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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.

  • The inside story of how UK's 'chaotic' testing regime 'broke all the rules' Sky News July 10 on a chronicle of errors: "As Britain sought to assemble its coronavirus testing programme, all the usual rules were broken.
    "In their effort to release rapid data to show the increase in testing capacity, officials from Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) "hand-cranked" the numbers to ensure a constant stream of rising test numbers were available for each day's press conference, Sky News has been told.
    "An internal audit later confirmed that some of those figures simply didn't add up.
    "According to multiple sources, the data collection was carried out in such a chaotic manner that we may never know for sure how many people have been tested for coronavirus.
    "We completely buffed the system," says a senior Whitehall figure.
    "We said: forget the conventions, we're putting [this data] out."

  • U.S. Hits Another Record for New Coronavirus Cases New York Times July 10: "Officials across the United States reported more than 59,880 cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record for the sixth time in 10 days, according to a New York Times database.
    "The surge has been driven largely by states in the South and the West that were among the first to ease restrictions established during the virus’s initial wave in the spring.
    "At least six states set single-day case records on Thursday: Alabama, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oregon and Texas.
    "The numbers were especially striking in Texas, which set a record for the fourth consecutive day with more than 10,900 cases. Nearly one in 10 of them were in Hidalgo County, which consists of over a thousand square miles of scrub and urban sprawl on the Mexico border."

  • Officials across the United States reported more than 59,880 cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record for the sixth time in 10 days, according to a New York Times database. The surge has been Independent July 10: "Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, said the virus was “not under control” in most parts of the world.
    “It is getting worse,” he said on Thursday.
    "Speaking at a weekly member state briefing, he said more than 11.8 million Covid-19 cases had been reported to the WHO.
    “And the pandemic is still accelerating,” he said. “The total number of cases has doubled in the last six weeks.”

  • Care homes face staffing 'black hole' with new immigration bill BBC July 9: “Care homes could face a staffing "black hole" because of the impact of the government's immigration bill, care leaders have warned.
    “The Cavendish Coalition - which represents UK health and social care groups - says it is gravely concerned. The current proposals would not allow enough overseas workers to be recruited, it has warned.
    “The government said immigration is "not the answer to the challenges in the social care sector".
    “Leaders of 37 national care organisations, including the NHS Confederation, have signed the letter to the prime minister. They say the proposed post-Brexit bill could have a damaging effect on care homes and other social care services, especially as the nation heads towards winter - which could bring further challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

  • Student nursing applications surge 15 per cent in a year Independent July 9: “Applications to study nursing at university has jumped by 15 per cent in a year, according to the latest data.
    “The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, or UCAS, said the number of applicants had reached 58,550.
    “It follows a huge surge in interest in joining the NHS after the coronavirus outbreak has shone a spotlight on the role of frontline nurses and doctors.
    Universities have come under pressure from NHS England’ chief executive Sir Simon Stevens to open up more places and accept more applicants to study as part of efforts to boost the nursing workforce.
    “Before the coronavirus outbreak the NHS had around 40,000 vacancies for registered nurses and the government has committed to having 50,000 more full-time equivalent nurses working in the NHS by April 2024.
    “… Despite the increase in applicants the Royal College of Nursing warned there was still a long way to go before the government would hit its target.”

  • New data reveals PM’s testing speeds claims as wrong Full fact July 9, responding to another silly lie from Johnson: “Last month, the Prime Minister was asked how far the government had progressed towards delivering on its target to process Covid-19 tests within 24 hours.
    “He responded saying that, at that point:
    • 90% of all tests were turned around within 48 hours
    • All tests at testing centres and mobile testing sites are done within 24 hours
    “… Far from “all” tests being done within 24 hours, the proportion of people in England receiving their test result within 24 hours of taking their test in the week to 3 June was 19% at regional test sites, 5% at mobile testing units and and 6% at satellite test centres.”

  • Dementia patients 'deteriorating' without family visits BBC July 9 report: “Relatives of care home residents with dementia should be treated as key workers, leading charities say.
    “In a letter to the health secretary, they write that the care given by family members is "essential" to residents' mental and physical health. They argue the current limits on visitors have had "damaging consequences".
    “They want visits to resume safely, with relatives given the same access to care homes and coronavirus testing as staff.
    “Signed by the bosses of leading charities including Dementia UK and the Alzheimer's Society, the letter calls on the government to "urgently" address what it calls the "hidden catastrophe" happening in care homes.”

