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Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic weekly update for Malvern Seniors

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Preamble

We keep an eye on the published government figures to asses the level of risk in the Malvern Hills district, if there is an uptick in cases we will tell you.

Bio hazard signHow to request a test

It is important you book a test if you feel unwell with COVID symptoms. Information about how to obtain a test can be found on the NHS website. Follow this link:

https://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

In case of difficulty you can phone the Coronavirus contact centre by dialing 119.

About the COVID Symptom Study (Zoe)

COVID app logoPlease consider helping others by downloading the COVID Symptom Study app onto your smart phone or Ipad and reporting how you feel either daily, or as you are able. Note that currently there is no desktop PC version.

For further details click this link: https://covid19.joinzoe.com

The Zoe app, which is easy to use, has been working for months and allows you to report whether or not you are feeling well and if you have had a test for COVID, unlike the much heralded NHS contact tracing app which has been delayed by technical problems.

Those who sign up for the app have the opportunity to register to participate in vaccine trials.

2nd August 2019

General

Reminder: 'face coverings' must be worn in shops and supermarkets in England so don't forget to carry a mask either in your car, pocket or shopping bag.

The last week started with 14 day quarantine being announced for tourists returning from Spain followed by local restrictions in the Greater Manchester area where there have been flare-ups of COVID for example at Oldham, which put a dampener on Ede celebrations.

There have been new flare-ups linked to busy pubs for example at Stone in Staffordshire and Aberdeen.

In consequence of increasing frequency of Coronavirus, further easing of the lockdown on 1st August has been postponed.

Click for transcript of PM's speech on 31st July

The Malvern Hills District Council e-newsletter of 31st July has a useful update on the situation; you have to sign up to receive e-mails on the MHDC home page.

The risk within the Malvern Hills district continues to be low.

Number of cases

Over the last fortnight the average daily number of new cases in the UK reported by DHSC has crept up to 750 new cases per day, see graph below.

Covid cases per day in UK

New daily UK confirmed COVID cases

The Zoe study estimates the actual number of cases could be triple that, suggesting numbers could easily drift back to the worst case of 5,500 cases per day last April if the public were to relax restrictions.

The cumulative total of all UK cases reported by the DHSC rose this week to 304,695.

In Worcestershire there have now been 2,426 confirmed cases, an increase of 18 on the week. The breakdown by Worcestershire Lower Tier Local Authorities (LTLA) is shown in the following table, together with comparisons for Herefordshire and the city of Leicester where there have been recent flare-ups.

Districts of Worcs Cases Weekly increase Population
Bromsgrove 539 +5 98,529
Malvern Hills 231 +2 77,545
Redditch 394 -1 85,317
Worcester 414 +5 103,542
Wychavon 434 +6 126,240
Wyre Forest 414 +1 100,957
TOTAL 2,426 +18 592,130
COMPARE WITH      
County of Hereford 886 +11 195,000
Leicester (city of) 4,986 +182 400,000

Cumulative cases in Worcestershire to 2nd August 2020

The number of new cases reported in the City of Leicester has fallen to 23 cases per day during the last week indicating the outbreak is continuing to be brought under control.

The incidence of COVID-19 in the Malvern Hills remains low.

Number of deaths

The cumulative number of UK COVID related deaths during the epidemic has risen today to 46,201 while the average number of daily deaths has stopped falling and has remained level at about 64 deaths per day over the last fortnight.

The cumulative number of COVID related deaths in Worcestershire reported by the ONS up to 17th July, for all weeks of the epidemic are:

District Deaths Weekly increase Population
Bromsgrove 133 98,529
Malvern Hills 47 0 77,545
Redditch 60 0 85,317
Worcester 62 0 103,542
Wychavon 110 1 126,240
Wyre Forest 115 0 100,957
TOTAL 527 1 592,130

Cumulative deaths to 17th July 2020

There have been no COVID deaths in the Malvern Hills in the last week reported.

Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

Click to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Forecast for the week ahead

Trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of UK COVID-19 cases reported by DHSC on the Coronavirus Dashboard can be expected  to increase by about 5,000 towards 310,000 cases.

In Worcestershire one to two dozen new cases of COVID-19 can be expected, and possibly one or two in the Malvern Hills district.

The number of deaths can be expected to increase by about 450 nationally towards 46,650. To put this into context, deaths at this level are just 4% of the naturally occuring death rate.

Advice for Seniors

The risk of infection is probably as low as it will ever be this year, so now is as good a time as any  for the adventurous to get out more subject to considering the risk and COVID guidelines. How much risk you are prepared to take is a personal decision. Some of us, who do not have to go out to work, may feel more comfortable staying 'mostly' at home and continuing with physical distancing. Others may want to walk on the Malvern Hills, have a pub lunch, visit grandchildren, go shopping, get a haircut, or perhaps travel further afield in the UK on holiday.

RiskometerWe assess the risk during the next week to continue low for Seniors staying within the Malvern Hills district, physically distancing by 2 metres, and avoiding contact with strangers from outside the area; and moderate for those venturing further afield in the UK. See our riskometer opposite.

The main points to remember are to wash your hands thoroughly, including after handling deliveries to your home (HANDS); wear a face mask when appropriate (FACE); avoid large gatherings, particularly indoors, and continue with precautions such as physical distancing (SPACE).

Hence PM Boris Johnson's new mantra:

HANDS, FACE, SPACE, GET A TEST if you feel unwell

and our adage

Remember 'only a fool breaks the 2 metre rule'

In Melbourne, Australia, where a night time curfew has been imposed, the simple message is STAY APART

Click for government Coronavirus guidance on what you can and cannot do

This is most unlikely, but remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and can't count from one to ten out loud due to shortness of breath, you should immediately call your GP, 111 or 999 for advice.

 

ARCHIVE

26th July 2019

General

Reminder: 'face coverings' must be worn in shops and supermarkets in England from 24th July, so don't forget to carry a mask either in your car, pocket or shopping bag.

Since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic 229 cases have been recorded, amongst those living in the Malvern Hills district, and there have been 47 COVID related deaths.

The good news is that only one case has been reported in the Malvern Hills during the last fortnight.

However we need to stay alert. Cases are recorded against home addresses and so, for example, infections in workplaces in Malvern are not recorded in the total for the Malvern Hills were the sick person to commute from Hereford, Birmingham, Pershore or Worcester.

The total of 229 has dipped twice probably because historic cases were reallocated to another district. This suggests there may in fact have been 3 new confirmed cases in the Malvern Hills and there could also have been asymptomatic cases showing little or no symptoms. Hearsay is that there has been a new case on the industrial estate in Malvern Link.

The number of COVID cases on the nearby farm at Mathon in Herefordshire has increased to 134 but the outbreak appears contained. Click to read report in Malvern Gazette

A new outbreak of 14 cases miles away at Evesham Vale Growers (in the district of Wychavon) is said to have originated from workers travelling by minibus from Smethwick in the Borough of Sandwell on the western side of Birmingham. Click to read BBC report. The ITV news is reporting a COVID flare-up in Smethwick raising concerns Track and Trace needs to be improved. Click to view the ITV report. Some of the cases at Evesham Vale Growers are likely to be recorded against the Borough of Sandwell rather than Wychavon.

In summary, don't be fooled by the statistics into thinking COVID-19 has completely gone away.

The coming winter

The COVID sympton study (Zoe) academics are thinking cases could go up this winter as people spend more time indoors; and those infected could suffer more severe symptoms. Click to read article 'Is COVID-19 worse in Winter'

Reports on the BBC yesterday were suggesting obese people infected by COVID-19 were twice as likely to go into Intensive Care and 40% more likely to die than their slim cousins. Click to check your Body Mass Index (BMI) to see if you should consider losing a little weight this summer. Click to read BBC report.

The government says COVID vaccine trials are going well, but the earliest a vaccine is likely to become available is the end of this year; more advance orders have been placed for candidate vaccines.

A greater uptake of flu jabs is being encouraged this autumn in order to prevent flu and thereby reduce confusion of flu symptoms with those of COVID-19.

Number of cases

The average daily number of new cases in the UK reported by DHSC fell to a low of 543 on 8th July but has since crept up to about 660 new cases per day; the Zoe study estimates triple that.

The cumulative total of all UK cases reported by the DHSC rose this week to 299,466.

In Worcestershire there have been 2,408 confirmed cases, an increase of 26 on the week. The breakdown by Worcestershire Lower Tier Local Authorities (LTLA) is shown in the following table, together with comparisons for Herefordshire and the city of Leicester where there have been recent flare-ups.

Districts of Worcs Cases Weekly increase Population
Bromsgrove 534 +5 98,529
Malvern Hills 229 +1 77,545
Redditch 395 +2 85,317
Worcester 409 +8 103,542
Wychavon 428 +10 126,240
Wyre Forest 413 0 100,957
TOTAL 2,408 +26 592,130
COMPARE WITH      
County of Hereford 875 +11 195,000
Leicester (city of) 4,804 +225 400,000

Cumulative cases to 26th July 2020

The number of new cases reported in the City of Leicester has reduced from 67 to 32 cases per day during the last week indicating the outbreak is gradually being brought under control.

The incidence of COVID-19 in the Malvern Hills is currently very low.

Number of deaths

The cumulative number of UK COVID related deaths during the epidemic has risen today to 45,752 but the good news is the average number of daily deaths has fallen slightly to 65.

The cumulative number of COVID related deaths in Worcestershire reported by the ONS up to 10th July, for all weeks of the epidemic are:

District Deaths Weekly increase Population
Bromsgrove 133 98,529
Malvern Hills 47 0 77,545
Redditch 60 1 85,317
Worcester 62 0 103,542
Wychavon 109 1 126,240
Wyre Forest 115 1 100,957
TOTAL 526 3 592,130

Cumulative deaths to 10th July 2020

There have been no COVID deaths in the Malvern Hills in the last week reported.

Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

Click to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Forecast for the week ahead

Trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of UK COVID-19 cases reported by DHSC on the Coronavirus Dashboard can be expected  to edge towards 304,000 and the number of deaths towards 46,130.

In Worcestershire a dozen or so new cases of COVID-19 can be expected, and possibly one or two in the Malvern Hills district.

