and Be Alert to Save Lives.
May 28 2020
The Prime Minister assisted by his Chief Medical Officer and The Chief Scientific Advisor presented the daily briefing today.Firstly the daily statistics were presented. We are reaching a total of 4 million tests now done for Covid 19, I am sure that figure will be passed by tomorrow. Of these, over 119,000 were done in the last 24 hours . A total of 269,127 have tested positive which is an increase of 1887 since yesterday.Only 8,560 people are now in hospital, compared with 9,607 a week ago. That amounts to a fall of 11%. There were 377 deaths registered in the last 24 hours in all settings, which brings the overall death count to 37,837. The smoothed weekly rolling average, to avoid the effects of bank holidays and weekends, shows a consistent and sustained fall now and has done for a number of weeks.The PM went on to demonstrate with a series of new slides that we have now been able to meet the 5 tests required to move forward from level 4 to level 3 and that further easing of the lockdown is possible,He made it very clear that this was due to the very hard work and personal sacrifices of all us in complying with the rules, so well and for a long time. A first requirement was to protect the NHS. only 475 patients were admitted to hospital yesterday compared to 943 a day a few weeks ago. Only 11% of ventilator capacity is being used So we have met that requirement .SAGE data shows that the number of new cases has more than halved since statistics started to be collected. The range of operational challenges with testing and PPE provision have all now been overcome.The final issue to be sure about was that we were not going to risk a second wave The R wave has stayed consistently below 1, although only just in some local hotspots. This is why the devolved nations are determining their own rates of easing the rules.So as from Monday, in England, schools and nurseries will begin to open with further opening planned for mid June. More shops, out door markets and car showrooms can open providing social distances can always be observed.The news most welcome to most of us is that as from Monday groups of up to six people can meet outdoors from different households providing at all times the 2M rule is observed. This can be in private gardens as well as public places. You should stay outdoors and not congregate indoors. You can walk through a house to get to a back garden. You can nip in to use a loo. You can even organise a barbecue for the six of you providing at all times you keep 2 metres a part and wash your hands carefully and disinfect surfaces properly. This is great news for those desperate to see parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren. You should not stay out over night so no camping in the garden. You are also encouraged not to mix with lots of different groups of 6 in succession. It is all a matter of being sensible and obeying the letter and the spirit of the rules. Scotland, to be different, will allow groups of 8. Further more explicit guidance is to be published. If the R number creeps up or people are not sensible these concessions can be lost. So please play by the rules.I feel very sorry for the nearly 2 million in the very vulnerable category as the time is not yet ripe to relax their rules of continuing isolation. The PM said how much he understood the plight of these people and promised there would be further steps to ease the isolation as soon as possible.The risks of today’s announcements are not zero, there are still risks which is why we must all strive to stick closely to the new rules, to keep the social distancing rules and the hand washing drills. Comply with Track and trace. Do tell us if you are contacted under this scheme. It is going to get a little easier every week IF we ALL play our part.
