It’s evening and the House of Lords has been passed a parcel. Not as a game to cheer up the holidays but in the form of that elusive deal with our former overlords – the European Union. They need to pass it on to our head of state for the final stage. And that needs to be quick so that the Queen can retire at a reasonable time – she is 94 after all.
Tomorrow should start out with all the legal steps completed and just one more day of transition before we are out of the EU. The predicted last-minute fait accompli bill did get through Westminster. But at least some of the politicians did make a big effort to search for any serious issues – and their green light helped it get through with a massive majority. Now for seeing how the deal works in practice … and how our European Friends treat us.
Just to add to frantic atmosphere reports of rapidly increasing Covid cases triggered the Heath Secretary moving all Tier 2 regions into Tier 3 – and many Tier 3 into Tier 4. While the Education Secretary rushed to push back the start date for school attendance back by one or two weeks. At least the other rushed announcement was good news – in that another vaccine had passed the approval process. And this one will be usable with room temperature storage …
So a lonely New Years Eve for most of the UK – but some rays of hope that summer 2021 will see the start of a new Roaring Twenties.
Out of Africa? – At the end of June the Ebola outbreak had infected 759 people and killed 467 across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Yesterday’s update from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the disease is still spreading – and at an alarming rate.
To be exact 6,553 confirmed or suspected cases and 3,083 deaths have been reported in these three countries. Nigeria and DR Congo add another 20 and 70 cases respectively – even though the Congo outbreak is probably a different strain of the disease. As more international aid and personnel are drafted in and NHS volunteers get added to the mix the hope is that the tide will soon be turned.
But even the optimists are expecting the number of cases to keep growing for months despite some form of treatment being rushed through. Meanwhile the pessimists are predicting global disaster …
Are We There Yet? – Even though the Scottish vote on independence resulted in a 400,000 vote majority for Scotland staying in the UK the politicians on both sides of the border seem slow to get the implications.
In Scotland First Minister Salmond somehow decided to keep himself in post until November and seems determined to create has much dissent as possible in his final days. At Westminster the three party leaders have switched their priorities to the bombing of extremists in Iraq while hoping their back room advisers can find ways to reduce the damage from those last minute promises to the Scottish voters.
So even though Mr Salmond looks set to join The Young Pretender as another lost cause he still clings on. Seemingly holding the belief that loosing a once-in-300 year referendum is just a temporary set-back.
But he is not alone in his belief as today a Voice Of The People rally in Edinburgh pledged to carry on the campaign. This will be followed tomorrow by rallies in Edinburgh and Aberdeen demanding a rerun of the vote. So the fight is not yet over!
A view that Prince Charles Edward Stuart would have surely supported – even though he has now been reduced to decoration on tins of Scottish shortbread. [A spot that one day might be occupied by Mr Salmond himself.]
But the big difference between 1745 and 2014 is in the scale of the ambition. Bonnie Prince Charlie had the objective of being the Scottish leader of a united British Isles not just of the northern fraction of a split kingdom. So Salmond for Prime Minister and moving the UK parliament to Holyrood anyone?
Yesterday the World Health Organization(WHO) issued a further update on the new cases and deaths attributable to Ebola virus disease. This time the update covered just the four days to 6-July – as compared to six days in the update to the end of June.
However there were a further 50 new cases and 25 more deaths reported across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. That’s around twice the number reported last week despite being a shorter period. With new updates coming out every few days the totals are mounting up quickly and now stand at 844 cases and 518 deaths.
These WHO updates have the disclaimer – Data reported in the Disease Outbreak News are based on best available information reported by Ministries of Health. So the figures depend upon the effectiveness of the public services in the three countries involved.
Update – official WHO figures as of 12-Jul-2014 are 964 cases and 603 deaths.
Update – official WHO figures as of 17-Jul-2014 are 1,048 cases and 632 deaths.
Update – official WHO figures as of 20-Jul-2014 are 1,093 cases and 660 deaths.
Update – official WHO figures as of 23-Jul-2014 are 1,201 cases and 672 deaths.
Update – official WHO figures as of 27-Jul-2014 are 1,323 cases and 729 deaths.
Update – official WHO figures as of 1-Aug-2014 are 1,603 cases and 887 deaths.
Update 27-Aug-2014 – no official WHO figures since 20-Aug-2014 when status was 2,615 cases and 1,427 deaths. However WHO has today reported 24 cases and 13 deaths in a separate outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Update – official WHO figures as of 7-Sep-2014 are 4,366 cases and 2,218 deaths.
Yesterday the World Health Organization(WHO) issued another update on the new cases and deaths attributable to Ebola virus disease. This one was for just the six days up to the end of June but had 22 new cases and 14 more deaths across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This means that the official WHO estimates for the current outbreak have now grown to 759 cases and 467 deaths. The inability to prevent new cases arising has caused the WHO to organise a high-level meeting involving eleven key countries in Accra, Ghana today.
The Ebola situation has only made some brief appearances in the UK media but it is serious enough to be addressed by the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) that includes the EU Mobile Laboratory consortium and Public Health England amongst many others.
However despite the many concerns being posted in online forums, mainly about how easily this dangerous disease could exit Africa with global consequences, the official line remains WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions be applied to Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone based on the current information available for this event.
For everyone’s sakes let us hope they are right ..