- The estimated proportion of people with an infection is extremely high at the moment- around 1 in 16 people in the most recent estimate for England (during the week ending 19th March), and up to 1 in 13 across Gloucestershire. However, numbers of people testing positive may be peaking and approaching a peak nationally.
- The weekly total of new admissions/diagnoses to Gloucester/Cheltenham hospitals hit a new peak for this wave in Gloucestershire of 193 people. The total number of people who have tested positive and are occupying any hospital bed in Gloucestershire is 136, up from 100 last week but below the peak for this ‘wave’ of 174
- Sadly, as of 11th March (the latest data), we learn that over 100 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 listed as at least a contributory factor on their death certificate in 2022 (106).
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
- Rates of people testing positive are very high (pretty much as high as ever) but now appear to have peaked in Stroud district and to be approaching peaks in Gloucestershire and across England. Around 1 in every 75 people in Stroud district tested positive in the week to the 20th March. In reality, not everyone is testing so the true number of people with infections will be higher (around 7.6% or 1 in every 13 people across Gloucestershire according to the ONS for the week to 20th March)
Estimates by the ZOE app / Kings College London team – which are more up to date and may hint at what is to come – suggest this apparent peak may be short-lived, active cases peaking but then rising again, back to the level of the recent peak – around 6,000 people in Stroud district (or around 1 in every 20 people).
The Office for National Statistics produce estimates for the percentage of people that would test positive in a week. The chart below shows recent data for Gloucestershire and England. In the most recent week, across Gloucestershire the ONS estimate 7.6% people would have tested positive or 1 in 13 people, across England, 6.4% or 1 in 16 people. For Gloucestershire this is the highest ever estimate – though county-level estimates were not made during the Christmas period. For England, the estimate is close to the highest ever, which was 6.9% or 1 in 15 people in the week commencing 31st December.
In total, 7,402 people living in Gloucestershire tested positive in the week to the 22nd March. This is high, but rose 7% on the previous week rather than 66% the previous time – and is 76% 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 18th March, 26.8% 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. In other words, 1 in every 4 of the 11,210 tests done in the week returned a positive result.
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 17th March… 193 people (purple line on chart below). However, because many people are discharged quickly, the total number of people occupying any hospital bed is lower – 136 across all hospitals in Gloucestershire, 128 of whom are in Glos/Chelt hospitals (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 (and people testing positive in hospital in recent weeks are more likely to have tested positive in screening ‘incidentally’ than as the primary reason for their admission). 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’.
3. Seven people who had lived in Gloucestershire died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week of data (to 11th March), one of them being from Stroud District. A total of 106 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in 2022 so far, of a total 1,427 people who have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate since the pandemic began (261 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.
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. All three aproaches are now detecting a rise, however it is important to note that ZOE is providing a lower estimate than ONS (particularly in a context where people continue to suggest ZOE is a better source, when ONS has a more robust methodology).
Read more from the ONS infection survey on a weekly basis, they include a map, embedded below
The number of people currently in hospital with COVID-19 across the UK has risen to 17,440 on the 24th March, up from a recent low of 10,763 on 6th March. (the recent peak was 20,023 on 10th January). On the 12th March, the number of patients in mechanical ventilation beds – 252, was the lowest number since 23rd June 2021 when there were 246 patients on ventilation. However, the number has sadly (and predictably) risen to 302 as of the 23rd March. “Hospital admissions with COVID have risen further, though the rate of increase is slowing and it’s possible that London, SE and SW are peaking. Occupancy is up by 21% for Mechanical Vent beds and 19% for other beds. Hospital deaths are up by 20% (estimated from reporting delays).”
A higher proportion of people in hospital with COVID are being treated primarily for something else than previously BUT as the charts below show, the number of people being primarily treated for COVID is rising too (including to a peak since July 2021 across the South West).
High numbers of infections also affect health services in another important way – causing higher NHS staff absence.
820 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 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 had fallen for five weeks running, to less than half the peak of 1,673 in the week to 21st January, but rose slightly this week, from 814 in the previous week. 11,861 people who had lived in the UK died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate as at least contributing to their death in 2022 so far, of a total 186,094 people since the pandemic began.
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).
Whether people have access to testing strongly influences confirmed case numbers by continent, but across the world as a whole cases are falling having been rising again until recently. 10.87 million people tested positive in the week to 25th March, a significant drop since 12.28 million people tersted positive in the week to March 16th. This is driven by falls in Asia, but numbers of people testing positive are also falling in Europe.
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 2,413 per million is less than half that of the two worst affected countries – Peru (more than 6,356 deaths per million people) and Bulgaria (more than 5,282 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.