COVID-19 case rates are on the rise across certain parts of the UK, with 61 local authorities reporting an increase. One region is now home to the highest number of infections. Where is the national epicentre of the virus?
The death of the unvaccinated woman in March earlier this year is believed to be the first documented case of its kind. The woman, who died in Belgium, is suspected to have contracted both the Alpha and Beta variant from two different people.
Scientists are now warning that, although rare, dual infections are happening.
Dr Anne Vankeerberghen, lead researcher from the OLV hospital in Aalst, Belgium, said the co-infection likely hastened her symptoms.
She said: “Both these variants were circulating in Belgium at the time, so it is likely that the lady was co-infected with different viruses from two different people.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know how she became infected.
“She was a lady who lived alone, but she got a lot of helpers coming in to care for her.
“Whether the co-infection of the two variants of concern played a role in the fast deterioration of the patient is difficult to say.”
The evolved forms of the virus are believed to have originated in Kent and Brazil respectively.
Both Alpha and Beta strains are classed as “variants of concern” and have mutations that differ from the base version of the virus.
Recent data suggests the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines were 96 percent and 92 percent effective against hospitalisation from the Delta variant respectively after two doses.
However, a study compiled by Israel’s Ministry of Health released last week suggests the Pfizer vaccine becomes less effective at dealing with variants after six months – dropping to around 64 percent efficacy.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, is the most prevalent strain in the UK and US.
A total of 22 new corona infection cases have been registered in Oslo in the last 24 hours – three below the average for the previous seven days.
In the last two weeks, an average of 22 infection cases has been registered per day.
The infection rates are highest in the Nordstrand district, with 76 infected people per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks. Nordstrand is followed by the districts of Frogner (74) and St. Hanshaugen (67).
The Alna district currently has the lowest infection rates, with 20 infected people per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks.
A total of 37,641 Oslo citizens have been registered as infected with coronavirus since March last year.
Dr Fiona Worsnop, consultant dermatologist at Stratum Clinics, explained belly button lint is caused by a buildup of debris, such as fibres from clothing, dead skin cells and body hair, in the umbilicus.
She continued: “These are normal things which all our skin regularly has contact with, but the hollow of the belly button can act as a reservoir.
“It is more common in people with belly buttons which go in, versus those which are out and especially in people who have longer, thicker hair on the torso and around the umbilicus.
“The hair acts both to move the debris toward the belly button, and also acts as a trap, keeping the debris in place.
As it stands, it’s still too early to tell what effect the vaccine will have on the new strain.
There is currently little evidence in people that the variant is stronger than the vaccine.
In the case of other strains, such as the one found in South Africa, the vaccine appears to have protected recipients against it better than initially expected.
The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) said: “At this point in the vaccine rollout, there are still too few adults vaccinated to prevent a significant resurgence that ultimately could put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.”
GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) — A Conroe wife is sending a warning out after her husband’s wound was infected by a flesh-eating bacteria while visiting Crystal Beach last week.Robbin Kelly-Dunn said her family was visiting the beach located in Galveston County for her birthday on May 5.
Kelly-Dunn said her husband Darrell was involved in a golf cart accident while on the beach which crushed his legs and injured him.She said when they called 911, the dispatcher said it would take a while to get to a hospital in Galveston due to their location.
The wife, who is a medical professional, said when her husband was finally admitted to a hospital, his wounds were still exposed.
“I know protocol,” she said. “When someone comes into the emergency room with something like that, especially if it’s on a beach area, you are supposed to clean the wounds because of possible infections. Nothing was done.”
She said Darrell was released, and when they returned home they went to two other hospitals and an urgent care. Finally, he was admitted to a facility in The Woodlands where staff immediately put him on antibiotics.
“Had I waited, he could have possibly lost his limb,” she said.The infection is from a bacteria called Vibrio Vulnificus, which is commonly known as a flesh-eating bacteria. It can be found in raw or undercooked shellfish, and naturally present in salt water.
According to the CDC, symptoms of an infection can start 12 to 72 hours after exposure.
Associate professor in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at McGovern Medical School Dr. Anthony Flores said this infection is rare, but can occur, especially when someone has an open wound.