May 29 2020
It was the Chancellor’s turn to lead the briefing tonight and it naturally largely concerned finances and trying to help maintain the economy. He started by reviewing the daily statistics. As anticipated yesterday the number of tests done have passed the 4 million mark and now include antibody testing as well as the antigen testing we have been doing for the last couple of months. 131,458 tests were done yesterday . So far 271,222 have tested positive with a rise of 2,095 since yesterday.As far as the hospitals are concerned, 8,287 people are now in hospital having tested positive, a significant drop from the figures a week ago when 9397 were in hospital. 90% of the available ventilators in critical care beds are now empty and available. The deaths in all settings continues to reduce when looked at with the daily rolling average to avoid the week end effect.These figures show we have passed the peak, we have flattened the curve, and we have protected the NHS. This is down to each and every one complying with the lockdown conditions so well. We now can move in a slow measured way to have more contact with families, do more shopping and provided your business is Covid secure, prepare to go to back to work soon.The chancellor said he was ready to begin to reopen the economy. He explained that the Furlough Scheme cannot continue for ever , it will finish at the end of October. For June and July the 80% payments will continue as now. From September the government will reduce the payment to 70% with the employer contributing 10%. Then October, the last month the government will pay 60% and the Employer 20%. Business can however now work much more flexibly with part time work which previously was not allowed. If you work say 2 days a week you can be paid normally and furlough pay for the other 3 days. The whole scheme will close to new entrants on 30th June.The self employed are similarly to be looked after. Their scheme is to be extended for another 3 months at 70%. A new application will be necessary and a payment made in August.The chancellor admitted that not everyone can be helped with these schemes but reminded us of all the other support schemes in place to help those with severe financial needs.The minor differences between the four countries are causing some confusion and a little amusement. Common sense must prevail. In England 6 can meet from different households providing they maintain social distancing, whereas Scotland allows 8 and Wales does not put a restriction on numbers but they cannot travel more than 5 miles. England says that if you have to use a loo when visiting someone’s garden you can do so provided you wash your hands and disinfect anything you may touch in the bathroom. Scotland does not trust you to do that sensibly so using the loo is not allowed. You are only allowed to pass through the house going to and from the garden. Wales says the same. I wonder what the alternative will be, to my mind when you have got to go, you have gotta go. Having a Barbecue will bring real challenges so better to take your own picnic.Dentists are allowed to open again if they can ensure full PPE. The use of a drill produces a potentially highly infected aerosol. It will be a while before treatment gets back to normal so please take special care of your teeth.Please continue to take care, if in doubt and certainly if you are in the shielding group you should still stay at home, socially distance at ALL times outside your household groups. Wash hands . We learnt in 1918 Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases, but it is still the most important issue today. If you are out of the house in an enclosed space continue to wear a face covering. A lot of our friends and family are frightened as we move forward please be kind, support and encourage them.
May 30 2020
On this very warm Summer Saturday, Oliver Dowden came to the briefing this evening to tell us “Football’s back” I imagine some of you greeted this with joy and some with gloom especially those who had enjoyed 8 weeks without the pressure of sports.So from Monday most sports can resume behind closed doors, providing social distances is recognised and that sporting organisations can guarantee the safety of players, coaches, and other officials. The first to start next week will be horse racing run with no spectators. Cricket, Rugby, Tennis, Golf and other sports will follow all behind locked doors. Very detailed guidance has been written for each sport in conjunction with the sports governing bodies. This guidance you will find on the Government web site from tomorrow.Oliver Dowden explained that as sport, especially football, was so important to the nation he has negotiated with the clubs and broadcasters that up to a third of all premier matches will be broadcast free to air. He recognised Sky’s generosity in agreeing to this so that many more can watch the matches. He singled out the Liverpool Everton derby as a game many will watch live on TV. He stressed that indoors you can only watch in your family group. You cannot invite your mates round to watch together.Jonathan Van Tam, our local lad, gave a great plug for Boston United football club and told everyone he was an avid supporter. I remain very impressed by the cool calm and articulate way he explains the science so carefully. There is also more relaxation on training together for those active in lower level sports. Up to 5 people can join you outside from different households to exercise and train. It must be done intelligently and always respecting the two metre rule. You should not train with different groups later in the day. The risks of this relaxation is NOT zero, but can be minimal if common sense is applied in following the new guidance.Today figures continue to demonstrate that we have met the 5 tests to begin to ease the lockdown. Over 4.175,000 tests have been done with 127,722 done yesterday. Over 272,000 tests have been positive with 2445 new positives reported yesterday.Only 215 new deaths have been registered in the last 24 hours. This, although a great tragedy to the families involved, is continuously and consistently falling.During the questions, Prof Van Tam explained that SAGE was made up of over 50 scientists and medics and that they always came to a collective view in giving scientific advice. There are always going to be a range of opinions about some issues. He re-iterated that this was a dangerous moment and that we must stick to the rules especially with distancing and hygiene There must be close Government and scientific approaches with full support and cooperation from the public . He made it very clear in answer to a pointed question, that he considers the rules apply to ALL of us. Hospital capacity is now plentiful with a bed for anyone who needs treatment for any cause. There were only 562 admissions yesterday compared with 675 a week ago. The number of people on ventilators remains at 10% which leaves a huge spare capacity.Apparently the provision of safe public toilets continues to challenge many minds. There is great demand for these to be opened especially for those with disabilities. No one can come up with a safe way to fully disinfect the toilet area and surrounds between every client. I know of several innovative self help ideas people are using but please do not just soil the local beauty spots.Good news if you have toothache, many dentists can now offer limited emergency treatment now they have adequate shielding and PPE.Google mobility data is encouraging with 98% of use making the effort to be two metres apart when out of their homes. Well done every one, this is the key to getting through this.Please continue to support and care for the 2 million who are very vulnerable who have no relaxation to the rules for a while yet. I hope there is some sport they can enjoy at home while the rest of us continue to stick to the letter of the rules. In these conditions, tensions can arise in the calmest of homes; please go on supporting and encouraging one another in the ways you have been in the comments to these notes.
