#AceHealthReport – May.09: Under Pakistan’s partial lockdown, all but essential shops, businesses and markets will close until 16 May: Transport in and between regions and cities is restricted to private vehicles, taxis and trains, all with reduced capacity:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk PAKISTAN: Enters partial lockdown as Eid nears as non- essential businesses and tourism sites must close and travel across the country is restricted from 8-16 May: The country is currently battling a third wave of #COVID19 infections, recording more than 140,000 cases and 3,000 deaths in April and health officials had warned restrictions could be necessary given neighbouring India’s devastating surge in cases.
Pakistan recorded an additional 4,109 positive cases on Saturday, according to the health ministry. The actual number of infections is likely to be higher because of under-reporting as fears of ‘impending doom’ as Covid threatens Pakistan
Officials are keenly aware that people could spread the virus as they gather to celebrate Eid with their families this week. On Friday Dr Faisal Sultan, who advises Prime Minister Imran Khan on health, said that the country was facing a “critical period” as the holy month of Ramadan draws to a close.
While he said there were “very initial signs of some stability” in cases, infections could again surge if measures were not taken now.
While local authorities have been imposing restrictions to try to contain the spread of the virus, Prime Minister Imran Khan has resisted another nationwide lockdown, saying last month he wanted to avoid such measures because of the harm it could cause to the economy.
But Pakistani officials are mindful of neighbouring India’s ongoing battle with a deadly second wave. Inside India’s rundown rural hospitals unable to cope with the Covid crisis
Countries around the world are sending medicines, oxygen and ventilators by the planeload to try to ease the crisis gripping India’s health system. The country has recorded hundreds of thousands of new cases each day for weeks, and infections are now spreading from cities to the countryside.
Asad Umar, Pakistan’s federal minister for planning, posted a series of tweets on Saturday warning that “the entire region is exploding with cases & deaths”.
“The need for caution is clear,” he tweeted. “The danger is higher than ever and knocking at our doors.”
Thousands of people would normally travel to Pakistan from all over the world for Eid, however travel restrictions are in place for many countries.
#AceHealthReport – May.07: The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives in the UK and around the world.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk Statement on AstraZeneca #COVID19 vaccine following JCVI update: The government’s statement following updated advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)’
As the MHRA – the UK’s independent regulator – and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation have said, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults.
The government will follow today’s updated advice, which sets out that, as a precaution, it is preferable for people under the age of 40 with no underlying health conditions to be offered an alternative vaccine where possible once they are eligible, and only if doing so does not cause a substantial delay in accessing a vaccination.
More than 50 million vaccines overall have already been administered, and our current vaccine supply and rate of infection means we are able to take this precautionary step while remaining on track to achieve our target of offering a vaccine to all adults by the end of July.
Everybody who has already had a first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should receive a second dose of the same jab, irrespective of age, except for the very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts following their first vaccination.
When people are called forward, they should get their jab. Vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic and provide strong protection against COVID-19.
#AceHealthReport – Apr.24: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo from April 25 through May 11, as the coronavirus variant first identified in the UK spreads in the four prefectures:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Japan declares third COVID-19 state of emergency, just three months before Olympics as the U.K. variant spreads into Tokyo and 4-prefectures’
Posted Yesterday at 9:25pm, updated 9h ago
Daily infections in Japan briefly dipped in March, but have since risen to exceed 5,000 by Wednesday: Osaka recorded 1,162 new COVID-19 cases Friday, while Tokyo had 759.
The step is largely intended to be “short and intensive” to stop people from traveling and spreading the virus during Japan’s “Golden Week” holidays, from late April through the first week of May, Mr Suga said.
“I sincerely apologise for causing trouble for many people again,” said Mr Suga, who earlier had pledged to do his utmost to prevent a third emergency.
This latest state of emergency comes only a month after an earlier emergency ended in the Tokyo area.
Experts, municipal leaders call for stronger prevention measures
Japan, which has had about half a million cases and 10,000 deaths, has not enforced lockdowns.
Mask-wearing, staying home and other COVID-safe measures for the public remain non-mandatory, and experts worry if they will be followed.
The state of emergency now allows prefectural governors to issue binding orders for businesses to shorten hours or close in exchange for daily compensation of up to 200,000 yen ($2,393), while imposing fines of up to 300,000 yen ($3,589) for violators.
There are also shutdown requirements for bars, department stores, shopping centres, theme parks, theatres and museums.
Schools will stay open, but universities are asked to return to online classes.
But people are becoming impatient and less cooperative and have largely ignored the ongoing measures as infections have accelerated.
This has prompted experts and local leaders to urgently call for tougher steps.
Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, who on Tuesday requested the emergency, said the semi-emergency measures were not working and hospitals were overflowing with patients.
COVID-19 treatment is largely limited to a handful of public-run hospitals, while many small private institutions are not assisting or even prepared to mobilise for infectious diseases.
Mr Suga said he would ensure enough vaccines are delivered to local municipalities so all of the country’s 36 million senior citizens can receive their second shots by the end of July — a month behind an earlier schedule.
Suga says IOC is the reason why the Olympics is still going ahead
The May 11 deadline for the latest round of emergency measures occurs ahead of an expected visit by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, triggering speculation that the government is prioritsing the Olympic schedule over people’s health.
Mr Suga said Japan had no choice but to follow the IOC decision to hold the games.
“The IOC has the authority to decide and the IOC has already decided to hold the Tokyo Olympics,” Mr Suga said.
“We aim to hold the games while taking strong measures to protect people’s lives from the further spread of infections.”
Mr Suga has been reluctant to hurt the already pandemic-damaged economy and faced criticism for being slow to take virus measures.
Japan’s inoculation campaign lags behind many countries, with imported vaccines in short supply while its attempts to develop its own vaccines are still in the early stages.
