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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 9 February 2022

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

In what is clearly a political decision and without public reference to SAGE or his Principal Medical Advisors, the Prime Minister today announced his planned intention, if nothing goes wrong, to remove the period of isolation from the Covid rules. This would be a hugely popular move amongst his party and he hopes will deflect from the ongoing naughty party issues.

I can understand his thinking behind the decision but I, and I suspect most medical people, will consider this a couple of months earlier than we would have recommended. I would have preferred to have been clear of the winter and perhaps waited until May.

Listening to various members of the public talking about it the general view was that if “you are going to get it, you are going to get it….. We must get on with our lives.” I am sure if you are vulnerable, you may well not be so keen on the changes.

So, what do we know about the effectiveness of isolating people who have tested positive? It was clearly very necessary in the early days of the pandemic, with no vaccine available. Now 2 years later 65% of the population have had at least 3 immunisations, So a significant number are well protected and you can add those who are protected by having had the infection. Generally speaking, the current omicron variant is less severe but more infectious. We have to balance this with the disruption and distress this isolation causes if the person concerned has to stay at home when perfectly well. It is causing significant disruption both in school and in the work-place as well as the financial disruption it causes.

We also know that Covid is going to be more of a problem in winter months than in the summer. No one is suggesting that if you are ill you should still go to work. Covid will be added to the list of conditions that require some to stay at home whereas others are well enough to go to work and to be sensible. So it becomes more like a severe cold or influenza. It will I am sure be with us again next winter.

All this of course is dependent on no new variants of concern appearing, and to be fair The PM did say this.

The daily statistics continue to be very encouraging and is why this step is becoming a realistic possibility. It is a finely balanced issue.

We continue to do about 1.1 million tests each day, a little less than a week or so again. If we do less tests we are going to find less positive cases. The number positive have dropped considerably with only 66,000 today and slightly more yesterday. The positive rate has dropped to 833.7 per 100k of the population.

The one day admission figure has fallen consistently for a while now. 1,196 were admitted on the 5th February and 1,370 the day before.

The total number in hospital has now dropped to 13,545 yesterday and only 430 are requiring a ventilator.

The number of deaths still causes me concern There were 256 deaths recorded today and 314 yesterday. It followed the pattern that was predicted on Monday. The death rate is however improving with 298 less deaths in the last week compared to the week before. The rate has fallen to 2.2 per 100,000. We must be careful not to just accept 300 deaths a day as inevitable.

The immunisation statistics still creep in the right direction. Ther number with 3 doses now amount to 65.4%, one of the highest number in the world. I cannot stress how important it is to get a global high level of immunisations. It is both in our interest and our moral responsibility to assist this.

In another news, a Minister has been forced to apologise for apparently continuing with a meeting when she was informed she had tested positive for Covid. Looking in to this headline, I discover she was feeling perfectly well. She had no idea she might have Covid. The meeting she was in was immediately informed of her situation. She was meeting 3 fathers whose daughters had died from suicide. The meeting was sensitive and difficult, She told the 3 fathers about the test result and they agreed she would continue with the meeting for a further 15 minutes whilst waiting for her car. Most people would have jumped at an excuse to end a difficult meeting. To my mind it was to her credit she was honest and continued the meeting. Closing the door after the horse had bolted was pointless. Those who wanted to criticise and force her to apologise need to think again.

Hong Kong have a record number of covid cases which reached 1,161 on a single day yesterday.

Afghanistan now only has 5 hospitals in the whole vast country that can treat Covid patients, They have now closed 333 hospitals because of lack of medical staff and medicines.

For now, still stick with plan K, but look forward to the summer, begin to relax again, venture out and about. We do ultimately now have to learn to live with this pandemic We can begin now quite safely. Do please debate these issues with me and stay safe

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Thanks Doc. Your insightful and ongoing commentary is very appreciated. I have been quietly following your posts with interest. I do worry that unfounded/self interested political decisions, are increasingly dominating public health management (again). We will cope as we move forward (locally and worldwide), but at what cost? David

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