New government guidance has been out since 19th July – many things that were legal requirements no longer are, but some are still advised (see the NHS “How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus” page). Please also read our SCCR statement on the current situation, which underlines that “we can still choose to act conscientiously and with compassion for others“, when numbers of infections locally are high, and there are people in our community who have do not have the protection granted by vaccination (including those who cannot have jabs, or do not benefit as much from them because of a health condition/treatment).
- Good news: the number of people being admitted to/diagnosed with Covid-19 in Gloucestershire hospitals in the previous 7 days has been falling: on 3rd August (latest available data), 21 people had been admitted in the past week, a third as many as the 64 admitted in the week to the 19th July. The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in Gloucestershire is fairly flat: 21 as of the 3rd August, compared to 20 last week (having risen to 24 and fallen again).
- However, the number of patients in Mechanical Ventilation beds (the sickest patients) has been rising – there are now 5 people in these beds (having risen from none on 24th July), compared to a peak of 16 on the 22nd January.
- The number of people testing positive for the first time across Gloucestershire has risen again slightly after a sharp drop – 1,726 people tested positive in the week to the 4th August (up from 1,579 in the week to 28th July). This is a very high number – roughly in line with the peak in January. However, as many people are fully vaccinated, positive cases are much more associated with younger people than previously: in the week to the 3rd August, 1,562 of the people to test positive were aged under 60 (93%), compared to just 113 aged 60 or over (whereas in previous waves numbers have been roughly evenly split between age groups).
- In Stroud district, the number of people to test positive in the week is a little higher this week than last (308 compared to 298). The rate per 100,000 people is 255, or roughly one in every 400 people). Rates appear to be a bit higher in Cheltenham, Gloucester, and Tewkesbury, and lower in Cotswold district and the Forest of Dean, but average out across the county at a similar rate: 262 per 100,000 people.
- The area of Stroud district with the highest rate of people testing positive compared to the population is Dursley, with a rate of 418 per 100,000 people – one in every approximately 240 people in Dursley tested positive in the week to 3rd August (32 people tested positive in the week, up from 20 in the previous week)
- Across Gloucestershire, just under three-quarters of the population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine (74%), and nearly two-thirds are fully vaccinated (62%). If you are in Stroud district and have not yet had your first dose, you can call your GP to book (or look out for drop-in sessions which we advertise in our Stroud Coronavirus Community Response facebook group).
- The number of people in hospital with the virus nationally may have hit a peak. At 5,631 on the 5th August, there are 500 fewer people in hospital with Covid-19 than there were on 2nd August (6,139). The number of patients in Mechanical Ventilation beds – 871 – is also down from 895 on the 2nd August. The number admitted or diagnosed in hospital (5,328 in the past week) is 1,006 / 15.9% fewer than in the previous week. Hopefully the vast majority of these people will recover and be discharged from hospital soon – we send our best wishes.
- Globally, the pandemic is far from over: the number of people testing positive for the first time each week is rising – as the virus spreads (particularly in countries with low levels of vaccination). At 625,726 per day on average in the week to August the 7th, it is approaching the peak of 824,804 reached on April 26th when the Delta variant was spreading in India (confirmed case numbers underestimated the spread then and continue to, of course).
- Further detail and charts on the above and more are below.
The first chart shows a comparison of the key data for Gloucestershire. You can see how the number of people testing positive has shot up and back down recently, but then continued on the earlier rising trend. The age profile is very different (see below) – in large part because of vaccination, and – so far – far fewer people are ending up in hospital – again, in part because many people are vaccinated, and experiencing milder cases if they test positive as a result. Thankfully, the number of people being admitted to hospital has started to fall (purple double-line). That this is happening with such high case numbers is a strong testament to the protective effects of vaccines. There are a number of people who staying in hospital (red block), but you can see that these have not risen in connection with rising cases in the same way they did in the previous wave (positive test numbers are not included for the first wave as access to testing was so limited).
While the number of people in hospital locally is fairly flat (21 as of the 3rd August, compared to 20 last week), the number in Mechanical Ventilation beds is rising: there are now 5 people in these beds (having risen from none on 24th July), compared to a peak of 16 on the 22nd January.
