7th June 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

Watch a summary of the situation in Gloucestershire in the video below:

Key data:

  • No-one from Stroud district has died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate for over a month (no death certificate mentions in the five most recent weeks of data, to 21st 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 5th June).
  • The number of people testing positive by PCR or Lateral Flow Device in Gloucestershire has risen substantially and quickly – to 180 in the past week (compared to 73 in the week before and 49 in the week before that). Rates are highest in Gloucester and Cheltenham, and among people aged 20-24. Few people aged 55 or over are testing positive across the county, particularly in Stroud district, where no-one aged 55 or over has tested positive since 16th May (data to 1st June)
  • The new “Delta” variant (B.1.617.2, first identified in India) has been identified as rising in Gloucestershire – according to the Sanger institute. 11 positive tests from Gloucester were sequenced to have the B.1.617.2 genome per week in the two weeks to 29th May, 3 in Cheltenham, 2 in the Stroud district, and 1.5 each in Tewkesbury, the Forest of Dean, and Cotswold district (rates are per week, from two weeks of data, hence the 0.5 of a positive test!). 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. It’s likely that the rise in the number of people testing positive is largely about spread of this new variant – which is widely understood to be more easily transmitted.
  • Locally, over half of adults have now received a second dose of a Covid vaccine (55% for Stroud district and 53% for Gloucestershire). With regard to the total population, 68% have now received at least one dose in Stroud, 65% across Gloucestershire. See below for charts breaking down vaccination rates by age band within Stroud district
  • There are 5 people in Gloucestershire hospitals with Covid-19 (as of 1st June, the most recent data). That’s two less than last week. There is one patient in a mechanical ventilation bed (down from 2 last week). We wish these people well with their recovery. The numbers of people being admitted to hospital are down again: in the week to 30th May, 3 people were admitted with known COVID-19 or diagnosed in hospital with COVID-19, compared to 19 the previous week. We know hospitalisations lag infections, so we may see another rise associated with the higher numbers of people testing positive across the county recently… or we may not if these are cases among people less likely to be at risk (with most of those most at risk protected by vaccination.
  • Across the UK, the number of people to have tested positive in the past 7 days is 33,496 – up 11,022 (49%) 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).
  • The total number of people with the virus in UK hospitals has risen slightly: 932 on the 3rd June compared to 870 on the 27th May. It is still lower than the 991 on the 13th May (and far, far below the peak of 39,249 on 18th January). The number of patients being admitted is flat – 869 in the week to 1st June compared to 870 in the week to 25th May, but in Bolton – where there has been a dramatic rise in people testing positive recently – the number of people in hospital is falling. 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 3.7 million people have now had their deaths attributed to Covid (and these are believed to be considerable 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. However, the number of people testing positive is still very high at 444,000 daily (7-day-rolling average to June 4th), and South America as a continent is still seeing increases (to a 7-day average of 144,000 people per day – the highest ever rate).
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

Across Gloucestershire, 180 people tested positive in the week to the 2nd June (more than double the 73 last week, and nearly four times the 49 for the week to 19th May). This is the highest number for a week since the first week of March when 194 people tested positive. Though there has been a very considerable increase, this appears to be associated mainly with younger people (particularly those aged 20-24), who we know are much less likely to be vaccinated (unless clinically vulnerable, acting as an unpaid carer for someone who is, or working in health or social care).

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

Across the county, rates are highest – and have risen sharply – in Gloucester (41 per 100,000 or 1 in every 2,400 people), Cheltenham (27), the Forest of Dean (22), and Tewkesbury (21) – but are lower in Cotswold (10 per 100,000 or 1 in every 10,000 people) and lowest in Stroud District (7.5 per 100,000 or 1 in every 13,000 people). You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. The rate per 100,000 people for Gloucestershire is 22.1 (i.e., one in every 4,500 people has tested positive in the past week) – still lower than the UK rate of 37.4 per 100,000. The sharp rise is a reminder how quickly the virus – particularly the new variant – can spread, so please do keep being cautious: meet outdoors if you can, keep fresh air flowing if meeting indoors, maintain distance and wear masks wear appropriate, wash your hands regularly, and get tested with a PCR test if you have symptoms, and with rapid Lateral Flow Tests if you do not have symptoms.

The highest rate in Gloucestershire is in Kingsholm & Wotton, Gloucester – where 12 people have tested positive in the past week (10 more than the previous week), giving a rate of 131.2 per 100,000 (or more than 1 in every 1,000 people). Rhe government’s map shows – for the second week running – 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 1st June. 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 13 positive tests there have been in the week must be spread across at least 6 MSOAs, and 6-13 households.

