5th April 2021 data update

Before this week’s data update for Stroud, Gloucestershire and beyond, a reminder of the next stage of the Government’s roadmap for ending restrictions, taken from gov.uk: “Some of the rules on what you can and cannot do will change on 12 April. You can read the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ (the roadmap out of lockdown) for more information on how COVID-19 restrictions will be eased in England. You can also read the law that underpins these changes and the ongoing restrictions.”

From 12 April:

  • “non-essential retail will be able to reopen
  • personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons will be able to reopen
  • public buildings such as libraries and community centres will be able to reopen
  • outdoor hospitality venues will be able to reopen, with table service only
  • most outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in performances (such as cinemas and concerts) will be able to reopen
  • some smaller outdoor events such as fetes, literary fairs, and fairgrounds will be able to take place
  • indoor leisure and sports facilities will be able to reopen for individual exercise, or exercise with your household or support bubble
  • all childcare and supervised activities will be allowed indoors (as well as outdoors) for all children. Parent and child groups can take place indoors (as well as outdoors) for up to 15 people (children under 5 will not be counted in this number)
  • weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, wakes and other commemorative events will be able to take place for up to 15 people (anyone working is not included in this limit), including in indoor venues that are permitted to open or where an exemption applies. Wedding receptions can also take place for up to 15 people, but must take place outdoors, not including private gardens
  • self-contained accommodation will be able to open for overnight stays in England with your household or support bubble
  • you should continue to minimise the amount that you travel where possible
  • care home residents will be able to nominate two named individuals for regular indoor visits (following a rapid lateral flow test)”

A reminder that from 1 April, “if you have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable you will no longer be advised to shield.”

Key data:

  • 20 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 31st March (down from 26 in the previous week). The numbers of people testing positive each week are falling – now back to levels last seen in late September (23 in the week to 23rd Sept). Just 0.5% of the 3,071 tests completed in the last 7-day period for which data is available tested positive.
  • Across Gloucestershire, 91 people tested positive in the week to the 31st March (down from 110 in the previous week) – now back to the levels lower than last seen at the end of September (110 in the week to 23rd September). The rate per 100,000 people across Gloucestershire is 14.6 – making it the 14th lowest rate for equivalent local authorities in the UK.
  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that – as of 28th March, the latest publicly available data – 69% of the Stroud district population aged 16+ has had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine (67,549 people). Across Gloucestershire, 64% has had a first dose and 10% have had a second dose. Across the South West, 63% have had a first dose, and across England over 25 million people have recevied a first dose of vaccine (57% of the population aged 16+)
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is down to 5 patients on the 30th March (the most recent date data is available), down from 6 the week before (having peaked at 262 on the 6th January). There have been no patients in Mechanical Ventilation beds locally since 17th March, ie, for over two weeks.
  • For the first week since that ending on the 30th October, no-one from Stroud district died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week of data (to 19th March). In Gloucestershire – 4 people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, bringing the total for the county to 1,177 people. 196 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.
  • Nationally, the number of deaths in a week is – in the most recent death certificate data from the week to the 19th March – “8.0% below the five-year average (894 fewer deaths).” (ONS)
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

We have a full month of data on people testing positive for March – and the decline from December and January’s extremely high figures is really stark. 586 people across Gloucestershire tested positive in March 2021, 11 times lower than in January. The figure is not much higher than for September last year (407), and there is every reason to expect numbers to continue to fall to the levels of August (136), July (64) and June (50) last year or potentially even lower.

Looking week-by-week, you can see that across Gloucestershire the number of people testing positive continues to fall: 91 people tested positive in the week to the 31st March (down from 110 in the previous week) – now back to the levels lower than last seen at the end of September (110 in the week to 23rd September). The rate per 100,000 people across Gloucestershire is 14.6 – making it the 14th lowest rate for equivalent local authorities in the UK., and behind only Bath and North East Somerset, Devon and the Isle of Wight among English local authorities. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 22,314 people have now tested positive.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by Claire Biggs

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 20 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 31st March – down from 26 in the previous week and 37 in the week before that. The rate in Stroud district of 16.7 per 100,000 is – slightly – lower than Cheltenham (26.7), and higher than in other areas of Gloucestershire, which have even lower rates: Gloucester (18.6), the Forest of Dean (12.7), Tewkesbury (11.6), and Cotswold (11.1). Numbers of infections continue to fall. The number of people who have tested positive in the most recent week is on track to return to the low levels of August, July and June if people continue to follow the guidelines. Across Stroud district, 3,734 people have now tested positive.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

A portion of positive tests will come from Lateral Flow Device testing associated with schools or people without symptoms – we are hopefully catching more people without symptoms who are positive and this should help break transmission chains. In order to be sure that this higher number of tests aren’t altering our understanding of what’s happening, one thing we can do is look at the proportion of PCR tests (for people with symptoms) are positive: this is falling. There is some complexity around whether people who test positive with an LFD get a confirmatory PCR test, but that shouldn’t affect the numbers too much. The most recent data has 0.5% of people who undertook a PCR test testing positive – down from 0.6% a week ago, and 1.1% a week before that. The rate (which covers the previous 7 days) was last this low on the 1st September. This is consistent with the raw numbers of people testing positive, and suggests prevalence (the amount of people with the virus in the community) can be compared even if the number of tests being conducted has changed.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows much of the district – and surrounding areas across the county and beyond – with fewer than 2 positive tests in the week to 30th March (this data is “suppressed” to protext the privacy of individuals when only small numbers of people test positive – but could mean no-one has tested positive in the previous 7 days in these places). See below for trends by areas of the district (“MSOAs” – “Middle Layer Super Output Areas – a statistical geography). The area with the highest rate of cases in Gloucestershire is Cirencester where the rate is 45.8 per 100,000 over the past 7 days – this comes from 3 cases, up by 1 from the previous week, and could represent just one household. In Stroud district, the only other areas with significant numbers of cases are Wotton-under-Edge (4 cases, up from 2 the previous week), and Ebley & Randwick (5 cases, up from 3 from the previous week).

Source: govt interactive map

Below are the charts for trends – you can see how cases are below 2 (and plausibly zero) in most of the district – up to the 28th March. At that point, cases remained higher/possibly rising rather than low/falling only in Ebley & Randwick. It remains the case that there are no sustained rises and identification of low numbers of rising cases could mean contact tracing case finding related to low numbers of cases in the week before.

Source: gov.uk data download – MSOA API

You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to see this data as a map.

Finally on the number of people with the virus. We know that not everyone can get a test or gets one even if they can. The Kings College London/Zoe Covid-19 symptom study app reports estimates for Stroud district – based on reporting of symptoms by people using the app (of whom there are over 3,000 in Stroud district). Their latest estimate is 85 active cases for the district – down 41 from last week by their measure. Please continue to take care, keep following the guidance, and do what you can to reduce contacts and support people who need to isolate – we still want to get the infections lower than they are now.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 7th March (the most recent available data) there have been 385,892 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire (51,433 doses delivered in the past week of data). Of these, 333,308 are first doses and 52,584 second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 64% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 10% have had a second dose.
  • This compares to 63% and 7% for the South West as a whole.
  • And across England, 57% of the population aged 16+ have had a first dose and 6% a second dose.
  • Across Stroud district, every part of the district (“MSOA” level as above) has seen enough first doses given to cover 60% or more of the population aged 16+ (ie, those included in the current vaccination programme). Rates are highest as a percentage of estimated residents in Painswick, Bisley and Eastcombe (78%), Minchinhampton & Amberley (77%), and Frampton, Whitminster & Eastington (77%). These rates are higher because a higher proportion of the population is in eligible categories (ie, aged 50 or over, working in health or social care, or clinically vulnerable).
Source: NHS England – data and chart compiled by Claire Biggs

The chart above shows how the proportion of the population of Stroud district aged over 16 has increased over the past few weeks.

“The NHS in Gloucestershire is this week urging people aged 50 years and over to take up their appointment offer of a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine without delay. Local GP services have been contacting patients by text or letter with reminders going out in recent days.” (25th March update).

People aged 50 and over can now book to be vaccinated at one of the mass vaccination sites via this link, as can anyone who meets the criteria for other top priority groups. Making a booking at a mass vaccination site (Gloucester, Bristol, Bath, Malvern, Oxford etc) will not affect whether you receive a GP surgery invite to a local vaccination hub or site in the district. You can cancel bookings at mass vaccination sites via the link (under “manage your bookings”). Please ensure to do this with time for people to take the slot so vaccine isn’t wasted. If you are able to travel to a mass vaccination site, you free up space for people who cannot travel at the local hubs.

If you are aged over 50 or over, or believe you are Clinically Vulnerable or a carer for someone who is, you can book via the link above, but if you can’t get to one of the mass vaccination sites (Gloucester is the nearest but is often fully booked and the other sites are in Bristol, Bath, Malvern, Oxford etc) please get in touch with your surgery by email to check you have not been missed.

Check out our videos with Dr Jim Holmes and Practice Manager Karen Pitney from Rowcroft Medical Centre on “why you should get vaccinated“, “the process for receiving your vaccination” and “second doses“.

Prices Mill surgery update on 24th March says “if anyone over 50 or Clinically Vulnerable (Groups 1-9) wants the vaccine and has not yet received it, please contact the surgery as we may not have up-to-date details for you. You will continue to remain eligible, so please call the surgery.”.

The table below shows the vaccination hubs associated with different surgeries in the district.

Vaccination will then continue to proceed in age groups, which is “the fastest way to cut Covid-19 deaths in the next phase of the rollout, say experts advising the UK government” [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation].

We understand many people are keen to be vaccinated but please try to be patient, the vaccine rollout is an enormous logistical challenge – over 25 million people being vaccinated in 4 months is unprecedented, and GP surgeries are doing this on top of their normal workload. If you have questions about when you’ll be vaccinated please either ask in our Facebook group or email GP surgeries rather than calling them.

For a description of priority groups see, our previous post.

There continue to be regular updates in our Facebook group about vaccination locally – including from GP surgeries (see the Facebook group topic). If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read advice on continuing to be cautious after receiving your vaccination).

Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns in our Facebook group and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate. We have separated out tagging of posts in the Facebook group into posts about local vaccination progress, and posts about the Covid-19 vaccines more generally, the latter including attempts to tackle misinformation.

Hospitals – local, national

The good news is that the number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and now down to – 5 patients on the 30th March (the most recent date data is available), down from 6 the week before. Sadly, some of this decline will be due to people in hospital dying – and it appears the number has risen from 4 so we can assume some people are being (re)admitted. However, it seems clear that soon there will be no Covid-19 patients in local hospitals again, as was last the case in September (there were last 5 patients on 2nd October 2020).

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling fast – 272 people were admitted on the 28th March (compared to 360 seven days previously). This number is now less than a sixteenth of the peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), and less than a tenth of the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April).

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Because people with Covid-19 tend to stay in hospital for some time, the total number of people with the virus in hospitals remains fairly high – 3,536 on the 1st April, similar to the 3,537 on the 28th June last year (down to less than a tenth of the peak of 39,249 on 18th January).

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds – some of the sickest patients is also now lower than in the Spring 2020 peak – having peaked at 4,077 patients (on 24th January). There are still 517 patients in these beds as of the 1st April. We send our best for their recovery. T

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 53,400 people had a symptomtic infection on the 5th April, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 69,900 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January. The KCL/ZOE team estimate a similar number of people with symptomatic infections on the 15th September 2020 – 52,200.

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 12th March – shows that 1,177 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (4 people have been added to the total in the most recent week of data). 196 of these people were from the Stroud district (no more people have died since we last reported). We send our condolences to all affected.

The data is from registrations of death up to the 19th March, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. Barring dramatic mutations/failures of policy, however, we should never see the weekly numbers we have seen recently again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

Last week’s update included a chart compared the death rate in Stroud district (163.4 people per 100,000 – one in every 613 people) with other local areas (including Gloucester: 210 and Rhondda Cynon Taf: 362 – one in every 276 people) that have seen more people die compared to their local population.

The above data is the best we get on people who have died – from the Office for National Statistics, who report based on what clinicians determine the cause of death to be for death certificates. This data takes time to come in – so the below is only up to the 26th February. It is sobering reading – but the number of deaths continues to fall:

  • “In Week 11, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 8.0% below the five-year average (894 fewer deaths); this is the second consecutive week that deaths have been below the five-year average.”

There is a good piece on why deaths are lower than the 5-year average from David Spiegelhalter, chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge, and Anthony Masters, statistical ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society.

  • “Of the deaths registered in Week 11 in England and Wales, 963 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”, a decrease of 538 deaths compared with Week 10.
  • “Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths from the week ending 13 March 2020 up to 19 March 2021 was 661,608 in England and Wales. Of the deaths registered by 19 March 2021, 136,830 (20.7%) mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. During this period, the number of excess deaths above the five-year average was 119,274 deaths.

There is no Independent SAGE weekly briefing this week, but Kit Yates has posted a twitter thread that provides the usual summary of national data: “Overall it’s good news. Positivity rates low and falling or flat across all nations and most of local authorities.”

International context

Globally, over 2.77 million people have now died with their death attributed to Covid-19 at least in part (subject to different counting methods in different countries). The situation remains concerning – but there is a sign that the number of people dying may be starting to fall, with Our World in Data reporting the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) is falling again – to to 9,811 on April 3rd, from 10,243 on March 31st. This is tragically still very high – considerably higher than during Spring 2020. While things are improving in the UK, there is a long way to go globally before the pandemic is over.

In terms of rates of the number of people to have died per million people, the UK remains one of the worst affected countries – based on publicly available data (currently the 10th worst affected of all countries), at 1,872 people per million. However, a number of other countries have higher rates, and/or death rates that are still increasing – and with far slower vaccination programmes: Slovenia, Belgium, San Marino, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Hungary, Czechia (in the latter 2,516 people per million have died with their death reported to be associated with Covid-19). There are caveats about this data as all countries will be using slightly different recording but…

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Denmark (420 per million), Turkey (383 per million), Finland (153 per million), Norway (124 per million), Bangladesh (56 per million), Cuba (38 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (34 per million), New Zealand and Singapore (5 people per million), China, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Bhutan Mongolia, and Eritrea (all below 5 people per million), and Vietnam, Tanzania, Taiwan and Burundi (all reporting under 1 person per million).

The United Kingdom is doing much better in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (54) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (117 – ie, moving into enough doses to cover everyone, but some will be second doses) and United Arab Emirates (87), and Chile (56). Globally, the rate is 8.5 doses per 100 people. There is a real need to plan to improve global vaccination. You can Donate to treat, vaccinate and support people worldwide – which a few members of our Facebook group have reported doing to celebrate getting their own vaccination.

Notes

The core advice remains: please book a test (see full details at the end of this page). You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not. There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park. See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test – or for 10 days since your symptoms appeared if you test positive or are asked to by Test and Trace. If you are struggling with self-isolating, please get in touch with us or with one of the local support groups. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.

Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the guidelines to wear masks when appropriate (they will help prevent spread of the virus if you have it but don’t have symptoms yet, or are asymptomatic – meaning you have the virus but without ever getting any symptoms), keep distance from people, and wash your hands regularly. Gloucestershire along with the rest of the country is in National Lockdown – guidance here. 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. I 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.

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.

Local testing:

The County Council have updated their information about how you can book a test locally. You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not, and where you can pick up testing kits for households with school-aged children.

  • For people with symptoms, there are permanent testing units at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park.
  • Without symptoms, there is a site in Gloucester City and one located at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester. A third site will be opening in the Forest of Dean on the 10th March.
  • You can pick up a testing kit from the permanent testing units at: Hempsted Meadows, Gloucester; High St Car Park, Cheltenham; and Stratford Park, Stroud.

See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire.


28th March 2021 data update

The next stage of lockdown easing takes place on March 29th. Read the government’s “roadmap” at this link. The key changes are

  • “you will be able to meet outdoors either in a group of 6 (from any number of households), or in a group of any size from up to 2 households (each household can include existing support bubbles, if eligible)
  • you will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people (outdoor sports venues and facilities will be able to reopen)
  • childcare and supervised activities will be allowed outdoors for all children
  • formally organised parent and child groups will be able to take place outdoors for up to 15 attendees. Children under 5 will not be not counted in this number

From 1 April, if you have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable you will no longer be advised to shield. However, you should continue to take extra precautions to protect yourself. It is important that you continue to keep the number of social interactions that you have low and try to limit the amount of time you spend in settings where you are unable to maintain social distancing. If you are in this group, you will previously have received a letter from the NHS or from your GP telling you this. Contact your local authority or speak to your GP if you have any concerns.”