“The infections themselves that we see in either children or adults are pretty rare. But, when we do see them, it’s usually after exposure to the waters where the bug lives,” Flores said. “In somebody that has an open wound, more frequently in adults, we see it with people with underlying health conditions like diabetes, liver problem, Cirrhosis and things like that.”
According to the CDC, storm surges and coastal flooding can also increase the presence of the flesh-eating bacteria. It is recommended for people to wait 48 hours after a significant rain event before going for a swim.Symptoms or signs of an infection can include fever, blistering skin lesions, redness, swelling and pain.
ABC13 put in a request with UTMB Galveston on Friday regarding this case and has not heard back yet. Galveston County Health Department has information on its website about the Vibrio Vulnificus bacteria.
But experts say Brits could bypass the accuracy of PCR tests which are being given to people who have symptoms.
The lateral flow tests are on offer to everyone – even people who don’t have symptoms and a third of people who contract Covid are asymptomatic.
Public Health England’s (PHE) Dr Angela Raffle and Dr Mike Gill have said the rapid tests could produce “false reassurances”.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, the team said the rapid tests are already “skewing nationwide data on test numbers, cases, and positivity rates, making trends harder to interpret”.
They said: “False positive results will be a problem when prevalence is low, even with PCR confirmation.
“And the temptation for people with symptoms to opt for unsupervised, rapid, and lower sensitivity self-testing may lead to false reassurance, as happens with other screening, leading to potential increases in transmission.”
One expert said the PHE officials had “missed the point” of testing.
Prof Mark Woolhouse, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh said the control of infectious diseases depends on finding cases and finding them early before the infection can be passed on.
He said: “People infected with novel coronavirus are infectious for 24-48 hours before they show symptoms, and this period is thought to account for up to half of all transmission.
“This pre-symptomatic infectious period makes novel coronavirus much more difficult to control. Asymptomatic testing can reveal these crucial pre-symptomatic infections – there is no other way to do this.”
PCR tests are known as the “gold standard” when it comes to testing for Covid.
These are the tests that will also be required for foreign holidays.
People who test positive with the rapid lateral flow tests are also advised to take a PCR test in order to sure up the results.
In developing a testing programme, the experts added that speed was favoured over accuracy.
They said: “The challenge was framed as “find a valid test and roll it out as quickly as possible” rather than “devise best systems for using testing to help contain the pandemic.”
Each day around a million coronavirus tests are being carried out by Brits – but just over a quarter of these are the more reliable PCR tests.
The mass testing pilot was first rolled out in Liverpool under “operation moonshot”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously hailed mass testing as a way back to normal life, helping us get back to doing the things we love most.
It is thought that mass testing could be used at big sporting events and concerts.
The experts added that there is “no empirical data” to support mass SARS-CoV-2 screening, and home self-testing has not been evaluated.
They said: “The December surge of infections in Liverpool, where trained testers screened a quarter of the population, was no lower than in other cities without screening.
“The effects of screening university students from December remain unclear, and data have not been made public.
“Care homes conducting asymptomatic testing have struggled to adhere to protocols and experienced no fewer outbreaks than care homes without asymptomatic testing.”
They added that from early March, testing of millions of schoolchildren was accompanied by a short lived rise in the ascertainment of school age cases, but there is no evidence of change in the trajectory of case rates in older age groups, suggesting a lack of effect on onward transmission.
PHE states that the UK has now carried out more tests than anywhere in Europe.
Covid response director Dr Susan Hopkins said the tests have helped millions of kids return to school safely.
She highlighted that 149.2million Covid tests have been carried out and that since its launch, the NHS Test and Trace app has prevented 600,000 Covid cases.
However some experts have not agreed with the editorial in the BMJ and have sided with Dr Hopkins.
Dr Michael Joseph Mina, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said
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“If the testing is as easy as brushing your teeth, then it’s a great addition to a comprehensive plan to limit spread.
“And it can be dynamic. The testing can be throttled up or down depending on the transmission of the virus within the population at the time.
“When cases are at a minimum, we can slow the testing down. But as long as people are already accustomed to it and have access, then if cases start to rise in a given community, then the testing can be throttled up enough to limit spread.”
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