Microbiologist explains origins of Lassa Fever
The drive to vaccinate children aged 5 to 11 has been delayed as ministers decide whether or not to accept the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommendation to offer this age group the vaccine on a non-urgent basis.
Though the decision was made over a week ago, the government is reportedly in an impasse with the JCVI and Boris Johnson is expected to announce the decision on February 21, when he presents his Living with Covid plan to parliament.
Meanwhile, an NHS hospital in the east of England has declared a “major incident” after testing a drive for workers in hospitals treating Lassa fever cases to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) following the first Lassa-related death in the UK on Sunday
At least three cases have been reported this week in the UK so far, but the risk to public health from Lassa fever remains very low, the UK Health Security Agency said. Experts have said that Lassa virus is not transmitted via airborne infection, but through contact with bodily fluids of an infected person, unlike Covid.
Latest case, death and hospitalisation figures
The UK recorded 41,270 new Covid cases and 52 deaths on Sunday.
This is down from 46,025 cases and 167 deaths recorded on Saturday.
There were 1,395 people admitted to hospital with Covid on Sunday.
Ella Glover14 February 2022 10:08
Over 80s to receive fourth jab in Sweden
People over 80 in Sweden should have a fourth vaccine dose to ward off waning immunity, the country’s health agency has recommended.
This includes people in nursing homes and those who receive assisted living services at home.
The second booster should be administered at least four months after the first booster, the recommendation said, and will be a dose of either a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said: “A booster dose strengthens protection. Therefore we believe people 80 years or older will benefit from a second booster dose.”
Ella Glover14 February 2022 09:45
5,301 new cases reported in Scotland
Scotland recorded 5,301 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, the latest figures show.
The country recorded no new Covid-related deaths in the past 24 hours, although register offices are usually closed on the weekend.
There were 885 people in hospital on Saturday and 20 in intensive care.
There were 885 people were in hospital on Saturday with recently confirmed Covid-19, of which 20 were in intensive care.
A total of 4,427,052 people have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, 4,142,683 have received their second dose, and 3,349,054 have received a third dose or booster.
Ella glover14 February 2022 09:23
A total of 52,492,276 first vaccine doses and 48,719,951 second doses have been administered in the UK
A total of of 52,492,276 first doses and 48,719,951 second doses of a Covid-19 vaccine had been delivered in the UK by February 12, according to government figures.
A combined total of 37,729,821 booster and third doses had also been given
In total, 138,942,048 vaccine doses have been administered since the vaccine drive began.
Ella Glover14 February 2022 09:04
Vaccination drive for children aged 5-11 delayed
The drive to vaccinate children aged 5 to 11 has been delayed as ministers decide whether or not to accept the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommendation to offer this age group the vaccine on a non-urgent basis, The Guardian reported.
Though the decision was made over a week ago, the government is reportedly in an impasse with the JCVI. Boris Johnson is expected to announce the decision on February 21, when he presents his Living with Covid plan to parliament.
A government spokesperson said: “No decisions have been made by ministers on the universal offer of a Covid-19 vaccine to all five- to 11-year-olds. We are committed to reviewing the JCVI’s advice as part of wider decision-making ahead of the publication of our long-term strategy for living with Covid-19.”
Ella Glover14 February 2022 08:45
‘Fun’ activities used in half-term vaccination drive for 12 to 15-year-olds.
As part of the vaccination drive for the 12 to 15 age group, activities such as face painting, balloons, a petting zoo and a skatepark have been deployed to make the experience more fun for school children.
Since the vaccination rollout was expanded to include children late last year, the NHS has delivered more than 2.1 million vaccinations to people aged 12-15, including over 1.5 million first doses.
However, Dr Nikki Kanani, the deputy lead of the NHS vaccination programme, said that an estimated “more than two in five children in this age group” have not yet come forward.
Catherine Frew Brown, of GP Health Partners, which set up the vaccination drive, said: “We want the children to appreciate the experience and they may come back again without feeling anxious and fearful.
“It is very important that this age group is vaccinated because they are on their half-term holiday at the moment. They are going to be going back into school and will be mingling.
“We want them to be vaccinated so they are protected and safe while they are with members of their own family, some of whom may not yet have been vaccinated.”
Ella Glover14 February 2022 08:25
Partially sighted people can now access Covid-19 rapid-test support service
Partially sighted people who undergo Covid-19 lateral flow tests in the UK will be able to get help from a new app and video-call service called ‘Be My Eyes’.
The new service has been launched to make testing more accessible, said the UK Health Security Agency.
‘Be My Eyes’ will help connect people with low to moderate vision with agents from 119 through a live video call.
It will help make it easier for partially sighted people to use rapid tests in the comfort of their own home, said UKHSA chief executive Dame Jenny Harries.
Catherine Wylie has the full report here
Arpan Rai14 February 2022 07:01
US-Canada bridge reopens amid Ottawa protest
Nearly a week after protests forced a key US-Canada border crossing to shut, the Detroit International Bridge was reopened late on Sunday night even as demonstrations against Covid-19 vaccine mandates and safety protocols rocked Ottawa.
Officials from the Detroit International Bridge Co and the Canada Border Services confirmed that operations have resumed.
This came after a larger protest erupted in Ottawa as residents demanded access to streets and lashed out at authorities.
At least 25 to 30 protestors have been arrested in Windsor, Ontario, police officials said. Several vehicles were also towed near the Ambassador Bridge linking Windsor with Canada’s automotive plants.
Arpan Rai14 February 2022 06:24
ICYMI: What are the symptoms of Lassa fever and is it contagious?
The rare Lassa fever has prompted authorities to keep a tab on new cases — first since 2009 — but what is this illness?
Caused by the Lassa virus, Lassa fever is a rat-borne illness contracted by a human contact with food or household items which have been contaminated by the urine or faeces of infected rats.
The virus, so far, is found in West African countries where it has been declared as an ‘endemic’. While it is limited to this region, it is consistently present and not wiped out completely among humans.
It is clubbed as a viral haemorrhagic disease, akin to Ebola virus disease, malaria, shigellosis, typhoid fever and yellow fever.
You can read more about Lassa fever here
Arpan Rai14 February 2022 05:31
Scotland sees boost in business confidence, says bank after Covid rules eased
An uplifting analysis by the Royal Bank of Scotland showed that business owners are the most confident they have been in six months as the country’s economy continued to rebound from Covid-19.
The Business Activity Index — for the eleventh month straight — has shown an expansion in monthly output, reaching 53.7 in January, up from 52.7 in December, the bank said.
Malcolm Buchanan, the chairman of the Scotland Board at the bank, said “growth picked up to a solid pace amid a further upturn in new orders”. Analysts said that any number above 50 shows expansion.
However, the growth was driven by services, even as manufacturing output dipped amid supply issues and weak demand continuing to weigh heavily on the sector, Mr Buchanan said.
Dan Barker has the full report here
Arpan Rai14 February 2022 04:55