Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic weekly update for Malvern Seniors
4th July 2021
COVID LOCKDOWN in ENGLAND
EXIT MOVED TO 19TH JULY
Cases rising sharply in the Malvern Hills district
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 normally 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.
You will need the NHS app installed on your smartphone and be registered with the NHS in order to display your vaccination status.
Note: this is not the NHS COVID-19 app
4th July 2021
Life for Seniors remains very much back to normal in the rural Malvern Hills, despite daily cases of COVID-19 rising exponentially in Worcestershire during the last fortnight.
Once again there have been no COVID-19 deaths in Worcestershire this week, while only 6 acute hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients.
Some Seniors may still catch COVID-19 and become very poorly despite being fully vaccinated, though not needing treatment in hospital in most cases. So remember, at a time when cases in Malvern are escalating and the government is planning to lift restrictions, that it is our decision how cautious to be.
A local summary of COVID cases can be found on the Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard.
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.
Adults aged 18+ can now book a jab on-line without having to wait for a call from their GP surgery.
Note: there is a mass vaccination centre at The Three Counties Showground.
Alternatively, if you are registered, 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.
Extension of vaccination to children aged 12+ could follow but surprisingly no decision has yet been made.
Two jabs are necessary to protect against the Delta variant of COVID-19.
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 4th July 2021
Total first jabs are reported 45,274,497 to the 4th July. Second jabs are reported 33,614,952.
In comparison the adult population of the UK aged 18+ is 54,000,000 and if children are included the total is about 66,000,000 so there is some way to go before the whole country is fully vaccinated.
The daily total of first and second vaccinations has been falling despite the government saying they would 'surge' vaccinations between 20th June and 19th July. It's not clear whether this is due to a shortage of takers or a shortage of vaccine.
Vaccination information can be found 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.
Vaccination numbers in the EU are creeping up. The share of people who have received at least one dose to 1st July are Germany 55%, Belgium 62%, Spain 55%, Italy 57% and France 50%. In comparison 66% of the UK population (including children) has received at least one dose.
New Zealand 14%, Australia 24%, India 20%, Russia 16% and Japan 24% are still lagging behind, whilst in Africa few have been vaccinated.
Number of cases
During the last week the average rate of people testing COVID positive in the UK reported by PHE on the 'Coronavirus Dashboard' rose from 14,865 new cases per day to 24,809. The chart below shows broadly how the daily rate has varied since 1st September.
UK daily confirmed COVID cases 1st September to 4th July 2021
The next chart shows in more detail how daily cases have varied between 1st March and the 4th July. Most new cases are said to be unvaccinated individuals aged under 30 years, but some vaccinated people are also catching COVID.
UK daily new confirmed COVID cases 1st March to 4th July 2021
The shape of the curve suggests that new hot-spots are flaring up as the old ones are damping down. The steep growth shown in the chart has shown signs of slowing in the last few days so its possible cases may soon reach a plateau.
During the last week the cumulative total of confirmed UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE rose by 171,000 to 4,903,434.
In Worcestershire there have now been 35,626 confirmed cases of COVID-19 an increase of 995 on last week. The number of daily cases has risen from 66 to 142 suggesting the Effective COVID Reproduction Rate in the county remains at 2 and it needs to be <1.
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. The weekly increase is the difference between this week and last week's total.
Cumulative cases reported by PHE in Worcestershire to 4th July 2021
The weekly increase is indicative; the seven day average by area, which varies day to day, is an alternative metric that can be found on the Coronavirus dashboard.
In the absence of other evidence, we imagine the risk to fully vaccinated Seniors remains low, despite 117 new cases in the Malvern Hills.
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 map shows that infection rates are continuing to rise across the UK.
Note: the Interactive Map works on desktop PCs but it's possible you may encounter difficulties using a tablet or smartphone.
Ripples of the fourth wave are spreading into Worcestershire. Recent weekly cases to 29th June are: North Malvern 19; Malvern Link 3; Pickersleigh 9; Barnards Green 9; Malvern Wells and Priory 11; Callow End and Hanley 6; Upton and Welland 9.