Source: govt interactive map

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

It’s worth adding that 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 (mainly yellow area in the top right). Rates have been highest by far for people aged 20-24 (slightly darker blue chunk at the bottom right), at 98.9/100,000 (or roughly 1 in every 1,000 people of this age).

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Stroud

Though they may rise further – and rates of increase in the chart above look concerning, the rates for Gloucestershire as a whole and the districts within it are still way below the highest in the UK: currently Blackburn with Darwen: 488 per 100,000. Seven other “Upper Tier Local Authories” have rates over 100 per 100,000: Bolton – 355 (though this is down a little on last week), East Renfrewshire – 170 (up from 108), Manchester (168 – below 100 last week), Bury (162 below 100 last week), Salford (158 – below 100 last week), South Ayrshire – 146 (below 100 last week), Bedford – 143 (down from 190 last week), Renfrewshire – 138 (up from 115), Glasgow City – 137 (same as last week) and Kirklees – 113 (same as last week). Rates have come down below 100 per 100,000 in Clackmannanshire (126 last week). 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. People living in the affected areas are also asked not to meet indoors.

If we look at the number of PCR tests being done in Gloucestershire, we can see the rise in the number of people testing positive isn’t just about more testing being done. There has been a small rise in the proportion of tests that are positive (0.6% of the 15,634 people tested by PCR in the 7 days to 1st June tested positive, compared to 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 fluctuating at similar levels also suggests no dramatic increase in people with symptoms – unlike in the winter peak)

Source: gov.uk dashboard

In Stroud District specifically, 13 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 2nd June. The rate per 100,000 people in Stroud district is for the past 7 days is 7.5 (one in roughly every 13,000 people), up from 6.7 last week. This is very low, in context of other districts in Gloucestershire, the county, and the UK rate of 25.7 per 100,000 (roughly one in every 3,900 people). Of course, Stroud district is not an island and people will be working and travelling to see family and friends/visit venues in the rest of the county (see below for concerning county-wide rises).

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

The data by age from Stroud is strongly suggestive of a vaccination effect: no-one aged 55 or over has tested positive since 16th May (data to 1st June), and there have been very few people testing positive in this age group since 29th March – while there have continued to be cases among younger age groups. Rates have been highest for people aged 10-24, but only in what appear to have been controlled outbreaks several weeks ago.

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 83 people with active symptomatic infections in the district (the same as the number that have tested positive) – up 30 from last week by their measure (and by 51 since we last reported), marking a clear rising trend and significant jump compared to a previous flat period. It’s not clear why there is a big discrepancy with the number of people testing positive, but it could be that ZOE estimates are volatile if low numbers of people are reporting at low levels. As you can see from the chart, 83 people is still low in the context of the autumn/winter peaks.

The new “Delta” variant (B.1.617.2, first identified in India) has been identified as rising in Gloucestershire – according to the Sanger institute. 11 positive tests from Gloucester were sequenced to have the B.1.617.2 genome per week in the two weeks to 29th May, 3 in Cheltenham, 2 in the Stroud district, and 1.5 each in Tewkesbury, the Forest of Dean, and Cotswold district (rates are per week, from two weeks of data, hence the 0.5 of a positive test!). It is widely understood that this new variant is “more tranmissable” – meaning each person who has it is likely to pass it on to more people. However, it is not yet clear how much advantage this gives the variant of the virus over previous versions. The Stroud News and Journal reports “Public Health England has recorded five cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 in the Stroud District“. It’s unclear if this is a total or more recently weekly number, but in any case – as most cases are not sequenced it is plausible that the variant now accounts for the majority of those testing positive locally (as it does nationally).

Source: Sanger institute
Local Hospitals

There are 5 people in Gloucestershire Hospitals with COVID-19 as of the 1st June, down from 7 the week before. 1 is in a Mechanical Ventilation beds, down from 2 until 30th May (we hope these means someone has been discharged, rather than that they have died).

The chart below shows how the number of people being admitted /diagnosed over the previous 7 days period has fallen back to extremely low levels again after a brief rise (3 in the week to 30th 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 yet see more admissions related to the higher numbers of infections across Gloucestershire in the last two weeks.

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 676,513 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire (43,881 doses delivered in the week). People are receiving their second doses before the 12 week deadline, just as they should (red line linking dark blue column back to the light blue column from 11 weeks ago). There are 11 weeks between the 30th May on the right and the 14th March. Around 20,000 more people have received a second dose by 30th May (277,515) than had received a first dose 11 weeks ago (256,473). This should increase as second doses are now due to be brought forward for people in the first priority groups (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 around 50,000 people to fill until people who recieved a first dose 8 weeks ago will have a second. The chart below also shows how the rate at which first doses are being delivered is picking up again after a flat April. Finally, the green lines show the total adult population of Gloucestershire, and the left hand axis goes up to the approximate total population – so you can get a rough idea of progress to complete the vaccination rollout (see below for more on this).

