Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic weekly update for Malvern Seniors
COVID LOCKDOWN in ENGLAND
Alert Level raised to 5 on January 4th
INFECTION RATE STILL HIGH
PM says 'STAY AT HOME'
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:
How 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:
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 another had been set up at the Three Counties Showground near Malvern.
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)
Please 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, 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.
The app provides a means for warning people who have unknowingly been in the presence of someone who has tested COVID positive
14th February 2021
The COVID-19 infection rate is falling but still too high so you need to continue to be careful for the next month or so.
The pressure on many hospitals has begun to ease, but Dr Susan Hopkins speaking on the Andrew Marr show said hospitals were likely to remain busy treating sick COVID patients throughout February and into March. Not far away from the Malvern Hills, Birmingham has the highest COVID death rate in the UK and hospitals remain at full stretch.
We must continue to play our part by staying at home, isolating if unwell, and enthusiastically adopting the HANDS, FACE, SPACE regime in order to keep the Reproduction Rate below 1 so that the daily number of new cases falls a lot further. There are now about 13,200 new cases per day and ideally that needs to fall below 1,000 cases per day so that Test and Trace can better identify contacts through Local Public Health, and increase the likelyhood overseas travel can be restored with other countries. Achieving this may require the lockdown to be extended towards the middle of April.
In Singapore community transmission has already fallen to of the order of 2 cases per day, and the major threat is from quarantined travellers importing the virus at ten times the community level.
It will likely be six months before enough people are immunised to keep infection low were restrictions totally relaxed. Consequently it will be necessary for the present lockdown to be eased in stages during the spring and summer as and when the daily number of new COVID cases and hospital admissions permit. The media reports computer modelling suggesting ideally the restrictions should be gradually eased over 9 months in order to keep the number of COVID patients in hospital below 10,000 and avert a fourth wave. Consequently there may not be a full return to normal until Christmas 2021.
We imagine primary schools will restart on 8th March, followed at intervals by secondary schools, the reopening of non essential retail, and then hospitality sectors, subject at all times to the 'brakes' being slammed on if the daily number of new cases gets too high. The Prime Minister will tell us more on the 22nd February.
Vaccine passports or certificates are being debated as a means of facilitating summer travel to Spain and the Olympics in Japan but don't bank on this, and be prepared to take your summer holiday in the UK this year should travel overseas prove difficult.
Government advice is unchanged. Where possible:
WE MUST WASH OUR HANDS THOROUGHLY OR USE AN ALCOHOL BASED HAND GEL TO STOP THE TRANSFER OF THE VIRUS FROM CONTAMINATED SURFACES SUCH AS SUPERMARKET TROLLEYS TO OUR EYES, NOSE OR THROAT.
WE MUST WEAR A FACE MASK WHEN UNAVOIDABLY NEAR OTHER PEOPLE TO REDUCE VIRUS TRANSMISSION THROUGH THE AIR.
WE MUST KEEP AT LEAST 2 METRES AWAY FROM OTHER PEOPLE EXCEPT WHEN IN OUR OWN HOUSEHOLD BUBBLE .
DURING LOCKDOWN WE MUST NOT MEET WITH OTHER HOUSEHOLDS.
Number watchers can find summarised information about COVID cases in Worcestershire on the new Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard. Use the arrow <> buttons at the bottom of the screen to move between pages.
COVID vaccine is being trickled out to GP surgeries (Primary Care Networks) and most of those aged 70+ years in Malvern should have been vaccinated by now. If not, contact your GP surgery to book an appointment
The next group to be vaccinated is those aged 50 - 69 years; if you are in that age group expect a letter from the NHS inviting you either to book an appointment at a vaccination centre outside Malvern, via the Internet, or to wait to be contacted by your GP surgery.
The planned mass vaccination centre at the Three Counties Showground is expected to open towards the end of February.
If you are housebound and cannot get out you should contact your 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. However be aware that vaccines don't offer 100% protection and some Seniors may still become ill.
The government's target is to vaccinate those aged 50+ by the end of April and those aged 18+ by September.
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.
Vaccinometer as of 13th February 2021
Total first jabs are reported 15,062,189 to the 13th February. You will see from the bar chart that should be enough to vaccinate a third of those aged 50 - 69, but because 40% of jabs have been given to younger vulnerable persons, doctors, nurses, carers and 'key workers' vaccination of those aged 50 - 69 has mostly yet to start.
