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The fight against Coronavirus

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  • Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak Excellent interactive New York Times resource with trackers and statistics on the prevalence of Covid infection and the measures to deal with it in every US state and around the world

  • Memorial of Health & Social Care Workers taken by COVID-19 Moving and interactive a digital tribute and memorial by Nursing Notes to the dedicated members of our health and social care family who gave their lives during the fight against Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19).
    NursingNotes is committed to planting a new tree in a protected forest for every single health and social care worker who loses their lives because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Leaked figures reveal scale of coronavirus test shortage Sunday Times report Sept 13 on total chaos in privatised test and trace: “The government’s “world-beating” testing programme has a backlog of 185,000 swabs and is so overstretched that it is sending tests to laboratories in Italy and Germany, according to leaked documents.
    “A Department of Health and Social Care report marked “Official: sensitive” also confirms that most British laboratories are clearing fewer tests than their stated capacity, as they are hit by “chaos” in supply chains.
    “The government claims that it has capacity for 375,000 tests a day. However, the actual number of people being tested for the coronavirus stalled to just 437,000 people a week at the start of the month — equivalent to just 62,000 a day.”

  • Coronavirus cases in care homes spiral again (£) Sunday Times Sept 13: "The coronavirus is spreading through care homes again, according to leaked documents that show the government is failing to protect the most vulnerable from the spiralling number of cases.
    "A Department of Health report marked “official sensitive” and circulated on Friday stated that the rate of the coronavirus recorded through satellite tests — almost all of which take place in care homes — had quadrupled since the start of the month. It now stands at an estimated 1,100 new cases every day.
    "Matt Hancock, the health secretary, took an emergency update on Wednesday saying that outbreaks had been detected in 43 care homes after months of calm."

  • Boris Johnson under pressure to explain questionable PPE procurement deals Byline Times Sept 12: "At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) this Wednesday, Labour MP Rushanara Ali asked Johnson to explain why the Government has shelled out billions of pounds in questionable procurement deals handed to private firms.
    "In response, Johnson invited Ali to send a letter detailing the contracts of concern – which the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow has now done.
    "Indeed Ali referred the Prime Minister to contracts worth more than £52 million awarded to a dormant firm for the supply of hand sanitiser, a story exposed by Byline Times.
    "TAEG Energy was listed on Companies House as a dormant company on 25 February – just a week before it concluded a £43.8 million deal with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
    "The contract was awarded without going to competitive tender.
    "Ali also cited a £19 million contract awarded to fast fashion retailer Elite Creations UK for the supply of goggles. As revealed by Byline Times, the total revenue of Elite Creations in 2019 was just under £3 million – a fraction of the value of this single contract."

  • Boris Johnson's 'Operation Moonshot' plan to test millions daily for Coronavirus criticised by top doctors Evening Standard Sept 11 report highlighting various critiques of Johnson’s £100bn fantasy project:
    “The Government’s ambitious plans for mass testing under the so-called Operation Moonshot has been met with mixed reaction from the health and scientific community, with concerns raised over the implications of a negative test result.
    “Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that millions of people could be tested every day so they could “behave in a way that was exactly as in the world before Covid”.
    “… Dr David Strain, clinical senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and chair of the BMA’s medical academic staff committee, said: “The mass-testing strategy is fundamentally flawed, in that it is being based on technology that does not, as yet, exist.
    “The Prime Minister’s suggestion that this will be as simple as “getting a pregnancy test” that will give results within 15 minutes is unlikely, if not impossible, in the timescale he was suggesting to get the country back on track.”

  • Coronavirus cases in England doubling every eight days, study shows Guardian Sept 11: "Cases of coronavirus in England are doubling every seven to eight days, research has revealed in the latest figures to show a resurgence of Covid-19.
    "The study, known as React-1, is a population surveillance study that began in May and uses swabs from about 120,000 to 160,000 randomly selected people in England across 315 local authority areas each month to track the spread of coronavirus using PCR analysis – the “have you got it now” test.
    “The prevalence of the virus in the population is increasing. We found evidence that it has been accelerating at the end of August and beginning of September,” said Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London and a co-author of the work."

  • Telford council chiefs want to open borough's own coronavirus test and trace system Shropshire Star Sept 11 on a Labour council seeking to sort out the mess of test and trace created by government’s privatised system:
    “Telford and Wrekin Council chiefs have written to the Health Secretary for cash to set up the borough's own coronavirus test and tracing system.
    “In the letter, council leader Shaun Davies and health boss Councillor Andy Burford stated: "National contact tracing is not working – it is failing to reach cases and contacts sufficiently and not able to identify outbreaks early enough.
    "Our approach in Telford and Wrekin is to undertake contact tracing ourselves so that we can understand more fully transmission of the virus within the borough and be best placed to take swift action to contain and stop further spread.
    "We are quite happy to manage and provide the whole contact tracing function for our borough but we would ask that this is properly resourced through transfer of cash or staff from NHS Test & Trace.”

