31st May 2021 data update

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

Current government guidance, which changed on 17th May, is available on the gov.uk website – click for full details. A summary is included at the end of this update. Please also read this additional government guidance: “Be careful: a new COVID-19 variant is spreading in some parts of England

Key data:

  • No-one from Stroud district died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, in either of the four most recent weeks of data (to 14th May). No-one from Stroud district has died within 28 days of a positive test for coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) since 20th March, nor in Gloucestershire since 17th April (data to 22nd May).
  • The number of people testing positive by PCR or Lateral Flow Device in Stroud has fallen, and the number from the week previously revised down (4 this week, 12 rather than 16 in the week before). This is the same as the revised number for the week to the 7th April, and the joint lowest weekly number this year. The Kings College London/ZOE app however, estimates 32 active symptomatic infections in the district (up 12 by their measure on last week, but still low and broadly flat). And the number of people testing positive across Gloucestershire (73) is higher this week than last (49) – though the local director of public health says this is related to outbreaks that are now under control. See charts below.
  • The new B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India has been identified in the Stroud district and the Forest of Dean locally – according to the Sanger institute (with one test from each area being sequenced indicating it is this variant). Not every specimen submitted that tests positive is sequenced to find out which variant it was, so there could – or could not – be other people with this variant. The number of people testing positive in Stroud district and in Gloucestershire is still fairly low so hopefully outbreaks can be controlled through the usual means.
  • 77% of adults (16+) in Stroud district and 74% across Gloucestershire have now received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly half of adults have received a second dose (49% Stroud district and 47% Gloucestershire). See below for charts breaking down vaccination rates within Stroud district
  • There are 7 people in Gloucestershire hospitals with Covid-19 (as of 25th May, the most recent data). Two are in mechanical ventilation beds. We wish these people well with their recovery. While these numbers are much lower than they have been (peaking at over 250), it is notable that people continue to be either hospitalised or identified as having the virus when in hospital, and that there has been a (small) rise, recently. In the week to 23rd May, 19 people were admitted with known COVID-19 or diagnosed in hospital with COVID-19. The previous week (to 16th May) 22 people were admitted, and the week before (to 9th May), 17 people.
  • Across the UK, the number of people to have tested positive in the past 7 days is 22,474 – up 4,755 (26.8%) on the previous week (this is likely to relate both to changes in people’s behaviour since the May 17th changes, and – more significantly – to rapid spread of the new B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India, in a few local authorities around the country).
  • The total number of people with the virus in UK hospitals continues to fall: 870 on the 27th May, down from 991 on the 13th May (and from a peak of 39,249 on 18th January). However, the number of patients being admitted is rising – 870 in the week to 25th May (164 more than in the previous week). We send our best for the recovery of all Covid-19 patients in hospital.
  • There is a long way to go globally before the pandemic is over. More than 3.5 million people have now had their deaths attributed to Covid (and these are believed to be underestimates). The 7-day average number of people testing positive per day has been falling sharply since the high on April 25th of 826,374, and it seems clear cases are now falling in India which is very welcome news. However, the number of people testing positive is still very high at over 500,000 daily, and South America as a continent is still seeing increases.
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

4 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 26th May. The rate per 100,000 people in Stroud district is for the past 7 days is 6.7 (one in roughly every 15,000 people), down from 13.3 last week. This is very low, and lower than the UK rate of 25.7 per 100,000 (roughly one in every 3,900 people).

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows – for the first time – that all areas in Stroud district (as well as many in the surrounding areas across the county and beyond) – with at most 2 positive tests in the week to 25th May. 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 many of these places. The four positive tests there have been in the week could be spread across between 2 and 4 MSOAs, and represent 2-4 households.

The highest rate in Gloucestershire is in Barton, Gloucester – where 11 people have tested positive in the past week (9 more than the previous week). We believe these, and other cases in Gloucester, are those described by the county’s director of Public Health which she described as “very well contained clusters in two schools and one household which account for 18 of the [26] cases [in Gloucester]”

Source: govt interactive map

You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to get more data on your local area.

We do 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). This week they estimate 32 people with active symptomatic infections in the district (the same as the number that have tested positive) – up 12 from last week by their measure, though broadly flat for several weeks.