  • The Trump administration sends formal notification that the U.S. will withdraw from the W.H.O. next year. New York Times July 8 report on the latest vindictive act by the most destructive US President:
    “The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations that the United States is withdrawing from the World Health Organization, officials said Tuesday, cutting off one of the organization’s biggest sources of aid amid a pandemic that has infected more than 11.6 million people, killed more than a half a million, and upended life around the world.
    “… By law, the United States must give the organization a year’s notice if it intends to withdraw, and meet all the current financial obligations in the current year.
    “Mr. Trump, whose response to the pandemic has drawn criticism, first announced that he planned to halt funding to the W.H.O. in April, claiming that the organization had made a series of mistakes as it battled the coronavirus.
    “His move to withdraw drew immediate criticism. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a Republican who is the chairman of the Senate’s health committee, said that he disagreed with the president’s decision.
    “’Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need,” he said in a statement. “And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States’.”

  • Confusion over whether free hospital parking for NHS staff to end in England Guardian July 8, with an unclear article of conflicting claims which does however quote health minister (and former Serco lobbyist) Edward Argar, answering a parliamentary question from Labour’s Zarah Sultana, admitting that the government was “considering how long free parking for National Health Service staff will need to continue, recognising that this has only been made possible by external support from local authorities and independent sector providers”.
    "He added: “The government’s focus remains on ensuring the commitment of free parking for the groups identified in their announcement of 27 December 2019 is implemented once the pandemic abates.”"

  • Hospital in Boris Johnson's constituency closes to emergencies after coronavirus outbreak Sky News July 8 report on the closure of Hillingdon Hospital's A&E – with knock on pressures on already stretched hospitals in NW London:
    "A hospital in Boris Johnson's constituency has been forced to close to emergencies after an outbreak of coronavirus among staff, officials have said.
    "Around 70 staff at Hillingdon Hospital in Uxbridge, in the prime minister's west London constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, have gone into isolation after symptoms were detected amongst some of them.
    "Ambulances were diverted away from Hillingdon hospital from last night and it was closed to emergency admissions today, though "walk in" casualty patients were still being seen."

  • Hillingdon hospital boss blames staff for A&E closure after Covid-19 outbreak Guadian July 8 on the hospital trust boss who has taken a leaf out of the government's book -- and opted to blame staff:
    "The chief executive of the hospital that serves Boris Johnson’s constituency, which has shut its A&E unit after an outbreak of coronavirus, has blamed staff for flouting the rules by not wearing masks at work.
    "Hillingdon hospital in north-west London stopped letting patients attend its emergency department or accepting any new emergency admissions on Tuesday after 70 of its staff had to self-isolate.
    "It has had to tell the London ambulance service to take patients from the area to other hospitals because the number of its own staff who are now in quarantine means it has too few personnel to provide a full range of services.
    "The outbreak began last Friday, but its impact on the hospital’s workforce has escalated since then as growing numbers of staff have been identified through the track-and-trace scheme as having been in contact with colleagues who have tested positive and so have had to self-isolate."

  • How government blindfolded frontline public health experts fighting Covid’s next phase Manchester Evening News July 8: “Going back to the 19th Century, medical officers of health for municipalities such as Manchester were in charge of suppressing outbreaks of the Victorian diseases plaguing dirty water supplies or overcrowded, unsanitary housing.
    “So public health directors are steeped in this kind of scenario. And in this case their expertise is also crucial to avoiding a second 21st Century mass shutdown of the economy.
    “Yet they have been denied the tools they need.
    “From early-May onwards, as we’ve covered extensively, they were unable to access any data from tests carried out in privately-run testing labs procured by the government.
    “After the looming local lockdown of Leicester became apparent, suddenly parts of that information did begin flowing. From the week of June 21 onwards, public health directors started getting some data - partial postcodes showing roughly where those with the virus lived, albeit only provided on a weekly basis.”

