A man who hadn’t been to the dentist for nearly three decades because he was too scared had to have his jaw removed and can no longer eat, drink or talk properly.
Darren Wilkinson, 51, was found to have a tumour the size of a fist in his jaw when he finally went for a check-up.
He had been terrified to see the dentist for 27 years but plucked up the courage to pay his dentist a visit last year when he kept waking with blood on his pillow.
X-rays showed ‘a black hole in the middle of his face’ and so Mr Wilkinson was sent for more tests at the hospital.
The support worker was eventually diagnosed with ameloblastoma, a rare, benign, tumour of the bone which mostly occurs in the lower jaw – it was not cancerous.
Mr Wilkinson lives with his wife Mel, 53, in Sheffield, who said her husband has been left like a ‘drooling baby’ since his surgery in April.
Darren Wilkinson, 51, who hadn’t been to the dentist for nearly three decades, had to have his jaw removed and can no longer eat, drink or talk properly (pictured in hospital)
Mr Wilkinson was diagnosed with ameloblastoma, an extremely rare disorder which can lead to a benign tumour. Pictured: Scans showing the affected jaw bone
The support worker was diagnosed with an ameloblastoma, an extremely rare and usually benign tumour that affects the jaw bone. He is pictured at a race
Mr Wilkinson lives with his wife Mel, 53, in Sheffield, who said: ‘We were told the odds of him getting it [an ameloblastoma] is one in five million’
Former teacher Mrs Wilkinson said: ‘I have been trying for years to get him registered at the dentist and eventually was able to book him an appointment.
‘He was so afraid of going to the dentist that he hadn’t gone for 27 years. He really doesn’t like dentists but as he went along he came back white as a sheet.’
The family did not reveal why Mr Wilkinson avoided the dentist, but it is a common fear which has even earned itself the unofficial name ‘dentophobia’.
‘He had an X-ray showing a massive shadow, a black hole in the middle of his face and the dentist said he had never seen anything like that before,’ Mrs Wilkinson added.
‘He would wake up i
n the morning with blood on his pillow and have a really bad breath from time to time. I just thought he wasn’t brushing his teeth properly.’
Mr Wilkinson was referred as a non-urgent case to the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital in Sheffield.
He had two biopsies — a procedure to take a small sample of tissue for analysis — which confirmed the shadow was a ‘large, locally aggressive tumour’.
Ameloblastoma may be caused by an injury to the mouth or jaw, infections of the teeth or gums, or an unhealthy diet.
However, scientists do not fully understand what causes the tumours.
The number of people affected is also so small it is unclear, but it is thought to account for just one per cent of all jaw tumours, according to the Bone Cancer Research Trust.
Mr Wilkinson had tests done in December last year, but was not diagnosed until late January of this year.
Mrs Wilkinson said: ‘Christmas was hell because we were told it could have been a tumour but we knew from the X-ray it was the size of a fist.
‘He wasn’t allowed to eat anything solid because his jaw was so thin in places it would just fracture.
‘Getting the diagnosis was absolutely horrific. It’s so rare, we were told the odds of him getting it is one in five million. It felt like living with a time bomb.’
Mrs Wilkinson said husband has been left like a ‘drooling baby’ since his surgery in April. The couple are keen runners (pictured before)
Mr Wilkinson’s X-ray showed a ‘massive shadow, a black hole in the middle of his face’ (pictured bottom). ‘The dentist said he had never seen anything like that before’, his wife said
Mr Wilkinson’s operation to remove 90 per cent of the lower jaw, as well as most of his teeth, was scheduled for the March 20. But it was postponed to April due to Covid-19
A week after his operation Mr Wilkinson developed sepsis – when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive in response to an infection by attacking healthy tissues – and he needed emergency surgery. He is pictured in recovery at hospital
WHAT IS AMELOBLASTOMA?
Ameloblastoma is a rare, benign, disorder causing a tumour of the bone which mostly occur in the lower jaw, but sometimes the upper jaw bone.
It affects people of all ages, ethnicity, and men and women equally, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD).
Statistically, only one per cent of all jaw tumours are ameloblastomas, the Bone Cancer Research Trust reports.
Symptoms include painless swelling in the gaw, bone pain, loose teeth, difficulty speaking, obstruction to breathing and mouth ulcerations.
It is very common for the tumour to occur around the wisdom tooth.
The cause of ameloblastoma is largely unknown and it is difficult to work out because there are so few patients with this tumour.
