11th Oct 2020 data update

Key points

  • The key news this week is that the ONS infection study estimates 224,400 people within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19, 25 Sept to 1 Oct). This is up from 116,600 people the previous week – in other words, nearly doubling (double would be 232 rather than 224,000).
  • In total 76 people tested positive from Stroud district in September. More than double the figure for August (22), which itself was nearly double the figure for July (12) – again, double the rate for June (6). Weekly positive test numbers appear to continue to rise (though we are still waiting on results for the most recent week, where as of 10th October, there had been 24 positive tests associated with a person from Stroud district in the week to 9th October.
  • In total, 427 people tested positive in Gloucestershire in September, considerably more than double the 136 in August, which was more than double the 63 in July.
  • As of 10th October, there had been 194 positive tests in Gloucestershire in the week to 9th Oct.
  • There were 84,053 positive tests in the UK 1st-7th October, compared to 36,494 between 24th-30th Sept (my calculations based on JHU data). This is obviously more than double.
  • 2,403 patients with Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals in England, 359 higher than the 2,044 admitted in the previous week.
  • 368 patients were in mechanical ventilation beds in England on the 8th October, compared to 285 on the 1st October, and 54 on the 1st September.
  • 609 people in the UK died with 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test in the week to the 7th Oct, compared to 241 in the week to 30th 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 25 September 2020 was 453,771, which is 53,888 more than the five-year average. Of the deaths registered by 25 September, 52,856 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate, 11.6% of all deaths in England and Wales.”
  • “In Week 39 [ending 25th Sept], the number of deaths registered was 2.7% above the five-year average (257 deaths higher). Of the deaths registered in Week 39, 215 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”, accounting for 2.2% of all deaths in England and Wales; this is an increase compared with Week 38 (76 deaths higher).
  • No new deaths with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate have been mentioned in the district or county since last week. 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, and the last death registered in Gloucestershire was in the week ending 18th September.
  • Globally, Covid-19 has been attributed in the deaths of well over 1 million people, and a total of over 35 million cases have been identified. Over 25 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. Data which was missing last week due to an error affecting”some 16,000 positive cases of this disease” [which were “briefly lost and have only belatedly been recovered and passed on to contact tracers”] is now included.

Positive Tests

  • As of 10th October, there had been 24 positive tests associated with a person from Stroud district in the week to 9th October. However, many people will not have had their test results back yet, so the number is likely to be revised upward.
  • The previous week’s figures have both been revised upwards – to 25 and 34 positive tests respectively. It is clear from comparison with previous weeks that far more people are testing positive. While some of this will be due to a higher number of tests taking place, it is very likely that the number of infections is rising (and seemingly quite rapidly – as across Gloucestershire, England and the UK, see below).
  • In total 76 people tested positive from Stroud district in September. More than double the figure for August (22), which itself was nearly double the figure for July (12) – again, double the rate for June (6).
  • For regular readers, I have focused just on the positive test data from end of May, to avoid inappropriate comparisons with the period when access to testing was more limited. However, below you can see a chart for Gloucestershire from the beginning of the virus spread in the UK.
Source: Government coronavirus dashboard data download
  • As of 10th October, there had been 194 positive tests in Gloucestershire in the week to 9th Oct (as above, this figure will rise as results come back).
  • The previous week there were 218 positive test results – and this figure too may rise. The figure from the previous week (to 25th Sept) has been revised upward to 125 – double the rate from the previous two weeks (62 and 64).
Source: SCCR analysis of data from the government Coronarvirus Dashboard
  • In total, 427 people tested positive in Gloucestershire in September, considerably more than double the 136 in August, which was more than double the 63 in July.
  • While numbers of positive tests reflect different rates of testing each month, it is particularly unfair to compare with March and April – when testing was restricted to people entering hospital (or later, working in hospitals). Testing was extended to anyone with symptoms in mid-May, so it is concerning that local positive rates are now broadly similar to then, but even here, there will be a higher number of tests taking place. Nontheless, the number of people testing positive is clearly rising fast – which means the virus is certainly circulating in the community and without people following guidance and scientific advice, this will likely lead to it reaching people who are more likely to be hospitalised or die – see below for some regional hospitalisation and national numbers on people dying.

You can see where cases are being confirmed by neighbourhood. Gloucestershire County Council’s weekly update highlights that: “Between 26th September –3rd October there are Medium Super Output Areas (MSOA*) spread all over Gloucestershire that have had more than three cases, ranging up to 15 cases in St Paul’s MSOA”. An MSOA is a geographic unit that covers eg. Stroud town, Stonehouse etc. See map below. This week, I’ve included a map at the same scale for Leeds and Bradford. While positive tests are clearly much higher in Leeds and Bradford, we should be concerned by the local trend, although pleased that there are still areas of the Stroud district with 2 or fewer tests in the recent data.

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 (11th October) that 301 people [aged 20-69] may actively have the virus in Stroud district (nearly double the 183 I reported on the 3rd Oct).

