21st March 2021 data update

Team members James Beecher and Claire Biggs summarise local data on the pandemic and put it in national and international context

The next stage of lockdown easing takes place on March 29th. Read the government’s “roadmap” at this link.

Key data:

  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, 50% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose. The proportion for Stroud district is in line with this – in fact ever so slightly higher at (also 50%). Across the South West, the figure is very similar (51%). In each case, the rate is higher than for England as a whole (45%). In seven of the 15 smaller areas of Stroud distict for which data is available, at least half of the people who will be invited for vaccinations have already been vaccinated with at least one dose. More detail for areas of the district is included below.
  • 37 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 17th March (down from 40 in the previous week). The numbers of people testing positive each week are falling – now back to levels last seen in mid-October. We still need to stick to the guidance to get infection numbers down to really low levels.
  • Across Gloucestershire, 125 people tested positive in the week to the 17th March (down from 155 in the previous week) – now back to the levels last seen at the end of September.
  • 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 twentieth of that – 11 patients on the 16th March (the most recent date data is available), down 10 from the week before (the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to 1%). Dave Windsor, Consultant in Intensive Care and Anaesthesia at the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust revealed on Thursday 18th March that there were no Covid-19 patients in critical care locally, for the first time in 5 months.
  • In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 5th March – shows that 1,162 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (12 people have been added to the total in the most recent week). 193 of these people were from the Stroud district (four more people have died since we last reported). We send our condolences to all affected.
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

Looking week-by-week, you can see that across Gloucestershire the number of people testing positive continues to fall: 125 in the most recent week (to 17th March), compared to 155 in the week to 10th March. This equates to a rate of 17.9 per 100,000 people (or roughly 1 in every 5,600 people). You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 22,141 people have now tested positive.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by Claire Biggs

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 37 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 17th March – down from 40 in the previous week and 61 in the week before that. At time of writing this is a rate of 28 people per 100,000 (or roughly one in every 3,600 people). Numbers of infections continue to fall. The number of people who have tested positive in the most recent week is on track to return to the low levels of September, August, July and June if people continue to follow the guidelines. Across Stroud district, 3,697 people have now tested positive.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

A portion of positive tests will come from Lateral Flow Device testing associated with schools – we are hopefully catching more people without symptoms who are positive and this should help break transmission chains. In order to be sure that this higher number of tests aren’t altering our understanding of what’s happening, one thing we can do is look at the proportion of PCR tests (for people with symptoms) are positive – this is falling. There is some complexity around whether people who test positive with an LFD get a confirmatory PCR test, but that shouldn’t affect the numbers too much. The most recent data has 1% of people who undertook a PCR test testing positive – down from 1.2% a week ago, and 1.9% a week before that.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows much of the district – and surrounding areas across the county and beyond – with fewer than 2 positive tests in the week to 16th 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). The area with the highest rate of cases in Gloucestershire is Oakley in Cheltenham where the rate is 106.9 per 100,000 over the past 7 days, and infection numbers appear to be rising. In Stroud district, the area with highest rate is Leonard Stanley & Uley where the rate is 101.3 per 100,000, and appears to be rising. As above, this could be related to Lateral Flow Device testing in schools – It would only need a few positive tests of asymptomatic pupils who would not previously have showed up in the figures to create the slight rise we see – and they could be spread over several schools or all at one school – we don’t know.

Source: govt interactive map

Below are the charts for trends – you can see how cases are falling in most of the district – up to the 13th March. At that point, cases remained higher/possibly rising rather than low/falling only in Cam, Dursley, and Leonard Stanley & Uley. Gloucestershire Live have a piece about the areas with the highest rates in the county, including the three areas in Stroud district.

Source: gov.uk data download – MSOA API

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 135 active cases for the district – down 15 from last week by their measure. The team behind these estimate have recently updated their system. The flat-ish estimate is not a cause for alarm but 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.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 7th March (the most recent available data) there have been 296,629 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire (up 49,282 in the past week of data). Of these, 256,473 are first doses and 20,078 second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 49% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose (40% of the total population, including people aged under 16 who are not included in current vaccination plans), 4% have had a second dose.
  • This compares to 47% and 2.1% for the South West as a whole.
  • And across England, 42% of the population aged 16+ have had a first dose and 1.8% a second dose.
  • Across Gloucestershire, around 92% of people aged 65-69 have had a first dose, around 97% of people aged 70-74, around 100%* of people aged 75-79 and around 99% of people aged 80+. *Proportions are calculated against ONS population estimates, which may not be exactly accurate. Nonetheless, vaccination rates in the first priority groups are very high.
  • Across Stroud district, vaccination rates are as follows (as a percentage of people aged 16+, ie the total population that vaccination will be offered to under current plans). Please understand that these percentages are affected by how much of the local population has been eligible for vaccination, and the size of the local population, not necessarily by takeup. They are in alphabetical order only:
    • 48% Berkely & Sharpness
    • 50% Cam
    • 49% Chalford & Bussage
    • 43% Dursley
    • 49% Ebley & Randwick
    • 56% Framptom, Whitminster & Eastington
    • 55% Leonard Stanley & Uley
    • 58% Minchinhampton & Amberley
    • 57% Painswick, Bisley & Eastcombe
    • 49% Rodborough & Thrupp
    • 50% Stonehouse
    • 44% Stroud Town
    • 48% Upton St Leonards and Hardwicke
    • 48% Wotton-under-Edge & Kingswood

People aged 50 and over can now book to be vaccinated at one of the mass vaccination sites via this link, as can anyone who meets the criteria for other top priority groups. Making a booking at a mass vaccination site (Gloucester, Bristol, Bath, Malvern, Oxford etc) will not affect whether you receive a GP surgery invite to a local vaccination hub or site in the district. You can cancel bookings at mass vaccination sites via the link (under “manage your bookings”). Please ensure to do this with time for people to take the slot so vaccine isn’t wasted. If you are able to travel to a mass vaccination site, you free up space for people who cannot travel at the local hubs.

