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

7th March 2021

COVID LOCKDOWN in ENGLAND

Alert Level dropped to 4 on February 25th

DAILY INFECTION RATE FALLING

PM says 'STAY AT HOME'

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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.

This page is updated every Sunday between 1800 and 2400 hours GMT.

Information about Coronavirus can be found on the NHS website:

https://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

Bio hazard signHow to request a test

In order to protect others it is important to book a test and self isolate if you feel unwell with COVID symptoms.

Click the link below for information on how to get a free NHS test if you think you have Coronavirus:

https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

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

There is a 'walk through' COVID testing station at County Hall next to the Countrywide Centre; one has been set up at the Worcester Arena car park on the University of Worcester site in Hylton Road to serve the residents of St Johns; and there is also a drive through pod at the Worcester Royal Hospital.

The nearest COVID testing station is on the upper level of the car park below Great Malvern library on the corner of Victoria Road and Como Road.

These are not drop-ins and you will need to book - but it is said there is good availability and you should get the result back in 24 hours.

About the COVID Symptom Study app (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 Windows.

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

The Zoe app, which is easy to use, allows you to report whether or not you are feeling well and if you have had a test for COVID. This helps Kings College London monitor the spread and symptoms of the disease and give advice to government.

If you have had a jab there are new questions allowing you to enter the vaccine type and any side effects. If you do not see these questions you will need to update the app.

NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app (England)

Release of the long promised NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app for Apple and Android smartphones was announced on 24th September.

Click this link for NHS Coronavirus app information

The app provides a means for warning people who have unknowingly been in the presence of someone who has tested COVID positive

7th March 2021

Summary

Despite vaccination, Seniors are being asked to continue to comply with the lockdown restrictions.  A return to near normal is not expected before mid June.

On average there are still about 6,000 new cases of COVID every day in the UK and ideally that needs to fall below 1,000 so that Test and Trace can better identify contacts through Local Public Health, and the likelihood of overseas travel is increased.

Some good news is that there have been few new cases in Malvern link this week.

A summary of COVID cases in Worcestershire can be found on the improved Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard.

Note: use the arrow <> buttons at the bottom of the Dashboard screen to move between pages.

Click for Worcestershire County Council COVID-19 news

Click to skip to our commentary

Vaccination

COVID vaccine is being trickled out to GP surgeries (Primary Care Networks) and all of those aged 70+ years in Malvern should have been vaccinated by now. If not, contact your GP surgery to book an appointment

The group now being vaccinated includes those in the 50 - 69 years age band; you may already have had a letter from the NHS inviting you either to book an appointment at a vaccination centre such as the Three Counties Showground via the Internet, or wait to be contacted by your GP surgery. The target is to vaccinate all those aged 50 - 69 by the 15th of April.

If you are housebound and cannot get out you should contact your GP surgery to ask for a home visit.

According to the Zoe Symptom Study the vaccine offers no protection for the first two weeks but after 3 weeks most vaccinated individuals are protected. Remember that vaccines don't offer 100% protection so you may still become ill though in most cases not seriously.

The government's target is to vaccinate all those aged 18+ with a first jab by the end of July.

The bar chart below shows the population of the UK by age band, and the number of first jabs given, so that you can monitor progress of the vaccination programme.

COVID vaccination bar chart

Vaccinometer as of 6th March 2021

Total first jabs are reported 22,213,112 to the 6th March. Second jabs are reported 1,122,402.

NHS England publishes a daily tally of the number of people vaccinated in England on an Excel spreadsheet but it lags behind the numbers you will see reported on TV and doesn't provide a simple indication of the percentage of people vaccinated by age group in each district:-

Click for numbers of people vaccinated in England reported by NHS

Number of cases

This week the average rate of people testing COVID positive in the UK reported by PHE on the 'Coronavirus Dashboard'  fell from  8,721 new cases per day to 5,995. The chart below shows how the daily rate has varied since 1st September.

COVID daily new cases

UK daily confirmed COVID cases 1st September to 7th March 2021

During the last week the cumulative total of confirmed UK COVID cases reported by PHE rose by 41,966 to 4,218,520.

In Worcestershire there have now been 31,864 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 485 on the week. The daily number of new cases fell from 104 to 69.

The breakdown by Worcestershire Lower Tier Local Authorities (LTLA) is shown in the following table, together with comparisons for Herefordshire, a more sparsely populated county, and the city of Leicester.