Advice for Seniors

The risk of infection is probably as low as it will ever be this year, so now is as good a time as any  for the adventurous to get out more subject to considering the risk and COVID guidelines. How much risk you are prepared to take is a personal decision. Some of us, who do not have to go out to work, may feel more comfortable staying 'mostly' at home and continuing with physical distancing. Others may want to walk on the Malvern Hills, have a pub lunch, visit grandchildren, go shopping, get a haircut, or perhaps travel further afield in the UK on holiday.

RiskometerWe assess the risk during the next week to be low for Seniors staying within the Malvern Hills district, physically distancing by 2 metres, and avoiding contact with strangers from outside the area; and moderate for those venturing further afield in the UK. See our riskometer opposite.

The main points to remember are to avoid large gatherings, particularly indoors, and continue with precautions such as physical distancing, wearing a face mask where appropriate, and washing your hands thoroughly, including after handling deliveries to your home.

Remember 'only a fool breaks the 2 metre rule'

Click for government Coronavirus guidance on what you can and cannot do

This is most unlikely, but remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and can't count from one to ten out loud due to shortness of breath, you should immediately call your GP, 111 or 999 for advice.

 

19th July 2020

General

The reporting last Sunday of a large cluster of new COVID cases on a vegetable farm at Mathon in Herefordshire was concerning. However despite reports of workers visiting Morrisons in Malvern, Iceland and Primark in Worcester, and Ledbury, there has been no evidence of the outbreak spreading into Worcestershire where just 15 new cases of COVID have been reported this week.

This week the Malvern Gazette reported that a historical flare up involving 100 COVID cases at the Avara Foods (once Sun Valley) meat processing factory in Herefordshire had been kept secret. Who knows what else has been kept hidden by others!

According to the BBC, the government is only now beginning to let Public Health Authorities know the addresses of newly reported COVID cases so local measures can be taken to minimise the spread of infection. Protecting people's data (eg GDPR) seems to have had higher priority than the public's health.

The government requires Worcestershire County Council to have a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak Control Plan. Should you want to plough through it, here is the link:

http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/coronavirus

Reminder: face coverings must be worn in shops and supermarkets from 24th July, so don't forget to put one in your shopping bag.

Numbers of cases

Following easing of the lockdown, daily cases of COVID-19 have stopped dropping across the UK, with a definite leveling off of cases since the beginning of July. The UK rolling average of new cases reported by DHSC remains about 600 new cases per day, whilst the Zoe study estimates double that.

The cumulative number of UK cases reported by the DHSC rose this week to 294,792. Part of this (+842) is explained by positive tests outside hospitals in Wales being added in for the first time on 14th July.

In Worcestershire there have now been 2,382 confirmed cases, an increase of 15 on the week, but no increase in the Malvern Hills.

The breakdown by Worcestershire Lower Tier Local Authorities (LTLA) is shown in the following table, together with comparisons for Herefordshire and the city of Leicester where there have been recent flare ups.

Districts of Worcs Cases Weekly increase Population
Bromsgrove 529 +5 98,529
Malvern Hills 228 0 77,545
Redditch 393 +2 85,317
Worcester 401 +2 103,542
Wychavon 418 +4 126,240
Wyre Forest 413 +2 100,957
TOTAL 2,382 +15 592,130
COMPARE WITH      
County of Hereford 864 +48 195,000
Leicester (city of) 4,579 +314 400,000

Cumulative cases to 19th July 2020

Number of deaths

The cumulative number of UK COVID related deaths during the epidemic has risen today to 45,300 but the good news is the average number of daily deaths has fallen further to 69.

The Malvern Gazette reports about 305 cumulative COVID deaths in hospitals in Worcestershire, but the ONS figures which include other settings such as care homes are higher. The cumulative number of COVID related deaths in Worcestershire reported by the ONS up to 3rd July, for all weeks of the epidemic are:

District Deaths Weekly increase Population
Bromsgrove 133 98,529
Malvern Hills 47 1 77,545
Redditch 59 0 85,317
Worcester 62 1 103,542
Wychavon 108 2 126,240
Wyre Forest 114 1 100,957
TOTAL 523 5 592,130

Cumulative deaths to 3rd July 2020

 

Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

Click to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Forecast for the week ahead

Trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of UK COVID-19 cases reported by DHSC on the Coronavirus Dashboard can be expected  to edge towards 298,500 and the number of deaths towards 45,730. In Worcestershire a dozen new cases can be expected, and possibly one or two in the Malvern Hills district.

The spread of infection in the Malvern Hills is currently very  low compared to the flare-up in Leicester where there have been up to 70 new cases a day in the last week. Nevertheless the outbreak of now 93 cases amongst 200 vegetable pickers and packers at AS Green and Co, Mathon, three miles west of Great Malvern is a reminder that we should all continue to be on our guard.

Advice for Seniors

The risk of infection is probably as low as it will ever be this year, so now is as good a time as any  for the adventurous to get out more subject to considering the risk and COVID guidelines. How much risk you are prepared to take is a personal decision. Some of us, who do not have to go out to work, may feel more comfortable staying 'mostly' at home and continuing with physical distancing. Others may want to walk on the Malvern Hills, visit grandchildren, go shopping and get a haircut.

RiskometerWe assess the risk during the next week to be low for Seniors staying within the Malvern Hills district, physically distancing by 2 metres, and avoiding contact with strangers from outside the area; and perhaps moderate for those venturing further afield. See our riskometer opposite.

The main thing is to avoid large gatherings, particularly indoors and continue with precautions such as physical distancing, wearing a face mask where appropriate, and washing your hands thoroughly, including after handling deliveries to your home.

Remember 'only a fool breaks the 2 metre rule'

Click for government Coronavirus guidance on what you can and cannot do

This is most unlikely, but remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and can't count from one to ten out loud due to shortness of breath, you should immediately call your GP, 111 or 999 for advice.

 

12th July 2020

General

There is little to report this week as we wait to see what, if any, flare-ups arise from the gradual easing of the COVID lockdown.

The Malvern Gazette reports there have been no COVID deaths in Worcestershire NHS Hospitals this week, but there has been a slight rise in new cases, although not at a level to worry about.

Slightly more concerning is the reporting of a cluster of 73 new cases in Herefordshire on a farm at Mathon on the west side of the Malvern Hills. Click for BBC report about COVID outbreak at Mathon. With a bit of luck that will be contained.

Numbers

After a steady fall, the rolling average of new cases per day has stayed close to 600, whereas the daily number of deaths has fallen slightly to 86.

The revised cumulative number of UK cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 289,603 and the number of deaths to 44,819; of these there have been 2,367 cases in the Worcestershire Upper Tier Local Authority (UTLA), and 228 confirmed cases in the Malvern Hills district Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA) - an increase of 24 in Worcestershire and 5 in the Malvern Hills on last week.

The Malvern Gazette reports about 301 cumulative COVID deaths in hospitals in Worcestershire (unchanged), but the ONS figures which include other settings such as care homes are higher. The cumulative number of COVID related deaths reported by the ONS up to 26th June, for all weeks of the epidemic are:

District Deaths Weekly increase Population
Bromsgrove 133 1 98,529
Malvern Hills 46 0 77,545
Redditch 59 2 85,317
Worcester 61 0 103,542
Wychavon 106 0 126,240
Wyre Forest 113 0 100,957
TOTAL 518 3 592,130

The good news is there have been no new deaths in the Malvern Hills.

Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

Click to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of UK COVID-19 cases reported on the Coronavirus Dashboard can be expected  to edge towards 293,500 and the number of deaths towards 45,350. In Worcestershire up to two dozen cases can be expected, and a handful in the Malvern Hills district.

Despite the increases mentioned above, the spread of infection in the Malvern Hills is still  low compared to the flare-up in Leicester where there have been reports of up to 70 new cases a day.

Nevertheless the outbreak reported today of 73 cases amongst 200 vegetable pickers and packers at AS Green and Co, Mathon, three miles west of Great Malvern is a reminder that we should all continue to be on our guard.

Advice for Seniors

The risk of infection is probably as low as it will ever be this year, so now is as good a time as any  for the adventurous to get out more subject to considering the risk and COVID guidelines. How much risk you are prepared to take is a personal decision.

Our advice for the elderly and vulnerable is to stay 'mostly' at home and continue with physical distancing for the time being.

RiskometerNext week the risk is assessed moderate to  low for Seniors staying within the Malvern Hills district, physically distancing by 2 metres, and avoiding contact with strangers from outside the area. See our riskometer opposite.

As the government follows its road map and steps through its stages to ease the lockdown it is becoming increasingly difficult to remember what one can and cannot do; Seniors should be sensible, and where necessary consult the latest guidelines.

Click for government Coronavirus guidance and support

Take care, stay alert, and continue with precautions such as washing your hands thoroughly, especially after handling deliveries to your home.

This is most unlikely, but remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and can't count from one to ten out loud due to shortness of breath, you should not delay but call your GP, 111 or 999 for advice.

 

5th July 2020

General

The rolling average of UK new cases has fallen further to 652 confirmed cases per day, from a peak of 5,400 in April, and deaths to 96 per day from a peak of 900.

Last week just 9 new cases were reported in Worcestershire and 3 in the Malvern Hills district (up 3 on the week before). Note: be aware there could be several times this going unreported.

At last the government has announced Public Health authorities are to be advised of new cases by postcode - in our opinion this should have been done from the start of the epidemic to enable outbreaks to be better controlled.

A flare up has been reported in Leicester which remains in lockdown; currently there are about 60 new cases reported each day, so best avoid Leicester for the time being.

Surprisingly we can now travel to countries on the government's approved list without the need to quarantine on return to the UK, so overseas holidays in the sun are possible again, for those prepared to accept the increased risk of catching COVID-19.

Click for UK government travel guidance

Numbers

On 2nd July the government adjusted the cumulative UK total of positive lab confirmed cases to remove duplicates which has resulted in the total dropping by 30,302 compared to last week. A further change is, from that date, County and District totals will include cases confirmed by testing outside hospital, for example by the army, whereas previously they did not.

