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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 4th October 2021

Another quiet weekend in the UK with our pandemic facts and figures. The numbers testing positive each day remains stubbornly high, whereas serious cases and deaths do seem to continue to decline. We have our very high immunisation figures to thank for that. Virtually all the critically ill in hospital are not fully vaccinated. The UK urgently needs a further 4 million people to step forward and accept this vaccine, which is now proven to be very safe and much safer than many other of life’s activities.

I frankly do not understand the statisticians’ problem with adjusting the numbers to allow for the 12 to 15 age group. Surely, we know the total number in that cohort, and we are counting the jabs as they are given. If it's too difficult to merge with the daily stats, let’s keep them separate. It would be easier to see how the childhood jabs are going. At the moment, only one jab is scheduled. We can also count the number of boosters given separately, rather than absorb them into the main totals. If there are other difficulties not identified they must declare them.

We continue to perform just over 1 million tests per day and there were 35,000 positive today which is similar to last week, with a few less over the weekend. The 7-day figure, actually shows a very slight reduction of just 0.9%. The death rate has dropped slightly, in each of the last three days and stands at 352.7 per 100,000 of the population.

Health data is not released at weekends. There were 6,556 people in hospital beds on 1st October and 805 were on a ventilator. These have both fallen a little since last week. The number admitted on one day was 754 on 28th September.

The weekend affects deaths, with 128 reported Saturday, 47 reported Sunday and 33 today. Tomorrow it will rise markedly again. The 7-day figure for deaths is only 778 which is 178 down on the previous week or an 18.6% drop in the death rate. The overall death rate has dropped back to 1.1 per 100k of the population.

The limited data for vaccination in the over 16s shows 48,96 million first doses and 44.99 million second doses. If we can get another 4 million to be immunised in any legal way you can think of it will help all our chances. I think we are more likely to get them done if we withdraw privileges rather than reward them. I am happy to say no people who are unvaccinated will be allowed into my home and I hope other organisations will prevent them attending events or shows. Perhaps not being allowed on public transport would also help. Certainly in NHS and Care home settings no immunisation should mean no job. The culminative number of deaths in the USA has now gone past 700,000 but is nowhere near the number that died in the 1918 influenza epidemic.

A new test for Covid infections produced by a company called VATIC is being developed. It is done with a mouth swab rather than throat and is said to detect not only the presence of the virus but how active it is. This in turn reflects how infectious it is. Testing looks promising and so far, no false positive results have been found, A way to go yet, but this could prove as very useful new test in due course.

Some of the new travel rules came into force today. Just to remind you the traffic lights have gone. They are replaced with a red list and the Rest of the World. There are 54 Countries on the Red list.

If you are arriving back from a non-red country and are fully (currently 2 ) vaccinated you no longer will require a pre departure PCR test . You will need to prove your vaccine status and pay for a PCR test 2 days after arrival and complete a passenger locator form. All unvaccinated arrivals will need to be quarantined in a Government approved hotel at a cost of £2,285 per adult and require a pre departure test. Only British and Irish nationals arriving from a red list country will be allowed to enter the country. If you are travelling abroad make sure you check the latest requirements for each country. Double vaccinated Britons are not expected to be allowed to enter the USA until the 8th of November.

I understand there are to be some changes to the Red list to be announced this week.

You have made it clear to me that you would rather I continue to provide this report, this I am very happy to do. We have seen in the last week what things might be like over winter with shortages of fuel in particular, but also some food not in the shops due to transport logistics rather than real shortages.

If hibernation is not possible then extreme caution is. Just because the law is not mandating restrictions, common sense is. I was in a supermarket today with staff pleading for customers to wear masks and keep their distances. Of course. they want to protect their loyal staff who have worked right through the pandemic. Let’s respect their staff and others by maintaining safe distances as a new normal and wearing masks when sensible indoors.

As always share your thoughts and ideas be supportive and encouraging, remember there are still many struggling in worse situations than most of us. Be kind, be generous to those struggling and stay safe.

I understand Facebook is having major problems and at 7pm I am unable to post this I will keep trying until I can.

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