Month: August 2020

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UK's Covid death toll rises by ONE In spite of all the hysterical talk of a 'second wave' this Winter and rising cases in England, the number of people who died in Britain on Sunday was precisely one. The Mail has more. The country's death toll is remaining low as just one person died after testing positive for the disease bringing the UK's total fatalities during the pandemic to 41,499.Figures on Sunday are usually smaller due to a delay in processing over the weekend.There were no new deaths in Scotland for the fourth consecutive day. Wales and Northern Ireland each had no new fatalities for the third straight day.Scotland reported 123 new cases, taking the total number of positive infections to 20,318. The Mail says that 1,715 people tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, the biggest daily rise in 12 weeks. But the death toll continues to fall. And 40 B&H Please A reader has an amusing story. A surreal scene, recounted to me by my elderly neighbour as he queued to pay for his groceries at the local store.The chap ahead of him (fully masked up) got to the till and said to the girl at the checkout “and 40 B&H please…”It’s a strange world we live in! Perhaps the chap had heard that smokers are at a lower ...

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Largest Anti-Lockdown Demo So Far The pictures from yesterday's anti-lockdown demo in Trafalgar Square are quite impressive. Some reports put the turnout at 35,000. The Express was one of the first newspapers to report on the protest. Pictures of the large crowds show people holding signs that read “coronavirus is a hoax”, “no to mandatory vaccines” and “masks are muzzles”.One person has claimed it is the largest anti-lockdown protest to date.The large numbers of protesters have filled the area beneath the National Portrait Gallery.Very few of those in attendance appear to be wearing face coverings.A flyer for the event said the protesters would be joined by "top professional doctors and nurses speaking out".Jeremy Corbyn’s brother, Piers, is also due to make an appearance at the event. The Express report was more even-handed than the report in the Metro, which began: Thousands of coronavirus-deniers have gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest against lockdowns and vaccination programmes. And the Mail was even worse, headlining its report of the protest: "More than 10,000 COVID conspiracy theorists gather in London as police arrest Jeremy Corbyn's brother Piers AGAIN: Huge crowd of anti-vaxxers led by David Icke gather to argue that virus is a lie spread in secret global plot organised by Bill Gates". A reader emailed me to tell me his impressions after ...

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Hospitals "Like the Mary Celeste" Given that there's a cancer care backlog predicted to cost up to 30,000 lives and NHS waiting lists have exceeded 15 million, the news of empty hospitals will come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the catastrophic conversion of the NHS into a National Coronavirus Service. The Telegraph has the story. NHS surgeons are only working at around 50 per cent capacity, the president of their Royal College has revealed, despite record waiting times for crucial operations.Official figures show that more than 50,000 people have waited a year for treatment – up from 1,117 a year ago.It comes amid concern about a surge in positive Covid cases, with daily records showing 1,522 cases, up from 1,048 the day before. However, weekly figures show the first decline for six weeks, despite rises in the numbers being tested.The vast majority of NHS surgery and other routine treatment was stopped for months during lockdown. But medics said efforts to restore services are moving too slowly, with some likening their hospitals to “the Mary Celeste” because so many patients were being kept away.Prof Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said the NHS was struggling to restore services, with a lack of routine testing for NHS staff hindering efforts to create “Covid-free” zones.Prof Mortensen, who took ...

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Mass Gatherings Back On in Sweden Swedish epidemiologist Agners Tegnell – not all superheroes wear masks Another step back to normality for the country that brazenly refused to lock down. Reuters has the story (hat tip Alistair Haimes): Swedish concert goers and soccer fans can be allowed back in venues from October after the country’s Health Agency accepted a government proposal to raise the limit for some events to 500 from the current 50. With the number of new infections and COVID-19 deaths falling in Sweden, the government said last week it planned to introduce exceptions to the 50-person maximum for events from Oct. 1. In March, Sweden limited public gatherings to 50 people to halt the spread of the virus, effectively preventing theatres, soccer clubs and concerts from being able to bring in revenues from the public. “The proposal relates to events where there are numbered seats,” the Agency’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told reporters, adding that people should be seated at least one metre apart. He said the effects of the changes would be evaluated “and if it works well, the limit can be raised”. The ban on gatherings over 50 was one of the few social distancing measures Sweden made compulsory – though at least Swedes could still gather in groups of up to 50 throughout the ...

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Getting Schoolchildren to Wear Face Masks is Impractical The Spectator has published a great piece by Calvin Robinson, the teacher who featured in a recent job advertisement put out by the Department for Education. He thinks it's completely impractical to get schoolchildren to wear face muzzles. Has anyone who is recommending the use of masks in schools ever spent any significant amount of time working with young people? It seems unlikely.Children simply will not wear their masks correctly, if at all. Girls will constantly be adjusting them; boys will be flicking them across the room and pulling each others’ elastic bands. They’ll all be pulling them down to their necks at break time, resulting in pieces of food and drink being spilt inside. That, and the fact that they’ll be wearing them around their necks, mirroring the behaviour of adults they see on public transport, further trapping bacteria. If anything, face masks will be detrimental to the health of young people.Of course, there is much to be debated about whether face masks are beneficial at all, with the deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, recently announcing that they may, in fact, increase health risks. I’m not a medical expert; I’ll leave the science to the professionals. What I do know is that masks will not work in a school environment. ...

