Before the local data for the past week, a reminder that as of today legal requirements around COVID-19 have been removed, but there is still public health advice. The government now say:
“You will not be legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19. Stay at home if you can and avoid contact with other people.
You will not have to take daily tests or be legally required to self-isolate following contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme will end. If you were told to self-isolate before 24 February you can still make a claim up to 6 April.”
“It is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated. If you have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test result, the public health advice is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. COVID-19 will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future, so we need to learn to live with it and manage the risk to ourselves and others. All of us can play our part by understanding the situations where risks of COVID-19 infection and transmission are likely to be higher, and taking action to reduce these risks.”
Read more guidance from the government on “Find out how to stay safe and help prevent the spread of coronavirus“, and specifically for “people with coronavirus (COVID-19) and their contacts.”
We share this for information about the government’s position, not as an endorsement. As we said when restrictions were lifted in July last year:
“We know that people will have different perspectives at key moments like this. We hope that our Facebook group can be a space where you can discuss your opinions, experiences and concerns, and the community can support each other to navigate the challenges we face… please think of those of us still at risk – older people, people with compromised immune systems or other factors which make them vulnerable. Some people will welcome the ending of restrictions, but many others will have a very different idea of the ‘freedom’ that is accessible to them if numbers of infections are high… and people they might interact with are being less cautious.
The government are ending many restrictions, but we can still choose to act conscientiously and with compassion for others. As a group, we often answer questions by point members of our Facebook group to government guidance and legislation, but our purpose is not to endorse the government’s approach at all times – rather it is to help to reduce the spread of the virus, to aid efforts to mitigate the harms caused by it – and also to help our community support each other through the difficulties caused by both the virus itself and the restrictions that have accompanied it. The effects of both will be with us for some time, and we will continue to provide a space to facilitate sharing of good information and publicising community support efforts.”
Key to stopping the spread are: staying home if you are ill or test positive if you can, wearing the best quality and best fitting masks when in indoor/crowded locations, and utilising outdoor air, ventilation, or clearing air with fresh air indoors. Here’s a useful article on the latest knowledge around transmission.
Nationally, numbers of cases, deaths within 28 days of a positive test (shown below) and deaths where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate (a more robust but also delayed measure), and the number of people being admitted to hospital are all falling fast.
Nonetheless, 1,185 people who had lived in the UK, died with COVID-19 listed on their death certificate in the most recent week of data – to 11th February (this means it at least contributed to the death, and in a majority of cases – across the pandemic 9 in 10 cases – was the main underlying cause of death). This number has however fallen for three weeks running, from the peak of 1,673 in the week to 21st January.
The number of people currently in hospital with COVID-19 across the UK is still above 10,000: 11,043 on the 23rd February, but is approaching half the level of the peak in this ‘wave’ (20,023 on 10th January), and is back to the level on the 28th December (11,041 patients). 304 of these patients are in mechanical ventilation beds, the lowest number since 1st July 2021.
Weekly data for Gloucestershire
In the most recent data:
- First, the sad news that nineteen more people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week we have data for – to 11th February (one of them had lived in Stroud district). This is the highest weekly number since the week to 19th February 2021 when 22 people died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate. Since August 2021 a total of 195 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, of a total 1,387 people who have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate since the pandemic began (254 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.
- 3,641 people living in Gloucestershire tested positive in the week to the 22nd February. This is still high but way less than half this ‘wave’s peak when 9,770 people tested positive for the first time in the week to 4th January 2022. Weekly totals have been falling consistently since the 1st February. The total is the lowest number since 1st December 2021.
- 150 people were admitted to Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19, or diagnosed in the hospital in the week to the 20th February. A new weekly high for this ‘wave’ was reached on 8th February at 163 people admitted, and admissions/diagnoses have remained high at over 130 a week since. 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, see below for national data), 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 106 people in Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital with Covid-19 as of 22nd February 2022. This is almost as high as the recent peak on 116 on the 5th January 2022, and around half the highest peak of 229 on the 6th January 2021.
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)
In the chart below, the above data is placed in context of previous waves – where hospital admissions and numbers of patients rose more sharply. With few restrictions and the easily spread Omicron variant, we see that weekly numbers of admissions to hospital are close to the levels of previous ‘peaks’ – and yet numbers of people dying per week are much lower – thanks both to vaccination and – for more recent weeks – perhaps due to Omicron being a slighly less severe variant too.
The chart below shows how rates of people testing positive relative to population are falling locally and nationally. Rates are a little higher across Stroud district and Gloucestershire than across England as a whole, with around 1 in every 150 people testing positive in the past week, compared to 1 in every 240 across England. Importantly, this data does not capture all infections as not everyone gets tested. True rates estimated to be as high as 1 in every 25 people with an active infection recently by the ONS random sample testing (down from 1 in every 20). Rates are back to where they were in mid-December last year.
No breakdown for more local areas or by age this week – we don’t have time sadly. But 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, or see the interactive map of areas – zoom in to get counties, district, and settlements.
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 2.4 million people had an active infection on the 14th February, based on symptom reporting and reporting of test results by up to 4.7 million app users. This is down from 2.6 million last week and 2.7 million the week before. ZOE estimate around 152,000 people are being newly infected every day (down from 195,000 a day two weeks ago).
The ZOE and ONS estimates of prevalence are now in close agreement about the number of people with the virus, and the trend. Extrapolating from numbers of people confirmed to test positive shows a sharper trend, which may be because of reduced testing (or could imply a greater degree of lag in the other estimates).
ZOE provide the below chart estimating incidence (new cases per 100,000) by age group – showing rates low and flat for 55+, high but falling for 35-54s, high and flat for 18-34s, and very high but falling for 0-17s. Read more in ZOE’s latest update.
As mentioned above – patients are more likely now than in the past to be being treated ‘with’ Covid-19 rather than primarily ‘for’ it. There are still lots of people being treated primary for Covid… but the numbers have fallen rapidly and are at a level lower than in November 2021 (ie, pre-Omicron).
Two further charts of interest – the ONS show the percentage of population with high levels of antibodies (from vaccination or infection) – above 90% for all age groups over 12, and in some cases around 99%. Even for those aged 8-11, antibody levels are estimated at over 80%.
Another way of thinking about this is that only around 1 in every 100 adults in England are still “immunonaive” (i.e., have not either had at least one vaccination dose and/or an infection) – any infection in the future will come in the context of at least some immunity for almost all people. There are some people for whom vaccination will not reduce their risk by much, and some reinfections can be severe – but the “immunity landscape” is, as Radiology Registrar Devan Sinha says “very different… compared to March 2020″… at least in the UK.
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 12 million in the week to February 23rd – falling to half the peak of 24 million people in the week to the 24th January, with cases appearing to have peaked in all continents – though perhaps starting to rise again in Asia.
Numbers of people dying with their death attributed to Covid-19 are currently highest in Greenland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Bosnia & Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Greece, and Armenia. In all these countries – and some small island/city states – more than 50 people in every million have died just in the past week.
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, and wash your hands regularly – and please be respectful of requests from people most at risk with regard to their particular needs.
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.