Ameloblastoma may be caused by an injury to the mouth or jaw, infections of the teeth or gums, or inflammation of these same areas, NORD says.
Infections by viruses or lack of protein or minerals in a person’s diet are also suspected of causing the growth or development of these tumours.
Although there is currently no identifiable cause for ameloblastoma, there are risk factors thought to increase the likelihood. These include poor oral hygiene.
Although ameloblastomas tend to be slow-growing, non-cancerous, tumours they can occasionally become aggressive and affect tissues surrounding the jaw area, such as the sinuses or eye-sockets as well as nerves and blood vessels.
That’s why it is important to spot it early in order to treat it.
Doctors said Mr Wilkinson’s tumour needed to be removed as soon as possible because ameloblastomas can spread to other parts of the skull, like the eyes or nose, or the lungs. Although it is uncommon, ameloblastomas have been known to become malignant.
Mr Wilkinson’s operation to remove 90 per cent of the lower jaw, as well as most of his teeth, was scheduled for the March 20.
But it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and took place in April.
Titanium plates were inserted where his jaw used to be in order to keep Mr Wilkinson’s face together.
The metal frame has been attached to what remains of his jaw and it is hoped it will encourage the bones to regrow. Surgeons also plan to use bone grafts from his leg to help rebuild his mouth.
For three months, Mr Wilkinson was fed through a tube inserted into his nose and through to the stomach. It was replaced last week by a PEG feeding tube straight through his abdomen into his stomach.
A week after his operation Mr Wilkinson developed sepsis – when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive in response to an infection by attacking healthy tissues.
Sepsis can occur after an operation and in severe cases can be life-threatening and cause multi-organ failure.
Mrs Wilkinson said: ‘I dropped him off at the hospital and drove away-it was the longest, most desolate day of my life.
‘He was so ill, he said he could “feel every organ in his body shutting down”.
Mr Wilkinson had to be rushed for emergency surgery, and then had six other operations after to treat complications and infections.
Mrs Wilkinson said: ‘Now when I look inside his mouth I can clearly see the exposed metal plates, wires and the dead bone.
‘He can’t eat or drink, talk, his tongue has swollen so much, he can barely breathe.
‘It’s looking extremely likely that he will never be able to return to work.
‘He was very concerned about how he was going to look – now he feels like a big drooling baby. ‘
The plan now for Mr Wilkinson, who is still in recovery, will be getting a transplant from his lower leg bones to try to rebuild his jaw.
During this entire ordeal, Mr Wilkinson has set up online support groups for people having similar diagnoses.
He is raising awareness of little known tumours whilst also raising funds to support the Bone Cancer Research Trust.
Since he won’t be able to return to work anytime soon the couple have set up a Gofundme page.
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Belarus: The death rate appears lower than the UK’s, writes IAN BIRRELL
As the sun slid from the evening sky over Minsk, clusters of people thronged the imposing entrance of the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus clutching their tickets for the ballet.
Many had dressed up to attend one of the city’s landmark buildings, a legacy of the Stalin era that was inspired by Roman amphitheatres.
‘We don’t want our theatres closed,’ said Darya, an elegant 25-year-old heading in to enjoy the performance of The Creation Of The World with friends Igor and Nadia.
‘You need art to live a full life, despite anything else that is happening in the world.’
Minutes later, I watched in the imposing auditorium as the large orchestra struck up, five dancers appeared and 800 people sat back to enjoy the show.
Darya is right about the ability of art and culture to lift spirits in dark times. Yet in Britain, as in other parts of the world, theatre doors remain shut with live entertainment among the sectors hit hardest by pandemic.
Medical volunteers from the ‘Street medicine’ initiative wearing protective gear help sick homeless people during a charity event in Minsk, Belarus, on May 2
But things are rather different in Belarus.
Alexander Lukashenko, the last dictator in Europe who has ruled the country for 26 years, swept aside fears over the disease and scoffed at the concept of lockdowns.
He claimed the planet was being swept by ‘psychosis’, suggested his people drink vodka to ‘poison the virus’ and poked fun at the idea of protective measures.
The nation’s professional football league played on through the pandemic’s peak as all Europe’s other leagues closed down and countries went into lockdown.
Yet this maverick despot’s bizarre stance means this little-known land – a strange hangover from Soviet times, with huge state-run factories and KGB agents prowling the streets – offers an intriguing glimpse of what happens if a state leaves Covid unchecked.
For the country has ignored dire warnings of doom from some experts but, curiously, death rates from the virus do not seem all that different from places that imposed strict lockdowns.
Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) has ruled the country for 26 years
‘The measures in Belarus, like in Sweden, were diametrically opposed to your country but the numbers seem similar, which is weird,’ said one senior epidemiologist.
Their fatality figures may actually be significantly better than in the UK – whether through good luck or the measures taken by alarmed citizens on their own.
At the very least, Belarus offers an unusual perspective on the pandemic, and although this secretive nation currently in political turmoil could not be more different from a serene Scandinavian democracy, it has shared Sweden’s avoidance of a lockdown. Lukashenko’s daft actions included denying the existence of viruses as death numbers began to mount from the disease. ‘Do you see any of them flying around?’ he asked in March. ‘I don’t see them either.’
The strongman disdained border controls, predicted the pandemic would pass by Easter, said the first victim was responsible for their own death and refused to cancel a presidential election or events involving elderly veterans to mark the end of the Second World War.
‘It’s better to die standing than to live on your knees,’ he said at one point.
Later, having caught the disease himself, he claimed it was planted on him and carried on ignoring suggestions adopted elsewhere to slow the spread, apart from urging social distancing. ‘In no case stay at home,’ he said last month. ‘Move more in the air, run, jump, play sport.’
Lukashenko’s refusal to accept medical reality fuelled furious protests that followed his blatant theft of last month’s presidential election. Big demonstrations have led to thousands of arrests, brutal beatings and horrifying torture by his security squads.
Darya, Igor and Nadia going to The National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater of the Republic of Belarus
Dimitri Ivanovich, a data analyst whose mother is recovering from Covid in hospital after two weeks of intensive care, said people had died due to misinformation. ‘There were no public health measures, no help for businesses. People were left alone with the virus.’
Several people I met told me the dictator’s stance starkly exposed his contempt for citizens. ‘Society is more solid than ever before and it started with Covid,’ said Victoria Fedorova, chairwoman of a leading human rights group.
She believes this defiance began with people joining forces to raise funds to buy protective gear for frontline staff. One medical insider told me that 30 doctors have died from the disease; another said all those in his large hospital near Minsk caught the virus.
Officially, there have been just 813 Covid deaths and 77,289 cases in this country of 9.5 million people – among the lowest rates in Europe. State-controlled media bragged of success in contrast with ‘sadder’ data from nations such as Britain with fatality levels about seven times higher.
A far more reliable figure emerged after the government supplied data to the United Nations that revealed 5,605 excess deaths between April and June, when the pandemic peaked, compared to the previous year.
Doctors confirmed such figures. Mikita Salavei, associate professor in the infectious diseases department at Belarusian State Medical University, estimated there have been 8,000 deaths from the virus as the second wave emerges. ‘We are very similar to Sweden in terms of cases and fatalities,’ he said. ‘Our results are not any worse than several other countries.’
Indeed, they may be significantly better than the UK. England and Wales recorded 55,529 excess deaths between April and June, almost two-thirds higher per head of population than the figures from Belarus.
Supporters of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko staged a protest outside the Lithuanian Embassy in Minsk earlier this week
International comparisons are tricky with this disease. There are differences in data collation. Britain is one of the world’s most globalised nations whereas Belarus is more isolated and has much lower population density, despite Minsk’s crowded suburbs .
The two countries have similar proportions of elderly but Belarus has few care homes and far more hospital beds per head of population – a legacy of its Soviet heritage. Yet estimates based on the infamous Imperial College, London, modelling in March that panicked the British Government into lockdown warned of a total of 66,800 Covid deaths in Belarus by the end of next month without any preventative measures.
It predicted a possible 32,000 deaths by October if only mild actions were taken to slow the spread of infection, and 15,000 fatalities if there was strong suppression of social contacts. But the current death toll is actually only about half that.
Officials have found it hard to act independently in this autocratic state, yet some preventative tactics were imposed by local leaders. ‘No one called it “quarantine” but measures were taken,’ said one epidemiologist.
Dzmitry Markelau, a Minsk surgeon, put it more bluntly. ‘The president was stupid in what he was saying. So everything was left to us. Hospitals were repurposed to focus on Covid and people around the elderly started wearing masks.’
Alarmed citizens also started taking their own action. This is a nation with a thriving digital community plus well-grounded suspicions over state duplicity after suffering dreadfully from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Many stories I heard in Belarus were similar to elsewhere in Europe: shortages of protective gear, concerns over surging cancer cases after hospitals were retooled to focus on Covid, and economic carnage.
