Schools and Carehomes

School opening

If progressive countries like Denmark can be teaching children and have them back in schools, then so should we. The whole point about being a teacher is you love your job. It is a mission, a vocation, to be able to excite young minds.

Michael Gove

Denmark began to open schools progressively on April 15th. At that time they had had 309 deaths total and were recording around 180 new cases per day.  Deaths were around 10 per day.
The UK’s population is about 11 times greater tahn Denmark’s so our equivalent would be 110 deaths per day.
We are currently sitting at around 400 deaths per day, and at the current growth rate (or R rate) will not reach Denmarks levels until early July.

By comparison, New Zealand opened the schools on 18th May with no deaths for 12 days, and only 45 cases country wide. 
With an extremely extensive testing and tracking regime, South Korea opened its schools when infectionswere down to under 30 per day.
Greece also waited until infections were down to around 20 per day.

Maybe Gove is right.  Maybe the other countries are being ultra cautious.  The UK certainly cannot be accused of that. 

It is a huge risk.  If there are any carriers in schools, then in that location the spread could approach the pre-lockdown values before anyone find out about it.  I track the deaths, the government tracks the test data.  But there seems to be no plans for routine testing of children or staff at schools. If anyone develops symptoms then they can book a test, but the results can take days, or even weeks to come back. Pre – lockdown the spread was 30% per day – or cases doubling every 3 days. Any cases in schools will have increased by a factor of 4 before anyone knows about it. 

If we must start schools so early then teachers, staff and children, and their immediate family should all be tested (and of course proved negative) before they start school.  And temperature tests done on the way into school every day. That way the government’s test figures will be ahead of the death figures and we will be able to take appropriate action.
This is an obvious but, given the government’s record to date, unlikely practice.

Care home deaths

I track the care home deaths by taking the official death figures from the governments figures and sibtract the  “deaths in hospitals”  figure from  the  “deaths in all settings, not just in hospitals” figure. The figures are quite horrendous showing lmost 7,000 deaths so far, from a total care home population of 418,000. But my figure (the governments official figure) looks like in may be a severe under-estimate.

On May 15, 2020, the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) released provisional figures on deaths involving COVID-19 in the care sector in England and Wales.

 From March 2 to May 1, 2020, COVID-19 was confirmed or suspected in the deaths of 12 526 individuals living in care homes in the two nations.

Worrying as these figures are, they only capture official notifications; when taking account of excess mortality, the situation appears even worse. In an average year, the care sector in England and Wales sees roughly 20 000 fewer deaths during March and April than have been recorded in 2020.
The Lancet

So real figures are at least 12,000 and probably around 20,000.
Deaths in the UK in general per million people is about 530. In a care homes then the number rises to 47,847.  Those in care homes are almost 100 times more likely to die from covid-19 then the general population.
Sadly, the death rate is are not reducing in carehomes and these figure are a major contributor to the UKs overally figures. Using my R value estimate:-

LocationR value
UK Hospital deaths0.43
UK Care home deaths1.25
UK overall 0.69



 In the graphs below I have changed the units for growth so that 0% instead of 100% represents steady state with neither growth or reduction.
The spike in Spain’s figures is due to a large number of previously unrecorded deaths being added  to the stats on a single day.
The UK’s hospital death rate, which is probably indicative of the country outside of care homes shows a reduction on death rate better than the other countries including Scotland and Wales which indicates the England’s is even lower.
This is a good sign, unless you live in a care home.