Below is a summary of the current situation regarding coronavirus and is correct as of 5pm on the 22nd September 2020.
What is happening?
Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance yesterday took to the airways as leading scientists advising the Government as to the latest situation regarding coronavirus. Cases are now roughly doubling every seven days. This means by mid-October we could expect to have around 50k cases in the UK per day. Starkly, this could mean that we are looking at a death toll in mid-November of 200 deaths per day.
People have contacted me a lot to ask why, if Covid is returning, are the death rates not yet increasing significantly? Is it, they wonder, due to either coronavirus getting weaker, some kind of herd immunity or are we just simply testing more and this is throwing our results off?
Sadly, the answer to all these questions is no.
As the scientists said yesterday, there is no evidence that the virus is weakening. Positive cases are rising as a percentage of tests done. This means that the rise is irrespective of the number of tests being completed. Studies suggest that only around 8% of the population have had it and therefore carry some immunity (though this can fade over time) which leaves 92% of us as vulnerable as we ever were. It is likely that the reason for hospital admissions staying relatively low, is that the spikes have been so far within the younger population 20-29 and then 30-39.
But it is clear from the data that cases in all age groups are now rising significantly and whilst hospital admissions are low now, this will not hold if we stay on the current course.
What measures have been announced
The Government have announced today the following:
In England, a maximum of six people from multiple households can meet up both indoors and outdoors. All ages are included in the headcount. There are some exceptions (e.g if a single household has more than six occupants.) The distance is listed now as 1 metre plus.
There can be multiple groups of six people in a place, provided that those groups do not mingle. If you are at a restaurant for example you should avoid mingling with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know. People attending a protest, or other organised event, should also attend in groups no larger than six.
Office based staff are being asked to work from home where they can.
Pubs and Restaurants have now a curfew of 22:00
Exceptions include places of worship (provided they are Covid-secure) and organised sport (provided they are paying attention to the specific guidelines)
We can expect these rules to last for the next six months.
I am concerned that this might not be enough to stem the spread and avoid unnecessary deaths so am keeping a watching brief.
Other important messages
Continue with existing measures such as keeping a safe social distance, washing your hands and wearing masks in public indoor spaces. Please keep social gatherings to a minimum where you can.
If you have symptoms get a test. You can book a test online or by calling 119.
It can be frustrating to see the rules applied differently in different settings and I have had many people raise this with me. Whilst it is tempting to think ‘if strangers can be together in a bar then why shouldn’t I…’ we should try to remember that reducing risk is different from removing risk. Therefore, we should congratulate ourselves on following the guidelines and reducing the risk to ourselves and others.
Professor Whitty and Sir Vallance were clear that there is no such thing as individual risk. The risks we take impact on other people. If we catch the virus, we are very likely to pass it onto others before we even know we have contracted it.
What can you expect from me
My Office will be available to contact and my staff will be operating from home. As such our phones will be re-routed and answered by staff at their homes. We are expecting a large increase in cases again as these measures are introduced and as a new Covid spike occurs so please can you contact the office via email wherever you can (email@example.com) and keep your queries short and specific. Please also include your address and whether or not you would like to receive a reply.
I am conducting constituency surgeries for specific individual casework and I am doing these online and over the telephone. For more general policy enquiries I do Ask Alex every other Saturday at 2pm on Facebook Live.