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 122 in the last week to 128,222 while the daily average has flat-lined at 17 deaths per day.
COVID-19 death rate 1st April to 4th July 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.
Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)
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 18th June 2021 (week 24 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 18th June 2021
Once again no COVID deaths were recorded in Worcestershire.
So far in England and Wales 102 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported by the ONS in the week to 18th June; 18 more than last week. Of these 15 were in a care home, 13 at home, 1 in a hospice, 71 in hospital and 2 elsewhere.
Note: summation of rows 9 to 339 of the ONS deaths Registrations-Pivot table.
The provisional UK COVID-19 death toll (as reported by PHE and ONS) for all weeks of the epidemic can be found on the Deaths tab of the Coronavirus Dashboard.
NHS England figures
The table below shows latest COVID deaths in Worcestershire hospitals reported by NHS England to 3rd July.
The UK government Coronavirus Dashboard includes important information about healthcare statistics.
Headline summary of patients in hospital as reported 4th July 2021
The daily number of hospital admissions expressed as a 7 day average fell to 100 about 20th May but has crept up to 358 and might be expected to increase further in proportion to the rise in daily cases. If roughly 2,000 new cases per day in May led to 100 daily admissions, then the current (average) 24,000 or so cases per day could see daily admissions rising towards 1,200.
In the past, the steady state number of COVID patients in hospital has been roughly ten time the number of patients admitted daily, so we could see the number of COVID patients in hospital rising towards 12,000 towards the end of July, which would be a significant burden on the NHS.
Last week we assumed that due to vaccination 1 in 10 of those admitted to hospital now dies (whereas last year it was 1 in 5). If we relate the latest average of 17 deaths per day to hospital admissions two weeks ago the figure might be nearer 1 in 12, in which case the present 358 hospital admissions per day could point to a COVID daily death rate of about 30 in the second half of July.
Tabulated figures for bed occupancy in Worcestershire Acute and Care hospitals can be found on the NHS England website.
An easy to read summary can be found on the Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard.
Recently there have been 6 COVID-19 patients occupying Worcestershire Acute Hospital beds, of which 2 are ventilated beds.
Looking to the future, it's possible as hospitals fill in Birmingham, where there are many more cases, part of the overflow could be sent to acute hospitals in Worcestershire.
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 11th July) the cumulative total of new UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE on the Coronavirus Dashboard could increase by 175,000 towards 5,077,000.
This could make British tourists unwelcome in Europe.
In Worcestershire more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 can be expected, and possibly 150 cases in the Malvern Hills district.
We estimate the number of COVID (28) deaths will increase by about 120 nationally towards 128,342 during the 7 days ending 11th July 2021.
In the county of Worcestershire, assuming a 0.3% death rate, the 995 new cases this week should translate to no more than 3 COVID deaths per week later in July.
Longer term forecast
When the Alpha (Kent) variant was predominant commentators suggested that the UK could be approaching herd immunity due to both the success of the vaccination programme, and immunity of those who had already been infected by COVID-19. The flare up of cases across the UK caused by the more transmissible Delta variant indicates a higher level of vaccination such as 85% will be needed to counter the Delta Reproduction Rate estimated 6 to 7; and we are nowhere near that yet.
The latest figures suggest to us that current daily cases might be represented by three components: a background level of infection, a 'bump' representing suppression of the first hot-spots of the Delta variant in the North West, and cases in newly emerging hot-spots which have been rising exponentially across much of the UK during the last fortnight.
The next chart shows the rolling average of daily cases in red and an exponential curve fitted to recent data in blue. This was suggesting that daily cases could have risen to 70,000 by the 11th July, but in the last 4 days the rolling average appears to be approaching a plateau, so don't be too concerned.
Actual cases to 4th July and exponential projection to 11th
When the government lifts all restrictions on 19th July many more pockets of infection are likely to flare up as the virus moves across the country seeking out the frail and unvaccinated. For a period this may well place a burden on hospitals to the detriment of other patients.
So far the COVID death rate has remained low and our guess is that the death rate during the 'fourth wave' won't rise above 100 before falling back, as the percentage of the vaccinated population rises.