Inoculations started in mid-February but progress has been slow amid shortages of vaccines and healthcare workers.
The rapid increase in patients flooding hospitals has raised concerns of a further staff shortage and delay in vaccinations.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.30: The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the government to prioritise people for the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine who are over 16 and living with adults who have weakened immune systems, such as those with blood cancer, HIV or those on immunosuppressive treatment including chemotherapy:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – New vaccine advice for adults living with adults who are immunosuppressed: ‘JCVI recommends that adults living with adults who are immunosuppressed should be prioritised for the #COVID19 vaccine’
Adults who are immunosuppressed have a weaker immune system, meaning they are less able to fight infections naturally. These individuals are more likely to have poorer outcomes following COVID-19 infection and recent evidence suggests that they may not respond as well to the COVID-19 vaccine as others.
There is growing evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines may reduce the chance of someone who has been vaccinated passing the virus on. Given this emerging evidence, the JCVI advises that those over 16 years of age who live with severely immunosuppressed adults are offered the COVID-19 vaccination alongside priority group 6. This will help limit the spread of the virus to immunosuppressed adults.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 Immunisation within the JCVI, commented:
The vaccination programme has so far seen high vaccine uptake and very encouraging results on infection rates, hospitalisations and mortality. Yet we know that the vaccine isn’t as effective in those who are immunosuppressed. Our latest advice will help reduce the risk of infection in those who may not be able to fully benefit from being vaccinated themselves.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, said:
Our surveillance systems and research studies are showing that the COVID-19 vaccines can reduce asymptomatic infection and limit transmission of the virus. By vaccinating those who live with adults who are immunosuppressed, we can further help protect vulnerable people.
Household contacts considered as a priority would be those over 16 who share living accommodation with adults who are immunosuppressed. The JCVI does not currently advise vaccination of household contacts of immunosuppressed children, or household contacts of immunosuppressed adults who are themselves children.
Letter from the Health and Social Care Secretary to the JCVI: 24 March 2021
From:Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 39 Victoria Street London SW1H 0EU
To:Professor Wei Shen Lim Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation Chair COVID-19 Immunisation (Nottingham University Hospitals)
24 March 2021
Dear Professor Lim,
Thank you for your letter on 24 March from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) with your advice about COVID-19 vaccination of adult household contacts of severely immunosuppressed adults.
I note your findings that early data indicate lower protection in vaccinated adults who are immunosuppressed and that those with severe immunosuppression are therefore more likely to suffer poor outcomes following infection and are less likely to benefit from the vaccines offered.
I also note your advice that there is now data indicating the potential for a reduction in transmission in those vaccinated. I welcome your advice that adult household contacts of adults with severe immunosuppression should be offered COVID-19 vaccination alongside priority group 6 on the basis that this would in your view reduce the risk of infection in the immunosuppressed who may not be able to fully benefit from vaccination.
I am asking NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) to take this advice forward and prioritise household contacts of the severely immunosuppressed for vaccination as you recommend alongside priority group 6 in phase 1 of the vaccination programme.
My officials have also shared your advice with colleagues leading the COVID-19 vaccines programmes in each of the 4 nations of the UK.
Thank you for your continued advice and support for the vaccination programme and I look forward to receiving further advice and discussions over the coming weeks.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.27: This new funding will help local authorities continue to support those who are isolating as we begin to cautiously ease restrictions, going towards access to food, help with caring responsibilities and support for people’s wellbeing:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Government increases support for those self-isolating: ‘To help people overcome the practical challenges of being asked to self-isolate, government has today (Friday 26 March) announced an extra £12.9 million a month in additional funding to local councils to help them provide people with more support’
Improved support includes a free medicines delivery service backed by an extra £3.2 million per month, new practical support funding and enhancements to Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme
New ONS survey reveals nearly 90% of people are self-isolating when asked to
On top of this, £3.2 million per month has been allocated to a free medicines delivery service for people who are self-isolating and don’t have access to help in collecting their prescription. Community pharmacies and dispensing doctors are already funded to provide a medicines delivery service in instances where shielding advice is in place, and this system is being replicated to cover people who need to self-isolate.
This investment comes on top of increased funding of £20 million per month for local authorities, which covers the cost of discretionary support payments through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme (TTSP) for people on lower incomes, or facing financial hardship, who cannot work from home.
The TTSP scheme has also recently been expanded to cover parents or guardians who are unable to work because they are caring for a child who is self-isolating. To date, the government has provided more than £176 million of funding to local authorities to meet the costs of the scheme. This will allow local authorities to continue supporting those on low incomes to stay at home and self-isolate when required to do so.
The announcement comes as a new set of statistics published by the Official of National Statistics (ONS) show that 86% of people testing positive for coronavirus are fully complying with self-isolation guidance for their full isolation period.
Data showed 90% of the contacts reached by NHS Test and Trace are fully adhering with the rules, and 97% of NHS COVID-19 app users started to self-isolate within 24 hours of receiving a notification.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
I am delighted that today’s statistics show the vast majority of people in this country are doing the right thing and following the rules to help protect the NHS, and save lives.
The government has increased funding for local authorities by over £30 million a month to give financial and practical support to those who have to self-isolate, helping them to avoid spreading the disease to their communities.
Around one in three have the virus without symptoms, so it is vital those who are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace do so to turn the table on this terrible virus.
The statistics demonstrate that the majority of respondents also fully understood the self-isolation guidance. Of people who did not fully-comply, the most common breaches were to buy food, collect medicines or to attend medical appointments, which today’s funding will help Local Authorities to address.
Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, Baroness Harding said:
It’s extremely encouraging to see that 86% of people testing positive for Covid-19 and 90% of contacts are fully complying with the self-isolation guidance, which is imperative to the success of NHS Test and Trace as we are reaching more people than ever before. The increased support is important to offer additional reassurance to people to come forward for testing and keep breaking the chains of transmission.
