The big news is that from 8th March “all children and students return safely to face-to-face education in schools and colleges” and “People will be allowed to leave home for recreation and exercise outdoors with their household or support bubble, if they are eligible for one, or with one person from outside their household. Care home residents will also be allowed one regular visitor.” Read the full government “roadmap out of the current lockdown for England“, which includes the next elements changing on 29th March.
It’s understandable that people with school-aged children will feel a range of emotions at this point – relief in the reduction of demands at home, but also concern or anxiety about what this will mean for their children, people they live with who are more at risk from the virus, or the impact on the pandemic and the government’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. SCCR Team Member Polly Stratton has written her final weekly piece for us on the ‘homeschooling’ experience.
The County Council have also updated their information about how you can book a test locally. You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not, and where you can pick up testing kits for households with school-aged children.
- For people with symptoms, there are permanent testing units at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park.
- Without symptoms, there is a site in Gloucester City and one located at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester. A third site will be opening in the Forest of Dean on the 10th March.
- You can pick up a testing kit from the permanent testing units at: Hempsted Meadows, Gloucester; High St Car Park, Cheltenham; and Stratford Park, Stroud.
See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire.
- Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, 41% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, and 1.1% have had a second dose. (compared to 37% for a first dose and 0.7% last week). This includes between 90-100% of all age groups above 65, and 21% of people aged under 65.
- 60 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 3rd March (down from 67 last week, though this was 62 at point of reporting). The numbers of people testing positive each week is falling, but slowly – and the ZOE/Kings College London app estimates the number of people with active infections at 168 is slightly higher than last week – again, this emphasises that if infection numbers are falling it is slowly and we still need to follow guidance.
- Across Gloucestershire, 175 people tested positive in the week to the 3rd March (down from 276 in the previous week) – and there is a clearly falling trend.
- The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a sixth of that – 41 patients on the 2nd March (the most recent date data is available), down 19 from the week before. In the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals, the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 5% (half the proportion on 12th Feb).
- In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 19th February – shows that 1,137 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (18 people have been added to the total in the most recent week). 187 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.
- Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:
People who have tested positive
Across Gloucestershire, 1,583 people tested positive in February 2021. The chart below shows how dramatically this has fallen since January (6,497 people), December (5,528), November (3,640) – and indeed lower than the total for October (3,640). However, this is still a much higher number – nearly four times as many – as tested positive in September (just 407). At time of writing the rate for Gloucestershire as a whole is 31 positive tests in the past seven days per 100,000 people – or one in every 3,225 people.
Looking week-by-week, you can see that across Gloucestershire the number of people testing positive continues to fall: 175 in the most recent week (to 3rd March), compared to 276 in the week to 24th February, Not all tests will have been processed yet, but there is a very clear downward trend – now down to the levels at the end of September. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 21,862 people have now tested positive.
Looking at Stroud district specifically, 60 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 3rd March – down from 67 in the previous week and 88 in the week before that. At time of writing this is a rate of 51 people per 100,000 (or roughly one in every 1,950 people). Numbers of infections continue to fall. The number of people who have tested positive in the most recent week is still higher than before November, but the district is on track to return to the low levels of September, August, July and June. Across Stroud district, 3,615 people have now tested positive.
If we look at the age breakdown, it’s clear that positive tests have fallen rapidly among those aged under 60 recently – following a similar sharp decline for those aged 60 and over. There have been some new cases among people aged over 60 recently – which we believe are associated with a care home outbreak which is now under control in Minchinhampton/Amberley – covered in the Stroud News and Journal. The chart below appears to show early signs infections among people aged above 60 are falling again.
Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows much of the district – and surrounding areas – with fewer than 2 positive tests in the week to 2nd March (this data is “suppressed” to protext the privacy of individuals when only small numbers of people test positive – but could mean no-one has tested positive. See below for trends by areas of the district (“MSOAs” – “Middle Layer Super Output Areas – a statistical geography)
Below are the charts for trends – you can see how cases are falling in most of the district – up to the 27th February. At that point, cases remained higher/flat rather than low/falling only in Stroud Town, and Dursley.
You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to see this data as a map.
Finally on the number of people with the virus. We know that not everyone can get a test or gets one even if they can. The Kings College London/Zoe Covid-19 symptom study app reports estimates for Stroud district – based on reporting of symptoms by people using the app (of whom there are over 3,000 in Stroud district). Their latest estimate is 168 active cases for the district – up 45 from last week by their measure. As a couple of weeks ago, I’d say “I’d caution not reading too much into this yet”, because we’ve seen a recent blip and it looks like infections will be falling again soon – or that they are maintaining at the current level. These numbers are broadly consistent with the confirmed case numbers (falling slowly), which provides evidence that the trend is real. Please continue to take care, keep following the guidance, and do what you can to reduce contacts and support people who need to isolate – we still want to get the infections lower than they are now.
Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 18th February (the most recent available data) there have been 219,572 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire (up 47,565 from 172,007 last week). Of these, 213,890 are first doses and 5,682 second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:
- 41% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 1.1% have had a second dose. (compared to 33% for a first dose and 1.1% for a second dose across England)
- 99.6% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ with first dose, 6.2% second
- “102.9”% aged 75-79 (more people have received vaccines from this age group than were estimated to be in the population – in reality new people will have moved to the area or into the age bracket and the figure is probably below 100%, but very close), 0.3% second dose
- 96.4% aged 70-74, 0.3% second dose
- 90.1% aged 65-69 have had a first dose, 0.4% a second dose.
- 21% of people aged under 65 have had a first dose, and 0.8% a second dose (these will be people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, Clinically Vulnerable, or who work in care homes, the NHS, or social care).
People aged 56 and over in Gloucestershire can now book to be vaccinated at one of the mass vaccination sites via this link, as can anyone who meets the following other criteria.
Alternatively, people aged 56-60 can wait to receive contact from their GP to be vaccinated at their more local hub – surgeries have largely completed group 6 (people aged 18-65 in an at risk group), and will also move onto group 7 (people aged 60+) soon. If you are aged over 65 or believe you are Clinically Vulnerable or a carer for someone who is, please get in touch with your surgery by email to check you have not been missed.
Vaccination will then continue to proceed in age groups, which is “the fastest way to cut Covid-19 deaths in the next phase of the rollout, say experts advising the UK government” [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation].
“If the vaccine rollout expands in line with expectations, all UK adults could have received both doses by mid-July, with under-30s [without health conditions making them at greater risk of Covid-19] getting first doses in May [those with health conditions will be vaccinated sooner – by end March]”
Below is a chart from the Financial Times that looks at how the vaccination rollout might proceed and when people in certain priority groups can roughly expect to receive first and second doses. So far, Gloucestershire has been a little ahead of the rest of England. Many people are understandably keen to know when they will be invited – particularly those in the priority group 5-9 who have not been vaccinated yet – this will be people aged 50-65, and people 16-65 with a health condition regarded as likely to put them at greater risk from Covid-19, or certain types of unpaid carers.
People aged over 65, people working in care homes, social care, or the NHS, or who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable *should* all have received invitations by now, and if not are able to book an appointment at a mass vaccination site. See link at end of this post and in comments for an explanation of the priority groups, and for booking at a mass vaccination site).
However… please try to be patient, the vaccine rollout is an enormous logistical challenge – 21 million people being vaccinated in 3 months is unprecedented, and GP surgeries are doing this on top of their normal workload. If you have questions about when you’ll be vaccinated please either ask in this group or email GP surgeries rather than calling them.
The below shows how – nationally – the 12 week gap between first (light blue bars) and second dose (dark blue bars) will mean the number of first doses delivered weekly will fall. However, if capacity continues to increase, first doses will be delivered even as people in the top priority group receive their second doses.The chart shows
- Everyone in priority group 1-4 offered a 1st dose by mid February
- Everyone in priority groups 5-9 offered a first dose by end March
- Everyone in groups 1-4 who received a first dose, receiving their second by early May
- All adults (16+) having been offered a first dose by early June (with people aged 50-40 in early April, people aged 40-30 in mid April and Early May, and people aged 30-16 in May to early June)
- Everyone in group 5-9 who received a first dose getting their second dose before Mid-June
- All adults (16+) who accept invitations to have been vaccinated by early July.
For a description of priority groups see, our previous post / image below.
There continue to be regular updates in our Facebook group about vaccination locally – including from GP surgeries (see the Facebook group topic). If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read advice on continuing to be cautious after receiving your vaccination).
- NHS Gloucestershire have launched a website where you can “Find the information you need about the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Gloucestershire in one place.Visit the site for the latest updates, info on priority groups, FAQs and more”.
- Gloucestershire County Council have a hub for information on vaccines, including “a new online form for vaccination queries from the public and stakeholders“.
Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns in our Facebook group and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate. We have separated out tagging of posts in the Facebook group into posts about local vaccination progress, and posts about the Covid-19 vaccines more generally, the latter including attempts to tackle misinformation.
Hospitals – local, national
The good news is that the number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a fifth of that – 41 patients on the 2nd March (the most recent date data is available), down 19 from the week before. Sadly, some of this decline will be due to people in hospital dying – but it is good news that more people are not being admitted. There’s still a way to go – and the rate of decline seems to have stalled over the past few days. But it is good to see that the local community hospitals no longer host Covid-19 patients. We wish everyone in hospital with Covid-19 and their loved ones well.
In terms of the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, in the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals (the blue bars only in the chart above), there is good news – the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 5% on 2nd March – half the proportion on 12th February, and a sixth the peak of 29% on 20th January. The trend is really encouraging – but note how there is very little spare capacity in the hospitals (just 4% according to the data). This is likely because of normal winter pressures, the backlog and staffing issues created due to the pandemic, and the need to create Covid-19 wards and distance beds. It underlines how little room for new Covid-19 admissions there is.
Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling fast – 688 people were admitted on the 4th March – the lowest number this year (compared to 867 last week). This number is now below a sixth of the peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), adn well below the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April), mid-November peak (1,782 patients on 18th November).
Because people with Covid-19 tend to stay in hospital for some time, the total number of people with the virus in hospitals remains high – 10,898 on the 4th March. Coming out of the first ‘wave’, it was 10,921 on the 14th May.
The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds – some of the sickest patients is also now lower than in the Spring 2020 peak – having peaked at 4,077 patients (on 24th January). There are still 1,542patients (down from 1,971 patients last week) in these beds, compared to 3,247 on the 18th April at the height of the spring 2020 peak. We send our best for their recovery.
Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 120,508 people had a symptomtic infection on the 8th March, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 146,700 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January.
The Office for National Statistics have a higher estimate based on their random sample testing of tens of thousands of people – but is data from longer ago: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) has continued to decrease in the week ending 27 February 2021; we estimate that 248,100 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 224,900 to 271,700), equating to around 1 in 220 people.” (last week: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) has continued to decrease in the week ending 19 February 2021; we estimate that 373,700 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 346,400 to 401,300), equating to around 1 in 145 people.”
People who have died with Covid-19
In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 12th February – shows that 1,137 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (18 people have been added to the total in the most recent week). 187 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.
The data is from registrations of death up to the 19th February, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. Barring dramatic mutations/failures of policy, we should never see the numbers we have seen recently again.
The above data is the best we get on people who have died – from the Office for National Statistics, who report based on what clinicians determine the cause of death to be for death certificates. This data takes time to come in – so the below is only up to the 12th February. It is sobering reading – but the number of deaths is lower than for the previous week and as for Gloucestershire, we should be past the worst:
- “The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 19 February 2021 was 15,577, which was 2,374 higher than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 7, 4,447 deaths involved COVID-19, that is, 1,668 lower than in Week 6.”
- “Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths from week ending 13 March 2020 up to 19 February 2021 was 616,124. Of the deaths registered by 19 February 2021, 129,113 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is 21.0% of all deaths in England and Wales. During this period the number of excess deaths above the five-year average was 107,726 deaths.“
- The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 19 February 2021 (Week 7) was 13,809; this was 1,545 fewer deaths than in the previous week (Week 6).
- In Week 7, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 18.8% above the five-year average (2,182 deaths higher).
- Of the deaths registered in Week 7 in England and Wales, 4,079 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”; a decrease of 1,612 deaths compared with Week 6.
- In Week 7, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 29.5% of all deaths in England and Wales, compared with 37.1% in Week 6.
- Of the 4,079 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 7 in England and Wales, 3,495 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (85.7%).
- In England, the total number of registered deaths decreased from 14,572 (Week 6) to 12,995 (Week 7); all English regions had a higher number of deaths than the five-year average for the 15th week in a row.“
Our previous update discusses the death rate in Stroud district compared to the rest of the country.
For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing (1 hr 20 minutes). This week has a data presentation from Dr Kit Yates that includes a section on inequality that explains well how Covid-19 has affected different populations.
Globally, over 2.5 million people have now died with their death attributed to Covid-19 at least in part (subject to different counting methods in different countries). The situation remains concerning – but there is a sign that the number of people dying may be starting to fall, with Our World in Data reporting the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) has been falling dramatically since January 26th (14,402), to 8,800 on March6th). This is tragically still very high – considerably higher than during Spring 2020 – and there is a long way to go.
In terms of rates of the number of people to have died per million people, the UK remains one of the worst affected countries (currently the 5th worst affected of all countries), at 1,837 people per million – behind only Slovenia (1,872 per million), Belgium (1,921 per million), Czechia (2,028 per million) and San Marino (2,240 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others).
Several countries have much lower death rates, including Estonia (492 per million), Denmark (411 per million), Turkey (344 per million), Finland (138 per million), Norway (117 per million), Bangladesh (51 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (32 per million), Cuba (31 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Singapore, China, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Bhutan and Eritrea (all below 5 people per million), and Mongolia, Vietnam, Tanzania, Taiwan and Burundi (all reporting under 1 person per million).
The United Kingdom is doing much better in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (34) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (101 – ie, moving into enough doses to cover everyone, but some will be second doses) and United Arab Emirates (63). Globally, the rate is 4 doses per 100 people. There is a real need to plan to improve global vaccination. You can Donate to treat, vaccinate and support people worldwide – which a few members of our Facebook group have reported doing to celebrate getting their own vaccination.
The core advice remains: please book a test. You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not. There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park. See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test – or for 10 days since your symptoms appeared if you test positive or are asked to by Test and Trace. 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. Gloucestershire along with the rest of the country is in National Lockdown – guidance here. If there is a piece of guidance you have a question about, again – please ask in our Facebook group.
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.
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.
Your suggestions for inclusion of data in these summaries are welcome. Please submit posts to our Facebook group.