The Indian Variant (B.1.617) that was first detected within the UK on the 22nd February 2021, is likely to be considered a ‘Variant of Concern’ according to reports.
Currently, The Indian Variant has over 400 cases across the UK, and makes up 10% of Covid cases in London and despite numbers being relatively low, its status as ‘Variant under Investigation’ is highly likely to be changed on Friday
If changed to a ‘Variant of Concern’, a response from PHE (Public Health England) would suggest ordering surge testing, similar to the South African variant.
The strain – B1.617.2 – is one of three related variants first seen in India which have been detected in the UK and designated “under investigation” by PHE.
The other two are the B1.617.1 and B1.617.3.
The most recent data by PHE, confirm 193 cases of the B1617.1 variant, up by 61 since the last update on April 21.
The B1.617.2 variant shows 202 cases, and the B1.617.3 variant shows just five cases.
According to internal documents from PHE, dated to May 5 and seen by The Guardian, the ongoing risk to public health from the variant subtype B1617.2 is “high”.
But for many migrants, travelling through “safe” European countries is the only way to reach the UK.
Take Eritrea for example. The small East African country has a totalitarian government, meaning there are no elections and no free press, says Help Refugees.
At 18 years old, citizens are forced to partake in military service to fight against Ethiopia in an extremely dangerous war.
These young Eritreans can’t just hop on a plane to avoid the conflict. Many aren’t even granted passports until they’ve completed their military duties.
So, they are forced to make ‘illegal’ journeys to the UK. Here, they are supposed to be protected by refugee law.
This basically suggests that migrants must be protected by other countries when they face persecution in their homeland.
Many flee to European countries like Germany and France for this protection.
Patel’s asylum reforms will make it harder for refugees who have crossed the Channel to be granted refugee status, because France is not a particularly dangerous country.
While it may seem like a “safe” country to you and me, the UNHCR has warned that French police are violent towards refugees and evict their camps every few days.
So, can we really blame them for wanting to come to the UK?
The capital, in particular, is popular amongst refugees. Immigrants are the backbone of our city, often taking on the low-paying and essential jobs that keep London running.
According to London First, 37% of Londoners were born outside the UK and 25% of NHS workers here are migrants.
So, it’s clear that London thrives on its diverse population. But where is everyone actually from and what made them want to move here?
This map, created using information from the 2011 Census has all the information you need.
If you want to find out even more, check out our interactive map. It includes statistics and the reasons why people emigrate from specific countries.
It’s unlikely London would look so diverse if these reforms had been brought in earlier.
It’s predicted that our new “points-based system” might favour the people with the highest skills, rather than those fleeing conflict.
Either way, London benefits massively from the diversity and skills brought by immigration. As our map shows, this city has been shaped by migrants and Patel’s new asylum reforms could put an end to that.
Want to find out more about the global refugee situation?
Disclaimer: these statistics come from the latest census information that is available from 2011. Global events, such as the Arab Spring, have occurred since then and so demographics will have changed. The most recent census was carried out in March 2021 but the information is not available to the public yet.
It was reported that Europe, the Middle East and Africa were recorded to have the largest of new members with nearly 7 million new subscribers. The US and Canada were also known to jump with 2.3 million new members streaming the service, compared to only 550,000 within the last few months of 2019.
Another corporation which is known to be doing pretty well despite the pandemic is Amazon.
Due to people having to remain inside more often, this has led to a boost in sales from the business.
According to The Guardian, the online retailer has been defined as a “clear winner” from the coronavirus predicament, with its share price rising by more than a third within a month, its clients are reported to be spending nearly $11,000 (£8,841) a second on its products and services and holder Jeff Bezos strengthening his position as the world’s wealthiest person owning $138 billion (£110 billion).
One thing that everybody is surely doing during lockdown is eating more, which leads to our next benefitted corporation being Uber Eats.
During the pandemic, people find themselves ordering takeout more often, and Uber Eats appears to be one of the winners from benefitting from the circumstances.
According to The Telegraph, data has shown that Uber’s food delivery business has exceeded its original car-booking service within the US for the first time ever.
