6th December data update

SCCR team member James Beecher’s weekly summary of local, national, and global Covid-19 data.

Key points (see below for full sourcing and more detail):

  • 91 people from the Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week (to the 4th December). Not everyone will have had their test results back so this number will likely rise. However, the number of people testing positive in a week in the district does appear to be falling – from 112 last week, and from 182 and 189 in the weeks before that. We can hope that the week ending 4th December will produce a final total of people testing positive lower than the week ending 30th October (154).
  • The number of people testing positive is also falling across Gloucestershire. In the week to the 4th December, 544 people tested positive. While this may increase a little, the previous week saw 683 people test positive, compared to 960 and 1,002 in the weeks before that.
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals hit a recent peak of 178 on the 30th November, but appears to have broadly stabilised at around 150 people (similar stablisation of people in hospital are visible across the South West and England as a whole).
  • Across the month of November, 3,617 people tested positive across Gloucestershire – 1.8x the number for October (2,013). The rate of increase was much lower than October compared to September (407 positive test results, 5x). In Stroud district, 714 people tested positive in November, 2.1x October’s 342 – which was 5x September’s 69.
  • A total of 639 people from Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, as of data to week 47 (20th November). 43 people have been added to this total in the most recent fortnight (since my last update). Sadly, fifteen people in this figure were from Stroud district (the total for Stroud district is now 110). Twelve were from Cotswold district, six were from Cheltenham, five were from Gloucester, four were from Tewkesbury and one was from the Forest of Dean.
  • Across Gloucestershire, there have been 100 deaths per 100,000 people – this is close to the England average of 105.9 per 100,000. The lowest rate for England and Wales ‘Upper Tier Local Authorities (ie. County Councils or equivalent) is 28.9 in Ceredigion. The highest rate is 217.2 in Tameside, more than double the Gloucestershire rate.

National

For a summary of the situation in terms of people testing positive, being admitted to hospital, and dying nationally – and by English region and age group – please watch the 20 minute summary by Christina Pagel for the weekly Independent SAGE briefing. You can view her slides alone.

In brief:

  • Across the UK, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals at midnight 3rd December was 14,556. The number has fallen since a peak in the second wave at 16,661 on the 23rd November. For comparison, on the 27th March – the earliest data for comparable data, there were 7,043 patients, and at the peak on 12th April 19,849 patients in hospital. In other words, the number of patients in hospitals reached 84% of the previous peak (but is now down to 87% of the second peak).
  • Across the UK, the number of people who tested positive in the 7 days to the 1st December was 84,152, which compares to 167,740 in the week to the 10th November. However, this is still some way above the number who tested positive in the week to 17th September: 24,061.

Charts and information for the local area

Source: gov.uk data download
Source: gov.uk data download

Comparisons with March and April are included in the chart below in a different colour – as all of those cases were hospitalised, while since May testing has been for “anyone with symptoms” (and people’s contacts) – in an effort to control the spread of the virus and limit hospitalisations and deaths (see below for data on hospitalisations and deaths). We know even the current testing system does not catch everyone with the virus, but the numbers for March and April are certainly a huge underestimate as – unlike now – they did not include people with mild symptoms.

Source: gov.uk data download
Source: NHS Covid-19 Hospital Activity

Across the South West the number of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients has stablised at around 1,000 (971 on 1st December). We can hope that this represents a peak, and send our wishes that these people are safely discharged. (There were 21 such patients on the 1st August, 15 on the 1st September, 36 on the 1st October, and 461 on the 1st November)

There is a new version of the government’s interactive map which shows weekly cases at a more localised scale than districts (an alternative map shows this as dots).

Rates have largely fallen back to low number save in a Dursley and Cam where they are falling but still 10 people testing positive in a week. Only in Frampton, Whitminster and Eastington is the number of people who tested positive higher than the previous week, and the rate per 100,000 people higher than the England average.

Seven-day rolling rate of new positive test results by MSOA (parts of Stroud district) for the week ending 1st December are as follows. Rates per 100,000 people are recorded only for the places with the highest numbers of people testing positive – if this doesn’t include your area, click through to the map to find your rate.

  • 12 – Frampton, Whitminster & Eastington (up from 4 for the week to 24th November, a rate of 174.9 per 100,000 people)
  • 11 – Cam (down from 13, a rate of 127.7 per 100,000, in line with the England average)
  • 10 – Dursley (down from 31, a rate of 130.7 per 100,000)
  • 10 – Upton St Leonards & Hardwicke (down from 16, rate of 99.6 per 100,000)
  • 8 – Stroud Town (down from 8, rate of 68.5 per 100,000)
  • 7 – Rodborough & Thrupp (down from 7)
  • 7 – Wotton-under-Edge & Kingswood (down from 4)
  • 6 – Michinchimhamptom & Amberley (down from 7)
  • 5 – Stonehouse (up from 3)
  • 5 – Painswick, Bisley & Eastcombe (up from 4)
  • 5 – Ebley & Randwick (same as previous 7 day average)
  • 4 – Chalford & Bussage (down from 5)
  • 4 – Nailsworth (down from 5)
  • 3 – Berkeley & Sharpness (same)
  • 0-2 – Leonard Stanley & Uley (down from 4)

The highest number of people testing positive per MSOA in Gloucestershire in the past week was once again Barton in Gloucester, with 44 positive test results in the week – the chart below from the government’s interactive map shows a number of areas in and near Stroud district with high numbers of positive test results per 100,000 people over the past 7 days.