Local councils have a fundamental role to play in tackling outbreaks and we are supporting them by giving people the tools they need to stay at home.
It is vital that there are strong local, regional and national partnerships to support people to understand and comply with the guidance and regulations in place that protect their health and save lives.
This survey was specifically designed to obtain information on people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who are at the end of their 10-day self-isolation period.
Estimates presented in this release are based on the 2,552 responses received and are not representative of the population testing positive for COVID-19 on the day of being sampled. Respondents were randomly sampled through the Contact Tracing and Advice Service (CTAS) database, held by NHS Test and Trace. This list was created by NHS Test and Trace to record information about people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their contacts.
The statistics presented are experimental statistics, so care needs to be taken when interpreting them. While the sample was stratified to be regionally representative of the population being sampled, people who did not respond to the survey may have been less adherent than those who did, leading to bias in the results. This has an impact on the level of certainty of this research.
Future waves of the survey will provide statistics that are weighted to be representative of the population testing positive in the month prior to the survey.
Funding unveiled today was set out in the roadmap.
It is a legal duty to self-isolate if you have been instructed to do so by NHS Test and Trace. Any breaches of self-isolation may result in a Fixed Penalty Notice, ranging from £1000 to £10,000.
We are working with England’s 314 local authorities to monitor the effectiveness of the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme – including any impact on groups who may be ineligible for it.
In conjunction with the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme, local authorities can make additional discretionary payments to anyone facing financial hardship. Local authorities are responsible for the criteria used for discretionary payments in their area.
Four million people could be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, which is a targeted scheme to help people on low incomes who cannot work from home, if they are required to self-isolate when they test positive or are identified as a contact.
To be eligible under the expansion to a parent or guardian, applicants must need to take time off work to care for a child who is self-isolating. They do not need to have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, but they must meet all the other eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment.
If an individual is eligible for either the Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment, they will receive the £500 payment as an up-front lump sum on top of any benefits and Statutory Sick Pay that they are currently eligible for.
When the scheme launched, the government made an initial £50 million available to local authorities to cover the cost of administering the scheme. This included £15 million for discretionary payments to people who fall outside the scope of the main scheme but who will still face hardship if they have to self-isolate. To date, we have released a total of £176 million to local authorities to enable them to continue administering the scheme. This includes £75 million for discretionary payments.
People who are not eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment may be eligible for other forms of support such as Universal Credit or New Style Employment and Support Allowance.
The Test and Trace Support Payment scheme is for England only. There are equivalent schemes in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and we are working closely with the devolved administrations to share learning and monitor the impact of the financial support that is available.
We need all employers to act responsibly to help their employees work from home wherever possible, and where it isn’t to ensure workplaces are COVID-secure. We are also rolling out rapid-testing helping workers who need to leave home for work during lockdown to continue to do so, while quickly identifying those who may be carrying the virus to stop the spread.
The Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) provides funding to local authorities (LAs) in England to be used for test, trace and contain activity in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus in their area.
This funding, worth over £225 million per month during the National Lockdown, can be used by English local authorities to fund local coronavirus response public health activities, such as additional contact tracing, testing for hard-to-reach groups, non-financial support for those self-isolating and public health communications.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.16: Brian M. Boynton, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, released the following statement:
‘Department of Justice Issues Statement Regarding Decision in Skyworks v. CDC Respectively disagrees with the March 10 decision of the district court concluding that the moratorium exceeds CDC’s statutory authority to protect public health’ Attachment(s): Download notice_of_supplemental_authority_skyworks_v_cdc.pdf
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Updated March 12, 2021:
In the Department’s view, that decision conflicts with the text of the statute, Congress’s ratification of the moratorium, and the rulings of other courts.
“The CDC’s eviction moratorium—which Congress extended last December and the CDC later extended through March 31, 2021—protects many renters who cannot make their monthly payments due to job loss or health care expenses. By preventing people from becoming homeless or having to move into more-crowded housing, the moratorium helps to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In any event, the decision applies only to the particular plaintiffs in that case: It does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties. For other landlords who rent to covered persons, the CDC’s eviction moratorium remains in effect.”
#AceHealthReport – Mar.12: The cases in South Gloucestershire are all close or household contacts of the 2 existing P.1 cases in the area: They were offered testing in response to the initial cases:
U.K.GOV #Coronavirus Report: Confirmed cases of #COVID19 variants identified in UK: ‘Latest updates on SARS-CoV-2 variants detected in U.K. Four more cases of Variant of Concern VOC-202101/02 (P.1) found in England’
Specialist contact tracing teams have undertaken a comprehensive investigation to identify any further contacts and additional testing has been in place since the initial cases were identified.
The individual in Bradford tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) in late February after travelling back from Brazil via Paris on 14 February 2021. Subsequent genomic sequencing confirmed the case as the P.1 variant. Contact tracing teams have followed up close contacts of the individual and advised them to isolate and get a test.
The latest cases bring the total number of P.1 variant cases in the UK to 10 – 7 in England and 3 in Scotland, all of which have links to travel or to a previously confirmed case that has travelled to Brazil.
New Variant Under Investigation (VUI) designated in UK
A new variant identified in the UK has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) by Public Health England.
VUI-202103/01 (lineage B.1.324.1) was designated a VUI on 4 March after 2 cases were found in the South East of England in individuals who had recently travelled to Antigua.
The variant contains the spike mutations E484K and N501Y, both usually associated with Variants of Concern (VOC), however it does not feature specific deletions that would lead to a designation as a VOC.
Contact tracing teams have completed thorough investigations to identify and follow up any close contacts and no additional cases have been found to date.
Friday 5 March
Contact tracers successfully identify sixth case of P.1 Variant of Concern
Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Test and Trace teams have successfully located the third individual in England who tested positive for the P.1 Variant of Concern that originated in Manaus, Brazil.