Note: these figures are based on the 'Cases by area' (whole pandemic) data set of the Coronavirus Dashboard.

Districts of Worcs Cases Weekly increase Population
Bromsgrove 6,051 +61 98,529
Malvern Hills 2,684 +57 77,545
Redditch 5,833 +126 85,317
Worcester 5,851 +63 103,542
Wychavon 6,182 +72 126,240
Wyre Forest 5,263 +106 100,957
TOTAL 31,379 +725 592,130
COMPARE WITH      
County of Hereford 6,679 +46 195,000
Leicester (city of) 34,422 +491 400,000

Cumulative cases reported by PHE  in Worcestershire to 7th March 2021

Interactive map

At the bottom of the Coronavirus Dashboard (daily update) page there is an Interactive Map which is coloured to show the variation in infection rate across the country. The green areas show how the rate of infection has fallen steadily across the UK since the start of the lockdown.

Click for Interactive Map of COVID cases

Note: the Interactive Map works on desktop PCs but it's possible you may encounter difficulties using a tablet or smartphone.

Recent weekly cases to 2nd March are: North Malvern 8; Malvern Link 6; Pickersleigh <3; Barnards Green 5; Malvern Wells and Priory 9; Callow End and Hanley 4; Upton and Welland 5. The picture changes daily.

Number of deaths

Statistics on COVID deaths are published by Public Health England, The Office of National Statistics, and NHS England; these show the third wave daily death rate has passed its peak and begun to fall.

PHE figures

Public Health England reports that the cumulative total of COVID (28) deaths in UK hospitals and care homes has risen by 1,652 in the last week to 124,501 while the daily average has fallen from 325 to 211; see chart below which shows the actual daily death rate in red, and our old forecast to the 21st March in blue.

Forecast of daily COVID death rate UK

Daily UK death rate from 27th Dec to 7th March 2021 and forecast

The blue curve shows the expected direction of travel; actual cases are a tad higher. The main point to note is that deaths are steadily declining.

Click to view the UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

In comparison averaged over recent years 1,700 people die daily from all causes.

ONS figures

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) separately reports registered deaths in England and Wales where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate. The ONS figures lag the PHE figures by 10 - 14 days and do not include NI and Scotland.

The ONS figures are broken down by District providing a glimpse where deaths are occurring. The cumulative total of COVID related deaths in Worcestershire reported by the ONS up to 19th February 2021 (week 7 of 2021) is shown below.

Districts of Worcs Deaths
2020
Deaths
2021
Weekly increase
(see note)
Population
Bromsgrove 164 87 +8 98,529
Malvern Hills 61 71 +4 77,545
Redditch 108 68 +2 85,317
Worcester 87 96 +3 103,542
Wychavon 157 101 +7 126,240
Wyre Forest 171 77 +9 100,957
TOTAL 748 500 +33 592,130

Cumulative COVID deaths registered by ONS to 19th February 2021

Note: now daily deaths are steadily falling the weekly ONS numbers are much higher than the more recent PHE and NHS figures.

In the week ending 19th February, there were 33 COVID related deaths in Worcestershire, of which 1 was in a care home, 3 at home, and 29 in hospital; a fall of 21 on last week.

In total in England and Wales 4,249 COVID related deaths were reported by the ONS in the week to 19th February, a fall of 1,647 (28%) on the week before.

The highest number of hospital deaths (>19) by Lower Tier Local Authority were:

East Riding 21, Leicester 28, Stoke on Trent 20, Medway 25, County Durham 25, Cheshire West 23, Bedford 21, Central Bedfordshire 23, Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole 26, Buckinghamshire 43, Tendring 30, Manchester 24, Liverpool 34, St Helens 21, Sheffield 25, Birmingham 103, Coventry 20, Dudley 24, Sandwell 29, Solihull 21, Walsall 36, Wolverhampton 22, Kirklees 34, Leeds 34, Wakefield 23, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board 39, Hywel Dda University Health Board 29, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board 28.

Once again Birmingham had by far the highest death rate.

The cumulative total of COVID related deaths in England and Wales recorded by the ONS for all weeks of the epidemic rose to 135,290.

Year Cumulative COVID related deaths in England and Wales
2020 85,686
2021 49,604
TOTAL 135,290

COVID death toll in England and Wales to 19th February 2021 (source: ONS)

Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

NHS England figures

More recently in the seven days ending 7th March NHS England reported the cumulative total of deaths in Worcestershire hospitals rose by just 12 to 837.