Bars, beauty salons, cafes and shops all told me that although they stayed open, their takings crashed as people stayed away when infections started soaring in April, and they have not fully recovered. ‘People stopped going on the streets and eating out,’ said Artsiom, a manager in a small chain of pizza restaurants that had to dismiss some staff. His lunchtime sales still struggle as people work from home.
The nation’s footballers may have played on after being told to wash their hands, but fans stayed away. Dynamo Brest filled its stands with mannequins in club colours after attendances plummeted from 10,000 to just 800.
Yet there seem few signs of fear about the disease, especially with mass protests each weekend and most people not wearing masks – as shown by the Bolshoi Theatre’s reopening earlier this month. It closed in April after many performers, returning from events abroad, caught the disease, although they continued rehearsals while halving salaries. ‘We are like happy kids to be open again,’ said Tatiana Alexandrova, head of marketing.
Berlin, a leading music venue in a dingy Minsk basement, was shut down briefly by officials. ‘They closed us because of coronavirus but after a week they did not seem to care so we reopened,’ said director Pavel Yurtsevich. His venue has been hurt by the lack of foreign bands on tour but was preparing for a heavy metal festival on Friday night.
‘We see the UK with its lockdown but it did not seem to solve anything,’ he said. ‘It is all about individual responsibility, and as employers we have responsibility for our staff.’
Belarus is a society filled with mistrust for its ruler, in contrast to Sweden, which has high levels of faith in its officials, yet I found some similarities in their response to pandemic since it ultimately relied on the actions of citizens rather than state diktat.
Last month I reported for The Mail on Sunday from Sweden on its brave approach. I was impressed – despite the shocking failures in care homes that exposed systemic problems, as in Britain, and drove up their Covid death rates.
Instead of constant flip-flopping, Swedish officials sought a sustainable response to the crisis with a wider perspective on public health rather than simply focusing on the virus.
They imposed limited restraints, kept advice clear and consistent, and, crucially, allowed businesses and schools for children under 16 to stay open.
This approach – which sees big lockdowns as a blunt instrument that needlessly harm many people – is based on the belief that you cannot contain a global pandemic and must trust citizens. Despite some clusters of cases, Sweden seems to have comparatively low infection levels even as a second wave escalates across Europe.
‘Lockdowns are not a sustainable approach,’ said Anna Mia Ekstrom, a professor of global infectious disease epidemiology at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute. ‘There must be a more balanced approach that targets protection of those most at risk without the colossal collateral damage we are seeing from interventions such as school closures, business shutdowns and interruptions in health services.’
She said Sweden, like other European countries, was now seeing lower death rates than previous years following the deaths of so many vulnerable old people in March and April.
Meanwhile, greater testing was exposing more cases in younger age groups. ‘Do not believe that a vaccine is a magic bullet,’ she said. ‘We are going to have to find ways to live with this disease. For interventions to be sustainable, they must be widely supported. Otherwise we cannot expect people to take responsibility and change their normal ways of life, maybe for ever, and we can’t lock down the planet in perpetuity.’
Interestingly, Belgium, with death and current infection levels higher than in Britain, seems to be shifting towards a loosening of measures after local curfews, mandatory masks and a ‘rule of five’ failed to stop infections spreading.
One Belarusian respiratory doctor at a hospital specialising in Covid told me he was surprised Britain had suddenly abandoned the Swedish model when switching to lockdown in March. ‘It would have been better to continue on that path,’ he said.
Certainly, no sane expert would recommend emulating Belarus’s approach – with outright denial of Covid’s existence from the country’s leader, dismal failure to inform citizens properly of the dangers and disturbing distortion of key data. Yet this troubled state may still offer fascinating insights into dealing with this mysterious new disease.
‘We have seen the same effect as Britain with fewer restrictions,’ said one regional epidemiologist. ‘The laws of epidemiology show that if there are infections, you must try to stop the spread of disease. But you cannot put people’s lives on hold forever.’
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Fresh twist in case of carer charged over disabled woman ‘left to rot in her own excrement’
A fresh twist in the case of a carer charged with manslaughter over a disabled woman’s death was a witness to her final will, it has been revealed.
Ann Marie Smith died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital on April 6 from septic shock, multiple organ failure, severe pressure sores and malnourishment.
The 54-year-old, who had cerebral palsy and relied on NDIS support, was allegedly left to rot in her own excrement by 69-year-old carer Rosemary Maione.
Maione was a key witness to Ms Smith’s last will and testament which was also signed by a solicitor and dated December 18, 2013, The Advertiser reported.
