UK COVID-19 Update: Vitamin D Review, Leicester Lockdown?

Tim Locke

June 29, 2020

Editor's note, 29th June 2020: England's Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced to the Commons this evening that non-essential shops will close again in Leicester from tomorrow, schools will close from Thursday, and the lockdown loosening measures due to come into force on Saturday will not apply to the Leicester area.

These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

Leicester Faces Local Lockdown

Leicester's Mayor said it was too early to decide whether a local lockdown was needed in the city to curb a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Sir Peter Soulsby said the city council had only received detailed testing information on Thursday last week and that an analysis was still taking place.

The latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) showed that 2987 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in Leicester since the start of the epidemic. Of these, 866 cases were reported in the last 2 weeks.

The city council said it had asked the Government for more detailed information after its own public health team noticed a surge in the number of people testing positive in Leicester.

Vitamin D Review

A National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) rapid evidence review has failed to find data to support vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk or severity of COVID-19.

There was a focus on vitamin D partly due to the additional risks of COVID-19 on black and minority ethnic groups in the UK. BAME groups are already advised to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily throughout the year for musculoskeletal health because sunlight alone is insufficient in the UK's climate.

No clinical trial evidence was available for the review but five observational studies on vitamin D and COVID-19 published on or before 18th June 2020 were included. 

These, NICE said, were limited by a high risk of bias due to the low quality of evidence produced. 

However, NICE acknowledged that a systematic review and controlled trials on vitamin D and COVID-19 are underway and new evidence will be considered as it becomes available.

Extra Pregnancy Support for BAME Women

Extra support for black and minority ethnic women during pregnancy has been announced by NHS England.

On June 8th University of Oxford research found more than half of pregnant women admitted to a UK hospital with COVID-19 were from BAME groups.

The new measures include:

  • Making sure clinicians have a lower threshold to review, admit and consider multidisciplinary escalation in women from a BAME background

  • Reassuring pregnant BAME women with tailored communications

  • Making sure hospitals discuss vitamin D supplements with all women

  • Ensuring ethnicity and other risk factors, such as living in a deprived area, are recorded

COVID-19 Cancer Concerns

Research for Macmillan Cancer Support suggests 570,000 people with cancer are too scared to leave the house, despite recent loosening of lockdown and shielding arrangements.

The charity said:

  • 9% of cancer patients experienced panic or anxiety attacks, or even suicidal thoughts because of the virus

  • Around 90,000 people won't feel safe to leave the house until a vaccine or effective treatment becomes widely available

  • 1 in 7 experienced a decline in physical health under lockdown

Macmillan CEO Lynda Thomas commented: "For many people, it is more frightening to be diagnosed with cancer now than during any other time in recent history. On top of the impact of a cancer diagnosis, patients now feel lost in lockdown."

NHS Scotland's Next Steps

Scotland's Mobilisation Recovery Group met for the first time today to help plan recovery and renewal of health services after COVID-19. This includes emergency care, diagnostics, cancer services, scheduled care, mental health, social, primary care, and community care.
The group includes representatives from the BMA and the Royal College of GPs.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman commented: "This is not a straightforward task and it will take time. The advice of the Mobilisation Recovery Group will be key as we continue to plan how the NHS and its planning partners can safely and effectively respond to the extraordinary demands of COVID-19, both now and in the future."

Wales' 'Exclusive Extended Household'

The latest announcement from the Welsh Government sees people from two separate households being able to join together to form one exclusive extended household, similar to the social bubbles in England.

However, the extended household must contain the same people for the foreseeable future.

The lockdown change will come into force on Monday July 6th, the same day 'stay local' rules are removed.

Daily Deaths and Data

Another 100 UK COVID-19 deaths were announced on Saturday, 36 yesterday, and 25 today, taking the total to 43,575. Figures tend to be lower after a weekend due to reporting delays.

There were no COVID-19 deaths in Scotland for the fourth day in a row.

There were 93,881 tests counted yesterday. This figure includes home tests that have been sent out but not yet processed. Figures for the number of people tested were last given on Friday 22nd May.

Another 815 positive cases were reported today taking the total UK confirmed cases to 311,965.

Global COVID-19 deaths have now passed 500,000 and there have now been more than 10 million cases worldwide.

COVID-19: Timeline of a Pandemic

Farewell NHSX Tracker App

The scrapping of England's NHSX COVID-19 tracking app was announced earlier this month. It will be replaced with a new one using the Apple-Google protocols later in the year. People using the Isle of Wight trial app on iPhones have just had a message telling them to delete it.

Rankin Photos

The photographer Rankin has released a special series of pictures of doctors, nurses, and other staff who responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, to celebrate the 72nd birthday of the NHS. 

He commented: "Everyone had their own inspiring story which to them was just doing their job. I hope these images portray the resilience and courage they show every day in the face of real adversity."

One of the portraits features Newham GP Dr Farzana Hussain. "It’s difficult to put into words how privileged I feel to be able to go to work every day and make a difference to people’s lives and to help battle this global pandemic," she said.

Image credit: Rankin/NHS England


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