More national information and charts

The chart below shows the number of people with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate in the weeks to the 20th November, and how these compare to deaths not involving Covid-19, and how the total number of deaths each week relates to the 5 year average. The chart shows that, as the ONS say:

  • “In Week 47, the number of deaths registered was 20.8% above the five-year average (2,155 deaths higher).”
  • “Of the deaths registered in Week 47, 2,697 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”, accounting for 21.5% of all deaths in England and Wales; an increase of 231 deaths compared with Week 46.”
  • “Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths up to 20 November 2020 was 542,440, which is 62,615 more than the five-year average. Of the deaths registered by 20 November 2020, 63,852 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is 11.8% of all deaths in England and Wales.”

ONS also say:

  • “Of the 2,697 deaths involving COVID-19, 2,361 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (87.5%).”
  • “In England, the total number of deaths increased from 11,495 (Week 46) to 11,675 (Week 47); all English regions had a higher number of deaths than the five-year average for the second week in a row.”
  • “The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 20 November 2020 was 14,276, which was 2,473 deaths higher than the five-year average; of the deaths registered in the UK in Week 47, 3,038 deaths involved COVID-19, 199 deaths higher than in Week 46.” (the chart and data above refers to England and Wales or England only)

The below chart – based on deaths as they are reported daily by Public Health England (people who have died within 28 days of a positive test, a less robust measure but more up to date measure than the ONS method based on death certificates which take a couple of weeks to come in) shows that the daily number of new Covid-19 deaths appears to be declining in the UK from a seven day average of around 485 people dying each day roughly a little less than half as many people were dying each day as during the first peak (at worst, around 900 deaths per day). Hopefully this represents a peak and the number of deaths will start to fall. The chart is interactive, so you can change how it displays and add countries for comparisons.

Below is a chart showing the proportion of tests in the UK that are positive. The chart shows how:

  • At the lowest point – at the end of July – just 0.4% of people tested were testing positive, but the proportion testing positive is now 5.2% 8.1% (of people tested on December 2nd, one in roughly every 20 people tested, tested positive). The changes in the proportion of tests that are positive make clear that ‘false positives’ are not driving the changes in numbers of positive tests (as we’d expect the proportion of false positives to remain roughly the same). The number of tests being conducted is fairly stable at the moment, so a declining positivity rate is a good sign that there are a lower number of people with the virus.

While data on the numbers of tests or share of tests that are positive isn’t available for Stroud or Gloucestershire specifically (at least so far), a chart below shows the same thing but for the South West. The dramatic decrease in the proportion of people testing positive in the community is a really good sign. Both figures are below 5% – the WHO threshold (above this they say there is a risk cases are being missed).

* The proportion of “Pillar 2” tests (conducted for people in the community) that returned positive results across the South West was 4.0% in the most recent week (to 27th November) – rising from a low of 0.3% in mid-July, and from a peak of 7.7% two weeks previously (though the rise appears to be slowing).

* The proportion of “Pillar 1” tests (conducted for people in hospital) that returned positive results across the South West was 3.7% in the most recent week (to 27th November) – rising from a low of 0.1% in August, and from a peak of 5.1% the previous week.

Source: PHE spreadsheet as part of weekly Covid-19 and flu surveillance

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 (6th November they say:

  • “In the most recent week, the positivity rate in England has decreased; during the most recent week (22 to 28 November 2020), we estimate 521,300 people (95% credible interval: 490,600 to 552,600) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19), equating to around 1 in 105 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 110 to 1 in 100).” (down a bit from the previous week: “15 to 21 November 2020), we estimate 633,000 people (95% credible interval: 599,200 to 668,200) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19), equating to around 1 in 85 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 90 to 1 in 80).”)
  • “Over the most recent week, the percentage of people testing positive has decreased in all regions, except the North East; rates are highest in the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and The Humber.”
  • “Over the last week, there appears to be a decrease in positivity rates among all age groups; rates remain highest among secondary school-aged children.”

Read more about the ONS methdology.

Global

I no longer have time to do much in the way of global updates. Please do visit the OurWorldInData website for more comparisons and trends.

The chart below compares cumulative confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people for selected countries. As of December 5th, there have been 1,479 Covid-19 deaths per million people in Belgium – the worst affected country by this measure. Peru is next most badly affected – 1,098. In the UK 894 people per million have died with Covid-19 mentioned, comparable to other badly affected countries like Spain (989), Italy (974). Deaths are still increasing in Sweden – almost as badly affected (700). European countries that had relatively better pandemics are also seeing deaths increase – from 110 in September to 225 per million in Germany, and from 36 per million in Greece to 278. There remain a number of countries where less than 1 person per million has died because of Covid-19: Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan, and Finland, South Korea and others all have figures below 100 people per million.

From OurWorldInData’s page on “Excess Mortality”: “The chart here shows excess mortality during the pandemic for all ages using the P-score.9 You can see that some countries – such as [the United States,] England & Wales10 and Spain – suffered high levels of excess mortality… [though] others – such as Germany … experienced much more modest increases in mortality.”
(“It is important to note that because the P-scores in this chart combine all ages, they are impacted by differences in mortality risk by age and countries’ age distributions. For example, countries with older populations – which have a higher mortality risk, including from COVID-19 – will tend to have higher all-age P-scores by default. When comparing countries it is informative to look at the P-scores for different age groups.”)

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. 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. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.

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 on the “Tier 2” restrictions that apply to Gloucestershire here online (last updated 30th November). If there is a piece of guidance you have a question about, again – please ask in our Facebook group.

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.