Key data:

  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, 58% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose and 6% have had a second dose. And across England, 52% of the population aged 16+ have had a first dose and 4% a second dose. Across Stroud district, every part of the district (“MSOA” level as above) has seen enough first doses given to cover 50% or more of the population, and across the district as a whole, 63% of the estimated population aged over 16 has had at least a first dose.
  • 26 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 24th March (down from 37 in the previous week). The numbers of people testing positive each week are falling – now back to levels last seen in late September (23 in the week to 23rd Sept). The rate in Stroud district of 23.3 per 100,000 is lower than in the Forest of Dean (26.5) and Cheltenham (26.7) but other areas of Gloucestershire have even lower rates: Tewkesbury (13.7), Gloucester (10.1) and Cotswold (7.8). We still need to stick to the guidance to get infection numbers down to really low levels.
  • Across Gloucestershire, 110 people tested positive in the week to the 24th March (down from 125 in the previous week) – now back to the levels last seen at the end of September (110 in the week to 23rd September).
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and down to 6 patients on the 23rd March (the most recent date data is available), down from 11 the week before (the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to 1%). There are no patients in Mechanical Ventilation beds locally.
  • In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 12th March – shows that 1,173 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (11 people have been added to the total in the most recent week of data). 196 of these people were from the Stroud district (three more people have died since we last reported). We send our condolences to all affected.
  • Nationally, the number of deaths in a week is – in the most recent death certificate data from the week to the 12th March – now back to levels at/below the 5 year average – for the first time October.
  • We now have one full year of data based on death certificates (from the week ending 13 March 2020 up to 12 March 2021): “651,310 people died in England and Wales during that year. Of the deaths registered by 12 March 2021, 135,808 (20.9%) mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. During this period, the number of excess deaths above the five-year average was 120,181 deaths.” (ONS)
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

Looking week-by-week, you can see that across Gloucestershire the number of people testing positive continues to fall: 110 in the most recent week (to 24th March), compared to 125 in the week to 17th March. This equates to a rate of 18.1 per 100,000 people (or roughly 1 in every 5,500 people) – the 9th lowest rate for all equivalent local authorities across the UK, and behind only Devon and the Isle of Wight among English local authorities. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 22,223 people have now tested positive.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by Claire Biggs

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 26 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 24th March – down from 37 in the previous week and 40 in the week before that. At time of writing this is a rate of 23.3 people per 100,000 (or roughly one in every 4,300 people). Numbers of infections continue to fall. The number of people who have tested positive in the most recent week is on track to return to the low levels of August, July and June if people continue to follow the guidelines. Across Stroud district, 3,716 people have now tested positive.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

We can compare rates in different local authority areas, by looking at how many people have tested positive in the past 7 day period compared to the population. The rate in Stroud district of 23.3 per 100,000 is lower than in the Forest of Dean (26.5) and Cheltenham (26.7) but other areas of Gloucestershire have even lower rates: Tewkesbury (13.7), Gloucester (10.1) and Cotswold (7.8). However, these differences are small and the more significant difference is with these local authorities as a whole and those with higher rates. Nearby South Gloucestershire (40), Wychavon (38.6), and West Oxfordshire (38) all have rates roughly double those within Gloucestershire local authorities, but even these are well below the highest rates in the country – Barnsley (162.8) and Merthyr Tydfil (134.3) for example, have rates 5 or more times higher than those in Stroud district.

A portion of positive tests will come from Lateral Flow Device testing associated with schools – we are hopefully catching more people without symptoms who are positive and this should help break transmission chains. In order to be sure that this higher number of tests aren’t altering our understanding of what’s happening, one thing we can do is look at the proportion of PCR tests (for people with symptoms) are positive – this is falling. There is some complexity around whether people who test positive with an LFD get a confirmatory PCR test, but that shouldn’t affect the numbers too much. The most recent data has 0.7% of people who undertook a PCR test testing positive – down from 1.1% a week ago, and 1.2% a week before that. The rate (which covers the previous 7 days) was last this low on the 20th September. This is consistent with the raw numbers of people testing positive, and suggests prevalence (the amount of people with the virus in the community) can be compared even if the number of tests being conducted has changed.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows much of the district – and surrounding areas across the county and beyond – with fewer than 2 positive tests in the week to 23rd March (this data is “suppressed” to protext the privacy of individuals when only small numbers of people test positive – but could mean no-one has tested positive in the previous 7 days in these places). See below for trends by areas of the district (“MSOAs” – “Middle Layer Super Output Areas – a statistical geography). The area with the highest rate of cases in Gloucestershire is Cam where the rate is 104.4 per 100,000 over the past 7 days, and infection numbers appear to be rising. In Stroud district, the only other areas with significant numbers of cases are Leonard Stanley and Uley (4 cases, down 3 from the previous week – rate of 57.9 per 100,000), and Stonehouse (4 cases, up 2 from the previous week – rate of 49.8 per 100,000 people).

Source: govt interactive map

Below are the charts for trends – you can see how cases are falling in most of the district – up to the 20th March. At that point, cases remained higher/possibly rising rather than low/falling only in Cam. There is a small uptick in Stonehouse and in Ebley and Ranwick but these are not sustained rises and could mean contact tracing case finding related to low numbers of cases (1 or 2) in the week before.

Source: gov.uk data download – MSOA API

You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to see this data as a map.

Finally on the number of people with the virus. We know that not everyone can get a test or gets one even if they can. The Kings College London/Zoe Covid-19 symptom study app reports estimates for Stroud district – based on reporting of symptoms by people using the app (of whom there are over 3,000 in Stroud district). Their latest estimate is 163 active cases for the district – up 14 from last week by their measure, back to the level of the week before. The team behind these estimate have recently updated their system. The flat estimates are not a cause for alarm but please continue to take care, keep following the guidance, and do what you can to reduce contacts and support people who need to isolate – we still want to get the infections lower than they are now.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 7th March (the most recent available data) there have been 334,459 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire (up 57,908 in the past week of data – the highest number of weekly vaccinations we have data for). Of these, 302,836 are first doses and 31,623 second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 58% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose (48% of the total population, including people aged under 16 who are not included in current vaccination plans), 6% have had a second dose.
  • This compares to 58% and 4% for the South West as a whole.
  • And across England, 52% of the population aged 16+ have had a first dose and 4% a second dose.
  • Across Stroud district, every part of the district (“MSOA” level as above) has seen enough first doses given to cover 50% or more of the population. Rates are highest as a percentage of estimated residents in Painswick, Bisley and Eastcombe (73%), Minchinhampton & Amberley (73%), and Frampton, Whitminster & Eastington (72%). These rates are higher because a higher proportion of the population is in eligible categories (ie, aged 50 or over, working in health or social care, or clinically vulnerable).

People aged 50 and over can now book to be vaccinated at one of the mass vaccination sites via this link, as can anyone who meets the criteria for other top priority groups. Making a booking at a mass vaccination site (Gloucester, Bristol, Bath, Malvern, Oxford etc) will not affect whether you receive a GP surgery invite to a local vaccination hub or site in the district. You can cancel bookings at mass vaccination sites via the link (under “manage your bookings”). Please ensure to do this with time for people to take the slot so vaccine isn’t wasted. If you are able to travel to a mass vaccination site, you free up space for people who cannot travel at the local hubs.

If you are aged over 50 or over, or believe you are Clinically Vulnerable or a carer for someone who is, you can book via the link above, but if you can’t get to one of the mass vaccination sites (Gloucester is the nearest but is often fully booked and the other sites are in Bristol, Bath, Malvern, Oxford etc) please get in touch with your surgery by email to check you have not been missed.

Check out our videos with Dr Jim Holmes and Practice Manager Karen Pitney from Rowcroft Medical Centre on “why you should get vaccinated“, “the process for receiving your vaccination” and “second doses“.

“The NHS in Gloucestershire is this week urging people aged 50 years and over to take up their appointment offer of a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine without delay. Local GP services have been contacting patients by text or letter with reminders going out in recent days.” (25th March update)

Rowcroft Medical Centre update on 23rd March says “if you are over 50 or if you have one of the conditions listed in the Green Book – link in a previous post – and have not yet been invited please call us!”

Prices Mill surgery update on 24th March says “if anyone over 50 or Clinically Vulnerable (Groups 1-9) wants the vaccine and has not yet received it, please contact the surgery as we may not have up-to-date details for you. You will continue to remain eligible, so please call the surgery.”.

The table below shows the vaccination hubs associated with different surgeries in the district.

Vaccination will then continue to proceed in age groups, which is “the fastest way to cut Covid-19 deaths in the next phase of the rollout, say experts advising the UK government” [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation].

We understand many people are keen to be vaccinated but please try to be patient, the vaccine rollout is an enormous logistical challenge – over 25 million people being vaccinated in 4 months is unprecedented, and GP surgeries are doing this on top of their normal workload. If you have questions about when you’ll be vaccinated please either ask in our Facebook group or email GP surgeries rather than calling them.

For a description of priority groups see, our previous post.

There continue to be regular updates in our Facebook group about vaccination locally – including from GP surgeries (see the Facebook group topic). If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read advice on continuing to be cautious after receiving your vaccination).

Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns in our Facebook group and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate. We have separated out tagging of posts in the Facebook group into posts about local vaccination progress, and posts about the Covid-19 vaccines more generally, the latter including attempts to tackle misinformation.

Hospitals – local, national

The good news is that the number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and now down to – 6 patients on the 23rd March (the most recent date data is available), down from 11 the week before. Sadly, some of this decline will be due to people in hospital dying – but it is good news that more people are not being admitted, and it seems clear that soon there will be no Covid-19 patients in local hospitals again, as was last the case in September (there were last fewer than 6 in early October).

Source: NHS hospital activity

In terms of the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, in the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals (the blue bars only in the chart above), there is good news – the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 0.8% on 23rd March. There is starting to be a little more spare capacity in the hospitals: 10% of beds were unoccupied on 23rd March.

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling fast – 343 people were admitted on the 24th March (compared to 443 seven days previously). This number is now less than a tenth of the peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), and around a tenth of the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April).

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Because people with Covid-19 tend to stay in hospital for some time, the total number of people with the virus in hospitals remains fairly high – 4,560 on the 25th March, the same number as on the 18th June last year (down a long way from the peak of 39,249 on 18th January.

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds – some of the sickest patients is also now lower than in the Spring 2020 peak – having peaked at 4,077 patients (on 24th January). There are still 615 patients in these beds as of the 26th March. We send our best for their recovery. The chart below, from this week’s Independent SAGE briefing – shows how the number of adult critical care beds that are occupied now is now close to the number occupied last winter. The chart also shows how capacity was increased, and how much higher numbers of people in critical care in England were compared to last year, and last years capacity.

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 69,900 people had a symptomtic infection on the 28th March, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 74,800 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January. The chart below shows how the KCL/ZOE estimate roughly matches the two random sample studies of prevalence run by the ONS and “REACT” (Imperial College/Ipsos Mori).

Source: KCL’s Professor Tim Spector

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 12th March – shows that 1,173 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (11 people have been added to the total in the most recent week of data). 196 of these people were from the Stroud district (three more people have died since we last reported). We send our condolences to all affected.

The data is from registrations of death up to the 12th March, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. Barring dramatic mutations/failures of policy, we should never see the weekly numbers we have seen recently again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

Over the course of the pandemic, the rate of people who have died with Covid-19 on their death certificate compared to the population in Stroud district is 163.4 people per 100,000 – one in every 613 people. This is higher than for the Forest of Dean (139 people), by similar to Cotswold district (162.5), and lower than for Tewkesbury (206), Cheltenham (209) and Gloucester (210). Across the UK, it is also relatively low – places like Blackpool (329), Merthyr Tydfil (343) and Rhondda Cynon Taf (362 – in in every 276 people) have seen more than twice as many people die compared to their local population.

The above data is the best we get on people who have died – from the Office for National Statistics, who report based on what clinicians determine the cause of death to be for death certificates. This data takes time to come in – so the below is only up to the 26th February. It is sobering reading – but the number of deaths continues to fall:

  • “The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 12 March 2021 was 12,465, which was 605 fewer than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 10, 1,637 deaths involved COVID-19, that is, 643 lower than in Week 9.”
  • “Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths from the week ending 13 March 2020 up to 12 March 2021 was 651,310 in England and Wales. Of the deaths registered by 12 March 2021, 135,808 (20.9%) mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. During this period, the number of excess deaths above the five-year average was 120,181 deaths.

Our previous update discusses the death rate in Stroud district compared to the rest of the country.

For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing (1 hr 20 minutes). This week has a data presentation from Kit Yates that includes a section on the impact of schools reopening.

International context

Globally, over 2.77 million people have now died with their death attributed to Covid-19 at least in part (subject to different counting methods in different countries). The situation remains concerning – but there is a sign that the number of people dying may be starting to fall, with Our World in Data reporting the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) has risen recently – to to 9,402 on March 26th from 8,782 on March 20th, having been been falling dramatically since January 26th (14,402). This is tragically still very high – considerably higher than during Spring 2020. While things are improving in the UK, there is a long way to go globally before the pandemic is over.

In terms of rates of the number of people to have died per million people, the UK remains one of the worst affected countries – based on publicly available data (currently the 7th worst affected of all countries), at 1,868 people per million – behind only Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Montenegro, Slovenia, Belgium, Czechia and San Marino (2,475 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others). There are caveats about this data as all countries will be using slightly different recording but…

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Estonia (648 per million), Denmark (417 per million), Turkey (367 per million), Finland (147 per million), Norway (121 per million), Bangladesh (54 per million), Cuba (37 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (34 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Singapore, China, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Bhutan Mongolia, and Eritrea (all below 5 people per million), and Vietnam, Tanzania, Taiwan and Burundi (all reporting under 1 person per million).

The United Kingdom is doing much better in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (49) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (115 – ie, moving into enough doses to cover everyone, but some will be second doses) and United Arab Emirates (80), and Chile (50). Globally, the rate is 6.9 doses per 100 people. There is a real need to plan to improve global vaccination. You can Donate to treat, vaccinate and support people worldwide – which a few members of our Facebook group have reported doing to celebrate getting their own vaccination.

Notes

The core advice remains: please book a test (see full details at the end of this page). You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not. There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park. See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test – or for 10 days since your symptoms appeared if you test positive or are asked to by Test and Trace. If you are struggling with self-isolating, please get in touch with us or with one of the local support groups. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.

Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the guidelines to wear masks when appropriate (they will help prevent spread of the virus if you have it but don’t have symptoms yet, or are asymptomatic – meaning you have the virus but without ever getting any symptoms), keep distance from people, and wash your hands regularly. Gloucestershire along with the rest of the country is in National Lockdown – guidance here. 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. I 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.

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.

Local testing:

The County Council have updated their information about how you can book a test locally. You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not, and where you can pick up testing kits for households with school-aged children.

  • For people with symptoms, there are permanent testing units at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park.
  • Without symptoms, there is a site in Gloucester City and one located at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester. A third site will be opening in the Forest of Dean on the 10th March.
  • You can pick up a testing kit from the permanent testing units at: Hempsted Meadows, Gloucester; High St Car Park, Cheltenham; and Stratford Park, Stroud.

See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire.


21st March 2021 data update

The next stage of lockdown easing takes place on March 29th. Read the government’s “roadmap” at this link.

Key data:

  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, 50% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose. The proportion for Stroud district is in line with this – in fact ever so slightly higher at (also 50%). Across the South West, the figure is very similar (51%). In each case, the rate is higher than for England as a whole (45%). In seven of the 15 smaller areas of Stroud distict for which data is available, at least half of the people who will be invited for vaccinations have already been vaccinated with at least one dose. More detail for areas of the district is included below.
  • 37 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 17th March (down from 40 in the previous week). The numbers of people testing positive each week are falling – now back to levels last seen in mid-October. We still need to stick to the guidance to get infection numbers down to really low levels.
  • Across Gloucestershire, 125 people tested positive in the week to the 17th March (down from 155 in the previous week) – now back to the levels last seen at the end of September.
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a twentieth of that – 11 patients on the 16th March (the most recent date data is available), down 10 from the week before (the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to 1%). Dave Windsor, Consultant in Intensive Care and Anaesthesia at the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust revealed on Thursday 18th March that there were no Covid-19 patients in critical care locally, for the first time in 5 months.
  • In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 5th March – shows that 1,162 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (12 people have been added to the total in the most recent week). 193 of these people were from the Stroud district (four more people have died since we last reported). We send our condolences to all affected.
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

Looking week-by-week, you can see that across Gloucestershire the number of people testing positive continues to fall: 125 in the most recent week (to 17th March), compared to 155 in the week to 10th March. This equates to a rate of 17.9 per 100,000 people (or roughly 1 in every 5,600 people). You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 22,141 people have now tested positive.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by Claire Biggs

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 37 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 17th March – down from 40 in the previous week and 61 in the week before that. At time of writing this is a rate of 28 people per 100,000 (or roughly one in every 3,600 people). Numbers of infections continue to fall. The number of people who have tested positive in the most recent week is on track to return to the low levels of September, August, July and June if people continue to follow the guidelines. Across Stroud district, 3,697 people have now tested positive.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

A portion of positive tests will come from Lateral Flow Device testing associated with schools – we are hopefully catching more people without symptoms who are positive and this should help break transmission chains. In order to be sure that this higher number of tests aren’t altering our understanding of what’s happening, one thing we can do is look at the proportion of PCR tests (for people with symptoms) are positive – this is falling. There is some complexity around whether people who test positive with an LFD get a confirmatory PCR test, but that shouldn’t affect the numbers too much. The most recent data has 1% of people who undertook a PCR test testing positive – down from 1.2% a week ago, and 1.9% a week before that.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows much of the district – and surrounding areas across the county and beyond – with fewer than 2 positive tests in the week to 16th March (this data is “suppressed” to protext the privacy of individuals when only small numbers of people test positive – but could mean no-one has tested positive). See below for trends by areas of the district (“MSOAs” – “Middle Layer Super Output Areas – a statistical geography). The area with the highest rate of cases in Gloucestershire is Oakley in Cheltenham where the rate is 106.9 per 100,000 over the past 7 days, and infection numbers appear to be rising. In Stroud district, the area with highest rate is Leonard Stanley & Uley where the rate is 101.3 per 100,000, and appears to be rising. As above, this could be related to Lateral Flow Device testing in schools – It would only need a few positive tests of asymptomatic pupils who would not previously have showed up in the figures to create the slight rise we see – and they could be spread over several schools or all at one school – we don’t know.