Tracing teams narrowed their search to a small number of households in Croydon, South London, when an individual from the borough made themselves known by responding to calls made by specialist contact tracers.
NHS Test and Trace were then able to match the barcode from the individual’s testing pack to the variant test result.
PHE is now carrying out enhanced contact tracing with the individual and other members of their household. The case had been in contact with an individual who travelled from Brazil in early February.
Although investigations are ongoing, current early indications are that all members of the household isolated for the correct amount of time after the traveller returned and after the case developed symptoms.
Doctor Fu-Meng Khaw, Strategic Response Director for PHE and Deputy Chief Medical Adviser for Test and Trace, said:
The identification of this individual is the result of an enormous collaborative effort between specialist teams at NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England.
Staff have been working around the clock to pursue every line of investigation and this is a fantastic result that enables us to fully investigate the circumstances around the case and reduce the risk of onward transmission.
As an additional precaution, we’re working closely with Croydon Council to put in place further testing in the area.
We are continuing to monitor all variants closely and the best way to protect against all COVID-19 infections is to remember the basics of Hands, Face, Space.
Thursday 4 March
New Variant Under Investigation designated in the UK
Sixteen cases of a new variant, VUI-202102/04 (lineage B.1.1.318), have been identified in the UK. The variant has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) by Public Health England (PHE).
Cases of this variant, understood to have originated in the UK, were first identified on 15 February through genomic horizon scanning. All individuals who tested positive and their contacts have been traced and advised to isolate.
Following assessments, the variant was designated a VUI on 24 February. It contains the E484K mutation, which is also found in 2 existing VUIspresent in the UK, but does not feature the N501Y mutation, present in all variants of concern (VOCs).
The addition of this variant as a VUI means there are now a total of 4 VUIsand 4 VOCs currently being tracked in the UK.
Cases with no travel links
As of 3 March:
a total of 59 cases of the variant VOC-202012/02, first detected in South Africa, have been found in England where no travel links could be established
a total of 26 cases of the variant VUI-202101/01, the P2 variant first detected in Brazil, have been found in England where no travel links could be established
Tuesday 28 February
Cases of Variant of Concern first detected in Manaus identified in the UK
Up to 6 cases of the Variant of Concern first identified in Manaus, Brazil (P.1) have been detected in the UK. Public Health England (PHE) has identified 3 of these cases of the Variant of Concern in England.
Two of the cases in England are from one household in South Gloucestershire with a history of travel to Brazil and there is a third, currently unlinked case.
The cases in South Gloucestershire were rapidly followed up by the PHEHealth Protection Team – cases and their contacts have been identified and retested. One case that had travelled to Brazil has been isolating at home with their household since returning to the UK.
PHE and NHS Test and Trace are following up with all passengers on Swiss Air flight LX318 travelling from Sao Paulo via Zurich and landing in London Heathrow on 10 February, to provide public health advice and test them and their households. Anyone who returned to the UK at that time should have gone home immediately from the airport and isolated for 10 days.
If you were a passenger on the flight and have not been contacted, please call 01174 503 174 to arrange a test for you and your household contacts.
Although the risk to the wider community is considered low, as a precaution, PHE, working in collaboration with South Gloucestershire Council and NHS Test and Trace, is taking swift and decisive action to deploy surge asymptomatic testing as well as increasing sequencing of positive samples from the area. Residents of South Gloucestershire should visit the council’s website for more information on testing. The most important actions are identifying cases and their contacts and supporting these individuals to isolate effectively.
Further investigation is underway regarding the third case in England. The individual did not complete their test registration card so follow-up details are not available. We are therefore asking for anyone who undertook a test on 12 or 13 February and hasn’t received their result or has an uncompleted test registration card, to call 119 in England or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland for assistance as soon as possible.
The P.1 variant has been designated ‘of concern’ as it shares some important mutations with the variant first identified in South Africa (B.1.351), such as E484K and N501Y. It is possible that this variant may respond less well to current vaccines, but more work is needed to understand this.
Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE strategic response director for COVID-19 and NHS Test and Trace Medical Advisor, said:
We have identified these cases thanks to the UK’s advanced sequencing capabilities which means we are finding more variants and mutations than many other countries and are therefore able to take action quickly.
The important thing to remember is that COVID-19, no matter what variant it is, spreads in the same way. That means the measures to stop it spreading do not change. Stay at home and if you do need to go out for essential reasons, cover your nose and mouth, wash your hands thoroughly and keep your distance.
We ask that individuals come forward for testing through the symptomatic and asymptomatic test sites across the countries in order to continue to drive down cases in the community.
Three cases of the variant have also been identified in Scotland but these are not linked to these 3 cases in England.
Tuesday 16 February
Public Health England (PHE) has identified 38 cases of COVID-19 which genomic sequencing has shown to feature a specific set of mutations which are currently being referred to as lineage B.1.525. The set of mutations includes the E484K spike protein mutation, which is present on a number of other variants of concern and variants under investigation.
This variant has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) and will be referred to as VUI202102/03.
The variant has been detected in other countries, including Nigeria, Denmark and Canada.
Cases are geographically dispersed across England. Enhanced contact tracing and genomic sequencing is underway to monitor the situation as it develops.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at PHE, said:
PHE is monitoring data about emerging variants very closely and where necessary public health interventions are being undertaken, such as extra testing and enhanced contact tracing.
There is currently no evidence that this set of mutations causes more severe illness or increased transmissibility.
The best way to stop the spread of the virus is to follow the public health advice: wash your hands, wear a face covering and keep your distance from others. While in lockdown, it is important that people stay at home, where possible.
Regular updates of confirmed variant cases will be provided on this page.
