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 the number of people who would have tested positive in the most recent week they have data for has fallen a little on the previous week, however, it is still very high at “around 1 in 20 people”: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 decreased in the week ending 15 January 2022; we estimate that 2,984,200 people in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 2,886,900 to 3,077,300)”
- Globally, 21.6 million people tested positive in the week to the 19th 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.
Weekly data for Gloucestershire
In the most recent data:
- 4,887 people living in Gloucestershire tested positive for the first time in the week to the 18th January. This is down to nearly half the peak 7 day figure of 8,983 people tested positive for the first time in the week to 4th January 2022 – though it’s still more double the level of the peak in January 2021 (when 2,424 people tested positive for the first time in the week to 4th January). 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).
- 109 people were admitted to Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19, or diagnosed in the hospital in the week to the 16th January. This is also down substantially from the peak of 128 in the week to 3rd January, however, it is higher than last week’s total of 96. The weekly number of patients admitted with Covid-19 is around half the peak level in January 2021: 54%
- There were 68 people in Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19 as of 18th January 2022. This down from a recent peak of 116 on the 5th January 2022. It represents 30% of the peak occupancy in January 2021.
- There were no active Covid-19 patients in local critical care beds as of the 18th January! For comparison, on 18th January 2021 there were 14 Covid-19 patients in local critical care beds, and as recently as 10th December there were 11. There have been patients in ICU earlier in the week (2 on the 13th and 14th January, 1 on the 15th and 17th).
- Nine more people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week we have data for – to 7th January. Since August 2021 a total of 138 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, of a total 1,330 people who have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate since the pandemic began (242 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 217%, still more than twice as many people testing positive for the first time in a single week! The number of people in local acute hospitals with Covid-19 in hospital is at 30% of the peak (having reached just over half – 51% – on the 3rd, 5th, and 10th of January). The numbers of people dying are lower – but still significant at 17% of the January 2021 peak on 18th 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:
- The number of people testing positive for first time in a week was 143% of the January 2021 peak (having reached 317 on 4th January)
- Numbers of people in hospital with Covid-19 were 47% of the January 2021 peak (having reached 50% on 10th January)
- Numbers of people dying with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in a week were 14% of the January 2021 peak (having reached 18% from 11-15th January).
The chart below shows how rates of people testing positive locally and across England appear to have hit a plateau (or potentially started to rise again) after steep drops. Rates are still very high with around 1 in every 125-140 people testing positive for the first time just in the past week locally, rising to around 1 in every 100 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 20 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 16th January, 653 people aged 60 and over tested positive, compared to 4399 aged under 60. That means 13% of those to test positive were aged 60 or over. Rates relative to population among over 60s were 363 per 100,000 (approx 1 in every 275 people), less than half the rate among under 60s (955 per 100,000 or approx 1 in every 104 people). While there seems to be a plateau in cases overall, it looks like cases among over 60s are still falling, while cases among under 60s are perhaps beginning to rise – and are at best flat. This is likely to have a lot to do with a) booster takeup being higher among over 60s and b) under 60s being more likely to be in indoor environments with large numbers of people where the virus can spread (ie, schools and workplaces).
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 are lowest (though rates are currently similarly low for those aged 0-4.
Currently infection rates locally are lowest among those 70+ – those with the highest levels of booster uptake (but also much less likely to be going into schools/workplaces/large indoor venues with lots of people). Age group is split into 70-79 and 80+, but both have booster uptake levels above 94%. Cases rates for 70-79 year olds are at 351 per 100,000 or approx one in every 285 people in the age group testing positive for the first time in the week to 12th January, and 342 per 100k among those aged 80+ – approx 1 in every 292 people aged 80+. These rates aren’t exactly low, but they are lower than other age groups which is good given these age groups including many of those most at risk from the virus (at least pre-vaccination).
Locally, infection rates are highest among those aged 25-29 year olds, at 1,467 per 100,000 or 1.5% (ie, around 1 in every 68 people of all those in the age group testing positive for the first time, just in the week to 12th January). This rate is four times higher than for those aged 70+ and reflects a lower proportion of the age group boosted (around 46%), as well as people in this age group being more likely to either need to mix with others in settings where transmission is more likely (work, college, university) or wanting to given their preferences regarding the balance of risks/mitigation measures in place (friends houses, indoor entertainment, etc).
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 (places without 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 (6 as of the 18th 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 77 in the week to 16th January from 110 last week (and 143 in the week to 3rd January). This is still a very high rate of 660 per 100,000 (just over 1 in every 150 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 Cam (519 per 100,000), and highest in Stroud district – and indeed across Gloucestershire – in Stonehouse at about twice that rate (1,273 per 100,000 – unlike the rest of the county this rate is up from last 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.
To conclude this week’s local update, the chart(s) below compare the average number of people testing positive, admissions to local hospitals, and people dying within 28 days of a positive test by month across 2020 and 2021. You can see how numbers of people testing positive have been much higher since restrictions were relaxed and the more easily spread Delta and Omicron variants became dominant in the 2nd half of 2021. You can also see that there have been significant numbers of hospital admissions, but that months numbers have never reached the peak levels seen previously despite these high numbers of cases – and that numbers of deaths per month have been much lower than in previous waves. The last two points relate to the high levels of immunity generated primarily through vaccination, but also through infections in 2020 and the early part of 2021.
In addition to the chart above for England you can view a summary of the trends for the UK on the government dashboard at this link (you can also explore the data by nation, region, or local authority area).
Not everyone gets tested – but we can get a better idea of the number of people with infections from the ONS infection survey – “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 decreased in the week ending 15 January 2022; we estimate that 2,984,200 people in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 2,886,900 to 3,077,300), equating to around 1 in 20 people.” The data from the ONS lags but backs up the trend seen in the confirmed case numbers.
Across the UK as the whole, KCL/ZOE app team also independently estimate around 2.4 million people had an active infection on the 21th January, based on symptom reporting and reporting of test results by up to 4.7 million app users. This is down from 2.7 million last week – further confirmation of a peak in cases. ZOE estimate around 140,000 people being newly infected every day (down from 160,000 a week ago).
Hospital “admissions are now falling in every UK nation and region“, but “cases are rising in children” and “no longer falling in 35-39s (their parents’ cohort”.
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 – 3.18 million people tested positive on average each day in the week to the 19th January (21.6 million people tested positive in the week).
Numbers of people dying with their death attributed to Covid-19 are currently highest in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia.
We now have some good data from South Africa given us a good indication that the wave is ending – showing that it will likely “end up South Africa’s least lethal [wave], possibly by a large margin” (this is dependent on numbers continuing to drop, but unlike the UK there is no sign of case numbers stopping their dramatic fall).
Read the latest government rules and guidance. Some key, locally focused, information and links below. You may find the flowchart below useful (click for a fully up to date/larger flowchart of Testing and Isolation guidance in England)
The core advice remains: If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate and get a PCR test. If it is positive you must isolate for at least 5 days from your symptoms appearing or a positive lateral flow result. If you test negative on Lateral Flow two days in the row on days 5 and 6 or a pair of days after this, you can leave isolation. 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.