This is the view from the market town of Ledbury, the heart of a rural community in Herefordshire, England. The county is set between the Malvern Hills and the
border with Wales. Recording facts about the pandemic as it happens from direct evidence or reliable information sources worldwide.
Background. Viruses are everywhere. Probably the earliest to be noticed and the one everyone now knows is the influenza
virus. The word ‘influenza’ coming from medieval Latin meaning ‘(astrological) influence (of the stars)’ and the illness was first recorded
by Hippocrates in 412 B.C.E. It is an orthomyxovirus and the form Influenza A has the potential to cause pandemics. The first viral pandemic
was in 1580 C.E. The most recent were all influenza virus A. “Spanish” Flu in 1918, H2N2 strain (Asian Flu) in 1957, H3N2 strain “Hong Kong”
Flu in 1967, H5N1 strain (Bird Flu) in 2005 and H1N1 strain (Swine Flu) in 2009.
The cold-weather Annual Seasonal Flu is a mild illness which has been common worldwide for many years. One influenza A(H1N1), one influenza A(H3N2), and one or
two influenza B viruses (depending on the vaccine) are included in each season’s influenza vaccines.
The earliest virus to affect humanity was probably the poliovirus which is a picornavirus. It was first described in the UK in 1789.
Because of widespread vaccination from the mid-1950’s onwards, polio was eliminated from the Western Hemisphere in 1994 but outbreaks have since been noted in
Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Around 1976 a retrovirus in Congo, West Africa passed from chimpanzees to humans and has since spread everywhere. The human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV) attacks the body’s immune system leaving you wide open to other diseases. The illness, termed AIDS, peaked between 2005 and 2012 but to date over 36
million people have died. Another virus, a coronavirus, caused the SARS outbreak of 2002 in Guandong Province, China but the outbreak was only
classed as an epidemic. Another coronavirus caused the MERS outbreak in the Middle East in 2012.
A new coronavirus strain, SARS-Cov-2A, leading to the disease COVID-19, has appeared in China possibly contracted by humans from
live animals at a market in Wuhan. Previous outbreaks, SARS and MERS came from bats, via palm civet cats and camels respectively.
The virus can be de-activated by soap solution or a 70%+-alcohol sanitary handwash solution. The name comes from the corona or crown which shows up on an electron
Virions of coronavirus (colored transmission electron microscopy image).Image Credit: Dr. Fred Murphy & Sylvia Whitfield/CDC
30th December 2019 A hospital director, Dr Ai Fen, texts colleagues at Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, China saying that she has received a patient
report that indicates that a new, highly contagious, strain of virus that looks like SARS has been discovered. You can read her story here.
Opthalmologist Dr. Li Wenliang, also working at the Wuhan hospital, spreads the word on Chinese social media.
3rd January 2020 Dr. Ai and Dr. Li are approached by the police. Dr. Li is told he must stop making false comments and
spreading rumours. He signs a letter of apology.
7th January The virus is identified in China and days later the genome is available for study.
13th January A test to detect the new coronavirus is produced in Berlin.
22nd January The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA publishes an online Dashboard
which visualises and tracks reported coronavirus cases worldwide in real-time.
Thursday 23rd January The city of Wuhan enters lock-down with people forcibly confined to their homes.
Two Chinese tourists come to Turin and a week later are tested positive for coronavirus.
29th January The first new coronavirus cases are confirmed in two Chinese nationals who fell ill while staying at the Staycity Aparthotel in York.
30th January Dr Li is diagnosed with coronavirus.
1st February Snapshot. Right-click to view full-size image
3rd February The first part of the 1000-bed Huoshenshan Emergency Field Hospital is opened to patients in Wuhan, having been
constructed using prefabricated units in 11 days.
4th February Ten people on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess in the Japanese port of Yokohama test positive for new coronavirus.
Thursday 6th February Dr. Li Wenliang, aged 34, dies at 18:58 GMT sparking widespread public anger and grief in China.
6th February Today marks the 68th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the UK throne.
Steve Walsh from Brighton tests positive for the coronavirus after returning from a ski resort in France.
10th February Five more people test positive linked to Mr Walsh and the ski resort.
11th February After public protests, the chief of the Hubei Health Commission and its director are fired.
The World Health Organization names the coronavirus disease COVID-19.
13th February Xu Depu, former director of Ezhou city Chinese medicine hospital, dies.
From today Hubei province includes “clinically diagnosed cases” in the number of confirmed cases. This means it includes
those showing symptoms, and having a CT scan showing an infected lung, rather than relying only on the standard nucleic acid tests.
The statistics show a sharp increase today because of this.
18th February Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reports death of neurosurgeon Dr. Liu Zhiming, a director of Wuchang Hospital
in Wuhan, aged 51, at 10.54 on Tuesday morning.
Wednesday 19th February AlJazeera reports that two elderly people have died from coronavirus in the city of Qom, south of Tehran.
In a later interview on the 24th March, the Mayor of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, reports via Agence France-Presse that about 40,000 football fans from Bergamo
travelled the 30 miles (50km) to Milan’s San Siro stadium to watch their team, Atalanta, play the Spanish team Valencia in the Champions League
on this day. About 2,500 Valencia fans also travelled to Milan and Valencia later reported that more than a third of their players and coaching staff
had tested positive for the virus. Atalanta won the match 4-1 so Bergamo fans partied late into the night.
20th February Two Chinese tourists have tested positive in Italy. Today a 38-year-old man is the first Italian to test
positive for the virus in the town of Codogna in Lombardy. It is believed the virus was mistaken for seasonal flu before this point in time.
Italy also has an above-average elderly population.
29th February First death in the US is reported at EvergreenHealth Medical Center, Kirkland, Kings County, Washington State.
1st March Second death in the US is reported at a nursing home, the Life Care Center also in Kirkland, Kings County, Washington State.
1st March Snapshot. Right-click to view full-size image
2nd March Figures released in May show that the first death in the UK occurred today in a care home.
Tuesday 3rd March US President Donald Trump donates his salary for 4th quarter of 2019 to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Three more people have died in UK hospitals in Nottinghamshire, Essex and Buckinghamshire.
5th March Peking University’s School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai report the virus has mutated
into two forms, a milder 'S' form and a more contagious 'L' form.
Two more UK deaths are reported, a woman in her 70’s at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading and a patient at at Pennine acute hospitals trust in
6th March Another death in the UK, a man in his late eighties at Milton Keynes Hospital.
Cruise ship Grand Princess is quarantined off the Californian coast.
9th March The Italian government places its 60 million residents in quarantine. Shops are closed two days later except for supermarkets and pharmacies.
First person diagnosed with coronavirus in Herefordshire.
NHS England reports in May that, by today, 16 people have died in hospital in the UK.
10th March Dr. Roberto Stella, 67, the head of a medical association in northern Italy dies. Chinese leader, Xi Jinping visits Wuhan. Cheltenham Festival three-day horse racing event begins.
Nadine Dorries, 62, the conservative MP and junior health minister, is the first British politician who has tested positive for coronavirus.
The American College of Physicians publishes a research paper concluding that COVID-19 has an incubation period of approximately 5 days, similar to the SARS virus.
The Cheltenham Festival of horse-racing takes place over the next four days. By the time it ends, there have been 51 deaths in the UK although only eleven have been announced
by the UK Government.
11th March The US President in an address to the Nation says The European Union failed to take the same precautions [as the US] and
restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.
He also says The virus will not have a chance against us. We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare and the most talented doctors,
scientists and researchers anywhere in the world.
First death from COVID-19 confirmed in Ireland.
This chart shows the world statistics.
12th March Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says the country’s coronavirus outbreak could be part of a biological attack on the Islamic Republic.
This cartoon may be close to the mark.
Friday 13th March US President declares a National Emergency.
In Ireland, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, closes all schools, colleges and childcare facilities.
The Evening Standard reports that the UK Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has told education leaders that they shouldn’t be closing college campuses. The
Prime Minister has said that school trips abroad should be cancelled but that mass closures could do more harm than good. At least eight British universities have
ignored Government advice and moved parts of their classroom teaching online with some also axing exams and field trips.
First death from COVID-19 confirmed in Scotland.
15th March The New York Post reports an ISIS newsletter is informing jihadists that the plague is a torment sent by God on whomsoever He wills.
16th March Racing is on at Hereford Racecourse with six races this afternoon. The going is ‘soft, heavy in places’.
New York Times reports the rise of new infections as the total number of cases outside China has for the first time surpassed those inside China.
First death from COVID-19 confirmed in Wales.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a press conference and announces people should work from home where possible and avoid restaurants, pubs, clubs and theatres.
People over 70 and anyone showing symptoms should self-isolate, but schools should stay open.
In the United States, the City and County of San Francisco moves quickly issuing a Shelter in Place Order.
Click/tap to download.
17th March UK Finance minister Rishi Sunak announces a package of support for businesses, including government-backed loans of at least £330 billion.
Macdonalds USA are closing all seating areas in their restaurants to the public. Walk in - take out and drive in - pick up orders will continue.
18th March From noon today all Czech citizens are required to wear masks when they leave their homes.
UK Prime Ministers Questions shows ‘social distancing’ on the back benches but not on the front benches!
A post on Twitter #iran from Shabbir Hassanally tells us that 103 year old Iranian ‘super granny’ Khavar Ahmedi has fully recovered from COVID-19,
discharged from hospital and back home with her family. She displays a paper that reads — ‘Thank God, I defeated corona.’ She will turn 104 soon.
Love and prayers for her ♡ The National Emergencies Trust, an independent UK charity set up last November to provide a domestic disaster response, launches a cornavirus appeal
in partnership with the Red Cross.
New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, closes all schools in New York State until 1st April.
Thursday 19th March China’s Health Ministry reports no new cases in Wuhan or the surrounding Hubei province although the risk of new
cases has not been eliminated.
The i newspaper reports that, after it reduced lending interest rate from 0.75% to 0.25% last week, the Bank of
England today cuts it again down to 0.1%. this is the lowest level in the Bank’s 325-year history.
The i newspaper also reports that the Queen left Buckingham Palace yesterday to move to Windsor Castle with
the Duke of Edinburgh as they socially distance themselves from royal duties.
The Czech Republic enforces its first day of making it mandatory to cover mouths and noses in public to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. A few days
later a Czech vlogger posts this video on YouTube.
20th March The Hereford Times quotes the Director of Public Health for Herefordshire, Karen Wright, saying that In line with national guidance,
community testing of all possible cases has now been stopped. The testing is now focussed on health care and other priority settings. We will not therefore
be able to confirm the number of cases in Herefordshire. This will be the case in other local authorities.
UK Schools are closing from this afternoon. Schooling is to be arranged for children of key workers in healthcare, emergency services, prisons, delivery services.
Pubs, restaurants, cafes, clubs, theatres, leisure centres and other public venues in the UK are ordered to close after it appears that the earlier advice not to
go there was widely ignored in London and other cities. This is not legally enforceable at the present time.
The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announces the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The Scheme allows an employer to designate
certain individuals who are paid wages via the online Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system as ‘furloughed’, keeping them on payroll but not requiring them to work.
The employer can seek reimbursement from the Government of up to 80% of a furloughed worker’s usual monthly wage costs, subject to a cap of £2,500
per month per furloughed employee. The Scheme will be backdated to start from 1 March 2020 and will run for an initial period of four months. The employer can also
claim up to 80% of the associated employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions.
21st March The National Trust in England closes its historic houses and gardens to the public. This is prompted as increased visitor numbers might be expected
tomorrow for Mothering Sunday.
UK train services are to run much reduced serves from today.
The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, is interviewed on the BBC Andrew Marr Show this morning. This is the first page of a letter sent out to vulnerable people today. The key words are stay at home at all times and avoid face-to-face contact for at least 12
weeks from today. Right-click to view full-size image or
23rd March Despite the appeal, people are still crowding together on the London Underground trains without wearing masks or keeping a safe distance apart. Reports
are that many are foreign construction workers employed on sites in Central London. On Followcn.com the editor, Isherwood Feng, reports that around 5 million people in China lost their jobs amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus in the
first two months of this year, according to data published by the Chinese Government on 16th March.
At 8.30pm UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces that the country is entering a ‘lock-down’ phase to help to limit the spread of the epidemic.
This means all shops closing except for food stores and pharmacies. People not in essential services must stay at home and only go out to walk the dog or for exercise
once a day. Police are to be given legal powers to impose fines and to disperse crowds. This is an extract from the statement.
He went on to say
To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately close all shops
selling non-essential goods including clothing, electronic goods and other premises including libraries, playgroounds and outdoor gyms and places of
worship. We will stop all getherings of more than two people in public, excluding people you live with, and we’ll stop all social events including
weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies but excluding funerals .... No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this. I know the damage this disruption
is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.
This chart shows the world statistics.
Tuesday 24th March The six Household Waste & Recycling Centres in Herefordshire are closing. Kerbside household waste collections are continuing.
The ExCeL Exhibition Centre in Newham, East London is to be converted into a 4000-bed medical facility which will be named the National Health Service (NHS)
NHS Voluntary Responders has been set up to support the NHS and the care sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. The volunteers will support the 1.5m people
in England who are at most risk from the virus to stay well. Medical and other professionals, will be able to refer people on to NHS Volunteer Responders
and be confident that they have been matched with a reliable, named volunteer. Each volunteer will be provided with a log-in to the GoodSAM Responder mobile phone app.
When the app is switched to ‘on duty’, it shows live and local volunteer tasks to pick from nearby. Within hours of launching 170,000 people sign up.
My local convenience store, SPAR in Ledbury, Herefordshire is displaying this notice.
25th March The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announces that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed until 2021.
Summary of start of entire country quarantines: Italy 10 March, Denmark 12 March, Spain 16 March, France 17 March, Ireland 23 March, United Kingdom, Australia 24 March,
India 25 March.
Time magazine’s Ciara Nugent reports South Korea, which in early March had the worst outbreak outside of China, has managed to slow the rate of new
infections without introducing lockdown-style measures. Instead, the country carried out testing on a massive scale and aggressively traced patients’ contacts by
tracking their movements through their credit card transactions and cell phone use — as well as widespread surveillance cameras — enabling them to isolate
those who were at risk. A transparent public information campaign also helped people to stay away from high risk neighborhoods and take other action to protect
themselves. Kings College, London is releasing an app. called COVID SYMPTOM TRACKER where people can feed in data to increase understanding of how the virus develops.
26th March UK Parliament is closed until further notice. Two vacuum cleaner manufacturers, GTech in Worcester and Dyson in Hullavington, Wiltshire are planning
to adapt their factories to produce medical ventilators for the NHS (if possible). Right-click to view full-size image
Patients have to be heavily sedated as the machine pumps the oxygen mixture through a tube directly into the lungs. Weaning a patient off the ventilator can also
be a difficult process.
Landmarks turn blue and Britons come out to clap in support of the NHS. The clapping is repeated on following Thursday evenings at 8pm.
A snapshot of UK cases.
27th March Both Boris Johnson and Health Secretary, Matt Hancock have tested positive for COVID-19 and are self-isolating. They sat
together in Parliament on Wednesday.
Another snapshot from the Johns Hopkins University Dashboard. Right click to view the picture full-size
A British company is developing a 10-minute coronavirus antibody test which Boris Johnson describes as a game-changer in the fight against the
pandemic. Health technology firm Mologic is aiming for the test to be rolled out by as early as June if the trials are successful. Antibody tests are designed
to establish whether people have previously been infected, as opposed to antigen tests which show if someone actually has the COVID-19 disease caused by the
virus. Mologic say assessment and validation of its COVID-19 diagnostic test had begun this week at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and St Georges
Hospital, and that global partners would also examine the prototypes.
From the Church Times.
28th March The Guardian newspaper reports that two further NHS Nightingale field hospitals will be set up at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in
Birmingham having 5000 beds and at the Manchester Central Convention Complex (Manchester Central) which will have 1000 beds.
Sunday 29th March On BBC Radio 4 Broadcasting House this morning. Dr. Catherine Calderwood, Medical Officer for Scotland says that the COVID-19 test
does not detect the virus unless it has reached a level of infection where symptoms are present. So there is no point testing people who may be infected but are not yet
At the daily Government briefing this afternoon, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, reports that 750,000 people have
signed up to be NHS Voluntary Responders. Also Dr. Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, says it will be clear in two or three weeks as to whether the
first peak of infections has been reached.
A letter from the UK Prime Minister is being sent out to around 30 million households (66 million people) around the country in the coming days. The letters
will cost the Government around £5.7 million. Here is the letter we received on 7th April. Right-click to view/save full-size image.
The letter is also published in ten other languages – Bengali, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Romani, Romanian, Russian, Somali, Urdu and Welsh. All shown here.
The Worcester News newspaper online reports that a hospital patient died yesterday of coronavirus at Hereford County Hospital, the first death recorded in the county.
Monday 30th March The annual vehicle MOT (Ministry of Transport) roadworthiness safety tests are extended for six months.
The BBC News correspondent in Paris reports that, in France, deaths occurring in care homes have not been counted in the official figures.
A further Nightingale hospital is to be set up at the Scottish Exhibition Centre (SEC) in Glasgow and another field hospital, called the Dragon’s Heart Hospital,
at the Millennium (Principality) Stadium in Cardiff with 2000 beds.
The USNS (United States Naval Ship) Comfort is docking in New York Harbour at Pier 90, Manhattan’s West Side, to provide an additional 1000-bed medical
facility to relieve New York’s overstretched hospitals. New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio, says 750 beds will be put into play immediately. The ship is a converted oil tanker.
British low-cost airline easyJet has grounded its entire fleet of over 330 aircraft.
Moscow is put into total lock-down. Dog walkers must remain within 100 metres of their front doors.
Metro News reports that A&E nurse, Ashleigh Linsdell, at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, Lincolnshire has organised a team of craft workers
to make ‘scrubs’ for medical staff. Scrubs are designed to be simple (with minimal places for contaminants to hide), easy to launder,
and cheap to replace if damaged or stained irreparably. In the United Kingdom, scrubs are sometimes known as ‘theatre blues’.