Friday 15 January
As of Thursday 14 January 2021, 35 genomically confirmed and 12 genomically probable cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant which originated in South Africa (called VOC202012/02 in the UK, also named B1.351 and 501Y.V2 internationally) have been identified in the UK.
Two variants of interest have also been identified in Brazil. The first variant is variant under investigation (VUI) 202101/01 – this variant has a small number of mutations. The spread and significance of this variant remains under investigation. In partnership with COG-UK, 8 genomically confirmed cases of this variant have now been identified in the UK. All necessary public health action is being taken to follow-up the cases.
The second variant has been designated a Variant of Concern by NERVTAG, now termed VOC202101/02, and this variant has more mutations. We have NOT detected this second Brazil originated strain in the UK– this has been detected in Manaus and travellers arriving in Japan.
Laboratory work has begun on the VOC 202012/02 in the UK and is routinely undertaken on all variants under investigation or of concern once samples are available.
Dr Susan Hopkins, COVID Strategic Response Director at Public Health England, said:
We are continuing efforts to understand the effect of the variants on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.
For now, our advice remains the same following detection of a Brazilian variant in the UK, even though this is not the variant detected in Manaus with more mutations: the best way to stop the spread of the virus is to wash your hands, wear a face covering and keep your distance from others. Whilst in lockdown, it is important that we also stay at home unless it is absolutely essential to go out.
Through COG-UK, the UK is a global leader in SARS-CoV-2 genomics, providing around 48% of the genomic data supplied to GISAID, the scientific initiative which allows global, real-time surveillance of the COVID-19 pandemic.
WGS is vital to the global response to the pandemic, allowing us to monitor and understand the evolution of new COVID-19 variants and respond with timely public health interventions.
The restrictions follow new data on the steep rise in incidence of the B1.351 variant, which has vastly increased the risk of community transmission between these 9 southern African countries, as well as the Seychelles and Mauritius which have strong travel links with South Africa.
From 15 January 2021, the DfT has also imposed a subsequent travel ban to the UK from several South American countries and countries with strong travel links to Brazil. Passengers who have been in or transited through Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Panama, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela in the last 10 days will no longer be granted access to the UK.
British and Irish Nationals (and or third country nationals with residence rights in the UK) who have travelled from or transited through these countries must self-isolate for 10 days, as must members of their household. Contact tracing and testing of close contacts of confirmed cases will be used to identify and manage potential transmission. The decision to impose these restrictions has been taken to prevent the spread of the variant of coronavirus, known as VOC202101/02, into the UK.
The Isolation Assurance Service (IAS) will be contacting all returnees from all southern African countries, Mauritius and Seychelles to reinforce the advice to self-isolate, to encourage testing even if asymptomatic and to inform anyone treating/testing them of their recent travel.
Wednesday 23 December
The 2 cases were identified in the UK on 22 December 2020 and both have been in contact with someone who has travelled from South Africa. PHE’s Health Protection Teams have followed up with both cases and contact tracing is underway.
The new variant named B1.351 (also referred to as 501Y.V2) was first detected in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, in samples at the beginning of October. Molecular dating suggests that it could have been in circulation from the end of August.
The rapid spread of the variant in South Africa could be an indication of increased transmissibility but this is not yet confirmed. PHE is investigating this variant and will share its findings in due course. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the variant has any impact on disease severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy. Epidemiological and virological investigations are also ongoing in South Africa.
It is not uncommon for viruses to undergo mutations; seasonal influenza mutates every year. More than 4,000 variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been identified in the UK and variants have been observed in many other countries.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19 to PHE & Test and Trace, said:
We are investigating this new variant of SARS-CoV-2 which originated in South Africa. Viruses often evolve and this is not unusual. We are carrying out work as a priority to understand the potential risk this variant may cause. It is important to say that there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.
The best way to stop infection is to stick to the rules – wash our hands, wear a face covering and keep our distance from others.
The recommended control measures to limit the spread of the new variant continue to be testing, following the existing public health guidance and abiding by the restrictions, including ‘Hands, Face, Space’ and limiting your number of contacts. DfT have announced new restrictions for everyone arriving in the country from South Africa.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.22; Level four rules for 11 council areas came into force at 18:00 on Friday, when travel curbs in level three and four areas also became law: Non-essential shops, hospitality, hairdressers and gyms will remain closed until 11 December: Less than five weeks before Christmas, main shopping streets were unusually quiet:
#Coronavirus Report: #Covid19 in Scotland: Streets empty on day one of level 4 lockdown until Dec.11: just 14 days before ChristmasDayaccording to BBC Scotland
The Scottish government has said the restrictions are necessary to drive down stubbornly high rates of the virus: Saturday’s daily coronavirus figures showed 887 positive cases and 37 newly-reported deaths in the past 24 hours. Across Scotland, 100 patients were in intensive care, a rise of 12 since Friday: Of the new cases, 234 were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 246 in Lanarkshire, and 140 in Lothian.
‘Risks are not zero’
Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday that while infection rates have stabilised in recent weeks, they remained at a stubbornly high level in some areas: She said the new restrictions would help infection rates come down further before the Christmas period, paving the way for a possible easing: “ The fact is the fewer people who are in the population who have Covid by the time we get to Christmas, the lower the risk of people being infected with it during that period,” she said: “ It’s very important for me to be clear that the risks would not be zero – which is why we must be very careful about any relaxation over Christmas and people will have to think carefully themselves, even with any relaxation, about what they want to do or not.”…………
On Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said the chief medical officers of the UK nations had been tasked with developing a “concrete” proposal for household mixing at Christmas, details of which could be revealed next week: Ms Sturgeon also said the new travel restrictions were “vital” to ensure there is no need for a national lockdown.Staff outnumbered passengers at Queen Street Station as travel restrictions took effect: People in level three and four areas must not travel outside their council area, except for essential purposes such as work and healthcare, and people living elsewhere must not travel into these areas except for essential purposes: She urged Scots to abide by the new regulations, which could see a £60 fine levied against those who violate the rules unless they have a “reasonable excuse”, such as caring responsibilities or a hospital appointment:
National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said the actions people in level four areas take now will dictate which restrictions are in place in the new year: He said: “When you think about Christmas you should also think of the consequences that will have for January. If the virus spreads between households on Christmas day and Boxing day or whenever, of course, that will have a run-in effect to January: “ People will catch the virus at Christmas and then some of them will be hospitalised and be in intensive care in January. That’s what we need to avoid. The principal way to avoid that is to get prevalence down and have a safe Christmas.”
