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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 8th December 2021

When is a party not a party ? This question has been a distraction for a week now during which time the spread of the Omicron variant has been rapid. Today there are reported to be 568 cases identified in the United Kingdom and the numbers are doubling every two to three days. This was dramatically shown in one of the slides at tonight’s briefing.

The Prime Minister announced tonight that we are now to adopt formally the plan B set out a few weeks ago. This means much fuller use of masks, including now theatres and cinemas. They are not required when eating, drinking, exercising or singing. I would suggest that when not actually eating or drinking they should be used to move around in pubs and restaurants.

You should now work from home again whenever possible. And a Covid pass will be required for night clubs, other large venues and some sports events.

Regular readers of these reports will know I have been suggesting full plan B precautions for you to use for a few weeks now since Omicron was first identified. Sage and the other medical advisors have also been suggesting this action. The PM claimed he was introducing these measures early rather than late to protect the NHS.

The Scientists explained that there is a two-week delay before we might see a significant change in the numbers in hospital and a further 2 weeks before deaths are impacted. Their estimations of 100,000 cases a day are quite possible.

The Home Secretary met a lot of resistance from all sides of the house suggesting that these were diversionary tactics. In my view we are at least 10 days late in taking these steps.

Did any of you see Professor Jane Sarah on the Dimbleby lecture on Monday. I was very impressed with her honest explanations of her role at Oxford in managing the pandemic. It was just 1 year ago today that the first member of the public received her first immunisation. It is sad that 4 million people still refuse to be immunised. If we had managed to immunise them we may not have seen this crisis with the new variant.

I still regularly, have to explain the false information collected from statistics. Let me illustrate this with a simple story. There was a large office block in London where 4 people were found to be infected with Covid. The management immediately instituted extensive measures to protect the rest of their staff. The following week just one more member of staff contracted it. The media cover in two newspapers reported “ Covid outbreak in the offices shows a 25% increase in cases” and in the other paper “ only one more case of Covid in the outbreak at the offices suggests the management precautions are working to prevent more cases”. Which report is the most accurate? Which, has the greatest impact on the readership and sell newspapers?

There has been an outbreak of Covid on a cruise ship carrying 3,200 passengers.

Spain has a Christmas party story; 68 medics have Covid after a hospital Christmas party. Well what is a party? What are your views ? Do you need to have some forward planning and invitations to make it a party. If it is at the end of a very busy and tiring week with only the staff in the office they work in every day deciding to open a bottle or two, relax and let their hair down in the privacy of the office. Is this a party? They deal with a lot of confidential material and needed some relaxation. What was wrong was the leaking of the video film. I wonder how much money exchanged hands for the video. This did not happen yesterday it was a year ago. We have much more pressing things to worry about. Please just let it go. There is no political capital from this just human nature when under a lot of pressure.

Looking at the data for the last two days there have been over 1 million tests done each day. The numbers positive were 45k yesterday and 51.3K today. There were 34,000 more positive tests this week compared to last week a rise of 11.3% The positive rate is 488.2 per 100k of the population.

Deaths were 180 reported yesterday and 161 today. Just 7 less in a week. This is not significant, and the rate remains steady.

The hospital data also remains static with insufficient differences to be significant. There were 729 people admitted on one day with 7317 in hospital beds on 7th December and 880 on a ventilator. If our science is correct these figures will rise significantly as the Omicron variant spreads. Initially it is affecting younger people but as time moves forward more older people will be affected.

The vaccination data still shows a significant number un-vaccinated. This group are much more likely to be the cause of our threat to Christmas this year, rather than a spontaneous party a year ago. The encouraging thing is that 37% or over 21 million have had a third jab. Remember the age has been dropped to 40 and the gap between 2nd and 3rd vaccine is reduced to 3 months. You can now go online and book it . Please get it done before Christmas if you can.

I am sure you will appreciate that this report is late as I waited to hear the PMs statement and the reaction to it. I really do welcome your comments. I have been controversial about parties when under stress and letting hair down. Believe you me the NHS is good at this and so are disaster relief workers. They always stay private as others would never understand.

Get your boosters and stay safe , make sure you have enough masks as you will need them until after Christmas. With full precautions you should be very safe, please use a lot of common sense and try not to panic. Look after those who are very scared at present.

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