There is a shortage of scrubs as they are replaced frequently during the day and she created the ‘For The
Love of Scrubs – Our NHS Needs You’ Facebook group, to coordinate people together to sew as many sets as possible. Less than a week later,
the group has 9,000 members with people all over the UK making scrubs at home for their local hospitals.
31st March The Kashmiri goats who normally live wild on a headland above Llanduduno in North Wales are taking advantage of the quiet streets to feed
in town gardens. The herd was a gift from Queen Victoria.
A snapshot of the world situation and Europe in detail at the end of March. WHO reports over three-quarter of a million confirmed cases which means that
total cases may be over a million. Right-click to view/save full-size images
1st April The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babis, messages President Trump on Twitter advising him to tackle coronavirus the Czech way.
Wearing a simple cloth mask, decreases the spread of the virus .... Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England opposes the widespread use of masks.
In a letter to the Leader of the House, the Commons Speaker urges him to consider having virtual proceedings in the House of Commons as a trial at
select committee hearings has been successful.
The Guardian newspaper reports that research at Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China has found that cats are highly susceptible to COVID-19.
The Metro newspaper confirms that the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is promising to find hundreds of billions of pounds to help employed
workers, the self-employed and tens of thousands of businesses, many of them in the hospitality and leisure sectors, which have been completely shut down
by the response to this epidemic.
The April edition of Three Counties Farmer newspaper reports that, as an essential link in the food supply chain, Hereford Livestock Market will remain open
operating under strict DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) guidelines with ‘Drop and Go’ procedures to protect staff, vendors and buyers.
Public toilets in Herefordshire are closed from today.
UK Finance, the trade organisation for banks and financial instututions, says that from today the limit for making contactless payments using chip-and-pin bank
cards will be raised from £30 to £45. It may take a little time for retailers to update their equipment. This means less use of the keypad with its risk
of contamination. Mobile phone users can continue to make contactless payments with their smartphones by holding the phone over the card reader.
2nd April The Times newspaper reports that previous research at Harvard has shown that, while bacteria multiply in warm, moist conditions, viruses spread
most effectively in cold,dry air. Researchers at Beihang University in China say that increases in average daytime temperatures in spring in China
are causing the spread of infections to slow down but only slowly. In the UK the temperature rise in a normal summer will not be enough to bring the reproduction
number to below 1, which is the figure needed for an epidemic to die out. This number is the number of people expected to be infected by one person with the virus.
In Britain at present the number is betweeen 2.5 and 3.5.
The website InterNewsCast reports that currently, about 265 million Americans are now on stay at home orders to combat the spread of coronavirus. The
Federal government has left the decision to individual State Governors. Florida, although having an elderly population, is still considering its position. JHU reports
at 5pm GMT the US has recorded 226,374 confirmed cases and 5,316 deaths. The world total of confirmed coronavirus cases exceeds 1 million.
Another news item.
ITV News reports that a Cambridge University spin-off company, Diagnostics for the Real World (DRW) has developed a portable coronavirus testing Machine called
Samba II which can diagnose COVID-19 from tiny traces of the genetic code in around 90 minutes to two hours. Twenty machines are already working at Addenbrooke’s
Hospital in Cambridge. DRW is also based at San Jose, CA and they have arranged for Brightwell Machine Microfactory to manufacture the test cartridges. They hope the test
can be rolled out at other hospitals throughout the country.
3rd April Two new field hospitals are to be set up in the UK with 1000 beds at Bristol University and 500 beds at a Harrogate conference centre.
The Week magazine reports that trials are beginning on a drug collection of more 15,000 compounds received from the Scripps Research Institute in California by
an Oxford company that uses AI to discover novel drugs. Exscientia, at the Oxford Science Park, will screen the drugs for effectiveness as a treatment for COVID-19.
Two other drugs under investigation are an anti-malarial called clorquinone and an anti-flu drug, Avigan (favipiravir)
which is undergoing clinical trials in Japan.
In the i newspaper, Dr. Gero Baiarda, the Chief Medical Officer of University College, London makes four points: First COVID-19 is
not a living organism, it is a protein chain of ribonucleic acid within a protective layer of lipid or fat. Second is is surprisingly fragile as its only protection
is the thin layer of fat. This is why soap or detergent will destroy it. Third it can persist on cardboard so parcels should be left in a secure place outside for
24 hours. Fourth it is easily transferred on raw food so cold food should be thoroughly washed and hot food cooked at 65°C for at least four minutes.
The French high-school bacalauréat (bac) exam is being cancelled this summer, the first time since it began under Napoleon Bonaparte in 1808.
The total world recorded deaths passes the 50,000 mark.
At a White House briefing today, US President Donald Trump recommends that Americans cover their faces with masks when outdoors. He reports that the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging people to wear face coverings like scarves or homemade cloth masks, but to keep medical-grade masks available for health workers.
Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at National Institutes of Health (NIH) cites recent information that the virus can actually be spread even when people
just speak as opposed to coughing and sneezing. And on March 31st, the CDC Director Robert Redfield had admitted in an interview with WABE, Atlanta that up to a quarter
of the people who are infected may be carriers but not show any symptoms. Also an infected individual could pass on the virus up to 48 hours before symptoms appear.
4th April Latest UK Government logo is:
On Sky News, Professor Mark Fielder, a medical microbiologist at Kingston University, explains that COVID-19 virus appears to be attacking two specific sets
of cells in the lungs, the mucus-producing cells and the fine hair cells that keep the airway clear of debris. The immune system reacts because it recognises the
body is under attack.
It can actually almost over attack, and become what we call hyperimmune, and set up a large attack which can then start to damage the healthy tissue underneath.
It can cause inflammation of the lungs effecting the alveoli and the transfer of oxygen to red blood cells. Intermedical (UK) Limited, a company which produces
portable oxygen supplies, says that the disease can progress to viral pneumonia which does not usually require hospitalisation but is a problem for anyone already
suffering from an immune deficiency or a respiratory ailment such as asthma.
US Surgeon-General Jerome Adams MD gives advice today on making a face mask.
Sunday 5th April UK National Express bus company are suspending coach services from midnight tonight indefinitely.
Following the news from the Czech Republic on 19th March, Our World in Data website reports confirmed cases in UK, 41,903 in Czech Republic 4,472.
Dr. Catherine Calderwood, Medical Officer for Scotland admits to travelling twice at weekends from Edinburgh to her second home in Fife in contradiction
to her own advice for everyone to stay home. She gives no explanantion but apologies to the NHS and the people of Scotland. (see 29th March).
The Queen broadcasts to the nation from Windsor Castle at 8pm BST on BBC1. Right click to view/save the video full-size.
Her Majesty the Queen will be 94 years old on 21st April 2020.
On the advice of his doctor, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is admitted to a St Thomas’s NHS Hospital, London this evening for tests. Downing Street says
This is a precautionary step, as the prime minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus. Johnson is likely to stay in hospital
overnight. Bloomberg reports that Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, has also been self isolating with symptoms of the virus for the past
6th April Prime Minister Boris Johnson is taken into intensive care at 7 pm BST.
7th April The Miami Herald explains the different orders which are being used in the United States. The League of Cities says that Safer at Home
usually means that people should do what they can to stay home but some jurisdictions allow non-essential businesses to remain open assuming they limit capacity or
impose social distancing measures inside. Stay Home limits ventures out of the home to essential activities such as doctor visits, grocery shopping and going
to work for essential employees. Shelter in Place is the most restrictive measure of the three. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a
shelter-in-place order, used for tornadoes and active shootings in particular, means you should get inside and stay inside until you’re given additional directives.
CNN reports that in the coronavirus situation there are exceptions for essential activities such as getting supplies and medicines, essential businesses such as
healthcare services, automobile rescue etc. and essential government functions for running the state. Also exercise outdoors for individuals in the local area is
allowed keeping social distancing. that could be used to treat the coronavirus, according to a report.
The Boston Globe reports that three Massachusetts hospitals - Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and UMass Memorial Health Care
in Worcester - have been granted approval by the US Food and Drug Administration to launch the first clinical trials in the US of the Japanese antiviral drug,
favipiravir. In the i newspaper, Professor Paul Hunter at the University of East Anglia, UK, reports that a
study indicates that the wearing of face masks by vulnerable people in high risk situations reduced the odds of infection by around 6% on average. When both
housemates and an infected household member wore masks the odds were reduced by around 19%. The study has not been published or peer-reviewed but the
researchers were keen to release their findings.
8th April BBC Midlands Today lunchtime tv programme shows a video of a tribute to the NHS from farmer Jack Pantall of Staunton-on-Wye, Herefordshire.
In the market town of Ledbury, Herefordshire, there are reports of a number of people suffering with COVID-19 symptoms during the last month. This includes one person
who tells us this morning that he had a serious form which had associated stomach troubles. He reports he has now made a full recovery. Sadly there is also an as yet
unconfirmed report of one death in the town.
Up to today there have been 16 deaths in the NHS, eight doctors and eight nurses. For the record many are immigrants who have spent their working
lives in the NHS. Their names and where and when they died are;
Dr. Adil El Tayar, surgeon, 63; at West Middlesex University Hospital, Islington on 25 March
Dr Habib Zaidi, GP 76; at Southend Hospital on 25 March
Dr. Amged El-Hawrani, ENT consultant, 55; at Leicester Royal Infirmary on 28th March
Dr. Alfa Sa’adu, retired medical director, 68; at Whittington Hospital in north London on 31 March
Prof Mohamed Sami Shousha, 79; in London on 2nd April
Anton Sebastianpillai, retired consultant geriatrician, 75; at Kingston Hospital on 4th April
Jitendra Rathod, heart surgeon, 58, at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff on 6th April
Dr Fayez Ayache, GP, 76; at Ipswitch Hospital on 8th April
Thomas Harvey, mental health nurse, 57; worked at Goodhayes Hospital, Ilford , died at home on 29th March
Aimee O’Rourke, nurse, 39; at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate 2nd April
Lynsay Coventry, midwife, 54; at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow on 2 April
Areema Nasreen, staff nurse, 36; at Walsall Manor Hospital on 3 April
Liz Glanister, nurse, 68; at Royal Liverpool University Hospital on 3 April
John Alagos, nurse, 23; at Watford General Hospital on 3 April
Rebecca Mack, 29; at Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle on 5 April
Alice Kit Tak Ong, 70; at the Royal Free Hospital, London on 7th April
Reuters correspondent, Brenda Goh, reports that the city of Wuhan began allowing people to leave today for the first time since it was locked
down 76 days ago despite fears of a second wave of infection if such restrictions are eased too soon. Residents are still urged not to leave
their neighbourhoods, the city and even the province unless necessary, health officials said yesterday.
9th April A snapshot of the most affected countries cases and deaths courtesy of Our World in Data website. To date the United
States has the most confirmed cases, Italy has the most deaths. Right-click to view full-size image
or A Downing Street spokesman says that Prime Minister Johnson has moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive
close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery. The Care Quality Commission realises that it is not recording deaths from COVID-19 in care homes and adds a tick box for confirmed or suspected
COVID-19 to its form that care homes must fill in to report a death.
The Hereford Times shows Hereford Hospital A&E staff wearing badges so that patients know the names of those treating them.
A Rigby cartoon to lighten the mood.
The Guardian newspaper reports that until now there has been support for the government’s announcement of a national voucher scheme
to ensure that children from the poorest families continue to receive free meals while schools are closed during the Covid-19 crisis.
But many schools have since complained that Edenred, the provider selected by government to supply the vouchers, does not have the capacity
to deal with the demand. To secure vouchers, schools have to upload data on children who are eligible for free school meals. A code is then
sent or emailed to parents, who can convert it into a weekly £15 voucher for each child, to be spent in the supermarket of their choice.
Many are still awaiting their codes.
In Grimsby, Zane Powles, assistant headteacher at Western Primary School has been walking five miles
every day to deliver free school meals to disadvantaged children. He carries 78 packed lunches in a large rucksack,
leaving them outside front doors before having a quick chat with each family from a distance. After three weeks of delivering the food, he
has become something of a local hero. One colourful poster put up on a fence by children reads, Well done, Mr Powles.
11th April The total number of cases in the USA exceeds 500,000. This map shows the countrywide spread, the states most affected and
also the six, mainly rural, states not accepting advice from Anthony Fauci and Robert Redfield.
Right-click to view/save full-size image.
The i newspaper reports that the State of New York now has more coronavirus cases than any single country in the world.
Also that the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has warned the UN Security Council that the pandemic poses a significant threat to the maintenance
of international peace and security. It says that diplomats blame Security Council inaction on the United States and China. Beijing argues that the
council does not have the mandate to act while Washington has insisted that any council action refer to the origins of the virus, much to the annoyance of China.
Easter Sunday 12th April The total number of deaths in the UK exceeds 10,000 and today the number of people on mechanical ventilators
in UK hospitals peaks at 3,300.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves hospital after being 3 nights in intensive care. He needed oxygen but was not on a ventilator. He will
convalesce at Chequers, the PM’s official country house residence, in Buckinghamshire.
13th April Angela Giuffrida in the Guardian newspaper reports that the total deaths in Italy to more than 20,000.
14th April Forbes reports that the US President announces today that he has put a hold on funding to the World Health Organization until a
60-to-90-day review of its pandemic response, accusing it of severely mismanaging and covering up the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
The UK Government stops using Worldometer COVID-19 statistics as questions are raised about their anonymous analysts and lack of information on sources.
The new data supplier will be the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) (see 22nd January and 27th March entries).
Wednesday 15th April ITV News reports that a 99-year-old [army] veteran who challenged himself to walk 100 lengths of his garden (before he turns 100
at the end of the month) has raised more than £7 million for the NHS.
[Captain] Tom Moore, who served in India and Burma, and now lives at Marston Moretaine in
Bedfordshire, originally set out to raise £1,000 – but a burst of donations has seen that sum pledged on average every 20 seconds. The fundraiser had
topped £1 million as of 9am on Tuesday, before surpassing £4 million as of 11pm and £7 million by 3pm on Wednesday. On Twitter his
daughter Hannah said We are overwhelmed by the response. It’s extraordinary. We remain proud and humbled by the generosity of the British public. Denmark’s children aged 11 and under are returning to schools and daycare centres today after a month of closures.
16th April An aircraft carrying 150 farm workers from Bucharest, Romania is due to land at Stansted airport today. It was chartered from Air Charter
Services by G’s growers in Cambridgeshire, a group of 17 nurseries which form one of the UK’s biggest salad growers. The firm has reported that 500
British people have registered their interest but up to 3,000 are needed to bring in the harvest. Fruit and vegetable picking is skilled and demanding work but it
is also a low-paid job which has been done by mainly foreign workers for the past 10 to 15 years. The National Farmer’s Union says that up to 70,000 seasonal
workers are needed.
Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Secretary, delivers the daily cornavirus briefing revealing that the lockdown is to continue for a further three weeks. He refers to
COBRA which is a cross-departmental committee meeting held in the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms at 70, Whitehall assembled in times of national emergency. The first
meeting was in 1972. He also mentions SAGE, a sub-committee, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, made up of leading figures in their respective fields
from across the world of public health, science and academia. They do not operate under Government instruction and membership changes based on expertise needed
to address the crisis at the time.
The Wall Street Journal shows a graphic of the US State Coronavirus Lockdowns. Right-click to view/save full-size image.
The White House issues “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again” (PDF) prepared by the US Centers for
Medicare & Medical Aid Services (CMS).
Bhasha Mukherjee, who won the Miss England pageant in Newcastle upon Tyne last August, flew back from India on 8th April and will return to work as
a junior doctor at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire after self-isolating for 14 days. Miss Mukherjee, who moved to the English city of Derby from Kolkata
at the age of nine, specializes in respiratory medicine. The 24-year-old has been in India for four weeks on behalf of Coventry Mercia Lions Club, a development
and community charity for which she was ambassador.
Jason Wilson in the Guardian newspaper reports that a wave of planned anti-lockdown demonstrations that have broken out around the US to protest against the
efforts of state governments to combat the coronavirus pandemic with business closures and stay-at-home orders have included far-right groups as well as more
mainstream Republicans. While protesters in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and other states claim to speak for ordinary citizens, many are also supported by street-fighting
rightwing groups like the Proud Boys, conservative armed militia groups, religious fundamentalists, anti-vaccination groups and other elements of the radical right.
20th April The NHS Blood and Transplant Service appeals for convalescent patients to donate blood plasma so that the antibodies can be used for
‘transfusion therapy’ for people with COVID-19 symptoms to boost their immune systems and improve chances of survival and speed of recovery.
Earlier small-scale trials in China were successful.
NHS England releases a breakdown of coronavirus deaths by ethnic minorities for the first time today. On 16th April, the Government announced an inquiry
was to be set up to look at why black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME) are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic in the UK.
The BBC is broadcasting 20-minute long home-schooling lessons called BBC Bitesize Daily from today continuing through the summer term. There are three lessons
for each year from Primary Year 1 (ages 5 to 6) to Secondary Year 10 (ages 14-15) making a total of 30 lessons per day. They are repeated from 9am to 3pm each day
on television and are also available online.
This article (ODT format), written by the Italian theoretical physicist and author, Carlo Rovelli, and published in the
i newspaper today gives us an overview of the situation.
21st April The UK Office for National Statistics has reported 1,662 deaths involving COVID-19 in England and Wales registered in the week up to
April 10th which occurred outside hospitals — 1,043 took place in care homes, 466 in private homes, 87 in hospices, 21 in other communal establishments and 45
elsewhere. The ONS says the numbers are based on where novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with
other health conditions. The NHS figures only include deaths in hospitals where a patient has been tested for COVID-19.
A previous report shows a provisional figure of 406 deaths registered occurred outside hospitals up to April 3rd — 217 were registered in
care homes, 33 in hospices, 136 in private homes, three in other communal establishments and 17 elsewhere. This information is published on the TalkTalk web page
and confirmed in other newspaper reports.
On the BBC West Midlands lunchtime programme today, some positive news about production of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) garments.
21st April Reuters News Agency reports that Chinese doctors in Wuhan say a growing number of cases in which people recover from the virus, but
continue to test positive without showing symptoms, is one of their biggest challenges as the country moves into a new phase of its containment battle.