Across Gloucestershire, 73 people tested positive in the week to the 26th May (up from 49 for the week to 19th May). Though there is a considerable increase, this is driven by what are described as “very well contained clusters in two schools and one household which account for 18 of the cases” by Sarah Scott, the county’s director of public health. Numbers of people testing positive have been low across Gloucestershire for some time, with the 73 testing positive this week still no higher than the week to 21st April (also 73). The number has been lower in every week since 31st MArch. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. The rate per 100,000 people for Gloucestershire is 11.1 (i.e., one in every 9,000 people has tested positive in the past week) – still one of the lowest rates in the UK.

The highest in the UK currently is Blackburn with Darwen: 365 per 100,000. Seven other “Upper Tier Local Authories” have rates over 100 per 100,000: Bolton – 362, Bedford – 190, Glasgow City – 136, Clackmannanshire – 126, Renfrewshire – 115, Kirklees – 110, and East Renfrewshire – 108. These are areas affected by the new B.1.617.2 variant (first identified in India). The government has advised people not to travel into and out of the areas most affected by the B.1.617.2 Covid-19 variant unless necessary. Health officials say it is spreading fastest in Bolton, Blackburn, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside. People living in the affected areas are also asked not to meet indoors.

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

If we look at the age of people testing positive in Gloucestershire, we can see what looks like a vaccine effect with much lower rates among those 70 and over (highlighted by red circle), and the suggestion rates are reducing for younger ages too. Rates have been highest for people aged 10-19 – but there are no dramatic concentrations/trends.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Stroud

If we look at the number of PCR tests being done in Gloucestershire, 0.4% of the 16,443 people tested by PCR in the 7 days to 25th May tested positive (this hit a low of 0.2% between 24th April – 13th, and 16-21st May). It’s very low, and the small increase doesn’t present any sign for concern (that the number of tests being done is fairly flat also suggests no dramatic increase in people with symptoms)

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Lastly on local data, the new B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India has been identified in the Stroud district and the Forest of Dean locally – according to the Sanger institute (with one test from each area being sequenced indicating it is this variant). Not every specimen submitted that tests positive is sequenced to find out which variant it was, so there could – or could not – be other people with this variant. The number of people testing positive in Stroud district and in Gloucestershire is still fairly low so hopefully outbreaks can be controlled through the usual means.

Local Hospitals

There are 7 people in Gloucestershire Hospitals with COVID-19 as of the 25th May, up from 5 the week before. 2 are in Mechanical Ventilation beds, a number that has been steady since 15th May (we don’t know if it is the same two people, or people being discharged being replaced by others).

The chart below shows how the number of people being admitted /diagnosed over the previous 7 days period is falling again after a brief rise (19 in the week to 23rd May, compared to a recent peak of 24 in the week to 12th May – still nowhere near the peak of 202 in the week to 18th January). The increase in admissions is likely to relate to infections acquired at least a week previously, so we may see more as infections continue to fluctuate across Gloucestershire.

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 23rd May (the most recent available data) there had been 632,632 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire. The chart below shows how the rate at which first doses are being delivered is picking up again after a flat April. There are 11 weeks between the 23rd May on the right and the 7th March. Slightly more people have received a second dose by 23rd May (240,572) than had received a first dose 11 weeks ago (234,469). People are receiving their second doses before the 12 week deadline, just as they should (dark blue column is above the red line linking back to the light blue column from 11 weeks ago). This should increase as second doses are now due to be brought forward for many people (lookout for a text if you are past or approaching 8 weeks since your first dose and haven’t had a second dose yet), but you can see what a challenge this is – there’s a gap of 25,000 people to fill until people who recieved a first dose 8 weeks ago will have a second.

The charts below shows progress towards completion of the vaccination rollout locally, comparing this with the regional and England-wide progess. Stroud district and Gloucestershire continue to be ahead for both first (77% of adults, 63% of population) and second doses (49% adults, 40% population).

The chart below shows how the total population of Stroud district breaks down by age band (in the 2019 Office for National Statistics estimate). The rows below show the number of people in each age band who have been partially or fully vaccinated. The colours match down the rows, with blank/white gaps where people are yet to be invited or had not (yet) taken up an invitation as of 23rd May. As you can see, essentially everyone aged 65+ is fully vaccinated (in reality a few have not been, but the number/proportion is too small to show up on the graph). Between the aged of 45 and 64, the vast majority have had a first dose and are partially vaccinated, but few have yet had their second dose. For those aged 16-44, around a third have had a first dose, and around one in ten a second dose (vaccinations have only recently opened up to people aged 30+, though there will also be people in this age group eligible through (being an unpaid carer for someone who is) clinically vulnerable/employment in health or social care). People aged under 16 are no eligible for vaccination (at least, at the moment).