  • UK health screening advisers not involved in 'moonshot' Covid plan Guardian September 11:
    “The government’s health screening advisers have not been involved in Boris Johnson’s “moonshot” project to test the entire population for Covid-19, an omission public health experts have described as “incomprehensible”.
    “The National Screening Committee, which advises ministers and the NHS about “all aspects of population screening”, has not been consulted on the £100bn plans for mass surveillance involving up to 10m coronavirus tests every day.
    “Made up of 23 doctors, academics, public health and patient representatives, the NSC normally rules on proposals for mass population screening for cancers as well as infectious diseases such as chlamydia, herpes and hepatitis B. It reports to the UK’s four chief medical officers, and follows a strict and rigorous process, one source said, “which is not like the process we have seen put forward [for ‘Operation Moonshot’].”
    “The NSC has not been involved with this in any way,” the committee’s chairman, Prof Bob Steele, confirmed to the Guardian by email.”

  • Muslim Medics Taunted About Bacon And Alcohol – By Their Own NHS Colleagues Shocking Sept 11 exclusive survey by Huffington Post reveals that:
    “Muslim NHS workers have told HuffPost UK how Islamophobia is rife in the organisation, with their own colleagues making disgraceful comments and denying them opportunities to progress or even socialise.
    “We teamed up with the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) for a flagship, in-depth survey of more than 100 Muslim health workers – one of the most significant of its kind.
    “A shocking 81% revealed they had experienced Islamophobia or racism within the NHS, 69% felt it had got worse during their time at the organisation and more than half – 57% – felt Islamophobia had held them back in their career progression within the NHS.
    “Many Muslims voiced a culture of “swallow it up” in the NHS, leaving people fearful of reporting Islamophobia in case of repercussions for their job or career progression. One Muslim female consultant said she felt that “you may as well flush your medical degree down the toilet” rather than reporting Islamophobia from a colleague or manager. She described the NHS as a “family which will close ranks to protect their own against those perceived as outsiders”.”

  • Less than 20% of people in England self-isolate fully, Sage says Guardian Sept 11 reminds us that without measures to ensure people are offered more than the miserable £13/day statutory sick pay, many will not self-isolate: and unless government becomes more credible, many people will simply ignore calls to do so:
    "Less than 20% of people in England fully self-isolate when asked to do so, according to documents released from the government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies, which said mass testing would be of no use unless this percentage rose.
    "The report from scientists on Sage suggests they think there are limited benefits to mass testing, which was proposed in the leaked “Operation Moonshot” documents.
    "Boris Johnson viewed moonshot as “our only hope for avoiding a second national lockdown before a vaccine”, a leaked memo said. The £100bn plan for up to 10m tests a day were sent to Sage and the Treasury in August."

  • Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19 politico.com Sept 11 report from the US on Trump's team attempting to obscure the facts and interfere with scientific data:
    "The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.
    "In some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump's optimistic messages about the outbreak, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO and three people familiar with the situation.
    "CDC officials have fought back against the most sweeping changes, but have increasingly agreed to allow the political officials to review the reports and, in a few cases, compromised on the wording, according to three people familiar with the exchanges. The communications aides’ efforts to change the language in the CDC’s reports have been constant across the summer and continued as recently as Friday afternoon."

  • Boris Johnson did not look in the Piggy Bank to see if he had £100 billion for a ‘moonshot’ because the one thing he knew was that the money could be created to deliver the deal Tax expert Richard Murphy warns:
    "The risk of corruption in this plan is enormous. Modern Monetary Theory is good, but it cannot prevent abuse. And I have to say that I smell something pretty rotten in this plan. I can’t prove it. But £100 billion of spending plans on something totally unproven has the risk of potential corruption written all over it."

  • Concerns over Boris Johnson's 'moonshot' testing plans BBC Sept 10 report: "Scientists and health professionals have raised doubts about Prime Minister Boris Johnson's "Operation Moonshot" plan for mass coronavirus testing.
    "The PM hopes millions of Covid-19 tests - including some giving results within minutes - could be processed daily.
    "But experts say there are issues with laboratory capacity for current tests, while the technology for more rapid tests "does not, as yet, exist"."