The stricter rules apply to 2.3 million people across East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, North and South Lanarkshire, East and South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian: Virus rates in these areas last week ranged from 158 new cases per 100,000 people in West Lothian to 277 in Glasgow – all of which were above the Scotland-wide rate of 140 cases per 100,000.
The UK government-funded centre will be operated by facilities company Mitie in the St Francis Community Centre in the Gorbals: It is the third to open in the city, and one of 14 operating across Scotland out of 22 promised by Westminster:
As bars and restaurants closed their doors once again under virus measures, opposition parties called for more support for the industry to help save jobs: Nicola Sturgeon has promised a £30m fund for businesses in level four areas: But Labour jobs spokesman Alex Rowley said the proposals fell short of what was required and he urged the first minister to bring forward proposals for more extensive support next week.
#AceNewsReport – Nov.14: More than 42,000 plaintiffs have joined lawsuits against German chemical giant Bayer, blaming the company’s glyphosate-based weedkiller for their cancer: The number of plaintiffs, largely brought by US citizens, is now at 42,700 — more than double the 18,400 reported in the middle of July, Bayer announced on Wednesday.
DW Reports: The legal cases all concern Roundup, a weedkiller with controversial active ingredient glyphosate: “This significant increase is clearly driven by the plaintiff-side television advertising spend which is estimated to have roughly doubled in the third quarter compared with the entire first half of the year,” Bayer said in a statement: “However, the number of lawsuits says nothing about their merits,” it added: Claims against the company gathered momentum following a lawsuit in August 2018 that found Monsanto, a Bayer subsidiary, should have warned of alleged cancer risks associated with its glyphosate-based weedkillers: Read the Full Article The Guardian news, [Nov 10, 2019 at 07:20] Thailand wants to ban these three pesticides: The US government says no | Carey Gillam reported that The Trump administration is putting profits before people by pressuring the country not to ban harmful chemicals made by Dow, Syngenta and MonsantoYou know it’s a dark day for America when foreign leaders have to lecture US officials about the importance of prioritising public health over corporate profits.Yet that is what is happening now, as the Trump administration pressures Thailand not to ban three pesticides that scientific research has shown to be particularly dangerous to children and other vulnerable populations. Continue reading…here ……………………..https://clck.ru/JsP4W #
#AceBreakingNews – WASHINGTON:June.10: (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that emissions from commercial jets cause climate change, endangering the public’s health and welfare.
“Today’s action supports the goals of the President’s Climate Action Plan to reduce emissions from large sources of carbon pollution,” the EPA said in a press release.
The announcement is the first step in regulating the emissions from commercial airlines that most scientists say are to blame for manmade climate change. The regulations fall in step with the agency’s efforts to regulate the emissions from cars, trucks and power plants.
The EPA says it is excluding military and smaller aircraft from the regulations.
#AceNewsServices – RUSSIA – On December 4 Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual state of the nation address to the Federal Assembly, the both chambers of Russia’s parliament. The state of the nation address is a basic document, which outlines the president’s positions on major directions of the Russian policies not only for the coming year, but also for future.
Position on the Ukrainian crisis and Crimea’s unification with Russia
Russia has the right to pursue its sole line of development, the president said. “This applies to Ukraine as well,” Putin said. He called hypocritical the use of human’s rights issue to cover for the state coup in Ukraine.
The president recalled the Crimean referendum and the reunification of the republic with Russia. The reunification, he said, is a major historic event. Crimea has significance for Russia, he said, and Russians will handle it that way forever.
The United States always influences Russia’s relations with neighbouring states directly or behind-the-scenes, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
Getting back to the way Russia’s dialogue with Europe and the US on Ukraine was developing, the president said “It is not by chance that I have mentioned our American friends, as they have always been influencing our relations with neighbours directly or behind-the-scenes”.
“If some European countries have forgotten about their national pride long ago and are considering sovereignty to be a great luxury, real state sovereignty is an absolutely essential condition for Russia’s existence,” Putin said.
“Of course, sanctions are harmful, but they are harmful for everyone, including for those who initiate them,” Putin stressed. The Russian president however said sanctions and restrictions motivate to reach the set aims. Putin said he’s sure that the sanctions are not just a “nervous reaction of the United States and its allies” to Russia’s behaviour in connection with events in Ukraine and not due to “the Crimean spring.”
“The policy of containment was not invented yesterday. It has been carried out against this country for many and many years — always, if one can say. For decades if not centuries,” Putin said.
“Each time when someone believes that Russia has become too strong, independent, these tools are used immediately,” the Russian leader said.
Russia isn’t going to stop relations with Europe or America. Besides, Putin said, Russia has many strategic friends and partners in the world. The country will be open for the world and for attracting investments from abroad for joint projects, the president said. He sets a task of increasing the investment in the Russian economy to 25% of the GDP by 2018.
On import substitution:
Reasonable import substitution is Russia’s strategic goal in the near future, Vladimir Putin said in his address. Russia should get rid of dependency on foreign equipment, including for oil drilling in the Arctic, the president said. According to him, when foreign companies buy equipment abroad, it doesn’t do any good for Russia. They should use local products, Putin said. If Rusia buys anything abroad, the products have to be unique. Putin set the task to create conditions fot the SME to take part in the government procurement programs.