The revised cumulative number of UK cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 285,416 and the number of deaths to 44,220; of these there have been 2,343 cases in the Worcestershire Upper Tier Local Authority (UTLA), and 223 confirmed cases in the Malvern Hills district Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA) - an increase of 9 in Worcestershire and 3 in the Malvern Hills, on an adjusted basis, on last week - nothing to worry about.

The Malvern Gazette reports about 301 cumulative COVID deaths in hospitals in Worcestershire, but the ONS figures which include other settings such as care homes are higher. The number of COVID related deaths reported by the ONS up to 19th June are:

District Deaths Weekly increase Population
Bromsgrove 132 3 98,529
Malvern Hills 46 1 77,545
Redditch 57 2 85,317
Worcester 61 0 103,542
Wychavon 106 3 126,240
Wyre Forest 113 0 100,957
TOTAL 515 9 592,130

So far, it appears about 38% of the COVID deaths in Worcestershire have been in care homes.

Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

Click to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Provided control measures remain effective, trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of UK COVID-19 cases reported on the Coronavirus Dashboard, on the revised basis, can be expected  slowly to edge towards 289,600 and the number of deaths towards 44,800. In Worcestershire expect up to a dozen cases, and possibly two or three new cases in the Malvern Hills district.

Advice for Seniors

Our advice for the elderly and vulnerable is to stay mostly at home and continue with physical distancing for the time being.

RiskometerNext week the risk ought to remain relatively low for Seniors staying within the Malvern Hills district, physically distancing by 2 metres, and avoiding contact with people from outside the area. See our riskometer opposite.

As the government follows its road map and steps through its stages to ease the lockdown it is becoming increasingly difficult to remember what one can and cannot do; Seniors should be cautious and use common sense, and where necessary consult the latest guidelines.

Click for government Coronavirus guidance and support

Take care, stay alert, and continue with precautions such as washing your hands thoroughly, especially after handling deliveries to your home.

This is most unlikely, but remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and can't count from one to ten out loud due to shortness of breath, you should not delay but call your GP, 111 or 999 for advice.

 

28th June 2020

General

The good news is that Worcester hospitals reported no new cases in intensive care units last week for the first time in 100 days, and no new cases are reported in the Malvern Hills.

On Monday 21st June Matt Hancock, the Health Minister, said shielding of the especially vulnerable, who were advised to stay isolated at home, would be paused on 1st August, now infection is at a low level, and individuals should return to work if safe to do so. He said about 1,700 people currently have the virus - although the COVID Symptom Study estimates double that.

On Tuesday 23rd June the Prime Minister announced STEP 3 of the easing of the lockdown measures in England to take effect from 4th July. Hotels, B&B, self contained accommodation, caravan and camp sites, churches, museums and hairdressers can reopen subject to COVID secure guidance for businesses, but night clubs, indoor gyms and swimming pools remain closed. This should help families book holidays in the UK, but travel abroad is still being advised against. No mention was made of attendance at football matches and racing.

The guidance to maintain physical distancing of 2 metres from others remains, but distancing can be relaxed to 1 metre if other measures are taken to compensate.

Click to read summary of Prime Minister's statement

Click to read text of speech in House of Commons

Daily Coronavirus press briefings are to be replaced by briefings as and when required.

The BBC has reported a small outbreak of COVID at the TULIP meat processing plant in Tipton and there is an outbreak in Leicester.

It will probably be two weeks or so before it is known whether or not the street parties in London and other cities and people flocking to beaches, ignoring physical distancing, following relaxation of the lockdown, has caused new outbreaks.

Numbers

The cumulative number of UK cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 311,151 and the number of deaths to 43,550; of these there have been 1,445 cases in the Worcestershire Upper Tier Local Authority (UTLA), and 139 confirmed cases in the Malvern Hills district Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA) - no increase on last week. The average number of UK lab confirmed new cases has slowed to  977 per day.

The Malvern Gazette reports about 301 cumulative COVID deaths in hospitals in Worcestershire, but the ONS figures which include other settings such as care homes are higher. The number of COVID related deaths reported by the ONS up to 12th June are:

District Deaths Weekly increase Population
Bromsgrove 129 1 98,529
Malvern Hills 45 0 77,545
Redditch 55 0 85,317
Worcester 61 3 103,542
Wychavon 103 2 126,240
Wyre Forest 113 2 100,957
TOTAL 506 8 592,130

Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

Click to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Provided control measures remain effective, trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of UK COVID-19 cases reported on the Coronavirus Dashboard can be expected  slowly to rise towards 317,000 and the number of deaths towards 44,200. In Worcestershire expect half a dozen cases, and possibly just one or two new cases in the Malvern Hills district.

Chart of COVID cases

Chart showing rise of cases since 22nd February 2020

Advice for Seniors

Our advice for the elderly and vulnerable is to stay mostly at home and continue with physical distancing for the time being.

RiskometerNext week the risk ought to be low for Seniors staying within the Malvern Hills district, physically distancing by 2 metres, and avoiding contact with people from outside the area. See our riskometer opposite.

As the government follows its road map and steps through its stages to ease the lockdown it is becoming increasingly difficult to remember what one can and cannot do; Seniors should be cautious and use common sense, and where necessary consult the latest guidelines.

Click for government Coronavirus guidance and support

Take care, stay alert, and continue with precautions such as washing your hands thoroughly, especially after handling deliveries to your home.

This is most unlikely, but remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and can't count from one to ten out loud due to shortness of breath, you should not delay but call your GP, 111 or 999 for advice.

 

21st June 2020

Commentary

Conversations this week have centred on how children will return to school in September, reducing physical distancing from 2 metres to 1 metre to enable the hospitality sector to restart, and the setting up of air corridors to facilitate holiday travel without the need to quarantine. Expect an announcement on these matters in the coming week.

An ONS analysis of deaths suggests the COVID death rate is higher amongst Black, Asian and Minority ethnic groups, for reasons yet to be established, but age is a much stronger risk factor. It struck us that the peak COVID death rate possibly exceeded the civilian death rate in WWII.

Yesterday the COVID Alert level was reduced to 3 meaning that although the virus is in general circulation, restrictions can be reduced. This was the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officers who are advised by the newly formed Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC). On 5th June the government announced that Dr Clare Gardiner had been seconded to the role of Director General of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) at DHSC to take it through to full operating capability, and that the JBC will sit within NHS Test and Trace. Currently we can find no trace of the JBC having an online presence, or prominent reporting of the COVID Alert level on a government website.

According to journalists traces of the COVID virus have been found in Italian waste water samples taken in December 2019, which suggests the virus was circulating undetected much earlier than the Chinese have admitted. Click to read BBC report.

The government and Public Health authorities are still not publishing real time information about where COVID cases are occurring on grounds of patient confidentiality, and 'not scaring the horses' but occasionally some information slips out. Matt Hancock for example mentioned outbreaks at a meat processing factory near Kirklees in Yorkshire and on Anglesey, and there are said to be further hotspots in Leicestershire.

The Malvern Hills district currently appears to be one of the safer parts of the country, now the peak in the epidemic has past.

Numbers

The cumulative number of UK cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 304,311 and the number of deaths to 42,632; of these there have been 1,441 cases in the Worcestershire Upper Tier Local Authority (UTLA), and 139 confirmed cases in the Malvern Hills district Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA) - the same number as last week. The average number of UK lab confirmed new cases has slowed to 1,200 per day.

The Malvern Gazette reports about 295 cumulative COVID deaths in hospitals in Worcestershire, but the ONS figures which include other settings such as care homes are higher. The number of COVID related deaths reported by the ONS up to 5th June are:

District Deaths Weekly increase Population
Bromsgrove 128 5 98,529
Malvern Hills 45 1 77,545
Redditch 55 1 85,317
Worcester 58 3 103,542
Wychavon 101 5 126,240
Wyre Forest 111 2 100,957
TOTAL 498 17 592,130

The ONS has updated its interactive map showing where Coronavirus deaths have occurred. You can use the interactive map to explore the number of COVID-19 deaths by month and postcode.

Click to go to deaths involving COVID-19 - Interactive map

The breakdown of deaths in Malvern Town to the end of May is as follows:

Malvern Wells and Priory - 7

Barnards Green - 7

Malvern Link - 6

Malvern Pickersleigh - 6

North Malvern - 3

Further out in the Malvern Hills district:

Abberley - 5

Broadheath - 4

Callow End - 6

Kempsey - 3

Upton upon Severn - 1

You will see the COVID epidemic did not pass us by. If the government's assertion that the death rate is only about 1% is correct, 45 deaths in the Malvern Hills infers that possibly up to 4,500 people may have been infected in the past which greatly exceeds the 139 reported lab confirmed cases, and equates to about 5% of the district, or one person in twenty.

Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

Click to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Provided control measures remain effective, trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of UK COVID-19 cases reported on the Coronavirus Dashboard can be expected  slowly to rise towards 312,000 and the number of deaths towards 43,570. In Worcestershire expect about 15 new cases, and possibly just one or two new cases in the Malvern Hills district.

Assessment of Risk

Risk can be considered a function of the hazard and the probability it may happen. So for example if one were to visit grandchildren by train, to lower risk, one might consider travelling during quiet periods, wearing a face covering and carrying wipes and hand gel, and hope the Public Health authorities would warn head teachers of COVID outbreaks in schools and head teachers would warn parents who in turn could advise grandparents whether it was safe to visit.

The hazard of dying from COVD depends on one's sex, age and general health. Men are twice as likely to die as women; diabetes and obesity appear to be significant risk factors.

An ONS report 'Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19' gives an idea of outcome with age (see appendix A table A1. Our interpretation as a very rough guide is:

Age band Probability of death % lab confirmed cases in age band
<20 1
20-39 1
40-49 3
50-59 8
60-69 22
70-79 36
80+ 43

You will observe that the elderly have a much greater reason to be cautious than teenagers!

As the lockdown controls are eased it will increasingly become a personal decision how much risk each of us is prepared to take; possibly that decision could be influenced by the authorities publishing timely data on where outbreaks are occurring, but don't bank on it.

Advice for Seniors

Our advice for the elderly and vulnerable is to stay mostly at home and continue with physical distancing until at least 30th June.