An article by Forbes reports that Uber Eats has seen a 30% surge in clients who are registering to the service, as well as has received an arrival of new drivers.
Next on our list is Apple, which despite the lockdown causing its stores to close down, it still saw growth during the first three months of 2020.
According to the BBC, sales by the corporation boosted up to $58.3 billion (£46.2 billion), up from $58 billion within the same time in 2019, and overthrowing expectations of $54.5 billion.
The boss of Apple, Tim Cook, said that the business saw a “record for streaming” as well as “phenomenal” growth in its online store.
Despite the lockdown affecting the supply of iPhone due to Chinese factories shutting, as well as a drop in demand for devices within China – a leading market for Apple – during the months of February and March, the firm’s boss told investors during a call: “I don’t think I can remember a quarter where I’ve been prouder of Apple.”
Apple’s wearables, home and accessories department, which produces the Apple Watch and AirPods, rose 22.5% to $6.3 billion (£5 billion), while subscription services such as Apple Music and Apple TV jumped 16.6% to $13.3 billion (£10.6 billion) equivalent.
As most people find themselves social distancing and working from home, this has led to video call services such as Zoom to increase in the number of users signing up.
According to The Guardian, there has been an increase in the demand for video-conferencing and downloads of video conferencing apps, as the lockdown has led a number of things including UK cabinet meeting to be moved online.
Zoom, which enables users to communicate to up to 99 other people at the same time has become one of the most popular apps being used during the lockdown, often being at the top of the download charts in Apple’s app store.
Although the company does not share daily download figures, app tracking company Apptosia stated that Zoom was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world on 23rdof March – the day lockdown was announced within the UK – up from 56,000 a day two months before.
Yesterday May 6th 2020, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, had a crisis meeting with the Minister Presidents of the 16 federal states in Germany about easing lockdown restrictions and how individual states should deal with it.
In the following press conference, the Federal Chancellor announced, that the following easing measures had been adopted by the government:
1. All shops are allowed to open again from next week under strict hygiene conditions and social distancing. Until now, only shops with a floor space of less than 800 square metres had been allowed to do so.
2. The ban against social contact will remain until the 5th of June at the least, to prevent the meeting of groups in a private area.
3. Outdoor sports, such as tennis or football should be possible from next week under strict condition. It is still unclear when gyms and other sports clubs that offer indoor sports can reopen. According to Merkel “the risk is too high.”
4. Restaurants and bars can look forward to open their doors again. But there are also conditions here. Only half of the tables may be occupied due to social distancing and mask obligation applies. In order to be prepared in the event of a second wave, costumers are required to provide their contact details, so that the government are able to trace an infection chain.
5. Restrictions have also been eased in the area of culture. Galleries and museums can now show their exhibitions again. Zoos and playgrounds can also rejoice life.
6. Social contacts are also being considered. From now on you can meet with people from a second household
7. The responsibility for new easing and how to proceed with the pandemic will now be in the hands of the federal states.
Merkel named the positive development but on the same time warned for caution.
She furthermore assured if Germany is close to a second wave, the easing would be withdrawn again.
His plan for the ‘second phase’ to fight against the coronavirus will be televised on Sunday, where more information of an easing of the lockdown will be explained.
The UK has been in lockdown since 23rd March and is now in the middle of the seventh week. While other countries such as France will see some businesses opening back on the 11th May, the British position remains uncertain.
Approaching the easing of the lockdown, we created a poll to find out how many people wish to return to what we used to know and call it a normal life, or whether they would rather keep some elements of the lockdown.
We, therefore, conducted the same poll on two different platforms, Twitter and Instagram.
Results show a large desire to keep some elements of the lockdown.
To find out more in regards to why they would wish to keep some of the elements, we conducted a survey and targeted a rather young adult audience, whom most are students in their first or second year of university.
The survey showed that 87.8% are aged between 17-24 and most responders were women (87.8%).
To the question: “how do you feel about the future?”, most of the answers were about uncertainty and worries about what will happen next.
Unsurprisingly, every single response to: “What is the first thing you want to do once lockdown is lifted?”, was going out to meet friends and socialise as we normally do.