  • BGS statement responding to Prime Minister’s comments on care homes British Geriatrics Society July 8 statement: "The BGS strongly condemns comments from the Prime Minister on 6 July stating that ‘too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems bizarre for the Prime Minister to suggest that care homes did not follow procedures when, at least in the early weeks, there were no agreed procedures available for them to follow.
    "The impact of this pandemic on care homes cannot be overstated – official figures show 30% of deaths in care homes during the pandemic are directly attributable to COVID-19. Sadly, nearly 20,000 care home residents have died from COVID-19. Care home staff were put at risk on a daily basis and, unfortunately, some contracted the virus and died.
    "At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a complete lack of government guidance about how to manage the infection in care homes. When guidance was published in early April, it was insufficient. There was no requirement for patients being transferred to care homes to have a negative COVID-19 test or to be isolated for a period of time. In addition, there was very little testing available to care homes at this stage. "

  • Boris Johnson under fire over claim care homes 'didn't follow procedures' Sky News July 7 report: "Boris Johnson has been urged to apologise after he angered care home bosses by claiming "too many" in the sector "didn't really follow the procedures" during the coronavirus crisis.
    "During a visit to Goole, Yorkshire, on Monday, the prime minister was asked about comments from NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens - who wants to see plans to adequately fund the adult social care sector within a year.
    "Mr Johnson replied: "One of the things the crisis has shown is we need to think about how we organise our social care package better and how we make sure we look after people better who are in social care.
    "We discovered too many care homes didn't really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we're learning lessons the whole time."

  • Absolute Chaos! Records Show UK Has 2.5 Million COVID-19 Missing Test Results Tech Times July 7 report: “About 2.5 million tests are believed to be missing in a testing system, which is branded as "absolute chaos."
    Based on figures released on Monday, July 6, data show the government has released 10.6 million home testing kits, but only 8 million were returned.
    “The number of tests issued by the government shown in its official figures seems inaccurate as opposed to the number of tests returned, which earned criticisms from the public.
    “This prompted Department for Health to stop daily reporting on the number of tests administered, which triggered a backlash from critics who said ministers are "embarrassed".
    “According to recently published data, there were a total of 10,505,758 antigen and antibody tests released at a testing center or via the post. However, only 8,058,510 have been returned for and processing. This means over 20% were never returned.
    “"How can 2.5 million tests be unaccounted for? The testing system is in absolute chaos with ministers unable to keep a track of how many people are being tested," said Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders.”

  • 'Travesty of leadership': Charity boss hits out at 'cowardly' Boris Johnson after PM blames care homes for coronavirus deaths Independent July 7 reports: "The chief executive of a social care charity has launched a blistering attack on Boris Johnson’s “cowardly” and “appalling” comments after the prime minister appeared to blame care home owners for the high death toll.
    "Expressing his anger at Mr Johnson’s remarks, the chief executive officer of Community Integrated Care, Mark Adams, accused the government of re-writing history and claimed there had been a “travesty of leadership” during the health crisis.
    "As deaths of care home residents with Covid-19 approached 20,000, the prime minister said on Monday that “we discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lesson the whole time”.
    "Care providers said the basis for Mr Johnson’s comments were unclear, while the National Care Forum (NCF) said they were “neither accurate nor welcome” and urged him to start “turning the dial up on reform and down on blame”."

  • Introducing the Best Hospitals for America Washington Monthly with an extended comparative look at the ways of rating US hospitals, noting that those with the most inclusive services are generally not those rated highest. It begins by looking at how hospitals have responded to the Covid crisis:
    "On the not-so-heroic side, this crisis has also brought news of misbehavior. One major teaching hospital, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, continued scheduling lucrative elective surgeries long after the state’s governor ordered hospitals to stop such surgeries so they could prepare for the surge of COVID-19 patients. One uninsured woman in Boston who had symptoms of COVID-19 got a $34,000 bill for her emergency room treatment. Some hospitals have maintained aggressive bill collection practices, dunning working-class patients whose incomes have plunged in the pandemic-induced recession. Still others have threatened to fire workers who speak publicly about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and refused COVID-19 tests for people with symptoms while offering them to the rich and famous."

  • What is Covid Tracker Ireland? Irish Times July 7 on the successful launch of the Irish contact tracing app: “After weeks of testing and an €850,000 bill, the HSE’s contact tracing app is finally live. Available from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, it is intended to be another weapon in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland.
    “The HSE’s contact tracing app, developed by Waterford company Nearform, uses your phone’s bluetooth connection to keep a log of any close contacts. That list is compiled using beacons that are identified by a string of numbers that change every 10 to 20 minutes.
    “If two phones are in close contact, they exchange their active ID, and that list is stored on phones for 14 days. To help protect privacy, the beacons are random and are not tied to a user’s identity.”

  • Revealed - 16 care homes given £1,000 to take Covid-positive hospital patients Birmingham Mail report July 7: "Birmingham City Council gave care homes a £1,000 extra cash 'incentive' to take in hospital patients in a hurry, including some with coronavirus, so more NHS beds could be freed up for critically ill people.
    "A condition of the offer was that care homes had to take in a patient within 24 hours and no matter what their Covid status was.
    "Sixteen homes in the city took up the offer, made in line with government instructions to free up acute beds.
    "Today a care home manager who rejected the advance said she's certain it's one of the reasons none of her residents have been infected."