The Study also estimates 532 active cases in South Gloucestershire (a slower rate of increase from 416 on the 3rd), 276 active cases in nearby Gloucester (slower rate from 222 after doubling from 111 the week previously), 127 in Cotswold (down from 184), 223 in Cheltenham (169), 204 Tewkesbury (123) and 147 in the Forest of Dean (90). By these measures infection levels are rising less slowly in the recent week after a period of doubling. They are still well above what they were a month or more ago – so extra caution seems reasonable.

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.

There are 3,896 people contributing to the Covid Symptom Study app in the district. The more people contribute, the more accurate local (and national) estimates will be, and the app is valuable for other reasons – drawing attention to the latest research from the study, for example. It is a different app to the NHS Covid-19 app. Download the ZOE Covid-19 app to a smartphone via this link.

Hospitalisation

Obviously, the reason to test people and try to limit the spread of the virus is to try to avoid people having severe symptoms, dying as a result of Covid-19 (there is also growing evidence of long-term effects even people who experience minor symptoms can suffer from, which it is reasonable to want to avoid). As such, arguably rather than positive tests, the metric to track is the number of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19. This more closely represents the testing data from the spring, when only people who entered hospital were tested.

This week I’ve found regional and local data – and present national data for comparison.

There are two NHS Trusts in Gloucestershire that have had Covid-19 patients occupying beds. Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust runs the district/community hospitals (like Stroud and the Vale in the district – but crucially Tewkesbury which was used as Covid-19 only site in April). Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the “acute” trust – which runs Cheltenham and, crucially, Gloucester Hospital which is the county site for Covid-19 patients. As you can see from the chart below, the good news is that – though at the peak there were over 200 Covid-19 patients in hospital beds on several days in April, there have been very few beds occupied by Covid-19 patients since June (20 or fewer per day since 15th June). The following chart shows the more recent data in more detail. On several days between 12th and 19th September, there were no Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals. However, since 23rd September there have been at least 3 each day, with an apparently rising trend including 7 on 26th and 29th September. Hopefully numbers will stay low, but please read on to see the trends for the South West and UK.

In the South West, numbers of patients admitted with reported Covid-19 are clearly rising. As recently as the 14th August, there were no patients admitted. 5 were admitted on the 16th September, 13th on the 1st October, and 21 on the 6th October.

The trend in rising hospital admissions is consistent with the pattern across England. On the chart below I have highlighted dates to indicate doubling periods (working backwards from the most recent data). This shows:

  • 524 admissions on the 6th October, which was more than double
  • 241 on the 27th September (9 days earlier), which was more than double
  • 99 on the 8th Sept (19 days earlier), which was essentially double the
  • 52 on the 31st August (8 days earlier)
  • 25 on the 22nd August – the lowest weekly admissions number.

While this isn’t the most robust way to explore the doubling rate, I hope as an exercise it demonstrates the trend clearly enough.

People who have died because of Covid-19

  • Good news – there have been no cases where a person has died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the district or county this week.
  • 583 people have died in Gloucestershire with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (ONS filtered data download). The last person to die with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the county had their death registered in the week ending 18th September.
  • 92 of the 583 people to have died in Gloucestershire with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate were from Stroud district. The figure for Stroud district has thankfully not increased since week 24 (12th June), when two people from the district’s deaths were registered.
  • Nationally, as the chart below shows, the rate at which people are dying with deaths attributed at least in part to Covid-19 is increasing. The default chart uses a “logarithmic” scale to better show the rate of increase, you can switch to “linear” to see that the recent numbers are still relatively low compared to the previous peak (for the time being).

National info

The chart below shows how the percentage testing positive has increased from below 0.1% in July and August, to 0.2% in September, and over 0.4% in October. Modelled estimates based on this show the steep rise which is used to predict how many people around the country have the virus.

Another way to assess what is happening nationally is the positivity rate, “the share of tests returning a positive result”. “Because limited testing makes it likely that many cases will be missed, the positive rate can also help our understanding of the spread of the virus. In countries with a high positive rate, the number of confirmed cases is likely to represent only a small fraction of the true number of infections. And where the positive rate is rising in a country, this can suggest the virus is actually spreading faster than the growth seen in confirmed cases.”

Again, I’ve used the log version of the chart by default to show the rate of increase. The high positivity rates of April are unlikely to be repeated (as testing was only for people entering hospital at that point). It is very concerning that positivity rates are now so high – the World Health Organisation states infections are likely being missed, hampering track and trace, when rates exceed 5% as they now do in the UK and appear set to exceed considerably.

