- Daily COVID-19 statistics
- Hancock leads No 10 press conference
- RCN prepare for possible strike of 1 per cent pay rise
- R number remains below 1
- £79 million to boost mental health support for children and young people
- NHS Race and Health Observatory responds to mandatory staff jabs
- Some asthma patients being told to wait longer for vaccine
- Another new variant added to UK watch list
Daily COVID-19 statistics
The government’s latest available daily COVID-19 statistics have not yet been updated today 'owing to a delay in the submission of cases data for England to PHE', but yesterday’s statistics showed that:
- 6,573 people tested positive for COVID-19
- 242 people sadly died within 28 days of having tested positive for COVID-19
- on Sunday 28 February, 757 patients were admitted to hospital with COVID-19
- on Tuesday 2 March, 12,136 COVID-19 patients were still in hospital
- on Wednesday 3 March, 1,647 COVID-19 patients were in ventilation beds
- the total number of people who had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to Wednesday 3 March was 20,982,571
- the total number of people who had received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to Wednesday 3 March was 963,862
- on Wednesday 3 March, 863,658 new tests for COVID-19 were conducted, and PCR testing capacity stood at 759,126.
Hancock leads No 10 press conference
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock today led a Downing Street press conference alongside Public Health England's Dr Susan Hopkins.
During the conference, Mr Hancock:
- explained that the vaccine programme was working, particularly in reducing the number of deaths, which had fallen by 41 per cent in the last week
- cited a University of Bristol study finding that a single dose of the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine offered 80 per cent protection against hospitalisation after two weeks
- announced that two-fifths of entire adult population had now been vaccinated, and the Government was on course to hit their target to vaccinate all adults by the end of July
- said that the opening up of care homes, schools and colleges would involve regular testing, which was a critical part of the response to COVID-19
- explained that the sixth case of the variant of concern first identified in Manaus had been successfully identified, and there was no sign of onward transmission.
- detailed the tracking down of the missing sixth person with the Brazilian variant of COVID-19, adding that 40 people were mobilised to trace the individual and that on Wednesday at 15:00 an individual phoned the 119 service with the matching barcode
- Dr Hopkins assured that precautionary testing will be carried out in the neighbourhood.
RCN prepare for possible strike of 1 per cent pay rise
The Royal College of Nursing convened an emergency meeting of their council yesterday following the Department of Health and Social Care’s submission of evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) in which it recommended a 1 per cent pay award for NHS staff.
At the meeting, the RCN Council voted unanimously for the RCN to immediately set up a £35 million industrial action fund, which would be used to support workers during a potential strike to provide some compensation for loss of earnings and campaigning during industrial action.
The RCN would have to hold a ballot before strikes could go ahead.
R number remains below 1
SAGE reports that the R number of COVID-19 in the UK is still below one and between 0.7 and 0.9 – a slight worsening on last week's estimated range of between 0.6 and 0.9.
SAGE also reports that the growth rate of COVID-19 is between -5 per cent and -3 per cent, meaning that the number of new infections is shrinking by between 3 per cent and 5 per cent every day.
Meanwhile, the latest ONS national infection survey also confirms falling COVID-19 infections, with the number of those infected having fallen by approximately a third during the week up to 27 February.
The ONS survey shows that:
- overall in the UK, one in 230 people has the virus
- in England, it is one in 220 (compared with one in 145 the week before)
- in Northern Ireland, it is one in 325 (compared with one in 195 previously)
- in Wales, it is one in 285 (compared with one in 205 before)
- in Scotland, it is one in 335 (compared with one in 225).
£79 million to boost mental health support for children and young people
DHSC has announced a £79 million fund for children and young people’s mental health, as part of its £500 million fund for mental health generally.
Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network welcomed the fund, adding members are already seeing an increase in referrals for children and young people, and an increase in the complexity and severity of the cases being referred.
NHS Race and Health Observatory responds to mandatory staff jabs
Dr Habib Naqvi, Director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, has told The Guardian that a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for NHS staff in England could be discriminatory, widen inequalities and increase workplace bullying and harassment.
Downing Street is reportedly considering a review of making it mandatory for all health and social care staff in England to have the vaccine as a way of protecting patients.
Dr Naqvi said: “Over the last 12 months, BME staff within the NHS have already faced a number of challenges, including the lack of PPE, risk assessments of variable quality and redeployment to frontline Covid-19 wards.
“While we recommend health and social care workers take the vaccination to protect themselves, patients and colleagues, we are concerned that a new mandatory policy, predominantly impacting frontline BME NHS staff, casual and low-paid female carers, could be discriminatory.
“It could lead to the widening of inequalities and a further increase in workplace bullying and harassment, beyond the levels highlighted in the latest NHS workplace race equality standard annual data report.”
Some asthma patients being told to wait longer for vaccine
The BBC has reported that people with asthma eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine are being refused by some GPs who are allegedly not following government guidance.
An NHS England letter sent to GPs in mid-February said people who have 'ever had an emergency asthma admission' to hospital fall into priority group 6, which is now being vaccinated. But some patients are being told a hospital admission within the past 12 months is needed.
Another new variant added to UK watch list
Scientists have found 16 cases of another new variant of COVID-19 in the UK. Public Health England has designated it as a 'variant under investigation' (VUI), meaning it is on their watch list, but not one they are immediately concerned about.