Before this week’s analysis of local data, two quick notes from the national and international data (more detail below), before we get into the local picture:
- The ONS infection survey estimates an astonishing 3.27 million people would have tested positive in the week to 6th January: 1 in 15 people (the same as the previous week – indicating the number of people with active infections reaching a peak)
- Globally, 2.88 million people tested positive in the week to the 14th January – the highest ever weekly figure.
We post regular updates on news around vaccination eligibility/rollout, government policy and more in our Facebook group, where you can also ask any questions you have about any aspect of the pandemic and response.
Gloucestershire – annual data
We now have all the data for 2021, which shows that:
- 88,525 people in the county tested positive. This is about 13.5% or roughly one in every 7 people. Many people will have had infections but not been tested so the true number to have been infected will have been higher still. We don’t have a local estimate for how many are experiencing long term symptoms – but nationally “An estimated 1.3 million people living in private households in the UK (2.0% of the population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID (symptoms persisting for more than four weeks after the first suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) infection that were not explained by something else) as of 6 December 2021.”
- There were 2,803 admissions/diagnoses of Covid-19 in Gloucester/Cheltenham hospitals.
- 538 people who had lived in Gloucestershire died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (this means Covid-19 at least contributed to the death, and in around 90% of cases nationally, was the main cause of death). This compares to 781 deaths from March-December 2020. The number is lower because, despite fewer restrictions/measures and higher numbers of cases, by May 90% of all those over 50 had received at least one dose and by August two doses of vaccination.
Weekly data for Gloucestershire
In the most recent data:
- 5,509 people living in Gloucestershire tested positive for the first time in the week to the 12th January. This is down considerably from a peak 7 day figure of nearly 9,000. 8,983 people tested positive for the first time in the week to 4th January 2021 – very nearly 4 times the level of the peak in January 2021 (when 2,424 people tested positive for the first time in the ‘second wave’ peak week to 4th January. 4 times would have been 9,696). It’s important to stress that because reinfections are occuring but are not counted in this data, that there is more of an undercount than usual (data is always an undercount of infections as not everyone gets tested).
- 96 people were admitted to Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19, or diagnosed in the hospital in the week to the 9th January. This is also down substantially from the peak of 128 in the week to 3rd January. The weekly number hit 63% of the 202 patients admitted in the peak week to the 18th January 2021, but is now at 48% of the peak – and hopefully will continue to fall.
- There were 112 people in Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19 as of 11th January 2022. This is the same number as last week (having fallen from a peak of 116 on the 5th January). This number is pretty much exactly half the level reached at the peak last year – 227 patients on the 20th January 2022. Hopefully numbers will start to fall in line with admissions by next week.
- There were no active Covid-19 patients in local critical care beds as of the 11th January! For comparison, on 11th January 2021 there were 9 Covid-19 patients in local critical care beds, and as recently as 10th December there were 11. We understand that there is now a patient in ICU locally being treated for Covid-19, and wish them and their loved ones all the best, but we are certainly in a better position than we feared a few weeks ago
- Three more people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week we have data for – to 31st December. Since August 2021 a total of 129 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 1,321 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, 239 of them had been living in Stroud district. We send our best wishes to everyone in hospital and their loved ones, and our condolences to those who have lost loved ones, which we know can be particularly difficult at this time of year.
The chart below compares numbers of people testing positive, being admitted to hospital, or dying within 28 days of a positive test compared to the peak week in January 2021. The chart shows how the number of people testing positive in a week reached 399% what it was at the peak in January 2021, but has now fallen to 223%, still more than twice as many people testing positive for the first time in a single week! The number of people being admitted/diagnosed with Covid-19 in hospital is at 48% of the peak – and has fallen. The numbers of people dying are lower – but concerningly high at 25% of the January 2021 peak on 8th January. (test data from 1st September – mid October 2021 is excluded because of the impact of false negatives from the Immensa lab distorting the data)
We can do the same analysis for England – where the picture is similar, though cases are also at around twice the January 2021 peak, hospital occupancy is at around half the previous peak, and numbers of people dying are at around 16% of the January 2021 peak.
The chart below shows how rates of people testing positive locally and across England appear to have peaked. Rates locally never reached the heights they did across England as a whole. Rates are still very high with around 1 in every 100 people testing positive for the first time just in the past week locally, rising to around 1 in every 68 across England. Importantly, this data does not capture all infections as not everyone gets tested, and reinfections are not counted in this dataset (though we know more of them are happening as Omicron is better able to infect people with some immunity from a previous infection). True rates estimated to be as high as 1 in every 15 people with an active infection recently by the ONS random sample testing.
Case rates continue to be much lower for local people aged 60 and over. In the week to the 10th January, 990 people aged 60 and over tested positive, compared to 5,857 aged under 60. That means 14% of those to test positive were aged 60 or over. Rates relative to population among over 60s were 550 per 100,000 (approx 1 in every 180 people), less than half the rate among under 60s (1,271 per 100,000 or approx 1 in every 79 people)
The chart below from Gloucestershire County council helps us understand how rates among smaller age bands are related to vaccination/booster rates. The red blocks and line represent case rates – higher at the top of the graph, lower at the bottom. Along the bottom are different age groups – and there are columns showing the proportion of each age group with a booster, two doses, or 1 dose of covid-19 vaccination. Where the booster (purple bars) rates are highest, the case rates tend to be lowest (though rates are lower currently for those aged 0-14, and relatively high among 18-19 year olds despite at least 40% having been boosted – of course, this leaves more than half of people who do not have protection from boosters). Case rates are again highest for 25-29 year olds, with nearly 3% (ie, 3 in every 100 people of all those in the age group testing positive for the first time) in the week to 9th January.