Ann Marie Smith (pictured), 54, died at Royal Adelaide Hospital in April from septic shock, multiple organ failure, severe pressure sores and malnourishment
Carer Rosemary Maione (pictured), 69, was charged with manslaughter over Ms Smith’s death. She was a key witness on the 54-year-old’s last will and testament
Ms Smith (pictured) died after allegedly being left to rot in her own waste at at her home
Police have also alleged Ms Smith’s jewellery was taken, her money was stolen and she was left in the same cane chair for 12 months.
Ms Smith’s uncle, Glen Smith, said he was not aware of any earlier wills and spoke out about the lack of financial safeguards protecting society’s vulnerable people.
‘How can a carer be a witness to the will of the person they are taking care of?’ he said.
Mr Smith explained his niece died with $150 in her bank account and had debts exceeding $80,000 despite a $325,000 inheritance from her father in 2009.
Ms Smith’s final will left her entire estate to former carers and friends, but did not include Maione.
Two carers and a female friend were set to receive $2,000 and two male friends would be given Ms Smith’s jewellery and pets.
One of the men, Ms Smith’s former school friend aged in his 50s, was an executor to her will and initiated probate, seeking to distribute her estate, on July 8.
South Australian police have released photos from inside Ms Smith’s home where she sat in her final days. The 54-year-old was allegedly left in the same chair for 12 months
Maione (left) will remain under home detention until she appears in court in April next year
He was set to receive the remainder of Ms Smith’s estate, including her purpose-built Kensington Park house currently on the market for $929,000.
Mr Smith said the oversight made by Maione’s employer Integrity Care SA as well as the NDIS and state and federal governments had been an ‘astounding failure’.
‘How can probate begin when all the investigations are continuing, including her finances? It’s simply beggars belief,’ he said.
Mr Smith said safeguards were needed around witnesses signing legal documents for disabled, elderly and vulnerable people.
A police spokesman said Ms Smith’s will had been viewed by police and no further comment could be made with the case before the courts.
An investigation into Ms Smith’s death and financial affairs is ongoing.
Maione was granted bail to remain under home detention and will appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court in April 2021.
The 54-year-old lived alone in her Adelaide home (pictured) and relied on carers under the National Disability Insurance Scheme
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Curfews, open borders and second waves: DR ELLIE CANNON answers your questions on coronavirus
The 10pm curfew seems ridiculous – it’s not as if the virus has a watch and only transmits at certain times, is it?
A new 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants was introduced last week in England, Wales and Scotland as part of a package of new Covid-19 regulations.
The hope is that the measure will help reduce social contact between people and slow the spread of the virus.
But as pictures have surfaced of large groups spilling out on to streets at 10pm – and crowding on to public transport – experts have questioned the logic.
Some have rightly pointed out that the virus can spread at any time, day or night. Others have warned that drinkers will go out earlier, or head back to friends’ houses after closing time, where they are less likely to abide by social distancing.
A new 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants was introduced last week in England, Wales and Scotland as part of a package of new Covid-19 regulations
Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor in the school of medicine at the University of Leeds, is not convinced the curfew will be effective.
He said: ‘It runs the risk of compressing activity and having people leave at a single time in large numbers.’
Dr Jennifer Cole, biological anthropologist at Royal Holloway, University of London, is more hopeful.
‘The more drunk you are, the less inhibited and less risk-averse you are,’ she says.
‘Closing the bars and restaurants at 10pm simply keeps people more sober.
‘It gives them plenty of time for a meal, or a quick drink with friends after work, but means they are likely to be sober enough to remember to put on a face covering on the train or bus home, and to be careful around elderly relatives when they get home’.
Did the local lockdowns work? The new national measures seem to mimic those in areas with fast-rising cases like the North West.
Although the UK avoided a national lockdown in the summer, smaller areas have been subject to stricter rules.
Data from Leicester and Greater Manchester – where local rules were imposed – give some idea of whether these restrictions worked.
From the end of June, Leicester residents from more than one household could not gather indoors, and shops, pubs and restaurants remained closed. Cases fell between June and July from 140 per 100,000 people to just 50 – and continued to fall even as pubs, restaurants, gyms and beauticians were gradually reopened throughout August.
However, they have risen again in recent weeks, in line with the rest of the country.
In Oldham, Greater Manchester, cases initially dropped from about 100 per 100,000 to 60. But they have also since risen again.
Experts say it is too early to tell if the curfews applied almost two weeks ago to parts of the North East have had an effect on the number of cases and spread of infection.
