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

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26th February 2023


Daily cases and deaths no longer of great concern


For almost three years we have been keeping an eye on the published government figures and monitoring the media to asses the likely level of risk for Seniors in the Malvern Hills district and providing links to where further information could be found.

For most people, COVID is no longer a critical threat to health so this a shortened version of our weekly update which will continue to be updated weekly, nominally with Sunday's date, for a few weeks more.



What happens if you get sick

Number of cases

Number of deaths

Healthcare numbers

Forecast for the week ahead

Longer term outlook

Advice for seniors


Summary of links


Menu of archived pages


A fortnight ago we wondered if another wave of COVID-19 caused by the Kraken variant might roll through the community during February. Cases have indeed been rising but only slowly and this mini wave could soon be reaching its maximum.

In the last week, NHS COVID bed occupancy in England rose by just 11%, while daily deaths in England and Wales roughly flat-lined at approximately 400 deaths per week.

During the remainder of February and March the COVID death rate could rise towards 700 deaths per week tracking baked in cases. Below that level deaths can be considered acceptably low and of little concern.

For most it seem as though the threat from COVID-19 has gone away.

Click to jump to forecast

What happens if you get sick with COVID

If you are feeling poorly there is now a fair chance it won't be COVID-19 but some other winter respiratory illness; 'bugs and lurgi' of the unknown variety have recently left friends feeling very poorly, sometimes for two to three weeks.

If you have a temperature/fever it's more likely Flu.

If you have a stash of Lateral Flow Tests you could test yourself at home. However be aware that a negative test does not guarantee you don't have COVID. Whatever the virus best stay at home until you feel better, and wear a face mask to protect others if you do have to go out.

Nowadays, you might not know it's COVID and brush it off as just another cold. The top six symptoms reported through the Zoe app are, sore throat, runny nose, blocked nose, sneezing, headache, and cough.

A few of those who have caught COVID report either getting easily tired or suffering from shortness of breath for some weeks afterwards; if so patients are advised to take it easy until fully recovered.

A small number of patients report debilitating symptoms for months after so-called recovery especially women. For example see Dez Medinger and Danny Altmann's book The Long COVID Handbook in bibliography.


Nowadays few people are taking precautions - but that may change were the Kraken variant to start spreading rapidly. Keep that facemask handy during February just in case.

Click to view our advice

Vaccination Sites

Section deleted as the Autumn 2022 booster campaign closed on 12th February; if necessary refer to archived blogs (see menu of archived pages).

Orange triangleNumber of cases

The main sources reporting the prevalence of COVID-19 in the UK are:

  • The ONS which conducts a weekly random survey by collecting nose and throat swabs from the public for PCR tests, and analysis for variants.

  • The ZOE Health Study, whereby participating members of the public log their symptoms, tests and vaccines.

ONS infection survey

ONS estimated that 1,223,000 people in England tested positive for COVID-19 in the week ending 14th February 2023; a rise of 16% on the previous week.

Click for latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK

Date report published Prevalence (England) Ratio of people with COVID
3rd February 2023 799,200 1:70
10th February 2023 874,700 1:65
17th February 2023 1,054,200 1:55
24th February 2023 1,223,000 1:45

Prevalence of COVID-19 in England estimated by ONS

Prevalence was estimated 1:55 in Wales; 1:45 in Scotland; and 1:60 in Northern Ireland.

Zoe Health Study

The ZOE Health Study estimates are shown in the following table.

Date of screenshot Prevalence (UK) Estimated new infections per day
4th February 2023 895,560 81,770
9th February 2023 996,259 90,406
16th February 2023 1,206,030 99,032
23rd February 2023 1,277,787 92,168

Prevalence of COVID-19 in UK estimated by the Zoe Health Study

According to the more recent Zoe figures, estimated prevalence has risen by 6%, while daily cases fell by 7% in the last week.

The Zoe chart suggests prevalence may be approaching a plateau.

The increase in prevalence correlates with Hospital bed occupancy continuing to creep up.

Note: the Zoe numbers were rebased on 3rd February 2023 to better align with ONS figures.

Directional arrowNumber of deaths

Statistics on COVID deaths are published by Public Health England, The Office of National Statistics, and NHS England. These can't be directly compared as  they cover different periods, but together the figures paint a picture of the direction of travel - which is that the Winter Wave death rate peaked around 1st January 2023 and is now approaching a minimum, following which the death rate could rise a little during March.

PHE figures

The Dashboard chart of COVID (28) deaths, following a positive test, by date of death shows that the 7 day average peaked in England at 167 deaths per day around 30th December; marking the peak of the Winter Wave.

Since then deaths have fallen and begun to flat-line at about 90 deaths per day in the fortnight ending 13th February.

Click to view the UK government Coronavirus Dashboard

The PHE figures include people who die with COVID but not from it so are likely to be higher than the ONS numbers.