Source: govt interactive map

Below are the charts for trends – you can see how cases are falling in most of the district – up to the 13th March. At that point, cases remained higher/possibly rising rather than low/falling only in Cam, Dursley, and Leonard Stanley & Uley. Gloucestershire Live have a piece about the areas with the highest rates in the county, including the three areas in Stroud district.

Source: gov.uk data download – MSOA API

You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to see this data as a map.

Finally on the number of people with the virus. We know that not everyone can get a test or gets one even if they can. The Kings College London/Zoe Covid-19 symptom study app reports estimates for Stroud district – based on reporting of symptoms by people using the app (of whom there are over 3,000 in Stroud district). Their latest estimate is 135 active cases for the district – down 15 from last week by their measure. The team behind these estimate have recently updated their system. The flat-ish estimate is not a cause for alarm but please continue to take care, keep following the guidance, and do what you can to reduce contacts and support people who need to isolate – we still want to get the infections lower than they are now.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 7th March (the most recent available data) there have been 296,629 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire (up 49,282 in the past week of data). Of these, 256,473 are first doses and 20,078 second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 49% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose (40% of the total population, including people aged under 16 who are not included in current vaccination plans), 4% have had a second dose.
  • This compares to 47% and 2.1% for the South West as a whole.
  • And across England, 42% of the population aged 16+ have had a first dose and 1.8% a second dose.
  • Across Gloucestershire, around 92% of people aged 65-69 have had a first dose, around 97% of people aged 70-74, around 100%* of people aged 75-79 and around 99% of people aged 80+. *Proportions are calculated against ONS population estimates, which may not be exactly accurate. Nonetheless, vaccination rates in the first priority groups are very high.
  • Across Stroud district, vaccination rates are as follows (as a percentage of people aged 16+, ie the total population that vaccination will be offered to under current plans). Please understand that these percentages are affected by how much of the local population has been eligible for vaccination, and the size of the local population, not necessarily by takeup. They are in alphabetical order only:
    • 48% Berkely & Sharpness
    • 50% Cam
    • 49% Chalford & Bussage
    • 43% Dursley
    • 49% Ebley & Randwick
    • 56% Framptom, Whitminster & Eastington
    • 55% Leonard Stanley & Uley
    • 58% Minchinhampton & Amberley
    • 57% Painswick, Bisley & Eastcombe
    • 49% Rodborough & Thrupp
    • 50% Stonehouse
    • 44% Stroud Town
    • 48% Upton St Leonards and Hardwicke
    • 48% Wotton-under-Edge & Kingswood

People aged 50 and over can now book to be vaccinated at one of the mass vaccination sites via this link, as can anyone who meets the criteria for other top priority groups. Making a booking at a mass vaccination site (Gloucester, Bristol, Bath, Malvern, Oxford etc) will not affect whether you receive a GP surgery invite to a local vaccination hub or site in the district. You can cancel bookings at mass vaccination sites via the link (under “manage your bookings”). Please ensure to do this with time for people to take the slot so vaccine isn’t wasted. If you are able to travel to a mass vaccination site, you free up space for people who cannot travel at the local hubs.

People aged 50-60 can wait to receive contact from their GP to be vaccinated at their more local hub. We have heard that some surgeries are even inviting people beyond the first 9 priority groups (ie, in group 10, starting with 49 year olds and working down to 40 year olds). Generally, please don’t call your GP surgery to discuss when you will be vaccinated – wait for them to contact you. If you are aged over 65 or believe you are Clinically Vulnerable or a carer for someone who is, you can book via the link above, but if you can’t get to one of the mass vaccination sites (Gloucester is the nearest but is often fully booked and the other sites are in Bristol, Bath, Malvern, Oxford etc) please get in touch with your surgery by email to check you have not been missed.

Check out our videos with Dr Jim Holmes and Practice Manager Karen Pitney from Rowcroft Medical Centre on “why you should get vaccinated“, “the process for receiving your vaccination” and “second doses“.

Prices Mill surgery update on 18th March says “Many of our patients in the 50-64 groups (Priority Group 7-9) are travelling to other sites bookable through the link below. So much so that we may be inviting under 50s (Priority Group 10) shortly”.

Dr Mark Porter says that The Vale in Dursley “hope to have given everyone first dose by around end of next month (if all goes well). Currently inviting in vulnerable & people in late 50s for 1st, and higher priority for 2nd.”

Vaccination will then continue to proceed in age groups, which is “the fastest way to cut Covid-19 deaths in the next phase of the rollout, say experts advising the UK government” [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation].

We understand many people are keen to be vaccinated but please try to be patient, the vaccine rollout is an enormous logistical challenge – over 25 million people being vaccinated in 4 months is unprecedented, and GP surgeries are doing this on top of their normal workload. If you have questions about when you’ll be vaccinated please either ask in our Facebook group or email GP surgeries rather than calling them.

For a description of priority groups see, our previous post / image below.

There continue to be regular updates in our Facebook group about vaccination locally – including from GP surgeries (see the Facebook group topic). If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read advice on continuing to be cautious after receiving your vaccination).

Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns in our Facebook group and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate. We have separated out tagging of posts in the Facebook group into posts about local vaccination progress, and posts about the Covid-19 vaccines more generally, the latter including attempts to tackle misinformation.

Hospitals – local, national

The good news is that the number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a tenth of that – 11 patients on the 16th March (the most recent date data is available), down 10 from the week before. Sadly, some of this decline will be due to people in hospital dying – but it is good news that more people are not being admitted, and it seems clear that soon there will be no Covid-19 patients in local hospitals again, as was last the case in September. Dave Windsor, Consultant in Intensive Care and Anaesthesia at the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust revealed on Thursday 18th March that there were no Covid-19 patients in critical care locally, for the first time in 5 months. We wish everyone in hospital with Covid-19 and their loved ones well.

Source: NHS hospital activity

In terms of the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, in the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals (the blue bars only in the chart above), there is good news – the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 1% on 16th March. There is starting to be a little more spare capacity in the hospitals: 7% of beds were unoccupied on 16th March.

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling fast – 437 people were admitted on the 10th March (compared to 566 seven days previously). This number is now less than a tenth of the peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), and well below the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April), mid-November peak (1,782 patients on 18th November).

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Because people with Covid-19 tend to stay in hospital for some time, the total number of people with the virus in hospitals remains high – 6,162 on the 18th March. Coming out of the first ‘wave’, it was 6,143 on the 5th June.

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds – some of the sickest patients is also now lower than in the Spring 2020 peak – having peaked at 4,077 patients (on 24th January). There are still 830 patients in these beds as of the 19th March (down from 1,110 patients la week earlier). This compares to 3,247 on the 18th April at the height of the spring 2020 peak. We send our best for their recovery.

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 74,800 people had a symptomtic infection on the 21st March, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 94,000 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January. The chart below shows how the KCL/ZOE estimate roughly matches the two random sample studies of prevalence run by the ONS and “REACT” (Imperial College/Ipsos Mori).

Source: KCL’s Professor Tim Spector

The ONS “estimate that estimate that 160,200 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 142,000 to 179,400), equating to around 1 in 340 people” in the week to the 13th March.

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 5th March – shows that 1,162 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (12 people have been added to the total in the most recent week). 193 of these people were from the Stroud district (four more people have died since we last reported). We send our condolences to all affected.

The data is from registrations of death up to the 5th March, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. Barring dramatic mutations/failures of policy, we should never see the weekly numbers we have seen recently again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

The above data is the best we get on people who have died – from the Office for National Statistics, who report based on what clinicians determine the cause of death to be for death certificates. This data takes time to come in – so the below is only up to the 26th February. It is sobering reading – but the number of deaths continues to fall:

  • “The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 5 March 2021 was 13,107, which was 403 higher than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 9, 2,279 deaths involved COVID-19, that is, 920 lower than in Week 8.”
  • “The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 5 March 2021 (Week 9) was 11,592; this was 1,022 fewer deaths than the previous week (Week 8).”
  • “In Week 9, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 3.7% above the five-year average (409 deaths higher).”
  • “Of the deaths registered in Week 9 in England and Wales, 2,105 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”, a decrease of 809 deaths compared with Week 8.”
  • “In Week 9, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 18.2% of all deaths in England and Wales, compared with 23.1% in Week 8.”
  • “Of the 2,105 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 9 in England and Wales, 1,685 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (80.0%).”
  • “In England, the total number of registered deaths decreased from 11,844 (Week 8) to 10,882 (Week 9); total deaths have decreased in all English regions for the third week in a row.”

Our previous update discusses the death rate in Stroud district compared to the rest of the country.

For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing (1 hr 20 minutes). This week has a data presentation from Dr Christina Pagel that includes a section on vaccine impact on deaths that is really worth watching if you want to understand that – from around 7 minutes in.

International context

Globally, over 2.7 million people have now died with their death attributed to Covid-19 at least in part (subject to different counting methods in different countries). The situation remains concerning – but there is a sign that the number of people dying may be starting to fall, with Our World in Data reporting the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) has risen recently – to 8,782 on March 20th, having been been falling dramatically since January 26th (14,402), to 8,545 on March 13th). This is tragically still very high – considerably higher than during Spring 2020 – and there is a long way to go.

In terms of rates of the number of people to have died per million people, the UK remains one of the worst affected countries – based on publicly available data (currently the 7th worst affected of all countries), at 1,861 people per million – behind only Hungary, Montenegro, Slovenia, Belgium, Czechia and San Marino (2,269 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others). There are caveats about this data as all countries will be using slightly different recording but…

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Estonia (588 per million), Denmark (414 per million), Turkey (355 per million), Finland (145 per million), Norway (119 per million), Bangladesh (53 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (33 per million), Cuba (35 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Singapore, China, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Bhutan Mongolia, and Eritrea (all below 5 people per million), and Vietnam, Tanzania, Taiwan and Burundi (all reporting under 1 person per million).

The United Kingdom is doing much better in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (43) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (112 – ie, moving into enough doses to cover everyone, but some will be second doses) and United Arab Emirates (73). Globally, the rate is 5.6 doses per 100 people. There is a real need to plan to improve global vaccination. You can Donate to treat, vaccinate and support people worldwide – which a few members of our Facebook group have reported doing to celebrate getting their own vaccination.

Notes

The core advice remains: please book a test (see full details at the end of this page). You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not. There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park. See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test – or for 10 days since your symptoms appeared if you test positive or are asked to by Test and Trace. If you are struggling with self-isolating, please get in touch with us or with one of the local support groups. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.

Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the guidelines to wear masks when appropriate (they will help prevent spread of the virus if you have it but don’t have symptoms yet, or are asymptomatic – meaning you have the virus but without ever getting any symptoms), keep distance from people, and wash your hands regularly. Gloucestershire along with the rest of the country is in National Lockdown – guidance here. 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. I 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.

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.

Local testing:

The County Council have updated their information about how you can book a test locally. You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not, and where you can pick up testing kits for households with school-aged children.

  • For people with symptoms, there are permanent testing units at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park.
  • Without symptoms, there is a site in Gloucester City and one located at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester. A third site will be opening in the Forest of Dean on the 10th March.
  • You can pick up a testing kit from the permanent testing units at: Hempsted Meadows, Gloucester; High St Car Park, Cheltenham; and Stratford Park, Stroud.

See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire.


14th March 2021 data update

Before the data update, a summary of the rules about “what you can and cannot do [that] changed on 8 March as part of the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’.” These are taken from the government webpage – read more at the link.

  • Outdoor recreation: You can spend time in outdoor public spaces for recreation on your own, with your household or support bubble, or with one other person. This means you can sit down for a drink or picnic. You must continue to maintain social distance from those outside your household. This is in addition to outdoor exercise, which is already permitted.
  • Education and childcare: Pupils and students in all schools and further education settings should return to face-to-face education. Wraparound childcare can reopen and other children’s activities can restart only where it is needed to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group. Vulnerable children can attend childcare and other children’s activities in all circumstances. Students on practical higher education courses at English universities who have not already returned and would be unable to complete their courses if they did not return to take part in practical teaching, access specialist facilities or complete assessments will be able to return to higher education.
  • Travel out of the UK: There will continue to be restrictions on international travel. Holidays will not be a permitted reason to travel. Those seeking to leave the UK must complete an outbound declaration of travel form ahead of departure.
  • Visiting a care home: The rules on visiting care homes have changed to allow regular indoor visits for a single named visitor.”
  • Read the full government “roadmap out of the current lockdown for England“, which includes the next elements changing on 29th March.

Key data:

  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, 45% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose. The proportion for Stroud district is in line with this – in fact ever so slightly higher at 46%. Across the South West, the figure is slightly higher still (47%). In each case, the rate is higher than for England as a whole (42%). There are two parts of Stroud distict where half of the people who will be invited for vaccinations have already been vaccinated with at least one dose – Painswick, Bisley and Eastcombe (50%) and Minchinhampton (52%). More detail for areas of the district is included below.
  • 40 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 10th March (down from 61 in the previous week). The numbers of people testing positive each week is falling – now back to levels last seen in mid-October. However, the ZOE/Kings College London app estimate shows numbers of people with active infections flat or rising slightly – we still need to stick to the guidance to get infection numbers down to really low levels.
  • Across Gloucestershire, 154 people tested positive in the week to the 10th March (down from 187 in the previous week) – now back to the levels last seen at the end of September.
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a tenth of that – 21 patients on the 9th March (the most recent date data is available), down 20 from the week before. In the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals, the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 2% (less than half the proportion as recently as 4th March).
  • In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 19th February – shows that 1,150 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (13 people have been added to the total in the most recent week). 189 of these people were from the Stroud district (two more since we last reported). We send our condolences to all affected.
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

Looking week-by-week, you can see that across Gloucestershire the number of people testing positive continues to fall: 154 in the most recent week (to 10th March), compared to 187 in the week to 3rd March and 276 in the week to 24th February. This equates to a rate of 26.4 per 100,000 people (or roughly 1 in every 3,850 people). You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 22,025 people have now tested positive.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by Claire Biggs

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 40 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 10th March – down from 61 in the previous week and 88 in the week before that. At time of writing this is a rate of 35 people per 100,000 (or roughly one in every 2,860 people). Numbers of infections continue to fall. The number of people who have tested positive in the most recent week is on track to return to the low levels of September, August, July and June if people continue to follow the guidelines. Across Stroud district, 3,666 people have now tested positive.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

If we look at the age breakdown, it’s clear that positive tests have fallen rapidly among those aged under 60 recently – following a similar sharp decline for those aged 60 and over. There have been some new cases among people aged over 60 recently – which we believe are associated with a care home outbreak which is now under control in Minchinhampton/Amberley – covered in the Stroud News and Journal. The chart below show infections among people aged above 60 are falling again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows much of the district – and surrounding areas – with fewer than 2 positive tests in the week to 9th March (this data is “suppressed” to protext the privacy of individuals when only small numbers of people test positive – but could mean no-one has tested positive. See below for trends by areas of the district (“MSOAs” – “Middle Layer Super Output Areas – a statistical geography). The area with the highest rate of cases in Gloucestershire is Shurdington, Staverton and Witcombe – where the rate is 86.9 per 100,000 over the past 7 days, and infection numbers appear to be rising.

Source: govt interactive map

Below are the charts for trends – you can see how cases are falling in most of the district – up to the 6th March. At that point, cases remained higher/possibly rising rather than low/falling only in Berkeley & Sharpness. There are possible signs of upticks in Cam, Chalford & Bussage, Minchinhampton and Amberley, Upton St Leonards & Hardwicke, and Wotton-under-Edge & Kingswood, but these are all from very low base.

Source: gov.uk data download – MSOA API

You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to see this data as a map.

Finally on the number of people with the virus. We know that not everyone can get a test or gets one even if they can. The Kings College London/Zoe Covid-19 symptom study app reports estimates for Stroud district – based on reporting of symptoms by people using the app (of whom there are over 3,000 in Stroud district). Their latest estimate is 168 active cases for the district – up 6 from last week by their measure. The team behind these estimate have recently updated their system. The flat/slightly rising estimate is not a cause for alarm but please continue to take care, keep following the guidance, and do what you can to reduce contacts and support people who need to isolate – we still want to get the infections lower than they are now.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 7th March (the most recent available data) there have been 247,347 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire (up 27,775 from 219,572 lastt week). Of these, 234,469 are first doses and 12,878 second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 45% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose (37% of the total population, including people aged under 16 who are not included in current vaccination plans), 2.5% have had a second dose (2% of the total population).
  • This compares to 47% and 2.1% for the South West as a whole.
  • And across England, 42% of the population aged 16+ have had a first dose and 1.8% a second dose.
  • Across Gloucestershire, around 91% of people aged 65-69 have had a first dose, around 96% of people aged 70-74, around 100% of people aged 75-79 and around 99% of people aged 80+. Proportions are calculated against ONS population estimates, which may not be exactly accurate. Nonetheless, vaccination rates in the first priority groups are very high.
  • Across Stroud district, vaccination rates are as follows (as a percentage of people aged 16+, ie the total population that vaccination will be offered to under current plans). Please understand that these percentages are affected by how much of the local population has been eligible for vaccination, and the size of the local population, not necessarily by takeup. They are in alphabetical order only:
    • 42% Berkely & Sharpness
    • 45% Cam
    • 40% Chalford & Bussage
    • 39% Dursley
    • 41% Ebley & Randwick
    • 48% Framptom, Whitminster & Eastington
    • 48% Leonard Stanley & Uley
    • 52% Minchinhampton & Amberley
    • 50% Painswick, Bisley & Eastcombe
    • 41% Rodborough & Thrupp
    • 42% Stonehouse
    • 36% Stroud Town
    • 38% Upton St Leonards and Hardwicke
    • 41% Wotton-under-Edge & Kingswood

People aged 55 and over in Gloucestershire can now book to be vaccinated at one of the mass vaccination sites via this link, as can anyone who meets the criteria for other top priority groups. Making a booking at a mass vaccination site (Gloucester, Bristol, Bath, Malvern, Oxford etc) will not affect whether you receive a GP surgery invite to a local vaccination hub or site in the district. You can cancel bookings at mass vaccination sites via the link (under “manage your bookings”). Please ensure to do this with time for people to take the slot so vaccine isn’t wasted. If you are able to travel to a mass vaccination site, you free up space for people who cannot travel at the local hubs.

