Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic weekly update for Malvern Seniors
23rd May 2021
COVID LOCKDOWN in ENGLAND
EXIT STEP 3, DAILY CASES RISING
Risk remains low within the Malvern Hills district
Note: due to the Bank Holiday, our next update will probably be on 6th June
We keep an eye on the published government figures and monitor the media to asses the level of risk for Seniors in the Malvern Hills district.
This page is currently updated every Sunday between 1800 and 2400 hours GMT.
Information about Coronavirus can be found on the NHS website:
How to request a COVID test
In order to protect others it is important to book a test and self isolate if you feel unwell with COVID symptoms.
There are now two types of test you can get. The accurate PCR test involving a throat and nose swab which is sent off to a laboratory for analysis and the quicker Lateral Flow test.
Getting a PCR test
Click the link below for information on how to get a free NHS PCR 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 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 there is said to be good availability and you should get the result back in about 24 hours.
Getting a Lateral Flow test
Lateral Flow tests can now be obtained at Great Malvern Library. This test is chiefly intended to screen working people who may be infected but show no symptoms and can either be pre-booked or you can walk in.
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 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.
There is also a new mental health questionnaire.
NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app (England)
Release of the 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.
There is talk of updating the app to show vaccination status.
23rd May 2021
The vaccination programme is on track, and the COVID death rate has fallen to a low level, but new cases and daily hospital admissions could be ramping up.
Providing daily new cases can be prevented from rising exponentially at a national level this might be nothing to worry about.
England moved to STEP 3 out of lockdown on Monday 17th May 2021.
Remember that, though we are being offered new freedoms, it is our decision how cautious to be.
A local summary of COVID cases can be found on the Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard. Rates have increased for a second week particularly in the city of Worcester.
Note: use the arrow <> buttons at the bottom of the Dashboard screen to move between pages.
You can see at a glance the percentage of people vaccinated by age group on the Worcestershire COVID-19 Vaccinations Dashboard.
There is a mass vaccination centre at The Three Counties Showground.
The government hopes to vaccinate all those aged 18+ with a first jab by the end of July 2021. The rate of first vaccinations fell sharply in April and early May due to a dip in the supply of vaccine, and to give priority to second jabs for the elderly.
It seems to us that first vaccinations must be stepped up towards 300,000 jabs per day for the 18+ target to be met, while the current priority appears to be second jabs for the middle aged and elderly, in order to maximise protection from the Indian variant of Coronavirus, and surge vaccination in COVID hotspots.
Extension of vaccination to children aged 12+ in the summer is likely to follow adults aged 18+.
Those aged 32+ years can now book a jab on-line without having to wait for a call from their GP surgery. Here is the link:
Alternatively you can wait to be contacted by your GP surgery - this may either be by a phone call, or a text message on your mobile.
If you are housebound and cannot get out you should contact your GP surgery to ask for a home visit.
If it is 8 weeks since your first jab and you are 50+ and haven't been offered an appointment for your second jab, contact your GP surgery.
According to the Zoe Symptom Study the vaccine offers no protection for the first two weeks but after 3 weeks most vaccinated individuals have some immunity.
Against the Indian variant, two jabs are said to give 88% protection from symptomatic illness using the Pfizer vaccine, and just 60% with Astrazeneca; so it's possible vaccinated Seniors could become ill, though not seriously in most cases.
The bar chart below shows the population of the UK by age band (1), and the number of first (2) and second jabs (3) given, so that you can see overall progress of the vaccination programme in the UK.
Vaccinometer as of 23rd May 2021
Total first jabs are reported 37,943,681 to the 23rd May. Second jabs are reported 22,643,417. In comparison the population of the UK, including children, is about 66,000,000
You will find information summarised on the Vaccination tab of the Coronavirus Dashboard.
A glimpse of the worldwide vaccination situation can be found on the Our World in Data website.
There are many charts which some may find confusing, but look for the chart showing share of people who have received at least one dose of COVID-vaccine.
Hint: click TABLE tab to see more countries.