People who have tested positive
As we now have full data for July, we can compare the numbers of people to test positive for the first time by month. It’s clear that July 2021 had the highest number of people test positive of any month (8,523, compared to a previous peak of 6,698 in January 2021). More people may have had the virus in March/April 2021 (but been unable to get a test), but nonetheless this remains striking.
If you have tested positive or are a contact of someone who has, self-isolating is really important to help stop the virus being passed on. It’s also hard, so please see this goverment page covering “guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection”, and see our Facebook group for signposting to support.
Rates of people testing positive per 100,000 people fell across the county last week but are still high at around 200-400 per 100,000 people (around the levels they were at the end of June, and well above the levels in March – May). Rates are highest in Cheltenham – where they have already risen back to the peak of a couple of weeks ago. In Stroud district and Tewkesbury and across Gloucestershire as a whole they appear to be rising again. The rate in Stroud district – 255 per 100,000 on 27th July – is still higher than it was on any date from 7th March – 14th July. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire, or districts within it, on the government’s dashboard, and there is more information below.
The number of people testing positive by PCR or Lateral Flow Device in Gloucestershire has fallen by is still high – 1,675 people tested positive for the first time in the week to 3rd August. It’s worth adding that the age profile of those testing positive in the current ‘wave’ is very different to January – see chart below.
Though there has been a very considerable increase, this is associated mainly with younger people. That does not mean it’s not a problem, but it does suggest that vaccination is working well in the groups most likely to be fully vaccinated (most people aged over 35 should have had time to get two jabs by now, but rates of full vaccination are much higher for people over 60, in part because of the longer time they’ve had to decide to take up the offer). The chart below shows the difference between people aged over and under 60. In the week to the 3rd August, 1,562 of the people to test positive were aged under 60 (93%), compared to just 113 aged 60 or over (whereas in previous waves numbers have been roughly evenly split between age groups). Cases are rising among over 60s, but you can see how different the relationship is now to in the ‘second wave’ – when rates among under and over 60s were very similar (over 60s were more likely to test positive in the ‘first wave’ because only people being admitted to hospital were able to access tests).
The highest rate in Gloucestershire is in Alston and St Marks in Cheltenham, where 51 people tested positive in the 7 days to 3rd August, giving a rate of 507 per 100,000. In Stroud district, the rate is highest in is Dursley, with a rate of 418 per 100,000 people (with 32 people testing positive in the week to the 3rdf August, up from 20 in the previous week).
Looking at different areas of Stroud district, we can see that most areas experienced a higher number of peopletesting positive in the recent weeks than at any time since August last year, but weekly numbers seem to have fallen since. The high numbers in Stroud Town, Cam, Dursley, Ebley & Randwick, Leonard Stanley & Uley and Upton St Leonards and Hardwicke have been particularly dramatic – likely associated with younger populations in these areas (less likely to be fully vaccinated). Note, the MSOA data below is only to the 31st July, so doesn’t include the increase in Dursley described above.
You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to get more data on your local area.
If we look at the number of PCR tests being done in Gloucestershire, we can see the changes in the number of people testing positive aren’t just about changes in the numbers of tests being done. There has been a notable fall in number of tests being done (22,410 in the week to the 2nd August, compared to 28,594 in the week to 18th July), but the proportion of tests that return positive results has stabilised (at 7.6% it is the same as last week, and still high compared to a low of 0.2% between 24th April – 13th, and 16-21st May).
In Stroud District specifically, 308 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 3rd August. This is slightly higher than the previous week, and still very high (almost the same as in the January peak week of 312). As for Gloucestershire as a whole, the age breakdown is now very different (and more people will have had the virus in a week at the peak in the first wave but not been tested).
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 1,194 people with active symptomatic infections in the district – down very slightly (23) on a week ago, and still exceeding the level estimated for the January peak.
