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. A summary of key guidance is included at the end of this update. Before the local data some good news from the national summary – numbers of people testing positive, people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19, and people dying within 28 days of a positive test are all falling (as are numbers of tests conducted – which is hopefully related to fewer people having symptoms as much as anything else).
The latest more robust data on deaths shows 1,544 people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the week to 28th January, lower than the 1,673 people the week before. These are still significant numbers of people (even if far lower than the previous peak weeks when around 9,000 people died in April 2020 and January 2021). Hopefully the trend will continue to go down.
Weekly data for Gloucestershire
In the most recent data:
- 6,433 people living in Gloucestershire tested positive in the week to the 8th February. This is very, very high but down substantially from the week to the 1st February (when 8,194 people tested positive), and from this ‘wave’s peak when 9,770 people tested positive for the first time in the week to 4th January 2022.
- 152 people were admitted to Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19, or diagnosed in the hospital in the week to the 30th January. This approaching double the 84 last week, and a new high for this ‘wave’. This weekly number of patients admitted with Covid-19 is 75% the peak level in January 2021 – which is concerning. It is possible, however, that a larger proportion of these admissions are now ‘incidental’ (ie, where Covid is not the cause of the admission but an infection is identified on hospital-entry testing), but we shouldn’t be complacent as even mild covid can complicate other health issues, and always creates issues for infection control in hospitals.
- There were 91 people in Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19 as of 8th February 2022. This is up substantially from the 59 a week ago on the 1st February. It represents a 40% – of the peak occupancy in January 2021. Again, there may be a higher proportion being primarily treated for other issues now (see national data below), but this is still a significant number of patients – and covid will be causing infection control issues and complicating other medical issues even where it is not the primary cause of admission (which for at least some of these 91 patients it will be)
- There was one active Covid-19 patient in a local critical care bed as of the 8th February. We wish them well. For comparison, at the peak in this ‘wave’ on 10th December there were 11 patients in the unit.
- Nine more people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week we have data for – to 28th January (four of them had lived in Stroud district). Since August 2021 a total of 169 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, of a total 1,361 people who have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate since the pandemic began (252 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 recent hospitalisation, bed occupancy and death numbers. We’re still in a situation approximately as bad as it has been since June last year (though better than in previous waves, see below)
The chart below shows how rates of people testing positive locally had risen above the rate across England as a whole (having been lower at the peak), but have now started falling. Rates are very high with around 1 in every 125-90 people testing positive in the past week (a little lower for Stroud district than Gloucestershire, but this could just reflect takeup or testing, or a delay). Importantly, this data does not capture all infections as not everyone gets tested. True rates estimated to be as high as 1 in every 19 people with an active infection recently by the ONS random sample testing.
The chart below by Paul Mainwood compares the ZOE apps national estimates of prevalence against those from ONS, and those that would result from daily confirmed cases if inflated by a ratio that produced a good match previous in the pandemic. You can see broad agreement on high prevalence, together with some variation in trends more recently.
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, has bounced around and is now at 279% but falling.
The number of people in local acute hospitals with Covid-19 in hospital is at 40% 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 29% of the January 2021 peak on 4th-6th February. (test data from 1st September – mid October 2021 is excluded because of the impact of false negatives from the Immensa lab distorting the data). These are numbers of people dying within 28 days of a positive test, which is not as robust a metric as Covid-19 being mentioned on a death certificate (where it must at least contribute to the death).
Case rates continue to be much lower for local people aged 60 and over – however they are rising for this group while finally falling for younger people. In the week to the 7th February, 1,092 people aged 60 and over tested positive (compared to 855 in the previous week). Among under 60s, 5,751 people testing positive (7,240 last week). That means 84% of those to test positive were aged under 60 (a little lower than 90% last week) . Rates relative to population among over 60s were 607 per 100,000 (approx 1 in every 165 people), around half the rate among under 60s (1,248 per 100,000 or approx 1 in every 80 people). Hopefully rates in over 60s will start to turn soon.
At the moment, case rates in Gloucestershire are still highest for 10-14 year olds, at 2,109 per 100,000 or 2.1% (still very high at around 1 in every 50 children testing positive in a week, but lower than the 3% or around 1 in every 33 children last week.
Rates are also above 1 in every 100 people for all age groups from 5-49, save for 20-24 year olds where they are just below this level (they are also similar for 50-54 year olds. See data via a chart on the government dashboard (“cases by specimen date age demographics” – you’ll have to hover on the chart for the data).
In terms of geographic variation, case rates are mixed at more local levels – but a number of areas have seen rates fall back below 800 per 100,000 people (though there are still a few where over 1,600 per 100,000 people have tested positive in the past week).