After a slow start, vaccination programmes in the EU are ramping up. Figures to 22nd May are Germany 40%, Belgium 37%, Spain 35%, Italy 35% and France 33%. Surprisingly India and Russia are still only 10% vaccinated. In comparison 56% of the UK population (including children) has received at least one jab.
It beggars belief, bearing in mind they may be hosting the Olympics in July 2021, that Japan is only 4% vaccinated.
Number of cases
This week the average rate of people testing COVID positive in the UK reported by PHE on the 'Coronavirus Dashboard' crept up from 2,274 new cases per day to 2,522. The chart below shows broadly how the daily rate has varied since 1st September.
UK daily confirmed COVID cases 1st September to 9th May 2021
The chart below shows in more detail how daily cases have varied between 1st March and the 23rd May.
UK daily new confirmed COVID cases 1st March to 16th May 2021
You will see there are signs of an upturn, no doubt influenced by the surge of cases in Bolton linked to the Indian variant of COVID-19.
During the last week the cumulative total of confirmed UK COVID cases reported by PHE rose by roughly 15,000 while the cumulative total of 4,462,538 reflects removal of about 5,000 false positive lateral flow tests.
In Worcestershire there have now been 33,567 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 89 new cases recorded in the last 7 days.
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: the cumulative cases are copied from the 'Cases by area' (whole pandemic) data set of the Coronavirus Dashboard, and Last 7 days from the cases by area last 7 days data set.
Cumulative cases reported by PHE in Worcestershire to 23rd May 2021
Cases in Malvern have crept up, while the greatest increase is in the city of Worcester.
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.
Note: the Interactive Map works on desktop PCs but it's possible you may encounter difficulties using a tablet or smartphone.
New cases in Malvern are currently too low to register on the map, except for Malvern Wells and Priory where 4 cases were reported in week ending 18th May.
In comparison there has been a huge surge in Bolton where 1,248 cases have been recorded in the last week.
Number of deaths
Statistics on COVID deaths are published by Public Health England, The Office of National Statistics, and NHS England.
Public Health England reports that the cumulative total of COVID (28) deaths in UK hospitals and care homes has risen by 42 in the last week to 127,721 while the daily average has fallen to 6 deaths per day. The chart below shows how the death rate has fallen in steps during the last 6 weeks.
COVID-19 death rate 1st April to 23rd May 2021
In comparison averaged over recent years 1,700 people die daily from all causes.
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 Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The ONS figures are broken down by District providing a glimpse of where deaths are occurring. The provisional cumulative total of COVID related deaths in Worcestershire reported by the ONS up to 7th May 2021 (week 18 of 2021) is shown below.
Note: the numbers are from the ONS Death Registrations-Pivot table
Provisional cumulative COVID-19 deaths registered by ONS to 7th May 2021
Only one COVID-19 death was reported, at home in Redditch.
In England and Wales 129 COVID-19 related deaths were reported by the ONS in the week to 7th May; 76 lower than the week before, a fall of 37%. Of these 14 were in a care home, 23 at home, 1 in a hospice, 87 in hospital and 4 elsewhere.
The provisional COVID-19 death toll for all weeks of the epidemic is shown in the following table for England and Wales.
COVID-19 death toll in England and Wales to 7th May 2021 (source: ONS)
Note: summation of rows 9-344 of ONS Registrations-Pivot Table spreadsheet tab.
The UK death toll is about 10% higher as deaths for Scotland and Northern Ireland have to be added.
Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)
The death toll based on death certificates is about 20% higher than deaths within 28 days reported by PHE.
NHS England figures
The table below shows latest COVID deaths in Worcestershire hospitals reported by NHS England to 21st May.
There have been no COVID deaths in Worcestershire for two weeks..
The UK government Coronavirus Dashboard includes important information about healthcare statistics.
Headline summary of patients in hospital as reported 23rd May 2021
The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital, and the number on ventilators continues to fall slowly, but there are signs of a small rise in the number of patients admitted daily.
In the past, the steady state number of COVID patients in hospital has been roughly ten time the number of patients admitted daily, suggesting the number of COVID patients in hospital could begin rising due to STAGE 3 of unlocking - it will probably be a week or two before we know for sure whether this is a trend or a blip.