People aged 55-60 can wait to receive contact from their GP to be vaccinated at their more local hub – surgeries have largely completed group 6 (people aged 18-65 in an at risk group), and some have started on group 7 (people aged 60-65), 8 (55-60) and even 9 (50-55). Generally, please don’t call your GP surgery to discuss when you will be vaccinated – wait for them to contact you. If you are aged over 65 or believe you are Clinically Vulnerable or a carer for someone who is, you can book via the link above, but if you can’t get to one of the mass vaccination sites (Gloucester is the nearest but is often fully booked and the other sites are in Bristol, Bath, Malvern, Oxford etc) please get in touch with your surgery by email to check you have not been missed. The latest update from Rowcroft provides further information for some local surgeries associated with the vaccination hub there (see image below for breakdown of which surgery is associated with which hub), including for “Rowcroft Patients please be aware that if you are over 60 and have not yet had an invitation for vaccination please now get in touch with us”. Prices Mill surgery update on 10th March says they “hope to commence inviting Priority Group 7 [60-65] for local vaccination next week”.

Dr Mark Porter says that The Vale in Dursley “hope to have given everyone first dose by around end of next month (if all goes well). Currently inviting in vulnerable & people in late 50s for 1st, and higher priority for 2nd.”

Vaccination will then continue to proceed in age groups, which is “the fastest way to cut Covid-19 deaths in the next phase of the rollout, say experts advising the UK government” [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation].

We understand many people are keen to be vaccinated but please try to be patient, the vaccine rollout is an enormous logistical challenge – 24 million people being vaccinated in 4 months is unprecedented, and GP surgeries are doing this on top of their normal workload. If you have questions about when you’ll be vaccinated please either ask in our Facebook group or email GP surgeries rather than calling them.

The below shows how – nationally – the 12 week gap between first (light blue bars) and second dose (dark blue bars) will mean the number of first doses delivered weekly will fall. However, if capacity continues to increase, first doses will be delivered even as people in the top priority group receive their second doses.The chart shows

  • Everyone in priority group 1-4 offered a 1st dose by mid February
  • Everyone in priority groups 5-9 offered a first dose by end March
  • Everyone in groups 1-4 who received a first dose, receiving their second by early May
  • All adults (16+) having been offered a first dose by early June (with people aged 50-40 in early April, people aged 40-30 in mid April and Early May, and people aged 30-16 in May to early June)
  • Everyone in group 5-9 who received a first dose getting their second dose before Mid-June
  • All adults (16+) who accept invitations to have been vaccinated by early July.

For a description of priority groups see, our previous post / image below.

There continue to be regular updates in our Facebook group about vaccination locally – including from GP surgeries (see the Facebook group topic). If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read advice on continuing to be cautious after receiving your vaccination).

Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns in our Facebook group and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate. We have separated out tagging of posts in the Facebook group into posts about local vaccination progress, and posts about the Covid-19 vaccines more generally, the latter including attempts to tackle misinformation.

Hospitals – local, national

The good news is that the number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a tenth of that – 21 patients on the 9th March (the most recent date data is available), down 20 from the week before. Sadly, some of this decline will be due to people in hospital dying – but it is good news that more people are not being admitted, and it seems clear that soon there will be no Covid-19 patients in local hospitals again, as was last the case in September. We wish everyone in hospital with Covid-19 and their loved ones well.

Source: NHS hospital activity

In terms of the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, in the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals (the blue bars only in the chart above), there is good news – the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 2% on 9th March – half the proportion on 12th February, and a sixth the peak of 29% on 20th January. There is starting to be a little more spare capacity in the hospitals: 7% of beds were unoccupied on 9th March.

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling fast – 563 people were admitted on the 10th March (compared to 711 last week). This number is now around a ninth of the peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), and well below the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April), mid-November peak (1,782 patients on 18th November).

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Because people with Covid-19 tend to stay in hospital for some time, the total number of people with the virus in hospitals remains high – 8,029 on the 11th March. Coming out of the first ‘wave’, it was 7,907 on the 28th June.

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds – some of the sickest patients is also now lower than in the Spring 2020 peak – having peaked at 4,077 patients (on 24th January). There are still 1,110 patients in these beds as of the 12th March (down from 1,449 patients la week earlier). This compares to 3,247 on the 18th April at the height of the spring 2020 peak. We send our best for their recovery.

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 94,000 people had a symptomtic infection on the 14th March, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 120,000 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January.

Source: KCL/ZOE

The ONS “estimate that 200,600 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 180,200 to 222,900), equating to around 1 in 270 people.” in the week to the 6th March.

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 26th February – shows that 1,150 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (13 people have been added to the total in the most recent week). 189 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.

The data is from registrations of death up to the 26th February, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. Barring dramatic mutations/failures of policy, we should never see the numbers we have seen recently again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

The above data is the best we get on people who have died – from the Office for National Statistics, who report based on what clinicians determine the cause of death to be for death certificates. This data takes time to come in – so the below is only up to the 26th February. It is sobering reading – but the number of deaths continues to fall:

  • “The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 26 February 2021 was 14,281, which was 1,143 higher than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 8, 3,196 deaths involved COVID-19, that is, 1,252 lower than in Week 7.”
  • “The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 26 February 2021 (Week 8) was 12,614; this was 1,195 fewer deaths than in the previous week (Week 7).
  • In Week 8, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 9.2% above the five-year average (1,066 deaths higher).
  • Of the deaths registered in Week 8 in England and Wales, 2,914 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”, a decrease of 1,165 deaths compared with Week 7.
  • In Week 8, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 23.1% of all deaths in England and Wales, compared with 29.5% in Week 7.
  • Of the 2,914 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 8 in England and Wales, 2,469 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (84.7%).
  • In England, the total number of registered deaths decreased from 12,995 (Week 7) to 11,844 (Week 8); total deaths have decreased in all English regions for the second week in a row.

Our previous update discusses the death rate in Stroud district compared to the rest of the country.

For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing (1 hr 20 minutes). This week has a data presentation from Dr Christina Pagel that includes a section on Lateral Flow Device testing (around schools in particular) that is really worth watching if you want to understand that – from around 11 minutes in.

International context

Globally, over 2.64 million people have now died with their death attributed to Covid-19 at least in part (subject to different counting methods in different countries). The situation remains concerning – but there is a sign that the number of people dying may be starting to fall, with Our World in Data reporting the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) has been falling dramatically since January 26th (14,402), to 8,545 on March 13th). This is tragically still very high – considerably higher than during Spring 2020 – and there is a long way to go.

In terms of rates of the number of people to have died per million people, the UK remains one of the worst affected countries – based on publicly available data (currently the 5th worst affected of all countries), at 1,852 people per million – behind only Slovenia (1,890 per million), Belgium (1,935 per million), Czechia (2,156 per million) and San Marino (2,269 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others). There are caveats about this data as all countries will be using slightly different recording but…

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Estonia (535 per million), Denmark (413 per million), Turkey (349 per million), Finland (142 per million), Norway (118 per million), Bangladesh (52 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (33 per million), Cuba (32 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Singapore, China, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Bhutan Mongolia,and Eritrea (all below 5 people per million), and Vietnam, Tanzania, Taiwan and Burundi (all reporting under 1 person per million).

The United Kingdom is doing much better in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (37) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (107 – ie, moving into enough doses to cover everyone, but some will be second doses) and United Arab Emirates (66). Globally, the rate is 5 doses per 100 people. There is a real need to plan to improve global vaccination. You can Donate to treat, vaccinate and support people worldwide – which a few members of our Facebook group have reported doing to celebrate getting their own vaccination.

Notes

The core advice remains: please book a test (see full details at the end of this page). You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not. There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park. See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test – or for 10 days since your symptoms appeared if you test positive or are asked to by Test and Trace. If you are struggling with self-isolating, please get in touch with us or with one of the local support groups. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.

Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the guidelines to wear masks when appropriate (they will help prevent spread of the virus if you have it but don’t have symptoms yet, or are asymptomatic – meaning you have the virus but without ever getting any symptoms), keep distance from people, and wash your hands regularly. Gloucestershire along with the rest of the country is in National Lockdown – guidance here. 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. I 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.

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.

Local testing:

The County Council have updated their information about how you can book a test locally. You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not, and where you can pick up testing kits for households with school-aged children.

  • For people with symptoms, there are permanent testing units at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park.
  • Without symptoms, there is a site in Gloucester City and one located at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester. A third site will be opening in the Forest of Dean on the 10th March.
  • You can pick up a testing kit from the permanent testing units at: Hempsted Meadows, Gloucester; High St Car Park, Cheltenham; and Stratford Park, Stroud.

See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire.


One year of SCCR

On 9th March 2020 we started to invite people to join, and by the end of the day there were 25 members. The aim was to provide a space for the community to share resources and mutual support in response to the crisis.

A year on, the Facebook group has over 5,350 members and includes over 3,250 posts and over 25,000 comments. Key information has been added to this website, which includes 120 daily/weekly updates that summarise either the activity in the group and/or the local data. In this post we have brought together some reflections from the team on the past year, and the next steps.

We also want to take a moment to recognise the extraordinary efforts of everyone who has contributed to protecting and supporting each other. Please use the comments below this Facebook post to mention the people or groups you’d like to thank.

Nadin Hadi says:

“I had literally just landed in Stroud when covid hit. I’d had a little early warning of the scope of what was coming, after meeting a pandemic flu expert on 29th February and I was bracing for a year or more, a change unlike anything I’d seen in my lifetime. I was wrapping my head around it, when I saw a call out on Stroud Sisterhood [another Facebook group], looking for ways the community could organise. 

“I started the SCCR group on Facebook on 8th March. I wanted to get clear evidence-based information out there, so people could understand what was going on, how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe –  and provide a space for organisations, groups and individuals to communicate and connect. 

“Other volunteers came forward to help with the group  and became some of the first people I knew in Stroud and were an incredible team. We spent hours researching answers to questions and finding good data and best practice 

“I got to see some incredible kindness. People putting up their hands to pick up prescriptions and shopping, walk dogs, check in on family members for concerned out of town relatives, making masks, scrubs and visors, cooking meals,  donating hand sanitiser and much more.

“I stepped back in May. The initial step up was a headlong sprint and I’m awed by James and the rest of the team’s contributions and dedication, keeping everyone informed and being a resource that people can trust. 

“It certainly wasn’t the year or the move I’d imagined coming to Stroud and it’s had its hardships moving somewhere new. Everyone has their pandemic story.  I’m curious to see what happens next, what do we take from this year, individually or collectively, how we come together again after so much time apart and what might change going ahead.”

James Beecher says:

“It feels a lot longer than a year at this point – the time immediately “Before Lockdown” is hard to remember. My involvement was prompted by a piece I read online that stressed that ‘Those who are lucky enough to be unconcerned about the virus should at least care about those who have reason to be very worried.’ A couple of friends (who had previously given me a copy of the boardgame “Pandemic” – which I can’t see myself playing again any time soon) had started talking about the virus before others were doing so, and eventually their concern about what seemed like a lack of preparedness, and a lack of seriousness in the reaction from people rubbed off on me. I had in the past been inspired by groups like Mutual Aid Disaster Relief (for instance through a short video on mutual aid work around Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina), and imagined something similar might be needed.

As it turned out, small Neighbour Network, Mutual Aid and other community support groups emerged by themselves, and at the beginning we mostly played a role of signposting to them. Alongside collating information about what was happening. Natasha, Fran and I started pulling together a daily summary of both the local support activity and the evolution of the pandemic and government response.

When things were more settled, I started an update that was more oriented toward the data on the numbers of people testing positive, or being hospitalised. This felt particularly important in the context of local misinformation, which culminated in people locally – as well as across the country – bizarrely, falsely – and insultingly – claiming that hospitals were ‘empty’. People have been very kind about these weekly updates, and the attempts our moderator team have made to answer questions about the changing government guidance/legislation… but it’s hard to know if they were the best use of the time I’ve had – though putting them together certainly helped me to get my head around what was going on (a little, anyway!).

Still, I continue to think the most important volunteer work has been by others – around supporting people to isolate, and with the wider pressures of the pandemic, getting food, PPE and face coverings to those who need them… and lately supporting the vaccination efforts.

Thankfully, the data trends are looking good lately – the numbers of infections and people in hospital have been falling. Gloucestershire continues to be one of the areas of the country with the fastest vaccination roll-outs, and it seems that together with other measures this should mean ‘lockdown’ and most of the restrictions of the past year will relatively soon be a thing of the past. I imagine the Facebook group will be needed for some time – if less used – as our local communities deal with the after-effects in terms of social and economic impacts, and the strain on emotional and mental health – particularly that of NHS workers. Lots of people talk of going ‘back to normal’, but for too many people ‘normal’ before the pandemic wasn’t great – and I’m interested to see how our community continues to look for ways to support each other and work to improve things in the months and years to come.”

Rachel Sleigh says:

“Around the same time as SCCR launched I had a similar chat about the need for a local mutual aid group in Berkeley. We said we’d talk properly later in the day, by which time I had a Facebook group with 100 members, and lots of offers of help. It felt like everyone was thinking the same way, I just created the vehicle and gave it a tiny nudge. People’s desire to help each other was overwhelming. I’d never loved my home town as fervently as I did in those early days, for the certainty I had that we would all pull together was eclipsed by how far people were prepared to go for each other.

I created little Facebook groups to facilitate neighbours, the local graphics company created a leaflet which volunteers walked miles to put through doors across the area, with phone numbers to call. This morphed into a helpline that’s still operating today. What started out as matching volunteers up with people needing help developed into a slick arrangement with our town council arranging fruit and veg from the local grocer for those struggling to access money or food, and our local Co-Op taking phone orders, which a team of volunteers picked up and delivered 3 days a week.

As time passed the Facebook group became more about information, frequently from SCCR or shared with SCCR, so when I was invited to join the admin team it seemed a no-brainer. I’m past predicting what the future will hold, I just hope we can make the best use of what we have built in our communities to address some of the aspects that have made lockdown so hard for so many.”

Natasha Wilson says:

“I got involved right at the beginning, the first meeting. It was clear to me and others that there was going to be a need for the community to pull together to support each other in lockdown. At the start I was busy recruiting people for the group (Nick), trying to leaflet my local streets and pull together local networks, find the gaps and help people find support etc. I then set up the Stroud housing offers and requests group as I could see people needed to self isolate or quickly find housing. We offered our shed to someone! I then spent every evening pulling together info for James Beecher to do the daily update. I also set up the Stroud co-listening Facebook group to enable people to find another person to share listening support with. I moved away from the SCCR group as I needed to focus on work – the need for psychotherapists has skyrocketed in the last 6 months, as the virus and lockdown has taken its toll on mental health. I’m looking forward to an SCCR drink or even a party when we can…”

Sarah Dixon says:

“It’s a bit of a blur now in my memory, but I remember having a strong ominous feeling a couple of days ahead of many of the people around me, and feeling a sense of urgency to bring people together for mutual support. I joined the group forming early on and I mostly was making posters and graphics. I also took part in the discussions of what the group needed to be doing, and the moderation, and creating content for the group. I was so grateful for the various local and national government grants which allowed me to dedicate significant amounts of time and donations to the community group and other people and projects I care about.

It’s been so important for my own wellbeing to be part of the group and have that sense of purpose so I am so grateful to the whole team. I am really interested to see how the group might evolve as this particular crisis gradually fades a little in its central importance in our lives. I hope we all can learn so much from this, and become more resilient communities and better citizens for whatever the future brings.

I have lost an old friend in Ecuador to Covid – things there have been extremely difficult for everyone, with little or no government support and much lower access to healthcare. The inequities exposed by the pandemic are something I want to focus on changing as we go forward. I also hope we can collectively memorialise the losses properly, and offer a lot of support to those most affected, even while we celebrate the return of being together.”  

Nick Turner says:

“I was discussing the early covid news with Natasha in early March 2020 and she mentioned a group was starting to help support people. I had recently been made redundant so offered my time, specifically to set up and develop the website and mapping system to share information  and links.  We registered the domain name on 13 March.  I remember at the time that people suggested this could be needed for about 6 months and me thinking it would definitely be shorter than that.  It’s still a little hard to take in that it’s been a full year. We’ll never know all the changes and upheaval and loss that people have felt but it’s good to know that the group and website helped the launch of mutual aid  groups very early on, long before any official support was available.”

Sue Flook says:

“Stroud’s capacity to pull together as a community never ceases to move me. I’ve seen this through my involvement with SCCR and this was certainly the case when I went for my vaccination at Beeches Green. It was 7pm on a cold February day, but I received a warm welcome from every one of the volunteers and members of staff. Having had the first vaccine dose feels like a big step forward, but I’m aware that we all have a long way to go.”