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:-
First vaccinations reported by NHS to 7th February 2021 in England
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 18,358 new cases per day to 13,200. The chart below shows how the daily rate has varied since 1st September.
UK daily confirmed COVID cases 1st September to 14th February 2021
Cases have fallen exponentially halving every 18 days or so during the third lockdown.
During the last week the cumulative total of confirmed UK COVID cases reported by PHE rose by 92,398 to 4,038,078.
In Worcestershire there have now been 29,836 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 899 on the week. The daily number of new cases fell from 186 to 128 indicating R is still <1 and residents are doing a good job observing the lockdown.
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.
Cumulative cases reported by PHE in Worcestershire to 14th February 2021
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. This shows how the rate of infection has been steadily falling across the UK since the start of the lockdown.
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 9th February are: North Malvern 13; Malvern Link 13; Pickersleigh 10; Barnards Green 7; Malvern Wells and Priory 4; Callow End and Hanley 6; Upton and Welland 10. 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.
Public Health England reports that the cumulative total of COVID (28) deaths in UK hospitals and care homes has risen by 4,701 in the last week to 117,166 while the daily average has fallen from 901 to 672; see chart below which shows the actual daily death rate in red, and our forecast to the end of February in blue.
Actual daily UK death rate from 27th Dec to 14th February 2021 and forecast
In comparison averaged over recent years 1,700 people die daily from all causes.
In those districts where the COVID death rate is highest the storing of bodies in temporary mortuaries and delay to funeral services can be expected between now and the end of February.
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, so are lower than the figures published by PHE.
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 29th January 2021 (week 4 of 2021) is shown below.
Cumulative COVID deaths registered by ONS to 29th January 2021
In the week ending 29th January, there were 78 COVID related deaths in Worcestershire, of which 27 were in care homes, 7 at home, 1 in a hospice and 43 in hospital; a fall on last week.
In total in England and Wales 8,785 COVID related deaths were reported by the ONS in the week to 29th January, a slight fall of 65 (0.7%) on the week before. A larger fall can be expected next week.
The highest number of hospital deaths (>29) by Lower Tier Local Authority were:
Leicester 39, Luton 31, Southend on Sea 34, Medway (Kent) 43, Cheshire East 32, Cheshire West 43, Cornwall 30, Wiltshire 50, Central Bedfordshire 34, Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole 67, Dorset 40, Buckinghamshire 68, Basildon 32, Basildon 32, Braintree 51, Chelmsford 42, Colchester 31, Tendring 56, Manchester 37, Liverpool 58, Sefton 39, Wirral 41, Sheffield 46, Birmingham 139, Coventry 31, Sandwell 63, Walsall 35, Wolverhampton 43, Barnet 50, Bexley 49, Brent 44, Bromley 52, Croydon 64, Ealing 46, Enfield 45, Greenwich 35, Hackney 31, Havering 38, Hillingdon 34, Islington 46, Lewisham 32, Newham 41, Redbridge 39, Sutton 33, Wandsworth 30, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board 42, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board 49, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board 39, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board 51.
Once again Birmingham had 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 117,527.
COVID death toll in England and Wales to 29th January 2021 (by ONS)
Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)
NHS England figures
More recently in the seven days ending 14th February NHS England reported the cumulative total of deaths in Worcestershire hospitals rose by 33 to 781.
The UK government Coronavirus Dashboard includes important information about healthcare statistics.
Headline summary of patients in hospital as reported 14th February 2021
These headline figures show the number of COVID patients in hospital has continued to fall steeply.
The number of patients on ventilators has fallen 25% from the peak but is about the same as at the peak of the first wave which is bad news as the outcome for patients on ventilators is poor.
Daily admissions are down again which is encouraging. 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 17,000 patients is on the way.
Figures for bed occupancy in Worcestershire hospitals can be found on the NHS England website:
On 9th February there were 196 COVID patients occupying beds in Worcestershire Acute Hospitals at Worcester, Kidderminster and Redditch (a fall of 12% on last week), and a further 52 in 'care' hospitals, a fall of 19% on last week. In England a total of 22,067 COVID beds were occupied a fall of 20% on last week.
