A very short summary this week with some updated graphs and images from Claire and reiterating some of James’ key points from last week, as he’s taking a well-earned break from the data this week. Please excuse the brevity and less-than-elegant text in places.
Three key points before the data. For advice on what to do if you think you might have a SARS-COV-2 infection, please skip to the end.
- Numbers of infections are still quite high at the moment locally (though thankfully falling). This is partly because of the Immensa false negative testing scandal that saw an estimated 43,000 people receive false negative results between 2nd Sept and 11th Oct – many of them locally in Stroud district and Gloucestershire. Please see the NHS webpage on “How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus” and our SCCR statement on how “we can choose to act conscientiously and with compassion for others” in a time when there are fewer restrictions on our behaviour from government.
- We’ve demanded answers on how this scandal happened and what the impact has been, and James Beecher wrote an article for openDemocracy on his experiences raising concerns with authorities.
- SCCR last week published a statement on the offer of COVID-19 vaccination to 12-15 year olds – containing details of how the rollout is taking place locally, links to official guidance, and to quality sources of information in an effort to counter misinformation being circulated locally. Also lost of information posted this week on the Facebook page about how and where to get booster vaccinations.
Gloucestershire – positive tests, hospital admissions, people in hospital
First, some key numbers. In the most recent week of complete data to 7th November:
- 2,849 people living in Gloucestershire tested positive for the first time
- 81 people were admitted to Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19, or diagnosed in the hospital – a drop from last week’s figure of 100, although too soon to tell if this is the start of a downward trend
- There were 68 people in Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19 – again a drop from last week’s figure (76 patients with Covid-19 in these hospitals on 2nd November)
- Ten more people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week we have data for – to 29th October. This is an increase from 5 last week and the highest weekly figure since 11 people who had lived in Gloucestershire died in the week to 12th March. Because it takes time for people to get sick and die, we likely still haven’t seen the full impact of the Immensa false negative testing scandal and recently high case rates on deaths. We send our best wishes to everyone in hospital and their loved ones, and our condolences to those who have lost loved ones.
Looking at tests – the first chart below shows that, following the impact of the Immensa false negatives, positive test rates in Stroud district and Gloucestershire are dropping back to levels similar to those for the whole of the UK (around 400 per 100,000 or one in every 250 people testing positive for the first time in the past week). Bear in mind these are the number of people testing positive and we know not everyone gets tested (the ONS estimate that “around 1 in 60 people” in England would have tested positive in the week to 6th November, rising to around 1 in 50 in the South West).
The chart below shows that number of people in hospital in Gloucestershire has dropped a little, but too soon to tell if this is “expected variation” around the rising trend or the start of a downward trend; as you can see, this line has on the whole risen since around June, even though there have been some weeks or months where it is lower than the previous week or month (purple line).
Removing the test data from the chart above makes it easier to compare hospital admissions, numbers in hospitals, and numbers of weekly deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned on someone’s death certificate. The chart below shows how deaths are much lower, and admissions and numbers in hospital around half the rates of peaks in previous waves (and how they may have peaked, but it is too early to identify a clear trend – as mentioned above).
We understand from people working in the local hospital that the majority of critical care patients are unvaccinated, and that anyone who is vaccinated has less severe disease. Local Intensive Care Consultant Dave Windsor has said “We have not had a single death from covid on intensive care [locally] in a double vaccinated patient.“
Comparing the interactive map of cases for our local area, from last week and this week, also shows that the numbers of positive tests are decreasing (source for the 4th November map is last week’s update).
You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire, or districts within it, on the government’s dashboard, and there is more information below. You can also enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to get more data on your local area. However, please take into account that the reported data in terms rates per population and of increase are a mess for the period 2nd September to 25th October because of the Immensa false negative scandal.
Very briefly this week: You can see a summary of the trends on the government dashboard at this link.
Across the UK as the whole, KCL/ZOE app team independently estimate around 1.1 million people had an active infection on the 12th November (a little lower than when we reported last week), based on symptom reporting and reporting of test results by up to 4.7 million app users.
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. There is a wider list of symptoms associated with the virus to look out for from the ZOE symptom study.
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.