The chart shows similar data, but broken down for the different parts of the Stroud district (so-called “MSOA”s). The bars here are related to the size of the population (here using the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) estimates), which differ in each MSOA and age band. Bars are black where people have been vaccinated, and pink where they have not been. Hopefully, you can see both progress through the age bands, and get a sense of both the number and proportion of people still to be vaccinated in each part of the district.

Finally, the next chart evens out the population to make it easier to compare the proportions – but this time for people in each age band who are now fully vaccinated. This includes 89%+ of all 65 year olds in each area, around between 31% and 46% of 40-64 year olds, and between 9% and 14% of people aged 16-39. Finally, there’s a bar for the proportion of total population vaccinated (taking into account people aged under 16), which ranges from 31% in Upton St Leonards and Hardwicke to 48% in Minchinhampton and Amberley.

People aged 30 and over can now book to be vaccinated at one of the mass vaccination sites via this link (and we expect this age to drop to 25 over the days to come), as can anyone who meets the criteria for other top priority groups. Making a booking at a mass vaccination site (Cainscross Pharmacy/Britannia Dance Studio, Cirencester 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.

We’ve published five videos of clips from an interview with Dr Tom Malins (click to watch on Youtube). Please watch/share on Facebook via the link. And check out our previous 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“.

We understand many people are keen to be vaccinated but please try to be patient, the vaccine rollout is an enormous logistical challenge. GP surgeries are dealing with tens of thousands of vaccinations 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. We will be interviewing someone next week – comment with a question on this post and we’ll do our best to ask it.

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).

National context

See a summary of the trends on the government dashboard at this link.

Across the UK, the number of people to have tested positive in the past 7 days is 22,474 – up 4,755 (26.8%) on the previous week (this is likely to relate both to changes in people’s behaviour since the May 17th changes, and – more significantly – to rapid spread of the new B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India, in a few local authorities around the country).

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 53,492 people had a symptomtic infection on the 30th May, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This is substantially up from 38,498 last week (23rd May), but still a fraction of the peak in January (801,461).

The total number of people with the virus in UK hospitals continues to fall: 870 on the 27th May, down from 991 on the 13th May (and from a peak of 39,249 on 18th January). For context, the lowest last summer was very similar: 803 on the 2nd September (we have better testing coverage now).

However, the number of patients being admitted is rising – 870 in the week to 25th May (164 more than in the previous week). We send our best for the recovery of all Covid-19 patients in hospital.

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds was 120 on 27th May – little changed from 129 on the 13th May, but still much lower than the peak of 4,077 people on 24th January 2021. The lowest last summer was 60 on 28th August. We send our best for the recovery of all Covid-19 patients in hospital.

The numbers of people dying also continue to be low – but we know it takes time for people to get sick, and certainly sick enough to die, and so these numbers do not reflect current changes in restrictions, or infections. There has been a small recent increase in the data around mentions of Covid-19 on death certificates: 164 in the week to 14th May, compared to 139 in the week to 7th May. These figures will not have been affected by the 17th May loosening of restrictions, nor the spread of the B.1.617.2 variant.

With regard to the variant – please read this helpful piece by John Burn-Murdoch which shows “B.1.617.2 has sent cases rising again even in [the UK,] a country with very good vaccine coverage” (charts below shows local authorities where cases are rising, and how the variant plays a part in this]

Burn-Murdoch does on to note that “vaccines are keeping cases and hospital admissions largely among the younger age groups whose risk of deaths from Covid is much lower” [chart below shows how hospital admissions in the North West are a) lower than in previous wave and b) made up of disproportionately of younger rather than more at risk older people, suggesting vaccines are protecting older people]

Burn-Murdoch concludes by saying “this is not a “so everything’s fine!” [argument]. Everything is not fine, and with hospital admissions rising again it’s clear the reopening roadmap needs to be re-evaluated. But this wave is not like the other waves, and it’s important to keep that in mind.”