RiskometerNext week the risk ought to be relatively low for Seniors staying within the Malvern Hills district, physically distancing by 2 metres, and avoiding contact with people from outside the area. See our riskometer opposite.

As the government follows its road map and steps through its stages to ease the lockdown it is becoming increasingly difficult to remember what one can and cannot do; Seniors should be cautious and use common sense, and where necessary consult the latest guidelines.

Click for government Coronavirus guidance and support

Take care, stay alert, and continue with precautions such as washing your hands thoroughly, especially after handling deliveries to your home.

 

14th June 2020

General

The PM has announced that non essential retail can open from 15th June, subject to meeting COVID guidelines. This includes shops, zoos, safari parks and drive in cinemas. Single adults and their children under 18 can form a 'bubble' with one other family (but not the especially vulnerable).

Places of worship can open their doors for individual worship, but not for groups. Effectively that means churches remain closed for the time being.

Further easement of the lockdown may follow on 4th July, but airlines and the hospitality sector are saying this will only be financially viable if 'distancing' is reduced.

Young people have continued ignoring the ban on large gatherings with many anti-racism demonstrations and two 'raves' in Manchester involving 6,000 individuals. The police appear powerless to intervene. Possibly these individuals will by default become guinea pigs offering an opportunity for scientists to gather statistics about the spread of COVID in such gatherings.

The increase in the cumulative number of UK COVID cases and deaths has slowed further to about 3% per week, but the tail of the curve is beginning to show some sign of leveling out, and with the lockdown easing the future is becoming increasingly unpredictable.

We don't know what the government's criteria will be for the background level of infection that it is prepared to tolerate, but in the worst case pressure from business owners could result in tens of thousands of the population dying before their time, on top of the 42,000 so far.

At least there is the satisfaction that there has been only one confirmed case of Coronavirus reported in the Malvern Hills district this week.

Numbers

The cumulative number of UK cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 295,889 and the number of deaths to 41,698; of these there have been 1,431 cases in Worcestershire, and 139 confirmed cases in the Malvern Hills district Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA), which stretches from Upton upon Severn in the south towards Stourport in the north.

Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

Click to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of UK COVID-19 cases reported on the Coronavirus Dashboard can be expected to rise towards 304,000 and the number of deaths towards 43,000. In Worcestershire expect up to 25 new cases, and just one or two cases in the Malvern Hills district.

Advice

Our advice for the elderly and vulnerable is to stay mostly at home and continue with physical distancing until at least 30th June.

Currently the risk ought to be low for those staying within the Malvern Hills district, physically distancing, and avoiding contact with people from outside the area.

Click for full government Coronavirus guidance and support

Take care, stay alert, and keep washing your hands thoroughly, especially after handling deliveries to your home.

 

7th June 2020

General

Last week the general public began to tire of the lockdown. Crowds flooded to the coast and beauty spots. At Gullet quarry, youngsters who had ignored danger notices and climbed over fencing left behind a large number of Nitrous Oxide canisters, an anaesthetic often used by those experimenting with drugs. This weekend anti-racism demonstrators ignored government advice to stay at home and held large gatherings in London and other UK cities - sparked off by the killing of George Floyd by a policeman in the USA. In Bristol demonstrators pulled down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston and threw it in the harbour.

Travellers arriving in the UK after 8th June are to be told to quarantine for 14 days. The airline bosses don't like this and have been lobbying to stop this happening. Hospitality bosses have been lobbying for physical distancing to be reduced from two metres to one metre so they can restart their businesses on a more profitable basis.

This weekend, newspapers have suggested a possible increase in daily cases of Coronavirus in NW England where some cities are delaying the return of pupils to school. In contrast the Malvern Hills appears a relatively safe place with only two new cases being confirmed this week.

There are emerging calls for government to provide finer grain information about Coronavirus cases, for example by postcode, so that Public Health teams  can better manage local outbreaks.

 

Two months ago the ONS published an interactive map of deaths by postcode which showed deaths to 17th April when the epidemic was at its height. This snapshot showed the distribution of deaths in the Malvern area then to be:

Malvern Wells and Priory - 7

Barnards Green - 1

Malvern Link - 2

Malvern Pickersleigh - 2

North Malvern - 1

Callow End - 3

Click to view ONS Visualisation Map of COVID deaths to 17th April

This appears to have been a one off exercise and as far as we know the map has neither been updated nor modified to show confirmed cases by postcode.

Suffice to say that in the past the disease has been amongst us!

Matt Hancock has advised from 15th June members of the public travelling by train or bus or visiting hospital must wear a surgical mask or some other face covering. This is a major about turn by the government, but seems a wise precaution to minimise transmission of large saliva dropets.

Have a look at the websites of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Association of Retired People (AARP) to find out more about the US situation and their advice.

Numbers

The cumulative number of UK cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 286,194 and the number of deaths to 40,542; of these there have been 1,407 cases in Worcestershire, and 138 confirmed cases in the Malvern Hills district Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA), which stretches from Upton upon Severn in the south towards Stourport in the north. The Malvern Gazette reports about 290 cumulative COVID deaths in hospital in Worcestershire, but the ONS figures, which include other settings such as care homes, are higher. Broken down by district the number of deaths, up to 29th May, are:

  • Bromsgrove - 123

  • Malvern Hills - 44    (up 2 in the last fortnight)

  • Redditch - 54

  • Worcester - 55

  • Wychavon - 96

  • Wyre Forest - 109

Making a total of 437 for Worcestershire.

Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

Click to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

 

We get the feeling that the tail of this first wave of Coronavirus is dropping more slowly than some scientists would like.

Trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported on the Coronavirus Dashboard can be expected to rise towards 296,000 and the number of deaths towards 42,000. In Worcestershire expect up to thirty new cases, and just one or two cases in the Malvern Hills district.

Advice

Our advice for the elderly and vulnerable is to stay mostly at home and continue with physical distancing until at least 30th June.

Currently the risk ought to be low for those staying within the Malvern Hills district, physically distancing, and avoiding contact with people from outside the area.

Click for full government Coronavirus guidance and support

Take care, stay alert and keep washing your hands!

 

31st May 2020

Requesting a test

You should book a test if you feel unwell with COVID symptoms. Information about how to obtain a test can be found on the NHS website. Follow this link:

https://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

In case of difficulty you can phone the Coronavirus contact centre by dialling 119.

General

The sunny dry spell has continued and the met office says the May sunshine has been the highest since records began. Farmers are now having to deal with drought, following floods earlier in the year, whilst those locked down at home have begun flooding to parks, the countryside and beaches. Despite warnings, small groups of youngsters have gathered locally at Gullet quarry.

This has been a week of two halves, beginning with press hysteria about the movements of the PMs special adviser and then more balanced speculation about easing of the lockdown.

The daily number of deaths from Coronavirus has continued to fall across the country, whilst the number of new cases reported falls more slowly.

The number of future cases can be expected to wax and wane as the lockdown is eased. The big question is will NHS Test and Trace work sufficiently well to prevent return to an exponential growth in cases and a second spike? Only time will tell.

The main things to remember are to continue to maintain physical distancing of 2 metres, not to touch your face, and wash your hands thoroughly after receiving goods and when you get home. And of course to self isolate if unfortunately you feel unwell with COVID symptoms

Those going out might want to take some 70% alcohol based hand gel with them which is beginning to reappear in the shops, and also consider wearing a 'face covering' if appropriate.

Review of local cases

This ought to be a good time to review the progress of the epidemic through Worcestershire now that the first peak in the epidemic has passed; except that is not easy because the UK government has kept the public in the dark, possibly because of the General Data Protection Regulations, unlike in Singapore where such data is in the public domain.

Hearsay has it that our milkman is off sick with Coronavirus, a family on the outskirts of Barnards Green was infected, eight people have died in a nursing home in Barnards Green and nurse Julie Omar died, who worked at Redditch hospital. Nearby, councillor Tom Wells has reported cases and deaths in the parish of Powick. Have you heard of other cases?

The Office of National Statistics has reported a total of 42 deaths in the Malvern Hills district due to COVID in the period up to 15th May. Of these 2 have been at home, 18 in care homes and 21 in hospital. The first death was reported in late March and the peak was reached in the middle of April. No deaths were reported in week ending 8th May.

Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

Currently there are few new cases in Worcestershire and one must hope further spread will be mopped up by the new NHS Test and Trace organisation.

It is however slightly disturbing that the number of deaths (42)reported by the ONS suggests a death rate of 30% as the number of confirmed COVID cases in the Malvern Hills is only reported as 136. If the death rate were only one percent, as the government suggested at the start of the outbreak, then possibly there could actually have been as many as 4,000 unrecorded cases eg self isolating and recovering at home, and those showing no symptoms.

Numbers

The cumulative number of UK cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 274,762 and the number of deaths to 38,489; of these there have been 1,379 cases and about 281 deaths in Worcestershire, and 136 cases in the Malvern Hills district Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA), which stretches from Upton upon Severn in the south towards Stourport in the north.

There has been some tinkering with the Worcestershire figures, which went down by 9 on 30th May and the cumulative Malvern Hills figure which had been up to 138 and today fell to 136. Possibly this is due to cases and deaths in the county not being counted if it turns out the person's main place of residence was elsewhere.

Click this link to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported on the Coronavirus Dashboard can be expected to rise towards 288,000 and the number of deaths towards 40,000.

Advice

Many younger people will now be taking the opportunity to meet friends and relatives outdoors while ideally maintaining a physical separation of 2 metres. However our advice for the elderly and vulnerable remains the same - best mostly stay at home and continue with physical distancing until at least 30th June. Yesterday the government advised that the very vulnerable can go outdoors once a day with one other person - if they want to.

What happens next

The public can now travel any distance for exercise, and from 1st June primary schools can partially reopen. Elite racing, golf, tennis and football can commence behind closed doors, so expect the opportunity to watch competitions at home on TV. Groups of up to six people from different households can meet outdoors provided individuals maintain a separation of 2 metres.

Dentists can open from 8th June, but it sounds as though, for the time being, some may prefer extracting to repairing teeth to avoid aerosols. Hairdressers are unlikely to reopen before July, so you might need to ask your partner for a trim. Still no mention of public toilets reopening so don't go too far from home!

