Our latest coronavirus update from Jane Chiodini, Dean of the Faculty of Travel Medicine.
Since writing two weeks ago, COVID-19 continues to impact the world in ways that will cause ongoing issues in many dimensions of our lives for years to come. Addressing the global picture again, the pandemic case numbers, of almost half a million last time are now at almost 1.5 million. Europe continues to be very badly affected, particularly Italy, Spain, France and the UK but the USA now equally so, with their Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recording 427,460 total cases and 14,696 deaths reported on 9th April 2020.
The most up to date situation report number 80 from the World Health Organization on 09.04.20 can be found here with the interactive map on a new website here. The real time statistics map from Johns Hopkins University perhaps displays a more comprehensive and easier to view insight into numbers here but I have to admit it sometimes feels hard to keep up with all the statistics.
In the UK our total cases have gone from 11,658 cases recorded and 578 deaths on 26th March to 65,077 cases and 7,978 deaths on 9th April. The government briefing on this date informed us that they thought social distancing was making a big difference and it may be working. These measures are stopping transmission in the community and as a result the case numbers, although high, haven’t taken off as dramatically as they might otherwise have done. There is even hope that the number of cases may be flattening off and with the extra NHS beds that have been created, hopefully the NHS will be able to cope. The science continues to be followed to determine the measures that must be taken. The deaths do continue to rise and this won’t change for a few weeks as they occur a few weeks after the early illness, but there was a definite message that the social distancing is working so it is even more crucial to follow and whilst most are abiding by the instructions there is genuine concern that some of the public will go out and increase the risk over this Easter weekend. It is vital that doesn’t happen. Lots of issues continue to be raised in the public domain around testing, PPE supplies and the fact our Prime Minister has spent the last 5 nights in St Thomas’ Hospital with three of them in intensive care, but we’re reassured he is improving and hasn’t required ventilation.
This disease infects indiscriminately, although reports suggest social inequality is playing its part in those most severely affected, with news that the highest number of deaths in the USA are in the black community. Other concerns come to light such as calls to domestic abuse helplines have gone up by 25%; on the transport system, a number of bus drivers have tragically died of the disease, similarly, news of healthcare workers dying from COVID-19 too. Implications of the impact of COVID-19 in care homes is quite rightly gaining greater attention and the impact on health in the future (both mental and physical) is increasingly acknowledged. Indeed the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges published a statement on this on 7th April enforcing the message that patients and the public must continue to seek medical help for serious conditions during this COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s eighteen days since the UK locked down and perhaps life has started to form some sort of routine, we are adapting in the main and many of you around the world will be in similar situations. However, I find I continue on an emotional rollercoaster and especially if I watch too much news, so I’ve started to limit myself to the first 30 minutes of the start of the Today programme on radio 4 and the Government briefing around 5pm if I’m free, or catching up on the headlines on the main news programmes. The clap for the carers initiative continues and I’ve felt proud to contribute from our London flat with the Shard in view, its top illuminated blue at dusk. Last week the clapping was notably quieter than the first, but last night it was vociferous with people appearing from the flats clattering saucepans and cans.
The number of resources out there continues to increase; it’s now impossible to appreciate everything, but here are a few I thought interesting this week. Take care until next time.
New resources of note
- British Geriatrics Society, on their COVID-19: Tools and templates page, have a useful infographic which is a handy visual guide to breaking bad news and having difficult conversations with relatives via telephone during the COVID-19 outbreak. This was developed by Dr Antonia Field-Smith and Dr Louise Robinson from the Palliative Care Team at West Middlesex Hospital, NHS Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust. To access the page of tools see here and to access the tool directly see here
- WHO has released guidance for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19. The document and risk assessment tool provides practical guidance and recommendations to support the special role of religious leaders, faith-based organizations, and faith communities in COVID-19 education, preparedness, and response. Within the document is a link to a decision tree which provides a simple flow chart to support decision-making regarding hosting a religious event during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Dame Clare Marx, Chair of the GMC gave our first President’s lecture in College in 2019 and she delivers a message to doctors including identifying that the nature of being a doctor is to go above and beyond to deliver the care our patients require. But in this crisis situation, compassion, civility, and self-care will matter more than ever. She ended by saying, please be kind to each other, and to yourselves. And may I, as both a doctor and a member of the public, thank you for all you do. Her video can be viewed here.
- And of course our College COVID-19 page of resources found here which includes a Digital Education section where you can access many short topics but also the highly successful webinar held since I last wrote, entitled COVID-19: Informing our Practice. The next webinar details can be found here.