Covid-19 Update Monday 01/06/20
Today saw the largest lifting of restrictions in England since lockdown began, with primary schools reopened to children in reception, year 1 and year 6. Outdoor markets and car showrooms also reopened, whilst those shielding have been advised that it is possible for them to go outside. In all establishments and within all groups, physical distancing remains paramount. Schools and businesses have had to adapt to allow physical distancing measures to be put in place. There is huge variation across England, particularly within schools, as some have not reopened yet and many parents are exercising their right not to send their children back yet. Today, amongst the schools that did open, attendance reportedly ranged between 40 and 70% of what it could have been. Consequently, many schools will not be at capacity initially, but long-term decisions will have to be made and further guidance offered in order to allow more pupils to return, because physical distancing measures will result in highly reduced capacity. It will not be possible for all year groups to be on school premises at any one time.
During today’s Downing Street Briefing, health Secretary Matt Hancock said that it was important than anyone with Covid-19 symptoms (fever, continuous cough or loss of taste/smell) gets a test. Tests are available at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by dialling 119. Everyone with symptoms is eligible.
Nicola Sturgeon has said that she won’t hesitate to use the law to enforce group sizes and other lockdown restrictions, after police in Scotland reported a five-fold increase in dispersal orders. Police dispersed >2000 gatherings in Scotland over the weekend.
A new set of guidelines have been published outlining the measures the television industry should be taking to safely make film and tv during this epidemic. The industry is worth £7.9bn a year to the UK economy and the sector employs 160,000 people, but many productions have been postponed or cancelled. The guidelines have been produced with a collaboration of industry experts, public health bodies and many government departments. Camera tricks and visual effects will take centre-stage due to current restrictions, but the guidelines aim to safely kick-start production as soon as possible.
Main Updates from Monday 01/06/20
- Demonstrations and protests have continued across America since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody. With anger spreading across the US, many are angry that only one of the police officers involved has been charged. Whilst many protests are peaceful, others have descended into violence and racial tension runs high. The pandemic in the US is far from being under control, making the continuation of physical distancing more important than ever; however, people are desperate for their voices to be heard and for racial injustice to be put to an end. Post-mortem results today confirmed that George Floyd died of asphyxiation.
- There have been no new Covid-19 deaths in Spain within the last 24 hours for the first time since March.
- Westminster has decided to limit the number of English students the devolved nations can recruit into their universities. The measures are to avoid over-recruitment to make up for lost revenue caused by a fall in international students, but devolved administrations are calling the cap unnecessary. Scotland’s higher education minister has said “The UK government should be working with the devolved administrations to support higher education at a time of crisis not imposing, withput agreement, targets and sanctions…”.
- YouGov surveys conducted in the last week of May have shown that less 1/2 of the public trust the Westminster government to provide accurate information on the pandemic, which has dropped from over 2/3 since mid-April
Updated COVID-19 Numbers
In the UK, there have been 111 deaths since yesterday. This means, that of those that have tested positive for Covid-19, there have been 39,045 deaths in the UK (2363 in Scotland).
Another reminder that the figure is an under-report due to a reporting delay – as deaths can take up to 10 days to report, we are likely underestimating the steepness of the curve each day (i.e. on 30th March, NHS England reported 159 deaths in the 24 hours to 5pm on Sunday 29th March; however, this number was revised up to 463 5 days later and could still be updated again). Note – the government are now reporting death figures of those that have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community, though the reported deaths still only include those who had tested positive for the virus. The numbers WILL be an underestimate.
When comparing countries, it is important to remember huge differences in population and demographics.
Further, daily counts are volatile, so need some smoothing to see any real underlying trends. World in Data uses a rolling 7-day average and looks at deaths per million for accuracy: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/daily-covid-deaths-per-million-7-day-average
Previous Important Information
The list of Covid-19 symptoms recognised in the UK: The full list of symptoms: loss of smell, loss of taste, a new continuous cough and a high temperature.
Before restrictions can be adjusted, the government has highlighted 5 tests that they need to be confident of:
- That the NHS is able to provide sufficient treatment across the UK
- There is a sustained and consistent fall in daily death rate, showing that we have moved past the peak
- There is reliable data showing that the rate of infection is decreasing
- The operational challenges (including supply meeting demand of testing and PPE) now and in the future are manageable
- There is no risk of resurgence and second peak that overwhelms the NHS
A second lockdown would result if restrictions are lifted too soon. This would have serious outcomes on the economy and public health.
4 acceptable reasons to leave home:
- Necessary shopping (food), though this should be limited
- Medical need (i.e. travel to hospital for treatment)
- To provide care (only if strictly necessary)
- For exercise outside, such as a run or cycle (only once per day, individually or with members of your household)
Track and Trace Systems
The English “NHS Test and Trace” system and Scotland’s “Test and Protect” scheme are vastly similar. There are 3 steps if you have Covid-19 symptoms:
- Start isolating (7 days for the individual with symptoms, 14 days for the household).
- Book a test
- If results are negative – the individual and household stop isolating if everyone feels well. If results are positive – share contacts via the NHS Test and Trace and continue to isolate.
If you have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for Covid-19:
- You may be alerted by NHS Test and Trace
- Isolate for 14 days after that close contact
- If you develop symptoms, book a test, and isolate the entire household for 14 days.
- If the test is negative, the household stops isolating, and the individual completes their 14-day isolation.
- If the test is positive, you begin a new 7-day isolation and your household completes a 14-day isolation.
Scotland’s First Minister defined a “close contact” as people within your household, people with whom you have had face-to-face contact and people with whom you have been within 2 metres for 15 minutes or more. Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that self-isolation requires only leaving the house for a Covid-19 test, so an individual should not leave home for exercise or to obtain food or medicine.
A reminder that face coverings are thought to be helpful in reducing the transmission of the virus from the person wearing it to others, NOT the other way around. Issues with the face coverings becoming contaminated themselves and limited effectiveness means that a covering will not effectively protect a wearer from contracting the virus. A face covering is helpful in reducing transmission from someone already infected with Covid-19, by reducing the spread of aerosol droplets. You are protecting others in case you are infectious without realising, you are not protecting yourself. Hand washing and physical distancing remain the best ways to protect yourself.
Remember: even if you are not ill, you can still transmit the virus and of course, you can contract the virus. Even if you are not classified as “vulnerable”, you are able to transmit the virus, which will increase the impact on the NHS.
The original advice around hygiene, handwashing and social distancing still applies.
Please also see previous update documents.
- An app, the ‘COVID Symptom Tracker’, is available for the general public to download. The idea is for people to check-in each day whether you have COVID-19 or not – this will let researchers study the symptoms of the virus and track how it spreads. The app was designed by King’s College London, Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals and a health science company (ZOE Global Ltd). It is available on Android and Apple devices. Please download and spread the word – all data (even negative) is of huge importance in the global fight against COVID-19.