International context

While – aside from the issue of the new variant – the picture in the UK is broadly good, there is a long way to go globally before the pandemic is over – the 7-day average number of people testing positive per day has been falling sharply since the high on April 25th of 826,374, and it seems clear cases are now falling in India which is very welcome news. However, the number of people testing positive is still very high at 509,000 daily (7-day-rolling average to May 29th), and South America as a continent is still seeing increases (to a 7-day average of 136,000 people dying per day – the highest ever rate.

Globally, over 3.5 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 Economist has published analysis estimating the true figure is around 10 million).

The situation remains concerning. Our World in Data report the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) is falling again – to 11,400 on May 29th, though this number is also likely to be an undercount due to minimal/incomplete data collection in many countries.

In terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths relative to the population, the United Kingdom has a fairly high rate (1,886), but lower than the worst hit countries – such as Hungary (3,075), Czechia (2,811), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (2,807). The UK rate is slightly higher than that for the European Union as a whole (1,629), and for North America (1,482) and South America (1,800) as a whole – but broadly in line with those continents (and this may reflect differences in testing/attribution). However, there are some countries with lower deaths rates – including Germany (1,055 – not much over half the UK rate), or much lower rates – Finland and Norway have rates 10 times lower than the UK (171 and 144 per million), and South Korea, Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Vietnam have rates that barely register compared to the worst hit areas (though some of these countries have current outbreaks that may increase mortality, it seems unlikely they will reach the levels seen in other parts of the world).

In terms of vaccination, the UK has a very high proportion who have received at least one dose (58% of population) – behind only Israel (63%) among larger countries (in the chart below). The UK’s rate for full vaccination is also very high in terms of global comparisons, for example India has just 3.1% of the population fully vaccinated. Only a few countries have higher proportions of their population fully vaccinated: Israel has the highest proportion fully vaccinated (59%), Chile (42%), Bahrain (45%), and USA (40%) all have higher rates than the UK (37%).

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 mark getting their own vaccination.

Notes

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. Twice weekly rapid tests are available to everyone in England without symptoms. If you have symptoms, 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 meet outside when possible, keep indoor spaces well ventilated with fresh air, 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.

A summary of key changes and similarities with the government guidance since May 17th is copied below:

  • “You should continue to work from home if you can. When travelling within the UK, you should aim to do so safely and plan your journey in advance.
  • You should get a test and follow the stay at home guidance if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Gathering limits will be eased. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 30 people and indoor gatherings will be limited to 6 people or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble, if eligible).
  • New guidance on meeting friends and family will emphasise personal responsibility rather than government rules. Instead of instructing you to stay 2m apart from anyone you don’t live with, you will be encouraged to exercise caution and consider the guidance on risks associated with COVID-19 and actions you can take to help keep you and your loved ones safe. Remember that the risks of close contact may be greater for some people than others and in some settings and circumstances, there will be specific guidance that you will need to follow even when you are with friends and family.
  • Indoor entertainment and attractions such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, bowling alleys, casinos, amusement arcades, museums and children’s indoor play areas will be permitted to open with COVID-secure measures in place.
  • People will be able to attend indoor and outdoor events, including live performances, sporting events and business events. Attendance at these events will be capped according to venue type, and attendees should follow the COVID-secure measures set out by those venues.
  • Indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes can reopen.
  • Organised indoor sport will be able to take place for all (this includes gym classes). This must be organised by a business, charity or public body and the organiser must take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • All holiday accommodation will be open (including hotels and B&Bs). This can be used by groups of up to 6 or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble, if eligible).
  • Funeral attendance will no longer be limited to 30 people, but will be determined by how many people the COVID-secure venue can safely accommodate with social distancing. Limits at weddings, wakes and other commemorative events will be increased to 30 people. Other significant life events, such as bar/bat mitzvahs and christenings, will also be able to take place with 30 people.
  • The rules for care home residents visiting out and receiving visitors will change, allowing up to five named visitors (two at any one time), provided visitors test negative for COVID-19.
  • All higher education students will be able to access in-person teaching.
  • Support groups and parent and child group gathering limits will increase to 30 people (not including under 5s)
  • There will no longer be a legal restriction or permitted reason required to travel internationally. There will be a traffic light system for international travel, and you must follow the rules when returning to England depending on whether you return from a red, amber or green list country.”

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. We 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. We’re also volunteers with no public health expertise – collating and signposting to other sources for guidance.

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.