Connect with us


Scotland reports record number of cases as Omicron takes hold | Scotland



Scotland has detected a record number of 15,900 new Covid cases, with about 80% of those believed to be the highly infectious Omicron variant, Nicola Sturgeon has told MSPs.

In an emergency update to the Scottish parliament, the first minister said positive cases comprised 29% of all tests carried out on Tuesday. The previous Scottish record was reached on Sunday, when 11,030 new cases were reported.

Sturgeon said the Omicron variant was so infectious it was reasonable to assume there would be further “steep increases in cases in the days and possibly weeks ahead”.

She urged eligible adults to book booster vaccinations after disclosing that so far only 75% had received their booster or third doses. She hinted that the Scottish government may miss its target of getting 80% of adults boosted by Friday 31 December, a target date coinciding with Hogmanay.

“Please don’t delay,” she said. “Every booster jab administered now is a step on the road back to normality.”

Sturgeon indicated the slowing pace of booster vaccinations had influenced the Scottish government’s decision not to cut the self-isolation period for close contacts from 10 to seven days – a measure introduced by the UK government in England.

Facing intense pressure from the Conservatives and Labour to reduce the self-isolation time to ease staffing pressures on businesses and public services, Sturgeon said a careful balance needed to be struck between helping businesses and suppressing the virus.

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, said businesses across Scotland were struggling with high levels of staff absence and unable to plan ahead because of Sturgeon’s “dithering”. Some firms were shutting.

Big Hogmanay events, including Edinburgh’s street party and fireworks, and the Loony Dook swim at Queensferry, have been cancelled, with ministers urging revellers to remain at home or attend small parties.

Sturgeon said neither the Welsh nor Northern Irish governments had cut the self-isolation period, which showed there were doubts it was the best course of action. Her government was offering £375m in emergency support to businesses, including £16m for bus companies, £27m to the cultural sector and £17m to the events sector, she said.

“If Covid continues to spread rapidly, the economic impact in the form of staff absences and diminished consumer confidence will be severe. We’re already seeing those impacts. So doing nothing won’t help business,” she said.

“We must protect public health and the economy together – by slowing the speed at which Covid is spreading, while we complete the booster programme.”

She said 679 people were in hospital, an increase of 80 on Tuesday’s total, with three deaths reported of people confirmed to have had Covid. Over the past week, the number of cases had risen by 47%.

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Solar storms may cause up to 5500 heart-related deaths in a given year



In an approximate 11-year cycle, the sun blasts out charged particles and magnetised plasma that can distort Earth’s magnetic field, which may disrupt our body clock and ultimately affect our heart


17 June 2022

A solar storm

Jurik Peter/Shutterstock

Solar storms that disrupt Earth’s magnetic field may cause up to 5500 heart-related deaths in the US in a given year.

The sun goes through cycles of high and low activity that repeat approximately every 11 years. During periods of high activity, it blasts out charged particles and magnetised plasma that can distort Earth’s magnetic field.

These so-called solar storms can cause glitches in our power grids and bring down Earth-orbiting satellites. A handful of studies have also hinted that they increase the risk of …

Source link

Continue Reading


UK Covid infection rate rising, with more than a million cases in England | Coronavirus



Coronavirus infections are rising in the UK, figures have revealed, with experts noting the increase is probably down to the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), based on swabs collected from randomly selected households, reveal that in the week ending 11 June an estimated one in 50 people in the community in England are thought to have had Covid – around 1.13 million people.

The figure is even higher, at one in 45, in both Wales and Northern Ireland, while it was highest in Scotland where, in the week ending 10 June, one in 30 people are thought to have been infected.

While the figures remain below the peak levels of infection seen earlier this year, when around one in 13 people in England had Covid, the findings are a rise on the previous week where one in 70 people in England were thought to be infected. Furthermore, the data reveals increases in all regions of England, except the north-east, and across all age groups.

Experts say that a key factor in the increase is probably the rise of the Covid variants of concern BA.4 and BA.5.

“Infections have increased across all four UK nations, driven by rising numbers of people infected with the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants,” said Kara Steel, senior statistician for the Covid-19 Infection Survey.

While Steel said it remained too early to say if this was the start of another wave, others have warned it may already have begun, with increased mixing and travelling among other factors fuelling a rise in cases.

Among concerns scientists have raised are that BA.4, BA.5 and another variant on the rise, BA.2.12.1, replicate more efficiently in human lung cells than BA.2.

Prof Azra Ghani, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said the latest figures were not surprising, and might rise further.

“This increase in infection prevalence is likely due to the growth of the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, which as we have seen elsewhere in Europe, appear to be able to escape immunity generated from previous Omicron subvariants,” she said.

“It is therefore possible that we will continue to see some growth in infection prevalence in the coming weeks and consequently an increase in hospitalisations, although these subvariants do not currently appear to result in any significantly changed severity profile. This does however serve as a reminder that the Covid-19 pandemic is not over.”

Source link

Continue Reading


NHS to offer women in England drug that cuts recurrence of breast cancer | Breast cancer



Thousands of women in England with breast cancer are to benefit from a new pill on the NHS which reduces the risk of the disease coming back.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has given the green light to abemaciclib, which cuts the chance of breast cancer returning after a patient has had surgery to remove a tumour.

Trials showed that patients who had the drug with hormone therapy had a more than 30% improved chance of their cancer not coming back after surgery, compared with hormone therapy alone.

“It’s fantastic thousands of women with this type of primary breast cancer will now have an additional treatment option available on the NHS to help further reduce the risk of the disease coming back,” said Delyth Morgan, the chief executive of charity Breast Cancer Now.

“The fear of breast cancer returning or spreading to other parts of their body and becoming incurable can cause considerable anxiety for so many women and their loved ones.

“New effective treatments such as abemaciclib, which can offer more women the chance to further reduce the risk of the disease recurring, are therefore extremely welcome and this is an important step change in the drug options available for this group of patients.”

The twice-a-day pill is suitable for women with hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, node-positive early breast cancer at high risk of recurrence who have had surgery. About 4,000 women will benefit initially, Nice said.

Helen Knight, the interim director of medicines evaluation at Nice, said the draft recommendation came less than a month after abemaciclib received its licence.

“The fact that we have been able to produce draft recommendations so quickly is testament to the success of our ambition to support patient access to clinically and cost effective treatments as early as possible,” said Knight. “Until now there have been no targeted treatments for people with this type of breast cancer.

“Abemaciclib with hormone therapy represents a significant improvement in how it is treated because being able to have a targeted treatment earlier after surgery will increase the chance of curing the disease and reduce the likelihood of developing incurable advanced disease.”

Abemaciclib works by targeting and inhibiting proteins in cancer cells which allow the cancer to divide and grow. It normally costs £2,950 for a packet of 56 150mg-tablets, but the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, has agreed an undisclosed discounted price for NHS England.

“Thanks in part to this latest deal struck by NHS England, NHS patients will be able to access another new targeted drug for a common and aggressive form of breast cancer,” said Prof Peter Johnson, the cancer director of NHS England.

“Abemaciclib, when used alongside a hormone therapy, offers a new, doubly targeted, treatment option, helping to increase the chances of beating the cancer for good, as well as meeting the NHS’s commitment to delivering improved cancer care under our long-term plan.”

Source link

Continue Reading