Click for full government Coronavirus guidance and support

The number of new UK cases of Coronavirus, confirmed by a test, is currently about 2,000 cases a day, although sampling suggests the actual number could be nearer 8,000. Easing of the lockdown is potentially going to increase the spread of the disease, but it is to be hoped this will be counteracted by NHS Test, Trace, and isolation. Let's also hope treatments and a vaccine are not far behind!

Take care, stay safe and keep washing your hands.

 

24th May 2020

Physical distancing continues but the Malvern Hills car parks, B&Q and Guarlford Nursery have reopened. Flour is said to be available from the Morrison's bakery counter.

Schools are investigating reopening in a limited fashion from 1st June for reception and years 1 and 6. Year 10 and 12 secondary pupils may begin going back from 15th June. The government says it will say more about non essential shops and social venues next week. We are keen to know when hairdressers will reopen!

Last Saturday left wing newspapers published a 'News of the World' style scoop about Dominic Cummings and his family self isolating in Durham 2 months ago creating a storm of public comment and speculation in the mainstream media. This was clearly a well crafted attempt to score political points and not done for the common good.

Would it not be better for the BBC and other mainstream media to use their resources to help trace the four thousand or so remaining carriers of the Coronavirus, rather than hounding Dominic Cummings for looking after his family.

 

Numbers

The cumulative number of UK cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 259,995 and the number of deaths to 36,793; of these there have been 1,369 cases and about 270 deaths in Worcestershire, and 137 cases in the Malvern Hills district Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA), which stretches from Upton upon Severn in the south towards Stourport in the north.

On 20th May the government adjusted the cumulative number of confirmed UK cases down by 2,997.

Only 2 new cases were reported in the Malvern Hills district this week.

Click this link to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported on the Coronavirus Dashboard could rise towards 275,000 and the number of deaths towards 38,500.

With so few new cases at present being reported in the Malvern Hills we envisage the risk of catching Coronavirus is low especially for those continuing to self isolate.

However our advice for the elderly and vulnerable remains the same - best stay at home and continue with physical distancing for the time being.

 

17th May 2020

Following the easing of the lockdown in England, announced last Sunday, there has been a resurgence of tribal politics. The Labour party has re-commenced taking pot shots at the government, the Welsh are setting up police road blocks to prevent the English exercising in Wales, and Nicola Sturgeon who was the first to talk about easing the lockdown, at a press briefing, has done a 'U' turn.

According to the press, the government's proposal to plan for a partial return to school in June has met stiff resistance from some teachers, the NASWUT and BMA. Others suggest that as COVID-19 could be circulating for years, ways must be found for living with the virus, and dragging heels postpones the inevitable.

The number of cases reported in Australia which has half the population of England is 7,045 and the number of deaths just 98. Many of these cases have been linked to infected passengers who disembarked from the cruise ship Ruby Princess at Sydney without checks.

Numbers

The cumulative number of UK cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 243,303 and the number of deaths to 34,636; of these there have been 1,321 cases and about 255 deaths in Worcestershire, and 135 cases in the Malvern Hills district Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA), which stretches from Upton upon Severn in the south towards Stourport in the north.

The daily number of new cases continues to slow. Only 2 new cases were reported in the Malvern Hills district this week.

Click this link to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported on the Coronavirus Dashboard could rise towards 270,000 and the number of deaths towards 37,000.

With so few new cases at present being reported in the Malvern Hills we envisage the risk of catching Coronavirus is low especially for those continuing to self isolate.

That said, hearsay is that during the eight week lockdown someone delivering to our door has been infected, as was a family in the Barnards Green area, and there have been cases at Powick; so our advice for the elderly and vulnerable remains the same - best stay at home and continue with physical distancing for the time being.

 

10th May 2020

This and that

It's been a quiet week in lockdown at home disturbed only by press speculation about how the lockdown might be eased.

We listened to a U3A talk about 'The Phoney War' using Zoom, Rev Gary held virtual church using Zoom, and we had phone and Skype calls with family.

Commentator Dr Stephanie Hare spoke at great length on the Rachel Burden show on Radio 5 about how the new NHS app being piloted in the Isle of Wight was unlikely to be effective. Would it not have been better for the BBC to have encouraged the take up of the new app rather than slag it off?

Postscript: aplogies Stephanie, seems you were right.

Prof Neil Ferguson of Imperial College had to resign from the government's Scientific Advisory Group (SAGE), after a visit from his girlfriend breaking the 'curfew'. The press loves a sex scandal - we wondered whether the press staked him out or his neighbours sneaked on him?

On the front page of Tuesday's Times newspaper was the photo of a distinguished bearded gentleman. Nice blue shirt we thought; and then reading down discovered he was explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison who was able to return home for his 84th birthday after spending 49 days in hospital and being given only a 20% chance of recovery from COVID-19. What wonderful care the NHS must provide.

On Sir Patrick Vallance's Twitter we found a link to members of SAGE and advisory papers prepared by the committee:-

Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)

Plenty of reading there for those wanting to take the plunge.

On John Menaude's Australian Blog about political affairs we read a two part article by Dr Jeff Kildea about the 1919 outbreak of Spanish Flu in Australia, and it was interesting to find how similar is the government's response today.

At the time Professor David Welsh of the University of Sydney wrote:

It is the irony of the situation that, whatever happens, all who have taken a part in trying to control the epidemic will be blamed. If they cannot be blamed for failure, they will be blamed for the means they have taken to achieve success.

No doubt this will be as true today as it was in 1919.

Numbers

The cumulative number of cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 219,183 and the number of deaths to 31,855; of these there have been 1,260 cases and about 236 deaths in Worcestershire, and 133 cases in the Malvern Hills district Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA), which stretches from Upton upon Severn in the south towards Stourport in the north.

There has only been a handful of new cases in the Malvern Hills district.

From the 29th April the figures have included the deaths of those confirmed COVID-19 positive in the home, hospices and care homes, in addition to those reported by the NHS.

Click this link to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

The daily number of new cases of Coronavirus has not been falling greatly, but the impression we get from the government's daily briefings is that this is because the enlarged testing programme is now picking up cases outside hospitals which would previously have gone unreported.

Trends suggest that during the next seven days the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported on the Coronavirus Dashboard will rise towards 255,000 and the number of deaths towards 35,000.

As the government eases the lockdown there is likely to be an increase in cases with an associated steady increase in the cumulative number of deaths; so we should not be surprised if the number of deaths attributed to Coronavirus rises from 35,000 towards 70,000 during the next six months.

Few new cases are at present being reported in the Malvern Hills so we envisage the risk of catching Coronavirus is low especially for those continuing to self isolate.

What next

At his press briefing on Sunday the PM set out a road map giving a sense of the way ahead - this has little impact on Seniors.

There was talk of setting up a COVID Alert System run by a new Joint Biosecurity Centre, and COVID Alert Levels, using test and trace to pinpoint and deal with flare ups, for example in care homes. From Wednesday no time limit on exercise periods eg allowing sitting in the sunshine to read a book and driving to locations. Some shops could reopen in June, and hospitality businesses in July subject to physical distancing. Some children could go back to school in June eg years 1 and 6. People should be encouraged to go back to work, where safe, avoiding public transport if possible.

Click to read PM briefing on 10th May 2020

Advice

Advice for the elderly and vulnerable remains the same - stay at home and continue with physical distancing.

 

3rd May 2020

The number of Coronavirus cases has begun to fall slowly and journalists are turning their attention to what happens next. It sounds as though the government will announce their plan for the gradual easing of the present restrictions, in a week's time. This is likely to be in a number of stages.

Talk about flood defences, BREXIT, the high speed rail project HS2 and the third runway at Heathrow has gone to the back of the queue.

This week the nations' morale was significantly raised by one man, veteran Captain Tom Moore who raised £32M for NHS charities and celebrated his 100th birthday. Well done Captain Tom!

Number of coronavirus cases

The cumulative number of cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 186,599 and the number of deaths to 28,446; of these there have been 1,164 cases and about 230 deaths in Worcestershire. From the 29th April the figures have included the deaths of those confirmed COVID-19 positive in the home, hospices and care homes, in addition to those reported by the NHS, which has inflated the previously announced cumulative number of deaths by about 25%.

Click this link to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

The government has acknowledged that the daily death rate has peaked and begun to fall slowly. We estimate that during the next seven days the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported by the NHS will rise towards 220,000 and the number of deaths towards 33,000.

Few new cases are now being reported in Worcestershire so we envisage the risk of catching Coronavirus is low for those self isolating and following the rules in the Malvern Hills district.

What happens next

We have no idea but are expecting the PM to give a heads up in a week's time. The disease is now widespread across the world so is not going to go away and currently there is no vaccine or cure. So it can be expected that over the next 18 months the embers in the population will flare up into small outbreaks as restrictions are eased, which the government hopes to dampen down by testing and contact tracing. The cumulative number of deaths due to COVID-19 can be expected to continue rising.

Contact tracing will involve a number of tools - the existing Kings College mobile phone app already allows us to report symptoms of COVID-19, and the NHS app intended to warn those who have been close to a person later identified as COVID-19 positive should become available later in May. Allied to this contact tracing teams are being set up by government and we wonder to what extent they will be embedded with local GPs and public health teams.

We can help by self isolating to protect ourselves and others, especially if we feel unwell.

For those going out, physical distancing will need to be maintained, and face coverings ideally used where this is not possible for example when travelling by tube or bus.

Large gatherings are likely to be banned for the foreseeable future such as at theatres, pubs, restaurants, horse racing, football, rugby and tennis.

International air travel is likely to remain difficult, so there will be few if any holidays abroad this year, and people entering the UK may be quarantined.

Travelling should be reduced to minimise spread of the virus and replaced where possible by virtual meetings using for example Zoom, Google Meetings or Microsoft Teams. Remember how foot and mouth was spread by sheep being taken on 'holiday'.

It is difficult to see how the return to school can be safely managed, especially in relation to boarding schools.

Quotient (Edinburgh) and Roche (Switzerland) have announced an accurate test for COVID-19 antibodies. Unlike the home testing kits which are said to be unreliable, this involves a sample of blood being taken by a nurse and processed by a laboratory. If affordable this should enable further confirmation of who has had the disease, and monitoring of these indviduals may indicate to what extent immunity is retained and whether it is safe for them to return to work.

Diversions

We were interested to see an American channel c-span.org being streamed on the Parliament channel on Sunday with a phone in about Coronavirus. You will find a lot of commentaries about US affairs to read.

The U3A Military History Group has circulated details of a Virtual commemoration of the end of WWII 75 years ago sponsored by the National Army Museum 7th - 9th May. There is a lot to explore, here is the link:-

http://www.nam.ac.uk/whats-on/virtual-ve-day-75-festival

Ancestry is offering free access to their UK records until 10th May.

 

26th April 2020

We had hoped as the figures had reached a plateau the daily number of deaths and new cases would begin falling by now, but that is not yet the case. This suggests to us that currently each infected person is infecting approximately one other person (R=1), and we wonder if the present lockdown is possibly not strong enough to stamp out the disease - for example due to a minority breaking the rules.

Politicians are now being pressed by businesses and journalists to relax the lockdown which places them in an impossible situation - they could strengthen the lockdown and risk seriously damaging the economy, continue with current measures for which there is little appetite, or begin easing the lockdown gradually, whilst maintaining physical distancing and monitoring the impact on the NHS very carefully so as to prevent a second wave of infection.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is returning from sick leave on Monday 27th April and we wonder if he could possibly order an easing of the UK lockdown from mid May.

Meanwhile in Singapore, which had been doing well, the lockdown has been extended from 4th May to the 1st June, and a strict lockdown continues in neighbouring Malaysia.

Number of cases

The cumulative number of cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 152,840 and the number of deaths to 20,732. Of these there have been 1,035 cases and about 192 deaths in Worcestershire.

Click this link to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Information about cases in the Malvern Hills area is sparse but the Malvern Gazette has attempted an analysis based on ONS figures to 10th April:-

click for Malvern Gazette report on COVID-19 cases

Although some cases have been reported locally we envisage the risk is still relatively low for those self isolating and following the rules in the Malvern Hills district.

Our eldest son who lives in Scotland reported shopping in the pharmacy in Biggar, which has a one person at a time rule as in Barnards Green, when a delivery driver pushed by coughing and spluttering carrying a pile of boxes - apparently the 'rules' did not apply to him. Perhaps, as the mayor of London suggests, there is a case for those out and about to wear face masks in order to provide a measure of protection in such instances.

Although the increase in the daily death rate has flattened and can be expected to fall slowly over the next weeks, we estimate that during the next seven days the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported by the NHS will rise towards 190,000 and the number of deaths towards 26,000.

These figures exclude cases in the home, hospices and care homes.

Advice

Advice for the elderly and vulnerable remains the same - continue with physical distancing for the time being. Don't take silly risks; there is no cure and nationally to date 1 in 7 patients confirmed COVID-19 positive by the NHS are dying. That said there is no point worrying. We hope you are finding plenty to do, still have items unticked on your job list, and have arrangements in place for food and prescriptions.

Take care and stay safe.

 

19th April 2020

A few days ago a relative said that she had seen her 'nephew' Professor Martin McKee on the BBC World News. He is a medical man and comments on the Coronavirus epidemic on his Twitter feed. On the 18th April he included a link to the sciencemag.org website where there is an article about the effects of Coronavirus on the human body. If you thought that Chinese Coronavirus was a mild illness then this will change your mind.

The government has announced that the lockdown is to be continued for at least another three weeks. After that a cautious and phased return to work may be possible.

On BBC Radio 5 mention has been made of a phone app for reporting and tracking the spread of the virus, and identifying hot spots. That sounds a wonderful idea and we predict it will become a useful tool in the management of the Coronavirus epidemic.

Click this link to find out how to get the Covid Tracker App

An NHS app, which uses Bluetooth technology, is also being developed to warn people who may have been in contact with a confirmed case of Coronavirus.

Both these apps may help significantly with the management of the disease during emergence from lockdown as has helped in South Korea.

Click this link to read an Australian article describing how South Korea has managed the COVID-19 epidemic.

Number of cases

The cumulative number of cases confirmed by the NHS rose today to 120,067 and the number of deaths to 16,060. Of these there have been 845 cases and 158 deaths in Worcestershire.

Click this link to view UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

The increase in the daily death rate has flattened and can be expected to fall over the next couple of weeks. We forecast that during the next week the cumulative number of UK cases reported by the NHS will rise towards 160,000 and the number of deaths towards 20,000.

These figures exclude cases in the home, hospices and care homes.

The eventual grand total of the number of deaths attributed to the current COVID-19 epidemic could well be comparable to the number of civilians killed in WWII which was 70,000; the daily death rate is currently 50% above the 'natural' death rate creating a significant extra workload for mortuaries, undertakers, and cemetery staff.

The press

Journalists are currently turning their attention to spread of the Coronavirus in care homes, shortages of PPE, possible exit strategies, and taking pot shots at the government.

If only they would be more positive and report for example on how the development and roll out of new ventilators is going, exactly where the log jams with PPE are and opportunities for clearing them, and reporting on improvements in testing infrastructure and progress with vaccines.

Advice

Advice for the elderly and vulnerable remains the same - continue with physical distancing for the time being; you must avoid catching this virus at all costs.

An elderly neighbour who has carers coming into her home 3 times a day is in a difficult situation and her safety mainly relies on the carers, who help others, wearing PPE and staying at home if they feel unwell.

Those living in sheltered accommodation can maintain physical distancing by staying in their room and arranging for food to be delivered to their door; knowing they have the option to press a panic button or dial 999 to call for assistance if they feel unwell.

We don't know much about the situation in care homes, but imagine they are all different generally with staff coming in to cook meals, change bedding and assist the infirm. Recent reports of Coronavirus spreading within care homes suggests it is extremely difficult to prevent and control infection in that environment. Prompt testing of 'suspect' staff and patients, and the rapid dispatch of hospital quality PPE to affected car homes ought to help. On the positive side, we have not heard of any cases of COVID-19 in Malvern, apart from 2 deaths at the Malvern Community Hospital, just reported by the Malvern Gazette.

Do tell us if you know different.

Remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and can't count from one to ten out loud due to shortness of breath, you should not delay but call your GP, 111 or 999 for advice.

 

13th April 2020

It does not seem like Easter Bank Holiday Monday, locked down here at home, except for the usual rerun of mediocre movies on Freeview TV. The government Coronavirus briefings at 5 PM are becoming somewhat boring and people are beginning to wonder what the criteria for leaving 'lockdown' will eventually be.

We were very glad to hear the Prime Minister is now out of hospital and convalescing at Chequers after almost falling victim to Coronavirus, and we have enjoyed listening to Dr Chris Smith, who talks a lot of sense, answering questions about Coronavirus on BBC Radio 5.

The cumulative number of cases of Coronavirus reported by the NHS is now 88,621 and the number of deaths 11,329 excluding those who died at home, in hospices and in Care Homes. Of the numbers reported by the NHS, there have been 605 cases in the county of Worcestershire and a couple of days ago the Malvern Gazette reported there had been 88 deaths.

Click for Coronavirus Dashboard

For some reason Worcestershire has been steadily moving up the league table from being one of the least infected rural counties to one of the most. We estimate about 5% of the population of Worcestershire may have been infected but have found no reports of cases, for example by postcode, either in the Malvern Gazette, or published by the Local Authority. We have however heard of one suspected case self isolating at Powick and there has been the sad news of the death of nurse Julie Omar aged 52 years who worked at the Alexandra hospital at Redditch.

The government figures published daily on the web based Coronavirus Dashboard suggests to us the present outbreak may have reached its peak; so the number of daily reported NHS cases and deaths could gradually fall over the next few weeks. Nevertheless it seems likely the cumulative number of cases reported by the NHS will rise towards 120,000 by next Sunday 19th April, and the number of deaths towards 15,000. By this time perhaps only about 5% of the UK population may have been infected, with the remainder remaining vulnerable.

It sounds as though the UK government could continue the lockdown for at least another 3 weeks. After that some phased return to work is possible with emphasis on continued physical distancing, as far as is practicable; however Seniors and the vulnerable ought to consider remaining in lockdown for longer as there could be secondary waves of infection once people begin to mingle.

In Singapore it was business as usual until recently, but people returning to Singapore from holiday have brought Coronavirus with them, and the country is now in LOCKDOWN until May 4th. They call it CIRCUIT BREAKER!

Click for information about Circuit Breaker in Singapore

We remain in very uncertain times and all governments are 'feeling their way'.

 

5th April 2020

The increase in cases continues, but the UK government is taking steps to increase hospital capacity and slow down the spread of the virus by maintaining a LOCKDOWN so while people are experiencing varying degrees of 'cabin fever' there is no need to panic.

The government's plan is working and deaths are much less than they would have been if the virus had been allowed to run wild. However we need to continue to take great care to avoid catching the virus and passing it on to others.

Number of cases

Today the cumulative number of confirmed hospital cases in the UK rose to 47,806 and the number in Worcestershire to 350. Most of these are likely to be patients with acute symptoms and there will be many others with the virus self isolating at home - so the actual number of cases could be perhaps 5 to 10 times the present number of confirmed cases making the percentage of the British population so far infected by the virus about 1%.

The cumulative number of deaths has risen sharply to 4,934 of which the Malvern Gazette reports 45 deaths at hospitals in Worcestershire.

Matt Hancock the Health Minister has returned to work, while the Prime Minister rather worryingly is still suffering from the effects of Coronavirus and has been admitted to hospital this evening. Sir Keir Starmer has been appointed leader of the Labour party replacing Jeremy Corbyn.

Click for Coronavirus Dashboard

Forecast of cases to 12th April

The cumulative number of hospital cases has recently been advancing more slowly, roughly doubling every week so could reach towards 90,000 in a week's time. However it is to be hoped the number of cases will be less than this, the degree depending on how effective the lockdown introduced on the 23rd March has been.

