New government guidance has been out since 19th July. While many restrictions have been lifted, please see the NHS on “How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus“. Please also read our SCCR statement on the current situation where cases are high and rising, which underlines that “we can still choose to act conscientiously and with compassion for others“. 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, as well as those who for whatever reason have not taken up the offer of vaccination yet).
- In Stroud district, the number of people to test positive in the week is the second highest ever (419, exceeded only by 562 in the week to 20th July).
- The rate of people testing positive for the first time compared to the number of people in Stroud district – 347 per 100,000 people on 17th August – is very similar to the rate across Gloucestershire as a whole (329 per 100,000) and equates to one in every 289 people testing positive for the first time in the week to that date (others will have had infections but, for whatever reason, not been tested).
- The number of people in local hospitals that have tested positive is rising slowly (29 as of 17th August), but is much lower compared to the number of people testing postive than before widespread vaccination.
- Sadly, 6 people that had lived in Gloucestershire died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test between 13th and 20th August. Numbers of people dying are lower than in previous waves but Covid-19 can still be involved in deaths (nationally, 90% of mentions on death certificates list Covid-19 as the direct cause of death). Our condolences to those who have lost loved ones.
- Within Stroud district, the rate is highest in is Frampton, Eastington & Whitmister, with a rate of 641 per 100,000 people (with 44 people testing positive in the week to the 17th August, up from 20 in the previous week – a very rapid increase). This equates to about one in every 150 people in the area testing positive for the first time in the week.
- Across the UK, the number of people to have tested positive in the past 7 days is 227,391 – 27,064 more people testing positive in the week compared to the previous week (a 13.5% increase). The numbers of people dying within 28 days of a positive test (687 in the past 7 days, up 52 / 8.2%) and being admitted to hospital (5,869 in the past 7 days, up 362 / 6.6%) are also rising. In terms of people aged 16+ alone (most of those eligible, only some 12-15 year olds can access vaccination due to clinical vulnerability of either themselves or household members), across the UK three-quarters (76.7%) have been fully vaccinated in 9 in 10 (87.7%) have received at least one dose.
- 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 655,134 daily (7-day-rolling average to August 21st), 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 – as access to testing is limited and not everyone gets tested).
- 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 is very high, and once again rising dramatically. The age profile skews younger than in the autumn/winter (see below). The number of people being admitted to hospital has risen slightly again (54 admitted in the week to 15th August), seems to be tracking trends in the numbers of people testing positive, so we can expect it will soon exceed the recent peak of 64 people admitted in the week to 19th July (purple double-line). There are a number of people who staying in hospital (29 as of 17th August, red block). 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). That is a testament to the power of vaccination. However, the number of people in hospital is continuing to slowly rise locally (it has doubled in a month). The number is much lower than the peak of around 250, but has exceeded the 25 on the 31st October last year (though rising less fast, and in a context where cases are already much higher).
The number in Mechanical Ventilation beds has fallen after a recent rise: there were 3 people in these beds on the 17th August, compared to a peak of 16 on the 22nd January.
People who have tested positive
Rates of people testing positive per 100,000 people across the county are still high at 240-404 per 100,000 people across the different districts (around the levels they were ain mid-July, and well above the levels in March – May). Rates are highest in Gloucester and Cheltenham – but rising across the whole district except Tewkesbury (where rates have been bouncing around less sharply generally). The rate in Stroud district – 347 per 100,000 on 17th August – is very similar to the rate across Gloucestershire as a whole (329 per 100,000) and equates to one in every 289 people testing positive for the first time in the week to that date (others will have had infections but, for whatever reason, not been tested). 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 – 2,109 people tested positive for the first time in the week to 17th August. This is the 3rd highest weekly total (though higher numbers of people may have had a virus in a given week in the ‘first wave’ when access to testing was limited). 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 30 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 17th August, 1,942 of the people to test positive were aged under 60 (92%), compared to 167 people aged 60 or over (whereas in previous waves numbers have been roughly evenly split between age groups). Cases were rising among over 60s, but seem to possibly be falling again now. And 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). Rates of over 60s testing positive are now approaching the level in March last year, but far fewer appear to be being hospitalised.
The highest rate in Gloucestershire is St Paul’s in Cheltenham (for the second week running), where 56 people tested positive for the first time in the 7 days to 17th August (slightly down on the week before), giving a rate of 678 per 100,000 (or roughly one in every 150 people).
In Stroud district, the rate is highest in is Frampton, Eastington & Whitmister, with a rate of 641 per 100,000 people (with 44 people testing positive in the week to the 17th August, up from 20 in the previous week – a very rapid increase). Berkeley & Sharpness also has a high rate – 40 people tested positive in the week, meaning a rate of 620 per 100,000, or one in every 160 people). The number of people testing positive and rate per 100,000 has fallen a little in Stroud Town – to 385/100,000 or one in every 260 people.
Looking at different areas of Stroud district, we can see that most areas experienced a higher number of people testing positive in the recent weeks than at any time since August last year. The only exceptions are Painswick, Bisley and Eastcombe, and Minchinhampton & Amberley (which happen to be the two areas with the highest rates of full vaccination).
