Displaying items by tag: pandemic
During lockdown newspapers reported thousands dying weekly. But last week 1,082 more people died than would be expected. These ‘excess deaths’ have averaged 1,000 for 15 weeks this year: they are not Covid deaths, so not newsworthy. Most deaths occur in private homes. This year there were 6,000 fewer deaths than expected in hospitals and care homes but over 17,000 more in people’s homes in England and Wales alone. Doctors are concerned about the unexpectedness of these deaths. 30- to 59-year-olds have excessively high death rates with heart attacks and diabetes. Symptoms were untreated during lockdown. People who need treatment now are struggling to get it. Waiting lists are larger than ever and getting a GP appointment is a lottery. Unless these issues are addressed, these diseases will continue to go untreated.
Last week we prayed for North Korea after Covid reached it. The World Council of Churches (WCC) has now warned of a major humanitarian crisis. There are rising Covid cases (currently 1.2 million) and 50+ deaths. 5% of the population is being monitored. The population is unvaccinated, and without adequate ventilators or other essential supplies the risk of an unprecedented death toll is very high. This outbreak greatly compounds the pre-existing humanitarian situation, particularly related to food insecurity. The WCC is calling for urgent humanitarian responses by the international community which are equal to the gravity of the crisis. In particular, newly developed antivirals such as Paxlovid must be provided as a matter of urgency, as well as diagnostics, ventilators, PPE, vaccines, and other medical needs, as well as essential food supplies. WCC wants centralised coordinated approaches through the UN, and for current sanctions to be lifted as a matter of fundamental ethical and humanitarian responsibility.
Churches across the UK have marked the second anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown with walls of reflection and remembrance in cathedrals and churches as people brought photos, prayers and memories to honour those who have died. Cathedrals and other landmarks across the country have lighted up their buildings in yellow as a sign of support. The Bishop of London, chair of the UK Commission on Bereavement, said, ‘I recall how helpless so many people, including myself, felt in the early days of the pandemic, surrounded by constant reminders of the magnitude of loss being experienced across the country. Today is a day to reflect, pause and remember those we have lost over the past two years and pray for the millions bereaved during the pandemic.’
Covid infections are increasing across the UK with about one in 25 people infected, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In Scotland, 300,000 people - one in 18 - have coronavirus, the highest level recorded during the pandemic. A sub-variant of Omicron, called BA2, is now thought to be the most common strain in most of the UK. Recent easing of restrictions and waning immunity from the vaccines could all be factors in the increase. Health secretary Sajid Javid said Omicron had been the last variant to be a concern, and the country had ‘successfully navigated’ it, but the Government continued to monitor the situation ‘very carefully’. The ONS infection survey tests thousands of people randomly in households across the UK and estimated 2.6 million people tested positive in the week ending 5 March. It was 2.4 million the week before.
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and World Without Orphans (WWO) are calling on churches to help in a crisis. The ‘Lancet Child and adolescent health modelling report’, by national and international government and non government organisations, estimates that over seven million children globally have lost a parent or caregiver due to Covid-19. They estimate that for every person killed by Covid, one child is orphaned or loses a caregiver. That equates to one child every six seconds facing a heightened risk of lifelong adversity unless given support in time. Rev Dr Rebecca Goropevsek said, ‘We encourage church leaders to read the report and prayerfully consider how the pandemic has affected families and children in their own context and what support they can offer. Pray for families that are safe and nurturing to adopt and foster orphans; and for communities to protect vulnerable children from adversity and violence.
The war in Ukraine has taken a lot of attention away from Covid, which is unfortunate because the pandemic has now killed almost six million people. There are countries where vaccination rates are still very low; this includes most African countries, where people should not be complacent as the virus still poses a grave risk. Africa’s top public health agency has signed a memorandum of understanding with Pfizer to bring supplies of the pharmaceutical firm’s Paxlovid antiviral pills to the continent. Also Moderna will build its first facility in Rwanda to sell, package, and distribute Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines.
The hospital authority says the number of patients dying from Covid-19 or serious complications triggered by the cold weather has sharply increased over the past two weeks, putting immense pressure on the mortuary service in public hospitals where storage space has reached capacity. Dozens of bodies are waiting in hospital accident and emergency rooms to be transported to mortuaries, and the health-care system is under enormous stress as workers battle to control a surge in cases. Empty grocery shelves were seen across several supermarkets as residents stocked up on essentials after health secretary Sophia Chan said the government has not ruled out a city-wide lockdown during the mass testing period. Hong Kong has a large proportion of unvaccinated elderly. The government announced that ‘the deaths are mostly among unvaccinated people’. Previously that information would not have been readily given.
Hong Kong is compulsorily testing all its 7.5 million citizens as the city battles surging coronavirus infections. Residents must undergo three rounds of tests starting in March. Hong Kong is trying to adhere to China's ‘zero Covid’ policy, but Omicron has overwhelmed hospitals, testing and quarantine facilities. While other parts of the world are learning to live with the disease, China's policy is to try to eradicate infection through early testing, detailed contact tracing and strict quarantine and travel restrictions. Tens of thousands of new isolation spaces are being created for those who test positive, but chief executive Carrie Lam conceded the new measures may not succeed. ‘The coming one to three months are crucial in fighting the pandemic,’ she told reporters. ‘This quickly worsening epidemic has far exceeded the Hong Kong government's ability to tackle it.’
‘It is my intention to return on the first day after the half-term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid’, Boris Johnson has said. ‘Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we will be able to end the last domestic restrictions - including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive - a full month early.’ The law will be replaced with guidance; for example, people will be urged not to go to work if they have Covid. The PM added, ‘The self-isolation regulations expire on 24 March, at which point I very much expect not to renew them. Indeed, were the data to allow, I would like to seek a vote in this House to bring that date forwards’ Downing Street also suggested there could be an update on the remaining travel rules when Mr Johnson sets out his ‘living with Covid strategy’ later this month.
A movement which started in January as a loosely organised convoy of truckers has now raised millions of dollars and is causing chaos.Trucker convoy demonstrations are spreading across Canada by protesters opposed to vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions. After days of chaotic disruption by trucks blocking streets and blowing their horns day and night, Ottawa’s mayor declared a state of emergency because the situation is out of control. Increasing resident frustration has brought confrontations, some physical. Some protesters drive vehicles on pavements and stunt drive and there are allegations of mischief, theft, property damage and hate crimes in many provinces. The protesters said they don’t want physical confrontation with the authorities, but are willing to be arrested for their beliefs. Supporters have donated portable toilets, tents, fully equipped kitchens, tables with toiletries, and portable generators. Truckers slept in their cabs while others used home rentals. On 9 February four provinces reduced coronavirus restrictions to bring the protests to heel. Protesters’ demands now include removing the PM.