Numbers of people testing positive in a week in Stroud town, for example, have fallen to 111 in the week to 7th February from 145 last week. This is still a very high rate of 952 per 100,000 (around 1 in every 100 people).
Rates locally are lowest in Minchimhampton and Amberley (642 per 100,000 – around 1 in every 160 people), and highest in Stroud district in Dursley at around double that rate (1,282 per 100,000 – around 1 in every 80 people testing positive for the first time in a week). Across Gloucestershire, rates are highest in Tuffley at 1,929 per 100,000 (around 1 in every 50 people – and rising) and Bishop’s Cleeve at 1,602 per 100,000 or around one in every 60 people testing positive in the past week – but falling).
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.
Two neat additions to the data are worth mentioning:
- Data now includes and can be analysed by whether an infection is a first confirmed infection or a “reinfection” – a second or third confrimed infection. See the example for Stroud district below. In total there have been 25,253 documented ‘first’ infections (some first infections may have been missed, but these are the first infections confirmed by PCR/LFT), and 813 total possible reinfections since November 2020 (3% of total confirmed cases are reinfections). Based on these numbers, around 22% of people in Stroud district – one in five – has tested positive for SARS-COV-2 at least once. As not everyone gets tested, and few were able to be in the early part of the pandemic, we can probably expect that over half of people in the district have had an infection by now.
- Data can be broken down by type of test, showing how the policy to trust an LFT positive and no longer confirm with the PCR is working – with people continuing to test positive and report this (and, we assume, isolate), and LFTs an increasing proportion of tests (implying people are more often testing without symptoms or before they arrive, which should help to slow the spread of the virus – hard as this is with the very easily spread Omicron variant)
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 2.7 million people had an active infection on the 12th February, based on symptom reporting and reporting of test results by up to 4.7 million app users. This is up from 2.4 million last week and back to the level of the week before that. ZOE estimate around 195,000 people are being newly infected every day (down slightly from last week’s 200,000, but up from 140,000 two weeks ago).
Below are a couple of charts on the benefits vaccination are providing. The first is from Paul Mainwood and uses data collated by the UK Health Security Agency together with ONS population estimates to show differential rates of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths by age group and vaccination status in the period covering weeks 2-5 of 2022. In short, it shows vaccinations are helping to reduce rates of infection for some groups, but not by much if at all – however, vaccination is massively reducing rates of hospitalisation and death, particularly in the older age groups where rates for unvaccinated people are fairly high. Hospitalisation rates are highest for unvaccinated people aged 60-69 at nearly 0.5% or one in every 200 people, while death rates are highest for unvaccinated people aged 70+ – more than 0.2% of whom, around 1 in every 500 people – have died with Covid-19 in the past four weeks alone.
The second chart is direct from the UKHSA, and shows their latest summary of vaccine effectiveness – whether two or three dose, against Omicron or Delta, over three different time periods. Essentially all infections now are Omicron, where data show effectiveness of approximately 50-75% against symptomatic infection for 0-3 months (ie, for every 100 people who get covid who are unvaccinate, 25-50 people who have received boosters within that time frame would be infected), falling to 40-50% after 4-6 months. Protection against hospitalisation holds up better – starting at 80-95% and falling to 75-85% for 4-6 months. There is insufficient data on protection from death but early indications indicate 85-99% protection in the 0-3 month period. Read more in the UKHSA’s week 6 2022 report.
Whether people have access to testing strongly influences confirmed case numbers by continent, but across the world as a whole cases have started to drop – though still very high numbers are testing positive in a week – just under 17 million in the week to February 11th – falling since a peak of 24 million people in the week to the 24th January, with cases appearing to peak in all continents.
Numbers of people dying with their death attributed to Covid-19 are currently highest in Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, and Paraguay. In all these countries more than 50 people in every million have died just in the past week.
Here’s a a few neat charts from John Burn-Murdoch showing how the ‘infection fatality rate’ (IFR – how many people die of those infected) varies for Covid-19 compared to seasonal flu, by age, and compared between mid-2020 (pre vaccination and largely the original virus) and early 2022 (when immunity from vaccination or prior infection, better treatments and the reduced severity of Omicron have all led to much closer IFRs – though Covid-19 is still more deadly than flu for older people). Accompanying these is a further bit of good news around what the ONS infection survey is telling us.
As John adds, “when it comes to Covid’s overall burden, remember that IFR is multiplied by total number of infections, so with Covid (and particularly the most recent variants) being much more transmissible than flu, it’s not as simple as “only 2x as lethal, great”” (because more people are infected, so even if the proportion who die is closer, a higher number of people will end up dying).
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.