Those patients all tested negative for the virus at some point after recovering, but then tested positive again, some up to 70 days later, the doctors said.
Many have done so over 50-60 days. Paul Hunter, a professor at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich School of Medicine, says an unusually slow shedding
of other viruses such as norovirus or influenza had been previously seen in patients with weakened immune systems.
23rd April Matt Hancock, the UK Health Secretary, gives the daily briefing.
He announces that the government is planning
to send out home testing kits via Amazon to people who are self-isolating with suspected COVID-19 symptoms. This is part of a test, track, tracestrategy
to enable social distancing rules to be relaxed. 3,000 clinical staff (tier 2) and 15,000 non-medical (tier 3) staff will be employed in a matter of weeks
to locate COVID-19 sufferers and trace everyone they had contact with. Belgium has said it will be employing 2,000 “coronavirus detectives” doing the
These initiatives were first employed in South Korea when COVID-19 arrived in the country in January. Health officials were given authority to use security
camera footage, credit-card records and GPS data from cellphones and car navigation systems to pinpoint exactly where a COVID-19-infected person had been and
then trace their contacts. Privacy concerns were not addressed.
William N. Bryan, head of the Science and Technology Directorate, a part of US Department of Homeland Security gives a presentation at the 5 pm EDT (Eastern
Daylight Time) daily Press briefing and shows this slide indicating the action of sunlight and humidity on the coronavirus. Right-click to view full
The president suggests further research that S&T might carry out and Mr. Bryan appears to agree.
BBC WORKLIFE website publishes an article by John Walton on how airlines may operate during the pandemic. Several airlines are exploring the idea of keeping middle
seats empty.Social distancing is impossible on a modern plane where seats are around 45 cm wide and rows 75-80 com apart. Daniel Baron of LIFE Aero Design says
Let’s not forget the cabin air circulation is on a par with operating theatres. A combination of pre-flight screening, thorough cabin sanitising, smart seat
assignments and masks will likely be the way forward in the short to medium term.
24th April Tom Moore (see 15th April) has now raised nearly £27 million for the NHS with his 100-lap garden walk. He has also
recorded “You‘ll Never Walk Alone” with singer Michael Ball which has become a number-one single. He will be 100-years-old on 30th April.
An article on face mask research is published by the American Chemical Society in their journal, ACS Nano. It is known that the virus is carried in fine
respiratory droplets called aerosols. Supratik Guha at the University of Chicago tested various fabrics and found that one layer of tightly woven cotton sheet
combined with one layer of silk or polycotton material filtered out 80-90% of aerosol particles depending on particle size. In particular silk, which can hold
a static charge, can act as an electrostatic barrier. They also found that a 1% gap reduced efficiency by half or more so to work the mask must fit properly.
[Ed. Note the President’s comments on 3rd April and the US Surgeon General’s comments on 4th April.]
26th April On the BBC Andrew Marr Show, Dominic Raab confirms that people arriving at ports and airports could be quarantined for 14 days as part of emerging
plans to lift Britain out of its lockdown. Officials at the Home Office, which is responsible for border security, and the Department for Transport are reported to have
drafted plans for 14-day stay at homenotices. Such a rule would apply to foreign arrivals as well as UK citizens, with fines for failure to remain at the address
given for isolation.
Monday 27th April Boris Johnson is back at work at No.10 Downing Street today. Speaking to the Press this morning he says that he is very aware
of the economic effect on the country of the lockdown and he intends to ease restrictions as soon as possible but that he will not jeopardise the gains already
made by the sacrifices of the British people in slowing the pandemic and we must avoid any risk of a second wave of infections overwhelming the National Health
Service and causing even more economic damage.
30th April The WHO website gives these figures for the number of deaths in each of the worst affected countries at 3:00pm Central European Summer Time today.
Worldwide the figures are over 3 million cases and over 200,000 deaths.
Boris Johnson announces today that the outbreak in the UK is past its peak as the R₀ number is below 1 [the Reproduction number indicates the average
number of people who will contract a contagious disease from one person with that disease. It specifically applies to a population of people who were previously
free of infection and have not been vaccinated.] As well, he notes that both the number of covid-related hospital admissions and the number of patients in
intensive care are falling.
The i newspaper reports that the annual Chinese National People’s Congress will be held on 22 May. About 3,000 delegates
will travel from across the country to Beijing.
Nearly 4,000 COVID-19 patients have been treated with convalescent blood plasma across the US, according to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. In April, the
US Food and Drug Administration designated the clinic as the lead institution providing coordinated access to investigational convalescent plasma for
hospitalized patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19. Coronavirus survivors can volunteer to donate their blood and the plasma extracted contains
antibodies which will fight off the infection.
1st May At the daily press briefing, Matt Hancock says as of 9am today there were 122,347 coronavirus tests carried out in the UK exceeding
the target of 100,000 for the end of April. However, the Health Service Journal (HSJ) reported that the government was including home-testing kits sent out
by post in the tally of tests to reach the target, even if the recipient has not yet provided and returned their sample.
2nd May The US Food and Drug Administration approves an experimental antiviral drug for emergency use. Preliminary results from a
government-sponsored study show that Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir, brand name Vaklury, shortened the time to recovery by
31% or about four days on average, for hospitalised Covid-19 patients.
In the UK a trial is about to begin on the transfusion of convalescent blood plasma into COVID-19 patients. More than 6,500 people have registered their
interest to take part in the trial and 150 people have donated so far. Donating takes about 45 minutes as the blood is filtered through a machine to remove
the plasma. [Ed. See 30th April for situation in the US]
Social-distancing Hereford style. If you don’t recognise the animal, it is of course the world-famous Hereford cow.
Monday 4th May Both Italy and Germany are easing lockdown restrictions from today.
The UK government has a second business loan scheme going live today; the Bounce Back Loan scheme is for ssmall and medium-sized businesses to borrow between
£2,000 and £50,000.The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there are no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be
up to 6 years.
[ Note: the borrower remains 100% liable to the lender for the debt but the government assumes the debt obligation for the loan in the event that the borrower
This follows on from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) which went live on March 23rd and allows businesses with up £45 million
annual turnover to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £5 million. The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender and pays interest and
any fees for the first 12 months. These loans cannot be taken out by banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers), public-sector bodies or state-funded
primary and secondary schools.
The Ledbury Reporter & Malvern Gazette newspaper published on a Friday and online has been providing information on the number of people who have died of
COVID-19 in Herefordshire.
The figures so far — April 14th ~ 19, April 23rd ~ 24, April 27th ~ 31 and April 30th ~ 32. May 3rd ~ 33.
An international virtual summit, convened by the European Commission and co-hosted by the UK and seven other countries, is happening today. It is attended by
leaders from more than 40 governments worldwide as well as the Chinese ambassador to the European Union, Zhang Ming, but the United States, India, Russia and Brazil
are absent. At the meeting around €7.4bn is pledged to develop vaccines, treatments and diagnostics to fight Covid-19.
5th May Published on ‘Stars and Stripes’ website.
World War II Red Army veteran, Sergeant Zinaida Korneva, 97, after hearing about Capt. Tom Moore’s renowned
fundraising walk for the NHS, shows the socks she has knitted for him as a birthday present. She lives in St. Petersburg, Russia and, inspired by his effort, she has
launched her own campaign to gather contributions for the families of doctors and nurses who have died of the infection. She is going to raise money by telling wartime
stories between now and May 9th (Russia’a anniversary of the the Nazi surrender in 1945). Both her daughter and granddaughter are doctors.
The i newspaper reports that a trial of the NHSX contact-tracing app (produced by National Health Service’s digital arm) is being
launched on the Isle of Wight, the island in the English Channel.
It works on iPhones and Android phones and uses Bluetooth technology to detect other phones in the neighbourhood. Civil liberty campaigners have raised concerns due
to the amount of personal information collected by the app and the fact that the records will be held in a central database. Matthew Ryder Q.C. says there may be legal
implications including the possibility of a legal challenge. However NHS England says all data will be held anonymously and deleted when the app is deactivated.
6th May Right-click to view full-size image. A US journal, AIP Advances, reports that a scientific team at Wuhan University led by Dr Jau Tang is designing a new type of jet engine using microwave air plasmas.
Beyond solid, liquid and gas, plasma is a form of electrically charged gas, which – when activated –can cause surges of energy. It uses air from the
atmsosphere and produces no carbon emmissions. A positive news item from Wuhan.
7th May The i newspaper reports the latest figures from the Care Quality Commission for daily deaths in care homes where COVID-19
is mentioned on the death certificate. April 27th ~ 613, April 28th ~ 405, April 29th ~ 331, April 30th ~ 304, May 1st 230. Also that the ONS official analysis figures
show that black men and women are four times more likely to die after contracting COVID-19 than white people in England and Wales. There is also an increased risk for
people of Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian origin and of mixed ethnicities. Research into the resaons is ongoing.
Friday 8th May In the UK, today is the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) day when the Second World War officially ended in Europe. The Ledbury
Reporter newspaper notes that there will be a National Toast at 3pm when everyone is encouraged to raise a glass at home to pay tribute to the fallen.
The CSSE latest dashboard.
The Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis provides this Crude oil WTI price chart.
This song is the highlight of the BBC VE Day Anniversary Concert shown this evening. It begins with Dame Vera Lynn and Katherine Jenkins. The lyrics are significant
for then and now.
We’ll meet again, Don’t know where, Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.
Keep smiling through, Just like you always do
’Til the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away
So will you please say “Hello” To the folks that I know?
Tell them I won’t be long
They’ll be happy to know That as you saw me go
I was singing this song
Music and lyrics composed and written by English songwriters Ross Parker and Hughie Charles, 1939.
9th May Two Herefordshire Waste Recycling Centres (rubbish tips) at Hereford and Leominster re-open. The other four sites remain closed.
10th May These news review comments come from this morning’s Broadcasting House on BBC Radio 4. The speakers are the author Dreda Say
Mitchell on the language used by the media and the gardening writer and TV presenter Monty Don on the view from Greece.
Boris Johnson makes a TV announcement at 7pm on a phased recovery programme. He refers to a document to be published this week giving more details.
11th May The UK Government publishes its 60-page Guidance Notes (PDF)
on its COVID-19 recovery strategy. Highlights are: Chapters 3 & 4 and Annnex A ‘Staying safe outside your home’.
Tennis and other forms of outside exercising are now allowed with social distancing observed. Also angling.
People should aim to wear a cloth face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they
do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops. However everybody (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible.
Workers should continue to work from home but those who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. For example this includes food production,
construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories. Hospitality and nonessential retail workplaces must remain closed. New
COVID-19 Secure guidelines, for workplaces will be published this week.
A second less-publicised document is issued online at the same time. Staying alert and safe (PDF ) which spells out that garden
centres and golf courses may re-open from May 13th.
12th May Deserted skies over England and Wales. Right-click to view full-size image.
The Express online newspaper has this summary of the easing of lockdown:
This afternoon the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announces in Parliament that financial support for businesses is extended.
Wednesday 13th May Full lockdown officially ends today in England after 50 days. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have their own timetables for easing lockdown.
The effect on the London Stock Market is shown in this record of the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 Index consisting of the 100 British companies with the highest
The Guardian newspaper reports that House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is told by Sir John Aston, the chief scientific adviser at the Home Office, that
there were 18.1 million arrivals to the UK by air in the period from 1 January to 23 March, of whom 273 passengers were formally quarantined.
He also reported that between 1 April and 26 April there were 95,000 arrivals into the UK by air, of whom about 53,000 were UK citizens.
The government stopped issuing guidance at the border to arrivals from specific countries – including from Italy and China – to self-isolate on 13 March, 10 days before
the lockdown was imposed.
BBC Television evening news reports that the NHS is discussing with Swiss pharmaceutical firm, Roche, adopting their antibody test (Elecsys Anti-SARS-COV-2
serology test) after PHE
Public Health England Porton Down laboratory reports successful results. The blood test uses Roche’s Cobas E 411 analysers which are widely
used around the world and give results in around 18 minutes. The test has already been approved by medical regulators in the EU and USA.
Latest UK Government logo is:
Note the border colour change from 4th April. This wording was widely criticised as being unhelpful.
14th May Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issues the following statement on Twitter regarding mental health.
15th May The Department for Health and Social Care says that £500,000 of government funding is being provided for clinical trials
to train dogs to see if they can detect coronavirus before symptoms even appear. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and
Durham University, and the charity Medical Detection Dogs will conduct the trials. The six dogs used will be Labradors and cocker spaniels - Norman,
Digby, Storm, Star, Jasper and Asher. Bio-detection dogs have already been trained to detect changes in human body odour caused by the presence of cancers.
16th May The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announces that the British government will be investing up to £93m to bring
forward construction of a new vaccine manufacturing centre at the Harwell science and innovation campus, near Didcot, Oxfordshire.
The funding will ensure the new centre opens in summer 2021, a year ahead of schedule. The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) is a
key component of the government’s programme to ensure that once a coronavirus vaccine is available, it can be rolled out quickly in mass quantities,
the department said.
The not-for-profit facility will have the capacity to produce enough doses for the entire UK population in as little as six months and will also
boost the UK’s long-term capacity for dealing with future viruses and accelerate the production of vaccines for existing illnesses. The company
is supported by its three founding members: University of Oxford, Imperial College, London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. who
each have experience in development and clinical evaluation of novel vaccines. VMIC UK will receive in-kind industry funding from Janssen, Merck Sharp
& Dohme (MSD) and GE Healthcare. As reported in the Guardian newspaper.
Sunday 17th May In an article in ‘The Mail on Sunday’ Boris Johnson says I said we would throw everything we could at
finding a vaccine. There remains a very long way to go, and I must be frank that a vaccine might not come to fruition. But we are leading the global effort.
Some of the most promising research into vaccines is happening right here in the UK - and this weekend we are announcing a £93 million investment to
open the new Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre a full 12 months ahead of schedule.
18th May Midland Railways and other UK rail companies start services again today with reduced schedules but increased number of coaches on
each train to help social distancing. Government advice is still to avoid public transport wherever possible and, if you do, wearing a face mask. Evidence
on television news is that the wearing of masks is not widespread.
In the US, Sky News reports that President Trump says he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, as a
preventative measure against coronavirus, for the last week and a half. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
(NIAID), earlier said there was no evidence the drug could prevent coronavirus.
19th May The Prince of Wales, staying at Birkhall, his Scottish residence, since he suffered from COVID-19 in March, issues this video on the
Clarence House Twitter account.
20th May The trade body UKHospitality submits a 75-page document to the UK Government setting out guidelines on how pubs and restaurants can
operate safely when they re-open. They are requesting that the Government endorse the guidelines prior to the provisional planned re-opening date for the
hospitality industry suggested by the Government of 4 July 2020. Safety measures include removing condiments from tables, ending buffet meals, digitising tips
and offering reduced menus in addition to spacing out and/or screening off tables. Each business will have to carry out a risk assessment of their operation.
22nd May In the US the CDC publishes an NCIRD document “Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith”. It details measures to be taken
including: washing hands, wearing face coverings, intensive cleaning, disinfection and ventilation, 6-foot distancing, floor markings for one-way routes, and
limited singing, physical contact and sharing of worship aids.
The New York Post shows which states are re-opening [Ed. colours adjusted, not the facts].
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, announces that travellers entering the UK from 8th June will have to self-isolate for 14 days or they could face a
£1,000 fine. Passengers will be required to fill out an online contact form providing details of where they will spend their self-isolation. If a person does
not have suitable accommodation they will be required to stay in facilities arranged by the government at the person’s own expense. France is not exempt
from the rules, despite reports earlier this week that its citizens may not be forced to self-isolate. [See 13 May entry]
Wikimedia Commons publishes this map showing the UK cases distribution up to 21st May. The contributor’s codename is ‘ythlev’
and the sources are: ONS population data, ArcGIS_Covid19_Poly mapping and Scottish data, data.gov.uk, Public Health Wales (tableau.com) and NI Department of Heath
(app.pbi.com). Click or tap to view a larger image in a new tab.
The UK Government’s testing co-ordinator, Professor John Newton, tells a House of Commons committee that, on advice from SAGE, the decision to stop
contact tracing in the community was taken by Ministers on 12th March when the scale of cases in the UK was apparent.
The New York Times reports today that the woman credited with starting the weekly applause for health care workers fighting the
coronavirus in Britain has suggested that the Clap for Carers should end on Thursday, the 10th week after it started.
Her logic? The public has shown its appreciation enough and it is now up to the government to reward doctors and nurses. Many have died during the outbreak,
and they have cared for patients while short on protective equipment like masks, gloves and visors.
The woman, Annemarie Plas, told BBC Radio 2 that the clapping could be replaced by an annual remembrance. Next week will be 10 times, she said.
I think that would be beautiful, to be the end of the series.
24th May US Surgeon-General Jerome Adams MD posts this video on Twitter today.
[Ed. see 19th March and 4 April. The President does not support this approach.]
25th May In a Downing Street press conference this afternoon, the PM says that car showrooms and open-air markets can re-open from 1st June
and all other non-essential retail premises from 15th June. The proviso in all cases is that they must be able to prove that they are providing covid-secure
premises following Government guidelines available shortly.
The i newspaper reports that the US President has scheduled an in-person G7 Summit of world leaders at Camp David for 10-12 June.
26th May BBC News reports that the Greek islands are open for local visitors and the ferries are sailing again. At present foreign visitors to mainland
Greece have to self-isolate for 14 days but this requirement will end on June 15th.
Mass demonstrations begin in the US following the death yesterday of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill.
He died in Minneapolis, Minnesota after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd
was handcuffed face down in the street. The demonstrations will lead in coming days to rioting and protests all over the country with little social distancing
Wednesday 27th May The total number of COVID-19-related deaths in the US passed the 100,000 mark this afternoon.
28th May On their Coronavirus Data Tracker, Savanta:, a marketing company and part of Next 15 Communications Group PLC, publish the latest
graph of the UK Government approval rating from 18th March to yesterday. Right-click to view full-size image. Also the approval ratings of the four chief scientists and politicians. Right-click to view full-size image.
Savanta say that the survey is based on a nationally representative sample of 1000 UK adults each day, representative by age, gender, region and social
grade. The approval rating is calculated as the % who are positive minus the % who are negative. So if the approval rating is negative then more people are
negative than those who are positive.
