UK COVID-19 Daily: R above 1 in part of England

  • Tim Locke, Medscape.com

  • UK Medical News
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These are the latest UK coronavirus stories you need to know.

Official Regional R Above 1 in South West of England

The latest R number for the UK remains at 0.7-0.9 but the first official regional figures show it is 0.8-1.1 in the South West of England.

The data for England as a whole put R at 0.8-1.0

  • East                 0.7-0.9

  • London            0.8-1.0

  • Midlands          0.8-1.0

  • NEast/Yorks    0.7-1.0

  • North West      0.8-1.0

  • South East      0.8-1.0

  • South West     0.8-1.1

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Downing Street briefing the higher South West number was an "outlier of the central estimate".

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England added: "The important thing is that in all regions the central projection within that range is below 1."

Watchdog Reports on PPE and Care Home Discharges 

The National Audit Office (NAO) has reported on 'Readying the NHS and adult social care in England for COVID-19'.

On PPE it found: "At the start of the outbreak, the only central stockpile – held by PHE – was designed for a flu pandemic. It lacked items such as gowns and visors, which an independent committee advising the Department [of Health and Social Care] on stockpile contents had recommended in 2019."

The NAO also found that between 17th March and 15th April, around 25,000 people were discharged from hospitals into care homes, compared to around 35,000 over this period in 2019. "It is not known how many had COVID-19 at the point of discharge," the report said.

In response to advice from SAGE, it said, "the NHS took a range of actions with the intention of freeing up at least 30,000 beds for the expected surge in COVID-19 patients." This included "discharging patients who were medically fit to leave".

However, it said:  "Due to government policy at the time, not all patients were tested for COVID-19 before discharge."

Chair of the Commons Health and Social Care committee, Jeremy Hunt, commented: "It seems extraordinary that no one appeared to consider the clinical risk to care homes despite widespread knowledge that the virus could be carried asymptomatically."

BAME Safety Plan 'To Be Published Next Week'

A Public Health England (PHE) report making safeguarding proposals for BAME groups will be published next week, reports said.

Recommendations were omitted from PHE's report on BAME risks when it was published on 2nd June.

Equalities Minister, Kemi Badenoch told the Commons last week that PHE "did not make recommendations because they were not able to do so".

However, Raj Bhopal, Edinburgh University emeritus professor of public health, told the BBC he'd been asked to peer-review a report that was marked 'official-sensitive' with the title: 'Beyond the Data: Understanding the Impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Communities'.

Doctors' Association UK (DAUK) accused the Government of censoring expert conclusions.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, DAUK Chair Dr Rinesh Parmar, wrote: "By withholding the information in the report, it dismisses or attempts to spin the potential systemic and structural influences that may predispose higher BAME mortality. In doing this your government is inadvertently supporting a tenet of structural racism - telling BAME communities what they can and cannot handle by policing what they should and should not know."

Prof Powis was asked about the risk to BAME nurses: "We need to risk assess individuals against the work they're doing and where necessary redeploy them," he said.

Latest ONS Infection Study Data

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published its weekly results from its COVID-19 Infection Survey.

At any time between 25th May and 7th June it estimates that an average of 0.06% of the community population in England had COVID-19, an average of 33,000. There were an estimated 31,600 new COVID-19 infections per week with a weekly incidence rate of 0.06 new cases per 100 people.

Other ONS data show the COVID-19 mortality rate was twice as high in the most deprived areas of England compared to the least deprived.

"More always needs to be done to deal with health inequalities and it's something we're very passionate about," Grant Shapps said.

Daily Deaths and Data

Another 202 UK COVID-19 deaths were announced on Friday, taking the total to 41,481.

There were 193,253 tests counted on Thursday. This figure includes home tests that have been sent out but not yet processed.

Figures for the number of people tested were last given on 22nd May.

Another 1541 positive cases were reported on Friday.

There are 5607 people currently in hospital with coronavirus, down from 7036 this time last week.

Another 535 people were admitted to hospital in the UK (excluding Scotland) with COVID-19 and 392 mechanical ventilator beds are in use across the UK by coronavirus patients.

More News in Brief

  • Grant Shapps denied reports the Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May is no longer attending Downing Street briefings because she wouldn't support the PM's adviser Dominic Cummings over his lockdown journey. "I don't think it's true," he said. "I'm sure she'll be back here again."

  • Only 1 in 3 COVID-19 research authors are women and even fewer are senior authors, according to an analysis in BMJ Global Health. Report author, Dr Ana-Catararina Pinho-Gomes, University of Oxford, concludes: "Gender equality and inclusiveness in COVID-19 research are key to succeed in the global fight against the pandemic. The disproportionate contribution of women to COVID-19 research reflects a broader gender bias in science that should be addressed for the benefit of men and women alike."

  • 'Non-essential' shops opened again in Northern Ireland on Friday. This will happen in England on Monday as long as businesses have taken COVID-secure measures.

  • Relatives of 450 people who have died during the coronavirus pandemic are taking legal action to demand an immediate public inquiry. The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK petition says: "There is a widely held public belief that the Government is making wrong decisions in this crisis and that the Government errors have cost and will continue to cost lives."

  • BA, easyJet, and Ryanair have begun High Court action over the UK's 14-day quarantine rules for most people arriving from abroad. The companies argue the rules are too stringent and are being introduced without scientific supporting evidence.

  • Aside from coronavirus, there's some breaking news on doctors' pensions. The BMA has won a court victory over unlawful plans to suspend pension payment to doctors charged with a crime. The BMA got the changes scrapped in January, but the Government appealed against the ruling. The appeal has now been dismissed and the BMA will now be seeking legal costs from the Government.

Adapted from Medscape UK.