The cumulative number of hospital deaths has been rising more steeply, quadrupling every week, so could reach 20,000 in a weeks time. However if lockdown works we should soon begin to see the daily number of deaths due to Coronavirus plateau and then begin to fall. Deaths outside hospitals, for example in the care sector, are not currently being gathered, but will be reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in due course.

The government says it is too early to give an indication of exactly how Coronavirus will be managed in the months ahead, but we are guessing the present lockdown may continue to towards the end of May.

It is impossible to forecast how fast the virus will spread during the remainder of April; it will first depend on the public continuing to obey the lockdown, despite the sunny weather, and doing our best not to catch or spread the infection to others; secondly the NHS increasing testing in order to keep doctors and nurses in the front line, and help track the spread of the infection across the country; thirdly officials tracing and isolating contacts in order to keep infections down to a tolerable level until a treatment is introduced.

It may become clearer by the end of April how the Coronavirus epidemic can be managed in the UK, and hopefully world wide, in the medium term.

Our thoughts go out to the families of the 'fallen' of the NHS who have died from Coronavirus while treating patients. We did not initially imagine NHS staff would themselves be casualties.

Hospital beds and equipment

The Nightingale field hospital at the Excel Centre in London opened this week and other facilities are being created at Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Harrogate and Glasgow. Matt Hancock said today that the NHS had 9,000 ventilators and additional ventilators would be arriving from a number of sources to increase the total to 18,000. The governments says capacity is increasing faster than the number of cases, so the NHS though stressed should not become overloaded. That said there must be tremendous pressure on those medical staff having to comfort the dying.

Symptoms

We were initially told most people would get only mild symptoms and should recover within 7 days, yet there are many accounts of people having high temperatures, feeling rottten and very weak for up to 2 to 3 weeks after. In more severe cases, after about 7 days, patients can have difficulty breathing and need to be hospitalized.

If you have symptoms and can't count from one to ten out loud due to shortness of breath, you should call your GP for advice.

There is no cure for this virus. Treatment at home is isolation, paracetamol, plenty of fluids and rest. A hospital nurse thinks 'last ditch' intubation with a ventilator to provide extra oxygen to those with pneumonia is currently only saving one person in two.

This does not sound like a mild illness - Seniors should definitely take all reasonable steps to avoid it.

Shopping

During isolation you may want to take advantage of home deliveries by local supermarkets.

 The Waitrose website is back to normal, though stocking a reduced range of products, and priority for home deliveries is now being given to those aged over 70, and the vulnerable. It looks as though delivery slots currently can't be booked more than 10 days ahead and most of those are full, but if none found Seniors are being advised to log on the next day, as new slots are being added daily.

The Morrisons website is still overloaded - you are forced to wait in a queue before being offered a 10 minute window in which to logon.

 ASDA, Sainsbury and Tesco also deliver locally - do tell us whether you have been able to book deliveries with them.

Many shops in Barnards Green are now opening at 10:00 am and Lloyd's Pharmacy is limiting customers to two; possibly one at the Post Office.

For the young and fit, the risk of infection while shopping in large county supermarkets is likely to be low this week. The number of people infected with Coronavirus in Worcestershire is probably no more than 3,500 possibly rising to 8,000 representing about 1% of the county's population.

We assess there is currently a 50% chance there could be one person with Coronavirus in a large supermarket, and if social distancing is observed, as is now being operated for example at Waitrose, and you don't touch your face and wash your hands thoroughly on getting home, the likelyhood of being infected is small. The hazard is likely to be from an individual who doesn't observe the signs, coughs over others and may leave virus on either a shopping trolley handle or checkout key pad.

Seeking help

Worcestershire Count Council has a Here 2 Help web page where you can enter your details to ask for help:

http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/here2help

scroll down the page a little and click on the ‘I need help’ button. From here you will be able to enter your details.

You can track Coronavirus cases and obtain further advice from the government Coronavirus Dashboard.

Please do let us, or the Malvern Gazette, know if you hear of Coronavirus cases locally.

Take care, hunker down, and stay safe.

 

29th March 2020

The expected surge in cases is now apparent, but the UK government is actively taking steps to increase hospital capacity and slow down the spread of the virus by implementing a LOCKDOWN so while people are experiencing varying degrees of inconvenience there is no need to panic.

The government's plan seems to be working and deaths to date are much less than they would have been if the virus had been allowed to run wild.

Worcestershire is a rural county and the infection rate is thankfully much lower than in London where there is greater person to person contact.

That said we need to continue to take great care to avoid catching the virus and passing it on to others.

Number of cases

Today the cumulative number of confirmed cases in the UK rose to 19,522 and the number in Worcestershire to 126. Most of these are likely to be patients with acute symptoms who have gone to hospital and there will be others with the virus self isolating at home. So the actual number of cases could be perhaps 5 times the present number of confirmed cases. Even so, the percentage of the British population infected by the virus is still very small.

We are slightly disappointed the local Health Authority is not publishing where cases are occuring, but possibly this is to prevent panic.

The cumulative number of deaths has risen by 209 to 1,228 of which there has been just one death announced at Redditch and a second at Worcester.

A couple of days ago it was revealed that the Prime Minister and Health Secretary had both been tested positive for Coronavirus, as had Prince Charles. Unexpectedly the chance of stepping up the succession ladder has significantly increased! Some ask, jokingly, who is the Designated Survivor?

Forecast of cases

According to the government's Coronavirus Dashboard there has been an exponential increase in cases since early March, but in the last week we detect a slowing in the rate of acceleration, possibly due to the social distancing measures introduced on 16th March, and a further slowing can be expected due to the LOCKDOWN introduced on 23rd March. However we are still predicting the number of confirmed and unreported cases in the UK could reach 100,000 by the end of March.

We extrapolate that the cumulative number of deaths could increase by almost a factor of four over the next week towards 4,000 but if LOCKDOWN works we should soon after begin to see the daily number of deaths due to Coronavirus decreasing.

It is at present impossible to forecast how the virus will spread during the remainder of April; it is firstly dependant on us, the public, being responsible and doing our best not to catch or spread the infection to others; secondly the NHS increasing testing in order to keep doctors and nurses in the front line, and help track the spread of the infection across the country; thirdly officials tracing and isolating contacts in order to keep infections down to a tolerable level until a vaccine is introduced.

It should become much clearer during April how the Coronavirus epidemic is likely to progress. This Battle of Britain is likely to be fought over Easter with the NHS supported by the army in the front line. Supermarket checkout operators should not be forgotten, many of whom would rather be at home with their families rather than facing sometimes abusive and possibly infectious customers.

Our thoughts go out to the families of Dr Adil El Tayar aged 64 who died of Coronavirus on 25th March and Dr El Hawrani aged 55 whose death was reported today.

Hospital beds and equipment

The government has bought in beds from the private sector, ordered more ventilators and test kits, and the army is setting up a field hospital at the Excel centre in London for 500 intensive care beds initially, expandable to 4,000 and similar field hospitals are being considered at the Birmingham NEC, Manchester Central Convention Centre and the Cardiff Principality Stadium. Meanwhile beds have been reorganised in NHS hospitals to better cope with the expected surge in cases in April.

The BBC reports a temporary mortuary for 1,500 bodies is being set up at Birmingham Airport which will be part of a nationwide network capable of dealing with a 'reasonable' worst case scenario.

It has been suggested, with a favourable wind, the national UK death toll due to Coronavirus could possibly be as few as 20,000 of which Worcestershire as a small percentage of the UK population might suffer up to 200 deaths.

Another commentator has suggested that the probability of dying from Coronavirus is little different from the probability of dying from natural causes in that age group during the year - the inconvenience being people in the worst case might die within a couple of weeks instead of spread over 12 months.

Retired doctors and nurses are being invited back to help during the crisis and 750,000 members of the public have applied to be NHS voluntary responders.

Symptoms

We were initially told most people would get only mild symptoms and should recover within 7 days, yet there are many accounts of people having high temperatures, feeling rottten and very weak for up to 2 to 3 weeks after. In more severe cases, after about 7 days, patients can have difficulty breathing and need to be hospitalized.

If you have symptoms and can't count from one to ten out loud due to shortness of breath, you should call your GP for advice.

There is no cure for this virus. Treatment at home is isolation, paracetamol, plenty of fluids and rest. A hospital nurse thinks intubation with a ventilator to provide extra oxygen to those with pneumonia is only saving one person in two.

This does not sound like a mild illness - Seniors should definitely take all reasonable steps to avoid it.

Shopping

A week ago social distancing was not being observed in supermarkets, stocks were running low due to panic buying, and home delivery slots ran out.

A neigbour told us the situation is better this week, and staples can of course be bought at smaller shops, such as in Barnards Green.

The Waitrose website was back to normal last night, and giving some priority for home deliveries to those aged over 70, but the Morrisons website was overloaded.  ASDA, Sainsbury and Tesco also deliver locally.

As mentioned above, special measures are being introduced by the government to supply those the NHS has notified as being at especially high risk; possibly individuals in this category will be marked as a priority for home deliveries on supermarket databases.

Sadly there are reports of people abusing shop staff when they cannot get what they want. We can support them by showing kindness.

For the young and fit, the risk of infection while shopping in supermarkets is still relatively low. We assess there is currently a 10% chance that there could be one person in a large supermarket who has or has had Coronavirus, and if social distancing is observed, as is now being operated for example at Waitrose, and you wash your hands thoroughly on getting home, the risk of being infected is small. The greatest risk is likely to come from an individual who doesn't observe the signs, coughs over others and may leave virus on a shopping trolley handle and checkout key pad.

Help and advice

In some areas neighbours are getting together to support those with special needs and popping notes through letter boxes.

Worcestershire Count Council has a Here 2 Help web page where you can enter your details to ask for help:

http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/here2help

scroll down the page a little and click on the ‘I need help’ button. From here you will be able to enter your details.

You can track Coronavirus cases and obtain further advice from the government Coronavirus dashboard.

Fitness

After those cloudy wet days of winter we have enjoyed getting out in the garden in the Spring sunshine. Many others have passed our gate enjoying a walk round the block with their dog.