CityAM reports that new data from the US labor department shows that, overall, 40.7 million people have applied for jobless benefits in the US in the
last 10 weeks. This is around a quarter of the American workforce. Despite some non-essential businesses beginning to reopen, the weekly new claims figure only
showed a small drop from the previous total of 2.4 million. However, in rare glimpse of hope, jobless continuous claims, a record of those who have been collecting
benefits for two weeks or more, fell 4 million to 21 million.
29th May The Kashmir Observer reports that planemakers Boeing and Airbus have launched an initiative to convince travellers it will be safe to fly
again. They do not have a solution to distancing in the aircraft cabin but they point out that aircraft air conditioning systems use hospital-grade HEPA filters
(High-efficiency Particulate Arrestance) which will trap particles as small as the virus (0.06 to 0.14 microns). Around 30 to 50% of the cabin air is recycled, the
rest flushed outside and replaced with fresh. The air in the cabin is replaced every 2 to 3 minutes and each time the percentage of recycled air is less and less.
[Ed. Calculating from the percentages given above, this means that the air in the cabin is completely changed every 15 to 24 minutes]. The companies also make
the point that air is directed downwards flowing out of the vents rather than along the fuselage. However the vents are adjustable at present.
29th May The CSSE latest dashboard.
Sophie Charara in online magazine, Wired, reports problems with the NHS Contact, Trace and Advice Service (CTAS) which the UK Prime Minister said was live from yesterday.
The main service provider is Sitel Group, a worldwide telemarketing group with HQ in Miami, Florida. It employs call handlers in the UK who have access to online training
and work from home. The Synergy call centre script has not been syncing to the web-based CTAS and call handlers have not been able to log in or contact the Sitel helpline.
However Sitel later emailed call handlers to say that it had logged a critical incident and not to contact the help-line or speak to the press.
The UK Office of National Statistics record of all deaths, noted as linked to COVID-19 on the death certificate, has passed the 50,000 mark.
31st May Beach at Durdle Door, near Poole, Dorset.
Monday 1st June Relaxation of lockdown means from today in England there are no limits to travel (although it is still only up to 5 miles from home in Wales).
Also nurseries, early years and Reception Year 1 and Year 6 in schools may re-open. Outdoor retail such as car showrooms and markets may re-open. Sports events may begin but
behond closed doors.
A queue forms outside IKEA, Warrington store from 6:40am for store opening at 10:00am.
The BBC reports that changes to English law have come into force today. It is now a crime to stay at someone’s home overnight unless attending a funeral or for care purposes.
It is also illegal for two or more people to meet indoors or more than six people meeting outdoors. Unless of course it is household members who are in the home together.
The penalty for breaking these laws is a fine of up to £1000 in England.
These legal changes were made through a Statutory Instrument which does not need to be scrutinised or debated in Parliament (unlike most statutory instruments
which are subject to a negative resolution procedure and Parliament is consulted). It is an amendment to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England)
Regulations 2020 (SI 350) enacted at 1pm on 26 March 2020 by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, informally known as the Lockdown Regulations.
He was using emergency powers under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.
2nd June The open-air market reopens today in Ledbury, Herefordshire.
3rd June After a very sunny, dry month of May in the UK the Telegraph cartoonist’s view.
4th June At the afternoon Government briefing, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announces that face coverings will be compulsory on buses, trams,
underground services, trains, aircraft and ferries from 15th June. [see 19 March]
ITV News picks up a report in the Guardian newspaper that the Chief operating officer of the NHS test and trace system for COVID-19, Tony Prestedge, has admitted
in a webinar that the programme to tackle the spread of Coronavirus would be an imperfect service at launch that will improve over time.
In a video obtained by the newspaper from May 27 – the day before the programme launched – Mr Prestedge is said to have told staff that the regime would
operate at a world-class level towards the September or October time. The Prime Minister said on May 20 that the operation would be world-beating.
The WHO website gives these figures for the number of deaths in each of the worst affected countries at 4:17pm Central European Summer Time today.
The second column is the United Nations country population estimates for 2020 and the number in brackets is the number of deaths per 100,000 people.
[ 32 ]
[ 57 ]
[ 55 ]
[ 15 ]
[ 44 ]
[ 59 ]
[ 8 ]
[ 82 ]
[ 10 ]
[ 9 ]
Worldwide the figures are over 6 million cases and over 380,000 deaths.
5th June BBC News reports that, despite 10 weeks of military-discipline lockdown at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, West London, out of 300 resident
Chelsea Pensioners, 84 contracted the virus, 74 recovered but 10 have died.
The Daily Mirror online reports on the success of Ceredigion in Wales in handling the pandemic. It is a rural UK county remote from national motorways and with
a low population density (750,000 over 700 sq. miles) but, even so, to date it has only 42 cases and 7 deaths. Aberystwyth University acted quickly closing down on
March 17th and preventing an influx of students. Ceredigion County Council advised camping and caravan parks to close, which they had by 24th March, and the county
was soon down to its core population. Then, before it had recorded a single case, the council set up a basic home-made test, track and trace system using a
simple questionnaire. Local environmental health officers checked the results. To save time it was assumed everyone with the known symptoms was infected and contacts
were traced and given advice. If those tested were clear of infection no harm was done but the population had been protected.
Sunday 7th June A number of newspapers report that llamas could be the key to developing coronavirus treatments and vaccines as their bodies
can produce antibodies which bind to the spike protein of various viruses and neutralise them. Early work in 2016 by a team of Belgian researchers at the Flemish
Institute of Biotechnology (VIB) in Ghent was directed towards SARS and MERS viruses.
Today El Nuova de Pueto Rico newspaper reports that scientists in Canada led by researcher Marc-André Langlois have determined that a particular antibody,
type G immunoglobin, appears to work against coranavirus. As well as normal size antibodies llamas can produce nanobodies which are about half the size and more
stable than those of humans. The team is working on cloning the genes associated with production of the antibody, reverse engineer and mass produce them
as vaccine antibodies. Clinical trials will be carried out to be sure they can be used safely and effectively in humans.
A video from the Wolverhampton Express and Star digital edition today.
8th June Dental Practices are allowed to re-open from today if the dentist is comfortable with the precautions they have put in place.
9th June The Evening Standard newspaper reports that human trials of a potential vaccine will begin in the UK next week at Imperial College London.
The vaccine team is led by Professor Robin Shattock. The RNA vaccine delivers genetic instructions to muscle cells to make the ‘spike’ protein on the
surface of the coronavirus virion. The vaccine will be tested on 300 people on June 15 as it enters phase one and phase two human clinical trials.
A further trial involving 6,000 people is planned for October and if these prove successful, Professor Shattock hopes the vaccine could be distributed in the UK
and abroad early next year. A separate vaccine from experts at Oxford University is currently undergoing human clinical trials.
BBC News reports that figures released by the Treasury show that 8.9 million workers are now covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, more than a quarter
of the UK workforce, costing £19.6bn to date.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has issued a nine-point guide to reopening mosques safely including a risk assessment. As well as social distancing, masks and
one-way movement, worshippers are asked to perform the wudhu (pre-prayer washing) at home and to bring their own prayer mats. They should bring their own
Qur’an or use the mobile phone app. and their own tasbih / misbaha (prayer beads). The kutba (sermon) to be kept short and any sunnah / nafl
(voluntary prayers) to be said at home. [Ed. Salat, the five daily prayers of Islam, are called al-fajr, al-zuhr, al-'asr, al maghrib and al-'isha]
10th June At 5 pm UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces that the Government is easing the ‘lock-down’ to allow the economy to begin to recover.
From 15th June all retail shops in England are allowed to re-open with suitable COVID-19 precautions in place as are safari parks and zoos. This is an extract from the statement.
He went on to say
The next set of changes - Step 3 - will not begin until 4 July at the earliest, as the evidence allows.It is because the rate of infection is not yet quite low enough, and because we are not able to change our social distancing advice including smaller class sizes
in schools, that we are not proceeding with our ambition to bring back all primary pupils at least for some weeks before the summer holidays. Instead we are working
with teachers to bring back as many pupils as we can within those smaller class sizes. We do fully intend to bring all children back to school in September, provided
the progress we are making continues, which I hope it will.
Covid-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium researchers have analysed the viral genetic code from samples from over 20,000
infected people in the UK and found that less than 0.01% of infections were imported from China. Most came from European travellers. Italy in late February provided
14%, arrivals from Spain in early-to-mid March brought 33% and travellers from France in mid-late March, 28%. Each infection arriving in the UK set off a chain of
transmission which was only disrupted when lockdown began.
COG-UK is a partnership of NHS organisations, the four UK Public Health Agencies, the Wellcome Sanger Institute and twelve University partners, all working on viral
11th June How confirmed cases of COVID-19 have spread to date. Source: Johns Hopkins University, European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control.
Published by BBC News.
13th June The Economist magazine reports a possiby unforeseen result of easing lockdown travel restrictions. Relieving oneself in public is an offence, but
lockdown has closed most public toilets as well as cafés and pubs.After complaints of ‘large gatherings, public nuisance, public urination and
littering on our seafront’ Brighton and Hove council restricted access to the main beach. The Guardian newspaper reports that Waterstones, the UK’s biggest book chain, is making a special rule that all books handled by customers must be set aside on trolleys
to be put into storage and only returned to the shelves after 72 hours quarantine.
Single adult households can from today form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household.
15th June Non-essential retail outlets and outdoor attractions are allowed to open from today after 83 days lockdown. Churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship
are allowed to open for individual private prayer only. Indoor markets and craft fairs may re-start.
The New York Times publishes charts showing how individual states are faring. The eight states shown here eased lockdown early with various results. They are Alabama, Arizona,
Florida, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. It shows that second waves of infection do exist. Right-click to view full-size image.
Here is the NY Times survey of all the states in a new tab. [Ed. You
have to accept cookies to view the page. It is updated daily.]
British airline Easyjet schedules flights again from Birmingham Airport and Gatwick. Starting with a minimal service, easyJet will fly mainly routes within Britain. There
are no refreshments, newspapers or magazines on board and easyJet staff are being told not to touch any passenger documents. Masks must be worn by everyone but there is no
social distancing on board as this is not possible with present seating configurations. [see 29 May]
16th June Horse racing news. An enhanced 36-race card is being staged from today over the five days of the Royal Ascot meeting behind closed doors. Races will be
available to view on ITV Racing and Sky Sports Racing and on NBC in the US and on Channel 7/Racing.com in Australia. There is also a Parade Ring 360° Live Camera.
Wednesday 17th June Reuters News Agency reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) says it is moving to update its guidelines on treating people stricken with
COVID-19 to reflect results of a clinical trial that showed a cheap, common steroid can help save critically ill patients. Results of a clinical trial, announced on
Tuesday by researchers in Britain [at Oxford Univerity], showed that dexamethasone, [a cortico-steroid] used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in
diseases such as arthritis, cut death rates by around a third among the most severely ill COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital. Researchers behind the study say it suggests
the drug should immediately become standard care in severely stricken patients. For patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third,
and for patients needing only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth, according to preliminary findings shared with WHO. The benefit was only seen in patients seriously
ill with COVID-19 and was not observed in patients with milder disease. The researchers stress it is not a cure.
Newsweek reports it was a four-week study of around 6,400 COVID-19 patients of whom 2,104 were given 6mg of dexamethasone per day for 10 days drug either orally or by IV.
The UK government has today approved the use of the drug to treat all UK hospitalised patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators.
In ‘The Lancet’ medical journal there is a report by ISARIC-4C (the International Severe Acute Respiratory
and Emergency Infection Consortium) that research
involving 30,000 COVID-19 patients in the UK between February and May this year whose ethnicity was recorded shows that people with a South Asian background (basically India,
Pakistan, Bangaldesh, Sri Lanka) were 19% more likely to die of the infection than white patients. One factor might be that 40% of this ethnic group had diabetes compared with
25% of white patients. Black patients have around 5% more likelihood of dying than white patients. These figures may be taken into account when deciding the priority for
vaccinations. [Ed. ISARIC is funded by the Medical Research Council, part of the Francis Crick Institute, London.]
A Financial Times article describes a possible complication with any vaccine developed. There is a little-known but thankfully rare phenomenon called antibody-dependent
enhancement (ADE), also known as disease enhancement or immune enhancement. It refers to a counter-intuitive and potentially dangerous situation: when the presence of antibodies,
which are supposed to vanquish disease, worsens rather than quells an infection. It was first observed in 2017 when a vaccine for dengue fever was given to more than 800,000
schoolchildren in the Philippines and reports began trickling in of vaccinated children falling seriously ill, and some dying. The 2017 rollout was halted. Vaccines against other
coronaviruses, SARS and MERS, have also shown evidence of ADE.
The UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, says at the daily briefing that the Contact, Trace and Advice service is working but that the NHSX Track and Trace app has hit problems.
The NHS reported that in the Isle of Wight trial 75% of Google Android phones were recognised but only 4% of Apple phones. The Google-Apple app identified 99% of contacts on both
platforms. The NHSX algorithm is reportedly better at detecting distance apart than the Apple-Google app, so the UK is to discuss possible compromises to allow the Apple-Google
app to be used in the UK as it is already in Germany, Italy and Ireland. The NHSX app has already cost £11 m
and uses a central computer to store information. For privacy, the American app uses a phone-to-phone system to ensure data is not available to any central government agency.
Dido Harding, the former telecommunications industry executive, is leading the government’s tracing program and Matthew Gould is head of NHSX. The nationwide rollout is now
expected to be at the end of the year.
18th June The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation publishes a report on priority groups for COVID-19
An article in the i newspaper suggests that vitamin D deficiency, which is associated with obesity and diabetes, may also cause COVID-19 vulnerability.
Two facts are noted.
The BAME community has proved vulnerable possibly because their skin pigment cuts down the amount of UV light which is being absorbed and producing vitamin D. Also countries with
more daily sunshine have lower mortality rates. Australia is 1.5%, New Zealand and South Africa 2%, India 3%. In comparison UK and Italy are 14%. Norway 3% and Portugal 4% are low
possibly because a diet high in fish supplies the vitamin D. Inexpensive Vitamin D supplements are already widely taken in many countries in the winter season.
A chicken processing factory at Llangefni, Anglesey belonging to the 2 Sisters Food Group is temporarily suspending production with immediate effect for a period of 14 days
following a serious outbreak of COVID-19 at the factory. There have been 58 confirmed cases. The Llangefni factory has 560 workers but the group is international and after its
takeover of Noerthern Foods in 20111 it is now the largest food company in the UK by turnover. [Ed. By 23rd June the BBC reports that there are 200 cases.]
19th June The UK COVID Alert level is lowered to level 3.
20th June Johns Hopkins CRS shows this chart of mortality rates by country, that is, the number of people who die per 100 confirmed cases in each country. [Ed.
Various commentators have said the statistics are only approximate as they depend of the amount of testing done to get confirmed cases and the deaths may only be those that occur
in hospital. So the mortality percentage is probably lower for most countries but the position of various countries is interesting. Worldwide WHO reckons 3.4% on average.]
Right-click to view full-size image. US President Trump holds his first Make America Great Again! presidential campaign rally at the BOK Center Arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma at 7pm CT (UTC-5hrs). Tickets are free,
but attendees must sign a waiver saying that the Trump campaign is not liable if they become ill. People are offered masks to wear but few do and temperature checks are carried out
on entry. Just before the rally there is news that six staff members involved in organising the rally test positive for the coronavirus. The rally was moved from June 19th as this
is the Juneteenth public holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the US on June 19th 1865. The holiday is held in all US states except for Hawaii and North and South Dakota.
23rd June There is to be an easing of UK lockdown restrictions today but no-one knows when the announcement will be made.
At 8:26am ET (1:26pm BST) the New York Times publishes an article ‘U.K. Leader Lifts Wide Variety of Coronavirus Restrictions.’ Pubs, restaurants, museums and
hair salons in England will be allowed to reopen July 4 with restrictions and, inevitably, higher levels of risk.
LONDON — Three months after reluctantly and belatedly imposing a
lockdown on Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday [today] that he would lift many restrictions — most significantly, cutting the required social distance
between people in half, to one meter, or about three feet. ..... Transmission is far less likely outdoors, which is why pubs and restaurants will be required to install plastic
screens, provide adequate ventilation and collect contact information from customers. ..... To cheers from the handful of members in the chamber [Ed. at the House of Commons], the
famously tousled prime minister said everyday rituals of British life would return. Almost as eagerly expected as a pint, he said, will be a haircut, especially by me.
..... Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are making their decisions on easing lockdown separately, with Scotland and Wales moving more slowly than England. ..... Under the new
plans, hairdressers in England will be able to open, as will places of worship, movie theaters, concert halls and other entertainment venues, though they will not be allowed to stage
live performances. Wedding ceremonies will be permitted and more people will be allowed to meet indoors.
The UK Government announces that the coronavirus daily briefings will end after today. A total of 92 briefings held over 3 months.
24th June Four countries compared by Our World in Data website today. Right-click to view full-size image.
A weekly programme on BBC Radio Four called More or Less puts statistics under the microscope. Today one listener had a query and producer Kate Lamble gave this answer.
26th June An update of the 4 June entry showing the WHO website number of deaths in each of the worst affected countries
at 8:01am Central European Summer Time today. The second column is the United Nations country population estimates for 2020 and the number
in brackets is the number of deaths per 100,000 people.
[ 37 ]
[ 59 ]
[ 57 ]
[ 25 ]
[ 45 ]
[ 60 ]
[ 19 ]
[ 83 ]
[ 11 ]
[ 12 ]
Worldwide the figures are over 9 million cases and over 480,000 deaths.
Articles on PEDIAA.com from October 2019 and Confirm Biosciences in April 2020 explain that there are five classes of immunoglobulins in
placental mammals. IgG, IgM, IgA, IgE, and IgD. They are also known as antibody isotypes.