  • Performance figures show just how hard trusts are working to restore services NHS Providers step in to provide the positive spin on the latest combined performance figures published by NHS England, arguing how hard staff have been working to get services back up and running:
    "“Although the figures show there are over four million people on a waiting list for elective care and those waiting over 18 weeks has significantly increased, the number of operations carried out has increased by more than 50% since June and is up by almost 250% since April. Additionally, in July 25% more diagnostic tests were carried out than in June.
    “The number of people who attended an outpatient appointment following an urgent referral by their GP for suspected cancer is also up 17% on last month, and the number of people with cancer who started treatment following receipt of an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer is also up 19%.
    “There has also been a significant increase in the number of people attending A&E since April, with emergency rooms treating 88% more people."

  • Cheltenham General Hospital's A&E may remain shut until next year BBC Sept 10 report on another "temporary" closure that seems to be on the way to becoming permanent:
    "A hospital's A&E department could remain temporarily shut until next year to prepare for a potential second spike in coronavirus cases.
    "In June, Cheltenham General Hospital's A&E was turned into a minor injury and illness unit for a three-month period.
    "But the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said the NHS trust now wants to extend the temporary closure until the end of March 2021."

  • 'One of Many Reasons Why Single Payer Matters': For-Profit Insurers Hitting People With 'Illegal' Bills for Covid Tests US website Common Dreams September 10 on the sneaky ways US insurers find ways to add hefty charges for services that should be provided free:
    "In March, Congress passed legislation aimed at requiring for-profit health insurance companies to cover all FDA-approved coronavirus tests with no cost-sharing—but federal laws have not stopped insurers from hitting vulnerable Americans with large surprise bills during an ongoing pandemic and economic crisis that pushed millions to the brink of financial ruin.
    "This isn't just about coronavirus—it's about the universal fragmentation of U.S. health financing.
    "If I had to pay it off, it would clear out my savings," New York City resident Kelly Daisley told the New York Times after Anthem charged her $2,718 for a Covid-19 test that was advertised as free.
    "Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act, private insurers are supposed to shoulder the all of the costs of coronavirus tests, including those offered by out-of-network providers. But the laws—and the Trump administration's narrow interpretations of them—are rife with loopholes that insurance giants have not hesitated to exploit, potentially leaving hundreds of thousands of Americans with unanticipated charges."

  • Booking system error sent hundreds to English town for Covid tests, MPs told Evening Standard report Sept 10 on a Tory MP complaining of disastrous failings of test and trace booking system:
    “Hundreds of cars from across the country descended on an English town in search of Covid-19 tests after a "glitch" in the booking system, MPs have been told.
    “Conservative MP Lucy Allan revealed on Friday that roads were recently blocked and tests quickly ran out in the town of Telford. She said a booking system error directed people from Cornwall, London and elsewhere to the site in Shropshire.
    “On Tuesday evening, hundreds of cars from across the country – and I mean hundreds – descended on Telford and its testing site as directed by the booking system.
    “… Tests quickly ran out, roads were blocked, people who had travelled from as far away as Cornwall, Stockport and London were turned away, and my constituents were no longer able to access tests in the area – and they in turn were sent elsewhere.”

  • Test and Trace contact tracing rate at lowest since launch ITV news Sept 10 story that will surprise few people following the issue:
    "The percentage of close contacts reached through the Test and Trace system has hit a new low.
    "Some 69.2% of contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England were reached in the week ending September 2, according to new figures from the Department of Health and Social Care.
    "This is down slightly from 69.8% in the previous week - and is the lowest weekly percentage since Test and Trace was launched in May.
    "This week, ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan spoke to a Test and Trace NHS 119 call handler, who made alarming claims about the system. Speaking anonymously, she said: "It's absolutely shambolic. For instance today I've only been able to put one person through after taking 20-odd calls."
    "The site is just not allowing anyone to complete and get an appointment. It's not good and they should be ashamed of themselves.”

  • Texas Leads the Nation With Highest Rate of Uninsured Health Care Workers San Antonio Current revealing Texas's world-beating level of health workers who themselves lack health insurance and are at risk of massive health care costs:
    “The pandemic has highlighted just how many Americans don't have access to health insurance. And, as it turns out, healthcare workers — frequently on the front lines and susceptible to COVID-19 exposure — are among the vulnerable groups lacking coverage
    “Nearly 600,000 U.S. healthcare workers are currently uninsured, according to a recent study by the financial site ValuePenguin.
    “What's more, Texas had the highest rate of uninsured healthcare workers of any state, according to ValuePenguin's analysis, which is based on data from the 2018 American Community Survey.
    “Nearly 18% of healthcare workers in the Lone Star State lack coverage. The two states trailing just behind, Oklahoma and Idaho, had rates of 13% and 12%, respectively.”