  • The lesson of the Covid-19 care homes tragedy: renationalising is no longer taboo Guardian July 6 articleby former Tory minister Ros Altman, calling for nationalisation of care homes: “The dire consequences of neglecting social care reform for decades have been starkly exposed by Covid-19, with one in 20 care home residents in the UK dying from the virus, and dedicated, low-paid staff risking their lives.
    “Much of the blame for the UK having the highest death toll in care homes in Europe from coronavirus, bar Spain, has been attributed to hospitals discharging patients into residential care, even if they were infected with Covid-19, and care staff moving between homes without being issued PPE.
    “But the problems go much deeper, to the way our care sector is structured, leaving it fragmented, financially fragile and without the capacity to cope in a crisis.
    “In the 1980s responsibility for care homes was passed from the NHS to local authorities. But few are still council-run; 85% of the UK’s 22,000 care homes are owned by private companies, with the remainder in the hands of charitable or nonprofit organisations.”

  • The truth about the billion pound PPE procurement fiasco Excellent Yorkshire Bylines July 6 report: “On 1 April an order for £10m was placed with Medco Solutions Ltd, a London-based company that apparently only incorporated on 26 March, three days after lockdown, with a share capital of just £2. It was the first of over sixty such contracts placed with a variety of suppliers, some quite unusual and under emergency rules, bypassing the normal competitive tendering process that ensures best value.
    “Let me say clearly at the outset, I do not believe this is necessarily a story of wrongdoing or corruption on the part of anyone in any of the suppliers or the DHSC.
    “I suspect the companies saw an opportunity to help the NHS and make money for themselves and their shareholders and did so. The failure at the top of government to anticipate and prepare for an unprecedented increase in the need for PPE made the bypassing of competitive tendering inevitable.
    “Details of all these contracts can be found on the EU’s TED (tenders electronic daily) website. It’s easy to use – just enter “garments for biological or chemical protection” in the search box. Of the 117 single-bidder contracts for protective garments under code 35113410 that were showing on the website when this research was done, 65 or so totalling about £980m were placed by the DHSC from 39 Victoria Street, London between 1 April and 26 May.
    “The pace of contract placing stepped up through April as hospitals and care homes began to complain of a desperate shortage of PPE. A number of clinical staff had to use bin liners in place of gowns. While some contracts were given to established UK manufacturers like Polystar Plastics, a Southampton-based company with significant assets who received an order for £25m, many and much larger orders were placed with companies that appeared to have little or no history or experience in personal protective equipment. At least two appeared to have been dormant businesses a few months beforehand.
    “Initia Ventures Ltd, providing business support service activities, filed accounts for a dormant company in January this year but received an order for £32m on 2 April and a second for £16m on 25 April.”

  • Government awards £252m PPE contract to private equity firm i-news report July 6: "The Government could face further legal challenges after it awarded a £252.5m personal protective equipment (PPE) contract to a private equity and currency trading company owned through an offshore holding firm based in the tax haven of Mauritius.
    "Ayanda Capital Limited won the contract to supply an undisclosed number of face masks to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in April, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Details of the deal, published on the European Union’s Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) website, reveal that only one tender was submitted for the lucrative contract.
    "Officials have been able to award contracts directly without prior publication and therefore without adhering to the usual procurement timetables in certain circumstances, one of which is for reasons of “extreme urgency”."

  • Investor Tim Horlick's trading firm wins £252m PPE contract Torygraph July 6 report joins the chorus of astonishment at the ineptitude – or otherwise – of government PPE procurement:
    "Health officials are facing scrutiny after a £252.5m contract to supply face masks was awarded to a small family investment firm with no known history in the industry.
    "The Department for Health handed the deal to London-based Ayanda Capital - run by Tim Horlick, ex-husband of the star fund manager Nicola Horlick - which has five employees, and according to its website specialises in currency trading, offshore property, private equity and trade financing.
    "It has sparked further questions about the Government’s PPE procurement strategy following a £108m contract awarded to small pest control firm PestFix.
    "Ayanda is owned by the Horlick family through a Mauritius-registered holding company, Milo Investments. Latest accounts, for the year ending December 2019, show it had assets worth £1.8m and £1.4m of cash in the bank.
    "The Government has handed billions of pounds to dozens of companies to secure PPE throughout the coronavirus crisis, often without competitive tender in a rush to get vital equipment for the battle against Covid-19. "

