17th March 2022 update

Team members James Beecher and Claire Biggs summarise data on Covid-19

Key points:

  1. Numbers of people with infections, and being admitted/diagnosed with Covid-19 in are rising across the UK, and the same is happening locally in Stroud district and Gloucestershire – around 1 in every 25 people had infections in the most recent estimate for the country (during the week ending 5th March).
  2. While the weekly total of new admissions/diagnoses to Gloucester/Cheltenham hospitals hit a new peak for this wave in Gloucestershire, the total number of people who have tested positive and are occupying any hospital bed in Gloucestershire has fallen (from a recent peak of 174, and from 141 last week, to 122 this week)
  3. Numbers of infections are rising globally – driven by increases in Europe and Asia. The rapid outbreak in Hong Kong continues to cause high numbers of deaths, in a context with low vaccine uptake among people most at risk.

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… [Even when there aren’t legal requirements,] 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.

Advice from the government remains even where legal requirements have been lifted. Read “Find out how to stay safe and help prevent the spread of coronavirus“, and specific information for “people with coronavirus (COVID-19) and their contacts.”

Weekly data for Gloucestershire

  1. Rates of people testing positive were already high but are now rising fast locally and nationally. Closing in on 1 in every 100 people testing positive in a week. In reality, not everyone is testing so the true number of people with infections will be higher (around 1 in 25 across England according to the ONS for the week to 5th March)
Source: UKHSA COVID-19 dashboard, data collation and visualisation by Claire Biggs and James Beecher

In the period to 12th March 2022, rates of people testing positive are clearly rising locally and nationally. Locally they are around 1 in every 110 people testing positive in a week, and nationally a little lower at around 1 in every 160 people.

Estimates by the ZOE app / Kings College London team show a different pattern (chart below), estimating that cases had risen to peak of around 6,000 people in Stroud district (or around 1 in every 20 people), but – at the time other sources identify an increase, ZOE shows an apparant decline – to 4,600 people with active infections (1 in every 25 people).

Source: ZOE app

In total, 6,844 people living in Gloucestershire tested positive in the week to the 15th March. This is high, 65% higher than the previous week (4,137) and 70% the level of this ‘wave’s peak when 9,770 people tested positive in the week to 4th January 2022. PCR positivity rates (the proportion of people who get a test which returns a positive result) are also rising, another indication that prevalence is higher than the number of people testing positive imples. In the week to 11th March, 21.7% of all people who were tested by PCR received a positive result, up from the already high 15.1% in the week to 25th February.

2. The number of people admitted to Glos/Chelt hospital with Covid-19 (or diagnosed in the hospitals) hit a new ‘peak’ for this wave on 13th March… 186 people (up from 129 the previous week). However, because many people are discharged quickly, the total number of people occupying any hospital bed who had tested positive fell, from 141 the previous week to 122 on 15th March (down from a recent peak of 174 on the 28th February).

For context, hospital occupancy numbers appear to have peaked below the level of previous waves. Sadly, people are still dying with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (as at least a contributory cause if not, as in most cases, the main case of death). However, weekly death numbers are lower than in previous ‘waves’.

Source: the UKHSA dashboard data for Gloucestershire

3. Thirteen people who had lived in Gloucestershire died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week of data (to 4th March), one of them being from Stroud District. A total of 99 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in 2022 so far, of a total 1,420 people who have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate since the pandemic began (260 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.

You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire, or districts within it, on the government’s dashboard. 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.

National summary

Paul Mainwood’s chart below compares different estimates for the total number of people with the virus at any one time, and the trend. The ONS run an ‘infection survey’ where a randomly selected sample of people are tested and estimates for the national population made, ZOE make estimates based from users of the Covid Symptom Study app reporting test results and symptoms, and the numbers of people testing positive can be multiplied up to match these other estimates based on a historic ratio. In the past, projecting prevalence from daily cases (red line) was reliable, but not after mid-January, when fewer people have been testing. All three aproaches are now detecting a rise – with the ONS and ZOE both estimating very similar numbers of people with the virus ZOE estimate 2.8 million have the virus at present on 17th March 2022, with 268,700 people being newly infected per day.

The number of people currently in hospital with COVID-19 across the UK has risen to 14,078 on the 15th March, up from a recent low of 10,763 on 6th March. (the recent peak was 20,023 on 10th January). Last week, the number of patients in mechanical ventilation beds – 253, was the lowest number since 23rd June 2021 when there were 246 patients on ventilation. This week, the number has sadly (and predictably) risen to 281, the highest number since the end of February 2022. Hospital admissions/new diagnoses in hospital are rising in all English regions, at a similar rate in all age groups, beds occupied by COVID patients are also increasing again, up 21% week-on-week across England, and “COVID deaths in English hospitals are no longer falling. After adjusting for estimated reporting delays, hospital deaths appear to have increased by 3% week-on-week.”

814 people who had lived in the UK, died with COVID-19 listed on their death certificate in the most recent week of data – to 4th March (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 fallen for five weeks running, to less than half the peak of 1,673 in the week to 21st January.


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).

International context

The “BA.2” version of Omicron (distinct from the “BA.1” that spread from November-February), is causing a new wave across various countries. John Burn-Murdoch’s thread below is worth reading beyond the two highlighted tweets. He notes that “Denmark & Netherlands are already descending from BA.2 peaks, so we know that what goes up, comes down.”

Whether people have access to testing strongly influences confirmed case numbers by continent, but across the world as a whole cases are also rising having been falling until recently. 12.28 million people tersted positive in the week to March 16th, having fallen to 10.64 in the week to March 1st. This is driven by rises in Europe but particularly in Asia, which has exceeded it’s previous peak of confirmed cases with 5.9 million people testing positive in the week to 16th March.

In terms of deaths, the situation is particularly bad at the moment in Hong Kong – with a striking difference in the proportion of infections that cause deaths compared to New Zealand. The difference? Vaccination rates among those most at risk. I’ve included several charts/tweets from John Burn-Murdoch as they really explain the situation well.

Making comparisons between countries with regard to total death rates over the course of the whole pandemic is difficult, in part because of differing ability to record deaths, but also because of wider differences between countries such as what proportion of the population is most at risk. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand how badly some places have been affected. The UK’s death rate of 2,396 per million is less than half that of the two worst affected countries – Peru (more than 6,343 deaths per million people) and Bulgaria (more than 5,252 deaths per million people), and there are more than 20 countries with worst reported death tolls relative to population.


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 have making life difficult for many people. We’re also volunteers with no public health expertise – collating and signposting to other sources for guidance and authoritative data.

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.