Last year roughly 10% of new cases were admitted to hospital and of those at least 1 in 5 died.
The latest figures suggest about 5% of new cases are being admitted to hospital. If it is assumed that due to vaccination just 1 in 15 of these now dies then 122 hospital admissions per day may suggest up to 8 UK deaths per day by mid June.
Note: these ratios are very rough and ready and should change as more of the population is vaccinated.
Tabulated figures for bed occupancy in Worcestershire Acute and Care hospitals can be found on the NHS England website.
You can also obtain a snapshot of bed occupancy from the Coronavirus Dashboard daily update page, by entering your postcode at the bottom of the page, which will show data for Worcestershire; then find and click All Health Data to see bed occupancy. This information has returned to the Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard.
Recently there have been 8 COVID patients in Worcestershire Acute Hospitals of which none were on ventilators; the same as last week.
The main point to note is that the number of Worcestershire COVID-19 beds occupied is very much lower than the peak of about 300 beds.
Forecast for the week ahead
Trends suggest that during the next seven days (up to 30th May) the cumulative total of new UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE on the Coronavirus Dashboard could increase by up to 19,000 towards 4,481,000
In Worcestershire there could be 100 new cases of COVID-19, and possibly up to 15 cases in the Malvern Hills district.
We estimate the number of COVID (28) deaths will increase by about 40 nationally towards 127,765 during the 7 days ending 30th May 2021.
In the county of Worcestershire, assuming a 0.3% death rate, the 89 new cases this week could translate to one COVID death per month in June.
Longer term forecast
Commentators suggest that the UK could be approaching herd immunity due to both the success of the vaccination programme, and immunity of those who have already been infected by COVID-19.
The huge flare up of cases in Bolton casts some doubt on this and suggests a higher level of vaccination may be needed to counter Indian Coronavirus. Matt Hancock says most of those in hospital in Bolton had been offered the vaccine and had not taken it.
Reports from Oxford suggest the current vaccines are preventing serious illness from 'new variants' while scientists warn against letting new cases 'rip' as the virus would weed out the frail and unvaccinated.
The message to everyone is therefore to continue to be reasonably cautious and get vaccinated.
It is anticipated infections could continue at between 2,000 and 3,000 cases per day with occasional localised flare ups such as in Bolton and Blackburn. As most of those aged under 40 years have still to be vaccinated reasonable caution should be exercised until the end of June.
This week the threat from 'new variants of concern' seems to be receding as the present vaccines are proving effective and scientists are working on booster jabs.
Advice for Seniors
The daily number of new cases of Coronavirus has fallen a long way from the peak so we judge the risk to be LOW for most Seniors in the Malvern Hills district who have had 2 jabs; see our annex and riskometer opposite.
But remember, if you are elderly, have not been vaccinated, and were to catch COVID there is a significant chance that you will either die or your long term health may be seriously damaged, so get your vaccine and continue to take care of yourself and those you love. 90% of COVID deaths have been in those aged over 60 years according to NHS England statistics.
Click for our risk of death table (for those who have not been vaccinated)
It's possible, despite a second jab, for some Seniors to become ill with COVID, though for most this is likely to be a mild illness.
The simple safeguards to remember are to:
Hence the PMs mantra:-
HANDS, FACE, SPACE, FRESH AIR
We are now gradually moving from a regime where the government tells us what to do to one where it is up to us to take personal responsibility for assessing the risk to ourselves and our loved ones.
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) If possible keep windows and doors open to improve ventilation when meeting others.
4) If you have been vaccinated and are infected by COVID-19 you may not get the classic symptoms; you could for example have no symptoms or feel like you have a common cold. If in doubt get a test.
Japanese advice has been to avoid the three Cs, see poster below:
COVID advice in Japan
Most of us who have received two jabs probably now feel safe mingling with friends and family.
Annex to 23rd May update
On Monday Matt Hancock briefed parliament on the COVID-19 vaccination programme and the surge in cases in Bolton, Blackburn and Bedford.
On Wednesday Matt Hancock gave a press briefing on surge testing for the Indian variant of COVID-19.
