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Doc Hines - Covids News & Views - 29th October 2021

First tonight some good news for travellers returning to England soon who have been double vaccinated. The remaining 7 countries on the Red list are removed from the list with effect from Monday, according to Grant Shapps. This means no compulsory quarantine in Government approved hotels proving you are double vaccinated and you will only have to pay for Covid testing with lateral flow devices. Be careful as you chose which LFTs you purchase, there are a considerable number of approved providers that meet the minimum standards. Some cost twice as much as others and quality control data is hard to find. False negatives are the biggest worry as it may cause further spread of the disease. The problems in a lab at Wolverhampton have been claimed to have caused the rise in cases in Wales.

TfL have also announced that the Waterloo and City line of the Underground , commonly known as the ” Drain” will reopen from 22nd November. There will be no service on a Saturday for the foreseeable future and does not run on Sundays.

The statistics continue to be a concern. The number of tests performed daily is well below a million for at least the last 5 days. As noted previously this is a half term effect. Inevitably if you do less tests you will find less positive cases. There were 43,467 positive test results today. It is well below the 50,000 positive results when we were doing 1.1 million tests a day. It means the statistics suggest we have had a 12.7% reduction in the number of positive tests in the last 7 days. Sadly, I think this is a false interpretation.

We know a large number of the positive tests are in younger people and school children. Many have no symptoms so if we had not bothered to test them, we would be none the wiser and our figures would be quite impressive. We have an excellent record in the UK for testing and have done 10 times more than many other countries.

Thanks to the high numbers of people immunised the impact on the hospitals is considerably reduced compared to last winter. It is however steadily building with numbers rising a little more every day. Flu is just around the corner waiting to pounce.

Hospital admissions on a single day were reported as 1,038 on 25th October. The number in hospital beds has risen every day recently and today there are 8,983 people in hospital, 946 of those are requiring a ventilator.

186 deaths were reported today with well over 1,000 in the last week. It is a 12.4% growth on the previous week. The death rate has quietly risen to 1.4/100k of the population. With the rising numbers using a ventilator, a proportion will inevitably add to next week’s death statistics.

The vaccine statistics suggest the number of third doses is rising nicely, we have seen an average of 0.5% increase per day and almost 7 million have been given now. The figures for 1st and 2nd jabs only very slowly move up by 0.1% or less. There are still 4 million people missing a second dose.

It is reported that 201 countries have now started giving Covid vaccinations. There is a whole swathe of Central Africa with minimal doses given. I am not sure I believe these figures, but 4 countries claim not to have had a single case yet. The test tonight is to place them accurately on a map.The countries are North Korea, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu and Nauru As far as North Korea is concerned they closed their borders immediately China reported a case and no one has been allowed in or out. If you do no tests, you will have no positive results! The country of Tuvalu also closed its borders at the beginning of the pandemic, but I understand they normally only have about 250 foreign visitors in a year. Their figures just might be more credible.

Vietnam holds the record for the fastest rate of immunisation, they have been giving 1,512 doses per 100k of the population every day for the last week.

Mark Drakeford , First Minister in Wales, has warned that his region now has the highest rates of the devolved nations that he is considering increasing the use of vaccine passports for all hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales. Their plans have already required Covid passports for Cinema, Theatres and Concert Halls from November 15th.

One in 50 of the population has active Covid in England compared with one in 40 in Wales.

Do try not to be scared of Covid over Halloween. You cannot catch it from pumpkins or skeletons but you can catch it if you get too close at a party. Please wear your masks, fancy dress ones are better than nothing, keep you distance and hopefully stay outside.

I always welcome your suggestions and comments. Stay safe everyone.

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