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Covid-19 news roundup for geriatrics 29/04/20

An overview of today’s Covid-19 news and current trial information relevant for physicians caring for older patients on 29th April 2020.

 COVID-19 current figures


Current UK cases: 161,145 are confirmed as positive

Numbers tested: 599,339 people have been tested in the UK

21,678 (586) patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) have died

(Source: DHSC: As of 9am on 28 April 2020/death figures of 5pm on 27 April 2020)


Global situation report: 2,954,222 confirmed (76,026) 202,597 deaths (3,932)

European Region: 1,386,693 confirmed (27,313) 126,429 deaths (1,904)

Regions of the Americas: 1,179,607 confirmed (39,087) 60,211 deaths (1,722)

Eastern Mediterranean Region: 171,238 confirmed (5,305) 7,148 deaths (157)

Western Pacific Region: 145,385 confirmed (1,264) 5,998 deaths (40)

South-East Asia: 48,348 confirmed (2,288) 1,917 deaths (93)

African Region: 22,239 confirmed (769) 881 deaths (16)

(Source: World Health Organization situation report 99)



Today’s COVID-19 headlines


Extensive contact tracing and isolation controlled virus spread in China

Contact tracing to rapidly isolate people who could be infected with Covid-19 reduced the length of time people were infectious in the community over four weeks (from 14 January to 12 February 2020) in Shenzhen, China, according to results from 391 cases and 1,286 of their close contacts, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal

In Shenzhen, authorities identified who to isolate based on their contact with confirmed cases, as well as isolating people who already had symptoms. The new study finds that contact tracing increased the speed at which new cases were confirmed by two days. It also reduced the amount of time it took to isolate infected people by two days. There were only three deaths in the study group during the study period. On January 8, 2020, authorities began to monitor travellers from Hubei province for symptoms such as a fever and cough, and after two weeks expanded to monitor people without symptoms as well as the wider community. Suspected cases and their close contacts provided nasal swabs, which were tested for coronavirus at 28 local hospital and 12 other centres. People with symptoms were isolated and treated in hospital before their test results were known, and those without symptoms were quarantined at dedicated facilities. Close contacts who tested negative were quarantined at home or in a dedicated facility and monitored for 14 days.


Men more likely to suffer severe effects and die of Covid-19

Men and women are equally likely to contract the virus, but men are significantly more likely to suffer severe effects of the disease and die, according to a new study.

The results published in Frontiers in Public Health suggest that additional care may be required for older men or those with underlying conditions.

Researchers have confirmed that older Covid-19 patients and those with certain underlying conditions, such as heart disease and respiratory conditions, are at greater risk of severe disease and death. However, Dr. Jin-Kui Yang, a physician at Beijing Tongren Hospital in China, noticed a trend among Covid-19 patients who died.

“Early in January we noticed that the number of men dying from Covid-19 appeared to be higher than the number of women,” said Yang. “This raised a question: are men more susceptible to getting or dying from Covid-19? We found that no-one had measured gender differences in Covid-19 patients, and so began investigating.”


Access to coronavirus testing for people aged over 65 years

Anyone in England with symptoms of coronavirus who has to leave home to go to work, and all symptomatic members of the public aged 65 and over, will now be able to get tested, the government has announced.

Members of their households with symptoms €“ a new continuous cough or high temperature – will also be eligible for testing. The government also announced that NHS staff, care home staff and care home residents will be eligible for testing whether or not they have symptoms.

Working with Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the government is piloting sending packages of €˜satellite’ test kits directly to care homes across England to enable testing of residents.


Pandemic crisis could cause a 20% rise in cancer deaths 

The Covid-19 emergency in England could result in at least 20% more deaths over the next 12 months in people who have been newly diagnosed with cancer, according to a UCL study with DATA-CAN: The Health Data Research Hub for Cancer in the UK.

The new analysis, published today as a preprint, is the first to focus on the impact of the emergency on mortality rates in people with cancer and uses data from the health records of over 3.5 million patients in England.

The study estimates that pre-Covid-19, about 31,354 newly diagnosed cancer patients would die within a year in England. As a result of the emergency, there could be at least 6,270 additional deaths in newly diagnosed cancer patients alone. This number could rise to an estimated 17,915 additional deaths if all people currently living with cancer are considered.

The researchers analysed recent weekly data from major cancer centres in the UK and found a 76% decrease in urgent referrals from GPs for people with suspected cancers and a 60% decrease in chemotherapy appointments for cancer patients compared to pre-Covid-19 levels.


Other news roundup

  • Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said that schools will be reopened in a ‘phased manner’
  • The International Labour Organisation warns half of all workers worldwide are in danger of having their livelihoods destroyed because of Covid-19
  • Boris Johnson says he will not take paternity leave now after birth of son with Carrie Symonds
  • Air passengers coming into the UK are down 99% compared with a year ago

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