People aged 50-60 can wait to receive contact from their GP to be vaccinated at their more local hub. We have heard that some surgeries are even inviting people beyond the first 9 priority groups (ie, in group 10, starting with 49 year olds and working down to 40 year olds). Generally, please don’t call your GP surgery to discuss when you will be vaccinated – wait for them to contact you. If you are aged over 65 or believe you are Clinically Vulnerable or a carer for someone who is, you can book via the link above, but if you can’t get to one of the mass vaccination sites (Gloucester is the nearest but is often fully booked and the other sites are in Bristol, Bath, Malvern, Oxford etc) please get in touch with your surgery by email to check you have not been missed.

Check out our videos with Dr Jim Holmes and Practice Manager Karen Pitney from Rowcroft Medical Centre on “why you should get vaccinated“, “the process for receiving your vaccination” and “second doses“.

Prices Mill surgery update on 18th March says “Many of our patients in the 50-64 groups (Priority Group 7-9) are travelling to other sites bookable through the link below. So much so that we may be inviting under 50s (Priority Group 10) shortly”.

Dr Mark Porter says that The Vale in Dursley “hope to have given everyone first dose by around end of next month (if all goes well). Currently inviting in vulnerable & people in late 50s for 1st, and higher priority for 2nd.”

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].

We understand many people are keen to be vaccinated but please try to be patient, the vaccine rollout is an enormous logistical challenge – over 25 million people being vaccinated in 4 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 our Facebook group or email GP surgeries rather than calling them.

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).

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 tenth of that – 11 patients on the 16th March (the most recent date data is available), down 10 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, and it seems clear that soon there will be no Covid-19 patients in local hospitals again, as was last the case in September. Dave Windsor, Consultant in Intensive Care and Anaesthesia at the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust revealed on Thursday 18th March that there were no Covid-19 patients in critical care locally, for the first time in 5 months. We wish everyone in hospital with Covid-19 and their loved ones well.

Source: NHS hospital activity

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): 1% on 16th March. There is starting to be a little more spare capacity in the hospitals: 7% of beds were unoccupied on 16th March.

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling fast – 437 people were admitted on the 10th March (compared to 566 seven days previously). This number is now less than a tenth of the peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), and well below the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April), mid-November peak (1,782 patients on 18th November).

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

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 – 6,162 on the 18th March. Coming out of the first ‘wave’, it was 6,143 on the 5th June.

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 830 patients in these beds as of the 19th March (down from 1,110 patients la week earlier). This compares 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 74,800 people had a symptomtic infection on the 21st March, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 94,000 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January. The chart below shows how the KCL/ZOE estimate roughly matches the two random sample studies of prevalence run by the ONS and “REACT” (Imperial College/Ipsos Mori).

Source: KCL’s Professor Tim Spector

The ONS “estimate that estimate that 160,200 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 142,000 to 179,400), equating to around 1 in 340 people” in the week to the 13th March.

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 5th March – shows that 1,162 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (12 people have been added to the total in the most recent week). 193 of these people were from the Stroud district (four more people have died since we last reported). We send our condolences to all affected.

The data is from registrations of death up to the 5th March, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. Barring dramatic mutations/failures of policy, we should never see the weekly numbers we have seen recently again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

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 26th February. It is sobering reading – but the number of deaths continues to fall:

  • “The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 5 March 2021 was 13,107, which was 403 higher than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 9, 2,279 deaths involved COVID-19, that is, 920 lower than in Week 8.”
  • “The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 5 March 2021 (Week 9) was 11,592; this was 1,022 fewer deaths than the previous week (Week 8).”
  • “In Week 9, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 3.7% above the five-year average (409 deaths higher).”
  • “Of the deaths registered in Week 9 in England and Wales, 2,105 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”, a decrease of 809 deaths compared with Week 8.”
  • “In Week 9, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 18.2% of all deaths in England and Wales, compared with 23.1% in Week 8.”
  • “Of the 2,105 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 9 in England and Wales, 1,685 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (80.0%).”
  • “In England, the total number of registered deaths decreased from 11,844 (Week 8) to 10,882 (Week 9); total deaths have decreased in all English regions for the third 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 Christina Pagel that includes a section on vaccine impact on deaths that is really worth watching if you want to understand that – from around 7 minutes in.

International context

Globally, over 2.7 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 risen recently – to 8,782 on March 20th, having been been falling dramatically since January 26th (14,402), to 8,545 on March 13th). 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 – based on publicly available data (currently the 7th worst affected of all countries), at 1,861 people per million – behind only Hungary, Montenegro, Slovenia, Belgium, Czechia and San Marino (2,269 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others). There are caveats about this data as all countries will be using slightly different recording but…

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Estonia (588 per million), Denmark (414 per million), Turkey (355 per million), Finland (145 per million), Norway (119 per million), Bangladesh (53 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (33 per million), Cuba (35 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Singapore, China, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Bhutan Mongolia, and Eritrea (all below 5 people per million), and 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 (43) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (112 – ie, moving into enough doses to cover everyone, but some will be second doses) and United Arab Emirates (73). Globally, the rate is 5.6 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.

Notes

The core advice remains: please book a test (see full details at the end of this page). 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.

Local testing:

The County Council have 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.