We were entertained by Mr Motivator on Radio 5 the other day and later listened to a young fitness coach Jo Wickes who would appeal to families with young children - Google for his Youtube video.

A doctor said on TV that regular exercise should help boost the immune system.

Sadly most dentists, opticians and shops have closed down making it difficult for example to buy materials for DIY projects and plants for the garden.

Please do let us, or the Malvern Gazette, know if you hear of Coronavirus cases locally.

Take care and stay safe.

 

22nd March 2020

Social distancing measures were introduced on 16th March causing bars, pubs, cinemas and the like to close down and on 20th March schools were closed 2 weeks before the end of term. A spate of panic buying has left supermarket shelves empty and supermarket home delivery slots have run out.

Today the confirmed number of UK Coronavirus cases has risen to 5,683 of which 7 are reported in Herefordshire and 19 in Worcestershire. The cumulative number of deaths has risen to 281, which is well below the annual number of deaths from other causes of 615,000.

The government's policy is now to use 'social distancing' to slow down the escalating rate of infection; in addition 1.5 million especially vulnerable people are being contacted and recommended to hunker down and go into isolation for a period of at least 12 weeks.

The purpose is to reduce the rate at which seriously ill patients arrive at hospital to a manageable level. The distressing images of patients gasping for breath in an Italian hospital powerfully indicate how serious the disease can be for some.

These 'social distancing' measures will increase unemployment and the government has put in place an aid package. An emerging worldwide ban on air travel could put many airlines out of business. Stock markets worldwide are depressed.

So what does this mean for the elderly in Malvern?

Vulnerable individuals will be contacted by the NHS and advised to isolate themselves at home for a period of 12 weeks. The government will be offering help with obtaining food and prescriptions.

Healthy over 70s should likewise isolate themselves, but can go out for walks and mix with a few others subject to maintaining a distance of two metres.

Expect doctors to stop walk in surgeries and offer consultations over the phone.

Supermarkets have suggested giving priority to the elderly and their carers as follows:

Waitrose: 1st hour after opening

M&S: Monday and Thursday 1st hour

Morrisons: no known special arrangement

Tesco (Worcester): Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 1st hour

You would have to be up early to take advantage of this!

Home delivery slots are currently very hard to come by, but try ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsbury, Tesco and Waitrose.

Hopefully panic buying will cease in a week or two and the supermarkets will increase home delivery slots.

Exit strategy

You may be wondering when the Coronavirus epidemic is going to end, but nobody seems to know.

If it is assumed the NHS would not be able to cope with cases leading to more than 400 deaths a day, and a 1% death rate, that gives a maximum capacity of 40,000 new cases per day; even at that very high rate it could take 4 years for the whole of the UK population to be affected. If social distancing were to reduce the rate of infection drastically, it is just possible that with better testing and contact tracing the epidemic might start to be brought under control in 3 months time, as in China. However relaxing the control measures early could lead to further outbreaks amongst remaining susceptible individuals, until a vaccine becomes widely available.

We must hope that the situation begins to ease by the summer, whilst being prepared for it to last a little longer.

Here are some links to further information:

Link to UK Government Coronavirus page

Link to Coronavirus Dashboard for number of cases in UK

Link to BBC News Coronavirus explainers page

Link to Scottish Government website

A new Battle of Britain has begun; the enemy is unseen and we are beginning to enter the thick of it; it may yet be a close run thing.

 

15th March 2020

Events are beginning to move more rapidly with lockdowns in Italy, Spain and France, and travel bans and quarantine restrictions introduced restricting movement within and between countries such as the USA and Australia.

Today the number of cumulative UK cases reported by Public Health England has risen to 1,372 of which 35 people have died. In comparison Italy has had about 24,000 cases and 1,800 deaths. Though this is a big difference, the UK is possibly lagging behind Italy by just 14 days.

We are now estimating that the cumulative number of UK cases, both recorded and unrecorded, could be as high as 100,000 (0.2% of the UK population) by the end of March, and possibly even as high as 10 million (16% of the UK) by the end of April 2020, but control measures taken by the public could lower these numbers significantly.

We estimate the number of people infected per day could reach its peak between the end of April and mid May.

The Health Minister, Matt Hancock, said on Sky TV this morning that the most significant control measures were:

  • To wash hands thoroughly

  • Individuals with a fever and persistent cough should isolate themselves for 7 days

  • At risk people over 70 and those with underlying health conditions should isolate themselves during the peak of the epidemic which could last for up to 4 months - starting from a date yet to be announced.

Where contact with others is unavoidable distancing  by 2 metres from others has been suggested.

The minister went on to say that the government would be announcing new control measures next Tuesday to be enacted on Thursday. Possible measures could include banning large gatherings and advice on closing schools.

The risk in Malvern currently  remains low with 2 reported cases in Worcestershire and  1 in Herefordshire.

We recommend the elderly, those with underlying health risk conditions, and care homes should prepare plans for isolating themselves from early April or as otherwise advised by the government.

Think about shopping, cash, dealing with doctor's and hospital appointments collecting prescriptions etc. Consider what to do if you catch the virus, how you will communicate with family and friends, and plan activities  to occupy yourself during quarantine.

See the links below for further information on Coronavirus

 

12th March 2020

The epidemic is being widely reported in newspapers, on radio, and television. The outbreak in China now seems under control and cases are declining, whereas cases in europe, started by travellers, are increasing, particularly in Italy where a countrywide lockdown has been introduced and the health service is having difficulty coping. The WHO has declared the infection a Pandemic.

The cumulative number of confirmed cases in the UK, while still relatively small, has been roughly following an exponential curve with a total of 596 cases reached today of which 10 have died. Our 'extrapolation' forecasts that the number of confirmed cases could reach at least 6,000 by the end of March, rising to 50,000 by the end of April, but there is great uncertainty about such numbers. It was reported at today's Downing Street briefing that the actual number of cases in circulation could be up to ten times the number of confirmed cases detected by the NHS.

We wonder if the real number of cumulative cases could potentially reach several million by mid April especially if control measures were to be ignored. It is therefore most important everyone follows government advice.

The government's stated intention is to slow the rate of infection so that hospitals are not overwhelmed and can treat the most seriously ill, but over time the majority of us are likely to be infected.

As the percentage of the population that has recovered, and has immunity, increases the transmission rate should begin to slow; currently there is no information when this will happen, but perhaps towards the autumn?

Management of the disease is today moving from the 'Containment' to the 'Delay' phase and perhaps the NHS will gradually lose track of the cumulative number of infections and only report hospital cases. However, as a rule of thumb, the number of cases is likely to be roughly one hundred times the number of deaths reported.

In China transmission has been halted by enforced quarantine but as only a small proportion of the population has been infected it is possible there could be a second outbreak, for example reintroduced from europe, prior to widespread deployment of a vaccine.

Today president Trump announced visitors from the EEC, excluding the UK, would be banned from entering the USA for 30 days. Could some leaders be taking decisions thought to be popular with voters, rather than scientifically based? Some journalists are asking why the UK government is not copying 'popular' measures taken in other countries.

Click here to read about UK Government response

Click here for new COVID19 dashboard showing reported cases

Click here for cases identified by NHS region

Click here for COVID19 advice from NHS 111 online

Confirmed Coronavirus cases in England by local authority (withdrawn)

Until yesterday there had been no cases recorded in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, but one person who visited the job centre in Worcester for a training course is recorded under Birmingham and another case has been recorded in Herefordshire. We should be mindful that there are many care homes in Malvern and the elderly and those with health conditions are likely to be much more seriously affected by the virus. Think about what we can do to protect them.

The Malvern branch of the U3A has postponed its monthly meetings at the Cube.

At present schools remain open which appears sensible bearing in mind children do not suffer serious illness and their parents could well be providing vital services.

Locally, supplies of face masks and 70% alcohol based hand gels ran out days ago. However face masks have been said to be of doubtful value, while hand gels are not required at home.

Stock market crash

The FTSE100 index fell sharply from about 7,100 to 5,994 on 9th March following concerns about the impact of Coronavirus on the world economy and a price war between Russia and the Saudi's flooding the market with cheap oil.

After a slight rally the FTSE100 index fell further to 5,273 today making it the biggest stock market crash since the 1980s.

 

15th February 2020

Chinese Coronavirus

First entry in COVID-19 blog:

The outbreak of this highly infectious flu like illness started in Wahen province, China. So far, isolating suspected cases in the UK has prevented spread.

The illness is said to be often fairly mild, but more serious in about 20% of cases, with an overall mortality rate of about 2%. That means, were the illness to become rife in the UK, in the very worst case, up to one million people might die, given there is currently no vaccine or treatment.

The disease is said particularly to affect older people and those with weakened immune systems and long term conditions. In the most serious cases it causes damage to the lungs, pneumonia and death.

Click this link for UK government advice to the public on coronavirus

Click this link for estimated number of coronavirus cases worldwide

Click this link for information on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak

The disease is thought to have been transmitted from an animal in a Chinese market where all sorts of strange and exotic animals are sold for meat, such as the Pangolin or scaly anteater.

Symptoms

About COVID symptoms

Article about the effects of Coronavirus on the human body

 

Reporting and how to obtain a test

How to get a test

https://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

About joining the Zoe COVID Symptom Study:

 https://covid19.joinzoe.com

 

Guidance

UK government Coronavirus guidance

 

Statistics

UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

About Coronavirus statistics

 

ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

Map of UK deaths by postcode between March and May

ONS COVID-19 - Interactive map

 
The bigger picture

Worldometer summary of coronavirus cases worldwide

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control info

https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/geographical-distribution-2019-ncov-cases

World Health Organisation info

https://covid19.who.int/

 

Window on the USA

Centre for Disease Control (CDC)

American Association of Retired People (AARP)

 

Worcestershire

Help

http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/here2help

Outbreak Control Plan

http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/coronavirus

 

Miscellaneous

Spanish Flu

Dr Jeff Kildea's commentary about the 1919 outbreak of Spanish Flu in Australia

 

Views of Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health

Follow Martin McKee on Twitter

 

SAGE membership

Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)

 

Scottish government:

Link to Scottish Government website

 

The Malvern Hills logo

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The interpretations and opinions expressed are our own