Click for NHS COVID-19 Daily Deaths

Healthcare numbers

The UK government Coronavirus Dashboard includes important information about healthcare statistics.

Hospital cases (UK) Number Weekly change
Patients currently in hospital 10,898 -3,910
Patients on ventilation 1,542 -429
Patients admitted daily 707 -405

Headline summary of patients in hospital as reported 7th March 2021

These headline figures show the number of COVID patients in hospital has continued to fall and is now roughly 27% of the peak.

The number of patients on ventilators is gradually falling.

Daily admissions are down again. The steady state number of COVID patients in hospital seems to be roughly ten time the number of patients admitted daily, suggesting a fall to 7,000 patients is on the way.

Tabulated figures for  bed occupancy in Worcestershire Acute and Care hospitals can be found on the NHS England website, but it is quicker to look at a graph at the bottom of the Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard homepage which shows at a glance the number of beds occupied by COVID patients in Worcestershire Acute hospitals.

Click for NHS England COVID-19 Hospital bed Activity

Click for Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard

Notes on projected figures for deaths

Statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University speaking on BBC TV last year said that, using his rule of thumb, hospital admissions were likely to be about 10% of reported new cases, one week after symptoms; and deaths were likely to be about 2% of new cases, 2 to 3 weeks after that - which would point to about 100 deaths per day in UK hospitals by towards the end of March.

Once a large proportion of the population has been vaccinated this rule of thumb will no longer apply, and COVID deaths should fall sharply.

Forecast for the week ahead

Trends suggest that during the next seven days (up to 14th March) the cumulative total of new UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE on the Coronavirus Dashboard could increase by about  42,000 towards 4,261,000.

In Worcestershire up to 490 new cases of COVID-19 can be expected, and possibly up to 60 cases in the Malvern Hills district.

We estimate the number of COVID (28) deaths could increase by about 1,300 nationally towards 126,000 during the 7 days ending 14th March 2021.

In the county of Worcestershire, assuming a 2.4% death rate, the 285 new cases this week could translate to about 6 Worcestershire deaths per week by the end of March, but if cases are mostly confined to younger age groups it could be less.

Longer term forecast

It is once again impossible to provide a long term forecast this week due to uncertainty about how much the relaxation of government restrictions will put up the Effective Reproduction Rate of the virus, the behaviour of the public, and the extent to which vaccines will reduce the transmission of COVID-19. The best we can do is speculate about what might happen once children return to school next week.

Easing of the lockdown may push the Reproduction Rate above one causing the daily infection rate to rise in some parts of the country, as illustrated in the chart below - let's hope the fourth wave will be a ripple rather than a Tsunami.

The rapid rollout of the vaccine, frequent testing of school children and their families, hand washing, masks, and physical distancing may keep COVID under control this time without the need for a fourth lockdown.

By mid April only half the population will have been vaccinated. Now we have seen no official estimate of the basic reproduction rate of the Kent virus, but were it to be as high as 5, vaccination alone would only reduce the effective reproduction rate to 2.5 and so the wearing of masks and physical distancing beyond April could still be needed, possibly up to and beyond the ending of the third lockdown in June.

Forecast of daily COVID cases

Projected new daily cases to 20th April 2021

The chart above shows the falling number of daily new cases in red and an exponential curve, which was our forecast 3 weeks ago, in blue. Apart from a blip two weeks ago cases have continued to follow the blue curve thanks to the public following the rules.

The green projection is an illustration of what might happen next. We have assumed cases fall to about 6,000 per day when schools go back on 8th March and then rise exponentially but at a rate half that of the third wave. An adjustment has been made for vaccination, including take up of the vaccine (85% allowing for those under 18), and effectiveness (80%). Based on these assumptions you will see towards the end of April new daily cases could either fall to 1,000 a day in the very best case, or rise towards 15,000.

If the vaccine breaks the link with hospitalizations and deaths then such figures may be of no great concern. Like the government, we'll just have to wait and see what happens during the next 5 weeks.

The death toll will continue to mount until the vaccination programme eventually draws the UK COVID-19 epidemic to a close. We currently expect the UK COVID death toll to reach 130,000 by the end of April 2021; see commentary.