Who loves Russia should wish freedom for it On support of terrorism in Russia from abroad and disbalance in the world
Since 2002, when the US abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, there’s been a threat of strategic disbalance in the world, and it’s bad even for the US itself, Vladimir Putin said. “I think this is harmful for the United States as well, because it creates the dangerous illusion of invincibility,” Putin said.
He noted Russia isn’t going to get involved in the arms race though it will do its best to provide its security. The president added that Russia has nonstandard solutions.
It’s useless to try talking to Russia from position of strength. “We remember the countries that supported the terrorists in Russia …and those people make trouble today in Chechnya,” Putin said. The terrorists, according to the president, still receive support from abroad. “Those countries want the Yugoslavian scenario to happen in Russia, he said. Putin noted they will fail just as Hitler failed with his misanthropic idea.
On government spending:
According to the president, Defense Ministry should create a new system for control of budget spending. Improper spending in the sphere of defense can be considered as a threat to national security, he says.
Vladimir Putin says all budget corporations should have a common treasury, and all companies with large state share should reduce their costs several per cent each year.
On industry modernization:
Putin says Russia is capable of modernizing its economy and being leader in the world in certain industries. To achieve that, Russia has to use internal resources, like the Academy of Sciences, and attract Russian nationals from abroad. By 2020 half of Russian colleges should have training cources for 50 most popular professions, says the president.
On demography and care for the disabled:
Russian demography programs have proven efficient and the programs will be extended for Crimea, says the president.
“The country’s population is almost 144 million people, it’s 8 million over the UN outlook,” says Putin. Russia has life a expectancy of over 71 years and has all chances to increase it to 74, he says.
Putin thanks the Russian athletes for their participation in the Sochi Paralympic Games. He says Russia should increase support for the disabled. This, according to the president, includes professional training, production of specific goods, among other things.
#AceWorldNews – AUSTRIA (Vorarlberg) – September 13 – The governor of Vorarlberg has told hospitals run by Austria’s westernmost province to suspend circumcisions motivated by religious custom, citing a German regional court ruling that the practice amounted to causing criminal bodily harm.
Minor protest in front of Washington Convention Center in connection with the American Association of Pediatricians annual meeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Markus Wallner says he sees the German decision last month, arising from the case of a child whose circumcision led to medical complications, as “precedence-setting judgement.”
He told provincial hospitals Tuesday not to perform the procedure except for health reasons until the legal situation is clarified in Austria.
The decision does not affect religiously motivated circumcisions performed outside hospitals run by the Vorarlberg government, and comes a week after two Swiss hospitals announced that they would temporarily stop performing circumcisions.
On Thursday, the Zurich children’s hospital announced that it was temporarily halting circumcision operations. “We are in the process of evaluating the legal and ethical stance in Switzerland,” said Marco Stuecheli, a spokesman for the hospital.
“There can be complicated cases where the mother of a child wants a circumcision but the father is opposed to it,” he added.
AceWorldNews – BRITAIN – May 14 – Stephen Sutton, the inspirational cancer charity fund-raiser has died peacefully in his sleep this morning.
His mother released a statement on the Stephen’s Story Facebook page confirming his death this morning, where she said her heart is “bursting with pride”.
The statement read: “My heart is bursting with pride but breaking with pain for my courageous, selfless, inspirational son who passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of this morning, Wednesday 14th May.
“The ongoing support and outpouring of love for Stephen will help greatly at this difficult time, in the same way as it helped Stephen throughout his journey.
We all know he will never be forgotten, his spirit will live on, in all that he achieved and shared with so many.
California Obamacare enrollees are struggling to find doctors who accept their newly purchased health insurance plans.
I struggle in my tiny Scottish brain to understand and relate myself to American healthcare again here. I don’t know how other countries work, but today, same as every Monday I drive for my medication, or someone collects for me (I Still take some and have other medications at hand) to the chemist. I only see my Dr if there is a change in medication, mostly it is phone consultations as it’s often hard for me to make an appointment. I will get 8 items today in a big bag for free £$. In two weeks I have a scan on my knees planned last week at hospital, again for free. Should I decide I want to see my Dr today, I call before 10am, see him within 3 hours with any new medication, again FREE So why does the biggest, bestest nation on Earth have to keep people waiting months, charge hundreds of dollars a month and allow at least 500 Americans to die every day. A health service ranked about 30th best in the World.
As usual, links at the bottom
WHAT HAPPENED AMERICA? How can little old me get that in tiny Scotland (Totally different rules from England) and you can’t America? I feel guilt speaking to American friends always 😦 the ones who need medication badly and have to wait. In a system YOU pay for, you can’t have a say in what medication you need. North Korea has better health care 😦
UCSF Dr. Kevin Grumbach calls the phenomenon “medical homelessness.” CBS San Francisco says that many of the health care clinics for low-income individuals that helped people enroll in Obamacare are now seeing those same people “coming back to the clinic begging for help.” “They’re coming back to us now and saying, ‘I can’t find a doctor,'” Rotacare clinic staffer Mirella Nguyen told CBS San Francisco. “What good is coverage if you can’t use it?”
The problem stems from Obamacare’s “narrow networks” – extreme restrictions on access to doctors and hospitals in an effort to cut costs. California single mother of two Thinn Ong experienced the pain of Obamacare’s narrow networks when she realized that her $200-a-month Obamacare plan is not accepted by many of the doctors in her area. “Yeah, I sign it. I got it. But where’s my doctor? Who’s my doctor? I don’t know,” said a frustrated Ong.