Martin Philips says:

“This time last year, I was away visiting friends and family oop north with my wife. The feeling was one of dread: we were in a crowded food hall and I was thinking “this isn’t safe, let’s get out”. That was reinforced when we found ourselves on Cheltenham station looking at the crowds arriving before the horse racing festival. After having a good summer despite everything, things were clearly going downhill towards the end of the year.  I only found this group around Christmas time, and feeling rather useless and needing to volunteer to do something I offered my help, albeit in a small way. The professionalism of the group is amazing, there’s not much that someone can’t help with. I fear that the group will be needed for many months to come, although the emphasis is likely to change and a better future will arrive.”

Karin Burnett says:

“I was a member of the group and was extremely impressed with the quality and quantity of posts and information that were being provided.  I work in scientific and medical research and was keeping a keen eye on the information coming through on coronavirus, such as transmissibility and vaccine development.  There is quite a lot of misinformation out there so I offered my services to the group to help with report and data checking and to seek out relevant and informative pieces that may be of interest to people using the group.”

Claire Biggs says:

“I joined the group very recently, having become aware of the statistics that the group publish every week.  I found that they helped me to make sense of what was going on; that seeing statistics and facts presented in calm, clear and measured tones, without the drama of the national news and relating to the area where I live, was reassuring and calming, even though the situation was so bad.  I wanted to help, so now I gather some of the figures that SCCR publish each week.  It’s really nice to be able to pitch in a little bit, and I’m even more impressed with what the group does and the amount of work that they all put in.”

Fran Barton says:

“I don’t think I was alone in not really getting the scale of the crisis until it was here and happening. It all happened so suddenly, even with some prior awareness. I am grateful to those in our community like James for standing up and saying, “look we need to take this seriously and prepare quickly for how we need to respond… This is important.” It was another little while until I found out about the Facebook group that Nadin had created, and I joined in in a fit of enthusiasm, also helping Tash with setting up the Neighbourhood Network in our area, making sure we had a map and a spreadsheet of all the residences, sharing the latest safety guidelines, getting leaflets through doors, adminning the WhatsApp group, helping people on Facebook find their local neighbourhood network, helping with some of the daily updates. It was a whirl.

It all felt so peaceful where I lived. In my middle-class street with my middle-class job working at home at a screen, with the countryside to walk into… SCCR helped remind me that for so many people it wasn’t like that at all. Families crammed together with no garden space, people with jobs on the frontline with little to no protective equipment, and so on.

The problem was, even in my relatively comfortable world, I burned out more quickly than I would like to admit. I couldn’t manage the work for the group on top of the day job and my own needs and my family. Community resilience is great, but individual resilience is bloody hard (is that even a thing?) The street whatsapp group sputtered, before going almost completely silent. It wasn’t what I’d imagined it would be, at all. I guess in our atomised households, most people are either just carrying on relatively fine, and don’t need the group, or are totally not fine but don’t want to join a whatsapp group or are not confident enough to use it to ask for help. Supporting a community is bloody hard work.

I am left with a huge amount of admiration for those who have kept on managing this community response, as well as their day job and their family and everything else. I think Zoe Williams is right that there are basically two kinds of exit from the full pandemic into whatever comes next: we build a more equal society and its infrastructure, or we go into an orgy of individualism. SCCR shows us one of the main ways we can sustain the better society we need, and we all need to support it, and our neighbours, as much as we are able.”

As well as continuing to post updates on infections, the vaccines and vaccination rollout, impacts of the pandemic and resources for people to support each other, SCCR will be marking other anniversaries as they come around over the coming weeks and months. Please join the conversation in our Facebook group.


7th March 2021 data update

The big news is that from 8th March “all children and students return safely to face-to-face education in schools and colleges” and “People will be allowed to leave home for recreation and exercise outdoors with their household or support bubble, if they are eligible for one, or with one person from outside their household. Care home residents will also be allowed one regular visitor.” Read the full government “roadmap out of the current lockdown for England“, which includes the next elements changing on 29th March.

It’s understandable that people with school-aged children will feel a range of emotions at this point – relief in the reduction of demands at home, but also concern or anxiety about what this will mean for their children, people they live with who are more at risk from the virus, or the impact on the pandemic and the government’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. SCCR Team Member Polly Stratton has written her final weekly piece for us on the ‘homeschooling’ experience.

The County Council have also updated their information about how you can book a test locally. You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not, and where you can pick up testing kits for households with school-aged children.

  • For people with symptoms, there are permanent testing units at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park.
  • Without symptoms, there is a site in Gloucester City and one located at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester. A third site will be opening in the Forest of Dean on the 10th March.
  • You can pick up a testing kit from the permanent testing units at: Hempsted Meadows, Gloucester; High St Car Park, Cheltenham; and Stratford Park, Stroud.

See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire.

Key data:

  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, 41% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, and 1.1% have had a second dose. (compared to 37% for a first dose and 0.7% last week). This includes between 90-100% of all age groups above 65, and 21% of people aged under 65.
  • 60 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 3rd March (down from 67 last week, though this was 62 at point of reporting). The numbers of people testing positive each week is falling, but slowly – and the ZOE/Kings College London app estimates the number of people with active infections at 168 is slightly higher than last week – again, this emphasises that if infection numbers are falling it is slowly and we still need to follow guidance.
  • Across Gloucestershire, 175 people tested positive in the week to the 3rd March (down from 276 in the previous week) – and there is a clearly falling trend.
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a sixth of that – 41 patients on the 2nd March (the most recent date data is available), down 19 from the week before. In the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals, the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 5% (half the proportion on 12th Feb).
  • In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 19th February – shows that 1,137 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (18 people have been added to the total in the most recent week). 187 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

Across Gloucestershire, 1,583 people tested positive in February 2021. The chart below shows how dramatically this has fallen since January (6,497 people), December (5,528), November (3,640) – and indeed lower than the total for October (3,640). However, this is still a much higher number – nearly four times as many – as tested positive in September (just 407). At time of writing the rate for Gloucestershire as a whole is 31 positive tests in the past seven days per 100,000 people – or one in every 3,225 people.

Looking week-by-week, you can see that across Gloucestershire the number of people testing positive continues to fall: 175 in the most recent week (to 3rd March), compared to 276 in the week to 24th February, Not all tests will have been processed yet, but there is a very clear downward trend – now down to the levels at the end of September. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 21,862 people have now tested positive.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by Claire Biggs

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 60 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 3rd March – down from 67 in the previous week and 88 in the week before that. At time of writing this is a rate of 51 people per 100,000 (or roughly one in every 1,950 people). Numbers of infections continue to fall. The number of people who have tested positive in the most recent week is still higher than before November, but the district is on track to return to the low levels of September, August, July and June. Across Stroud district, 3,615 people have now tested positive.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

If we look at the age breakdown, it’s clear that positive tests have fallen rapidly among those aged under 60 recently – following a similar sharp decline for those aged 60 and over. There have been some new cases among people aged over 60 recently – which we believe are associated with a care home outbreak which is now under control in Minchinhampton/Amberley – covered in the Stroud News and Journal. The chart below appears to show early signs infections among people aged above 60 are falling again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows much of the district – and surrounding areas – with fewer than 2 positive tests in the week to 2nd March (this data is “suppressed” to protext the privacy of individuals when only small numbers of people test positive – but could mean no-one has tested positive. See below for trends by areas of the district (“MSOAs” – “Middle Layer Super Output Areas – a statistical geography)

Source: govt interactive map

Below are the charts for trends – you can see how cases are falling in most of the district – up to the 27th February. At that point, cases remained higher/flat rather than low/falling only in Stroud Town, and Dursley.

Source: gov.uk data download – MSOA API

You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to see this data as a map.

Finally on the number of people with the virus. We know that not everyone can get a test or gets one even if they can. The Kings College London/Zoe Covid-19 symptom study app reports estimates for Stroud district – based on reporting of symptoms by people using the app (of whom there are over 3,000 in Stroud district). Their latest estimate is 168 active cases for the district – up 45 from last week by their measure. As a couple of weeks ago, I’d say “I’d caution not reading too much into this yet”, because we’ve seen a recent blip and it looks like infections will be falling again soon – or that they are maintaining at the current level. These numbers are broadly consistent with the confirmed case numbers (falling slowly), which provides evidence that the trend is real. Please continue to take care, keep following the guidance, and do what you can to reduce contacts and support people who need to isolate – we still want to get the infections lower than they are now.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 18th February (the most recent available data) there have been 219,572 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire (up 47,565 from 172,007 last week). Of these, 213,890 are first doses and 5,682 second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 41% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 1.1% have had a second dose. (compared to 33% for a first dose and 1.1% for a second dose across England)
  • 99.6% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ with first dose, 6.2% second
  • “102.9”% aged 75-79 (more people have received vaccines from this age group than were estimated to be in the population – in reality new people will have moved to the area or into the age bracket and the figure is probably below 100%, but very close), 0.3% second dose
  • 96.4% aged 70-74, 0.3% second dose
  • 90.1% aged 65-69 have had a first dose, 0.4% a second dose.
  • 21% of people aged under 65 have had a first dose, and 0.8% a second dose (these will be people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, Clinically Vulnerable, or who work in care homes, the NHS, or social care).

People aged 56 and over in Gloucestershire can now book to be vaccinated at one of the mass vaccination sites via this link, as can anyone who meets the following other criteria.

Alternatively, people aged 56-60 can wait to receive contact from their GP to be vaccinated at their more local hub – surgeries have largely completed group 6 (people aged 18-65 in an at risk group), and will also move onto group 7 (people aged 60+) soon. If you are aged over 65 or believe you are Clinically Vulnerable or a carer for someone who is, please get in touch with your surgery by email to check you have not been missed.

Vaccination will then continue to proceed in age groups, which is “the fastest way to cut Covid-19 deaths in the next phase of the rollout, say experts advising the UK government” [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation].

“If the vaccine rollout expands in line with expectations, all UK adults could have received both doses by mid-July, with under-30s [without health conditions making them at greater risk of Covid-19] getting first doses in May [those with health conditions will be vaccinated sooner – by end March]”

Below is a chart from the Financial Times that looks at how the vaccination rollout might proceed and when people in certain priority groups can roughly expect to receive first and second doses. So far, Gloucestershire has been a little ahead of the rest of England. Many people are understandably keen to know when they will be invited – particularly those in the priority group 5-9 who have not been vaccinated yet – this will be people aged 50-65, and people 16-65 with a health condition regarded as likely to put them at greater risk from Covid-19, or certain types of unpaid carers.

People aged over 65, people working in care homes, social care, or the NHS, or who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable *should* all have received invitations by now, and if not are able to book an appointment at a mass vaccination site. See link at end of this post and in comments for an explanation of the priority groups, and for booking at a mass vaccination site).

However… please try to be patient, the vaccine rollout is an enormous logistical challenge – 21 million people being vaccinated in 3 months is unprecedented, and GP surgeries are doing this on top of their normal workload. If you have questions about when you’ll be vaccinated please either ask in this group or email GP surgeries rather than calling them.
The below shows how – nationally – the 12 week gap between first (light blue bars) and second dose (dark blue bars) will mean the number of first doses delivered weekly will fall. However, if capacity continues to increase, first doses will be delivered even as people in the top priority group receive their second doses.The chart shows

  • Everyone in priority group 1-4 offered a 1st dose by mid February
  • Everyone in priority groups 5-9 offered a first dose by end March
  • Everyone in groups 1-4 who received a first dose, receiving their second by early May
  • All adults (16+) having been offered a first dose by early June (with people aged 50-40 in early April, people aged 40-30 in mid April and Early May, and people aged 30-16 in May to early June)
  • Everyone in group 5-9 who received a first dose getting their second dose before Mid-June
  • All adults (16+) who accept invitations to have been vaccinated by early July.

For a description of priority groups see, our previous post / image below.

There continue to be regular updates in our Facebook group about vaccination locally – including from GP surgeries (see the Facebook group topic). If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read advice on continuing to be cautious after receiving your vaccination).

Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns in our Facebook group and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate. We have separated out tagging of posts in the Facebook group into posts about local vaccination progress, and posts about the Covid-19 vaccines more generally, the latter including attempts to tackle misinformation.

Hospitals – local, national

The good news is that the number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a fifth of that – 41 patients on the 2nd March (the most recent date data is available), down 19 from the week before. Sadly, some of this decline will be due to people in hospital dying – but it is good news that more people are not being admitted. There’s still a way to go – and the rate of decline seems to have stalled over the past few days. But it is good to see that the local community hospitals no longer host Covid-19 patients. We wish everyone in hospital with Covid-19 and their loved ones well.

Source: NHS hospital activity

In terms of the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, in the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals (the blue bars only in the chart above), there is good news – the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 5% on 2nd March – half the proportion on 12th February, and a sixth the peak of 29% on 20th January. The trend is really encouraging – but note how there is very little spare capacity in the hospitals (just 4% according to the data). This is likely because of normal winter pressures, the backlog and staffing issues created due to the pandemic, and the need to create Covid-19 wards and distance beds. It underlines how little room for new Covid-19 admissions there is.

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling fast – 688 people were admitted on the 4th March – the lowest number this year (compared to 867 last week). This number is now below a sixth of the peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), adn well below the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April), mid-November peak (1,782 patients on 18th November).

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Because people with Covid-19 tend to stay in hospital for some time, the total number of people with the virus in hospitals remains high – 10,898 on the 4th March. Coming out of the first ‘wave’, it was 10,921 on the 14th May.

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds – some of the sickest patients is also now lower than in the Spring 2020 peak – having peaked at 4,077 patients (on 24th January). There are still 1,542patients (down from 1,971 patients last week) in these beds, compared to 3,247 on the 18th April at the height of the spring 2020 peak. We send our best for their recovery.

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 120,508 people had a symptomtic infection on the 8th March, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 146,700 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January.

Source: KCL/ZOE

The Office for National Statistics have a higher estimate based on their random sample testing of tens of thousands of people – but is data from longer ago: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) has continued to decrease in the week ending 27 February 2021; we estimate that 248,100 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 224,900 to 271,700), equating to around 1 in 220 people.” (last week: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) has continued to decrease in the week ending 19 February 2021; we estimate that 373,700 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 346,400 to 401,300), equating to around 1 in 145 people.”

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 12th February – shows that 1,137 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (18 people have been added to the total in the most recent week). 187 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.

The data is from registrations of death up to the 19th February, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. Barring dramatic mutations/failures of policy, we should never see the numbers we have seen recently again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

The above data is the best we get on people who have died – from the Office for National Statistics, who report based on what clinicians determine the cause of death to be for death certificates. This data takes time to come in – so the below is only up to the 12th February. It is sobering reading – but the number of deaths is lower than for the previous week and as for Gloucestershire, we should be past the worst:

  • “The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 19 February 2021 was 15,577, which was 2,374 higher than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 7, 4,447 deaths involved COVID-19, that is, 1,668 lower than in Week 6.”
  • “Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths from week ending 13 March 2020 up to 19 February 2021 was 616,124. Of the deaths registered by 19 February 2021, 129,113 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is 21.0% of all deaths in England and Wales. During this period the number of excess deaths above the five-year average was 107,726 deaths.
  • The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 19 February 2021 (Week 7) was 13,809; this was 1,545 fewer deaths than in the previous week (Week 6).
  • In Week 7, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 18.8% above the five-year average (2,182 deaths higher).
  • Of the deaths registered in Week 7 in England and Wales, 4,079 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”; a decrease of 1,612 deaths compared with Week 6.
  • In Week 7, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 29.5% of all deaths in England and Wales, compared with 37.1% in Week 6.
  • Of the 4,079 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 7 in England and Wales, 3,495 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (85.7%).
  • In England, the total number of registered deaths decreased from 14,572 (Week 6) to 12,995 (Week 7); all English regions had a higher number of deaths than the five-year average for the 15th week in a row.

Our previous update discusses the death rate in Stroud district compared to the rest of the country.

For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing (1 hr 20 minutes). This week has a data presentation from Dr Kit Yates that includes a section on inequality that explains well how Covid-19 has affected different populations.

International context

Globally, over 2.5 million people have now died with their death attributed to Covid-19 at least in part (subject to different counting methods in different countries). The situation remains concerning – but there is a sign that the number of people dying may be starting to fall, with Our World in Data reporting the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) has been falling dramatically since January 26th (14,402), to 8,800 on March6th). This is tragically still very high – considerably higher than during Spring 2020 – and there is a long way to go.

In terms of rates of the number of people to have died per million people, the UK remains one of the worst affected countries (currently the 5th worst affected of all countries), at 1,837 people per million – behind only Slovenia (1,872 per million), Belgium (1,921 per million), Czechia (2,028 per million) and San Marino (2,240 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others).

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Estonia (492 per million), Denmark (411 per million), Turkey (344 per million), Finland (138 per million), Norway (117 per million), Bangladesh (51 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (32 per million), Cuba (31 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Singapore, China, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Bhutan and Eritrea (all below 5 people per million), and Mongolia, Vietnam, Tanzania, Taiwan and Burundi (all reporting under 1 person per million).

The United Kingdom is doing much better in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (34) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (101 – ie, moving into enough doses to cover everyone, but some will be second doses) and United Arab Emirates (63). Globally, the rate is 4 doses per 100 people. There is a real need to plan to improve global vaccination. You can Donate to treat, vaccinate and support people worldwide – which a few members of our Facebook group have reported doing to celebrate getting their own vaccination.

Notes

The core advice remains: please book a test. You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not. There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park. See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test – or for 10 days since your symptoms appeared if you test positive or are asked to by Test and Trace. If you are struggling with self-isolating, please get in touch with us or with one of the local support groups. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.

Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the guidelines to wear masks when appropriate (they will help prevent spread of the virus if you have it but don’t have symptoms yet, or are asymptomatic – meaning you have the virus but without ever getting any symptoms), keep distance from people, and wash your hands regularly. Gloucestershire along with the rest of the country is in National Lockdown – guidance here. 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. I 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.

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.


28th February 2021 data update

The big news this week is obviously the release of the government’s “roadmap out of the current lockdown for England” (read in full via the link). This sets out steps starting on 8th March (“all children and students return safely to face-to-face education in schools and colleges” and “People will be allowed to leave home for recreation and exercise outdoors with their household or support bubble, if they are eligible for one, or with one person from outside their household. Care home residents will also be allowed one regular visitor.”)

Further changes are pencilled in for 29th March, 12th April, 17th May and 21st June – though please note that these are described as “indicative and subject to change. There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step”:

“Only when the government is sure that it is safe to move from one step to the next will the final decision be made. The decision will be based on four tests:

  • the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
  • infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  • our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern”

You can read the Independent SAGE response (“Maximum suppression or mere containment”) on their website.

Key data:

  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, 37% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 0.7% have had a second dose. (compared to 33% for a first dose and 1.1% for a second dose across England). Locally, this includes between 80-100% of all age groups above 65.
  • 62 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 24th February. The KCL/Zoe app data suggests 147 active infections. Both sources of data show clearly declining trends.
  • Across Gloucestershire, 248 people tested positive in the week to the 24th Feb (down from 352 in the previous week) – and there is a clearly falling trend.
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a quarter of that – 56 patients on the 23rd February (the most recent date data is available), down 17 from the week before. In the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals, the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 7%.
  • In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 5th January – shows that 1,119 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. 185 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

Across Gloucestershire, 248 people tested positive in the week to 24th February, compared to 352 in the previous week. Not all tests will have been processed yet (only 304 of the 352 positive tests for last week had been reported by last Sunday), but there is a very clear downward trend – now down to the levels at the end of September. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 21,606 people have now tested positive.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by Claire Biggs

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 62 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 24th February – down from 88 in the previous week (though as above, not all test results will have been processed so the number will likely end up higher for the week, the 88 for the previous week was 78 at time of reporting last Sunday). Numbers of infections continue to fall. The number of people who have tested positive is in the most recent week is still higher than before October, but the district is on track to return to the low levels of September, August, July and June. Across Stroud district, 3,567 people have now tested positive.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

If we look at the age breakdown, it’s clear that positive tests have fallen rapidly among those aged under 60 recently – following a similar sharp decline for those aged 60 and over. There have been some new cases among people aged over 60 recently – which we believe are associated with a care home outbreak which is now under control in Minchinhampton/Amberley – covered in the Stroud News and Journal.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows much of the district – and surrounding areas – with fewer than 2 positive tests in the week to 23rd February (this data is “suppressed” to protext the privacy of individuals when only small numbers of people test positive – but could mean no-one has tested positive. See below for trends by areas of the district (“MSOAs” – “Middle Layer Super Output Areas – a statistical geography)

Source: govt interactive map

Below are the charts for trends – you can see how cases are falling in most of the district – up to the 13th February. At that point, cases remained higher/flat rather than low/falling only in Stroud Town, Stonehouse and Ebley & Randwick.

Source: gov.uk data download – MSOA API

You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to see this data as a map.

Finally on the number of people with the virus. We know that not everyone can get a test or gets one even if they can. The Kings College London/Zoe Covid-19 symptom study app reports estimates for Stroud district – based on reporting of symptoms by people using the app (of whom there are over 3,000 in Stroud district). Their latest estimate is 147 active cases for the district – down 111 from last week by their measure. Last week there was some indication of a recent rise, butI’m glad I said “I’d caution not reading too much into this yet”, because it now appears to have been a blip and active infections are falling again – although not much below the recent low. These numbers are consistent with the confirmed case numbers, which provides evidence that the trend is real. Nonetheless, please continue to take care, keep following the guidance, and do what you can to reduce contacts and support people who need to isolate – we still want to get the infections lower than they are now.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 18th February (the most recent available data) there have been 172,007 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire: 168,623 131,362 first doses (37,261 in the past week, compared to 31,362 in the previous week), and 3,384 3,178 2,923 (206 in the past week compared to 255 in the previous week) second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 37% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 0.7% have had a second dose. (compared to 33% for a first dose and 1.1% for a second dose across England)
  • 99.4% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ with first dose, 3.8% second
  • “102.5”% aged 75-79 (more people have received vaccines from this age group than were estimated to be in the population – in reality the figure is probably below 100%, but very close), 0.2% second dose
  • 95.6% aged 70-74, 0.2% second dose
  • 82.3% aged 65-69 have had a first dose (compared to 75% nationally)

People aged 60 and over in Gloucestershire can now book to be vaccinated at one of the mass vaccination sites via this link. Or they can wait to receive contact from their GP to be vaccinated at their more local hub – surgeries have largely completed group 6 (people aged 18-65 in an at risk group), and will also move onto group 7 (people aged 60+) soon.

Vaccination will then continue to proceed in age groups, which is “the fastest way to cut Covid-19 deaths in the next phase of the rollout, say experts advising the UK government” [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation].

There continue to be regular updates about vaccination locally (see the Facebook group topic) in our Facebook group. If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read advice on continuing to be cautious after receiving your vaccination)

UK data suggests everyone in the first Phase priority groups (including everyone aged 50+) will be offered a first dose by the end of March.

Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns in our Facebook group and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate. We have separated out tagging of posts in the Facebook group into posts about local vaccination progress, and posts about the Covid-19 vaccines more generally, the latter including attempts to tackle misinformation.

Hospitals – local, national

The good news is that the number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a fifth of that – 56 patients on the 23rd February (the most recent date data is available), down 17 from the week before. Sadly, some of this decline will be due to people in hospital dying – but it is good news that more people are not being admitted. There’s still a way to go – and the rate of decline is clearly falling. We wish everyone in hospital with Covid-19 and their loved ones well.

Source: NHS hospital activity

In terms of the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, in the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals (the blue bars only in the chart above), there is good news – the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 7% on 23rd February – half the proportion on 4th February, and a quarter the peak of 29% on 20th January. The trend is really encouraging – but note how there is very little spare capacity in the hospitals (just 2% according to the data). This is likely because of normal winter pressures, the backlog and staffing issues created due to the pandemic, and the need to create Covid-19 wards and distance beds. It underlines how little room for new Covid-19 admissions there is.

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling – 1,112 people were admitted on the 23rd February – the lowest number this year (compared to 1,397 last week). This number is now below a quarter of peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), below the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April), and below the level of the mid-November peak (1,782 patients on 18th November).

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Because people with Covid-19 tend to stay in hospital for some time, the total number of people with the virus in hospitals remains high – though falling sharply. In Northern Ireland and Wales it is still above the level of the first wave peak.

Source: Independent SAGE briefing

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds – some of the sickest patients is also now lower than in the Spring 2020 peak – having peaked at 4,077 patients (on 24th January). There are still 1,971 patients (down from 2,469 patients last week) in these beds, compared to 3,247 on the 18th April at the height of the spring 2020 peak. We send our best for their recovery.

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 146,700 people had a symptomtic infection on the 28th February, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 212,400 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January.

Source: KCL/ZOE

The Office for National Statistics have a higher estimate based on their random sample testing of tens of thousands of people – but is data from longer ago: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) has continued to decrease in the week ending 19 February 2021; we estimate that 373,700 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 346,400 to 401,300), equating to around 1 in 145 people.” (last week: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) decreased in the week ending 12 February 2021; we estimate that 481,300 people within the community population in England had COVID-19, equating to around 1 in 115 people.”

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 12th February – shows that 1,119 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (22 people who have died have been added since last week). 185 of these people were from the Stroud district (7 added since last week). We send our condolences to all affected.

The data is from registrations of death up to the 12th February, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. However, data on deaths by another measure suggests that numbers have fallen rapidly recently – perhaps due to the impact of vaccinations. Barring dramatic mutations/failures of policy, we should never see the numbers we have seen recently again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths
Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

While the numbers of people dying are falling, it’s striking how many more people have died recently than even in the first wave. 46,371 people in the last few weeks, compared to 32,119 in the first peak.

Source: Independent SAGE briefing

The above data is the best we get on people who have died – from the Office for National Statistics, who report based on what clinicians determine the cause of death to be for death certificates. This data takes time to come in – so the below is only up to the 12th February. It is sobering reading – but the number of deaths is lower than for the previous week and as for Gloucestershire, we should be past the worst:

  • “The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 12 February 2021 was 17,136, which was 3,617 higher than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 6, 6,113 deaths involved COVID-19, that is, 1,710 lower than in Week 5.”
  • The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 12 February 2021 (Week 6) was 15,354; this was 1,838 fewer deaths than in the previous week (Week 5).”
  • “In Week 6, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 28.8% above the five-year average (3,429 deaths higher).”
  • “Of the deaths registered in Week 6 in England and Wales, 5,691 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”; a decrease of 1,629 deaths compared with Week 5. In Week 6, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 37.1% of all deaths in England and Wales.
  • “Of the 5,691 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 6 in England and Wales, 5,035 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (88.5%).
  • “Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths from week ending 13 March 2020 up to 12 February 2021 was 602,313. Of the deaths registered by 12 February 2021, 124,978 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is 20.7% of all deaths in England and Wales. During this period the number of excess deaths above the five-year average was 117,040 deaths.
  • The chart below shows how Covid-19 deaths contribute to the number of deaths being way above the 5-year average during times where the virus has been able to infect large numbers of people.

Our previous update discusses the death rate in Stroud district compared to the rest of the country.

For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing (1 hr 20 minutes). This week has a data presentation from Professor Christina Pagel that includes a section on inequality that explains well how Covid-19 has affected different populations (see one chart below), as well as a presentation from Susan Michie on the Independent SAGE’s reactions to the government’s new “roadmap” and their own recommendations for “Zero Covid” (see their document “Maximum suppression or mere containment”)

The chart below shows that the population of England and Wales is divided equally through the “Index of Multiple Deprivation”. However, people testing positive are more likely to be from the most deprived areas (and more deprived areas generally), and this is even starker for ICU admissions – whicah are much more likely to be of people from the most deprived areas.

Source: Independent SAGE briefing

International context

Globally, over 2 million people have now died with their death attributed to Covid-19 at least in part (subject to different counting methods in different countries). The situation remains concerning – but there is a sign that the number of people dying may be starting to fall, with Our World in Data reporting the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) has been falling dramatically since January 26th (14,402), though this seems to have stalled at just over 9,000 people/day (9,224 on February 26th). This is tragically still very high – considerably higher than during Spring 2020 – and there is a long way to go.

In terms of rates of the number of people to have died per million people, the UK remains one of the worst affected countries (currently the 5th worst affected of all countries), at 1,810 people per million – behind only Czechia (1,885 per million), Slovenia (1,845 per million), Belgium (1,902 per million) and San Marino (2,180 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others).

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Estonia (440 per million), Denmark (403 per million), Turkey (338 per million), Finland (134 per million), Norway (115 per million), Bangladesh (51 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (31 per million), Cuba (28 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Singapore, China, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Bhutan and Eritrea (all below 5 people per million), and Mongolia, Vietnam, Tanzania, Taiwan and Burundi (all reporting under 1 person per million).

The United Kingdom is doing much better in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (30) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (92) and United Arab Emirates (60). Globally, the rate is 3 doses per 100 people. There is a real need to plan to improve global vaccination. You can Donate to treat, vaccinate and support people worldwide – which a few members of our Facebook group have reported doing to celebrate getting their own vaccination.

Notes

The core advice remains: please book a test if you have one or more symptoms – a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of smell/taste (or if you are asked to by contact tracers or others conducting tests). There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and mobile units tour Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test. If you are struggling with self-isolating, please get in touch with us or with one of the local support groups. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.

Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the guidelines to wear masks when appropriate (they will help prevent spread of the virus if you have it but don’t have symptoms yet, or are asymptomatic – meaning you have the virus but without ever getting any symptoms), keep distance from people, and wash your hands regularly. Gloucestershire along with the rest of the country is in National Lockdown – guidance here. 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. I 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.

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.


21st February 2021 data update

Key data:

  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total, 32.3% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 0.65% have had a second dose.. 99% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ have had a first dose, “102”% aged 75-79 (in reality, the population estimate is obviously a little lower than the true population – but essentially close to everyone in the age band will have had a vaccine), and 93% of people aged 70-74.
  • 78 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 17th February. The KCL/Zoe app data suggests the recent sharply falling trend may have at least slowed down if not started rising again (to an estimated 257 active infections in the district).
  • Across Gloucestershire, 304 people tested positive in the week to the 17th Feb (down from 534 in the previous week) – and there is a clearly falling trend.
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a third of that – 77 patients on the 16th February (the most recent date data is available), down 26 from the week before. In the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals, the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 8%.
  • In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 5th January – shows that 1,097 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. 178 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 5th January – shows that 1,097 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (43 added since last week). 178 of these people were from the Stroud district (4 added since last week). We send our condolences to all affected.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

The data is from registrations of death up to the 5th February, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. However, data on deaths by another measure suggests that numbers have fallen rapidly recently – perhaps due to the impact of vaccinations. Barring dramatic mutations/failures of policy, we should never see the numbers we have seen recently again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

The above data is the best we get on people who have died – from the Office for National Statistics, who report based on what clinicians determine the cause of death to be for death certificates. This data takes time to come in – so the below is only up to the 29th January. It is sobering reading – but the number of deaths is lower than for the previous week and as for Gloucestershire, we should be past the worst:

  • “The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 5 February 2021 was 19,149, which was 5,317 higher than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 5, 7,820 deaths involved COVID-19, that is, 1,194 lower than in Week 4.”
  • “The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 5 February 2021 (Week 5) was 17,192; this was 1,256 fewer deaths than in the previous week (Week 4).”
  • “In Week 5, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 40.8% above the five-year average (4,986 deaths higher).”
  • “Of the deaths registered in Week 5 in England and Wales, 7,320 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”; a decrease of 1,113 deaths compared with Week 4.”
  • “In Week 5, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 42.6% of all deaths in England and Wales; this is the third-highest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 that has been recorded during the pandemic.”
  • “Of the 7,320 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 5 in England and Wales, 6,521 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (89.1%).
  • “all English regions had a higher number of deaths than the five-year average for the 13th week in a row.”
  • From “Week 1 2020 through to Week 4 2021… the number of deaths up to 29 January 2021 was 687,014. Of the deaths registered by 29 January 2021, 111,851 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is 16.3% of all deaths in England and Wales
  • The chart below shows how Covid-19 deaths contribute to the number of deaths being way above the 5-year average during times where the virus has been able to infect large numbers of people.

Our previous update discusses the death rate in Stroud district compared to the rest of the country.

People who have tested positive

Across Gloucestershire, 304 people tested positive in the week to 472 people tested positive in the week to the 17th Feb (down from 534 in the previous week). Not all tests will have been processed yet, but there is a very clear downward trend – now down to the levels at the end of September. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 21,435 people have now tested positive.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by Claire Biggs

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 78 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 17th February (though as above, not all test results will have been processed so the number will likely end up higher for the week). This suggests the stall in decline is over, and infections are falling again. The number of people who have tested positive is in the most recent week is still higher than since October, but the district is on track to return to the low levels of September, August, July and June. Across Stroud district, 3,499 people have now tested positive.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

If we look at the age breakdown, it’s clear that positive tests have fallen rapidly among those aged 60 and over (perhaps related to vaccinations having an impact on transmission for this group?), but are flat for those under 60.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows recently positive tests are running at over 100 per 100,000 people across much of the district – see below for trends by areas of the district (“MSOAs” – “Middle Layer Super Output Areas – a statistical geography)

Source: govt interactive map
Source: gov.uk data download – MSOA API

Higher/Rising

  • Ebley and Randwick – 18
  • Stroud Town – 16
  • Minchimhampton & Amberley – 14
  • Cam – 11

Flat

  • Stonehouse – 11
  • Wotton-under-Edge & Kingswood – 10
  • Chalford & Bussge – 6
  • Painswick, Bisley & Eastcombe – 5

Falling

  • Upton St Leonards & Hardwicke – 8
  • Frampton, Whitminster & Eastington – 6
  • Dursley – 5
  • Leonard Stanley & Uley – 4
  • Berkeley & Sharpness – 0-2

Erratic/Hard to categorise

  • Nailsworth – 8
  • Rodborough & Thrupp – 5

You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to see this data as a map.

Finally on the number of people with the virus. We know that not everyone can get a test or gets one even if they can. The Kings College London/Zoe Covid-19 symptom study app reports estimates for Stroud district – based on reporting of symptoms by people using the app (of whom there are over 3,000 in Stroud district). Their latest estimate is 257 active cases for the district – up 49 from last week by their measure. Though there is some indication of a recent rise, I’d caution not reading too much into this yet. Consistent with the confirmed case numbers, this now places the district at the levels of infections seen at the start of October, and the main recent trend is of a rapid decline. The recent appearance of a rise could be because some test results have come in later – making the decline look sharper than it should have done and creating an artificial ‘rise’. Nonetheless, please continue to take care, keep following the guidance, and do what you can to reduce contacts and support people who need to isolate – we still want to get the infections lower than they are now.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Nationally, there is a wider sign of slowdown in the decline in number of cases – see this piece by the KCL/ZOE team.

Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, comments on the latest data:

“Although daily new cases have fallen steadily for 6 consecutive weeks in the UK, in the last few days the rate of decrease has plateaued. This is mainly true in places like Scotland, Wales and the Midlands compared to London and the East. It’s unclear why this is happening, although people relaxing their guard after vaccination or altering behaviour in the cold weather are possible. But it’s encouraging that COVID-related hospital admissions are still falling and much lower than at the peak. With cases still falling in the at-risk age groups and the vaccination roll out continuing there is still reason to be hopeful – but we clearly can’t be complacent. 

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 18th February (the most recent available data) there have been 172,007 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire: 168,623 131,362 first doses (37,261 in the past week, compared to 31,362 in the previous week), and 3,384 3,178 2,923 (206 in the past week compared to 255 in the previous week) second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 99% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ with first dose, 3.8% second
  • “102”% aged 75-79 (more people have received vaccines from this age group than were estimated to be in the population – in reality the figure is probably below 100%, but very close), 0.2% second dose
  • 93% aged 70-74, 0.2% second dose
  • 16.7% aged under 70, 0.4% second dose
  • 32.3% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 0.65% have had a second dose.

There continue to be regular updates about vaccination locally (see the Facebook group topic) in our Facebook group. If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read this Age UK page on life after the vaccine (it’s from 21st Jan and a few things have moved on – and it written for older people but is worthwhile reading for anyone who has been vaccinated)

The below poster from Public Health England outlines the priority groups for the First phase of Covid-19 vaccinations in England Groups 1-4 should all have been offered a vaccine:

  1. “Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults” (except where there are outbreaks or have been within four weeks).
  2. “All those 80 years of age and over, and fronline health and social care workers.” As with care home workers, the reason to vaccinate this occupation groups is to reduce risk to the people they work with
  3. “All those 75 years of age and over”
  4. “All those 70 years of age and over, and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable individuals” – aka “CEV” (and “not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age” – not because of safety concerns but because trials have not yet been done for those groups).

If you are in one of those groups and have not received an appointment, please contact your surgery, or use the NHS booking system.

Local vaccinations are currently being worked through the following priority groups. We can’t provide dates for when groups will be vaccinated, but UK data suggests everyone in these groups will be offered a first dose by the end of March.

5. “All those 65 years of age and over”

6. “Adults aged 16-65 years in an at-risk group” (this includes a lot of health conditions, see below*), and unpaid carers (“those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.” – see our post with local details)

7. All those 60 years of age and over

8. All those 55 years of age and over

9. All those 50 years of age and over
* Reasons why someone would be listed as being in an “at-risk group” are covered in a post in our Facebook group)

Source: Public Health England

The chart below shows the size of the different populations in each of the groups above. As you can see, the “16-64 with underlying health conditions group” is the largest individual group, but by the time this groups is being worked through, more than half of Phase 1 is complete.

Source: The Health Foundation

Below are two charts produced by John Burn-Murdoch of the Financial Times. They show (charts 1 & 2):

  • The number of vaccinations has increased to around 3 million a week (light blue bars getting bigger)
  • Everyone in priority groups 1-4 should have been offered a dose by now

If capacity stays the same at around 3 million vaccinations a week (chart 1):

  • All of groups 5-9 should have been offered a first dose by the end of March (I’ll post a link and image making clear who is in priority groups 1-9 in the comments)
  • Because of the 12 week gap between doses, if capacity stays the same at 3 million per week, vacciantions will need to shift to 2nd doses for the priority groups, starting around now but taking over capacity in April
  • Under that level of capacity, all groups 1-4 would receive a 2nd dose by early May, and all groups 5-9 would receive 2nd dose by mid-late June (chart 1).
  • Vaccination of people outside the priority groups would be slowed, but all adults would be offered a 1st dose by early August.
  • It would take till around mid-September for all adults to have been offered a 2nd dose

If capacity continues to increase – at a steady rate 2.5% weekly increase – which seems maybe plausible but would be on top of the really impressive numbers and organisation already achieved by the NHS and volunteers helping out:

  • All groups 1-4 would get their second dose by early May but
  • This wouldn’t have the same impact on stopping the distribution of first doses, so
  • All adults would be offered their first dose by end June, and
  • All adults would be offered their second dose before the end of August

The scenarios match the statement that every adult in the UK could receive both doses of a coronavirus vaccine by August or September “or maybe sooner if we need to”, according to head of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce Clive Dix in comments to Sky News*Obviously the situation locally will be a little different, but I think it’d be too difficult for me to make guesses – it all relates to supply, how many people are in the priority groups, and levels of takeup. Basically, we might move a little quicker than the UK as a whole based on experience so far.

Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns in our Facebook group and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate. We have separated out tagging of posts in the Facebook group into posts about local vaccination progress, and posts about the Covid-19 vaccines more generally, the latter including attempts to tackle misinformation.

Hospitals – local, national

The good news is that the number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below a third of that – 77 patients on the 16th February (the most recent date data is available), down 27 from the week before. Sadly, some of this decline will be due to people in hospital dying – but it is good news that more people are not being admitted. There’s still a way to go, and we wish everyone in hospital with Covid-19 and their loved ones well.

Source: NHS hospital activity

In terms of the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, in the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals (the blue bars only in the chart above), there is good news – the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 8%. The trend is really encouraging – but note how there is very little spare capacity in the hospitals. This is likely because of normal winter pressures, the backlog and staffing issues created due to the pandemic, and the need to create Covid-19 wards and distance beds. It underlines how little room for new Covid-19 admissions there is.

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling – 1,397 people were admitted on the 17th February – the lowest number this year (compared to 1,715 last week). This number is now below a third of peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), below the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April), and below the level of the mid-November peak (1,782 patients on 18th November).

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Because people with Covid-19 tend to stay in hospital for some time, the total number of people with the virus in hospital hasn’t yet fallen as much. At 18,462 on the 18th February (compared to 23,341 on the 11th February) it is finally below the Spring 2020 peak of 21,686 on the 12th April. There is still a long, long way to go – and NHS workers in many parts of the country are still under enormous pressure.

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds – some of the sickest patients is also now lower than in the Spring 2020 peak – having peaked at 4,077 patients (on 24th January). There are still 2,469 (down from 2,943 patients last week) in these beds, compared to 3,247 on the 18th April at the height of the spring 2020 peak. We send our best for their recovery.

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Finally, on hospitals, it is worth emphasising how different the situation in different regions is with regard to Adult Critical Care bed occupany – the chart below shows the South West is down a little on last week and nearly at the previous year’s level. However, in other regions critical care capacity is well above previous years – particularly in London where critical care beds occupied are over double last year.

Source: Independent SAGE briefing

Across the UK the number of people testing positive each day is falling sharply – but is still very high. The peak date of positive submitted specimins was 4th January with 76,089 people submitting a sample that tested positive. On the 16th February – the most recent date likely to be fully processed, 12,442 people tested positive (down from 13,732 the previous week). This is now nearer October levels than November, but please continue to take care. Total infection numbers are still fairly high, and the rate of decline is slowing (though this is driven more by Scotland than England, this suggests case numbers may not continue to fall as sharply from their current levels in other nations too).

Source: Independent SAGE briefing

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 212,400 people had a symptomtic infection on the 21st February, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 249,700 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January.

Source: KCL/ZOE

The Office for National Statistics have a higher estimate based on their random sample testing of tens of thousands of people – but is data from longer ago: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) decreased in the week ending 12 February 2021; we estimate that 481,300 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 451,600 to 512,400), equating to around 1 in 115 people.” (last week: in the week ending 6 February 2021; we estimate that 695,400 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 660,200 to 732,200), equating to around 1 in 80 people.)”

For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing (1 hr 20 minutes). This week has a data presentation from Professor Christina Pagel that is really helpful, as well as a presentation from Professor Stephen Reicher on the Independent SAGE’s recommendations for easing lockdown, and from Dr Rachel Clarke on experiences in hospitals over the last few months and the course of the pandemic as a whole.

International context

Globally, over 2 million people have now died with their death attributed to Covid-19 at least in part (subject to different counting methods in different countries). The situation remains concerning – but there is a sign that the number of people dying may be starting to fall, with Our World in Data reporting the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) has been falling dramatically since January 26th (14,402), falling to 9,392 for February 20th. This is tragically still very high and there is a long way to go.

In terms of rates of the number of people to have died per million people, the UK remains one of the worst affected countries (currently the 4th worst affected of all countries), at 1,776 people per million – behind only Czechia (1,738 per million), Slovenia (1,812 per million), Belgium (1,889 per million) and San Marino (2,122 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others).

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Denmark (403 per million), Estonia (398 per million), Turkey (332 per million), Finland (131 per million), Norway (112 per million), Bangladesh (51 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (30 per million), Cuba (26 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Singapore, China, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Bhutan and Eritrea (all below 5 people per million), and Mongolia, Vietnam, Tanzania, Taiwan and Burundi (all under 1 person per million).

The United Kingdom is doing much better in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (26) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (82) and United Arab Emirates (56). Globally, the rate is 2.6 doses per 100 people. There is a real need to plan to improve global vaccination.

Notes

The core advice remains: please book a test if you have one or more symptoms – a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of smell/taste (or if you are asked to by contact tracers or others conducting tests). There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and mobile units tour Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test. If you are struggling with self-isolating, please get in touch with us or with one of the local support groups. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.

Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the guidelines to wear masks when appropriate (they will help prevent spread of the virus if you have it but don’t have symptoms yet, or are asymptomatic – meaning you have the virus but without ever getting any symptoms), keep distance from people, and wash your hands regularly. Gloucestershire along with the rest of the country is in National Lockdown – guidance here. 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. I 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.

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.


14th February 2021 data update

Key data:

  • This week, we learned that the number of people to have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate passed 1,000. We send our condolences to all affected, and share thoughts on this from Community Celebrant Christina Snell below.
  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total, 25.2% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose. Mostly, this is because 98% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ have had a first dose, 99% aged 75-79, and 70% of people aged 70-74.
  • 130 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 12th February. It looks like the number of people testing postive each week is flat, or at best – falling slowly. However, the KCL/Zoe app data suggests a sharply falling trend (from 721 to 209 estimated people with active infections), which we can hope is a leading indicator.
  • Across Gloucestershire, 472 people tested positive in the week to the 12th Feb (down from 677 in the previous week) – and there is a clearer falling trend.
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below half that – 104 patients on the 9th February (the most recent date data is available), down 30 from the week before. In the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals, the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 11%.
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 29th January – shows that 1,054 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. 174 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

The data is from registrations of death up to the 29th January, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. Each individual person is important, but milestones like this – over 1,000 people dying with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate – are markers that prompt reflection for all of us, whether we are experiencing bereavement ourselves or not. The SCCR Team asked Community Celebrant Christina Snell to offer her thoughts at this time – and we are grateful to her for the piece, which is copied below. Please read it. In our Facebook group we posted relevant resources in the comments (please also add your own). We will do our best as a moderation team to make our Facebook group a space where we can, in Christina’s words “continue to reach out and care for each other”:

“As we learn that over 1000 deaths in Gloucestershire, during the past 10 months, have had Covid 19 mentioned on their death certificates, it seems an appropriate moment to pause and reflect upon the massive level of loss this represents, not just to individual families, but in many ways to all of us. Some might choose to debate the accuracy of the figure, but such discussions are, for me, something of a distraction from more important issues. Although we may never be able to quantify exactly how many people have had their lives cut short by the virus and by how much, what this sobering figure reminds us is how many families, friends and neighbours have lost loved ones, before they might have expected to, often unable to say goodbye, or bring them comfort during their final days and hours. For some, this loss has been compounded by losing more than one person, sometimes in a very short space of time. And of course, even for those who have died of causes other than Covid 19, often the same issues of separation, and inability to say goodbye as they would want, have affected their families and those they loved. Additionally, families have then found themselves unable to visit loved ones in the Chapel of Rest, or to have the funeral they feel their loved one deserved. Despite the best efforts of funeral directors, crematoria staff and celebrants such as myself, we have had to work within unprecedented restrictions. These include; limited numbers at funerals, being unable to gather properly afterwards and not being able to say an intimate farewell inside the Crematorium Chapel. These have further added to people’s distress. This experience of grief and loss is not limited to families who have lost someone. Even if not affected directly, most of us will know people who have lost a loved one. We don’t have to look far in the news or on social media to find stories from these times that bring a tear to our eye. We tend to think of grief and loss in terms of people, but these times have brought other losses to all of us; limits on our freedoms, the inability to spend time with those we love, a lack of physical touch, lost opportunities and for many, financial loss. So much. Few of us will have experienced a collective level of grief on this scale, and there is no doubt that we will feel the impact and bear the scars for many years to come. Yet throughout this time, in the darkest of hours, in the saddest of moments, I have been touched and humbled to witness the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Gestures of kindness and bravery, from the small and everyday, to acts of great humanity. Courage and stoicism, compassion and care. And it is these very things that will help us heal over time – as individuals, and as a society. If we continue to reach out and care for each other we will get through this.”

Christina Snell, Community Celebrant

The above data is the best we get on people who have died – from the Office for National Statistics, who report based on what clinicians determine the cause of death to be for death certificates. This data takes time to come in – so the below is only up to the 29th January. It is sobering reading:

  • “The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 29 January 2021 (Week 4) was 18,448; this was 228 fewer deaths than in the previous week (Week 3) and is the fifth-highest number of weekly deaths recorded during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
  • “In Week 4, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 44.6% above the five-year average (5,688 deaths higher).”
  • “Of the deaths registered in Week 4 in England and Wales, 8,433 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”; this is the second-highest weekly number recorded during the pandemic and an increase of 11 deaths compared with Week 3.”
  • “In Week 4, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 45.7% of all deaths in England and Wales; this is the highest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 that has been recorded during the pandemic.”
  • “Of the 8,433 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 4 in England and Wales, 7,610 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (90.2%).”
  • From “Week 1 2020 through to Week 4 2021… the number of deaths up to 29 January 2021 was 687,014. Of the deaths registered by 29 January 2021, 111,851 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is 16.3% of all deaths in England and Wales
  • The chart below shows how Covid-19 deaths contribute to the number of deaths being way above the 5-year average during times when the virus is allowed to infect large numbers of people.

Our previous update discusses the death rate in Stroud district compared to the rest of the country.

People who have tested positive

Across Gloucestershire, 472 people tested positive in the week to the 12th Feb (down from 677 in the previous week). Not all tests will have been processed yet, but there is a very clear downward trend – now down to October levels. The chart shows very clearly how quickly case numbers can rise again from this level, there’s still some way to go to reach the low levels in the summer. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 21,113 people have now tested positive.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by James Beecher and Claire Biggs

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 130 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 12th February (though as above, not all test results will have been processed so the number will likely end up higher for the week). It does look like numbers from the district are stalling rather than falling as across Gloucestershire as a whole. Last week I reported 124 tests in the most recent week (that week is now at 131 but it seems likely the most recent week will be slightly higher). The number of people who have tested positive is still higher in each recent week than it was in the low between the second national lockdown and the third, and – as for Gloucestershire as a whole, we can see how rapidly the number of people testing positive in a week rose – from 96 in the week to 20th November to 310 in the week to 18th December. Across Stroud district, 3,433 people have now tested positive.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

Last week, we took a more detailed look at where people in the district are from who test positive. We’ll perhaps do this again next week when there’s been enough time passed to make it worthwhile. In the meantime, you can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to see this data as a map.

Finally on the number of people with the virus. We know that not everyone can get a test or gets one even if they can. The Kings College London/Zoe Covid-19 symptom study app reports estimates for Stroud district – based on reporting of symptoms by people using the app (of whom there are over 3,000 in Stroud district). Their latest estimate is 209 active cases for the district – down 512 from last week by their measure (and down 300 from the last time we reported). This is really encouraging, and hopefully a leading indicator for confirmed cases. Nonetheless, please continue to take care, keep following the guidance, and do what you can to reduce contacts and support people who need to isolate.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total, there have been 134,540 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire: 131,362 first doses (31,362 in the past week), and 3,178 2,923 (255 in the past week) second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 98% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ with first dose, 3.7% second
  • 99% aged 75-79, 0.2% second dose
  • 70% aged 70-74, 0.1% second dose
  • 10.2% aged under 70, 0.4% second dose
  • 25.2% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 0.6% have had a second dose.
  • There continue to be regular updates about vaccination locally (see the Facebook group topic) in our Facebook group. If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read this Age UK page on life after the vaccine (it’s from 21st Jan and a few things have moved on – and it written for older people but is worthwhile reading for anyone who has been vaccinated):
  • All health and social care workers should be offered the vaccine by mid-February 2021. Priority will be based on regular close contact with individuals who have either confirmed or suspected COVID-19, as well as staff who work with those at higher risk of being infected or becoming seriously ill if they do. Social care workers MUST have a ‘Letter of Eligibility’. See Rachel’s post on social care workers, and Gloucestershire County Council’s “Step-by-step process for social care employers” for more information.

Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns in our Facebook group and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate. We have separated out tagging of posts in the Facebook group into posts about local vaccination progress, and posts about the Covid-19 vaccines more generally, the latter including attempts to tackle misinformation.

On the latter point, Stephen Cook shared a useful article from the Health Foundation which includes the chart below on how many people are in each group for the Phase 1 rollout of vaccination. Gloucestershire is currently working through people aged 65 and over, approximately half-way through Phase 1 (obviously local proportions may vary compared to this national level chart).

Hospitals – local, national

The good news is that the number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below half that – 104 patients on the 9th February (the most recent date data is available), down 30 from the week before. Sadly, some of this decline will be due to people in hospital dying – but it is good news that more people are not being admitted. There’s still a way to go, and we wish everyone in hospital with Covid-19 and their loved ones well.

Source: NHS hospital activity

In terms of the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, in the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals (the blue bars only in the chart above), there is good news – the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 11%. The trend is really encouraging – but note how there is very little spare capacity in the hospitals. This is likely because of normal winter pressures and the backlog created due to the pandemic. It underlines how little room for new Covid-19 admissions there is.

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling – 1,715 people were admitted on the 10th February – the lowest number this year. This number is now below half the peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), below the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April), and the level of the mid-November peak (1,782 patients on 18th November).

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Because people with Covid-19 tend to stay in hospital for some time, the total number of people with the virus in hospital hasn’t yet fallen as much. At 23,341 on the 11th February it is still above the Spring 2020 peak of 21,686 on the 12th April. it’s a good sign that the number is falling, but there is a long, long way to go – and NHS workers in many parts of the country are still under enormous pressure.

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds – some of the sickest patients is also now lower than in the Spring 2020 peak – having peaked at 4,077 patients (on 24th January). There are still 2,943 patients in these beds, compared to 3,247 on the 18th April at the height of the spring 2020 peak. We send our best for their recovery.

Across the UK the number of people testing positive each day is falling sharply – but is still very high. The peak date of positive submitted specimins was 4th January with 76,089 people submitting a sample that tested positive. On the 9th February – the most recent date likely to be fully processed, 13,732 people tested positive. This is now nearer October levels than November, but please continue to take care. Total infection numbers are still fairly high.

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 249,700 people had a symptomtic infection on the 14th February, based on symptom reporting by up to 4 million app users. This compares to 353,400 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January.

The Office for National Statistics have a higher estimate based on their random sample testing of tens of thousands of people – but is data from longer ago: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) decreased in the week ending 6 February 2021; we estimate that 695,400 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 660,200 to 732,200), equating to around 1 in 80 people.”

For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing (1 hr 20 minutes). This week has a data presentation from Professor Christina Pagel that is really helpful, particularly looking ahead to the end of lockdown – and lots of discussing on vaccination, including a presentation by Anthony Costello and questions about global vaccine rollout.

International context

Globally, over 2 million people have now died with their death attributed to Covid-19 at least in part (subject to different counting methods in different countries). The situation remains concerning – but there is a sign that the number of people dying may be starting to fall, with Our World in Data reporting the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) has been falling since January 26th (14,402), falling to 11,960 for February 13th. This is tragically still very high and there is a long way to go.

In terms of rates of the number of people to have died per million people, the UK remains one of the worst affected countries (currently the 4th worst affected of all countries), at 1,725 people per million – behind only Slovenia (1,782 per million), Belgium (1,867 per million) and San Marino (2,122 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others).

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Denmark (395 per million), Estonia (370 per million), Turkey (325 per million), Finland (128 per million), Norway (109 per million), Bangladesh (50 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (30 per million), Cuba (23 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Thailand, Bhutan and Eritrea (all around 1 person per million), and Mongolia, Vietnam, Tanzania, Taiwan and Burundi (all under 1 person per million).

The United Kingdom is doing much better in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (22) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (73) and United Arab Emirates (50). Globally, the rate is 2.2 doses per 100 people. There is – as discussed on the Independent SAGE briefing – a real need to plan to improve global vaccination.

Notes

The core advice remains: please book a test if you have one or more symptoms – a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of smell/taste (or if you are asked to by contact tracers or others conducting tests). There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and mobile units tour Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test. If you are struggling with self-isolating, please get in touch with us or with one of the local support groups. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.

Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the guidelines to wear masks when appropriate (they will help prevent spread of the virus if you have it but don’t have symptoms yet, or are asymptomatic – meaning you have the virus but without ever getting any symptoms), keep distance from people, and wash your hands regularly. Gloucestershire along with the rest of the country is in National Lockdown – guidance here. 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. I 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.

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.


7th February 2021 data update

No time for a full roundup from our Facebook group this week, but don’t miss SCCR Team Member Polly Stratton’s latest post on “a whole academic term of home learning“. Hugely recommended to anyone with school-age children at home at the moment – and even to those who don’t have them (it’s a thoughtful post on what we’re all going through at the moment). Please comment on your experiences, and find further posts that may be of interest collated under our parenting and education topics).

Key data:

  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total, there have been 103,041 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire: 100,000 first doses (37,860 in the past week), and 2,923 (155 in the past week) second doses. These have covered: 94.9% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ with first dose, 3.7% with a second dose. 87.2% aged 75-79, 0.1% second dose; 26.4% aged 70-74, 0.1% second dose; 12.4% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 0.3% have had a second dose.
  • 124 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 5th February. It looks like the number of people testing postive each week is flat, or at best – falling slowly (read on for more detail: it seems infection numbers are rising in Ebley and Randwick, Frampton, Whitminster & Eastington, and Rodborough & Thrupp in particular – though there is no cause for complacency anywhere.
  • Across Gloucestershire, 646 people tested positive in the week to the 5th Feb – and there is a clearer falling trend
  • In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 22nd January – shows that 995 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. 168 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.

People who have tested positive

This week we’re going to present some data for each of the parts of Stroud district. But first, let’s start with a simple top-line view: the number of individual people living in Gloucestershire who tested positive, for each month since the start of the pandemic. Obviously, the number of tests done has risen – and in the first wave very few of the people who had the virus were tested. Differences in the numbers being tested have been much less significant since October – but nonetheless there has been a rapid increase. January 2021 has seen the highest number of individual people test positive – 6,497. But the rate of increase has stalled, and many of the people testing positive in January did so at the start of the month – see the charts below.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by James Beecher and Claire Biggs

Across Gloucestershire, 646 people tested positive in the week to the 5th Feb. Not all tests will have been processed yet as it’s only the 7th at time of writing, but there is a very clear downward trend – though the number of people confirmed positive is only down to the level when the second national lockdown was ended – and the chart shows very clearly how quickly case numbers can rise again from this level. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by James Beecher and Claire Biggs

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 124 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 5th February (though as above, not all test results will have been processed so the number will likely end up higher for the week). It does look like numbers are falling – but not that last week’s total is basically the same as the week before (159 compared to 164). Is it plausible that 30-35 people whose tests are currently being processed will test positive and this chart will end up looking flat? It’ll probably be closer to that than we’d like. And in any case, the number of people who have tested positive is still higher in the most recent week than it was in the low between the second national lockdown and the third, and – as for Gloucestershire as a whole, we can see how rapidly the number of people testing positive in a week rose – from 96 in the week to 20th November to 310 in the week to 18th December.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

This week, let’s take a more detailed look at where people in the district are from who test positive. The titles on the below charts are probably a bit small to see, so below a list that groups areas of the district by their trend type, and ranks them within though trends in terms of the rolling sum of people who tested positive in the past week:

The charts below show the trend in the rolling sum of people who tested positive in the past week for each area in the district, from the week of 6th September 2020 to the week ending 31st January (the most recent data available, things could have changed since then). You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to see this data as a map.

Source: data.gov download – data sorted by Claire Biggs, charts by James Beecher

Rising

  • Ebley and Randwick – 27
  • Frampton, Whitminster & Eastington – 19
  • Rodborough & Thrupp – 13

Flat

  • Berkeley & Sharpness – 9
  • Cam – 9
  • Leonard Stanley & Uley – 8
  • Stroud Town – 10

Falling

  • Upton St Leonards & Hardwicke – 11
  • Minchimhampton & Amberley – 0
  • Wotton-under-Edge & Kingswood – 8

Erratic/Hard to categorise

  • Chalford & Bussage – 9
  • Dursley – 8
  • Nailsworth – 7
  • Painswick, Bisley & Eastcombe – 7
  • Stonehouse – 16

Finally on the number of people with the virus. We know that not everyone can get a test or gets one even if they can. The Kings College London/Zoe Covid-19 symptom study app reports estimates for Stroud district – based on reporting of symptoms by people using the app (of whom there are over 3,000 in Stroud district). Their latest estimate is 509 active cases for the district – up by 19 from last week. This underlines the point that infection numbers appear to be flat rather than falling. Please take care, keep following the guidance, and do what you can to reduce contacts and support people who need to isolate.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 22nd January – shows that 995 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. 168 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

The best data we get on people who have died is from the Office for National Statistics, who report based on what clinicians determine the cause of death to be for death certificates. This data takes time to come in – so the below is only up to the 22nd January. It is sobering reading:

  • “The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 22 January 2021 (Week 3) was 18,676; this was 634 more deaths than in the previous week (Week 2) and is the third highest number of weekly deaths recorded during the pandemic.
  • In Week 3, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 41.3% above the five-year average (5,460 deaths higher).
  • Of the deaths registered in Week 3 in England and Wales, 8,422 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”; this is the second highest weekly number recorded during the pandemic and an increase of 1,177 deaths compared with Week 2.
  • In Week 3, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 45.1% of all deaths in England and Wales; this is the highest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 that has been recorded during the pandemic.
  • Of the 8,422 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 3 in England and Wales, 7,592 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (90.1%).
  • “from week 1 2020 through to week 3 2021… the number of deaths up to 22 January 2021 was 668,567. Of the deaths registered by 22 January 2021, 103,394 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is 15.5% of all deaths in England and Wales.”
  • The chart below shows how Covid-19 deaths contribute to the number of deaths being way above the 5-year average during times when the virus is allowed to infect large numbers of people.

Our previous update discusses the death rate in Stroud district compared to the rest of the country.

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total, there have been 103,041 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire: 100,000 first doses (37,860 in the past week), and 2,923 (155 in the past week) second doses. These have covered:

  • 94.9% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ with first dose, 3.7% second
  • 87.2% aged 75-79, 0.1% second dose
  • 26.4% aged 70-74, 0.1% second dose
  • 12.4% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 0.3% have had a second dose

Rowcroft Medical Centre say:

“If you are aged over 70, including those of you who are housebound, or if you are Clinically Exceptionally Vulnerable (CEV) and you want a vaccine we will get to you by the end of next weekend… we will be giving you a full update on Monday as to our progress on vaccinating the four top priority groups. We are vaccinating this weekend and by Monday we will be able to see exactly how many patients, in our top four tiers, are still waiting to be invited for their vaccination.We have been informed that we will have more vaccine arriving next week and are therefore planning clinics on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th – in addition to those this weekend.”

Nailsworth GP Dr Anne Hampton, Severn Health Primary Care Network Clinical Director, one of the team organising Covid vaccinations at Beeches Green HC for Severn Health patients, says:

We are on track to vaccinate all group 1-4 patients by the end of this week (ie over 70s and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable). Thank you to all who have given feedback on the vaccination clinic and the process – we take all comments seriously. There have been some very helpful suggestions on this site Just a few points of clarification:

• We have no control over which vaccine we are delivered and the 2 vaccines are delivered in slightly different ways – for example the 15 minute wait is only with the Pfizer vaccine .

• Most people have no, or only mild reactions but a few have more serious side effects. These seem to happen with both vaccines equally and so far with no clear pattern.

• It is really important to report significant adverse reactions so we can understand more about these novel vaccines. You can do this yourself through https://coronavirus-yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/

• We are vaccinating 850 people a day, the process is straight forward and runs very smoothly but with such a rapid throughput a slight computer glitch can quickly cause a short queue Helpful hints

• If you have concerns or worries about the vaccine it may be better to discuss these with your own doctor first, although the vaccinators on the day will double check

• We understand why people arrive in good time but if you are very early it is better to wait in your car until just before the time of your appointment

• Please make sure that you are wearing clothes that can roll up to reveal the very top of your arm

• Be prepared to wait outside for a short time

• Only bring what you need, no extra bags

Thank you for making this system work well and safely for all involved.

(Progress applies to Severn Health Primary Care Network patients, but the advice is good for all.)
  • SCCR Team member Rachel Sleigh continues to post regular updates about vaccination locally (see the Facebook group topic): HOW GP SURGERIES WILL BE CONTACTING PATIENTS FOR VACCINATION: “If your GP surgery has your mobile number they will text you this link Accurx.thirdparty.nhs.uk with your unique 10 character code. This enables you to book a local appointment online through an official nhs link approved by NHS digital. Accurx is the name of the software that is being used. We strongly encourage people to let surgeries have their mobile numbers and to keep them up to date. If you don’t make an online booking, or don’t have a mobile, the surgery will ring you. If you miss the call, they will ring you again, but it saves considerable time for them if patients can book themselves. You may also get a letter inviting you to book at one of the bigger vaccination hubs further afield. In most places these centralised invites arrive before the local ones, but where our GPs have vaccinated so many people so quickly these are often arriving later. Surgeries are not as far as we know using email, but scammers are. Vaccination is free, only a scam will ask for credit card details.”
  • All health and social care workers should be offered the vaccine by mid-February 2021. Priority will be based on regular close contact with individuals who have either confirmed or suspected COVID-19, as well as staff who work with those at higher risk of being infected or becoming seriously ill if they do. Social care workers MUST have a ‘Letter of Eligibility’. See Rachel’s post on social care workers, and Gloucestershire County Council’s “Step-by-step process for social care employers” for more information.

Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns in our Facebook group and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate. We have separated out tagging of posts in the Facebook group into posts about local vaccination, and posts about the Covid-19 vaccines more generally.

Hospitals – local, regional, national

The good news is that the number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and down to nearly half that – 134 patients on the 2nd February (the most recent date data is available). This is great news but, as you can see from the chart below, there’s still a long way to go. The number of Covid-19 patients is only down to the level it was in November.

Source: NHS hospital activity

In terms of the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, in the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals (the blue bars only in the chart above), there is good news – the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is falling – down from a peak of 29% on , to 18% on the 2nd February. There’s still some way to go to get to even the recent low of 13% on 21st November, but the trend is really encouraging.

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling – 2,332 people were admitted on the 3rd February – the lowest number this year. This number is nearly down to half the peak daily number for this ‘wave’, was 4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January.

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Because people with Covid-19 tend to stay in hospital for some time, the total number of people with the virus in hospital hasn’t yet fallen as much. At 29,326 it is still more than double the Spring 2020 peak of 21,686 on the 12th April. it’s a good sign that the number is falling, but there is a long, long way to go – and NHS workers in many parts of the country are still under enormous pressure.

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds – some of the sickest patients is also higher than in the Spring 2020 peak – but again, thankfully, it appears to have peaked (at 4,077 patients). There are still 3,505 patients in these beds, compared to 3,247 on the 18th April. We send our best for their recovery.

Across the UK the number of people testing positive each day is falling sharply – but is still very high. The peak date of positive submitted specimins was 4th January with 76,089 people submitting a sample that tested positive. On the 1st February – the most recent date likely to be fully processed, 22,309 people testing positive. This is still much higher than the since before mid-December, so please continue to take care.

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 353,400 people had a symptomtic infection on the 6th February, based on symptom reporting by up to 4 million app users. This compares to 457,000 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January.

The Office for National Statistics have a higher estimate based on their random sample testing of tens of thousands of people – but is data from longer ago: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) remains high in the week ending 23 January 2021; we estimate that 1,018,700 people (95% credible interval: 976,200 to 1,061,600) within the community population in England had COVID-19, equating to around 1 in 55 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 55 to 1 in 50).”

The core advice remains: please book a test if you have one or more symptoms – a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of smell/taste (or if you are asked to by contact tracers or others conducting tests). There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and mobile units tour Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test. If you are struggling with self-isolating, please get in touch with us or with one of the local support groups. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.

Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the guidelines to wear masks when appropriate (they will help prevent spread of the virus if you have it but don’t have symptoms yet, or are asymptomatic – meaning you have the virus but without ever getting any symptoms), keep distance from people, and wash your hands regularly. Gloucestershire along with the rest of the country is in National Lockdown – guidance here. If there is a piece of guidance you have a question about, again – please ask in our Facebook group.

For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing (1 hr 12 minutes). This week has a data presentation from Kit Yates – and questions and expert answers on what “a Zero Covid strategy” would look like, vaccines, and more .

International context

Globally, over 2 million people have now died with their death attributed to Covid-19 at least in part (subject to different counting methods in different countries). The situation remains concerning – but there is a sign that the number of people dying may be starting to fall, with Our World in Data reporting the highest number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) as reaching a new high of 14,402 on January 26th, falling to 13,253 for February 5th.

In terms of rates of the number of people to have died per million people, the UK remains one of the worst affected countries (currently the 4th worst affected of all countries), at 1,654 people per million – behind only Slovenia (1,737 per million), Belgium (1,842 per million) and San Marion (2,033 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others).

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Denmark (383 per million), Estonia (343 per million), Turkey (316 per million), Finland (124 per million), Norway (107 per million), Bangladesh (50 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (29 per million), Cuba (21 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Thailand, Bhutan and Eritrea (all around 1 person per million), and Mongolia, Vietnam, Tanzania, Taiwan and Burundi (all under 1 person per million).

The United Kingdom is doing much better in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (18) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (63) and United Arab Emirates (43). Globally, the rate is 1.6 doses per 100 people.

Notes

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. I 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.

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.