Dear Courtfield Patient,

Q: Is COVID beaten at last?!

A: Well, yes – at least for now but….
There is no doubt that new cases of Omicron are declining steadily in all age groups  according to ONS data and associated with significant reductions in hospital admissions (average 1 per day at Chelsea and Westminster hospital), COVID related deaths and numbers of patients on ventilators.

We have had no new cases at Courtfield for over 2 weeks.

As we move through the next few months, we should expect numbers to continue to drop further across the UK and Europe and the associated easing of restrictions should mean a more normal feel to Summer for the first time in 2 years.

Unfortunately, COVID is NOT over, and cases are likely to rise again (with the risk of the emergence of new variants) as we move into Autumn.

This is exactly what is happening in South Africa where case numbers are rising again as they move into their Winter season, with 2 new variants under close observation.

Should I still have my 3rd/4th vaccination
As the next 3-4 months are low risk, and because the effects of vaccines start to wane after approx. 6 months, it would seem sensible to defer any further boosters until the early Autumn to maximise immunity over the Winter.

This should be given with Influenza vaccine (and Pneumonia vaccine if this has not already been offered).

COVID at Courtfield
We will continue to check whether you have any COVID symptoms (now mainly blocked nose, sneezing, fatigue, headache and muscle aching) before making a face-to-face appointment and ask those of you with possible symptoms to attend at times when the building is otherwise empty (e.g. at the beginning or end of morning and afternoon sessions).

This is in order to protect our more frail and vulnerable patients.

For the same reason, we will also ask you to wear a face mask in reception.

The doctors will continue to wear masks in line with Department of Health Guidance.

A word on hepatitis

  • As of 3rd May, 163 children have been identified with sudden onset adenovirus type 41 induced hepatitis in the UK, of whom 11 have needed a liver transplant. Fortunately, none have died
  • Symptoms of hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-coloured stools, joint pain, and jaundice. Adenovirus-41 typically presents as diarrhoea, vomiting and fever, often accompanied by respiratory symptoms
  • In the past, adenoviruses have been rarely associated with hepatitis in children with weak immune systems but not in healthy ones, so this is an unusual presentation. One theory as to why this is the case is that reduced exposure over the past 2 years to this common family of viruses (due to isolation caused by lockdown) has reduced our immune systems memory/ capacity to “fight it” effectively
  • There is no evidence that previous infection with COVID or COVID vaccination are responsible

A few words about monkey pox
Monkeypox was first described in 1958 in colonies of monkeys kept for research.  The first case was reported in a human in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970. Since then, infections have generally occurred in central and western Africa. Although the initial case in the UK was in a patient with recent travel to Nigeria, later cases have not travelled to countries where monkeypox is endemic. The disease is spread by close contact (particularly face-to-face) and body fluids, so is linked to sexual contact. A notable proportion of infections in this current outbreak are amongst people who are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men. Anyone can catch monkeypox however and not all infections are sexually transmitted – the virus can also be spread through contact with clothing or linens used by an infected person.

How does it present?
Symptoms usually arise 5-21 days after exposure and include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen glands and fatigue. The rash normally appears 1-3 days after the onset of fever, usually starting on the face before becoming more widespread. The rash can look like chicken pox. The illness is generally mild and self-limiting and typically lasts 2-4 weeks. It is very rarely fatal in otherwise well individuals.

Should we be worried?
Although the UKSHA is taking this outbreak seriously, monkeypox does not usually spread easily between people and the risk to the UK population is thought to be low. Reassuringly, monkeypox is a DNA virus, rather than an RNA virus (like Covid-19) and so does not evolve as rapidly i.e., new variants are less likely to arise. Smallpox vaccine provides 85% protection against the disease and is currently used to protect key healthcare workers and at-risk individuals who may have been exposed. It is not (yet) commercially available in the UK.

Most of us will not have been vaccinated as small pox vaccination was discontinued in the UK in 1971, but it is hoped those vaccinated before that time may have immune memory which will protect them if exposed.

Happy 25th Birthday to Courtfield
It is 25 years since we registered our first private patient at Courtfield.

We have now grown to become one of the largest private general practices in London with an excellent team of 8 doctors.

We are the only practice in the UK to have been listed in all three of Tatler’s “Top GP practices” and hope that we continue to live up to our mission of “COMMITMENT TO CARE”.

Here’s to the next 25 years!

Future Newsletters
As we learn to live with COVID, we hope that the need for regular “COVID newsletters” will become a thing of the past.

It has become evident from your feedback however, that many of you have enjoyed this way of communicating and we therefore plan to produce a newsletter on relevant current health topics together with news and issues relevant to the service at Courtfield on a quarterly basis in the future.

Over the Jubilee weekend we are closed. For medical emergencies outside our opening times, please contact the Duty Doctor on 0207 486 0701.

We wish you all a lovely bank holiday weekend.

Best wishes from the team at Courtfield Private Practice