IgM antibodies are the largest antibodies in the body
and are typically produced first when an individual gets infected by a virus. IgM antibodies make up about 5% to 10% of all the antibodies in
the body. They are found in the blood and lymph fluid. IgG antibodies are the smallest and most common antibodies. They make up about 75% to 80%
of all the antibodies in the body. IgG antibodies can be found in all body fluids. Unlike IgM antibodies, the body produces IgG antibodies much
later, roughly 2 to 4 weeks after the initial infection and can only be detected in the later course of the illness. So IgG antibodies present
indicates recent infection or in-recovery states. An antibody testing with positive IgG with negative IgM results indicates that a person who
has been exposed to or infected with COVID-19 and now has protection against COVID-19.
The Evening Standard newspaper reports that a range of the rapid response kits are to be evaluated, including one from a group headed up by
Oxford University. The Rapid Test Consortium, made up of Oxford University and four UK manufacturers - BBI Solutions, Abingdon Health, CIGA
Healthcare and Omega Diagnostics - claims its device is highly accurate. It uses a finger prick of blood to produce results in 10 minutes.
Deaths in our corner of Herefordshire between March 1st and May 31st. Figures from the Office of National Statistics with the rider: And
while the authority endeavour to be as specific as possible, there are certain instances where the data may be slightly skewed. For example: To
protect confidentiality, a small number of deaths have been reallocated between neighbouring areas. 😕 Focussing in on the very local, in Ledbury town there were two deaths in March and three in May. In Bosbury village there were two deaths in
March and one in April.
27th June The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana reports that Texas and Florida have reversed course and clamped down on bars
yesterday in the nation’s biggest retreat yet as the number of confirmed coronavirus infections per day in the U.S. surged to an all-time
high of 40,000.
28th June Johns Hopkins Medical University reports that the number of confirmed cases has now passed 10 million worldwide. There
have been nearly 500,000 deaths.
29th June The Hereford Times newspaper reports that the first local lockdown is in force for Leicester following a spike in
coronavirus cases. It means the city, located in the East Midlands, will shut non-essential shops and close schools to most pupils. It is part
of what Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called a ‘whack-a-mole strategy’ to crack down on flare-ups, and could be extended to other
towns and cities over the next months.
The next day the Daily Mail newspaper reports that Leicester has the largest number of garment workers in the UK and there are 1500 garment
manufacturing businesses in the city employing around 10,000 people, the majority from BAME communities. Asim Ali, 34, manager of Fazia Fashion
in Leicester explained the problem. Our workers are predominantly South Asian, and they know the risks they are taking because they are most at risk of catching coronavirus.
But what can they do? They are not rich people and need this money to survive. ... ‘We lost around £20,000 per week during that
period [Ed. they closed for only 4 weeks during the first lockdown] and had to reopen early. Our workers also wanted to come back. Orders have
started picking up again but now this second lockdown has ruined things
1st JulyThis article in The Lancet of 30th January 2020 shows
that from early days the Chinese authorities were giving out information concerning their research on the pandemic.
Research in this article (PDF format) in the British Medical Journal / Global Health Volume
5, Issue 5, May 2020 shows that the wearing of face masks is useful in trapping fine droplets of moisture containing the virus which are breathed
out by infected people who are not yet showing symptoms of coughing or fever. This was not realised early on when only virus coming in through
the mask was studied.
The BBC Radio Four programme More or Less summarises the possible mistakes made in the UK early on in the pandemic.
And in Part 2 the programme looks at the situation in care homes.
From today holiday homes, hotels and campsites may re-open if judged Covid-safe.
3rd July The UK Government announces that the methodology for reporting cases changed today in order to remove duplicates.
This means that 30,302 previously reported cases were removed from the UK total. The figures on the UK COVID-19 cases chart which I have been
updating daily are now incorrect and a sudden reduction appears from 1st July (313,483 cases) to 2nd July (283,757 cases). However the chart
still shows broadly how the pandemic peaked in April, then slowed and now is at a steady level of infections.
USA TODAY reports two days of record cases in the US that surpassed 50,000 according to Johns Hopkins University. On
Wednesday there were 50,655 and Thursday 52,291. President Trump has said that if the country reduced testing the figures would not look so bad.
His aides did say this was a joke but he insists it wasn’t. Also starting from today face masks will be required in public in Texas
counties with at least 20 coronavirus cases daily.
An update of the Wikimedia Commons showing the UK cases distribution first shown on 22nd May. Click or tap to view a larger image in a new tab.
Saturday 4th July Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced that wearing face coverings in shops will
be compulsory in Scotland from July 10th. In England restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels can re-open with COVID-secure arrangements in place.
5th July From today people who have been shielding, as they have medical conditions that make them especially vulnerable, may
leave their homes to meet up to six people outdoors.
6th July The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a television interview says We discovered too many care homes didn’t
really follow the procedures in the way they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time. The National Care Forum said his
words were frankly hugely insulting. Health Minister Matt Hancock later explained that the words meant that because asymptomatic transmission
was not known about, the correct procedures were therefore not known. Later again a spokesman for Number 10 said the PM would not be apologising
for his remarks.
7th July An update on the cruise ship situation. 25 cruise ships have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 including Diamond Princess,
Grand Princess and Ruby Princess. The very first, the Diamond Princess [Ed. see 4th February] had on board a total of 3,711 people - 2,666 passengers
and 1,045 crew. Of these, 712 people contracted the virus, 651 recovered, 14 died and 47 are still undergoing treatment, 3 being seriouisly ill.
[Ed. Figures from various sources]. The Diamond Princess will restart cruises on 16th October with a 17-day Hokkaido Northern Japan round-trip sailing
from Yokohama. This article published by eLife today shows the result of research number-crunching using the
supercomputer, Summit, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee. Dan Jacobson (chief scientist for computational systems biology at ORNL) led
the team which has produced a new hypothesis as to why coronavirus attacks various organs in the human body. Simply they found increased levels
of enzymes producing bradykinin, a compound that makes blood vessels dilated and permeable, and decreased levels of enzymes that break down bradykinin.
The resulting bradykinin storm is similar to the better-known cytokine storm, where the body releases too many of the cytokine proteins that
help regulate the human immune system. There are at least ten different known drugs which may prove promising to assist patients suffering from a
Cricket begins with an international Test Match between England and the West Indies at the Rose Bowl, Southampton, UK.
The West Indian team have been living and isolating together at an on-site hotel at Old Trafford, Manchester. The match will be held behind
closed doors and the International Cricket Council (ICC) has made several interim changes to the Playing Conditions due to the pandemic.
Players are banned from using saliva to shine the ball, with five penalty runs being awarded to the opposition for repeated transgressions.
The Government has announced that NHS workers will start to pay for parking at hospitals where they work. Parking has been free since 23rd
March. Hospitals in Wales and most Scottish and Northern Ireland hospitals, unless their car parks are privately-run, already provide free
staff parking. The Opposition Labour party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, criticised this decision in the House of Commons.
Today the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announces in Parliament further financial help for businesses as a number of
leading retail businesses are making staff cuts and closing stores. The measures include a cut in Value-Added Tax from 20% to 5% from 15 July
to 12 January 2021 for food and non-alcoholic drinks in restaurants, pubs and cafes, as well as hot takeaway food and for accommodation in
hotels and Bed and Breakfast guest houses. To encourage the housing market the threshold for stamp duty on residential property in England
and Northern Ireland will rise from £125,000 to £500,000 meaning almost nine out of ten transactions would be tax-free. To help
restaurants an Eat out to help out scheme will offer a 50% discount for every diner, up to £10 a head, from Monday to Wednesday
8th July Quarantine restrictions imposed on travellers returning from abroad are lifted for all countries where the pandemic
is easing. The first holiday flights led by easyJet and Ryanair are restarting.
11th July NBC News Digital graph of US cases. Right-click to view full-size image.
12th July Vegetable producers AS Green and Co, based at Rook Row Farm, Mathon, Herefordshire have reported an outbreak of COVID-19
among their 200-strong picking and packing workforce despite having in place a range of infection control measures including promoting social
distancing in communal social areas and in the indoor packaging area, providing PPE for staff where applicable, encouraging regular handwashing
and promoting the use of face coverings in closed areas. PHE Midlands testing has currently found 73 positive cases with most being asymptomatic.
During the harvesting season, the workforce resides in mobile homes based on the farm, so as a precaution, the whole group are being treated as
one extended bubble. Workers are being asked to remain on the farm during the period of isolation and stay within household groups to reduce
risk of spread within the workforce and into the wider community. Herefordshire Council is arranging food and essential supplies while they
self-isolate. Karen Wright, Director of Public Health for Herefordshire, said: While Herefordshire is the first to experience an outbreak
of this kind, this is not unexpected. Our priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of all residents in our community.
12th July The UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announces in Parliament that face coverings will be compulsory in shops and
supermarkets in England from Friday July 24. Anyone who refuses will face fines of up to £100. This follows Scotland’s lead but Wales
has not decided. People in Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Greece and Italy are already wearing masks in shops and on public transport.
[Ed. see 19 March video]
13th July World leaders showing a united front.
Bolsonaro (Brazil) Trudeau (Canada) Johnson (UK), Merkel (Germany) Macron (France) Conte (Italy), Abe (Japan) Netanyahu (Israel) Trump (USA).
Tuesday 14th July The elusive English street artist, Banksy, paints his trademark rats on the London Underground and posts
the video on Instagram. Sadly a Transport for London source told the Evening Standard that the cleaners had no idea of the significance of
the work and so it was dealt with as regular graffiti would be. Joey Syer, an art dealer weho specialises in Banksy’s work says, if
the installation could have been removed and protected, we estimate it’s value as a complete package to be in the region of
£7.5million. TFL have asked Banksy if he might recreate it for them in a permanent location.
15th July The i newspaper reports that, on the Herefordshire farm, two more workers have tested positive.
Three workers have left the farm and police are working on tracing them to ensure they are self-isolating. Workers from the farm went by minibus
to four stores last week - Worcester’s Primark, Iceland and the Romanian store and also to Morrisons supermarket in Malvern.
16th July BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester reports that there are more confirmed COVID-19 cases at the farm in Herefordshire.
Public Health England is reviewing how it records fatalities from COVID-19 in England. It counts people who have tested positive
but die many weeks later of unrelated causes. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland deaths from COVID-19 are counted
only if the individual dies within 28 days of testing positive. This could mean that England’s figures have been over-counted.
Monday 20th July The BBC reports that the UK government has signed deals for 90 million doses of promising coronavirus vaccines that
are being developed. The vaccines are being researched by an alliance between the pharmaceutical companies BioNtech and Pfizer as well as the
firm Valneva. The new deal is on top of 100 million doses of the Oxford University vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca.
21st July Another snapshot from the Johns Hopkins University Dashboard. Right click to view the picture full-size
22nd July How a UK motor sport venue is coping with the situation.
Friday 24th July From today face coverings are compulsory when visiting shops and supermarkets in England. This includes
take-away meal customers but not if they eat-in, when only social distancing applies.
Sky News reports that scientists at the University of Texas have discovered a ‘camouflage’ enzyme which allows the virus to slip
past the immune system and enter host cells. The enzyme modifies the virus messenger RNA so that they appear to be part of the cells own RNA
code and not foreign. They have named the enzyme nsp16. Research is continuing to find drugs to neutralise this enzyme.
Car parking charges start again today in public car parks in Herefordshire. The pay machines were covered up on 24 March.
25th July Local television stations across the United States owned by Sinclair Television are planning to broadcast an interview
this weekend by a leading advocate of conspiracy theories. Virologist Dr Judy Mikovits says that Dr. Antony Fauci, the director
of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a chief adviser to the US Government, manufactured the coronavirus and
shipped it to the Wuhan laboratory in China from where it escaped into the population.
On her website she also says that 5G mobile phone transmitters are dangerous because “the frequency of 5G, which is 10 x higher than
the one of 4G, causes cell poisoning in the human body. Our cells try to kick out this poisoning by excreting RNA/DNA proteins which are called a
virus. These excreted fluids eventually leave our body through our nose/mouth. So it’s not the coronavirus causing this pandemic but the
radiation of the 5G satellites, towers and cells that were rolled out firstly half a year ago in Wuhan, then Spain and Italy, etc... It
takes 6 months for this radiation to impact your body.” She has also said at meetings that immunizations are contaminated by retroviruses
and environmental toxins and that unsafe vaccines are linked to a long list of disease ranging from lupus and autism to cancer and
26th July Another interviewee on the Sinclair TV programme said that the American Government gave a grant to the Wuhan laboratory for coronavirus
research. President Trump said earlier that the Obama administration gave them a grant of $3.7 million.
In April, the UK newspaper, the Daily Mail, repeated the story in its Sunday Edition. Documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday show the
Wuhan Institute of Virology undertook coronavirus experiments on mammals captured more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan – funded by a $3.7
million grant from the US government. USAToday reported on 4th May that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) confirmed that a 5-year grant was made in 2014 for $3,378,896
to the EcoHealth Alliance Inc., a US non-profit NGO investing in health research projects. The money was distributed across a number of
sites: the primary awardee, EcoHealth Health Alliance (New York), and sub-awardees, Wuhan Institute of Virology (Wuhan), East China Normal
University (Shanghai), the Institute of Pathogen Biology (Beijing), and Duke-NUS Medical School (Singapore). The original five-year grant
was re-approved by the Trump administration in July 2019 but terminated in April 2020. EcoHealth reports that over the course of the two
grants the Wuhan Institute received about $600,000 from the NIH.
28th July The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme begins on 3rd August and runs all day, every Monday, Tuesday
and Wednesday until 31 August 2020. It offers a 50% discount on food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in (up to a maximum of £10 discount
per diner) at all restaurants that have pre-registered.
29th July Ben Richardson, director of Development Academy / Acuity Training, a management training firm in London, reports his staff
have looked at the oratory skills of world leaders over 2020 analysing hundreds of hours of footage from press conferences, speeches and public
addresses in 2020 and have come up with a top ten. The top five are 1. Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand), 2. Angela Merkel (Germany), 3. Narendra Modi
(India), 4. Justin Trudeau (Canada) and 5. Nicola Sturgeon (Scotland). Neither Prime Minister Johnson nor President Trump figure in the top ten list.
Here is a sample of Jacinda Ardern’s empathetic leadership style.
In the i newspaper, health officials in Mumbai, India say that from sampling it appears that around 57% of the slum
dwellers have tested positive for anti-bodies for the coronavirus. Of Mumbai’s 12 million population roughly 65% live in the cramped, airless
slums making for easy transmission of the disease. Suresh Kakani, an official at Mumbai’s civic body, said We are inching towards
herd immunity. [Ed. Herd immunity is when a large part of the population is immune to the virus either because they have been infected and
recovered or have been vaccinated. If enough people are immune, the virus has nowhere to go, infection rates fall and it disappears.]
An interesting report is published by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. Among other points it says that discharging patients
from hospital into social care without first testing them for COVID-19 was an appalling error. Here is the report (PDF)
The other decision which has been widely criticised is that from 13 March to 8 June there were no border controls on people coming here from Europe.
This may be the reason coronavirus was able to seed itself all over the UK.
The Sun newspaper reports that the number of coronavirus patients in mechanical ventilation beds is less than 100 for the first time since the
UK went into lockdown. The number peaked at 3,301 on 12th April.
30th July Late this evening the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock (using his personal online Twitter account) makes an important
Government announcement in four parts:
9:16pm 1/4 We’re constantly looking at the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, and unfortunately we’ve seen an increasing
rate of transmission in parts of Northern England.
2/4 We’ve been working with local leaders across the region, and today I chaired a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee. Based on
the data, we decided that in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire & East Lancashire we need to take immediate action to keep people safe.
3/4 The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing. So from midnight tonight, people from different
households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas.
9:18pm 4/4 We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is
neccessary to keep people safe.
At midnight the Moslem festival of Eid Al-Adha begins. The Muslim Council of Britain’s secretary, Harun Khan, criticises the timing of the
announcement. The newspapers next morning criticise using Twitter for official Government instructions and Matt Hancock posts another Tweet, this
time a video. This is a still of the start.
Nothing has been posted on the official Government Twitter channel, @GOVUK which says it is the best place to find UK government services
and information. The UK Government opened their account in November 2008 following the US Government’s example @USAGOV set up in March 2008.
The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland unanimously agree that the isolation period, if you test positive or
have symptoms, be extended from seven to ten days as there is new evidence that infectiousness can last this time.
31st July BBC Radio News reports this morning that from 8 August face coverings must be worn in places of worship.
1st August France banned religious face coverings in 2011. This month face masks are required in all indoor public spaces in France
but the Muslim burqa is still banned.
2nd August The University of Oxford and the University of Birmingham (at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital) have announced a new 90-minute
test for COVID-19. An Oxford firm Nanopore is producing the LamPORE test which detects coronavirus and other winter viruses. There is a desktop testing
machine (GridION) and a palm-sized version (MinION) which can be used for mobile ‘pop-up’ labs. which can be set up quickly at virus hot spots.
The test uses saliva or nasal samples whereas the present PCR test can take up to 72 hours to process and needs a deep nose or back-of-the-throat swab
both fairly unpleasant to experience. [Ed.See also 2 April but the Cambridge Samba II test has not been mentioned recently]
Reuter’s News Agency reports that Australia’s second-most-populous state, Victoria, entered its first full day under stricter lockdown
measures on Monday, after declaring a state of disaster and imposing a nightly curfew in the state capital Melbourne, to fight a resurgent COVID-19. This
is the position in terms of cases - a definite second wave of infections. Right-click to view the graph full-size.
5th August Update on Rook Row Farm. The Hereford Times reports that, although there are now 142 farm workers tested positive on the farm,
around 100 have now recovered and will choose whether to head home or continue working at the farm picking and packing the broccoli, runner beans, broad
beans and Helda beans (flat beans eaten whole like mange-tout peas). The Green family has been living and working the farm for nearly 50 years. Photo courtesy of A S Green & Co. website
6th August The i newspaper reports that the NHS Blood and Transplant Unit says it has taken more than 13,000 blood
plasma donations from people who have had COVID-19 and recovered and whose blood has a high antibody count.
7th August Three local councils, under lockdown again because of an upswing in cases, have set up their own contact-tracing services after
the national service admitted it was only reaching around half of all close contacts of people with COVID-19. Blackburn with Darwen, Calderdale and
Preston are all situated in the north of England.