CBS San Francisco reports that “Experts said the magnitude of the problem is growing, and will soon be felt by all Californians.” Breitbart News contributor Scot Vorse experienced the reality of Obamacare’s narrow networks when he discovered that the closest dentist who accepted the required dental plan he was forced to purchase for his children was over 100 miles away. Californians are not the only ones coming to terms with the reality of Obamacare’s narrow networks. In Staten Island, New York, Margaret Figueroa, who suffers from a neurological disease that has required four brain surgeries, says her Obamacare plan denied vital medications and dropped all her doctors. Figueroa’s congressman, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), said he’s already received similar complaints from at least a dozen of his constituents.
Concerns that Obamacare’s narrow networks would spawn a medical homelessness crisis have been building for months. The Washington Post warned in January that “Obamacare’s narrow networks are going to make people furious.” Obamacare’s narrow networks crisis comes as vulnerable Democrats are scrambling to distance themselves from the president’s unpopular health care program. On Saturday, the New York Times reported that Obamacare has Democrats “running from it rather than on it.” Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said last week that Obamacare will cost Democrats dearly in the Nov. 4 midterm elections. “We will lose seats in the House,” said Lynch. “And I think we may lose the Senate. I think that’s a possibility if things continue to go the way they have been… primarily because of health care.”
10:58 02/04/2014 A bill on organ donation, which the Healthcare Ministry has submitted to the government, stipulates that children above one year of age can become organ donors, but only with the approval of their parents, a ministry official told RIA Novosti.
#AceWorldNews says Demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro’s primary train station turned ugly Thursday when Brazilians protesting against a ten cent fare hike violently clashed with police.
Activists threw stones and petrol bombs at police dressed in full riot gear as the chaos spilled from inside the station onto the surrounding street.
A cameraman for Band TV was hospitalized in serious condition after he was struck by either a stun grenade fired by police or an explosive thrown by demonstrators. Thousands of commuters were trapped inside when police shut down the transit system, and many became ill because of the tear gas.
Thais Jorao, 22, told The Washington Post that the outrage was about more than the fare increase. “If it was a public transportation fare hike when we had good health services and education, you would not have this many people on the street,” he said.
“On top of this you see spending with the world Cup, things that we really don’t need. We want health, education, decent public transportation.”
When we as people suffer from any illness, mind issue, depression, pain, anything that makes us feel less than Human and suffer unimaginable despair. Some suffer 24/7 and if it is unfair on these people, screaming and crying all day unable to do limited things. Can you imagine? Then there are people who are in pain all day but are able to take a shower (Just) Make their Dinner (Just) suffer darkness, thoughts of utter despair, I can imagine. Some may work with pain but are in pain all day, struggle to work, struggle to go for lunch, living a life where nobody seems to notice them. I can’t imagine
There are many ways we can be when we are ill in body or mind long-term and I believe we who suffer can help by doing one thing and that is “Doing something Human every day” That could be advice to a friend, helping someone with a problem, speaking to someone who lives alone and giving them comfort, speaking to someone in pain, helping a PC user fix a problem (I did this tonight for a friend) and in that moment I felt human
How do we define ” Doing something Human every day” in a way that does not come across patronising or smarmy or big-headed. For me it is the smallest things we can do that are the most helpful. I see it every day and I try to do it every day, and I guess for a “moment” I feel human
Some days for me taking my Daughters to nursery school and going to the shop as well as take the dog out is amazing, the satisfaction I feel after being able to do this, knowing I will suffer badly with pain the next day, is brilliant. The next day I suffer, but I think “Look what I did yesterday” You see it’s the small things. Sometimes we try too hard to do the big things and suffer for it, keep it small, realistic and worthwhile
We live in a pain that makes us feel as if it is not fair and also hurts the people who love us and care for us, I am talking about the people we live with. I know mostly everyone with pain of any kind, body or mind can have an impact on their home, some realise it and some don’t. I think the more we realise it, talk about it like adults the better it can get. Again, the little things
We may live a cruel life some of us and feel inhuman, but I think we owe it to ourselves to feel human like anyone else. You suffer? Give it a try, do one good thing for another and see how you feel
To help another is to help yourself. Try it, what you got to lose? It could be as simple as liking something horrible online to saying hi to someone you know is alone
#AceHealthNews says according to latest health reports , the prognosis that only half the UK population will be obese by 2050 ”underestimate the true scale of the problem,” a new report has warned. The National Obesity Forum says Britain is in for the worst case obesity scenario.
What scientists call “Overweight” changes with our knowledge of human health (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“It is entirely reasonable to conclude that the determinations of the 2007 Foresight Report (i.e. that half the population might be obese by 2050 at an annual cost of nearly 50 billion pounds), while shocking at the time, may now underestimate the scale of the problem,”the report by the National Obesity Forumstated.
“Obesity and weight management are a direct cause of many health problems and are already placing enormous demands on the NHS at a time when health resources are stretched like never before. The current situation is unsustainable,” Professor David Haslam, the forum’s chair said.
Hard-hitting action is needed to tackle the problem, experts say.
Picture of an Obese Teenager (146kg/322lb) with Central Obesity, side view. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to the UK Department of Health, most people are overweight or obese in England. This includes 61.9 percent of adults and 28 percent of children aged between 2 and 15.
An abundance of obesity has been linked to three major factors: Fast food, ready meals and lack of exercise. People munch their high-calorie guilty-food pleasures, such as burgers and fries, and drink their beers and milk shakes sitting in front of their TV’s and PCs. A sedentary lifestyle is turning families into couch potatoes, with obesity guaranteed. What’s even worse is that the disease boosts the risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, hypertension, osteoarthritis and depression, just to name a few. According to the UK’s Faculty of Public Health, these diseases together cause over 10,000 obesity-related premature deaths annually in Britain.
“Studies and data published since 2007 demonstrate the increased prevalence of obesity, morbid obesity and wider weight management issues. They show how widespread poor nutrition and food choices are among the population, and how little knowledge exists about proper hydration and its importance,”David Haslam noted.