Before the local data for the past week, a reminder that though legal requirements around COVID-19 have been removed, there is still public health advice. Read 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:
“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 [which they currently are]… and people they might interact with are being less cautious… we can still choose to act conscientiously and with compassion for others.“SCCR statement, July 19th 2021
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 either meeting outdoors, or ventilation/clearing air with fresh air when mixing indoors. Here’s a useful article on the latest knowledge around transmission.
This week, local data follows national data because there are some important points nationally that apply to the local data
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 have all been falling – but there are some indications of signs of levelling off in the numbers of people testing positve and of a rise in people being admitted to hospital.
969 people who had lived in the UK, died with COVID-19 listed on their death certificate in the most recent week of data – to 18th 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 four weeks running, from the peak of 1,673 in the week to 21st January. It is below 1,000 people for the first time in 2022, the last time fewer than 1,000 people died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate was in the week to 31st January 2021.
The number of people currently in hospital with COVID-19 across the UK is still above 10,000: 10,510 on the 3rd March, 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). 264 of these patients are in mechanical ventilation beds, slightly up on 255 which was the lower number since 23rd June 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).
It’s hard to tell from the government dashboard – particularly as the comparison is for patients admitted over the whole week, but admissions are clearly rising – the 7 day average is up 7%, see chart below
Patients are, however, 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). We shouldn’t be complacent as even mild covid can complicate other health issues, and always creates issues for infection control in hospitals which are places where there are people who are most at risk)
The chart below compares ONS estimates of prevalence with the implied prevalence of the virus if daily confirmed cases are multiplied by a ratio (analysis by Paul Mainwood). As you can see, there has been a really good match until February this year, when there has started to be some divergence – with the numbers of people confirmed to test positive falling faster and to lower levels than is seen in the ONS data (which is based on an infection survey where a large sample of people are tested and estimates made for the population as a whole from this sample). We know fewer people are getting tested so that seems to explain the divergence. This is important to bear in mind when looking at confirmed case numbers, and if you are still at some risk from the virus and seeking to avoid encountering it: the likelihood of doing so is higher than confirmed case numbers alone are implying.
Across the UK as the whole, KCL/ZOE app team also independently estimate around 2.2 million people had an active infection on the 5th March, 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. ZOE estimate around 152,000 people are being newly infected every day (same as last week).
Weekly data for Gloucestershire
In the most recent data:
- There were 151 people in our local ‘acute’ hospital Trust’s bed (i.e. Gloucester/Cheltenham hospital) with Covid-19 as of 28th February 2022. This has exceeded the previous peak for this wave of 116 patients on the 5th January 2022, and is higher than at the peak of the first wave of 149 on the 14th April. However, earlier in the pandemic there were higher numbers of patients with COVID-19 in our local community hospitals. In total the highest number in the ‘first wave’ was 244 on the 18th April 2020, and the higher number in the ‘second wave’ was 251 on the 19th January 2021, and was 174 people acute and community hospitals on 28th February 2022 – 69% of the peak. As above, nationally around 44% of patients are being treated primarily for Covid-19.
- A further seven people who had lived in Gloucestershire sadly died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week we have data for – to 18th February (two of them had lived in Stroud district). Thankfully this is down from the 19 people with such deaths registered in the previous week. Since August 2021 a total of 202 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, of a total 1,394 people who have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate since the pandemic began (256 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.
- Finally, the number of tests being conducted is falling – so we will endeavour to use ONS estimates from their infection survey in future, alongside numbers of people who have confirmed an infection by testing positive. ONS estimates are slightly dated but give a better idea of the true prevalence of the virus as they aren’t dependent on whether people go to get tested. The latest for Gloucestershire suggests 4.7% people would have tested positive if everyone in the county has been tested in the week to 19th February (representing about 1 in 20 people. The ONS estimate is based on a small sample but statistically the ONS say the true value is likely to be at most as high as 1 in 16 people or at least as high as 1 in 30 people). 3,116 people living in Gloucestershire tested positive in the week to the 1st March. This is still high but less than a third the level of this ‘wave’s peak when 9,770 people tested positive in the week to 4th January 2022. Weekly totals have been falling consistently since the 1st February, but in the past few days seem to be rising again – PCR positivity rates (the proportion of people who get a test which returns a positive result) are rising, another indication that prevalence is higher than the number of people testing positive imples.
The chart below shows a comparison between total hospital beds occupied by patients confirmed to have Covid-19 against the numbers dying with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificates. 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.
While the number of patients with confirmed Covid-19 in Gloucestershire hospitals is very high, and approaching previous peaks, the number in critical care is lower and in no way comparable to last winter’s peak. As of 1st March 2022 there was one Covid-19 patient in a critical care bed in the county, compared to a peak of 19 on the 23rd January 2021.
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 210 people testing positive in the past week, compared to 1 in every 340 across England. Rates are around as low as they were in early November. However, importantly, this data does not capture all infections as not everyone gets tested. True rates estimated to be as high as 1 in every 30 people with an active infection recently by the ONS random sample testing (down from 1 in every 25 the previous week).
The chart below shows how the number of PCR tests being done in Stroud district has been falling dramatically since December/early January, and how more recently the percentage of people who get a positive result has been rising – this could be because PCR tests are more focused on people who are most likely to have the virus… or it could be a sign that numbers of infections are rising, but that this isn’t being picked up in the numbers of confirmed cases because fewer people are getting tested.
Data from the ONS infection survey shows the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 is higher in Gloucestershire and neighbouring areas (and some areas in the South East) – at around 4.7% or 1 in every 20 people.
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.
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 11 million in the week to March 3rd – 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 – cases are rising again in Asia which explains why the world total has also stalled rather than continuing to fall (12 million in the previous week).
Numbers of people dying with their death attributed to Covid-19 are currently highest in Hong Kong, Greenland, Lithuania, Latvia, Georgia, Hungary, Dominica, Estonia, Bulgaria. In all these countries – and some small island/city states – more than 50 people in every million have died just in the past week. The situation in Hong Kong is particularly bad.
The rapid rise in cases and deaths in Hong Kong is concerning. Death rates are now higher than at the UK’s peak – with worse to come. This is expected to largely relate to much lower rates of vaccination among the eldest demographic groups (only around 50% of over 80s are vaccinated, and only around of 70-79 year olds)
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.