Despite today having the highest ever number of positive tests in this Covid outbreak, and being in excess of 100,000 for the first time, the glimmer of hope I referred to last time is actually now much brighter. The number of people becoming seriously ill and dying is not rising at all now, in fact some figures like those on a ventilator and the total number in hospital are dropping slowly. This is why we have shouted and pushed to get boosters done, and it is working. We have succeeded in severing the link between infection and hospital admission. We know that 97% of those in hospital have not been fully immunised. So it follows that as we succeed in capturing more and more of those not immunised and giving them the vaccination, less will need to go into hospital.
We are not out of the woods yet by any means, but it does mean the Prime Minister was probably right in saying he did not want more restrictions before Christmas if the hospital situation did not change or at least not deteriorate.
Most hospitals have gone back to the arrangements this time last year with Red and Green wards separating Covid patients from others and one way systems to avoid mixing.
Other parts of the country have already acted to introduce restrictions from Boxing Day. In England that option remains open. If legislation is required Parliament would have to be recalled, which would not be a popular action, so changes are most likely only to be guidance.
We must remain very vigilant. I fear more restrictions are likely after Christmas. There is a very high sickness absence rate in the NHS and many more are isolating. There will be yet another variant hovering and next time it just could not respond to the vaccine.
The latest victim of Covid is the husband of Princess Anne. Both she and her husband are in isolation and are unlikely to be able to see the Queen at Windsor over the holiday. This virus does not pick and choose whose family plans it disrupts.
The figures today show 1, 490,061 tests were done today , a very similar figure to yesterday. I suspect fewer people will have jabs over the next few days for fear of not being 100% themselves over the Christmas Holiday.
A whopping 106,122 people were positive today and just over 90,000 yesterday. There has been a 58% rise in cases, or 238,000 more this week compared to a week ago. The positive rate has jumped up to 832.4/100k of the population.
Deaths reported yesterday were 172 and 140 today. This is a slight drop of 22 in the week compared to the previous week.
The hospital data shows the number admitted on one day fall from 847 to 813. The number currently in hospital has gone up in the last 2 days from 7,801 to 8,008 yesterday. In January of last year the number in a hospital bed was over 34,000. The number on a ventilator has dropped from 859 on 20th to 849 yesterday. Hospitals will make every effort to get people home for Christmas so I think the number in hospital should fall over the next two days. There are said to be only 128 in hospital with the Omicron variant of Covid.
With vaccination reports, the number of first jabs has still not quite got to 90%. A country like Cuba has now done better than us!. The good news is that over 30 million have had a booster now. Please do not stop having them because of Christmas. Most people have only very minor symptoms that some paracetamol or ibuprofen will deal with so as not to spoil your day.
A target of 1 million boosters per day was set. 940 000 were done on Saturday and 968,000 done today.
I understand that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable have been written to individually offering one of the new anti-Covid drugs that are now available should they become infected. 4.25 million doses have been purchased for use in the UK, Israel who has been right at the front in combatting Covid have said they will give everyone over 60 years old and all health workers a fourth dose.
The advice from the WHO has been “ Keep Christmas Small”. Do you remember the small is beautiful campaigns? It is a very sensible suggestion.
Please try to be of Good Cheer over Christmas, support the many newly bereaved or separated by the pandemic. Use the telephone, if necessary, perhaps using Zoom or similar that many have used at work, to keep in touch. Do share any ideas you have as to how to reach out to others. You know I welcome any other comments and questions. I try to answer them when I can. Remember keep Christmas small, wear your masks, keep 2 metres apart, rearrange your chairs if necessary. Wrap up warm so windows and doors can be open for a while. I do not think it wise to make any big plans for New Year’s Eve. Hogmanay plans have been cut right back in Scotland already.
So aim to enjoy next year, work hard to stay safe and stay very vigilant.