9th August Update of 11th June. How confirmed cases of COVID-19 have spread to date. Source: Johns Hopkins University, European Centre
for Disease Prevention & Control. Published by BBC News.
The next day the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US exceeds 5 million.
In the UK the daily infection rate exceeeds 1,000 for the first time since the end of June. The second wave has begun.
10th August UK Government graph showing the situation in hospitals in the UK over the pandemic period so far. Right-click to view full-size.
Wednesday 12th August The UK Office for National Statistics reports that from various financial markers the UK is officially now in recession. The
Gross National Product has fallen by 20.4% in the April to June Quarter after falling by 2.2% in the first quarter of 2020. This is more than other European
countries and the other members of the G7 richest nations. Around 730,00 jobs have been lost since lockdown started. The UK Government is adjusting the reports of coronavirus deaths in England to bring it into line with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Previously anyone in
England who died at any time after testing positive for COVID-19 was counted as a coronavirus death. So some who had recovered and later died in a traffic
accident was included in the coronavirus deaths. Now all the nations will only count someone if they died within 28 days of testing positive. The death figure has
now dropped from 46,706 to 41,329 a reduction of 5,377 over the period of the pandemic. The Government website will be revising all the daily death figures
back to March. The chart link for July onwards below has been revised.
14th August An updated UK Government Guideline says Small groups of professional or non-professional singers will be able to sing in front of
worshippers both outdoors and indoors from 15 August. Singing in groups should be limited to a small, set group of people and should not include audience
participation.People should avoid singing, shouting and raising voices. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission from aerosol
18th August The Health Secretary Matt Hancock announces that, from today, PHE
Public Health England , the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and
NHS Test and Trace will operate under a single leadership, reporting to the Conservative peer, Baroness Dido Harding. She is the former chief executive of
the telecoms company, TalkTalk. He also announced the formation of a new public body, the National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP), which will replace Public
Health England almost immediately. Its mission will be protecting people from threats to this country’s health.
19th August The Washington Post reports on the misinformation spread by the social media platfrom, Facebook, as researched by a left-leaning
global human rights group, Avaaz.One big finding, which tracks with other research, is that certain Facebook pages act as ‘super spreaders’ of
viral misinformation, acting as repeat offenders responsible for a large amount of problematic content. The 42 pages that Avaaz identified as super spreaders
collectively have 28 million followers and their content generated an estimated 800 million views.
Among the myths that WHO exposed in July are that 1. Drinking alcohol protects you against the virus 2. Using 5G networks increases
the risk of catching the virus 3. Higher temperatures and sun exposure safeguard against the virus 4. Drinking disinfectant can protect you from the
virus 5. Thermal scanners can detect the virus. The research said that four times more people went on Facebook for advice rather than the official
23rd August ITV News reports that fines of up to £10,000 for those organising illegal raves and unlicensed music events in England will come into
force on 28th August ahead of the bank holiday as authorities clamp down on unlawful gatherings. Officers have responded to a surge in unlicensed music events in
recent weeks amid warm weather and an easing of lockdown restrictions. Groups of 30 or more people are illegal at present.
A snapshot of travel restrictions worldwide from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Right-click to view the map full-size.
On 10th July the UK Government published a list of countries and territories from where you can travel to England and may not have to self-isolate. This list of safe
‘travel corridors’ started off with 59 countries amd more were added. Coming in from, or having made a transit stop in, countries not on the list
requires you to spend 14 days self-isolation at home when you enter the UK. Austria, Croatia and Trinidad and Tobago were removed from the list yesterday.
The previous Saturday France and five other countries were taken off the list and before that Spain and five more. The list is updated weekly. The criteria for
a safe country appears to be that there have been less than 20 confirmed cases of infection per 100,000 population in the previous two weeks.
A new fashion idea from Tiziana Scaramuzzo, the owner of Elexa Beachwear in Senigallia, Italy, after her local suppliers shut down. The Trikini, is a bikini
with matching face mask, modelled here by her daughter. The idea of the Trikini was a joke, Scaramuzzo said, designed to lift the family’s spirits after the
coronavirus pandemic led to their factory to being shut down but, when images were posted on Facebook, she had requests flooding in to the store.
Two interesting interviews from this morning’s Broadcasting House on BBC Radio 4. The speakers are the UK Chief Medical Adviser, Professor Chris Whitty,
and Dr. Margaret Harris from WHO discussing schools and masks. Then Lord Robert Kerslake, former head of the UK Civil Service, looking at the current Government.
24th August Total deaths per 100,000 population of the country. Data from Statista GmbH, a German company based in Hamburg.
These are just the countries recording a total of over 40 deaths/100,000 as at today.
The BBC reports that 10 UN member countries have had no recorded cases of COVID-19. They are all Pacific islands.
Poultry News reports seven workers at Banham Poultry chicken processing plant in Norfolk have tested positive raising concerns
that coronavirus can easily spread in chilled factories. The workforce at the plant is around 600. Fifteen cases of coronavirus had
been reported last week at 2 Sisters’ poultry processing plant in Perthshire, Scotland.
The Scottish government says that all pupils over the age of 12 should wear face masks in corridors and communal areas but not
in classrooms. On school buses everyone over 5 years-of-age must wear a face covering.
Late in the day, the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, issues a Government Guidance Note saying that pupile in England should
follow Scotland’s lead but only in areas under local lockdown, mainly in the north of England. Other schools may require masks but
the choice is left to the individual schools. Northern Ireland and Wales have not made a decision. The Education Secretary quoted new
guidance published by the WHO. [Ed. Hear Dr. Margaret Harris last Sunday 23rd August on the subject]
Channel 4 TV broadcasts a documentary called How to Avoid a Second Wave presented by Dr. Xand van Tulleken and Dr. Guddi Singh who
have both had COVID-19.
Monday 26th August Plymouth’s public health team say a group of holidaymakers, aged 18 and 19, returned from the Greek
island of Zante last week and so far 11 have tested positive for coronavirus. Many of them had no, or very minor, symptoms of the
virus and some who were not showing symptoms carried on as normal until they became aware of the risk, including going on a night
out in Plymouth’s bars and restaurants. The next day Public Health Wales (PHW) reports that seven people from three different
parties on Tui flight 6215 from Zante to Cardiff have tested positive for Covid-19. PHW is contacting the 193 passengers and crew on board.
This cartoon is from 12th March.
27th August Daily Mail Online reports that the UK Government is having consultations regarding new rules to fast-track a
coronavirus vaccine without waiting for approval from the European Medicines Agency which is still needed during the Brexit transition
period. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) would be given powers to issue a temporary
30th August Another important snapshot from the Johns Hopkins University Dashboard giving an idea of the world situation.
Right click to view the picture full-size or
31st August Moderna, a company using messenger RNA technology to make proteins, based in Cambridge Massachusetts, USA has
a new angle on producing a vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus.
1st September Traffic changes in Ledbury, Herefordshire, UK to assist pedestrians during the pandemic. The usual urban speed
limit is 30mph or 48 kph. 20mph is equivalent to 32 kph.
2nd September The Government dashboard reports that over 6 million tests for COVID-19 have been carried out a UK hospitals
(Pillar 1 tests). However commercial NHS partners have carried out 8.6 million tests (Pillar 2 tests). The exact figures are Pillar 1 —
6,015,665 and Pillar 2 — 8,637,531 giving a total of 14,653,196.
3rd September The UK Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, is providing weekly updates on which countries English travellers can visit
without having to quarantine themselves for 14 days when they return. The country’s Red list of most countries including the US requires
quarantine, the short Green list has around 70 nations that are exempt. However the Green list differs in the various parts of the UK.
For example Greece and Portugal are on the Green list for English travellers whichever UK airport they fly in to but Scotland and Wales require
travellers to quarantine. The changing list has caused confusion with many travellers returning early to avoid quarantine which they fear may be
imposed for their holiday country. Today Mr Shapps said there were no changes to the present Green list for England.
4th September This is the a letter I received today asking me if I am prepared to take part in a research study by Imperial
College London. Right-click to view full-size image. (I said yes.)
Sunday 6th September The Telegraph reports that Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is responding well to
treatment after he was taken to hospital with coronavirus. The 83-year-old tested positive earlier this week after returning from a holiday
at his luxury villa in Sardinia. He was admitted to hospital in Milan last Thursday. Two of his children - daughter Barbara, 36, and son Luigi,
31 - have also contracted the virus, as has his companion Marta Fascina.
Research scientists at the University of Costa Rica’s Clodomiro Picado Institute (ICP) are planning to begin trials of an inexpensive
coronavirus treatment based on antibodies taken from horses injected with COVID-19.
It appears from earlier reports that the UK MOD research facility at Porton Down, the Defence Science and Technology
Laboratory (DSTL) have found that high concentrations of citriodiol (name registered by Citrefine International), the
active ingredient in some mosquito-repellant liquids, is able to kill the novel coronavirus. The MOD has been issuing it to service personnel
since April as additional protection as well as regular hand washing and social distancing. Citriodiol is the distilled oil from leaves and twigs of
the Lemon Eucalyptus (eucalyptus citriodora) tree.
The legacy dish famous worldwide, fish and chips, is one of Britain’s oldest take-away industries. The United Kingdom National Federation of Fish
Friers (NFFF) chairman, Andrew Crook, reports that fish-and-chip shops struggled during lock-down. Now many have adapted by accepting card payments,
introducing Click and Collect and some offering home deliveries. We still get a lot of our trade by walk-ins he says. People judge how
good a chippy is by the queue.
As the UK experiences the sudden upsurge of infections the local authority hot spots in terms of total number of cases recorded to
6 September are: Birmingham 7,047 Bradford 6,577 Leicester 5,856 Leeds 4,841 Sheffield 4,813 and Manchester 4,568. Right-click to view the
The Guardian newspaper reports that the South Wales borough of Caerphilly (above) is to have restrictions imposed at 6pm today to slow down increasing
cases of COVID infection in the borough. People have been told they cannot enter or leave Caerphilly without a reasonable excuse and the lockdown
is expected to last until at least October, the Welsh health minister, Vaughan Gething, has said. Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Gething said:
Social distancing has broken down. He said the problem had been caused by a combination of people returning from Europe and getting together
in houses. He defended the decision not to close pubs, arguing that significant transmission was not taking place in such settings
but this would continue to be reviewed. Meetings with other people indoors will be banned and everyone over 11 will have to wear masks in shops,
the first time the measure has been made mandatory in Wales.
9th September At 4pm the UK Prime Minister at a Downing Street briefing announces a new Rule of Six to apply from
next Monday 14th September. People must only meet indoors or outdoors in groups of up to six. Not clear if this is still limited to two
households or if it can be more. COVID-19-secure venues including places of worship, gyms, restaurants, hospitality and community venues
can hold more than six in total but individual groups within those venues must not be more than six. Education and work settings are unchanged.
At weddings and funerals up to 30 people may still attend. It will now be a legal requirement for the organiser at places where people meet
socially to request and record contact details of individuals and one member of every household group and hold them for 21 days. At the same briefing the UK Chief Medical Adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, shows how many people are testing positive each week in
various age groups. His second and third graphs expand on the 11 to 21 age group. Right-click to view full-size image. In a Government News Story Coronavirus: What has changed – 9 September which is published online today it says From Monday 14
September, you must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than 6. This seems to say that the former two
households only rule has been replaced by any number of households in the ‘Rule 0f Six’.
A Newsweek article by Khaleda Rahman draws attention to The Healthy American website. This is a civil rights / community awareness
group which sells cards to give individuals religious exemption from wearing a face mask. It is organised by David and Peggy Hall from San Clemente,
California. Quoting from their website: “HOW IS WEARING A MASK AGAINST MY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS? God created me in His image and
I will not be coerced into obstructing my God-given breath of life. God breathed into man and he became a living soul. The Bible says we
should stand before God with our faces unveiled. Covering your face is a sign of submission in the Muslim religion.”
11th September NPR (National Public Radio), Washington reports that adults who tested positive for the coronavirus were about twice
as likely to have dined at a restaurant within a two-week period prior to becoming sick, according to a new study of 314 adults from Centers For
Disease Control and Prevention. Those who tested positive were more likely to have been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19 and,
of those close contacts, half were family members. Alhough the study has limitations — including its size and the fact that participants
weren’t asked to distinguish between indoor or outdoor dining — it echoes concerns over safety in bars and restaurants during the pandemic.
The study also points out that many reported cases tied to restaurants have been linked to air circulation. Direction, ventilation, and
intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance
the CDC notes.
12th September The UK charity, Water Aid say that it is working in 28 countries to stop the spread of COVID-19. We are
installing handwashing facilities where they’re needed most and helping communities stop the spread of coronavirus with hygiene education
This is Haja Borboh in Sierra Leone showing the most basic hand washing facility that communities can make for themselves. Water Aid provides
facilities for larger communities including wells and pumps.
13th September A snapshot of the most affected countries cases and deaths courtesy of Our World in Data website. To date the
United States has the most confirmed cases, and the most deaths. Right-click to view/save full-size image.
14th September The Independent newspaper reports that a letter has been sent to all medical practices in England. In it NHS chiefs
say it is important the public was aware they can still access in-person consultations with their doctor. This amends Health Secretary
Matt Hancock’s announcement at the end of July that all future GP appointments in England should be done remotely over the phone or video
unless there is a compelling clinical reason.
The NHS letter also reminds practices that they face enforcement action if they fail to offer
clinically-indicated in-person appointments to patients, as it is considered a breach of their medical contract. Patients will still need to call
ahead or visit their practice website for an appointment before attending in person. Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care for NHS England,
urged people not to stay away if they are in need of care. Information from Datawrapper GmbH.
14th September UK Covernment graphic showing patients in UK hospitals on ventilator units each day through the pandemic until today.
Right-click to view full-size image.
16th September A Huffington Post article mentions this graphic, produced by 'Information Is Beautiful', the brainchild of London-based
designer and writer David McCandless. It is a heat map of Coronavirus Riskiest Activities and the information is sourced from 500 epidemiologists and
experts quoted in the media. Right-click to see the full-size image.
The Hereford Times newspaper reports a local pub has been temporarily closed. The Walwyn Arms in Much Marcle near Ledbury has had a customer, who
visited on the evening of the 9th September, test positive for COVID-19 when given a routine test at work. The pub reports that key staff are being
tested and the premises is being deep cleaned.
Also two Herefordshire schools report pupils testing positive. A year 7 pupil at Whitecross High School in Hereford and a year 8 pupil at Queen Elizabeth
High School in Bromyard. Both schools remain open. [Year 7 is 11-12 year-olds, year 8 is 12-13 year-olds]
17th September The Welsh Government has said that a group of 15 people from South Wales travelled on their regular annual coach trip
to Doncaster Races on 9th September. This was a pilot sporting event to see if it may be possible to restart racing with spectators. They didn’t
actually visit the racecouse but stayed in Doncaster and visited a pub. A number have since received positive test results for COVID-19 and they are one
of a number of clusters in the area which have led to movement restrictions being imposed.
The Muslim Council of Britain publishes this sermon template for use in mosques at Friday prayers.
Potential Second Wave and Protecting Our Families (PDF)
Friday 18th September At the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Day season, Israel enteres a second national lockdown as coronavirus cases
soar in a country of around 9 million people. (Global News Archive).
Hot spots around the UK where a variety of local lockdowns are in place. Using a map published on The
Guardian website. Over 10 million people are now estimated to be in lockdown. Right-click to view full-size image.
Two bookshops in Ledbury High Street feature on the local radio station, BBC Hereford and Worcester, breakfast show.
21st September Two Government chief scientific advisers, Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty, give a coronavirus briefing from
Downing Street on BBC television.
Sir Patrick shows a slide on vaccines being developed. The UK has supply agreements with 7 suppliers. Right-click to see the full-size image.
The UK COVID Alert level is raised to 4.
22nd September After a debate in Parliament earlier in the day, this 8-minute announcement by the Prime Minister is broadcast on BBC1
Television at 8pm this evening.
The leaders of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drakeford and Arlene Foster - make similar
announcements. PHE Public Health England officials warn that both influenza and coronavirus
could soon be circulating at the same time and any person contracting both will be at a high risk of
serious illness. The NHS offers a free ’flu vaccine available from the doctor’s surgery or the local pharmacist to all adults aged 65 and over,
children aged from 2 to 11, health and social care workers and vulnerable people including pregnant women [both mother and baby are vulnerable]. Seasonal
influenza kills around 10,000 people each winter in the UK.
24th September The NHS COVID-19 contact-tracing smartphone application is launched today in England and Wales. It uses Apple and Google bluetooth
technology to detect other nearby smartphones and it includes a QR code scanner to register visits to pubs, restaurants, leisure venues, universities and libraries.
Businesses have been asked to download posters showing the QR codes and to display them at entrances. For customers without smartphones, businesses must keep
a written register. [A Quick Response code is a machine-readable barcode designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan]
This app joins the three other apps used in the British Isles and Ireland. RoI COVID TRACKER from 7th July, stopCOVID NI from 30th July and ProtectScotland
from September 10th. All the apps have been produced by a software development company called NearForm based at Tramore, Ireland. The Scottish app has had
problems as iPhones and Android phones need to have the latest operating systems in order to use it. Also it’s not clear if all the apps are compatible
although all use the Apple-Google API.
Friday 25th September The New York Times shows how the situation in the US has changed since July 3rd.
The Express Newspaper publishes a map of how the London Boroughs are faring as measured by the number of cases per 100,000 of the borough population
recorded in the previous week.
27th September Updated from only nine days earlier (see 18th September)
28th September Total deaths per 100,000 population of the country. Data from Johns Hopkins University.
These are just the countries recording a total of over 60 deaths/100,000 as at today.
By noon today, the England and Wales contract tracing app has been downloaded 12.4 million times.
The i newspaper cover story discusses the logistics of a vaccine rollout. Two problems might be the number of
refrigerated lorries and aircraft needed to transport the vaccine to treatment centres and the manufacture of glass vials using
laboratory-grade borosilicate glass. The last UK manufacturer of this specialist material was James A. Jobling & Co. Ltd. at the
Wear Glass Works in Sunderland which closed in 2007. The domestic equivalent of this material is called Pyrex.
