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  1. This is awful. For Paralympians, having medical support is as important as having coaching support. This sort of decision will distort the Paralympics, and makes me wonder if Japan is capable of hosting it at all. I did. It was good to see most of the athletes taking masking seriously. Tajikstan and Krygystan (who were largely maskless) not so much 😞 The athletes are supposed to wear masks whenever not eating, drinking, sleeping or competing/training per Games rules, so it will be interesting to see if any disciplinary consequences follow. Though the team that sent a volunteer to carry in their flag and kept their athletes in the village may well have had the wisest idea. Britain only had 22 of its athletes in the parade, which suggests they are also taking things cautiously. There was some sort of protest shortly before the opening ceremony. German cyclist Simon Geschke has testest positive for COVID-19 in the last few hours, unfortunately. (Even so, I think the British athletes are safer in the Olympic village than back home, because in England an estimated 1 in 75 people has COVID, and for Scotland it is estimated at 1 in 80).
  2. I've seen three categories of people who haven't all got the vaccine: 1) Those who can't. There's an unusually high number of people in my circle who are medically contraindicated - whether for any EUA medicine because they've had so many bad reactions to so many other medicines, for any vaccine because their immune systems treat the vaccine as if it was the real thing and they are at serious risk of illness or for anything involving needles due to extreme phobia/anxiety. They've all been locked down since last March, and none are the sort of people who'd encourage anyone with an option to follow their lead. These are not the people OP had in mind. 2) Vaccine-hesitant people. They need more information. For a lot of them, this translated to something like, "they needed someone whose medical opinion they respected to sit with them, preferably with a mug of coffee/tea each, and walk them through their personal concerns". Several of these people looked like they would be permanently anti-vax, but after their fears were assuaged they booked to get their vaccines happily. 3) I've encountered one person face-to-face who actually believes the vaccine is evil (though they think COVID is real enough and, interestingly, wears a mask indoors even if entertaining visitors at home). It's hard to know if this is someone who's really in category 2), but none of the hesitant people of my acquaintance were attributing intent to the vaccine (they have previously thought it was a bad idea, but not said anything that wasn't at least plausible for someone with limited access to health information to believe).
  3. Substack is a newsletter provider. So the people using the information this way was an organisation who used the Substack site to publish a newsletter. Employers may have certain rights regarding cellphone data from phones they own, but this is not such a situation - newsletter groups don't employ priests. It's not even a rogue app using information for its own purposes - this is a group of people using connections made through an app to find out information about someone not in their group (and possibly not even using Substack themselves). It's not clear whether they used Substack to organise their efforts, but I doubt there'd be enough information through Substack to establish whether someone was doing the things alleged by the group. Substack is a newsletter app and as such, no particular expectations of journalism apply. This exposure is most likely to have been done in people's capacity as private citizens, which complicates the matter some. Making taking/keeping/selling data illegal is theoretically impossible, because we generate it constantly, and these days millions of devices take that data in case there's something of legitimate relevance to those devices. There should be laws about keep any data not relevant to clear and present purpose of a device (for example, we probably accept that a security camera should keep visual/aural records of people near it when it is running - some places limit where the camera can be accordingly - but that same camera shouldn't be picking up phone/internet data from these people because there's no logical connection between data and purpose). And I do think permissions should be as granular as possible - no giving data to Facebook simply because a site one likes and wishes to monetarily support happens to have a Facebook share button available. Or if you are in the vicinity of someone else's phone (there are already ad networks that take advantage of this to put up ads for things it thinks other people in your household or workplace need). Because of this, one needs the location detection on every phone within hearing distance of you to be turned off to have full security, not just one's own phone(s).
  4. People with money - and not necessarily a large amount of it - can use a lot of methods to target people they don't like if they know the "right" contacts. There are quite a few programs in the criminal underworld that enable tracking of many types of information, some of which can subvert a mobile phone's built-in security. It is a big violation of privacy, regardless of whether it is right or wrong for consequences to ensue from this type of data discovery.
  5. I'd withhold it if I was confident it was the waiter/waitress's own conduct causing the lousiness. (For someone obviously new, I'd expect less than of someone who appeared to be experienced). If asked, I concisely and politely note that this is not an instance where a tip would be warranted, but maintaining silence would be my preferred strategy on most occasions. This is not just because of the possibility that I may not be able to convey my objection in a sufficiently dignified way. A server having a bad day may not be able to receive feedback in a dignified way either, and pushing someone into a conversation they're not capable of having would be bad. I will try to discuss it directly if I think both they and I are up to it, though if I'm considering not tipping, it's likely one or both of us cannot really have that discussion. If it's serious enough to go to the manager, it's generally also serious enough that withholding the tip would be justified - and enough that I'd want to follow it up in writing. On one occasion where I did so, the manager agreed with me and offered to refund (disablist slurs had been aimed at me). I declined that - I'd eaten the food and it was good, it was just this one staff member who'd been a problem - though I didn't have occasion to revisit for quite a while, making it hard to ascertain whether that waiter's absence was due to the incident or natural turnover (restaurants get through waiters/waitresses pretty fast where I live, often for reasons unrelated to any specific place). If it appears to be a throughgoing issue with the entire place (for example, service was slow and the waiter had been surly or the place had been condoning staff bullying and the waiter/waitress had snapped), I'd consider tipping if the waiter/waitress was better than the throughgoing issue indicated, provided I was confident the restaurant's policy allowed the waiter/waitress to keep their own tips (I've been in places where it was pooled - they admitted it on the menu - and one where the waiter let slip that the boss illegally got all the tips - in those cases, no tip was given). Being in an awful environment, or simply being in the midst of a restaurant-wide bad day, can do strange things to staff. (Of course, I would reconsider visiting again if I thought the experience was likely to be repeated!) If I tip, I tip the amount I would have done had the service been good in the first place. (I must admit I find the concept of forcing people to make up the difference to minimum wage by tips - i.e. requiring more than the bare minimum to get the bare minimum wage - distasteful in the first place. Though in places where it's legal, it would be hard to establish which places don't engage in the practise in advance).
