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Home Summary of Points Made at the Prime Minister’s Lockdown Briefing, 31/10/20

Summary of Points Made at the Prime Minister’s Lockdown Briefing, 31/10/20

These are bullet-point notes summarising the statements made in the Prime Minister’s briefing on the 31st October, about the upcoming national lockdown. While informal, they were written as the briefing unfolded and therefore cover the full detail of what happened.

 

Scientists

  • Chris Whitty
    • Based on slide of weekly case rates across UK
      • Covid now spreading steadily
      • Now no longer just in concentrated areas, but significant increase across entire country
    • NHS capacity – looking at the spread in people aged over 60
      • The majority of severe symptoms are in people aged over 60
      • There has been a significant rise over recent times
      • Rising now across entire country not just in local areas
    • ONS data
      • Official data, based on national survey
      • Prevalence of disease has been rising extremely rapidly over the last few weeks, having been very flat over summer
      • Now around 50,000 new cases per day and rising
      • Around country, the R number is substantially lower than if no measures were in place
        • However, there is still an increase everywhere of around 1% per week (R = 1+)
      • Age groups
        • Incidence of covid transmission is highest in young people and students across the country
        • Rises are not constrained to one age group
        • Cases among over 60’s increasing in every area
        • Steep rise in NHS hospital admissions for over 60’s and above
          • Rise in every age group above 45
          • Almost flat for young people and students
        • Hospitalisations
          • If compared to first peak (NHS data)
            • Only the North-West is as high as first wave
            • Hospitalisations are increasing in all areas
            • If nothing is done, the inevitable result is high numbers of admissions which exceed the last peak in Spring
          • Exponential rise in admissions
          • Some hospitals now have more inpatients with covid than in first peak
        • Death rate
          • Rising, but still significantly lower than first peak
          • Mortality rate directly related to number of people going into NHS care with Covid, but with significant time delay on figures
          • Noticeable increase in North-West, North-East, and the Midlands
        • Looking forward (Vallance)
          • 3 ways of looking forward
          • The R number was relatively flat and below 1 until August
            • Still above 1, and continuing to grow
            • As increasing from a high baseline figure, there is a much larger increase per day than if starting from a low baseline figure as was the case in March
          • Assumptions from scientists (predictions made 2 weeks ago)
            • Deaths could hit up to 4000 per day in worst case scenario, 1800 on best case scenario
              • All significantly higher than first wave
            • Next 6 weeks
              • Based on current data
              • More certainty than looking months ahead
              • If nothing done and no restrictions put in place (worst case scenario)
                • Hospitalisations
                  • Expected to rise above first peak data (above 4000 or so per day by December)
                • Deaths
                  • Not expected to get as high as first peak (but could if on worst case)
                  • Still 650-750 per day most likely range, (400-1400 if uncertainty looked at) by December
                  • Expected to go up as hospitalisations do, at same rate (just time delayed)
                • NHS bed availability
                  • Acute beds
                    • Peak usage of all acute beds expected to be exceeded by 20 Nov
                    • All available beds exceeded 3 days later
                    • All capacity postponed in December
                  • Ventilator beds
                    • Peak reached end of Nov/early Dec

PM

  • We know the cost and damage of restrictions on jobs, livelihoods and mental health
  • Government did not want to shut things down in one part of the country when the vast bulk of infections were elsewhere – hoped local action could reduce cases on hotspots
    • Attempt to justify the local measures used until now
  • Thanks given to local communities for effort
  • Wants to adopt local pragmatic approach in months ahead if possible to do so
  • However, we have to be humbled in the face of nature (incompetence)
  • Virus now spreading faster than reasonable worst-case scenarios
  • Models suggest deaths running at several thousand a day by Christmas if virus expansion not checked
    • Larger than in April
    • Even in the best areas of the country, the NHS is still going to be overwhelmed in a few weeks unless action taken
  • Why would overrunning the NHS be bad
    • Beyond raw loss of life
    • Doctors and nurses would be forced to choose which patients to treat and save
    • Forced to choose between saving covid and non-covid patients
    • Would deprive many non-covid patients of the care they need
    • General threat to public health comes not from covid but from not getting it under control
    • Risk is that for first time in our lives, the NHS will not be there for us and our families when we need it
    • Even if we could increase capacity, it would not be enough to kerb spread of Covid19 as the virus is doubling faster than capacity can be added

 

 

 

  • From Thurs 5 until December 3
    • Must stay at home, unless for
      • Education
      • Work
      • Exercise
      • Medical reasons
      • To escape injury or harm
      • Shop for food and essential goods
      • Provide care or volunteering
    • Non-essential shops and entertainment will be closed
    • Click and collect will remain in place so panic-buying to avoid food shortages is not necessary
    • Food retail shops, restaurants, and cafes will be closed except for take-away service
    • Offices will be closed unless the work cannot be done at home, for example in construction
    • Support bubbles will still be allowed
    • If you are clinically vulnerable or over 60, be very careful (more so than everyone else has to be) but shielding will not be reintroduced
      • Advice is to minimise contact with all people outside of your household, and do not go to work even if you cannot work from home
    • Furlough scheme is to be extended until the start of December, not ended as originally stated
      • Will be run differently to how it was in March
      • Time limited to period of this lockdown
    • Christmas
      • The hope and belief of the Prime Minister is that with this action, families can be together as normal
    • Priority is to keep people in education
      • All schools, universities, colleges and other educational sites will remain open
      • Senior clinicians apparently advised the PM that school is the best place for children, but no names were given of why gave this advice
    • It is vital that non-healthcare groups are kept going
      • Unless clinicians tell you otherwise, keep using the NHS as normal
      • You should continue to access NHS services now and through the winter
      • Only by doing this can we protect the NHS
    • On Monday 2nd November – these plans will be put to parliament, voted on Wednesday 4th November before taking effect from Thursday 5th November
    • We should remember that we are not alone, our friends in Europe are going through the same thing
    • The way ahead
    • The PM is optimistic that the situation will feel very different and better by spring
      • Not just because of treatment and vaccines, but now also the immediate prospect of cheap, reliable, rapid turnaround tests that are about to be released
        • We know from trials across country that these can be used not just to find infected people but to drive down disease
        • Steady mass rollout over next few weeks
          • Supplied in many situations (from birthing partners to testing whole towns and cities)
        • Army brought in to work on logistics of this roll-out
          • Program begins in matter of days
        • Scientists may be gloomy, but unanimously optimistic about long-term future
        • We will get though it but must act now to contain virus
        • From Thursday – stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives