These reports are now fortnightly rather than weekly. We hope they are still useful to people – and we will consider increasing frequency should there be a need.
Key links around vaccinations, testing, and government guidance are included at the end of this update. If you have a question about any of this, please ask in our Facebook group. For further info, see the COVID-19 Actuaries Group weekly report.
The latest local COVID-19 data:
Numbers of people with infections are still fairly high – around one in every 60-75 people would have tested positive in the week ending 5th September. But – at the end of August – reached levels as low as any time since the emergence of the Omicron variant in November 2021. Recent estimates suggests rates are no longer falling everywhere across the UK, with it looking like rates are rising again in Gloucestershire specifically (from 1.5% of people to 1.7% of people between the week ending the 28th August and the week ending 5th September). These estimates come from the Office for National Statistics, who produce estimates for the percentage of people that would test positive in a week, based on a large scale PCR-test based ‘infection survey’ designed to represent the population (with around 75,000 tests per week). The chart below shows recent data for the South West and England, and previously available data for Gloucestershire. The similarity between the percentages testing positive at anyone time and the trends indicate that the South West and England data is a good guide to the local situation.
A rise locally is also apparent in the numbers of people testing positive in local hospital beds (see below). We don’t know how long the rise will last, but the main cause is likely to be further evolution of the virus which means another variation (or several) is/are circulating and is/are able to spread through reinfecting people / infecting those who have been vaccinated. Both vaccination and/or prior infection are likely to mean less severe consequences on the whole, but there will be cases where people (mainly those aged over 80) are still at risk.
The total number of people who have tested positive and are occupying any hospital bed in Gloucestershire was 65 as of 14th September, more than double the low of 29 which was reached on 3rd September. This is still a fraction of the highest level in 2022 so far (174 on the 28th Feb), and a smaller proportion of the highest ever number of patients in local hospitals confimed to have tested positive for SARS-COV-2 (262 patients at the peak in January 2021). Comparisons with previous periods are a little misleading, as a higher proportion than previously are now treated primarily for something else (meaning the situation now is in reality much better than a comparison of raw numbers implies).
Unlike in previous waves, few patients have been admitted to critical care recently with COVID-19 – there was one patient in critical care with COVID-19 locally as of 14th September, and were no patients in critical care as recently as the 4th September.
Sadly, another 3 people who had lived in Gloucestershire died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificates in the most recent week of data (to 2nd September), and together with 3 in the previous week, 6 have died since our last update. In each of these cases, a clinician has determined that COVID-19 played at least a contributory role in the death. One of these people, 1 had lived in Stroud district– in the most recent week no-one from Stroud died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate. A total of 308 people who had lived in Stroud district have now died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate. These are among the 1,641 deaths of people who had lived in Gloucestershire, and 206,466 total deaths of people who had lived in the UK, in total. You can see on the chart below that weekly deaths have been much lower since the introduction of vaccines from December 2020.
The national hospital picture is mixed – with hospital admissions still falling but more slowly, though rising 22% across the South West. The total number of people being treated primarily for COVID-19 is now well below 2,000 people – see tweets below.
Deaths by date of death for instances where COVID-19 is mentioned on a death certificate by a clinician as at least contributing to the death are falling – having peaked in the recent ‘wave’ on 20th July. The chart below shows clearly how this recent ‘peak’ was much lower than those in the pre-vaccination era in spring 2020 and winter 2020/21. The current 7-day average is 60 people dying across the UK with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate, and falling – hopefully soon below the 2022 low of 33 on the 5th June.
For a great broader summary of the national situation, see the ONS “Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights” page, which is updated with the latest possible data from the Office for National Statistics and other sources. This includes that 96.1% of people tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19 (generated either by immune response to infection, vaccination, or both) – down slightly on recent estimates which could be estimate flucuation but could also be due to waning immunity (whatever the cause of immune response)..
Other recommended relevant content includes this thread from John Burn-Murdoch on excess deaths and the stress the NHS is under.
Whether people have access to testing strongly influences confirmed case numbers by continent, but across the world as a whole weekly COVID-19 cases have fallen. Around 3.5 million people tested positive in the week to 16th September, compared to around 5.8 million people tested positive in the week to 16th August.
The numbers of daily confirmed deaths also peaked around August 20th,well below the rates from mid-April 2020, let alone January and April 2021 (Alpha variant), August 2021 (Delta variant), and February 2022 (first wave of Omicron variant)
Please refer to the NHS and government guidance on:
- Information about the “Spring booster” rollout in Gloucestershire on the local NHS website.
- Details regarding the testing system – including who can access tests
- What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19
- What to do if you’ve been in close contact with someone with COVID-19
- How to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19
- Summary government “Guidance for living safely with respiratory infections, including coronavirus (COVID-19)“
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.