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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 30 June 2021

The result of yesterday’s England v Germany football match was a much-needed moral boost to most of us. It has certainly taken the Covid pandemic out of the headlines today.

A slightly worrying report today suggests nearly 2,000 Covid cases in Scotland have been linked to Scotland watching the Euro games. Of the 1,991 cases registered by PHE, 2/3rds had travelled from Scotland to London to watch the England Scotland match. Nine out of 10 were men and nearly 75% were aged 20-39.

397 of those affected had been in the Wembley stadium. 38 were linked to the Croatia match and 37 were linked to the Czech Republic match at Hamden Park. 58 were linked to the Fan Zone.

Looking at this data more carefully it is not as surprising or worrying as my first impression. The unknown is just how many people were following Scottish football carefully. I suspect in men between 20 and 39 it was a very high percentage. Therefore, you would expect a high percentage of cases to have been following the football. It does not mean they contracted it at or while watching a match. Scotland now has one of the highest case rates in Europe. However, on the basis of the figures from PHE you cannot say football was the cause.

Another rather tantalizing headline today suggests there is a 25% higher case mortality rate in Greater Manchester. Why should this be? Firstly we need to see if Greater Manchester is treating its hospitalised patients any differently. Are they having the same antibiotics as the rest of the country, with similar doses of steroids? Are they using the same criteria for ventilating? I personally doubt this is a factor as the NHS is very good at standardising treatments. That then leaves us with the other suspects, more severe illness in the BAME community, or the poor, less well-nourished lower social classes. There could be a failure to report illness quickly or a failure to comply with treatment. Then there is the detrimental effect on smokers. Much more work is required as quickly as possible.

Both the PM and the new Secretary of State for Health seem to believe that July the19th can be the day all restrictions can be lifted. Boris Johnson is calling for a push to get 5 million more jabs into arms before then. I hope this can happen but the numbers of new cases are still rising very fast, although the effect on hospitals is very much less than before. I am still quite hesitant. What happens in the next two weeks is crucial to lifting restrictions.

In Australia, there has been a big surge in the number of cases and 7 major cities are now in lockdown. One of the remotest parts of Australia, Alice Springs, near Ayres Rock, has locked down with only one case. They are 800 miles from the next nearest city.

The total number of tests done today was below average at about 881,000 but the average is consistently above 1 million. A very high number was positive, 26,068 today and 20,479 yesterday. The positive rate is now 157 per 100k of the population, with over 135,000 being positive in the last 7 days. The highest ever Scottish count was 3,887 new cases yesterday.

There were 1,720 patients in hospital on 29th June with 263 admitted on 26th June. 283 patients were being treated on a ventilator yesterday.

With the vaccinations, 44.71 million first doses have now been given which is 84.9% of the adult population. 2nd doses continue to catch up, with now 32.87 million done, representing 62.4% of the adult population. Remember the target set by the Prime Minister is 5 million more by 19th July.

In these next 3 weeks, by all means, enjoy the football while you can but best to watch it at home on TV. Make sure you and all the adults you know have had one or both their jabs. Whilst 90% of people are fully protected after 2 doses, it means that 1 in 10 are not. Nearly 40% of us have not had a second jab yet so there are still millions of people at risk from catching it. It has not gone away.

Remember the hands, face, space message, wear your masks still when recommended or required, and stay safe.

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