Matt Hancock announced at the press conference on Friday 5th March that there was no evidence of onward transmission of the Brazil Coronavirus variant of concern.
He informed that the mystery person infected with it had been found. Apparently, officials had been searching for the mystery person who was one of six cases identified in England and Scotland all week but this was following a test in February as no contact details were left.
The person had finally reached in Croydon, South London and their contact was traced.
He said that the best evidence was that the person had stayed at home and there was no evidence of onward transmission but as a precaution, they were putting surge testing in Croydon to minimise the possibility of spread.
The Brazil variant, also known as the P1 variant, has been associated with a surge of cases in Manaus, Brazil late 2020 and a study suggested that between 25 and 61% of people in Manaus who had previously had COVID-19 were susceptible to reinfection with this variant.
Life with COVID on Scotland’s Remote Islands
Scotland’s Orkney Islands have been a safe haven from the COVID pandemic.
In the 13 months since the United Kingdom’s first two COVID-19 infections were identified, Orkney has only had 70 cases. Its infection rate was 314.3 per 100,000 population, by far the lowest in the United Kingdom.
However, where there are so few cases and people have had a higher degree of freedom, the islanders themselves say that life has been much less normal than they would have expected. Orkney has not been under Scotland’s national lockdown, which remains in place until 26 April.
It is in fact in level 3, which allows limited household mixing outdoors as well as in cafes, pubs and restaurants although alcohol is not allowed, haircuts have been allowed.
Apparently with a population of 22,000, people are choosing not to take advantage of these freedoms. One of the largest hairdressers in Stromness, Orkney’s second biggest town said that they hardly get any customers because everyone is still frightened to go out.
The fact of the truth behind Orkney’s low infection rate is clearly its remote location. However, on the downside, there has been incredible damage to the economy with the loss of tourism.
Cruise ships used to bring an estimated 7,000 additional visitors to Orkney every day during peak season.
The WHO sounds warnings as COVID-19 cases increase across Europe
COVID-19 cases across Europe have risen by 9% following six weeks of decline said Dr Hans Kluge WH leader on March 4th 2021.
New infections have increased after six consecutive weeks of decline and at a press conference on Thursday 4th March he pointed out that there were more than 1 million new COVID-19 cases on the continent during the previous week.
He said that they were seeing a resurgence in Central and Eastern Europe with also a rise in several Western European countries where rates were already high.
To counteract this increase in cases Dr Kluge has suggested that countries needed to:
- Show increased vigilance for more transmissible variants of the virus.
- Improve testing and contract racing.
- Stronger focus on prevention and controlling other diseases.
- Measures to counter pandemic fatigue.
- To only end lockdowns gradually and be driven by evidence when doing so.
- Accelerate the rollout of vaccinations.
Coronavirus in England
The number of COVID patients in English hospitals fell below 10,000 for the first time since November.
Newly released figures showed that the number of patients with COVID-19 in English hospitals dropped below 10,000 for the first time since November.
The figure was in fact 9,594 as of 08:00 a.m. on Wednesday 3rd March.
There was also a week on week drop of 26% from the 13,007 Coronavirus patients in hospital in England on 24th February and a 72% drop from the peak of 34,356 Coronavirus patients in hospital on 18 January.
Government data confirmed that there was an encouraging sign that the vaccine was having an effect as cases across the United Kingdom were down by more than 30% week on week.
In the seven days up to 3rd March 50,208 people tested positive for coronavirus, which was 2,518 less than the previous week.
Test and trace figures released on Thursday 4th March showed a total of 68,738 people tested positive in England at least once in the week to 24th February, down 90% on the previous week and again the lowest number since the week ending 30 September.
Dr Paul Ettlinger
BM, DRCOG, FRCGP, FRIPH, DOccMed