  • Coronavirus: Too many people getting COVID-19 tests are 'not eligible', says health secretary Sky News Sept 9 notes Matt Hancock has found a new group of people to blame for the shambolic failure of the privatised "test & trace" system -- people without symptoms seeking tests (while the spread of the virus by asymptomatic people is one of the major problems to be tackled).

  • Covid risks making society more unequal than since early Victorian times Guardian Sept 9 comment by public health expert Gabriel Scally:
    "“Since the beginning of the 20th century life expectancy in England has improved consistently. Until the last decade that is. As a result of government policies over the last 10 years improvement in life expectancy has stalled, and for women in the most deprived areas it has actually fallen. The widening gap between life expectancy in the best-off and worst-off areas is now almost 10 years for men and seven and a half years in women.
    “Similarly, the infant mortality rate for England and Wales reached its lowest point in 2014 and has been consistently higher ever since. Across a whole range of other public health indicators, such as drug-related deaths, sexually transmitted diseases and childhood immunisations, the position has been deteriorating.
    … Given the evidence of increasing inequalities and some reductions in life expectancy, it is all the more alarming that last month the government announced the almost immediate abolition of Public Health England and its replacement with a National Institute for Health Protection. This is undoubtedly driven by blame-shifting following the government’s extraordinarily inept response to the Covid pandemic. The new organisation is based on a concept of protecting health that is centred on infectious diseases.
    “This is not the first time that the government has deliberately downgraded the drive to improve the health of the population. Within a year of the 2010 general election the Department of Health established a series of “responsibility deals” involving the private sector. This effectively handed power over public health action to industry interests, particularly in the areas of food and alcohol.”

  • Matt Hancock gets test and trace figures wrong again Full Fact Sept 9 vindication for Shadow health Secretary Jon Ashworth who had correctly disputed Matt Hancock's claims of success for test and trace:
    "Jonathan Ashworth MP claimed that only 69.4% of identified contacts are now reached and asked to self-isolate, which Matt Hancock disagreed with.
    "Mr Ashworth was right. The data (which was published on Thursday 3 September, that day Mr Hancock referred to) shows that 69.4% of identified contacts of people who had tested positive for Covid-19 were reached by the service between 20 August and 26 August.
    "This number has fallen over time which, as we have explained in a previous piece, is largely down to how the NHS Test and Trace system has changed since its inception."

  • Government plans to spend £100bn on expanding testing to 10 million a day BMJ free to access Sept 9 critique of the latest extravagant fantasy privatisation project from the Johnson government:
    "The internal correspondence reveals that the government is prepared to almost match what it spends on the NHS in England each year (£130bn) to fund mass testing of the population “to support economic activity and a return to normal life” under its ambitious Operation Moonshot programme.
    "A briefing memo sent to the first minister and cabinet secretaries in Scotland, seen by The BMJ, says that the UK-wide Moonshot programme is expected to “cost over £100bn to deliver.” If achieved, the programme would allow testing of the entire UK population each week.
    "A separate PowerPoint presentation prepared for the government by the global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, also seen by The BMJ, says the plans had the potential to grow the UK’s testing capacity from the current 350 000 a day to up to 10 million tests a day by early 2021.
    "Critics have already rounded on the plans as “devoid of any contribution from scientists, clinicians, and public health and testing and screening experts,” and “disregarding the enormous problems with the existing testing and tracing programmes.”
    "The leaked documents reveal a heavy reliance on the private sector to achieve the mass testing and give details of “letters of comfort” that have already been signed with companies to reach three million tests a day by December. Firms named are GSK for supplying tests, AstraZeneca for laboratory capacity, and Serco and G4S for logistics and warehousing."

  • Why Boris Johnson Needs To Stop Dreaming Of A Nice Christmas Huffington Post Sept 9 report: "… Johnson was still dreaming of a nice Christmas, courtesy of his hopes for a “moonshot” plan for instant, daily home testing for everyone, giving those who test negative a “laissez passer” or “freedom pass” (once a London Mayor, always a London Mayor) to go to work, the theatre, sports.
    "Within seconds however, both chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientist Patrick Vallance poured buckets of ice cold caution over this tempting mirage. Vallance said it would be “completely wrong to assume” that mass saliva testing would be viable. The PM’s moonshot plan felt as real and tangible as his deceased ‘fantasy island’ scheme for a new London airport in the Thames estuary.‌
    "Whitty wanted to plan on the basis of grounded reality, basing his assumptions on not getting a vaccine, let alone some ‘moonshot’ testing regime. On the day Keir Starmer raised the continuing laboratory problems with the public failing to get tests near their homes, Whitty also said “those constraints are not just going to magically disappear”. Most candid of all, he made clear the new rules would be around for months, and probably until the spring.
    "A snap poll from YouGov showed 77% of Brits in favour of tightening social restrictions on big groups. The public like clear, simple messaging as long as their prime minister and other people in power stick to it too."