29th September The Johns Hopkins University Dashboard records the total number deaths from COVID-19 worldwide has
passed the 1 million mark. Right click to view the dashboard full-size.
BBC Television News says that 50 UK universities have reported cases of students testing positive for coronavirus and hundreds of
students are now isolating in halls of residence and with house mates and flat mates in shared accommodation.
30th September A chart to help self-diagnosis.
From NBC News. Dr. Sean Conley, a White House physician, reports on 4th October that President Trump had a high fever late this morning
and was administered supplemental oxygen for about an hour at the White House. At some point he was also given an experimental two-antibody
cocktail treatment, REGN-COV2, produced by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. Later today he was moved to the Walter
Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The President has several risk factors - he is 74 years old, male and, with a height
of 6 feet 3 inches and a weight of 244 pounds, his BMI is 30.5 and over 30 is classed as obese. However the treatment of COVID-19 has
improved over the last six months, he has access to top medical care, although the physicians are not always reporting truthfully, and
he is white. These factors are all in his favour.
2nd October Today it is confirmed that the President tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday evening after he
returned from a campaign fundraiser in Bedminster, New Jersey. In the evening he posts a video on Twitter saying that he is feeling
much better. The First Lady, Melania Trump, aged 50, has also been diagnosed with COVID-19. togther with two White House aides,
Hope Hicks and KellyAnne Conway and the President’s personal attendent, Nick Luna. The rest of his family are okay.
Sunday 4th October Over the weekend President Trump began a course of steroid therapy using the drug dexamethasone.
[see 17th June] although the drug is not recommended for more mild cases of the disease. UPI reports that he also received two doses of
the drug remdesivir [see 2nd May] when he arrived at hospital.
The UK Government statistics dashboard today show 22,981 confirmed case in the last 24 hours and a PHE press release says this includes
15,841 cases previously unreported over eight days. The daily figures used for all the graphs online (World in Data, gov.uk etc.) are now
incorrect for this period.
Today a document was published by three leading epidemiologists calling for a new approach in the light of the damage caused by lockdowns. It is
titled The Great Barrington Declaration (PDF) as it was signed in a small town in Massachusetts.
It calls for a herd immunity approach to tackling coronavirus, in which the old and vulnerable are shielded while those who are less
susceptible can resume ordinary life.
The Scotsman newspaper reports that the latest research says that herd immunity against COVID-10 may be
achieved when around 43% of a population have been infected with the virus. If a high proportion of people have already had the virus and
developed immunity, this reduces further spread, helping to protect those who have not yet been infected. Sweden has used this approach but
the case numbers for Sweden have been comparable with other European countries and now are rising again. The approach is controversial as it
depends on the country having extensive test and trace facilities.
UPI reports that President Trump walked out of the hospital at around 6:40 p.m. [EDT] Monday evening. Earlier
he tweeted from the hospital Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have
developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago! His
ongoing treatment will be handled by the White House medical unit although it doesn’t have the facilities of the Walter Reed Center. PHE Public Health England in a press release revised today says
Due to a technical issue,
which has now been resolved, in the automated process that transfers COVID-19 positive lab results into reporting dashboards and for contact
tracing, 15,841 cases between 25 September and 2 October were not included in the reported daily COVID-19 cases. ..... The technical issue
was caused by the fact that some files containing positive test results exceeded the maximum file size that takes these data files and loads
then into central systems. [Ed. According to the BBC radio programme ‘More or Less’ PHE is using Microsfoft Excel 2003 which
can only store 16,384 rows of data in .XLS files. The 2007 release increased this to over a million rows in .XLXS files but PHE is sticking
with the old version and splitting large files to keep the system, working.]
6th October UK Hospital records up to today showing confirmed coronavirus patients in hospital and on ventilators each day. Not
exactly a second wave of the virus as it never completely ended, more a second surge.
The Telegraph online reports that more than 50 universities in the UK have confirmed cases of Covid-19, after
thousands of undergraduates returned to campus for the start of the autumn term. A survey by PA Media, a news agency run by a group of
newspaper pablishers, contacted 140 institutions and found that at 56 universities around 2,600 students and staff are confirmed COVID cases.
Regarding children, the Telegraph quotes Professor Malcolm (Calum) Semple, chair of Child Health and Outbreak Medicine at the University of Liverpool and adviser
on the SAGE panel: We’re quite confident now that primary school children are probably a quarter to half as likely to become
infected and are also much less likely to pass the infection on.... So there’s growing evidence that primary school children are
not amplifying this disease.
8th October The i newspaper reports that the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has urged MPs to
wear face coverings while walking around Parliament and voting. The House of Commons Commission has also asked MPs to wear face coverings
when they are moving between buildings or queuing for food and drink in cafés. This indicates they haven’t been doing so up
to now. 😕
9th October Update on the hot spots around the UK where a variety of local lockdowns are in place. Right-click to view
This Greenpeace video from 20 March shows the greetings available for the foreseeable future. NZSL = New Zealand Sign Language.
Sunday 11th October Total UK confirmed coronavirus cases exceeds 600,000. Reuters reports that a
tubercolosis vaccine called BGD (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin) is being trialled to see if it may offer some protection against
COVID-19. The trial, launched in April, is Australian-led and also has arms in the UK at University of Exeter Medical School and
in the Netherlands, Spain, Brazil and South Africa.
The Way the World is — the Singapore Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) subway in October 2020.
12th October On Saturday Donald Trump held his first public event at the White House when he spoke briefly from a
balcony to the audience below on the South Lawn. He is returning to the election campaign trail today with a rally at Sanford
International Airport in Orlando, Florida. He is also scheduled to visit Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Iowa on Wednesday. The presidential
election date is November 3rd.
13th October From tomorrow a three-tier COVID alert system begins in England. Tier 1 Medium Alert, rule of 6 and
hospitality closing at 10pm. Tier 2 High Alert, as 1 but no households or separate support bubbles to meet indoors. Tier 3 Very High
Alert, as 2 but no households or separate support bubbles to meet anywhere and local authorities may add further restrictions. SAGE
advisors do not think the Tier 3 restrictions are enough to slow the second surge of the pandemic and they would prefer a short UK wide
This map shows how the country is now affected. Right-click to view full-size image.
On the BBC West Midlands lunchtime news programme, Midlands Today, the situation in the English Midlands is explained. Right-click to view
BBC News reports that the NHS Test and Trace app, which has been downloaded over 16 million times, has been showing phantom warning
messages which the Department of Health says are default privacy notifications from Apple and Google who provide the underlying
framework on which the app is based. An update is issued today but only adds a reassuring follow-up Don’t worry ...
message. [Ed. The phantom message doesn’t read like a privacy notice. It warns of possible COVID-19 exposure.]
Donald G McNeil Jr,in the New York Times says that Flu is ‘seeded’ in the United States each year by travellers from
the Southern Hemisphere after the winter there ends. But this year their flu season was almost nonexistent — because they were
socially distancing and, in some countries, wearing masks. [Ed. If the UK is similar we may have less flu in circulation this winter.]
The journalist also mentions that the US Government’s agreement to subsidise vaccine companies’ clinical trials and
manufacturing costs is called ‘Operation Warp Speed’.
This Matt Pritchett cartoon appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 20th June but Englands Test & Trace operation is still not working four
14th October The UK medical journal, The Lancet, today publishes a counter-argument to the Great Barrington Declaration
[see 4 October] called The John Snow Memorandum (PDF) named after Dr John Snow who famously
helped to stop an outbreak of cholera in London in 1854 by removing the pump handle from a contaminated well.
15th October Update of 9th August. How confirmed cases of COVID-19 have spread to date. Source: Johns Hopkins
University, European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control. Published by BBC News.
An update of the 28 September entry showing in the right-hand column the total deaths per 100,000 population
of the country. The middle column shows the total number of deaths. These are the main countries recording the highest deaths/rate of
deaths as at today. Data from Statista GmbH.
16th October US COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by state at rate per 100,000 population to show where the virus has hit. Right-click
to view full-size image.
An update of the Wikimedia Commons map showing the UK district rate per 100,000 population first shown on 22 May and 3 July above.
Click or tap to view a larger image in a new tab.
18th October Sky News reports that doctors may have been too hasty at the start of the pandemic in putting
patients on mechanical ventilators. Dr Alison Pittard, dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine in London, said Initially
we used to put patients straight on to mechanical ventilation - so we would sedate them and put them on ventilators. But we have slowly
started to realise that perhaps we could manage some patients without doing that. She said intensive care teams now use a variety
of interventions to help patients breathe.
The Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt posted this message to the members of the US Orthodox Jewish community and it is reported in the Jewish Star
online newspaper today. Here is Rabbi Glatt’s message (PDF). [Ed. As a non-Jew I am amazed at the
complex rules of their faith. A point of interest: iy"h stands for im yirtzeh hashem equivalent to the Moslem insh'allah or
the Christian d.v. (Latin: Deo Volente) all meaning ‘God Willing’.]
A rapid coronavirus test is being offered from today at UK Heathrow Airport for travellers going to Hong Kong who must have a negative pre-departure
COVID-19 test result before they will be allowed to enter the country without needing to quarantine. Collinson, the firm running the medical service
uses a rapid saliva LAMP test which is analysed at an airport lab. and gives a result within an hour. Passengers have to pre-book a test and it
costs £80. The negative pre-departure test result may be transferred to the CommonPass mobile app, created by the Commons
Project Foundation and the World Economic Forum, which is at present being trialled. A ‘Test-on-Arrival’ procedure is also feasible,
the airport says.
Saturday 24th October The number of areas with COVID restrictions increases from today. Right-click to view full-size image.
26th October Cases in US are moving into a third wave according to Johns Hopkins University.
27th October With the American Presidential Election next week and the different approaches to the pandemic of the two main candidates,
Donald Trump and Jo Biden, it may be useful to look at a summary of the 2016 election won by Donald Trump on electoral votes but not the popular vote.
There is a movement towards taking into account the popular vote. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an agreement between states
to pool their electoral votes together for the candidate who wins the states’ aggregated popular vote. States will award their electoral votes
regardless of individual state voting results. A Gallup poll in September shows that 61% of Americans would like to amend the Constitution so the
candidate who receives the most total votes nationwide wins the election.
The Daily Telegraph reports that a Department of Health sudy by Imperial College, London involving 365,000 people shows that people who have developed
antibodies after suffering a covid infection lose more than a quarter of them in 3 months. This loss of natural immunity means they can be infected a
second time and means that, to be useful, vaccines must be strong enough to give a longer period of immunity.
28th October The i newspaper prints a useful summary UK Government business financial support. After the
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) [see 20 March] finishes at the end of this month, a new
Job Support Scheme starts – the Government will pay two-thirds of employee’s salaries for hours not worked (UK wide).
Statutory Sick Pay Refund Businesses can claim for up to two weeks SSP paid to an employee if they employ less than 250 people.
Business Rates Relief Scheme means rates in 2010-2021 tax year are waived for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.
Bounce-back Loan Scheme provides loans up to £50,000 with no capital or interest repayments in the first year.
Business Interruption Loan Scheme up to £5m with first year’s interest paid by the Government. Local Restrictions Support Grant gives businesses forced to close by local lockdown cash grants up to £3,000 per
month. Job Retention Bonus is a one-off payment in 2021 of £1,000 to UK employers for each eligible employee they
furloughed and kept continuously employed until 31st January 2021.
30th October Crowds in Nottingham City Centre last night after 10pm when the pubs closed.
France enters a second full lock-down today which will be in force until 1 December. On Tuesday there were 523 new deaths from coronavirus during
the previous 24 hours, the highest daily toll in France since April, when the virus was at its most severe.
31st October At 6.48pm today (delayed from 5pm) the Government chief scientific advisers, Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty, joined
Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a coronavirus briefing on BBC television. The technical slides shown at the briefing are similar to those
posted on the Independent SAGE Twitter account today. Christina Pagel presents these charts:
The advice is that the country needs to get below 5,000 cases per day for the test and trace system to work effectively.
On the BBC coverage before the briefing Dr. Devi Sridhah, Global Health Chair at the University of Edinburgh answers questions from Reeta
Chakrabarti beginning with “Is this lockdown inevitable?” [Ed. This interview is 6 minutes long but interesting.]
The Prime Minister announces that, following a debate in Parliament on Wednesday, he will be asking MPs support in imposing a second
lockdown in England from midnight onwards intending it to be in place until 2nd December. The scientific evidence that has convinced him
of the need for a lockdown will be presented to MPs. The Labour opposition has already said that, as in the first lockdown, the delay in putting
it in place will cause excess unnecessary deaths. The ‘furlough’ financial scheme will be reinstated during the second lockdown
continuing until the end of March 2021.
1st November Connor Reed, the first British man known to have caught coronavirus last December in Wuhan, has died following a
“tragic accident” at his halls of residence at Bangor University last week.
He returned to the UK this year to undertake a degree in Chinese language. He was hospitalised in Wuhan for two weeks and his mother said that
he had endured more lockdowns than anyone she had ever known – 16 weeks harsh lockdown in Wuhan, two weeks in Australia and a further three
weeks in the UK. He had lived in China for the past three years teaching English.
Government figures released today show that the number of conformed COVD-19 cases in the UK has passed the one million mark. This does not include
the many people who have had the virus but were never tested and have recovered at home.
The Week magazine quotes information from the Daily Telegraph newspaper regarding the UK contact tracing system. Firstly it has fragmented
command and control since it is run by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, the national COVID Response Centre and the COVID-19 Task Force all operating
from different sites. Secondly it uses four different IT systems, Synergy, CTAS, SGSS and HPZone.
2nd November The Guardian newspaper reports a pilot testing programme is starting this week in Liverpool, planning to offer tests to
all 500,000 inhabitants. Three nose and back-of-throat swab types of test will be used – the new Lateral-flow (LF) test giving 15 minute on-site
results, the existing PCR test giving 24 hour lab. results and the LAMP test (see Optigene (PDF))
which will be used for Liverpool hospital NHS staff tests. Mass testing was first used in Italy in the little town of Vo near Venice in March.
3,000 people were tested, 89 were found to have COVID-19 and next week a further 14. In a fortnight the town had eradicated the virus.
Some much larger Chinese cities including Wuhan have done the same.
The i newspaper reports that a study by Public Health England, the NIHR Manchester clinical research facility and the UK
Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC) shows that six months after their initial infection, every single one of the hundred patients (health
workers who tested positive) in the study had retained T-cells generated by the immune system. Previous studies have found that antibody levels drop
off quite quickly, within a few months, raising concerns about their ability to protect against reinfection. Professor Paul Moss, of the University
of Birmingham, says that the study is the first in the world to show robust cellular immunity remains at six months after infection.
4th November From midnight tonight England is in partial lockdown. Here are the details (PDF)
and a link to the legal document is given below. The main differencs to the March lockdown are that schools, universities and businesses, excluding
retail and hospitality, are remaining open. Garden centres, waste disposal sites and courts are also operating.
5th November CNN reports that Denmark, the world’s largest producer of mink furs, plans to cull all mink in the country (around
15 million) to contain a mutated form of novel coronavirus. Statens Serum Institut, the Danish authority based in Copenhagen which deals with infectious
diseases, has found five cases of the virus in mink farms and 12 examples in humans that showed reduced sensitivity to antibodies. Allowing the mutated
virus to spread could potentially limit the effectiveness of future vaccines.
Outbreaks of coronavirus at the country’s mink farms have persisted despite repeated efforts to cull infected animals since June. The Danish Prime
Minister said new restrictions will be introduced in certain areas of Denmark to contain the spread of the mutated virus. The health minister reported
that around half of the 783 infected people in Northern Denmark, where many mink farms are based, had connections with the farms.
Sky News reports that the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (61) has been diagnosed with coronavirus. He was at a White House party on election
night and accompanied the president aboard Air Force One in the final days of the campaign rallies.
8th November At the 5pm afternoon briefing, Brigadier Joe Fossey who is leading the army’s support for the mass testing pilot in
Liverpool explains the plans so far.
A press release: Pfizer INC. AND BioNTech SE ANNOUNCE VACCINE CANDIDATE [BNT162b2] AGAINST COVID-19 ACHIEVED SUCCESS
IN FIRST INTERIM ANALYSIS FROM PHASE 3 STUDY
November 09, 2020
⬤ Vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without
evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first interim efficacy analysis
⬤ Analysis evaluated 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in trial participants
⬤ Study enrolled 43,538 participants, with 42% having diverse backgrounds, and no serious safety concerns
have been observed; Safety and additional efficacy data continue to be collected
⬤ Submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) planned
for soon after the required safety milestone is achieved, which is currently expected to occur in the third week of November
⬤ Clinical trial to continue through to final analysis at 164 confirmed cases in order to collect further
data and characterize the vaccine candidate’s performance against other study endpoints.
BioNTech explains that, unlike other vaccines, messenger RNA vaccines do not contain the virus itself and therefore pose no risk of infection.
Coronaviruses are covered with spike proteins that attach themselves to human cells and allow the virus to infect them. The vaccine provides instructions
for a human cell to make a harmless version of a target protein which activates the body’s antibody and T cell immune response. The BNT162 vaccine
was developed to be effective against the earlier SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The companies Chinese partner, FosunPharma, was working on another vaccine BNT162b1 but this has proved less satisfactory and the company is now seeking
approval to use the BNT162b2 vaccine in China.
One major problem with mRNA vaccines is that they must be stored and transported at very low temperatures, between -70 and -80 °C (-94 to -112°F).
A Turkish husband and wife team, Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci, founded the pharmaceutical research company BioNTech in Germany in 2008.
US President Elect Joe Biden introduces his COVID-19 Advisory Council.
It’s co-chairmen are Vivek H. Murthy, David Kessler and Marcella Nunez-Smith.
11th November In the UK the number of confirmed deaths within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 exceeds 50,000 people.
This is the highest number of any European country; France, Italy and Spain are just over 40,000. Russia is over 30,000 and the US over 240,000.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reports that there has been an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian influenza
(bird flu) at a poultry breeding farm, Knapton Farm, in Herefordshire. This is the fifth outbreak of the virus H5N8 strain to be detected in England this month.