A ripple of cases amongst unvaccinated children and teenagers cannot be ruled out - either in August or when pupils go back to school in September.
Advice for Seniors
The daily number of new cases of Coronavirus in the Malvern Hills district is rising but as most Seniors should have had 2 jabs we judge the risk of death from COVID-19 for most to be LOW; 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 both doses of your vaccine and continue to take care of yourself and those you love. Last year, 90% of COVID deaths were 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 quite possible, despite a second jab, for Seniors to become ill with COVID-19; some might have mild symptoms like hay fever, while others could feel very poorly, but it is unlikely you will need to be admitted to hospital.
The simple safeguards to remember are to:
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.
Annex to 4th July update
The government has had little to say this week following the 'sacking' of Matt Hancock.
Stories leaked to the media suggest the PM is planning to lift all legal COVID restrictions on 19th July and no doubt will rely instead on the 'commonsense of the British people'. The BMA and Independent SAGE are slightly concerned about this.
The PM is expected to make a statement next week.
There have been complaints that significant numbers of school children have needlessly had to isolate because someone in their bubble tested COVID positive. Schools will soon be breaking up for the summer holiday so that's an issue some might not think needs urgent attention. On the other hand immediate steps to vaccinate all those aged 12+ before schools go back in September would seem a good idea.
In a week when we have heard little from the government, there's an opportunity to listen to what the scientists have to say. For example,
Independent SAGE have summarised their thoughts on whether the PM should lift all restrictions on 19th July. The start of their weekly briefing has many interesting charts and is worth a view.
The question is asked will COVID flare-ups matter? The answer seems to be yes because there is a danger that if cases rise to a very high level, COVID admissions to hospital will delay other treatments such as hip and knee replacements, and result in many more individuals, of all ages, suffering from Long COVID.
So far there hasn't been a significant increase in the COVID death rate and provided it stays below 100 deaths per day we suspect the government will not be too concerned.
The situation remains somewhat confused as both the UK and other nations change the rules in response to changes in infection rates.
While rates in the UK are now much higher than in most European countries, travel arrangements for vaccinated individuals are being worked up.
It now seems possible to get an NHS Vaccination Pass for UK events which is only valid for a couple of days, and for overseas travel which requires you to prove your identity for example by providing a photo of your passport.
If you are worried about either having to change plans or getting on a busy flight it might be best to take your holiday in the UK this year.
List of vaccines (unchanged)
Here is the list of vaccines ordered by the UK - a shortage of vaccine has been limiting the vaccination rate in the UK, while plenty of vaccine is on order for delivery later in the year.
Table of vaccines ordered by the UK government
Present rate of new cases and risk
The hotspots in England and Scotland are expanding across the whole of the UK and the general infection rate is now very high; were it not for the vaccines the death rate would be heading towards 500 deaths per day.
The average rate of infection per 100,000 population per week in England has risen from 120 to 208 while in comparison the figure for Worcestershire has risen to 119 and the Malvern Hills to 113.
As a yardstick we suggest a figure of below 10 can be considered LOW.
Areas of high infection still include Blackburn 492, Ribble Valley 395, Rossendale 582, Bolton 285, and Salford 491.
Other areas with many cases include Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Wigan, Manchester, County Durham, Newcastle on Tyne, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh
There is now a fair chance of catching COVID-19 within the Malvern Hills, but as most Seniors have been vaccinated with 2 jabs we judge the risk of death LOW for all except the 'frail'.
The risk of death from Coronavirus for unvaccinated children and healthy teenagers is said to be small so for them the risk is also LOW. There is however emerging concern that a proportion of youngsters might suffer from Long COVID.
The middle aged can suffer from debilitating Long COVID so for those that have not been vaccinated the risk might be judged HIGH.
About the final UK COVID-19 death toll (unchanged)
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 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, temporary collapse of the NHS and patients dying at home or queued in ambulances outside hospitals. You have only to look at the recent 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)
A glimpse of the worldwide vaccination situation can be found on the Our World in Data website.
A projection of the future COVID-19 death toll and daily deaths can be found on The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation website.
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 4th July 2021