  6. I think Ireland is one of the better places to travel, although it is well worth researching the safest ways to get there, and then to stay healthy once in Ireland. Proceed with due caution.
  7. UK statistics don't include ICU bed occupancy as a separate measure. However, the number on ventilators or ventilator-capable beds (only mechanical ventilation counted in the UK stats, not halfway-house solutions like CPAP devices which can be delivered in regular COVID wards) is a decent proxy for the numbers in ICU. Some people in these statistics may be just weaned off the ventilator, or showing signs they're about to need one, but otherwise everyone counted will be ventilated because it is deliberate policy to keep ventilator beds clear as far as possible. Last figure I saw for COVID patients on mechanical ventilation beds was 573 (across the UK), The last time it was that high was March 29 (same as the number of people in total in hospital is at the March 29 level), so it seems people going into hospital are having the same proportions as back then (i.e. just over 1 in 8 hospitalised patients end up ventilated at some point during their stay). So far, deaths have barely started increasing, so the link between ventilation and death may be weakened by the vaccination (as well as a significant weakening of the link between infection and hospitalisation that still applies). Also, there's a bunch of 18-40 who got Pfizer because they were medical staff in hospital hubs for vaccination... ...and another bunch of 18-40 who got OxfordAstrazeneca because they were nursing home/community healthcare staff who got vaccinated along with their elderly patients. People in some relatively inaccessible parts of the UK (like the Outer Hebrides islands) got OxfordAstrazeneca unless contraindicated, due to relative ease of transportation. We also have about 50,000 people who have been involved in various vaccine trials, two of which resulted in failure (people in failed trials will be vulnerable to COVID unless re-vaccinated with something effective). Unfortunately there are no statistics at present about cases/hospitalisations/ventilations/deaths by vaccine type, only vaccinated/unvaccinated. In more positive news, Scotland's figures for today have slightly improved - 7 more people left hospital than entered it for COVID reasons, and 2 more people were weaned off ventilators than put on them for COVID reasons. Let's hope that's the start of a happier trend.
  8. My county's on 69.95% full vaccination rate. There's a plan to get everyone who wants to be double-vaccinated to have their 2nd dose by the end of August, with the aim of optimal protection before the end of September.
  9. That's about 2400 people double-vaccinated vs 1600 part-vaccinated. 68.5% of people are fully-vaccinated, so it's still more people who are not fully vaccinated than are... ...although I do not like that there's been a 30-percentage-point swing in a space of time where the vaccination rate only improved 2.5-percentage-points. One thing not mentioned there is that Delta itself is mutating. Delta Plus has been verified to be in the UK, and there may be other sub-variants complicating the picture as well.
  10. The total number hospitalised in the last 7 days is 4317 (acrosss the UK), and last I checked (a fortnight ago, because that's the frequency of my local area dashboard), that number was just over 400. (Graph of hospitalisations in the UK up to 1 week ago is here. Note that the last time the UK averaged that many COVID hospitalisations in a week, was January 15, a week after the peak of the UK's third wave - and a point where hardly anyone in hospital had had any doses of vaccine. 4094 people currently in hospital in the UK, 573 of whom are on ventilators. Last time it was this bad was 29 March, which is bad but nowhere near as bad. (This is because more people are spending less time in hospital). We have a problem.
  11. Just to make it even more awkward, there is preliminary evidence that some mental health conditions are associated with Long COVID, to an extent not reflected by other people with circumscribed lives. Considering that Long COVID is running at 10% among children who get COVID (it's more common among adults), it does not appear related to initial severity, and 25% of people who get Long COVID appear to get mental health problems that did not previously have them, this is quite the complicating factor. For some people, there will be a psychological element that is in fact a(nother) symptom.