  • Britons overwhelmingly want NHS privatisation to end after coronavirus crisis, survey finds Independent on July 5 on opinion poll findings: "Voters overwhelmingly want to see an end to privatisation in the health service after the coronavirus crisis has ended, according to a new survey.
    "The Survation poll for We Own It, a think tank that campaigns for public ownership, found that 76 per cent of the public want to see the NHS “reinstated as a fully public service” against just 15 per cent who wanted to see continued involvement of private companies.
    "The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the delivery of health services by private companies.
    "The government has come under fire for handing contracts to run coronavirus testing services to commercial companies rather than involving local public health experts, and Boots was forced to back away from a plan to use volunteers to staff centres, following an investigation by The Independent.
    "A leaked email revealed Rupert Soames, chief executive of outsourcing giant Serco, said he hoped involvement in the test and trace operation would “cement the position of the private sector” in the NHS supply chain."

  • UK set to award Covid-19 testing contracts worth £5bn to private bidders Guardian July 2 reporting a new twist in the government’s efforts to use the Covid-19 crisis as a cover to drive forward its ambitions for wider privatisation of NHS services:
    “The government is preparing to award coronavirus testing contracts worth an estimated £5bn to commercial bidders, in what critics fear is a “backdoor” subsidy to the private sector.
    “The vast new budget, which works out at £2.5bn per year and will be managed by Public Health England (PHE), is equal to the entire annual spend on English NHS laboratories.
    “The Department of Health and Social Care said it was creating a new national framework for testing which would replace current arrangements, with further details released “in due course”.
    “The new plan, outlined in a public notice, dwarfs the budget for the current framework. Completed in 2017, its estimated cost was between £80m to £120m.
    “NHS sources said they had been told the cash would be used to fund an expansion of Lighthouse laboratories. Created in April to boost Covid-19 testing capacity, they are at the centre of the storm over why it took until last week for local authorities to begin receiving postcode data on the spread of coronavirus in their communities.
    “It is understood that seven new commercially run laboratories are planned in the short term. That number could eventually rise to 29, one for each NHS pathology region in England.”

  • Why was £108m of public money paid to Crisp Websites Limited? A crowd-funding website raising cash to challenge one of the more ridiculous awards of contracts for PPE by the government without competition:
    "How on earth did a company - Crisp Websites Limited - with last reported net assets of £18,047 win a contract worth £108m - and why was there apparently no bidding process?
    "The bare facts are quite remarkable. Here is the filing history of Crisp Websites Limited showing at 30 November 2019 it had net assets of £18,047. Here is the Official Journal publication of the 12 month £108m contract it entered into with Matt Hancock's department. That publication states there was only one bidder for that contract.
    "From these bare facts, a quite remarkable series of questions arise.
    "1. Was this contract ever advertised? If so, where? No one we have spoken to is aware of any advertisement.
    "2. If it was not advertised, how was Crisp Websites Limited chosen? Who was the decision maker? How did the name of this tiny company come to be placed before the decision maker?"

  • Dozens of shifts at coronavirus mega-lab cancelled and staff paid to stay away, whistleblower reveals Independent July 3 report: "Dozens of shifts at one of the government’s coronavirus mega-labs have been cancelled and staff paid to stay away because of a lack of test samples, a whistleblower has revealed.
    "A member of staff at the Alderley Park Lighthouse Laboratory has shared a tranche of emails sent from lab bosses to staff during May and June with The Independent.
    "They show more than 40 separate shifts at the labs were cancelled in the past two months, often with just a day’s notice or less.
    "Jeremy Hunt, former health secretary and chair of the Commons health select committee, said he thought it was “extraordinary” the labs were not being fully utilised."

  • Coronavirus R rate creeps up above 1 in London just hours before lockdown eases Daily Mirror July 3 warning: "Alarming new figures show the R rate range has risen above 1 in London - meaning cases of the deadly virus could be growing again.
    "It comes just hours before lockdown restrictions are eased in England, with pubs allowed to open again from 6am.
    "In four other regions - the Midlands, the North East and Yorkshire, the South East and the South West - experts believe the R rate could also be as high as 1.
    "If the R rate goes above 1, it means the number of Covid-19 cases is on the rise, as each individual with the disease is infecting more than one other person.
    "In order for the disease to be in retreat, the R rate needs to be below 1, but scientists fear a surge of new cases as restrictions are eased."

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