Students show optimism about the nearest future, where 41.5% of the responses show they are confident to find a new job in the next three months, 22% in the next six months, 17.1% in the next 9 months, however, 19.5% responded they may find a job in the next 12 months.
Queues in supermarkets have become a socialising way to meet new people and have a laugh with others than the people you live with, giving you a good escape moment.
The survey responses show that many people actually enjoyed the queuing system put into place and would like to keep a similar system.
Our holidays will certainly be unusual, we know it by now. We will tend to favour proximity tourism, both to rediscover our country and because long journeys could be complicated. The keyword will probably continue to be “social distancing”. But how are we going to go on vacation? How will our health be protected? Will we be able to go on holidays?
Here are some possible scenarios to date, taking into account that the situation is constantly evolving:
Can we go abroad?
As of now, international travel is not permitted. It is difficult to foresee any future summer travels. With what we know, bearing in mind that the situation evolves, this year summer holidays will have to be close to home, fewer trains and no flights planned. One would believe that it is crucial to contribute to the economy of our country.
Image source: Pexels
But how will access to the beaches be?
The virus has been proven to be diluted by water. The point, however, is how the beaches will be managed. In the bathing establishments, in fact, the entrances will be limited and the safety distance of at least two to three meters between the umbrellas must be respected, the access to the water will probably be timed. However, the presence of plexiglass seems to have been excluded.
The opening hours will be extended and allowed the delivery of takeaway food under the umbrellas, while in Sardinia it is even been thought to allow the arrival on the island only to tourists with a health passport, or a negative swab test certificate issued from any approved laboratory no later than seven days before the departure date. Apps are also being studied to monitor the entrances to the various facilities.
Image source: Pexels
Summer camps: the experts say “no”. Summer centres can be compared, in terms of the danger of contagion, to schools, so reopening them, for infectious disease specialists and virologists, could be risky.
Having been in lockdown for just over a month in the UK has had an effect on our health.
Being quarantined at home gives many positive traits such as time to relax and focus on ourselves. However, all this free time can start to affect one’s mental well-being no matter the age.
For some individuals, quarantine is an opportunity to bring families closer, however, for some living alone can be a challenge. Having that form of interaction and knowing that there is someone physically there, gives a sense of relief.
For those isolating alone the only form of communication is through social media or a stroll to your local grocery store.
What about the elderly?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government have regulated that people over the age of 65 are at high risk of illness from the Coronavirus and are advised to seek isolation through this lockdown.
As the elderly are at most vulnerable due to this outbreak, staying indoors means no contact with family, friends and neighbours. This can gradually develop mental health issues such as depression and anxiousness.
Interviewing Winifred Curtis, aged 89 on living alone in lockdown.
How does it feel to isolate alone?
How can isolation differ for someone who is used to living alone?
Curtis explains, that being elderly and living alone during lockdown can be tough at times, as there is no one to communicate with. Although people are just a call away, she misses psychical interaction. This pandemic has had an increasing effect on her day to day life. As she is used to living alone, she feels restricted. She exclaims that the only form of communication is through her TV.
Communication is a key in surviving the lockdown. Staying connected with your loved ones will make a drastic change to their day, especially for people isolating alone. For the majority, a little phone call goes a long way. If you feel low, stressed or anxious reach out to a friend, in times like this support is needed.
If you are in a need to speak to someone who is not aware of your mental well-being the use of helplines and listening services are a good way to communicate your feelings.
The prospect of isolation for several months is daunting, but abuse support workers say isolation with an abuser is like a “pressure cooker”.
As Covid-19 works its way through the UK and the rest of the world it would seem that the measures put in place by governments are the right thing to do to protect people’s health. For some health is the least of their concern. Experts have already warned that the isolation instructions set out by the government are likely to cause an increase in domestic abuse cases. Read more
When dealing with a pandemic like COVID-19, the ultimate goal is to stop the overall spread of the virus. In order to do so, the slowing down of the spread is a critical phase in achieving this. Hence, the social distancing measures in place across the world.
To ‘flatten the curve’ means to reduce the growth in the number of cases – giving medical professionals, institutional bodies and government officials more time to prepare and respond. As well as this, it accommodates for effective planning in a stressful situation as such.