  12. You raise an excellent question. If you have a known respiratory illness in the UK that has ongoing risk or chronic consequences (recurrent pneumonia and elevated lung collapse risk both count), you'd generally have the phone number for the specialist department who looked after you the first time (or subsequent times, if you've been treated closer to your current location since). You'd call them on Day 1, not the GP. Even if you'd lost the number during a house move or something, you'd call the hospital and ask them to give you the number (after proving you are a patient with business with that department - receptions have to deal with quite a few people who ask for the wrong department, or aren't who they say they are). Specialists don't have a fixed procedure for all their patients the way a GP does, rather it would be changed according to what you reported and the hospital's triage (specialists are hospital-based, not GP-based) - which has no COVID delays except for those brought on by COVID patients overloading hospitals (which right now is still in single digits, out of a country with a couple of thousand hospitals). An overloaded hospital's specialist would either transfer your case to another hospital with the appropriate competency, If it wasn't something that could reasonably be handled in the community, you'd go to hospital, and if you don't hold an appointment, go through the hospital's Accident & Emergency triage (hours in a worst-case scenario, assuming the specialist didn't call you an ambulance). Due to the specialist already knowing your circumstances, you'd also wait less time in A&E than if you'd simply gone to A&E of your own accord (which you're entitled to do in any case). If you require nursing follow-up care, you usually have to make the first appointment yourself, but you don't get the palaver of artificial waits (GP nurse availability may affect when the appointment can happen). Follow-ups to that are generally booked at the appointment itself. The GP would be updated with the particulars afterwards, but would not usually have any involvement in your care for such a situation (the G in GP means "general", and would not necessarily be expected to know what the appropriate Step 2 is for a given serious illness or injury; mostly their job is to know the correct Step 1 for every single condition). The GP's primary jobs are to diagnose or signpost for conditions the patient can't identify (or self-treat even with a pharmacist's assistance, don't require a specialist to identify the correct treatment, and are also non-urgent at the time of calling the GP), and to be able to transfer information to other medical people about events outside their own department (for example, if the respiratory department has a patient due for a shoulder operation, it's the GP who would provide that information to the respiratory team at the point of need in most cases).
  13. GPs in the UK will see people with URIs, provided they've had symptoms for 3 weeks, they've had a negative COVID test at some point since the onset of symptoms (and no COVID positive tests or COVID contacts) and a telephone/online assessment has not identified the reason for the URI. It's a narrow set of requirements, but since GPs won't see anyone who is suspected of having COVID or doesn't have a telephone/online assessment regardless of the patient's actual complaint, the URI requirement isn't that much more onerous than for anything else.
  14. Handcuffs are for police. Apprehending criminals. Not for school staff working with children who are attempting to process events at their school. Unfortunately, there are parts of the USA where this (and worse) is legal, though Mrs Tiggywinkle's state may have a ban on it. Definitely get that child out of that school, though. That sort of thing is traumatising for a youngster already in a scary situation, and there's no reason at this point to believe it won't happen again.
  15. Primarily I use it here because other people are using it, and because it's easy to calculate from the local statistics. The other stats I keep an eye on is the number of people in my local hospital (the overload number's sufficiently low that I suppress that figure from the forum to prevent disclosure through differencing), and nationally. A month ago, the cases were going up but the national hospital figures weren't, so I believed the link between the two was broken and that "living with the virus" might be feasible if that pattern continued. However, hospitalisations have risen quite a lot recently, so the connection has been re-established. My county's fortnightly COVID surveillance report, which yields these figures, also has the community test statistics. Two areas of my county are under enhanced surveillance because of case explosions; I don't count those because near-enough-mandatory door-to-door testing is happening. The three other non-healthcare sites that have had enough tests to make positivity figures from tests reliable (one is my local area) have just as bad a positivity score as either of the ones where door-to-door testing due to case explosions are happening. This indicates that in those areas, lots of people who probably should be tested aren't doing so before coming to hospital - and yes, I've noticed that a significant amount of the positivity in my area is contributed by people from my area testing positive in hospital or other healthcare settings, despite a relatively low number of nursing homes and the like within its boundary (which do indeed mandate on schedule). As for the other twenty areas of my county, your guess is as good as mine... They've had about 4000 tests between them in the last fortnight - for a population of over 300,000 people. Three of them have done exactly zero tests and another twelve did fewer than 100 each. Lots of people can't get to testing facilities and many can't afford the self-isolation requirement if they test positive (so prefer to remain ignorant to avoid getting fined for going to work). So, a lot of sick people are likely not testing, even if symptomatic - they'd rather put their symptoms down to something else if possible, or allow themselves to be sent home and return to work as soon as possible if not. (Most employers are not empowered to order symptomatic employees to take a test, call/check the 111 non-emergency service, nor to stay away from work without an official confirmation of positivity or contact with a confirmed positive case). In short, I use the positivity rate as a conservative estimate of what's going on in my area for cases due to clear limitations in the test regime, but I also use hospital numbers as triangulation points. For the ivermectin issue: in the UK, the NHS started investigating ivermectin for the second time 3 weeks ago, with a view to potentially adding it to its list of COVID treatments. It is unknown why it took the manufacturers 10 months to get from the application stage to trial stage given that COVID-19 research is expedited to some extent in the UK, however until that trial is completed, nobody in the UK can receive ivermectin.
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