3rd October data update

Key points

  • The key news this week is that “Interim findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI show 1 in 200 people were infected but suggest growth of infection may be slowing”
  • In September there were a total of 58 positive tests in Stroud district compared to 22 positive tests in August. The September number may still rise slightly as test results from the final week are added.
  • In September there were 339 positive tests in Gloucestershire compared to 136 positive tests in August. In both the district and the county the monthly figure is more than double the previous month – though higher numbers of tests may play some part in this, it seems hard to believe the numbers don’t show higher prevalence – and more infections being passed on.
  • The Covid Symptom Study currently estimates (3rd October) that 183 people [aged 20-69] may actively have the virus in Stroud district (considerably over triple the 47 estimated for the 16th, but not rising at the same rate since the estimate of 132 on the 25th September).
  • There has not been a death certificate which mentioned Covid-19 in Stroud since week 24 (12th June), when two people from the district’s deaths were registered. One more person (from Cheltenham) has sadly been added to the Gloucestershire total since our last report (now 583 people) – their death being registered in the week ending 18th September.
  • There were 36,494 positive tests in the UK 24th-30th Septmber , compared to 35,570 between 17th-23rd Sept (my calculations based on JHU data). This shows a a plateau after a rapid rise (from 9,500 in the week ending 2nd September). As has been reported nationally, cases are apparently flattening even in ONS and Covid Symptom study estimates – though confirmed cases are reportedly still doubling in the areas of highest infection.
  • 1,670 patients with Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals in England, 481 higher than the 1,198 admitted in the previous week.
  • 285 patients were in mechanical ventilation beds in England on the 1st October, compared to 54 on the 1st September.
  • 241 people in the UK died with 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test in the week to the 30th Sept, compared to 159 in the week to 23rd September, and 69 in the week to 9th September (my calculations based on the UK government dashboard)
  • “Looking at the year-to-date (using the most up-to-date data we have available), the number of deaths up to 18 September 2020 was 444,139, which is 53,633 more than the five-year average. Of the deaths registered by 18 September, 52,631 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate, 11.9% of all deaths in England and Wales.”
  • “Of the deaths registered in Week 38 [to 18th September], 139 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”, accounting for 1.5% of all deaths in England and Wales; this is an increase compared with Week 37 (40 deaths higher).”
  • Globally, Covid-19 has been attributed in the deaths of well over 1 million people, and a total of over 33 million cases have been identified. Over 23 million people have now been deemed to have recovered (my calculations based on data collated by JHU).

Local statistics

Gloucestershire County Council are now sharing a weekly data summary of their own.

Positive Tests

  • There have been 8 positive tests associated with specimens submitted for testing in the past 6 days (26th Sept – 1st Oct). This is broadly similar to the week ending 18th Sept (9 positive tests), but the week in between saw 21 positive test results in the district – double the rate for other weeks in September. In September there were a total of 58 positive tests in Stroud district compared to 22 positive tests in August. To take just one “Lower Tier” local authority for comparison, there were 1,138 positive tests in Bury in September.
  • Across Gloucestsershire, there were 64 positive tests in the 6 days to 1st Oct (some upward revision may take place). This is similar to the 64 who tested positive in the week-ending 11th Sept, and 62 for the week-ending 18th Sept (both numbers may reflect difficulties accessing testing). A much higher number of people tested positive in the week-ending 25th September. In September there were 339 positive tests in Gloucestershire compared to 136 positive tests in August. To take just one other “Upper Tier” local authority for comparison, there were 1,860 positive tests in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in September.
  • In short – positive tests are at lower rates than other parts of the country – but have risen recently as elsewhere, and (hopefully) flattened off in line with the overall national trend.
Source: Government coronavirus dashboard data download
Source: SCCR analysis of data from the government Coronarvirus Dashboard

You can see where cases are being confirmed by neighbourhood. Gloucestershire County Council’s weekly update highlights that: “Between 20th September – 26th September 2020, 14 MSOAs [areas] in Gloucestershire had three or more cases (Lydney=6; Cam=3; Stonehouse=3; Chalford &Bussage=3; Central Gloucester & Hempsted=3; Barton=6; Abbeymead &Abbeydale=3; Elmbridge=3;Churchdown & Innsworth=4; Springbank=3; Alstone & St Mark’s=5; St Paul’s=6; Pittville & Fairview=3; Battledown & Charlton Kings=5).”