Overall, it seems that local lockdowns did help slow the rate of infection.
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, says: ‘The problem is you can never really be 100 per cent sure that something you have introduced has slowed cases, or caused a decline.
‘But I think without doing anything, cases in Oldham would have accelerated more rapidly.’
He added that problems with the NHS test and trace service could have limited the effectiveness of the measures.
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, says: ‘The problem is you can never really be 100 per cent sure that something you have introduced has slowed cases, or caused a decline’
Why are our borders still open?
At this stage of the pandemic, closing borders would have only a limited impact on the UK’s case numbers.
In February and March, there was significant debate about whether to halt international travel, and evidence has since suggested that the majority of UK cases were brought in from Europe – mainly Spain and France.
Perhaps then, before cases were widespread, closing the borders could have changed the course of the pandemic.
But the UK is in a very different position now, with the virus well-established across the country.
‘If we banned international travel today, it probably wouldn’t have any dramatic discernible effect,’ says Professor Hunter. ‘Yes, it would stop new cases coming into the country. But cases are accelerating anyway.
‘Once you have got a disease circulating in a country, banning international travel basically doesn’t do much.’
So, is this the second wave of Covid-19 or not?
There’s no doubt that the UK is seeing a steep rise in the number of people testing positive for Covid-19.
In recent weeks, the numbers have started to climb rapidly. The fear – as outlined in a public broadcast last week by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, and Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England – is that these cases will grow uncontrollably. This is likely to have an effect on hospital admissions, which are already starting to creep up, and deaths. The number of Britons in hospital with the virus has risen by more than 50 per cent since last week.
In their address, Sir Patrick and Prof Whitty warned that the number of people infected could double every seven days, leading to as many as 50,000 cases per day by mid-October. But some experts say this prediction is implausibly quick.
In the meantime, Imperial College London data suggests a doubling of infections every seven to eight days. This was based on 136 positive tests from 150,000 swabs between August 22 and September 7.
Critics say this is too low a number of positive tests to reliably compute trends – and that it may not reflect the current picture.
‘Some people say it’s not a second wave, because actually, the first wave never went away,’ says Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia. ‘The fact is, we are seeing a major resurgence of the infection, and whether it’s part of the first wave or second – those are purely words.’
It’s important to remember, though, that we are not in the same place as we were in the spring. At the peak of the pandemic, the Government reported there were more than 6,000 daily infections, but the true number is estimated to have been much higher.
Experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine say it may even have topped 100,000 in March. Back then, only some people with symptoms – mainly those in hospitals – were being tested.
So while the two ‘waves’ may appear alarmingly similar on a graph, it’s not accurate to compare them at all. The rise in cases now is an early warning – one which we did not have the benefit of at the start of the year – that the virus is spreading. And it gives the Government, and population, time to act.
Prof Hunter says new measures introduced last week should help slow the rise in infections, and stop cases rising so steeply. But he adds: ‘I personally doubt that they will, by themselves, reverse the epidemic this side of Christmas.’
Cases of Covid have risen steeply in France and Spain but Italy, pictured, which was hit harder than most European countries in March, appears to have things under control
France and Spain are seeing a second wave – why isn’t Italy too?
Cases of Covid-19 have risen steeply in France and Spain, with both reporting more than 10,000 new infections a day. Meanwhile Italy, which was hit harder than most European countries in March, appears to have things under control.
While the number of infections there has been creeping up, levels have remained fairly consistent over the past month, and not topped 2,000. It is faring better than the UK too.
Last week, Boris Johnson suggested the difference was because Britain was ‘a freedom-loving country’. But Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella hit back, saying Italians ‘love freedom, but we also care about seriousness’.
Exactly why France, Spain and the UK are faring so differently to Italy is not clear. But experts say it could be that Italian rules on mask-wearing in public are strictly adhered to and enforced by police and officials.
The country is also offering rapid Covid-19 tests at some airports. And although they are less accurate than the one used in the UK, they can provide a result in 30 minutes.
Italy’s test and trace system is also thought to be working well. However, it is too soon to suggest that the country will escape unscathed this time.
Has the virus mutated, making it more – or less – dangerous now?
Every time a virus infects a person, it makes new copies of itself to attack other cells, and during this process mistakes can be made that result in changes.
In fact, most of the time, mutations don’t make much difference to how the virus behaves. Sir Patrick said the virus that causes Covid-19 had ‘genetically moved a bit’ but stressed this had not changed its ability to infect people or cause disease and death.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
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