Note: The Welsh First Minister said some time ago that very sick COVID patients arrive in hospital 7 to 10 days after first symptoms, and either die or are discharged 15 to 30 days after first symptoms in most cases. Hospital beds are occupied by suspected COVID patients, very sick COVID patients, and a few suffering from 'Long COVID' who may remain in hospital for much longer than 30 days.
Notes on projected figures for deaths
It appears hospitals are only admitting very sick COVID-19 patients, for example those with breathing difficulties, which is probably why Professor Peter Horby of Oxford University said last year on the Andrew Marr show that up to 20% of COVID patients in hospital could die. One might have expected the percentage to reduce as treatments have improved but this does not appear to have happened and we have a suspicion the situation might actually have worsened during late December and early January. We have found this projection no longer gives reliable advance warning of deaths.
Statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University speaking separately on BBC TV 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 264 hospital deaths per day by the end of February.
Looking further ahead, once a significant percentage of the population has been vaccinated neither rule of thumb will apply, and COVID deaths should fall sharply.
Forecast for the week ahead
Trends suggest that during the next seven days (up to 21st February) the cumulative total of new UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE on the Coronavirus Dashboard could increase by about 80,500 towards 4,118,500.
In Worcestershire up to 700 new cases of COVID-19 can be expected, and possibly up to 70 cases in the Malvern Hills district.
We estimate the number of COVID (28) deaths could increase by about 3,500 nationally towards 120,750 during the 7 days ending 21st February 2021.
In the county of Worcestershire, assuming a 2.4% death rate, the 899 new cases this week could translate to about 21 Worcestershire deaths per week by the end of February, but if cases are mostly confined to younger age groups it could be less.
Longer term forecast
Ending of the third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in the UK
Daily new cases of Coronavirus have been falling exponentially since the introduction of the third lockdown primarily due to physical distancing, halving every 18 days or so. The chart below shows if that continues the number of daily cases should drop to 1,000 by the middle of April.
Forecast new daily cases to 20th April 2020
An even steeper fall in cases is possible as more of the population is vaccinated.
Once everyone has been vaccinated (currently September) the restrictions can clearly be relaxed, but easing the restrictions too early could potentially lead to a fourth wave of sickness, a return to pressure on hospitals, and possibly up to 50,000 additional deaths of those aged below 60 years in the very worst case, were COVID to spiral out of control. To avoid that the government is going to have to be very careful about how the restrictions are relaxed during the next 3 months.
In our view the daily number of new cases ideally needs to be kept below 1,000 in order to give Test and Trace the chance to work, which equates to about 10 new cases per 100,000 per week. A factor of ten below this weeks figure.
The death toll will continue to mount until the vaccination programme eventually draws the UK COVID-19 epidemic to a close. We still expect the UK COVID death toll to reach 128,000 by the end of March 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
The daily number of new cases of Coronavirus is still unacceptably high, and we judge the risk MODERATE to HIGH for Seniors living in the Malvern Hills district who have not been inoculated; see our annex and riskometer opposite.
The risk could be approaching LOW for most Seniors who have been inoculated more than 3 weeks ago.
If you have not been inoculated 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.
So if you are offered a jab grasp the opportunity with both hands.
The simple safeguards to remember are still to:
Hence the mantra:-
HANDS, FACE, SPACE, TIME - GET A TEST if you feel unwell.
A 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.
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 14th February update
Not much seems to have happened this week although there has been increasing speculation about the route out of the third lockdown. People want dates but the scientists are saying ideally the waypoints should be driven by the data and the results of each step evaluated before proceeding to the next.
On Monday Matt Hancock gave a press briefing. He confirmed that vaccination of those aged 70+ years was going well. Take up which was expected to be 75% has been nearer 93%.
Those aged 70+ who do not have appointments for their first jab are now instructed to contact the NHS or their GP surgery to book one.
Test and Trace is performing much better. A contract has been placed with Surescreen Diagnostics of Derby for 20M Rapid Test Kits so businesses of greater than 50 employees will be able to test staff on a daily basis.
Evaluation of new variants of COVID is continuing. The capability to supply booster jabs has been increased by the placing of a contract with Curevac for 50M doses.