The charts below shows progress towards completion of the vaccination rollout locally, comparing this with the regional and England-wide progess. Stroud district continues to be ahead for both first (79% of adults, 68% of population) and second doses (55% adults, 47% population), compared to Gloucestershire (2-3% points behind), the South West (1-5% points behind) and England – where 72% of adults have had a first dose, and 48% a second (59% and 39% of the total population). This data is for 30th May, and while more doses will have been delivered since then, is closer to the proportions of people who will have built up some/maximum immunity by this point.

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 30th May. As you can see, essentially everyone aged 60+ is fully vaccinated (in reality a few have not been, but the number/proportion is almost too small to show up on the graph). Between the aged of 40 and 59, the vast majority have had a first dose and are partially vaccinated, but there are sizeable gaps where people have not had their second dose. Vaccinations have only recently opened up to people aged 30-39, but already over half have had a first dose, and a portion a second (likely those eligible early through being an unpaid carer for someone who is clinically vulnerable/clinically vulnerable themselves/working in health or social care). People aged under 16 are not eligible for vaccination (at least, at the moment – the MHRA has approved Pfizer vaccination for 12-15 year olds, but the JCVI and government are yet to say whether people in these age groups will be vaccinated as part of the rollout).

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 33,496 – up 11,022 (49%) 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).

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 89,826 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 53,492 last week (30th May), but still a fraction of the peak in January (801,461).

There’s no two ways about it, it’s not good that the virus is spreading again. However, we know what to do to reduce the risks of us picking it up or passing it on:

The total number of people with the virus in UK hospitals has risen slightly: 932 on the 3rd June compared to 870 on the 27th May. It is still lower than the 991 on the 13th May (and far, far below the peak of 39,249 on 18th January).

The number of patients being admitted is flat – 869 in the week to 1st June compared to 870 in the week to 25th May. 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 134 on 3rd June, up from 120 on 27th 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 – 115 people had Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the week to 16th May, the lowest weekly figure since the week ending 11th September 2020. However, we know it takes time for people to get sick, and certainly sick enough to die, and so these numbers do not reflect the recent rises in infections (though a rise in deaths on track with these is not certain – as most of those most at risk have now been vaccinated).

In good news:

The chart below, from Colin Angus/VictimOfMaths on twitter, hopefully conveys the hospital admission trends well. It shows average new admissions per day in the past week (per 100,000 people in the area) from left to right. Gloucestershire is in a good place with new admissions very close to zero. From bottom to top, the chart shows the change in rate. Gloucestershire is again in a good place with the rate of new admissions falling. Bolton is in the worst position – with the higher number of admissions and highest change in rate BUT as you can see from the ‘tadpole’ tale, the rate and number of admissions has fallen dramatically – around as dramatically as it rose. Other hospitals are also moving towards the top right – admissions rising faster each week (e.g. East Lancashire), but this is at low numbers and rates so far, and Bolton suggests that it is possible to turn-around.

Read a thread of thoughts on the issues of hospital admissions, capacity and reopening by Chris Hopson, the head of the NHS PRoviders body that represents the NHS Trusts that manage NHS hospitals.

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 (driven by falling numbers in India). However, the number of people testing positive is still very high at 444,000 daily (7-day-rolling average to June 4th), and South America as a continent is still seeing increases (to a 7-day average of 144,000 people per day – the highest ever rate.

Globally, over 3.7 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 Economist has published analysis estimating the true figure is around 10 million).

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 Peru (5,643 per million, or one in every 180 people), Hungary (3,089), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2,857), and Czechia (2,816). The UK rate is lower than for the continent of South America (2,122 Covid-19 deaths per million), but slightly higher than that for the European Union as a whole (1,638), and for North America (1,498) 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 (1,065 – not much over half the UK rate), or much lower rates – Finland and Norway have rates 10 times lower than the UK (173 and 145 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, hopefully outbreaks can be controlled / vaccination can rollout before they 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 (59% of population) – behind only Israel (60%) among larger countries (in the chart below). The UK’s rate for full vaccination (40%) is also very high in terms of global comparisons – double the European Union rate (20%), four times as high as South America (10%), and more than ten times higher the proportion across Asia (2.4%), and Africa (0.7%).

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.