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Yet Another Bloody U-Turn "No but, yeah but... What does Nicola Sturgeon say?" Boris often sings the praises of the first-class education he received at Eton and Oxford. But the most valuable lesson he ever received was when he was taught to drive. After all, that’s where he learnt how to do a U-turn. The Prime Minister has now performed so many reverse ferrets he’s in danger of swallowing his own tail. Yesterday brought news of his latest pirouette – on face masks in schools. Since he returned from his camping holiday in Scotland, Boris has been on a mission to persuade parents it’s safe to send their kids back to school. "The risk of contracting COVID-19 in school is very small and it is far more damaging for a child’s development and their health and wellbeing to be away from school any longer,” he said on Sunday. But now he’s changed his mind – apparently influenced by Nicola Sturgeon's decision to make face coverings mandatory in Scottish secondary schools. Henceforth, kids aged 11 and older will have to wear masks in local lockdown areas. Not so safe, then. Talk about mixed messages! The Prime Minister’s default response whenever he’s asked a question of vital national importance is to launch into his Vicky Pollard impression: “No but, yeah but…” Let’s be ...

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Sturgeon Makes Masks Mandatory in Schools – Boris Urged to Follow Suit Nicola Sturgeon has made face masks mandatory in Scottish secondary schools and now Boris is facing calls to do the same. The Telegraph has more. Boris Johnson is under fresh pressure to introduce face masks in schools after Nicola Sturgeon signalled over-12s will be made to wear them in Scotland.Teaching unions called on the Government to review its guidance on face coverings, which currently says they should not be worn in schools, although ministers said they had no plans to do so.It came after the World Health Organisation and the UN children's agency Unicef advised that children aged 12 and over should wear face coverings in the same conditions as adults, particularly where they cannot guarantee at least a one metre distance from others.Ms Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, launched an immediate review of practices in Scotland (where the school term has already started) and is expected to announce that over-12s will have to wear coverings in corridors and other communal spaces.The Association of School and College Leaders immediately said Mr Johnson should follow suit, putting the union on a collision course with the Government just days before children in England return to their classrooms. Let's hope Boris withstands this pressure. Sage member Professor Rusell Viner said ...

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Children More Likely to Die of Flu than Covid – Deputy Chief Medical Officer This is what England's teaching unions would like primary school classrooms to look like Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of England, told Sky News this morning that children are more likely to die of flu or be killed in a road traffic accident than succumb to COVID-19. "The long term harms of children not attending school significantly, we think, outweigh those potential risks," she said."No environment is completely risk-free."Every time a parent sends their child off to school pre-Covid they may have been involved in a road traffic accident, there are all sorts of things."In fact that risk, or the risk from seasonal flu, we think is probably higher than the current risk of Covid." This message was complemented by the Times's front page story this morning, which says, "Teachers spread virus more than pupils." New research from Public Health England revealed that two thirds of outbreaks arose from staff-to-staff transmission, or staff-to-pupil.In June the number of schools open was between 20,500 and 23,400, with pupil numbers increasing from 475,000 to 1,646,000. In June and last month 200 children and staff were affected by the illness. Over the same period 25,470 cases were recorded across England as a whole.Thirty outbreaks, defined as two ...

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The Left-Wing Case Against Lockdown George Orwell: Patron saint of left-wing sceptics It really annoys me that lockdown sceptics are so often dismissed as Tory-voting, Brexit-supporting, libertarian-sympathising, white, middle-class, middle-aged Gammons. Okay, yes, that's me, but there are plenty of other sceptics out there who don't fall into any of these categories. And what's really infuriating is the assumption that anyone on the Left should be a lockdown zealot. Why? As each day passes, more evidence comes to light that the lockdown has caused disproportionate harm to the most vulnerable people in our society – children, the elderly, cancer patients, the BAME community (not all of them are vulnerable, obviously), those suffering from mental illness... the list goes on. And what about the catastrophic effect the Global Economic Recession will have on the world's poorest people in the developing world, with hundreds of millions now likely to die of starvation, TB, dysentery, etc.? Are left-wing people now just expected to sign up to the mantra of "safety first" and to hell with the consequences? So it was heartening to get an email yesterday from a woman who started out by explaining she was a Guardian-reading, Remain-voting, Liberal Democrat who voted for Jeremy Corbyn at the last election, but is nonetheless a staunch lockdown sceptic. I've published it and it now ...

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New Restrictions For Oldham, Pendle and Blackburn Yesterday, the Government announced Oldham and parts of Blackburn and Pendle are facing extra restrictions to deal with local viral outbreaks. Residents in those areas are not allowed to socialise with anyone from outside their household, as of midnight tonight. Trouble is, the case numbers in all three areas are falling as you can see from the above table. Carl Heneghan and Jason Oke wrote a post for the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine blog on Thursday urging the Government not to introduce any more restrictions in Oldham. They argue that decisions about whether to introduce local lockdowns should be based on hospitalisation and death data, not case data. We consider that lockdown measures should be predicated on the impact of the disease. NHS England’s COVID-19 data provides information on the number of people admitted and in a Pennine Acute or Pennine Care Hospital with COVID (these hospitals cover Oldham, Rochdale and North Manchester).The data shows that 1,252 beds are occupied across the Pennine Hospitals of which nine are occupied by COVID patients as the 9th of August. At the peak on the 12th of April, 290 beds were occupied by COVID patients.The data also shows that admission remains low at a 7-day moving average of 3 to 4 patients per day, which is ...

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