Public Health England now publishes a “Weekly national Influenza and COVID-19 surveillance report (pdf)” (based on data from week 40 – between 26th Sept – 2nd Oct ). Here are some key findings and charts from the report (note that numbers for flu and Covid are kept separate – the purpose of a combined report is to provide early warning around ability of health services to cope with high levels of both):

  • Detections of COVID-19 cases in England continued to increasein week 40.”
  • “Case rates remain highest in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber.”
  • “By age group, cases rates remains highest in the 10 to 19 and 20 to 29 year olds.”
  • “Positivity rates [the proportion of tests that are positive] have increased further across most age groups and were highest in the 10-19 year olds tested through both Pillar 1 (NHS and PHE testing) and Pillar 2 (community testing).”
  • “The overall COVID-19 confirmed hospital admission rate continued to increase whilst the influenza confirmed hospital admission rate remained low. The overall COVID-19 confirmed ICU/HDU admission rate remained stable and there was no influenza confirmed ICU/HDU admissions reported in week 40.”
  • “The number of COVID-19 confirmed deaths increased further but no excess all-cause mortality was observed.”
  • The chart below shows the increase in case rates per 100,000 people by region – with the North West and North East now at rates over 250 per 100,000 people. The South West and East of England are clearly rising but still below 50 per 100,000 people.
  • The map shows the weekly rate per 100,000 people by upper tier local authority – with Gloucestershire in the lowest band (0.01 – 34.99 cases per 100,000 – like much of the South of England).

The chart below shows how the number of deaths with either 28 days or 60 days of a positive Covid-19 test is rising in recent weeks – to over 250 by either definition in the most recent week.

Watch this week’s Independent SAGE presentation (9th October, 64 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 cases by specimen date, where the msot recent 7-day average is 12,705 on the 2nd Oct, compared to 11,128 on the 30th Sept, and 6,563 on the 23rd Sept.

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).

Each week, the ONS does a testing survey. This goes out like other survey work it isn’t based on symptoms or people seeking a test. This week (9th October they say:

  • “An estimated 224,400 people (95% credible interval: 203,800 to 245,700) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 25 September to 1 October 2020, equating to around 1 in 240 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 270 to 1 in 220). This is up from 116,600 people the previous week – in other words, nearly doubling (double would be 232 rather than 224,000).
Source: COVID Symptom Study App estimates

Finally, data on Test and Trace is available. We’ve had questions about test result times and the latest information is that

  • “Between 17 September and 23 September, the median time taken to receive a test result at regional test sites decreased to 25 hours from 30 hours in the previous week. Similarly, mobile testing units decreased to 26 hours from 31 hours and local test sites decreased to 29 hours from 34 hours during the same period”
  • “Since the beginning of September, the median time taken to receive a test result from satellite test centres has decreased from 102 hours to 68 hours. The median time for home testing kits has also decreased from 83 hours to 57 hours over the same time 2-week period.”

For anyone reading who is not familar, median refers to the middle test – so if you ranked all the tests from shortest to longest time, the middle one is the median. It doesn’t give us much indication of what the mimimum and maxmimum time waited is, but obviously it could be quite a bit lower/higher.

The data also says:

  • “31,373 people tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) for the first time1 in England between 17 September and 23 September, a 61% increase compared to the previous week. Positive cases have been rising steeply over the last 4 weeks with over 4 times as many positive cases identified in the most recent week compared to the end of August.”
  • “593,655 people were tested for the first time, consistent with the previous two weeks but an increase of 32% compared to the end of August. A total of 7,071,883 people have been tested for COVID-19 at least once since test and trace began.”
  • “Turnaround times for pillar 2 (swab testing for the wide population) have become shorter for all testing routes2 compared to the previous week. In the most recent week, 70.6% of in-person tests results were received the next day after the test was taken compared to 52.9% in the previous week. Turnaround times for satellite/home tests have become notably shorter over the last two weeks.”
  • “The median distance to in-person testing sites (pillar 2) for booked tests between 17 September and 23 September has decreased to 4.3 miles from 5.2 miles in the previous week.”

Again, medians can hide much worse (or better) experiences, but hopefully this is of interest and helps put things in context.

International

The Financial Times’ data on “Seven-day rolling average of new deaths (per million), by number of days since 0.1 average daily deaths (per million) first recorded”, shows deaths continue to rise fast in the UK. In France, where they have risen a comparable amount there is a hint that they are stablising – as is also true for Spain where they have risen more considerably. Other countries like Germany have so far avoided a rise in deaths as well as having had a lower number of deaths in the ‘first wave’.

The table below from Our World in Data shows daily new confirmed deaths for October the 9th – highest in Mexico (where deaths have doubled in 78 days to 3 new deaths/day), the US, India, Brazil, Argentina, Ecaudor, Iran and Russia.

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 (1,050,821)
  • 41,947 of these people died in the past week (more than the previous week).
  • There are eighteen countries where over 10,000 people have died where Covid-19 was involved (same as last week).
  • At least 25 million people have been deemed to have “recovered” after testing positive globally (25,005,316), an increase of over 1.5 million in the past week (1,579,269) – 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 2,425 people have recovered, for instance – an increase of 55 on last week. However, this does not reflect the true number of people who have had the virus but recovered from it.
  • Over 35 million cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed (35,865,117)
  • That’s an an increase of over 2 million cases during the week – higher than last week (2,165,109, the fifteenth week in a row with over 1 million cases confirmed, and the third week where over 2 million cases have been identified).
  • 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.