The UK experienced its first day of lock-down yesterday (25th March) following the clear instruction issued Boris Johnson the previous evening to stay at home. It feels like this is happening way too late. The government is clearly not anywhere near in control of this situation. The first recorded death from COVID-19 in the UK was reported 19 days ago, on 6th March 2020. I noted from a news flash at 9pm on 19th March that COVID-19 had taken 144 lives in the UK and killed 9,115 people world wide. Here we are, seven days further in and the transmission rate has gone into an exponential curve. WTF! This is real! Public Health England is today reporting 422 deaths out of 8,077 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom. Exponential means it’s still accelerating. Nightmare! Globally, COVID-19 had taken 19,625 lives. As the UK prepares for COVID-19 impact, the rhetoric from our leaders still seems to be attempting to galvanise opinion that they are doing all the right things. It just seems so wrong though. Despite calls from the WHO in February to ‘test, test and test’, in the UK we are still walking blindly into the storm. In the UK we have not yet been able to establish a suitable test strategy and a a million miles for organising an effective testing process. Procurement of the necessary testing materials and equipment for this country has not even got into gear and there are now a global shortages of everything that we need. Frighteningly, we still don’t have adequate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for our front-line staff and workers in the NHS (who we cannot afford to lose) and we are many months away from any kind of reliable antidote or immunisation.
In the UK our planning activities are combining informed guess-work with what every reliable data we can get from other countries that are at a more advanced stage. Our hearts go out to countries like Italy and Spain who are ahead of us on the curve and currently bearing the brunt of this virus. It is pretty clear that two weeks from now, we in the UK we will be in the same position. Right now it is turning into a mad scramble to prepare.
However, there is one data-set we can accurately measure in the UK at the moment, and that is the number of deaths attributable to COVID-19.
I have found an informative resource on a website called ‘DataBrew’ which has some good tools to track COVID-19 epidemic and provides real time comparisons between countries.
This graph (note, the logarithmic scale on the vertical axis) is a snapshot taken today, comparing death rates between UK and Italy (from the date of the first death in each country).
Click on the image to link through to the DataBrew site for the latest position.
The graph below was published a couple of days ago ( Monday 23rd) by the Guardian and shows the same two trajectories, taken from data captured by CSSE at Johns Hopkins University. This graph also shows the effect of recent defensive measures made by the UK government. To read this article, please click on the graph or follow this link to the Guardian newspaper.
The UK experienced its first day of lock-down yesterday, as the previous evening the Boris Johnson issued a clear instruction to everyone to stay at home. However the instruction was caveated by the following exceptions:
- Travel to and from work for key workers only
- Shopping for basic necessities, but as infrequently as possible
- Taking one form of exercise a day, alone or with members of your household, such as walking, running or cycling
- Going to a medical appointment or providing care to a vulnerable person
The first exception above has caused confusion and needs further clarification as business and operations (such as construction companies) may be seen as essential and workers are still heading into work on massively reduced public transport systems preventing them from adhering to the 2m social exclusion areas.
The government is at pains to ‘appear to’ be doing all it can to keep the UK public informed and supported. Daily afternoon press briefings from 10 Downing St have become the new norm, hosted by the PM who is flanked by Chief Medical and Chief Science Officers. The questions put forward by the press in the Q&A are not answered clearly or simply avoided, so while we go through the motions of ‘informing the public’ in reality the politics prevail over factual dissemination. Huge effort is now being made to provide more suitable levels of equipment and resources to the NHS and public services, however we started this way too late, our current resolution path is almost certainly suboptimal and the NHS remains likely to be completely overwhelmed in the next 2 weeks. The ExCel Exhibition/Conference centre is currently being converted into a field hospital with a capacity for 4000 patients.
The UK Government has pledged an unprecedented level of economic support for businesses and their employees over the past week. I am hoping that government assistance will be provided for folk who work for them-selves (rather than being employed). Personally, I have not had paid work since my contract was terminated on 4th Feb (following the Re-platforming Programme cancellation at Reach). In between chasing new opportunities, I’ve been exploring options to refinance and seek additional business loans as prospects have become increasingly grim for us. However there is now a spark of hope, as in the past few days I’ve had a very positive response from one of the hundreds of enquiries I’ve made. I am in a strong position find some paid work in Energy sector. I believe my skills and experience match the client’s requirements and I’m available for an immediate start. We all need self believe at this moment in our history.
Below is the latest dashboard view from CSSE at Johns Hopkins University. Figures are consistent with latest UK publications.
COVID-19 Global Cases dashboard, built and maintained by John Hopkins University Centre for Science and Engineering. Click through for the latest updates / live position.
Other useful links are as follows:
NHS COVID-19 advice can be found on: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Worldometer Coronavirus update: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
DataBrew home page: https://www.datacat.cc/covid/