The four governments of the UK agreed a common approach between 23-27 December, which would allow up to three households to meet up indoors. Is this still a sensible approach given the increases we are beginning to see in infections, hospital admissions and sadly, deaths? Dr Joe Pajak asks.

First published in December 2020.

The impact of the national restrictions

As highlighted yesterday, the UK’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O) for the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), presented a consensus statement on Covid-19 to SAGE on 25 November.

The paper, which was published on 11 December 2020, indicated that government scientists considered a period of 21 days was not long enough to fully evaluate the impact of national restrictions on the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Interestingly, the Independent SAGE group published its own Three-point plan to keep families and communities safe, on 11 December 2020.

Rethinking Christmas: A three point plan to keep families and communities safe | Independent SAGE

Independent SAGE is a group of experienced scientists, who are working together to provide independent scientific advice to the UK Government and the general public on how to minimise deaths and support Britain’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The group is led by Sir David King, former chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, who chairs the group and oversees its reports.

Independent SAGE’s introduction to its ‘Rethinking Christmas’ report states that:

Rethinking Christmas: A three point plan to keep families and communities safe | Independent SAGE

The report also urges “both Government and the public to rethink their approach to the Christmas break. The responsibility of the Government is to explain clearly the risks involved in different courses of action and to provide the support necessary for people to make the choices that will best protect themselves, their families, and their community.”

The Government is due to formally review ‘the situation’, following the introduction (on 2 December) of the latest Covid-19 restrictions in England, by 16 December 2020. All four governments need urgently to co-operate and collaborate even more closely given the precarious situation.

The rise in infections, increases in hospital admissions, the growing need for intensive care, and sadly the high number of deaths still being reported, in some parts of the UK (which can spread to other areas only too quickly), surely mean that the time has come for a rigorous reassessment. Christmas can, and will, still happen, but perhaps the government needs to give us a much stronger lead about what is required from us all? However tough this may be for all concerned.  

A third wave is on the horizon, we need to employ more direct interventions and tougher restrictions to limit its dreadful impact.   January 2021 is looking bleak if the increases are allowed to continue.

Today’s data in focus

Today’s data reports the stark fact that a further 519 people have lost their lives in the last 24 hours in the UK, while the number of deaths in the last 14 days is at 6,014.  

Note: The data for deaths attributed to Covid-19, each following a reported positive test result for Covid-19 within 28 days of their death.

Today’s Government data indicates that there have been 225,789 new cases reported in the past 14 days, around 6% more than the 14-day figures reported a week ago on 5 December.

Today’s trendline chart, and headline UK Covid-19 data, highlight the need for stricter boundaries.

UK Covid-19 headline data, reported on 12 December 2020:

  • 21,502 further positive tests
  • 519 further deaths in the last 24 hours
  • 1,729 further hospital admissions (reported as of 08/12)
  • 16,531 hospital in-patients in total (reported as of 10/12)
  • 1,275 patients on ventilation beds (reported as of 11/12)
  • 225,789 new cases reported in the last 14 days, according to government data.

Today, we provide you with two charts to compare. The first one is a 14-day lines chart and the second is a 7-day chart.

14-day chart
7-day Chart for comparison

317 days after the first case was reported in the UK, 1,830,956 cases have been reported, together with 64,026 deaths. However, these data include only those who have died within 28 days of testing positive; other measures suggest the number of deaths is higher: 73,125 being reported as “the total number of deaths of people whose death certificate mentioned Covid-19 as one of the causes, registered up to Friday, 27 November 2020.”🔷

Data source:

Dr Joe Pajak, Professional experience applied scientific research and development, then director of a national children’s charity, trustee of a disability charity, and governor of NHS foundation trust hospitals.

[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 12 December 2020. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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