Source: ONS interactive map

Estimated number of people with the virus

Alongside positive tests, we can also look to estimates that can cover people who – for whatever reason – do not get tested. The Covid Symptom Study currently estimates (3rd October) that 183 people [aged 20-69] may actively have the virus in Stroud district (considerably over triple the 47 estimated 46 on the 4th Sept, but not rising as fast recently – from 132 last week).

The Study also estimates 416 active cases in South Gloucestershire (more almost doubling from 258), 222 active cases in nearby Gloucester (exactly doubling from 111), 184 in Cotswold (more than triple 65 last week), 169 in Cheltenham (96), 123 Tewkesbury (96) and 90 in the Forest of Dean (more than doubling from 60). Locally, the picture seems similar to that across England – rapid recent rises, now levelling out at an elevated level.

While the Covid Symptom Study app is an authoritative study, with over 4 million people contributing information about their daily health, estimates for local areas will have to be based on small smaples and are estimates – they are made to help us understand the situation, but are not definitive. They are particularly useful as a complement to positive test numbers – which we know do know cover all people with symptoms or who are infectious (but unable to get a test or do not realise they should get one). You can read about how these estimates are made on the Covid Symptom Study website.

People who have died because of Covid-19 in Stroud and Gloucestershire

National info

Public Health England publishes a “Weekly Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) surveillance report” (based on data from week 39 – between 21 August and 27 September 2020). Here are some key findings and charts from the report:

  • “Case detections in England increased from 26,259 in week 38 to 29,797 in week 39… Further increases in detections for week 39 are expected as more results for the most recent samples become available.”
  • “Case rates remain highest in North West and Yorkshire and Humber.”
  • “By age group, cases rates remain highest in the 20-29 year olds.”
  • “Positivity rates have increased further across most age groups and were highest in the 60-69 year olds tested through Pillar 2 (community testing) and those in the 20-29 years in Pillar 1 (NHS and PHE testing).”
  • “Positivity by regions remains highest in the North. At a local authority level, incidence was highest in Newcastle upon Tyne.”
  • “Case detections are limited by testing capacity, therefore positivity rates provide a better indication of change in activity in some areas. An increase in rates in 17 to 19 year olds in the least deprived quintiles was noted again.”
  • “Emergency department attendances with a COVID-19-like diagnosis were stable. Increases continued to be seen in hospital and ICU/HDU admission rates for confirmed COVID-19 at national level, particularly in the older age groups and in the North West for hospitalisations and Midlands for ICU/HDU admissions by region.”
  • “COVID-19 deaths increased in week 39 but no excess mortality was observed overall in week 38.”
  • The chart below shows positivity rates per 100,000 rising in every age group, and higest for 20-20, 10-19, 30-39, 40-49 and 50-59 bands.

The map below shows Gloucestershire as having a lower rate of Covid-19 than much of England, though not as low as in the East of England, Dorset, or the Isle of Wight. Rates continue to be highest in the North, and to a lesser extent around Birmingham.

The charts below show that – while rates are rigins in most age groups in a variety of areas – in the South West the rise is much more concentrated amongs 20-29 year olds so far.

“Contact tracing data is presented in th[e] report and the commonest contacts that individuals can name are household, household visitors or visiting friends and relatives. Other important named contacts come from leisure or community activities and workplaces. Since 10 August, people who test positive are also asked about places they have been and activities they have done in the days before becoming unwell; eating out was the most commonly reported activity in the 2-7 days prior to symptom onset.” [see chart below]

Some people have implied the recent rise in cases is not so important because it is associated with younger people and less likely to result in severe cases or deaths. While we know data about testing doesn’t tell us anything about how severe cases are, and that data about deaths lags infections, we can look to data about hospital admissions for a clear picture showing that the recent increase in positive test results is related to a higher number of people being admitted to hospital. Again, there is a slight indication the rise is reaching a plateau – we can hope renewed attention to the seriousness of the situation and possibly additional restrictions are having the intended effect.

Watch this week’s Independent SAGE presentation (2nd October, 70 minutes – includes 20 minute summary presentation on the national data at the start – highly recommended)

The UK government coronanvirus dashboard summarises a number of datasources, and NHS Test and Trace data for England is also available. Check out the Independent SAGE weekly video summary too. The chart below shows positive test results in the UK – you can see how they are rapidly rising. The chart gives the impression they are now higher than during the first peak of the pandemic – but we know access to testing during that period was much more restricted (to hospital patients and – later – NHS and care staff), and that a much higher number of tests are now completed. Cases were much higher then, and are still higher now, than positive tests reveal – as not everyone is tested – but a higher proportion of cases are now being identified. See the section on prevalence estimates below.