  • What is No 10's 'moonshot' Covid testing plan and is it feasible? Guardian explainer on Moonshot project Sept 9:
    "One of the documents, titled UK Mass Population Testing Plan, is a briefing memo sent to the first minister in Scotland, which explains it could cost £100bn.
    "That might be a price worth paying if it worked – however, most of the technology simply does not yet exist. Getting 10 million people tested every day – however quick and simple the process – is a very big logistical ask for a country that has struggled to deliver a few hundred thousand.
    "The second is a 26-page PowerPoint presentation from the Department of Health and Social Care entitled: Moonshot mobilisation: briefing pack, dated 21 August.
    "The document is full of diagrams and charts, with pages headlined “Mission Team”, “Moonshot Headquarters” and “Mission Analysis”."

  • 'I had to be sectioned': the NHS staff broken and burned out by Covid Guardian Sept 8 report: "More than 1,000 doctors plan to quit the NHS over the government’s handling of the pandemic, according to a recent survey, with some citing burnout as a cause.
    "And as early as mid April, YouGov polling for the IPPR thinktank found that 50% of 996 healthcare workers questioned across the UK said their mental health had deteriorated since the virus started taking hold of the NHS. Meanwhile, latest sickness rate data for NHS staff in England found that April had the highest levels of sickness absence since data was first collected in 2009. Anxiety, stress, depression or other psychiatric illnesses were the most reported reasons for absence, at 20.9%, compared with about 14% each for respiratory problems, colds and flu, and infectious diseases. Data for the months following is yet to be released.
    "However, recent research from China suggests that healthcare workers were at greater risk of developing stress and other mental health problems at the beginning of the pandemic, including post-traumatic stress disorder."

  • Discharge guidance could lead to increased death and disability, warn senior clinicians HSJ Sept report on the hidden snags and dangers in the latest guidance and instructions from NHS England:
    "Serious patient safety and wellbeing concerns about the latest hospital discharge guidance have been raised to HSJ by senior clinicians and charities.
    "Senior geriatricians warned that the guidance could prompt an increase in “urgent readmissions”, “permanent disability” and “excess mortality”, while charities said families could be left with “unsustainable caring responsibilities” because of the new rules.
    "The government guidance, Hospital Discharge Service: policy and operating model, published in August, said clinicians should consider discharging patients when they were “medically optimised” rather than “medically fit”. It said 95 per cent of these patients would return straight home with additional social care and rehabilitation support if needed."

  • Labour Urges Halt To 'Short Sighted' NHS Land Sell-Off Huffington Post Sept 8: "Ministers face calls to block a “fire sale” of NHS land to private developers amid fears a second wave of Covid-19 and growing demand for other health services could see hospitals run out of space.
    "A total of 626 plots of land or buildings, worth potentially over £1bn, have been earmarked for sale by trusts, according to a report for the government by NHS Digital.
    "The government told HuffPost UK this week the list had been compiled before the pandemic, and that trusts would be able to reclassify land that was now in use. NHS bosses said 131 of the sites listed as “surplus” were actually in use.
    "It comes amid cost pressures on the health service and as Boris Johnson’s administration pledges to help developers “build, build, build” in the wake of the pandemic.
    "Now Labour is urging the government to step in and halt the sell-off so medics can respond to “ballooning” waiting lists for non-Covid care."

  • Coronavirus: fears UK government has lost control as Covid cases soar Guardian Sept 7 report: "The UK has recorded a massive rise in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus, amid concerns the government has lost control of the epidemic just as people are returning to work and universities prepare to reopen.
    "Labour has demanded the health secretary, Matt Hancock, give an urgent statement to the House of Commons to explain the increase and why some people are still being told to drive hundreds of miles to have a test.
    "On Sunday almost 3,000 people in the UK tested positive for Covid-19, a more than 50% increase in a single day and the highest daily total since May.
    “They’ve lost control of the virus,” said Prof Gabriel Scally, a former NHS regional director of public health for the south-west. “It’s no longer small outbreaks they can stamp on. It’s become endemic in our poorest communities and this is the result. It’s extraordinarily worrying when schools are opening and universities are going to be going back.”

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