For hospitals to function – doctors must be readily available to treat patients. However, with an influx of patients they must quickly adapt to the escalation of cases. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 cases through measures such as social distancing will not only save lives but ensure that we continue to progress ahead.
What do the curves on the graph represent?
The curves represent the number of cases and how they are increasing/decreasing over time. A steep, higher curve signifies that cases are increasing fast. The lower curve indicates that cases are emerging slower, and that the virus is not spreading as faster.
By keeping the curve low, it allows for added time and preparation in controlling the spread of the virus.
How will social distancing determine the outcome of this pandemic?
The spread of the virus depends on how contagious it is, who is more vulnerable to it and how fast it impacts our immune systems. According to the World Health Organisations (WHO) COVID-19 is an ‘infectious disease’ primarily spreads through ‘droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose’ when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Seasonal flu has a lower fatality rate because people have been vaccinated against the virus or developed immunity. Coronavirus, on the other hand, does not have a vaccine and is known to have vigorous symptoms. As a result, people are more vulnerable to it.
Social distancing measures such as self-isolation and quarantine will decrease chances of transmission and consequently the spread of the virus.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that prior to the lockdown – one positive person would infect 2.6 other people. However, after social distancing measures were implemented – the figure reduced to 0.62. This means that the virus is being detained and should eventually burn out given the measures in place are strictly followed.
How should we go about this situation as individuals?
In these uncertain times, it is natural to be overcome with anxiousness and self-awareness. Essential workers, doctors and patients are battling a wide-scale pandemic that is challenging day-to-day routines. As individuals of society, we have the duty to protect the most vulnerable of people amid this pandemic. By staying home, maintaining our hygiene and social distancing – we can encourage a safer, less disastrous outcome.
Since the coronavirus ramped up and became a pandemic one essential hygiene product is flying off the shelves in grocery stores all over the world: toilet paper. But why does it take so long to restock?
Toilet paper can be made by recycled paper’s pulp or through tree pulp that is then dyed with chemicals to give it the white appearance. The treated pulp is then sent to paper mills where it is converted into large sheets of paper and then cut into napkins, toilet paper, and paper towels in different sizes.
Last year, the UK used around 1.25 million tonnes of hygiene paper of which over half were in the form of toilet paper, according to a statement by The Confederation of Paper Industries and The Paper Industry Technical Association.
Toilet paper mills, pre-pandemic, were already running 24 hours a day seven days a week and now with COVID-19 impacting worker’s schedules and increasing demand, the industry is having a tough time catching up.
Kimberly Clarke, producer of popular toilet paper brands such as Andrex and Cottonelle said in a statement:
“We have plans in place to address the increased demand for our products to the extent possible, including accelerating the production of essential products and reallocating inventory to help. Our teams continue to monitor demand and we will make adjustments to our plans accordingly.”
Kimberly Clarke’s plans to ramp up production of essential products like toilet paper means slowing production of non essential products all meanwhile implementing worker safety protocols that may slow down production.
“Some of the additional measures include regular cleaning of work areas, shift rotations, distancing reminders where people queue, and temperature scans at entry points. We’re also encouraging our employees to stay at home if they feel unwell,” read a Kimberly Clarke statement for the company’s COVID-19 response.
In order to get toilet paper into grocery store shelves, trucks have to be packed at paper mills driven to grocery stores and then unpacked and restocked onto the shelves.
“I asked when the next shipment of toilet paper was coming and the cashier said to come early morning on Saturday,” said Viviana Riveros, a grocery store customer.
When she arrived at 9 am, one hour after opening, the store was sold out of its supply of toilet paper.
Another popular toilet paper maker Essity, who makes Cushelle, already increased net sales in 2019 by 10.6% and is now further increasing due to the pandemic response to panic buy.
“As a leading global hygiene and health company, we are currently also doing our utmost to continue to manufacture and deliver essential products such as hand paper towels, soap and sanitizers, toilet paper, handkerchiefs and diapers to consumers and customers around the world,” said Magnus Groth, CEO and President of Essity.
The shortage of toilet paper comes after the UK government issues statements advising people not to panic buy.