Source: coronavirus.data.gov.uk

Prevalence estimates are higher than the the government’s number of “lab confirmed cases” because they are designed to estimate cases that have not been confirmed through testing. Prevalence is the total number of estimated cases at any given time (incidence is the estimated number of daily new cases – you can also find information about this at the links if you wish).

Source: COVID Symptom Study App estimates

The Covid Symptom Study also published some interesting data this week about the symptoms their app users reported before testing positive: “82% of people who tested positive experienced one or more of the typical symtoms (fever, loss of smell, persistent cough)~60% of all age groups did not report fever55% of 18-65 year-olds reported loss of smell (this is the most predictive symptom of Covid)[but] only 26% of over 65 year olds and 21% of under 18 year olds reported loss of smellThe “most commonly experienced early symptoms are actually headache (82%) and fatigue (72%) – and this is the case for all age groups.” Read more about the “early signs of Covid-19“.

This week’s Independent SAGE presentation by Professor Christina Pagel included this chart on contact tracing – which shows metrics for people providing at least one contact, and the proportion of complex/non-complex case reached remaining static – but new cases reached falling dramatically from 83% to 71% in recent weeks (the video also notes that these rates are lowest in the very areas where infections are currently highest).

Last week’s Independent SAGE included some useful graphics – eg, on cases per 100,000 people by age and how these are now elevated for all age groups (though 70-79 the least, and 20-29 by far the most). See the chart and graph below

International

I am reducing the amount of international analysis at the moment as I do not have time I am afraid – as a team we will think about what is most useful to share with members – please let us know if there are particular international aspects you are interested in.

My calculations from the Johns Hopkins University tracker show:

  • Over 1 million people have died with their death at least partly attributed to Covid-19, as of the 23rd September (1,008,874)
  • 35,431 of these people died in the past week (very similar to the previous week).
  • There are eighteen countries where over 10,000 people have died where Covid-19 was involved (Indonesia passes this threshold).
  • At least 23 million people have been deemed to have “recovered” after testing positive globally (23,426,047), an increase of just under 1.7 million in the past week (1,627,559) – as reported by Johns Hopkins University. While there is considerable evidence of long-term impacts, many people who have not tested positive but have receovered are not included in this figure, and methods for recording “recoveries” vary by country.
  • The UK only reports 2,370 people have recovered, for instance – an increase of 131 on last week. However, this does not reflect the true number of people who have had the virus but recovered from it.
  • Over 33 million cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed (33,700,008)
  • That’s an an increase of just under 2 million cases during the week (1,964,466, the fourteenth week in a row with over 1 million cases confirmed, but lower than last week).
  • 24 countries have over 200,000 cases (same as last week), and four have over 1 million confirmed cases.

Notes

These updates are designed to improve understanding of the pandemic and its impacts, with the hope this can help us to reduce those impacts locally. I appreciate they do not involve space to properly convey the full impact of the virus nor the restrictions that are making life difficult for many people.

Your suggestions for inclusion of data in these summaries are welcome. Please submit posts to our Facebook group.

Please remember we have a list of resources to support your emotional and mental health during this time on our website (and welcome further recommendations). The following numbers may be useful:

  • Samaritans: 116 123
  • Domestic Violence Hotline: 0808 2000 247
  • Mind: 0300 123 3393
  • Age UK: 0800 169 6565
  • Childline: 0800 1111.

The core advice remains: please book a test if you have one or more symptoms – a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of smell/taste (or if you are asked to by contact tracers or others conducting tests). There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and mobile units tour Gloucestershire. We are aware that lots of people have struggled to access tests/getting results – but also that local people have had good experiences accessing tests and getting results. Please persevere and get in touch if you need help. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test. If you are struggling with self-isolating, please get in touch with us or with one of the local support groups.

Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the guidelines to wear masks when appropriate (they will help prevent spread of the virus if you have it but don’t have symptoms yet, or are asymptomatic – meaning you have the virus but without ever getting any symptoms), keep distance from people, and wash your hands regularly. Access the latest government guidance and FAQ on “what you can and can’t do” online (last updated 22nd September – to take account of new restrictions/advice). If there is a piece of guidance you have a question about, again – please ask in our Facebook group.