In the past the virus has been passed to free-range poultry by migrating wild geese but the poultry at the farm are indoors so there must be some other source.
The virus is not known to have passed to humans in England but precautions are being taken today with temporary control zones set up and disinfection procedures
in place. The infection has also been identified in poultry farms in Europe.
15th November BBC News Online reports that the UK Opposition Labour Party is calling for financial and criminal penalties for social media
firms that do not remove false scare stories about vaccines. The government said it took the issue “extremely seriously” with “a major
commitment” from Facebook, Twitter and Google to tackle anti-vaccine content. Many social media platforms label false content as misleading or disputed
but Labour said a commitment by platforms to remove content flagged by the government was not enough. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said such content
was exploiting people’s fears, their mistrust of institutions and governments and spreading poison and harm. False claims that the vaccine is a
means of inserting microchips into the population, altering our DNA, or are even a weapon of genocide have been appearing on social media recently.
The Prime Minister comments earlier this week:
15th November London-based financial newspaper City A.M. gives details of 355 million doses of vaccines ordered by the UK Government, subject
100 million from Oxford/AstraZeneca ‡, UK/Swedish - now at Phase 3 trials
60 million from Novavax ✶, US - now at Phase 3 trials
60 million from Valneva ✦ , US
60 million from GlaxoSmithKline / Sanofi ❖ - now at Phase 2 trials
40 million from Pfizer / BioNTech † , US/German - now at Phase 3 trials
30 million from Johnson & Johnson / Janssen ‡ , US/Belgium
5 million from Moderna † , US - now at Phase 3 trials
18th November I found this note from sometime back. Recovering from COVID-19
Mild symptoms - 1 to 2 weeks
Serious, needing oxygen after 7 to 10 days - 2 to 8 weeks with tiredness lingering
Very serious, needing intensive care and ventilator - 12 to 18 months plus physiotherapy
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the United States exceeded 250,000 today.
19th November The FoxNewsLiveBlogTeam reports that 37 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico now have mask mandates in place.
The states that do not have a statewide mandate are Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi (recently ended theirs on Sept. 30th),
Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming. President-elect Biden said that an implementation of a
national mask mandate was discussed with state governors. It’s not a political statement. It’s a patriotic duty.
20th November The Way the World is — the Manchester City football ground in August 2020.
Almost half the Scottish population has been told to stay at home from 6pm tonight until 11th December. Non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants
and gyms will all close. There is also a travel ban on people travelling outside their council area.
On BBC TV News health correspondent, James Gallagher, explains how the vaccines work.
Saturday 21st November Merthyr Tydfil in Wales has been chosen as the second mass-testing pilot scheme following the one in Liverpool.
It will use the lateral flow test and be supported by 165 military personnel. Testing begins today.
23rd November NewsMedical reports that Oxford University and AstraZeneca have released their COVID-19 results showing an efficacy of 90%
when a half-dose is followed by a full dose at least a month apart. The AZD1222 vaccine is inexpensive to produce, £3 a dose as against £15
for Pfizer vaccine and £28 a dose for the Moderna vaccine. It can also be stored in a refrigerator. Manufacturers will include Cobra Biologics
and CP Pharma (Wockhardt) in Wrexham, north Wales.
The team leader in charge of developing the vaccine is Professor Sarah Gilbert at the Jenner Institute in Oxford. Here she is with fellow Vaccitech
founder Adrian Hill, in 2018.
The Government today issued a Press Release explaining the revised tier system.
24th November When the partial lockdown in England ends on December 2nd, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday there
will be a return to the three-tier coronavirus system but with tighter restrictions. This time outdoor sports like tennis and golf are allowed.
Schools, all retail outlets, peronal care services like hairdressers, gyms and swimming pools are open but hospitality and household meetings rules
are stricter. Tier 1 MEDIUM will have 'Rule of Six' indoors and outdoors, table service only in pubs and bars, last orders 10pm,
close 11pm, sports venues open at 50% capacity (maximum 4000 people outdoors or 1000 indoors).
Tier 2 HIGH ALERT no household mixing except six people distanced in a public space, pubs and bars venues closed unless serving
meals, indoor entertainment cinemas, bowling alleys, casinos closed.
Tier 3 VERY HIGH ALERT hospitality venues closed except for delivery and take-aways, sports events with no spectators, hotels
closed. No travel into or out of tier 3 areas except for work, education or care purposes. Local authorities that fall into tier 3 will be offered
support from NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme. The first review
point for the initial tier allocations will take place by Wednesday 16 December.
From December 15th. travellers from countries which require them to isolate here will be able to reduce the time from 14 days to 5 days if they take
a COVID test on arrival and the result is negative.
The Guardian Newspaper reports the Oxford/AstraZeneca have joined Covax, the World Health Organisaton-led programme to distribute vaccine to all
A new phrase entered the news today regarding Christmas arrangements — “temporary festive bubbles”. The four nations have agreed to
allow up to three households to meet for up to five days from 23rd to 27th December. They can meet anywhere but not in hospitality settings. Social
distancing will not be necessary in the ‘Christmas Bubbles’ but all the leaders are urging caution.
26th November The Health Secretary Matt Hancock announces to Parliament this morning the level of restrictions which will apply in
each of the areas of England. This map shows how the country is now affected. Right-click to view full-size image.
The US President-elect Joe Biden gives a Thanksgiving address on television. Right-click to view video full-size. (6 minutes)
27th November A morning interview on the BBC Hereford and Worcester Breakfast Show with Toni and Elliott.
For the last quarter of the year, lockdowns have varied between the four nations of the UK. Right-click to enlarge the image.
The Government has offered lateral-flow rapid-testing kits to universities so that students can be confident of being
COVID-free before returning home for the Christmas holidays. So far 130 higher education institutions in the UK (around 79%) have agreed to participate
in the mass asymptomatic testing scheme,which begins on Monday 30th November. Students are offered two tests taken three days apart. If they test
negative they must return home as soon as possible after the second result and before 9th December when testing ends. If a student tests positive,
they will need to take a PCR test via an NHS testing centre and self-isolate for 10 days before returning home.
However the Guardian Newspaper reports serious concerns from the University and College Union (UCU). The UCU said that many students have already
returned home without being tested and it expects some will decline to take the voluntary test, because they do not wish to self-isolate in their halls
of residence. A study by Public Health England’s Porton Down laboratory and the University of Oxford suggests the tests may miss as many as half
of Covid-19 cases, depending on who is using them. The study found that the sensitivity of the test dropped from 79% to 58% when it was used by
self-trained members of the public (volunteer medical students) as opposed to laboratory scientists.
1st December The House of Commons votes on the latest Government restrictions. Out of 650 Members of Parliament many abstain and a
number of Conservative MPs vote against it. The outcome is not a done deal for the Government. Madam Deputy Speaker announces the result.
2nd December Breaking news on the BBC Hereford and Worcester Breakfast Show with Elliott Webb. The UK is the first country in the world
where this step has been taken.
The Guardian newspaper reports that Royal Mail is raising the price of a UK first-class stamp by an inflation-busting 9p to 85p.
The company put much of the blame for the increase on the COVID-19 pandemic, which it said had triggered a sharp fall in letter volumes.
However this is only the latest in a series of rises in postal charges as shown here from year 2000.
The UK partial lockdown has ended and a revised tier system comes into operation today as agreed in Parliament yesterday evening. The five criteria
used for assigning the tier to each area are:
1. Cases all age groups
2. Cases in the over 60s
3. The rate at which cases are rising or falling
4. Positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
5. Pressure on the NHS
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are doing their own thing.
3rd December Leading UK supermarkets have said that they will pay the monies that the Government allowed them to save under Business Rates
Relief scheme. Supermarkets have been an essential service during the pandemic and remained open. Tesco said yesterday that they will pay back £440 million,
Sainsbury’s will pay £550 million, Morrisons £274 million, Asda £340 million and Aldi £100 million. Aldi CEO Giles Hurley
says despite the increased costs we have incurred during the pandemic, we believe returning the full value of our business rates relief is the
right decision to help support the nation.
The BBC reports that he deputy chief medical officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam expects deliveries of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to arrive
from Belgium very, very shortly in the UK. And I do mean hours, not days. The vaccine is transported in temperature-controlled vehicles
to keep it a -70°C. A box of the vaccine contains 975 doses, but the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has not granted approval for
these containers to be split up and this will make distribution of small quantities to individual care homes more difficult. There could be a risk of
doses going to waste. Pfizer and BioNTech have said their inoculation can be sent to care homes so long as it travels for less than six hours after
leaving cold storage and is put into a normal fridge.
Dr Anthony Fauci on US Fox News criticised the UK for approving a vaccine without completing the necessary checks. We have the gold standard of a
regulatory approach... The UK did not do it as carefully.
Following Dr Fauci’s remarks, the i newspaper Health corrspondent, Paul Gallagher, says that the MHRA
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency have been carrying out “rolling reviews”
as the vaccines were being developed starting in September so that the final review could be completed quickly. The Government used emergency protocols to
give the Pfizer - BioNTech vaccine ‘temporary authorisation’.
Later Dr Fauci clarifies his remarks in a BBC interview.
Moscow is the first city in Russia to open vaccination points today. On Monday mass vaccination against the novel coronavirus will start throughout the
country. The Russians are being immunised with the Sputnik V vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in
Moscow. Like the Astra Zeneca vaccine, the Sputnik V uses adenoviral vectors (genetically engineered adenovirus) and requires two doses 21 days apart.
What is unique is that it uses a different vector in the each of the two jabs.
7th December President Trump’s personal attorney, ex-New York mayor, Rudy Giuliano, 76, has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been
admitted to hospital in Washington. He has been in contact with many court officials in the legal cases, in states across America, brought by the White
House team to try to get the US Presidential Election results overturned in favour of Donald Trump. He appears to have never worn a mask but has been
tested negative on several occasions. His son, Andrew, tested positive on 20th November but has now recovered.
In various Q & A articles it has been pointed out that the Pfizer vaccine requires two injections 21 days apart. Also that the vaccine is preventative
not curative. In other words you would be immunised against being infected by the virus but if you were already infected this would be too late for the
vaccine to help you. A fact not widely discussed is that it is seven days after the second jab has been received before you are 90% protected. This means
you need to allow around a month from the date of the first jab before you can be sure you are safe.
90 year-old Margaret Keenan is the first person in the UK to receive vaccination.
She is at University Hospital, Coventry and her birthday is next week. As she says, it’s the best early birthday present I could wish for
because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year.
10th December Charlie Mackesy has a book of illustrations called “The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse.” Full of wise
and gentle comments on life. Here is one of them.
Right-click to view full-size image.
Monday 14th December Vaccinations are starting at the Community Centre in Ledbury this week for people aged 80 and over.
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee learns today that vaccine roll-out in England is being organised by Emily Lawson, chief commercial
officer for NHS England. A digital system has been set up for tracking who has been vaccinated based on NHS and GP numbers.
15th December Members of the US electoral college have affirmed Joe Biden’s Presidential Election victory, one of the final steps
required for him to take office. In normal circumsances Joe Biden will be sworn in as president on 20 January. This is only significant to the pandemic
because the arguments between Reublicans and Democrats regarding the validity of the Presidential Election results has taken focus away from work on the
pandemic. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was given approval by the FDA on December 11th and front-line health workers began receiving it on Monday (14th).
The Undefeated, a US online sports channel, reports that Sandra Lindsay, a Black critical care nurse at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York,
was livestreamed and broadcast on television on Monday. Lindsay, the first American to get the coronavirus vaccine, told New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo It
didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine. There has been a reluctance for Black Americans to take the vaccine but the latest
surveys show this is changing.
The i newspaper reports that there is evidence that ‘Long Covid’ patients are being haunted by burning-like
odours as more unusual symptoma of the virus emerge. Professor Nirmal Kumar, an ear, nose and throat surgeon who identified loss of taste and smell as a
Covid indicator back in March says this latest symptom is caused as the virus is affecting the nerves of the roof of the nose.
UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said that so far 137,897 people have received vaccinations in the UK in the week from 8 to 15th December.
17th December The Health Secretary Matt Hancock announces to Parliament this morning the revised level of restrictions which will apply
in each of the areas of England. This map shows how the country is now affected. Notably my county, Herefordshire, moves down to Tier 1 but a lot of areas
in south-east England, where cases have been rising rapidly, move up to Tier 3. Right-click to view full-size image. He also talked about a new variant of
the virus which has been identified at Porton Down Research Laboratory and seem to cause similar illness but transmits between people a lot more quickly.
French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for Covid-19 after experiencing symptoms and will self-isolate for a week, his office said today.
18th December WalesOnline reports that on 2nd December the UK Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI) published the
priority groups for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
1. Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers
2. People aged 80 and over and frontline health workers
3. People aged 75 and over
4. People aged 70 and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
5. People aged 65 and over
6. People aged 16 to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
7. People aged 60 and over
8. People aged 55 and over
9. People aged 50 and over
The JCVI says that taken together, these groups represent around 99% of preventable deaths from COVID-19.
The BBC reports that the Moderna vaccine has been approved for use in the USA. It only needs to be stored at -25 to -15°C (normal freezer
temperatures) but there are 28 days between jabs and 14 days after that before it is fully protective, totaling 42 days as against the 28 days for
the Pfizer vaccine.
19th December UK newspapers report the general concern that a new mutated strain of the virus has been identified in southern England which
may be why cases are increasing again in the south-east which in turn has caused areas to be moved into Tier 3.
A Belgian Government minister has tweeted details of the prices per dose paid by the EU for the various vaccines. The equivalent pound and dollar prices
are based on today’s exchange rates.
= £1.62 = $2.18
= £6.87 = $9.26
Johnson & Johnson
= £7.72 = $10.41
= £9.08 = $12.25
= £10.90 = $14.70
= £16.34 = $22.05
These prices do not include for up-front development payments which the EU paid to BioNTech and Oxf/AstZen to enable them to pay a lower final amount.
20th December SAGE reported yesterday that the new variant of the coronavirus, ref VUI-202012/01, which was identified back in September
and mentioned on Monday by Matt Hancock, is spreading rapidly across south-east England. From today, in order to reduce the spread to other parts of
the country which would overwhelm local hospitals, London and the south-east of England has been put under tighter restrictions in a new
‘Stay-at-Home’ tier which will apply over Christmas. In addition throughout the UK the Christmas relaxation period, when households could
meet, is reduced from 5 days to 1 day, Christmas Day, only.
Herefordshire has been moved into Tier 1 because the case rate per 100,000 has reduced by over half in recent weeks. [The ONS 2019 population estimate for
Herefordshire is 192,801 of which 12,931 people are aged 80 and over.]
The restrictions and the new variant of the virus were discussed in the BBC Radio 4 ‘Broadcasting House’ programme this morning.
22nd December BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester 8 am. News reports a travel ban on the UK by over 40 countries, the result of France’s
decision to shut the border with the UK for 48 hours over fears surrounding the new strain of coronavirus, and people coming to Herefordshire for a drink
in a pub which is allowed under Tier 1 rules.
Lorries stuck on M20 leading to Dover yesterday evening.
A local Ledbury school reports that the economic effect of the pandemic has made school meals through the holidays particularly vital.
from the Spectator cartoonist, K. J. Lamb
23rd December In a UK Government briefing today Matt Hancock announces changes to the tier system across England as coronavirus
cases increase rapidly spreading from the south-east. The new restrictions replace those of 20th December and apply from Boxing Day onwards.
Herefordshire returns to Tier 2 and the area covered by Tier 4 is extended.
He also announces a travel ban on South Africa from tomorrow to prevent travellers bringing in another new variant which has been detected in people
who have been in contact with recent visitors from South Africa. All visitors and contacts have been asked to self-isolate in a bid to stop the second
variant spreading. [Ed. Minor variants have been reported as occurring throughout the pandemic]
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have complete lockdowns from Boxing Day onwards.
The i newspaper online says that coronavirus has reached the last continent, Antartctica. 38 positive tests have been
reported at a Chilean army base after a Chilean support vessel called at the base in early December.
24th December Update of 15th October. How confirmed cases of COVID-19 have spread to date. Source: Johns Hopkins
University, European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control. Published by BBC News.
The i newspaper online reports that a new antibody vaccine which has the potential to give people immediate protection
if they have tested positive for the virus has been developed by the University College London Hospitals and AstraZeneca. It is named ‘Storm
Chaser’ and began Phase 3 trials on 2nd December.
Friday 25th December Christmas Day, when UK households are allowed to mix (if really, really necessary).
The Queen broadcasts her Christmas Message from Windsor Castle at 3pm BST on BBC1. She seems subdued but like many people she is probably
missing her family. Right click to view/save the video full-size.
In the UK the number of confirmed deaths within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 exceeds 70,000 people.
26th December Government figures show that 521,594 people have received the Pfizer vaccine First Dose in England from 8th to
20th December. Of these 366,715 are people aged 80 and over.
The first coronavirus vaccinations start in the EU using the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
29th December The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK by the
MHRA Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency .
The initial doses of the Oxford jab are due to be dispatched from Germany, with a large proportion then manufactured in the UK. The Oxford
vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature for at least six months so it is hoped the logistics of administering it will be easier.
Dr. Sarah Gilbert, the lead researcher in development of this vaccine, answered children’s questions on BBC Newsround on 9th December.
Margaret Keenan gets her second Pfizer jab today [see 8 December].
30th December The MHRA
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency announces today that the COVID-19
Vaccine prduced by Oxford University/AstraZeneca has been given temporary Authorisation for use in the UK. They also add that it does not
contain any components of animal origin.
In the House of Commons this afternoon, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announces that the tier system in England
is revised again from midnight tonight to reduce transmission of the new variant coronavirus and ease pressure on hospitals. Right click to
view full-size image or
The JCVI Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation
publishes its latest advice on vaccination procedure. (PDF).
Notes: The charts below give an idea of progress UK wide and in the county of Herefordshire. I am updating
them continuously but the layout of older charts is as they were when first set up. Scales and information changed as time passed.
Some text is greyed out as I believe that it is misinformation. It’s included here to show that
there are people with a certain mindset (or a desire for publicity) which must make life difficult for the hard-pressed health