ONS figures

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reports registered deaths in England and Wales where COVID-19 is mentioned somewhere on the death certificate. The ONS figures lag real time by 10 - 14 days due to the administrative delay in submitting and processing reports, and do not include Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Note: the figures include cases where COVID may have been a secondary cause of death.

Click for ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)

The ONS figures are broken down by Local Authority providing a glimpse of where deaths are occurring. The provisional cumulative total of COVID related deaths in Worcestershire reported by the ONS up to 10th February (week 6 of 2023) is shown in the table below.

Note: the numbers are now derived from  Table 1 of the ONS Death Registrations spreadsheet using the in-built filters. This gives the provisional total of deaths registered in any week, which can be distorted by delayed reporting, for example, due to public holidays.

Deaths by Welsh Health Boards are excluded to avoid duplication as these are totals of Local authorities.

Districts of
Week 6 Population
Bromsgrove 164 142 59 11 1 98,529
Malvern Hills 61 98 74 6 1 77,545
Redditch 108 109 47 8 1 85,317
Worcester 87 134 51 4 3 103,542
Wychavon 157 154 85 8 1 126,240
Wyre Forest 171 132 62 6 1 100,957
TOTAL 748 769 378 43 8 592,130

Provisional cumulative COVID-19 deaths in Worcestershire registered by ONS to 10th February 2023.

There was 1 death in hospital in Bromsgrove; 1 death in hospital in the Malvern Hills; 1 death in a care home in Redditch; 1 death in a care home and 2 in hospital in Worcester; 1 death in hospital in Wychavon;  and 1 death in hospital in Wyre Forest.

The general picture continues to be of a 'handful' of weekly deaths in Worcestershire.

In England and Wales 446 COVID-19 related deaths were reported in the week to 10th February, 52 less than the week before and a fall of 10%. Of these 70 were in care homes, 31 at home, 11 in a hospice, 329 in hospital and 5 elsewhere.

Chart of ONS deaths

ONS provisional deaths 'by week reported' in England and Wales since the start of 2022 (so week 53 is week 1 of 2023)

The cumulative total of 2023 COVID deaths registered by ONS in England and Wales to 10th February is 3,957.

ONS figures by date of death

Table 2 of the ONS spreadsheet gives England and Wales figures by date of death. This is a more accurate metric but it takes an additional two to three weeks for most of the registrations  to flow in; see extract in the table below.

Week of 2023 Number of deaths
reported last week
Number of deaths
reported this week
1 795 799
2 676 680
3 558 567
4 421 438
5 309 400 (incomplete)
6   287 (incomplete)

ONS weekly deaths in England and Wales - 'by date of death'

The peak of the Winter Wave appears to be settling at about 800 deaths per week.

Of the 446 deaths reported in week 6, only 287 deaths were in that week. The latter figure will rise as reports of deaths in that week continue to  flow in. Once the total this week is close to the total the previous week, the number 'by date of death' can be considered fairly stable.

For example, weekly deaths in week 4 are likely to end up about 450, while those in week 5 could end up about 425. As an educated guess, deaths in week 6 might end up about 400.

It looks as though weekly deaths by date of death, in England and Wales, is approaching a plateau of about 400 after which the death rate can be expected to rise a little, tracking hospital admissions two weeks or so ago (arising from the Kraken Wave).

Comparison with deaths from all causes

Averaged over recent years roughly 1,700 people die daily from all causes in the UK, so currently COVID deaths are about 4% of all deaths.

Many of these are said to be people who die a few months earlier than they might otherwise do. COVID is perhaps an extra burden which pushes the very frail over the edge.

Click for ONS Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights: Deaths

NHS England figures

Daily COVID hospital death figures in England show some scatter, but charting them confirms the daily death rate peaked about 1st January 2023 and that since then the daily death rate has fallen by roughly 50%.

NHS England figures for Worcestershire

The table below shows the latest COVID deaths in Worcestershire hospitals reported by NHS England on 23th February 2023.

Worcestershire Cumulative deaths Past week
Acute hospitals 1,262 +5
Care hospitals 96 +0
TOTAL 1,358 +5

Excludes deaths in care homes, deaths at home and deaths in hospices.

Note: the increase is the difference between this week's cumulative total and that last reported.

Click for NHS COVID-19 total announced deaths

Look for COVID Total announced deaths file, then select tab Deaths by Trust.

Note: NHS say all deaths are recorded against the date of death rather than the date the deaths were announced. As from 1st July 2022 reporting has moved to publication once per week on a Thursday, rather than every weekday.

Risk of COVID-19 death by age band

NHS England provides an analysis of COVID-19 deaths in hospital in England and Wales by age band. Shown below is a snapshot of 2,898 deaths for the period 6th May 2022 to 6th July 2022 when most of these deaths will have been from the Omicron variants.