New tools allow the spread of the virus to be forecast from travel patterns, and tests of waste water.
Surge testing is now being deployed in Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Kirklees, North Tyneside, Hounslow in London, Glasgow and Moray in Scotland. The Indian variant is spreading more quickly than the Kent variant, but the current vaccines seem effective against both.
The EU is considering a digital COVID certificate to enable people to travel freely within the European Economic Area. The criteria could be to include those who have been vaccinated, those who have recovered from COVID, and those who have tested negative.
Possibly EU doors could also be opened to anyone from 'safe' countries on the 'white' list where the infection rate is less than 75 cases in 100,000 measured over two weeks. Though the infection rate in the UK is only 21 cases in 100,000 per week, Germany is reluctant to admit people from the UK because of the Indian variant.
On Friday Spain announced, from next Monday, visitors from the UK would be welcome irrespective of vaccination status.
The Transport Secretary confirmed that travel can begin to reopen allowing people to go on overseas holidays to countries on the 'green list' accepting visitors, such as Portugal. However don't get too excited as few popular resorts are currently on the 'green list'. Israel is a 'war-zone' so few will want to go there, while Australia, New Zealand and Singapore require travellers to quarantine, so the latter are not an attractive option for short stays.
The government's guidance on overseas travel remains somewhat confusing.
Travel to countries on the amber and red lists is not illegal but is discouraged by the PM and government website.
Travellers should take account of Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice and check, in the light of this, whether their travel insurance will cover the intended journey.
If you are planning to go on an overseas holiday, you should check things out very carefully, and ideally make bookings that can be changed.
The UK 'Traffic Light' system specifies the quarantine measures those returning to the UK from abroad must undergo.
In essence the plan is that you will need to get a COVID test before return to the UK and following arrival from abroad. If you return from a 'green' list country you are free to circulate if the tests are clear. If you return from an 'amber' list country you must quarantine for ten days and take two COVID tests. If you arrive from a red list country you must quarantine for ten days in an approved government hotel.
The cost of getting tests is likely to be a significant burden on holiday-makers, who may also have to provide evidence of vaccination for example by either providing a vaccination certificate or by means of an app on their smartphone.
Essential travel for business and family emergencies remains possible subject to obtaining permissions and quarantine regulations at both ends.
List of vaccines (unchanged)
Here is the list of vaccines ordered by the UK - you will see there is plenty of vaccine in the pipeline for delivery later in the year.
Table of vaccines ordered by the UK government
Present rate of new cases and risk
This week, the average rate of infection per 100,000 population per week in England fell from 23 to 21. In comparison the figure for Worcestershire has risen from 10 to 15, and the Malvern Hills to 14, while Bolton has shot up to 434.
The probability of catching Coronavirus in the Malvern Hills district remains low, and as most Seniors have been vaccinated with 2 jabs we judge the risk LOW.
The risk of death from Coronavirus for unvaccinated children and healthy teenagers is small so for them the risk is also LOW. The middle aged can suffer from debilitating Long COVID so for those that have not been vaccinated and may be visiting areas where rates are spiking, such as Bolton, the risk might be judged MODERATE to HIGH.
About the final UK COVID-19 death toll
At the start of the epidemic on 17th March 2020 the Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Valance, questioned by the Health Select Committee, did not disagree with Jeremy Hunt's suggestion that a death toll of 20,000 might be a reasonable 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 Jeremy Hunt and Sir Patrick Valance spoke there had been few deaths and they clearly underestimated what was to come. Professor Neil Ferguson was nearer the mark. A few might consider an outcome of about 127,700 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, temporary collapse of the NHS and patients dying at home or queued in ambulances outside hospitals. You have only to look at the situation in India to imagine what could have happened.
Members of the Labour Party and others will no doubt say the UK has done 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.
With hindsight, deaths might have been much lower if the second lockdown had been continued into December and January, but that would have meant cancelling Christmas, and who knows to what extent the public would have complied.
Worldwide, this pandemic is not played out and it could be a further 1 to 2 years before the 'dust' finally settles. The PM has promised an independent inquiry in Spring 2022 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 24th May 2021