Data from the NHS on vaccinations is now going to be collated in a separate update. The main headline figures are that:
Across Stroud district, around 63% of the population are fully vaccinated, with a further 12% having received a first but not a second dose (75% of the population has received at least one dose). People aged 18-29 have only recently started to be invited, but already 75% have had a first dose. However, an estimated 2,930 people in the district aged 50 and over have not taken up the offer of vaccination. An estimated 8,215 people aged 18-50 have not yet taken up the offer of vaccination, but vaccination has not been available to them for as long.
Rates are similar across Gloucestershire and the South West. In England as a whole 58% of the population are now estimated to be fully vaccinated and a further 12% have had one dose (leaving 30% unvaccinated – many of whom are not eligible due to being under 16). Rates locally and nationally are much higher than for the world as a whole – where only 15% are fully vaccinated and less than 1 in 3 have received at least one dose. In many countries, under 5% of the population has received at least one dose.
Across the UK, the number of people to have tested positive in the past 7 days is 191,019 – 3,471 people testing positive in the week compared to the previous week (a 1.9% increase). It’s hard to predict what will happen next, but at least numbers are rising more slowly than they were prior to the recent drop. And it’s a good sign that admissions to hospital are falling too.
Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 690,506 people had a symptomtic infection on the 8th August, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users (down from 794,342 last week). That cases are falling in their estimate confirms the fall in people testing positive, which has also been confirmed by the ONS infection survey (a random sample survey which estimated that “722,300 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 671,800 to 775,900), equating to around 1 in 75 people” in the week to the 31st July.
The numbers of people dying are rising but still relatively low – 392 people had Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the week to 23rd July (up from 268 the previous week) – well below the peak of 9,056 people who died in the week to 22nd January. 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 falls in infections/hospitalisations. Hopefully, the numbers of people dying will start to fall soon too.
The number of people testing positive has been rising since June 19th to 625,725 daily (7-day-rolling average to August 7th)
The numbers of people dying with their deaths attributed to Covid-19 continue to rise, particularly in South America, Asia, and Africa. Over 4.28 million people have had their death attributed to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic (and this is believed to be a significant underestimate due to limited death registration data in many countries – including India for example).
In terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths relative to the population, the United Kingdom has a fairly high rate (1,923 – around one in every 520 people), but lower than the worst hit countries – such as Peru (5,970 per million, or around one in every 168 people), Hungary (3,109), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2,953), and Czechia (2,835).
The UK rate is about a fifth lower than for the continent of South America (2,556 Covid-19 deaths per million), but slightly higher than that for the European Union as a whole (1,676), and for North America (1,575) 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 death rates – including Germany (1,096 – not much over half the UK rate), or much lower rates – Finland and Norway have rates 10 times lower than the UK (178 and 148 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).
Another way to compare the impact of Covid-19, the pressure on health services, and the impact of restrictions, is to look at “excess deaths” (the numbers of people to die in a year compared to the average for previous years). This better captures deaths that might not have been recorded as being due to Covid-19, but may have been the result of other pressures of the pandemic – however, it still relies on death registration data being complete which is not the case for some countries. The chart below shows the following proportions by which the numbers of deaths exceeded the average, for example:
Peru 153%, Ecuador 80%, Mexico 61%, Brazil 40%, Russia 28%, Chile 27%, US 22%, Italy 19%, UK 18%, Swiss 13%; NL, France 12%; Sweden 10%; Germany, Hong Kong, Costa Rica 4%; Denmark, Japan, Uruguay and 16 others: none.
In terms of vaccination, the UK has a very high proportion who have received at least one dose (69% of population) – behind only a few countries such as Canada (72%), Chile (73%) and UAE (80% – see the chart below). The UK’s rate for full vaccination (58%) is also very high in terms of global comparisons: nearly three times as high as across South America (22%), and nearly 5 times higher than the proportion across Asia (12%). Across Africa, just 3.8% of the population have received any vaccination, and only 1.9% are fully vaccinated.
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. You can also email the UK representative at the WTO to back the proposal for the suspension of patents during the pandemic (made by the South African and Indian governments).
The core advice remains: 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, or call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week to self-refer or visit NHS Volunteer Responders. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.
Book a test via this link. 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.
Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the public health advice 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.
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.