May 31 2020
An important concession was made today to help the nearly 2 million extremely vulnerable people who have been shielding. As from tomorrow, if and only if, they feel ready for it they can leave their home to meet one other person out doors providing they always maintain the 2M distancing from the other. A lot of help has been provided for those shielding by an army of volunteers, charities and Local Authorities with the regular delivery of food and medical supplies, but the best help is that from tomorrow they can meet a relative or friend, (for the moment only one at a time). Only about 50% of those shielding are over 70 years old, some 90,000 are children, many of whom are not able to go to school and that will continue for the time being. This group of the extremely vulnerable people had expected to remain shut up at home until the end of June. The Community Secretary, Robert Jenrick, paid tribute to their fortitude and talked of his admiration for their efforts to comply so well to all the extra shielding rules. He stressed how we must all do our part to stick to all the rules so as not to jeopardise this special group.There will be more specific and detailed information posted at Gov.UK later this evening , including the science behind the relaxation of the rules, because the risks of doing so are at an acceptable level. It will bring significant benefit to their mental well being and also allow some further outdoor exercise. This guidance is always only guidance, it is never going to be mandatory so only do it slowly and as you feel comfortable with it. Some confidence will slowly return as we all move along the pathway to recovery. Shielding will be reviewed again on 15th June with the hope to make further small steps in easing the regulations. This can happen if we all play our part to stay within the rules.The daily statistics continue to bring all good news. Over 4.25 million tests have been done, with over 115,000 done yesterday. The capacity to do 200,000 a day has now been reached. Almost 275,000 in total have been positive with only 1.936 new positive tests yesterday.Only 7,639 are in hospital with Covid 19, that is 15% lower than 1 week ago when 8,945 were in hospital. 545 new cases were admitted yesterday. Only 9% of the available ventilators are in use now. A very low figure of 113 deaths were recorded yesterday but will be lower than a normal day because of the weekend effect .The graphs presented every day continue to reflect good progress with tests going up, new positive cases going down and death rates dropping steadily. Our slow steps to recovery are working well but it is now a crucial time we must stick together, follow the rules together and never try to get ahead of the game. There is much too much at stake to lose it now.An embarrassment to many of us are the large number of homeless sleeping in the doorways of our towns and cities. There was a big initiative to help them and get them off the streets and feed clothe and care for them when the epidemic began. This has been hugely successful with Charities, Churches and Local Authorities being given financial help to protect them and get them into temporary accommodation. Many hotels opened to care for them. The Government now plan to use this success to provide a lot more help to get them back into our community with funds to enable some to find work, others to obtain hostel accommodation or even private rented accommodation. The aim is now to keep the majority permanently of the streets as they slowly regain self esteem and confidence. Considerable sums of money are being made available to make this possible. It’s still all good news. We have a long way to go. As we enter a new month things are still quite critical but the Government backed by the science has a pathway ahead. Please do not leave the path laid out for you . You can wreck everything if the R number goes up and we have to return to the tough lockdown rules of the last 8 weeks. I realise quite a few of my readers are in the very vulnerable group so I am pleased to bring you all this good news.