Before this week’s analysis of local data, three quick notes from the national and international data (more detail below), before we get into the local picture:
- The government has ended Plan B restrictions and returned to “Plan A” – you can read their full press release at the link. Guidance remains, including to “let fresh air in if you meet indoors, meeting outdoors is safer”, “get tested, and self-isolate if required”, “continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces” and “try to stay at home if you are feeling unwell” (as well as to “wash your hands”, “download and use the NHS COVID-19 app”, and “if you haven’t already, Get Boosted Now”). Measures that have been removed mean: “mandatory COVID-19 certification will end, but venues may choose to use the NHS COVID Pass voluntarily”, and “face coverings will not be required by law in indoor venues” (though they will still be recommended generally for indoor venues, and required in health and care settings on the basis of infection control guidance).
- 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 coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to decrease in the week ending 22 January 2022; we estimate that 2,629,400 people in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 2,542,500 to 2,716,500)”
- Nationally, rates of people testing positive for the 1st time are “still falling, but much more slowly, in all age groups except for primary school kids and their parents age bracket where cases are rising again”. Locally, the rise in people aged under 60 is enough to mean cases are rising as a whole.
- Globally, 24 million people tested positive in the week to the 24th 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:
- 6,844 people living in Gloucestershire tested positive for the first time in the week to the 25th January. This is very, very high and up substantially from the week to the 18th January (when 5,356 people testing positive), though it is still lower than the recent peak when 8,983 people tested positive for the first time in the week to 4th January 2022. It is almost exactly 3x the number that tested positive in the peak week in January 2021 (299%). 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).
- 82 people were admitted to Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19, or diagnosed in the hospital in the week to the 23rd January. This is down substantially from the peak of 128 in the week to 3rd January, and lower than last week when 109 people were admitted. The weekly number of patients admitted with Covid-19 is around 41% the peak level in January 2021.
- There were 75 people in Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19 as of 25th January 2022. This down from a recent peak of 116 on the 5th January 2022, but up from last week’s number of patients (68). It represents a third – 33% – of the peak occupancy in January 2021.
- There was one active Covid-19 patient in local critical care beds as of the 25th January. We wish them well with their recovery. For comparison, on 25th January 2021 there were 17 Covid-19 patients in local critical care beds, and as recently as 10th December there were 11.
- Eleven more people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week we have data for – to 14th January (one of them had lived in Stroud district). Since August 2021 a total of 149 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, of a total 1,341 people who have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate since the pandemic began (243 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.
The chart below shows the numbers above in context both for this ‘wave’ and for the previous peaks in March-April 2020, and October 2020-February 2021. Weekly numbers of people dying are much lower – but while hospital admissions and numbers of people in hospital at any one time are not as high as in previous waves, they are still significant.
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, and after falling to 217% has now risen to 299%, three times 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 33% 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 25th 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 104% of the January 2021 peak (having reached 317 on 4th January): 362,092 people
- Numbers of people in hospital with Covid-19 (13,651) were 40% of the January 2021 peak (having reached 50% on 10th January)
- 1,308 people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the week to 14th January 2022 (19% of the January 2021 peak).
The chart below shows how rates of people testing positive locally are rising again after steep drops. Rates are very high with around 1 in every 100 people testing positive for the first time just in the past week locally (a little lower for Stroud district, but this could just reflect testing or a delay). 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 – and indeed are still falling for this age group. In the week to the 22nd January, 588 people aged 60 and over tested positive (compared to 653 in the previous week). Among under 60s, 5,687people testing positive (4,399 last week). That means 91% of those to test positive were aged under 60. Rates relative to population among over 60s were 326 per 100,000 (approx 1 in every 300 people), around a quarter the rate among under 60s (1,234 per 100,000 or approx 1 in every 80 people). It looks like cases among over 60s are still falling (or at worst flattening out at low levels), while cases among under 60s have been rising for the past few week. 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 heatmap below is by Steven Murdoch, Research Fellow at University College London. It shows Stroud district’s rolling case rates for the past 7 days from September 2021 to this week in January 2022, by 5 year age bands. Where the chart is yellow, rates are highest at 3,000 per 100,000 people or higher (ie, 3% or 1 in every 33 people in the age band testing positive for the 1st time in that week).
At the moment, case rates in Stroud district are highest for 5-9 year olds, at 2,717 per 100,000, or 2.7%, more than 1 in every 40 children of this age.
Rates are also above 1 in every 100 people for all age groups from 10-19, and 25-44 (and only a little lower for 19-24s and 45-49 year olds). See a harder to read verion of this chart on the government dashboard
The chart below shows how case rates relate to vaccination takeup by age band. You can see how currently case rates are highest among unvaccinated children, and lowest among those with the highest booster take up rates (those aged 60 or older).
The chart below shows Critical Care bed occupancy for Gloucestershire NHS Foundation Trust (covering Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals), over the past year or so. You can see the days where there were zero active Covid-19 patients (places without red at the right of the chart), but also the new occupancy by a Covid-19 patient. There are also a lot of non-Covid-19 patients in ICU, with only 3 unoccupied ICU beds locally as of 25th January.
At a more local level, case rates are mixed – with some areas seeing rises and others falls. Numbers of first positive tests in Stroud town, for example have fallen to 68 in the week to 22nd January from 77 last week (and 143 in the week to 3rd January). This is still a high rate of 583 per 100,000 (around 1 in every 170 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 Chalford and Bussage (464 per 100,000), and highest in Stroud district in Stonehouse at about three times that rate (1,572 per 100,000 – up 24% from last week – to around 1 in every 60 people testing positive for the first time in a 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.
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).
Across the UK as the whole, KCL/ZOE app team also independently estimate around 2.2 million people had an active infection on the 27th January, based on symptom reporting and reporting of test results by up to 4.7 million app users. This is down from 2.4 million last week and 2.7 million the week before that – further confirmation of a peak in cases. However, ZOE estimate around 165,000 people being newly infected every day (up from 140,000 a week ago).
Colin Angus has a heatmap on how cases are changing for different age groups, by weeks from December 1st to this week:
Colin also has an excellent thread on attempts to mislead people about the true number of people who have died because of Covid-19 in the UK, with “people recently shouting about how new ONS data shows that the “true” death toll from COVID in England & Wales is only 17,371, rather than the ONS figure of 157,816.” It’s really worth reading this in full.
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 – 24 million people tested positive in the week to 24th January.
Numbers of people dying with their death attributed to Covid-19 are currently highest in Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, North Macedonia, Suriname, and Guyana.
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.