The chart below shows how current numbers of people in local hospitals with Covid-19 compare to the peak in January 2021 – looking at overall hospital occupancy and numbers of active Covid-19 patients in Intensive Care beds. As you can see, the numbers of patients in hospital are around half the peak last year, while – though exceeding this threshold recently, there were briefly no active Covid-19 patients in Intensive Care earlier this week.
The chart below shows Critical Care bed occupancy for Gloucestershire NHS Foundation Trust (covering Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals), over the past year. While it’s hard to see the zero active Covid-19 patients in red at the right of the chart, hopefully it’s easier to see the other encouraging sign – a lot more green on the chart indicating unoccupied intensive care beds (12 as of the 11th January).
Improvement in case rates can be seen across the local area. Numbers of new positive tests in Stroud town, for example have fallen to 110 in the week to 10th January from 143 in the week to 3rd January. This is still a very high rate of 943 per 100,000 (just shy of 1 in every 100 people), but it’s good to see rates coming down (again, this excludes people infected for a second time so is an undercount).
Rates locally are lowest in Minchinhapton & Amberley (673 per 100,000), and highest in Stroud district in Stonehouse at about twice that rate (1,235 per 100,000), and highest in Gloucestershire in Central Gloucester and Hempsted at 1,645 per 100,000 – around 1 in every 60 people testing positive for the first time just in one week.
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.
View a summary of the trends on the government dashboard at this link. This shows:
- Numbers of people testing positive for the first time appear to have peaked and – while still very high – have fallen – from 1.2 million people in the 7 days to 7th January, to 824,602 in the 7 days to 15th January. Hopefully case numbers continue to fall.
- The number of patients admitted to hospital/diagnosed in hospital also appears to have plateaued. 15,698 people were admitted/diagnosed with Covid-19 in hospital in the week to 10th January, very similar to the 15,812 in the previous week. It’s good that numbers are no longer rising, but these are still fairly high numbers. Hopefully they will start to come down soon in line with the falling number of cases.
- The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital across the UK is also rising fast, more than doubling in a month from 7,413 on 6th December 2021 to 18,454 on the 6th January 2022 (3.3% rise). This is not much below the spring 2020 peak of 21,687, but still less than half the January 2021 peak of 39,254). These are considerable numbers for an NHS that has been under considerable additional pressure due to the pandemic for the past 18 months.
- Sadly, the impact of rising cases is now clear in increased numbers of deaths within 28 days of a positive test. 1,843 died within 28 days of a positive test in the week to 15th January, compared to 1,120 people in the week to the 7th January. Numbers of deaths are being confirmed in the more robust but delayed measure which counts deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned on a death certificate, however because it takes time for death certificates to be processed this data is less up to date: across the UK 640 people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the week to the 31st December (the lowest weekly total since the week to the 6th August 2021). These numbers are around 10 times lower than in the worst weeks of the pandemic when over 9,000 people died in a single week, but we should not minimise these numbers. Over 20,000 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificates since the 30th July 2021.
Not everyone gets tested – but we can get a better idea of the number of people with infections from the ONS infection survey – which estimates an astonishing 1 in 15 people would have tested positive in the week to 31st December (up from 1 in 45 the previous week). “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 continued to increase in the week ending 6 January 2022; we estimate that 3,735,000 people in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 3,624,800 to 3,848,700), equating to around 1 in 15 people.”
Across the UK as the whole, KCL/ZOE app team independently estimate around 2.7 million people had an active infection on the 16th January, based on symptom reporting and reporting of test results by up to 4.7 million app users. This is essentially the same number as one week ago – again indicating a peak. ZOE estimate around 160,000 people being newly infected every day (down from 200,000 a week ago).
Whether people have access to testing strongly influences confirmed case numbers by continent, but across the world as a whole cases are rising rapidly again – to levels far beyond what has been seen before – 2.88 million people tested positive in the week to the 14th January.
The map below shows how Europe, Australia, the USA, Canada, and Argentina are the worst affected countries at the moment in terms of confirmed cases relative to population (again, bear in mind that some countries have low numbers of confirmed cases because people are not able to access testing even when they do have infections).
The UK is far from the only country in Europe to have experience rapid rises in the number of people testing positive – compared to population size France, Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, Italy and Spain all have higher current case rates – as does the European Union as a whole (and, outside Europe, Australia). For now, Germany seems to have been able to keep case rates lower – but they have been rising and we should not assume the country won’t be affected in similar ways to others.
While deaths are lower in the UK as a proportion of cases thanks to high levels of vaccination and a rapid booster campaign, the situation globally is very different – as John Burn Murdoch points out: “deaths now past 50% of pre-Omicron peak in some places with low vaccination rates” – for example Angola.
Read the latest government rules and guidance. Some key, locally focused, information and links below.
The core advice remains: If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative PCR 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 – people who are vaccinated are particularly like to experience cold-like symptoms including headache, runny nose, sore throat etc.
Rapid tests for people without symptoms are available to everyone in England – and the government is recommending people take them either twice a week, or before mixing with others (which could be more often), and daily if identified as a contact of someone with a confirmed infection, but not required to isolated (if fully vaccinated or under 18).
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 are now legally required in some indoor settings again – and 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.