Tuesday 2nd June 2020
Figures for 1st June
UK COVID Deaths 111 / Total 39,095
James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 237
All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 36
James Cook Critical Care COVID cases – 5 / 2 ventilated
James Cook Critical Care non-COVID cases – 40 / 20 ventilated
On 1st June 445 deaths were added to the national cumulative total. These additional deaths are linked to cases that have been identified through commercial testing rather than that done in NHS and Public Health England laboratories.
I’ve been enjoying a few much-needed days off with the family. The weather has been fantastic – the sunniest spring since records began apparently, so we have been spending all our time outdoors.
The significant relaxation of the lockdown rules that took effect yesterday means we can all now hold gatherings of up to six people in our gardens. Unfortunately, the weather looks to be changing tomorrow before we could plan our own socially distant BBQ. Given there are five people in my household and we could only invite one friend anyway, I don’t feel I’ve missed out.
I have to say that the easing of restrictions was a bigger step towards normality than I was expecting right now. What we are doing is similar to the relaxation of rules that is taking place in many other European countries. The big difference is that the number of new cases and the death rate in the UK are significantly higher.
I confess that I was expecting to see a rise in cases as a result of the previous lockdown relaxation that occurred on 10 May - you remember, the 'Stay Alert' one? That hasn’t happened but looking at our own hospital, the number of patients we are admitting appears to have stopped falling. We had seen a steady decline in the numbers of COVID patients admitted over the past month. However, for the past week this fall has ceased and we have reached a plateau.
Of course, the Government’s new Test and Trace system will swiftly identify any new viral hot-spots and put a lid on them. Maybe. I was a little disappointed that the UK’s system did not appear to rely on technology like the South Korean one, with a fancy Bluetooth app that logged anyone who you were close to whilst infectious.
Instead, as I understand it, our system involves a telephone operator quizzing you about who you might have had ‘contact’ with. Now, I’m not sure how this is going to work. I can imagine becoming unwell and testing positive. I ring the Test and Trace Hotline. I am told that my call is important to them for the best part of an hour. When I do speak to the helpful lady on the phone, she asks me if I can remember who I have interacted with since I became unwell. I tell her that I have been in contact with a few friends, some work colleagues, got hassled by that strange bearded lady who hangs around outside the Spar and I may have coughed over some weird-looking guy in Tesco who was talking to himself whilst stockpiling cheap cider. Now, I already know who my friends and colleagues are and most of us would warn such people anyway. I certainly don’t have much confidence in their ability to track the last two individuals and so I’m not entirely sure what the service will offer. Brilliant!
Don’t get me wrong. I genuinely believe that if everybody is sensible and maintains social distancing, then viral transmission will be kept to a minimum. However, when speaking about being sensible the other day, my neighbour reminded me of an apt quote – ‘Common sense is like deodorant, those who need it the most never use it’. We shall have to wait and see what happens.
Whilst I’m not at work this week, I was delighted to read online that one of our patients was discharged home from hospital today. The patient is a gentleman in his 30’s who was admitted a few days after lockdown began at the end of March. He was desperately ill, even by Intensive Care standards. Against all odds he has survived and has made a remarkable recovery. He left Critical Care last week for the ward and I am so pleased that, finally, he is now at home with his family. Well done, David!