For advice on what to do if you think you might have a coronavirus/SARS-COV-2 infection, please skip to the end.
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Gloucestershire – positive tests, hospital admissions, people in hospital
First, some key numbers. In the most recent data
- 3,016 people living in Gloucestershire tested positive for the first time in the week to the 15th November. This is pretty much the same as the week to 6th November (3,007), ie, the trend is essentially flat at the moment.
- 57 people were admitted to Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19, or diagnosed in the hospital – a drop from 81 people in the week to the 7th November, and a significant drop from the recent peak of 100 people admitted/diagnosed in the week to 31st October. Too soon to tell if the downward trend will continue, but it is really welcome news that there hasn’t been continued increase.
- There were 52 people in Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19 as of 17th November – again a drop from last week’s figure (68 patients with Covid-19 in these hospitals on 9th November)
- Eight more people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week we have data for – to 5th November. This is a small decrease from 10 last week (which was 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 may still not have 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 have dropped 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). Stroud has a rate of 369 per 100,000, England is at 385 per 100,000, and Gloucestershire as a whole has a rate of 458 per 100,000.
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 65 people” in England would have tested positive in the week to 13th November – down from 1 in 60 the previous week, and now similar across the South West – about 1 in 63 – down from 1 in 50 the previous week).
Looking at 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 reached levels around half the rates of peaks in previous waves. However, both weekly admission numbers and numbers of people in hospital with Covid-19 now appear to be falling, which is a good sign. It’s still too early to be sure it’s a definite trend rather than fluctation, but fingers crossed it continues.
The chart below puts the above chart in the context of the numbers of people testing positive. It demonstrates how population-wide vaccination has dramatically weakened the link between the numbers of people who test positive (still very high), and the numbers being admitted to hospital/in hospital dying. We still want to keep hospital numbers low and prevent people dying, but it is worth emphasising that people testing positive are now – on average – more likely to be having mild infections (whether because they are fully vaccinated before infection or because they are unvaccined but at lower risk because younger etc). It’s worth emphasising that “mild” infections that do not require hospital admission may still not be enjoyable and could lead to prolonged symptoms / loss of quality of life (“long covid”), so we still want to do what we can to prevent the spread of infections.
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 in Stroud Town (down 25% last week on the previous week, and down a further 23% on last week this week). Similar patterns are occuring in other parts of the district/county – but there are fluctuations – with some areas around Cheltenham and Coleford moving into the highest rates (dark purple/black), even as Berkeley, Nailsworth and Malmesbury move down to lower rates (lighter blue)
A chart exploring local authority patterns in the South West has been shared on twitter by an “Autistic penguin with a corrupted spreadsheet and a cucumber sandwich” (a worthwhile follow for Covid data on twitter, one of the people who first identified the issues involved in the Immensa scandal). The chart is taken from Ian Campbell’s excellent interactive Covid data site. It shows “Torridge in Devon is getting close to hitting a weekly rate of 1000 cases per 100k. Rates that high have not been seen since the SW “caught up” after the Immensa scandal. Prior to that, Kettering hit 1k/100k/week in September. Not many places have been this high since July.”
It also shows that Stroud district has the 3rd lowest rate for roughly similar sized authorites in the South West – behind only Swindon and Somerset West – but that aside from Torridge, and a few other Devon authorities, most South West areas are following a broadly similar path with rates between 400 and 600 per 100,000.
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.
- Most encouragingly, the numbers of people dying within 28 days of a positive test has fallen by 4.8%. However, over 1,000 people died in the week to 19th November (1,038) – and numbers in this region are being confirmed in the more robust but delayed measure which counts deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned on a death certificate: across the UK 1,194 people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the week to the 5th November.
- It’s also encouraging that the number of patients admitted to hospital/diagnosed in hospital is falling – down 4.5% on the previous week, to 6,183 in the last 7 days (still a considerable number).
- The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital is also falling: 8,079 on 18th November, compared to a recent peak of 9,661 on the 1st November. These numbers are still well below the spring 2020 peak of 21,687, and the January 2021 peak of 39,254, but nonetheless considerable numbers for an NHS that have been under considerable additional pressure due to the pandemic for the past 18 months, and is heading into what are usually the worst months of ‘normal’ years.
- … and numbers of people testing positive for the first time have risen: 281,128 in the 7 days to 19th November is 13.1% increase on the previous week. It’s too soon to know either if this will feed into more hospital admissions/deaths, or if it will be a sustained rise, but we’d obviously rather the trend was in the opposite direction.
The ONS estimate that “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to decrease in the week ending 13 November 2021… 824,900 people in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 775,500 to 873,700), equating to around 1 in 65 people.”
Across the UK as the whole, KCL/ZOE app team independently estimate around 978,000 people had an active infection on the 19th November, based on symptom reporting and reporting of test results by up to 4.7 million app users. This is down considerably by 1.1 million on the 12th November.
James Ward presents data on twitter showing that admissions to hospital in England are falling among the older age groups: those aged 85+, and even more dramatically among those aged 65-84 (also just about falling among 18-64s). This looks very much like a booster effect.
He also shows that – in terms of numbers of people testing positive – “growth seems to be fading in the younger age groups (but with cases still growing, for now at least), and cases are already falling in the older (60-80 and 80+) age groups” (the chart is growth rates, downward lines are good but have to be below the line at 0% to actually represent declining numbers of cases).
However, while case growth is fading among the under 20s as a whole, “cases in 5-9s appear to have hit an all-time high, which isn’t ideal“. Children aged 5-9 are obviously not eligible for vaccination, which you’d think would explain why case rates are falling among other age groups (particularly the age groups eligible for boosters).
In terms of vaccination uptake across England:
- 25% of people are estimated to have had a booster (the estimate is only because the total number of people isn’t certain – it will be about 25%). We don’t have a number for Stroud district/Gloucestershire yet but it is likely similar based on data we have for uptake of 1 or 2 doses
- 80% have had at least two doses (81.8% in Stroud district)
- 88% have had at least one dose (87.6% in Stroud district)
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.