Dr Joe Pajak looks back at last week’s coronavirus situation in the UK, the million cases reported in 20 days, the loose third lockdown, the ICU staff suffering from PTSD after nearly a year working under pressure, the South American travel ban, and more...


First published in January 2021.


1 Million Cases Reported in 20 Days

Last week the UK reached one million new cases of Covid-19 in a period of around 20 days. It seems unbelievable that so many new infections could have occurred, in such a short period of time. One million cases in 20 days, in the context of 3.4 million cases in total in the UK since the first case was reported around 353 days ago.

The next few weeks will be even more crucial, with the impact of delayed decisions hitting our NHS hard. It is hard to dispute there have been delays, isn’t it, and that delays and indecision in a pandemic cost many lives?

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Lockdown Not Respected

Last week, Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, warned that, everyone who meets friends and family unnecessarily is a “link in a chain” that threatens the lives of vulnerable people.

“We cannot afford to let our justified optimism for the future come at the expense of difficult action today. That means staying home and avoiding all unnecessary contact.”

Time to listen to the experts, our experts.

But in the end, ministers always were likely to blame low public compliance for high case numbers.

This not only ignores the reality that the present lockdown is looser than last spring’s, but it also avoids the fact that SAGE advice was (apparently) ignored on several occasions.

And what about health workers facing threats from Covid-deniers?

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SAGE and Social Distancing

Sage scientists are right to recommend that the government increases ‘social’ distancing to 3 metres.

If we are serious about limiting the transmission of Covid-19, then we need to be serious about ‘physical’ distances.

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PTSD & ICU Staff

A recent study shows that, 10 months into the pandemic, “many ICU staff in England report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression, or anxiety.

Courageous people, worrying facts!

Nurses report PTSD symptoms due to the pandemic.
Nurses are not heroes – they are technically expert professional carers with unique skills. And they are struggling. They need more than applause this time around.

Covid-19 is exacerbating existing pressures...

The slow tightening of the garotte of underfunding has created ideal conditions for moral distress, sapping the joy from the doctor-patient relationship, depleting the rewards of clinical medicine,” Julian Sheather, specialist adviser on ethics and human rights, and Helen Fidler, deputy chair of the UK Consultants Committee, wrote in the BMJ.

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Ban on South American Arrivals

350 days since the first reported case in the UK was officially confirmed, the UK Government decided to ban flights from South America.

Shouldn’t more stringent measures have been brought in some months ago?

And why only 10 days self-isolationsurely 14 days is the international standard? For example, it appears to be 14 days quarantine if we were allowed to travel to:

  • the United States,
  • New Zealand,
  • Canada,
  • Japan,
  • Australia,
  • and so on...
Heathrow Airport T5. | Geograph - Ian S


Covid-19 & Football

Time to blow the whistle for football to be suspended.

It is in the best interest of players, staff, and their families. It is unbelievable that the football season has been allowed to continue this far.

Money talks, what other reason can there be for continuing?

Sky News


Boris Johnson’s Dithering

Difficult to challenge this observation in The Times, especially in a journey littered with indecision, lack of sage judgement, and U-turns:

“In a pandemic, the prime minister’s critics say his habit of deferring decisions looks like dithering, and it costs lives.”

Boris Johnson. | Number 10


Myth: Young People Don’t Catch Covid-19

If you still think young people aren’t affected, read this story by Dr Jonathan Mackenney: “The average age in critical care now is probably 50-70. But there are children being treated for Covid in the hospital and patients in their 20s, 30s and 40s in ICU [intensive care unit].

“Numbers of middle-aged and younger Covid patients started to rise sharply last month, particularly in London and the South East. Weekly hospital admissions among 18 to 64-year-olds more than tripled between December 5 and January 5 from 2,702 to 8,414, a bigger increase than in any other age group.

And still, even now, some people are in Covid-19 denial.

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Strict Social Distancing Means Lower Chance of Infection

In a survey of over 1,000 Maryland residents, those regularly using public transport were more than 4 times as likely to have had Covid-19 than those who did not. Those practising strict social distancing were 1/10 as likely to report ever being Covid positive.

The study effectively links strict social distancing to much lower chance of infection.

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More Civilian Deaths Than WW2

89,243 deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. Equivalent to 286 deaths a day since the first death, 312 days ago. It is more than the UK civilian deaths in the Second World War.

Note: During the Blitz, 9 months in WW2, 43,500 UK civilians were killed (source: Imperial War Museum)

Previously, the ‘hardest night’ in Britain was on 10-11 May 1941, when 1,436 people were killed during a bombing raid in WW2. Within 24 hours on 13 January 2021, dreadful new depths were reached with 1,564 deaths due to Covid-19 ‘reported’ in Britain.

Excess deaths in England and Wales also rose by 15% in 2020, marking the largest year-on-year increase since WW2.

ONS data shows 608,002 deaths registered in England and Wales last year, up from 530,841 in 2019. The highest total number of deaths since 1918.

London Blitz. | Wikimedia




Further Reading:







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.


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[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 18 January 2021. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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