Exactly what happens will depend on how carefully the government relaxes the restrictions, the effectiveness of test and trace, any change in the lethality of new variants of the virus, and most importantly the speed of the vaccine rollout.


Advice for Seniors

COVID risk highThe daily number of new  cases of Coronavirus is falling, so we judge the risk MODERATE for Seniors living in the Malvern Hills district who have not been vaccinated; see our annex and riskometer opposite.

The risk could be approaching LOW for most Seniors who have been jabbed more than 3 weeks ago.

Remember if you have not been vaccinated and catch COVID there is a significant chance that you will either die or your long term health may be seriously damaged, so take care to protect yourself and those you love. 90% of COVID deaths are in those aged over 60 years according to NHS England statistics.

Click for our risk of death table

When it is your turn to be offered the jab you should grasp the opportunity with both hands.

The simple safeguards to remember are still to:

  • wash your HANDS thoroughly, using soap and hot water, for 20 seconds, including after handling deliveries to your home, to kill virus picked up from contaminated surfaces see note 1;

  • wear a FACE mask when unavoidably near other people for example when shopping, visiting hospital or the chemist;

  • SPACE at least 2 metres apart from others see note 2;

  • keep TIME near others as short as possible, see note 3;

  • self-isolate and book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste).

Hence the mantra:-

 HANDS, FACE, SPACE, TIME - GET A TEST if you feel unwell.

Pulse Oximeter

Pulse OximeterA doctor in Bournemouth speaking on the evening news suggested that if you were sick with COVID at home it would be a good idea to have a little device known as a Pulse Oximeter handy (see photo on right). This measures the oxygen saturation in the blood and pulse rate by clipping the device on a finger and pressing a button; the reading should normally be at least 97%.

If the reading falls to about 93% you should call your doctor for advice, and if the reading is consistently below 92% you should consider calling an ambulance or visiting A&E.

Pulse Oximeters can be purchased from Amazon for £18 to £25; alternatively your doctor's surgery might loan you one if you are unwell and have tested COVID positive.

Remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 at home 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.

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

Notes:

1) Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face to avoid transferring virus from contaminated surfaces to your mouth, eyes and nose. If outdoors use hand gel.

2) Two metres is further than you think - roughly an arm and a walking stick away.

3) During the National Lockdown you should not mix with other households.

Minimise exposure time if you unavoidably find yourself mixing in a confined setting - an invisible mist of virus can build up in the air if the space is shared with an infectious person; imagine people exhaling cigarette smoke. Unless you wear a well fitting FFP3 hospital grade face mask you can breath this in; a face covering will offer little protection. The likelihood and extent you get sick will depend on the density of the airborne virus, which can be reduced by ventilation, and the duration of your exposure.

 

Annex to 7th March update

Commentary

There is little to add this week. New cases, hospital admissions and deaths are falling steadily, and the vaccination programme is going well.

Children go back to school on 8th March; then it's just a question of waiting to see what happens during the next 5 weeks.

Tourists vaccinated with 2 jabs could be admitted to Cyprus from 1st May but you should wait for the UK government proposals expected by 12th April before booking a holiday.

Click for BBC travel report

Vaccines

The target now is to vaccinate those aged 50 - 69 by the 15th April, but from mid March the priority will be to give second jabs to those aged 70+ years. Obviously the government think there will be enough vaccine to do both.

The target for vaccination of those aged 18-49 has been brought forward to the end of July 2021 and this will be facilitated by the mass vaccination centre at The Three Counties Showground which is now up and running.

Those aged 56+ should be getting a letter from the NHS in the next few days. We have been told that sessions at the Three Counties run till 8 pm and appointments for first jabs can be booked one to two weeks ahead, with the second jab about 12 weeks later. If you select a slot, click to confirm it quickly before someone else take. The availability of slots can be expected to vary daily depending on vaccine availability so keep trying.

Here is a list of the vaccines ordered by the UK.

