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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 6th December 2021

Predictably with the request to test before mixing the number of tests done each day have been about 1.12 million. The number of tests positive were over 51 thousand again today This number is rising with a 9.1% rise in the last week. The positive case rate is similarly increasing. it now stands at 468.8/per 100,000 people.

Saturdays recorded death rate is a more typical daily figure at 127. Sunday’s figure of 54 and todays 41 are typical figures as a result of the difficulty recording deaths at weekends. Looked over a week. There were just 2 less. It is safe to say the death rate is stable and remarkably low. This is thanks almost entirely to the high levels of immunisation. We have not had the Omicron variant long enough to impact much on hospital admissions. So far it looks as though this way be more transmissible but less serious in the sense there are only a few in hospital. South Africa claims they have not seen a death yet.

Hospital data is not released over the weekend, so today’s data is the first for a few days and also shows little change from last week. There were 811 admissions made on 30th November. There was a total of 7,268 in hospital on 3rd December and 900 were on a ventilator.

Turning to the immunisation statistics. First doses remain stubbornly below 90% at 88.9%, a total of 51.11 million. 2nd doses are around 46.55 million, or 81% whereas, 3rd doses are now at 35.2% or 20.5 million.

Today there are reported to be 336 new variant cases confirmed in the UK, all being managed in the community and hopefully properly isolated, 211 are in England , 71 in Scotland and 4 in Wales. Scotland have a cluster of cases in a school which has been closed. Most of these cases in the school did not have any connection with travel to or from South Africa. This and other examples show there is now local transmission as expected.

Nigeria has been added to the Red list since they found a cluster of cases.

There has been an outcry over the decision to enforce pre-flight testing for all passengers as well as the test to be done by day 2 after arrival. This is scientifically very necessary to reduce cases coming to the UK but I understand is devastating for the travel industry as it will greatly reduce the numbers of people prepared to travel and hit the travel industry very hard. I do not know the answer to this but, I would prefer to keep this variant and others that may show up, out of the country for as long as possible. Until our fully vaccinated levels are well into the 90% range.

I know of an elderly unimmunised and vulnerable couple who have been too afraid to go out to get the vaccine. They were just beginning to change their mind as a result of the Omicron variant when they were told they will have to pay £30 each for a doctor to visit them at home to give them the jab. This is an absolute lie, all vaccines in this country are free and so are most tests unless involved international travel. The couple concerned can not afford to pay this and neither should they. It is back to square one helping them to have courage again. If anyone tries to charge you please report them at once.

It remains too early to see how the Omicron variant is going to play out but it is encouraging to see it may not be as virulent as feared even if the transmissibility is much higher.

Remember there is a lot you can do to minimise your risks. Having 3 shots is the most important, Remember, to book yours as soon as eligible. Remember your masks whenever you venture out of your home. You must by law wear it on a bus, train or underground and in all shops. Because you cannot eat and drink with one, it is not mandatory to wear one in bars cafes and restaurants but is a good idea if mingling around or queuing. Only take it off when sitting down to eat and drink.

Don’t forget social distancing and the value of good ventilation. It is not easy to do a risk assessment on a family Christmas gathering. Consider modifying your plans, dispense with games, reduce the numbers. Assess how much at risk everyone is and play safe. Taking a small calculated and mitigated risk is one thing, being foolhardy and taking no precautions is quite different. It’s called common sense. Please play safe and keep safe.

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