5th April 2021 data update

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

Before this week’s data update for Stroud, Gloucestershire and beyond, a reminder of the next stage of the Government’s roadmap for ending restrictions, taken from gov.uk: “Some of the rules on what you can and cannot do will change on 12 April. You can read the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ (the roadmap out of lockdown) for more information on how COVID-19 restrictions will be eased in England. You can also read the law that underpins these changes and the ongoing restrictions.”

From 12 April:

  • “non-essential retail will be able to reopen
  • personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons will be able to reopen
  • public buildings such as libraries and community centres will be able to reopen
  • outdoor hospitality venues will be able to reopen, with table service only
  • most outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in performances (such as cinemas and concerts) will be able to reopen
  • some smaller outdoor events such as fetes, literary fairs, and fairgrounds will be able to take place
  • indoor leisure and sports facilities will be able to reopen for individual exercise, or exercise with your household or support bubble
  • all childcare and supervised activities will be allowed indoors (as well as outdoors) for all children. Parent and child groups can take place indoors (as well as outdoors) for up to 15 people (children under 5 will not be counted in this number)
  • weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, wakes and other commemorative events will be able to take place for up to 15 people (anyone working is not included in this limit), including in indoor venues that are permitted to open or where an exemption applies. Wedding receptions can also take place for up to 15 people, but must take place outdoors, not including private gardens
  • self-contained accommodation will be able to open for overnight stays in England with your household or support bubble
  • you should continue to minimise the amount that you travel where possible
  • care home residents will be able to nominate two named individuals for regular indoor visits (following a rapid lateral flow test)”

A reminder that from 1 April, “if you have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable you will no longer be advised to shield.”

Key data:

  • 20 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 31st March (down from 26 in the previous week). The numbers of people testing positive each week are falling – now back to levels last seen in late September (23 in the week to 23rd Sept). Just 0.5% of the 3,071 tests completed in the last 7-day period for which data is available tested positive.
  • Across Gloucestershire, 91 people tested positive in the week to the 31st March (down from 110 in the previous week) – now back to the levels lower than last seen at the end of September (110 in the week to 23rd September). The rate per 100,000 people across Gloucestershire is 14.6 – making it the 14th lowest rate for equivalent local authorities in the UK.
  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that – as of 28th March, the latest publicly available data – 69% of the Stroud district population aged 16+ has had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine (67,549 people). Across Gloucestershire, 64% has had a first dose and 10% have had a second dose. Across the South West, 63% have had a first dose, and across England over 25 million people have recevied a first dose of vaccine (57% of the population aged 16+)
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is down to 5 patients on the 30th March (the most recent date data is available), down from 6 the week before (having peaked at 262 on the 6th January). There have been no patients in Mechanical Ventilation beds locally since 17th March, ie, for over two weeks.
  • For the first week since that ending on the 30th October, no-one from Stroud district died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week of data (to 19th March). In Gloucestershire – 4 people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, bringing the total for the county to 1,177 people. 196 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.
  • Nationally, the number of deaths in a week is – in the most recent death certificate data from the week to the 19th March – “8.0% below the five-year average (894 fewer deaths).” (ONS)
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

We have a full month of data on people testing positive for March – and the decline from December and January’s extremely high figures is really stark. 586 people across Gloucestershire tested positive in March 2021, 11 times lower than in January. The figure is not much higher than for September last year (407), and there is every reason to expect numbers to continue to fall to the levels of August (136), July (64) and June (50) last year or potentially even lower.

Looking week-by-week, you can see that across Gloucestershire the number of people testing positive continues to fall: 91 people tested positive in the week to the 31st March (down from 110 in the previous week) – now back to the levels lower than last seen at the end of September (110 in the week to 23rd September). The rate per 100,000 people across Gloucestershire is 14.6 – making it the 14th lowest rate for equivalent local authorities in the UK., and behind only Bath and North East Somerset, Devon and the Isle of Wight among English local authorities. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 22,314 people have now tested positive.

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

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 20 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 31st March – down from 26 in the previous week and 37 in the week before that. The rate in Stroud district of 16.7 per 100,000 is – slightly – lower than Cheltenham (26.7), and higher than in other areas of Gloucestershire, which have even lower rates: Gloucester (18.6), the Forest of Dean (12.7), Tewkesbury (11.6), and Cotswold (11.1). 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 August, July and June if people continue to follow the guidelines. Across Stroud district, 3,734 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 or people without symptoms – 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 0.5% of people who undertook a PCR test testing positive – down from 0.6% a week ago, and 1.1% a week before that. The rate (which covers the previous 7 days) was last this low on the 1st September. This is consistent with the raw numbers of people testing positive, and suggests prevalence (the amount of people with the virus in the community) can be compared even if the number of tests being conducted has changed.

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 30th 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 in the previous 7 days in these places). 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 Cirencester where the rate is 45.8 per 100,000 over the past 7 days – this comes from 3 cases, up by 1 from the previous week, and could represent just one household. In Stroud district, the only other areas with significant numbers of cases are Wotton-under-Edge (4 cases, up from 2 the previous week), and Ebley & Randwick (5 cases, up from 3 from the previous week).