Test centres have been set up in areas where the South African variant has been detected. One of these is at the Five Ways Rugby ground on the outskirts of Worcester.
On Tuesday more reports appeared in the media about the setting up of Quarantine Hotels. Travellers arriving in England from 'Red List' countries will have to quarantine for 10 days at a cost of £1,750. Initial provision will be for 4,000 beds and there will be COVID tests at 2 and 8 days. There is to be a fine of £10,000 for avoiding quarantine and a penalty of up to 10 years in jail for anyone deliberately concealing travel from a 'Red List' country.
We had our first COVID jab at Prospect View using the Astrozeneca vaccine.
On Wednesday the Prime Minister held a teatime press briefing the purpose of which was to exhort all those aged 70+ years to book a jab if they had not already had one.
He said the hope was to vaccinate all those in cohorts 1-9, which includes all those aged 50+ years, by the end of April.
Professor John Edmunds speaking later on the Robert Peston show suggested the lockdown should be released cautiously observing the effects of each stage, for example reopening primary schools, before proceeding to the next. In his view people should not be considering overseas holidays at this stage, and the priority should be to vaccinate as fast as possible.
On Thursday the BBC reported that 60% of all COVID deaths were of disabled people, which shocked us.
On Friday the BBC reported the story of a mother who had travelled to Australia to visit a sick relative. She said it was both difficult and expensive to book a flight and travellers were treated like lepers. Her account should put people off visiting Australia this year!
Matt Hancock has said the speed of rollout of the vaccine is currently limited by deliveries from Pfizer in Belgium and Astrazeneca in UK.
The government is expected to meet its target to vaccinate the most vulnerable group (70+) by 15th February.
There has been some uncertainty whether the target is to vaccinate the second group (50-69) by the end April or the end of May.
From mid March the vaccine will have to be diverted to giving second jabs; nevertheless there seems a good chance some of those aged 60+ will have had their first jabs by then.
Vaccination of those aged 50+ by the end of April or May will depend on either the delivery of the Moderna vaccine or deliveries of the Astrazeneca and Pfizer vaccines ramping up.
The timetable for vaccination of those aged 18-49 is more uncertain as four vaccines are yet to be approved. The government's target to do this by September appears realistic, but speculation in the media that this might be accomplished by June appears highly doubtful.
Here is a list of the vaccines odered by the uK.
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 13th February.
In the last week 33 additional deaths have been recorded compared to 43 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 233 to 167. In comparison the figure for Worcestershire is also 167 and that in the Malvern Hills 111.
As a guide we would expect the third lockdown to continue until the rate of infection rate falls to somewhere between 10 and 50 cases per 100,000 per week.
In the meantime Seniors awaiting vaccination need to continue to be careful.
The probability of catching Coronavirus in the Malvern Hills is moderate, but combined with the significant risk of death makes us view the overall risk to Seniors, prior to inoculation, as MODERATE to HIGH.
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 MODERATE.
Forecast of death rate during February and March
The average UK COVID daily death rate peaked at 1,200 deaths per day about 25th January and has begun to fall principally due to physical distancing. In coming weeks the vaccination programme should lead to an even faster fall in the death rate with deaths possibly tailing off to 100 deaths per day or less during March.
We predict the rolling 7 day average death rate will fall from 672 to 420 by 21st February, dropping to 260 deaths per day (or less) by the end of the month, resulting in about 6,200 additional deaths.
Then assuming the death rate falls further to 100 deaths per day by the end of March as a result of the vaccination of over 60 year olds, the average could be 180 deaths per day in March leading to about 5,400 further deaths.
Adding these 'back of the envelope' numbers suggests the UK COVID-19 death toll could reach 128,766 by the end of March.
Forecast UK COVID-19 epidemic death toll by end March 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:
The latest projection is for 156,000 deaths by the end of March 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 128,000 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 eventually be a thorough inquiry to learn lessons for the future.
Summary of Links
Reporting and how to obtain a test
How to get a test
About joining the Zoe COVID Symptom Study:
ONS data on deaths in England and Wales (Excel spreadsheet)
The bigger picture
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control info
World Health Organisation info
Window on the USA
Worcestershire County Council COVID-19 information:
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
Views of Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health
The interpretations and opinions expressed are our own
Last updated 14th February 2021