Note, the MSOA data below is only to the 15th August, and is raw numbers of people testing positive for the first time rather than rates per population (which varies in each of the districts).
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. The number of tests being done is high but fairly flat (23,531 in the week to 16th August, compared to 23,240 in the week to the 9th, and 28,594 in the week to 18th July), but the proportion of tests that return positive results has been rising fast (at 8.8% it is close to the recent peak of 9.6%, and very high compared to a low of 0.2% between 24th April – 13th, and 16-21st May).
In Stroud District specifically, 419 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 17th August. This is a little higher than the previous week, and still very high (only in one other week have more people tested positive, and that was only a few weeks ago). 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).
The chart below shows the number of people testing positive in 5-year age bands from April 2020 to August 2021. Where the rate per 100,000 people in that age group is lower, the colour is yellow, where it is higher, it darkens through green, blue, purple and then black. It shows that in Stroud district, rates have been highest among those aged 15-29 during this wave (unlike in previous waves – though largely for the first wave because testing was only available to those admitted to hospital which is much rarer for younger people).
Among people aged 15-19, the most recent rate for Stroud district is 1,670 per 100,000 – in other words 1.7% of all people in the age group locally tested positive for the first time in the week to 17th August. Rates have been close to this high since the 15th July, meaning between 5 and 10% of the population of this age group have tested positive for the first time just in that month!
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 395 people with active symptomatic infections in the district – down pretty dramatically (by 211 people) on a week ago, to less than half the level of either the January or more recent peak. Here’s hoping this is an better indicator of symptomatic infections, or an early indicator of a decline in the numbers of infections including those without symptoms, and not a blip in the estimate.
Across Stroud district, around 69% of the population are fully vaccinated, with a further 6% having received a first but not a second dose (76% of the population has received at least one dose).
Rates are similar across Gloucestershire and the South West. In England as a whole 62% of the population are now estimated to be fully vaccinated and a further 9% have had one dose (leaving 29% 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 around a third have received at least one dose (32%). In many countries – particularly the poorest, under 5% of the population has received at least one dose. See our monthly vaccination update for more details.
Across the UK, the number of people to have tested positive in the past 7 days is 227,391 – 27,064 more people testing positive in the week compared to the previous week (a 13.5% increase). The numbers of people dying within 28 days of a positive test (687 in the past 7 days, up 52 / 8.2%) and being admitted to hospital (5,869 in the past 7 days, up 362 / 6.6%) are also rising. In terms of people aged 16+ alone (most of those eligible, only some 12-15 year olds can access vaccination due to clinical vulnerability of either themselves or household members), across the UK three-quarters (76.7%) have been fully vaccinated in 9 in 10 (87.7%) have received at least one dose.
Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 638,522 people had a symptomtic infection on the 22nd August, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users (up slightly from 629,423 on the 16th August).
Hospital admissions are higher than they were this time last year, and rising more quickly – as Oliver Johnson pointed out with the below chart on twitter (he is Director of the Institute for Statistical Science in the School of Mathematics at Bristol University). He says “Now of course, we don’t expect the curve to be exactly the same this year. Lots has changed, in both directions. We’re 62% fully vaccinated plus have more infection immunity than before, but we’re also much more open and have a twice as transmissible variant on our hands… my (extremely simplistic) point is this: the green line is higher than the red line. The green line is pointing up, despite it being school summer holidays, and we might reasonably expect it to steepen as schools and offices return, and hospitality moves inside.”
However, comparing months of different years isn’t quite right as “waves” had different start points. The below chart, from the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre’s weekly report of intensive care admissions and outcomes, compares the different waves by putting 1st March 2020, 1st Sept 2020, and 1st May 2021 as the start points. You can see the number of Covid patients in critical care has increased slightly with the average in the most recent 7 days 4.5% higher than in the previous 7 days. On average there were 962 patients in the 7 days to 19 Aug. This is ~20% of capacity, but much lower than at the peaks of the previous “waves”. Concerningly, 20% of those in Critical Care are pregnant.
The number of people testing positive has been rising since June 19th to 655,134 daily (7-day-rolling average to August 21st). However, the rate of increase appears to be slowing (especially in Asia and Africa – though this may be related to testing capacity), and globally we may be reaching another peak. Confirmed cvases have been falling consistently for some time in South America – to the lowever levels since autumn last year.
The numbers of people dying with their deaths attributed to Covid-19 continue to rise, particularly in South America, Asia, and Africa. Over 4.4 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 (1,943 – around one in every 514 people), but lower than the worst hit countries – such as Peru (5,998 per million, or around one in every 167 people), Hungary (3,110), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2,963), and Czechia (2,837).
The UK rate is about a fifth lower than for the continent of South America (2,600 Covid-19 deaths per million), but slightly higher than that for the European Union as a whole (1,686), and for North America (1,615) 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 (1,098 – not much over half the UK rate), or much lower rates – Finland and Norway have rates 10 times lower than the UK (183 and 150 per million), and South Korea, Australia, 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.
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 – it’s really important you isolate and get tested if you have symptoms (fever, new cough, loss of smell/taste). 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.