Covid Watch 167: Infection rates are going up and down in Telford and Shropshire

Just a quick update this week. The infection rate has been falling in Telford, though provisional data show a small increase in recent days. In Shropshire, the infection rate looks to be increasing, though again the data on this is provisional. Across England, the recent fall in infection rates has halted. Locally in Ludlow, infection rates have flattened out and may be rising. There are currently 45 patients with Covid in the county’s three main hospitals.

COP26 didn’t save the world but it helps

Glasgow was not a disaster after all. Neither was it a ringing success. Hopes had been building that the Conference of Parties would have reached an agreement that would get us near to capping global warming at 1.5°C. That target has been missed. The promises will be delivered in Egypt next year at COP27 at the earliest, if at all. But the ambition to limit the temperature rise 1.5°C is still alive and that is an achievement. There have been strides forward and the next COP has been brought forward to next year not the usual five year interval. We need to act quickly.  Climate change is happening not just in developing countries, but here in Europe and in North America.

There is always an air of excitement about by-elections. General elections and the four yearly local elections are planned well ahead by the political parties, candidates and campaigners. But by-elections are won or lost at short notice. And they can be unpredictable. A by-election is more T20 cricket than a test series. The by-election for the North Shropshire constituency has been underway for a week after the sitting Conservative MP, Owen Paterson, resigned amid allegations of abusing his parliamentary position by lobbying for two food companies that paid him £100,000 a year. The by-election will be held on 16 December. The only candidates currently announced is one for the right wing Reform Party and an anti-sleaze domiciled overseas. Other parties are selecting candidates now. Shropshire Council’s meeting on 16 December is to be shifted as councillors will be out campaigning and, more importantly, key officers will at the polling stations and the count.

Covid Watch 166: Cases fall but more people in hospital

There has been a welcome fall in cases across England, and in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Ludlow. Rates however remain high. As always, we should view the trend with caution. Over the last few months, we have seen rates fall only to shoot up again very quickly. The latest data for Ludlow shows 31 cases in the week to 31 October, down from 97 two weeks earlier. It is disturbing to see that the number of hospital beds occupied by patients with Covid has shot up in Shropshire, with 60 patients now in the county’s three main hospitals. There were just 22 unoccupied adult general and acute beds in the county on 2 November. The vaccination rollout continues apace in Ludlow. If you qualify for a third jab, you’ll be called as soon as practical. Flu vaccine supplies seem to be slower coming through but, again, patients will be called as soon as practical.

Is Greta right? Has COP26 failed?

It has been a week of announcements. A week of ambitions. And a week of ambiguities. And according to activist Greta Thunberg, COP26 is nothing other than “blah, blah, blah” and has failed. Is that really the case? It’s rather imperialistic to argue that the countries that are trying to build their per capita wealth and standards of living should now pay for the sins of the most developed countries. The developed countries are responsible for most of the increases in atmospheric carbon. They are richer and have the ability to pay. But the reliance of countries like India and China on coal for electricity and the lack of commitment from Russia risks swamping small countries. Quite literally. There have been achievements on forest clearance, on a mixed bag of net zero targets and on financing. But even if countries keep to their pledges, it still doesn’t stack up to keeping global warming to 1.5°C.   One of the first headlines from the week was a commitment to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. Even Brazil, one of the main offenders, signed up. That will be a great achievement if it is delivered. Countries also made…

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