Source: govt interactive map

Below are the charts for trends – you can see how cases are below 2 (and plausibly zero) in most of the district – up to the 28th March. At that point, cases remained higher/possibly rising rather than low/falling only in Ebley & Randwick. It remains the case that there are no sustained rises and identification of low numbers of rising cases could mean contact tracing case finding related to low numbers of cases in the week before.

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 85 active cases for the district – down 41 from last week by their measure. 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 385,892 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire (51,433 doses delivered in the past week of data). Of these, 333,308 are first doses and 52,584 second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 64% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 10% have had a second dose.
  • This compares to 63% and 7% for the South West as a whole.
  • And across England, 57% of the population aged 16+ have had a first dose and 6% a second dose.
  • Across Stroud district, every part of the district (“MSOA” level as above) has seen enough first doses given to cover 60% or more of the population aged 16+ (ie, those included in the current vaccination programme). Rates are highest as a percentage of estimated residents in Painswick, Bisley and Eastcombe (78%), Minchinhampton & Amberley (77%), and Frampton, Whitminster & Eastington (77%). These rates are higher because a higher proportion of the population is in eligible categories (ie, aged 50 or over, working in health or social care, or clinically vulnerable).
Source: NHS England – data and chart compiled by Claire Biggs

The chart above shows how the proportion of the population of Stroud district aged over 16 has increased over the past few weeks.

“The NHS in Gloucestershire is this week urging people aged 50 years and over to take up their appointment offer of a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine without delay. Local GP services have been contacting patients by text or letter with reminders going out in recent days.” (25th March update).

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.

If you are aged over 50 or over, 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 24th March says “if anyone over 50 or Clinically Vulnerable (Groups 1-9) wants the vaccine and has not yet received it, please contact the surgery as we may not have up-to-date details for you. You will continue to remain eligible, so please call the surgery.”.

The table below shows the vaccination hubs associated with different surgeries in the district.

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.

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 now down to – 5 patients on the 30th March (the most recent date data is available), down from 6 the week before. Sadly, some of this decline will be due to people in hospital dying – and it appears the number has risen from 4 so we can assume some people are being (re)admitted. However, it seems clear that soon there will be no Covid-19 patients in local hospitals again, as was last the case in September (there were last 5 patients on 2nd October 2020).

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling fast – 272 people were admitted on the 28th March (compared to 360 seven days previously). This number is now less than a sixteenth of the peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), and less than a tenth of the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April).

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 fairly high – 3,536 on the 1st April, similar to the 3,537 on the 28th June last year (down to less than a tenth of the peak of 39,249 on 18th January).

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 517 patients in these beds as of the 1st April. We send our best for their recovery. T

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 53,400 people had a symptomtic infection on the 5th April, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 69,900 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January. The KCL/ZOE team estimate a similar number of people with symptomatic infections on the 15th September 2020 – 52,200.

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 12th March – shows that 1,177 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (4 people have been added to the total in the most recent week of data). 196 of these people were from the Stroud district (no 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 19th March, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. Barring dramatic mutations/failures of policy, however, we should never see the weekly numbers we have seen recently again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

Last week’s update included a chart compared the death rate in Stroud district (163.4 people per 100,000 – one in every 613 people) with other local areas (including Gloucester: 210 and Rhondda Cynon Taf: 362 – one in every 276 people) that have seen more people die compared to their local population.

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:

  • “In Week 11, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 8.0% below the five-year average (894 fewer deaths); this is the second consecutive week that deaths have been below the five-year average.”

There is a good piece on why deaths are lower than the 5-year average from David Spiegelhalter, chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge, and Anthony Masters, statistical ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society.

  • “Of the deaths registered in Week 11 in England and Wales, 963 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”, a decrease of 538 deaths compared with Week 10.
  • “Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths from the week ending 13 March 2020 up to 19 March 2021 was 661,608 in England and Wales. Of the deaths registered by 19 March 2021, 136,830 (20.7%) mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. During this period, the number of excess deaths above the five-year average was 119,274 deaths.

There is no Independent SAGE weekly briefing this week, but Kit Yates has posted a twitter thread that provides the usual summary of national data: “Overall it’s good news. Positivity rates low and falling or flat across all nations and most of local authorities.”

International context

Globally, over 2.77 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) is falling again – to to 9,811 on April 3rd, from 10,243 on March 31st. This is tragically still very high – considerably higher than during Spring 2020. While things are improving in the UK, there is a long way to go globally before the pandemic is over.

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 10th worst affected of all countries), at 1,872 people per million. However, a number of other countries have higher rates, and/or death rates that are still increasing – and with far slower vaccination programmes: Slovenia, Belgium, San Marino, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Hungary, Czechia (in the latter 2,516 people per million have died with their death reported to be associated with Covid-19). There are caveats about this data as all countries will be using slightly different recording but…

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Denmark (420 per million), Turkey (383 per million), Finland (153 per million), Norway (124 per million), Bangladesh (56 per million), Cuba (38 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (34 per million), New Zealand and Singapore (5 people per million), 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 (54) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (117 – ie, moving into enough doses to cover everyone, but some will be second doses) and United Arab Emirates (87), and Chile (56). Globally, the rate is 8.5 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.