COVID-19 vaccine Doses ordered (million) Status
Pfizer BioNTech, two dose, -70 deg C 40 Approved, delivery has started, made in Belgium
Astrazeneca, two dose, fridge 100 Approved, delivery has started after some delay, made in UK
Moderna, two dose, -20 deg C 7+10 Approved, should be available in the 'spring', supplied from either Switzerland or Spain.
Valneva, two dose 60+40 A jab from French company Valneva will be made in Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland. Delivery to start in second half of 2021.
Janssen, single dose 30 A jab from Belgian firm Janssen, owned by Johnson and Johnson; phase III trials complete. Approved for use in the USA on 28th Feb.
Novavax 60 A jab manufactured by US firm Novavax will be made in Stockton-on-Tees; phase III trials complete, could be available later this year.
GSK Sanoft 60 Some delay due to adjusting the formula to give better protection to the elderly; possible availability late 2021.
Curevac 50 Contract placed with German company Feb 2021. Possible source of new variant vaccine later in 2021

Table of vaccines ordered by the UK government

Recent deaths in Worcestershire hospitals

The table below shows all COVID deaths in Worcestershire hospitals reported by NHS England to 6th March.

Worcestershire Cumulative deaths Weekly increase
Acute hospitals 775 +11
Care hospitals 62 +1
TOTAL 837 +12

In the last week just 12 additional deaths have been recorded compared to 24 the week before.

Present rate of new cases

This week, the average rate of infection per 100,000 population per week in England fell from 108 to 70. In comparison the figure for Worcestershire is 89 and that in the Malvern Hills 69.

The probability of catching Coronavirus is now relatively low, but combined with the significant risk of death makes us view the overall risk to Seniors, prior to inoculation,  as MODERATE.

The risk of death from Coronavirus for healthy teenagers is exceedingly small so for them the risk is LOW, whereas the middle aged can suffer from Long COVID so for them the risk might be assessed between LOW and MODERATE.

Forecast of death rate during March and April

The average UK COVID daily death rate has been falling steadily since 25th January due to physical distancing and in coming weeks the vaccination programme should lead to a slightly faster fall in the death rate with deaths possibly tailing off to 100 deaths per day or less by the end of March.

The rolling 7 day average death rate was 222 deaths per day on 7th March. Assuming the death rate falls linearly to 100 deaths per day by the end of March, then there could be up to 3,600 further deaths in March, and if the death rate fell to 40 deaths per day by the end of April, another 2,100 deaths in April.

Adding these 'back of the envelope' numbers suggests the UK COVID-19 death toll could reach 130,201 by the end of April.

Date Forecast UK COVID-19 death toll (PHE basis)
March 7th 124,501
March 31st +3,600
April 30th +2,100
Total 130,201

Forecast UK COVID-19 epidemic death toll by the end April 2021

Another projection of the future COVID-19 death toll and daily deaths can be found on The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation website:

Click for IHME projection of COVID-19 deaths

The latest projection is for 147,700 deaths by the end of April which probably won't be far off the figure reported by the ONS.

At the start of the epidemic in March the Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Valance, suggested a death toll of 20,000 would be a good outcome; on the other hand, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College warned in some scenarios the death toll might be as high as 250,000; while we thought, in the very worst case assuming up to 1% of the UK population died the outcome might have been nearer 400,000 taking into account some build up of herd immunity.

So how well will the UK have done? When Sir Patrick Valance spoke off the top of his head there had been few deaths and he clearly did not want to 'scare the horses'. Professor Neil Ferguson was nearest the mark. A few might consider an outcome of 130,000 deaths a fair result compared to a greater number of people dying in a very short space of time, more being permanently disabled by Long COVID, and temporary collapse of the NHS. Members of the Labour Party and others will no doubt say the UK has done very poorly compared to the best performing countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore where deaths have been much lower, not to mention the enormous expense of supporting those out of work and huge damage to the economy.

Ultimately there can be no winners or losers, but there must be a thorough inquiry to learn lessons for the future.

 

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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

 

Tiers

Guidance on tiers: what you need to know

Government postcode checker to find tier for other areas

 

Statistics

UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

Coronavirus Dashboard Interactive Map

ONS data on deaths in England and Wales (Excel spreadsheet)

NHS England COVID-19 Daily Deaths

NHS England COVID-19 Hospital Admissions

NHS England vaccination statistics

 

Reports

ONS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Roundup

 

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

Worcestershire County Council COVID-19 information:

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

Here you will find a useful link,

'Website: Number of new cases by date in Worcestershire'

which displays interesting COVID charts and statistics for Worcestershire

COVID Outbreak Control Plan

 

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

Link to Postcode checker for COVID restrictions by protection level in areas of Scotland

 

Welsh Government:

Guidance on COVID alert levels in Wales

 

The Malvern Hills logo

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The interpretations and opinions expressed are our own