Age band Number of COVID deaths % of deaths
0 - 19 8 0.3
20 - 39 25 0.9
40 - 59 165 5.7
60 - 79 1,010 34.9
80+ 1,692 58.4

Relative risk of COVID-19 death by age band May - July 2022

The main point to note is those aged 60+ still account for 93% of deaths despite young people being more likely to catch COVID-19.

The risk profile for Omicron appears to be the same as for Delta. Age is still the greatest risk factor; perhaps reflecting that older people have more health problems.

According to the Coronavirus Dashboard sex is an additional risk factor - males are roughly 50% more likely to die than women; possibly because women have a stronger immune system

triangleHealthcare numbers

The UK government Coronavirus Dashboard includes information about healthcare statistics and NHS bed occupancy.

Hospital COVID cases (England) Number Last week
Patients currently in hospital 8,015 +806
Patients on ventilation 164 +27
Patients admitted daily 897 +97

Headline summary of patients in hospital reported on 23rd February 2023

The number of COVID patients in hospital and on ventilators in England continued to rise slowly last week.

NHS England daily admissions show considerable scatter, but fell to a minimum of about 550 patients per day in the middle of January, since showing a gradual rise towards 900 patients per day. This may be caused by the Kraken virus, a highly infectious sub-variant of Omicron 'exported' from the USA.

Note: 'Patients admitted daily' is the weekly total divided by 7. This number includes both patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 from the community, and those diagnosed with COVID-19 in hospital.

See charts on the Coronavirus Dashboard and below.

Bed numbers by region in England

Tabulated figures for COVID bed occupancy in England can be found on the NHS England website providing another indicator of the prevalence of COVID.

Click for NHS England COVID-19 Hospital bed Activity statistics

Note: see the latest Daily Admissions and Beds spreadsheets, then look for all COVID beds.

Region 16th February 2023 23rd February 2023 15th January 2021
England 7,209 8,015 33,362
London 1,104 1,264 7,811
Midlands 1,369 1,539 5,890

Comparison of All beds COVID data for England, London and Midlands

In the last week the number of COVID-19 General and Acute beds rose by 11% in England, 14% in London and 12% in the Midlands.

For comparison, the number of beds occupied during the peak of the epidemic in January 2021 is shown in red in the right hand column of the table.

The chart below shows how COVID bed occupancy has continued to creep up in the last week.

Note: the peak in beds is usually one week delayed on the peak in daily admissions, and deaths roughly lag beds by a further week.

COVID beds

COVID bed occupancy in England from 1st October to 23rd February 2023

There is just a hint in the chart above that the present wave of COVID could level off at somewhere between 8,500 and 9,000 beds.

Green triangleWorcestershire hospital beds

Between 14th February 2023 and 20th February 2023, 29 patients went into hospital with coronavirus. This shows an increase of 16% compared to the previous 7 days. There were 39 patients in hospital with coronavirus on 22nd February 2023, two more than the week before; none on a ventilator.

Click for Summary of Malvern numbers on the Coronavirus dashboard

This link also reports deaths.

Deaths in Malvern Hills

Between 12th February 2023 and 18th February 2023 there was 1 death within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.

Forecast for the week ahead

COVID related weekly deaths registered in England and Wales could dip to about 400 in week 7 of 2023 to be reported by the ONS on 28th February as a result of the recent dip in COVID bed occupancy.

In the county of Worcestershire, based on 29 new hospital cases last week and assuming the ratio of all deaths (including those in care homes and at home) to be 1:11 of admissions, then one might expect no more than 3 COVID deaths per week in early March 2023.

NHS COVID bed occupancy in England could rise by about 10% next week if the present trend persists.

Longer term outlook

The weekly COVID ONS death rate (by date of death) in England and Wales peaked at about 799 deaths per week around 1st January 2023 roughly coinciding with a peak in hospital bed occupancy of 9,500.

Hospital bed occupancy is now around 8,015 beds, and rising once again, which suggests the ONS death rate may begin creeping up from 400 towards 675 deaths per week in early March.

If the present wave of cases is near its peak, we could see hospital bed occupancy beginning to level off next week.

There seems a fair chance that the COVID death rate will remain 'acceptably low' (which we define as below 100 COVID deaths per day) until at least Autumn 2023.

UCL modelling

The latest UCL projection (likely to be updated on 25th February) is that the 7-day average of daily (certified) deaths should fall to about 50 per day (350 per week) and peak at around 100 per day (700 per week) about 10th April 2023.

Based upon present trends, that projection looks credible.

Click for UCL Long-term forecasting of the COVID-19 epidemic


Advice for SeniorsCOVID risk high

We judge the risk of exposure to COVID-19 has risen to MODERATELY HIGH in England, but remember there are many other respiratory viruses circulating that could make you feel just as sick.

BUT, we see no evidence that COVID is currently causing alarming numbers of people in Worcestershire to fall severely ill; so for most, the risk might perhaps now be considered LOW; see our riskometer opposite.

Many, perhaps most, healthy people continue to take the view that COVID is no longer a critical threat to their health.

For the more cautious the simple safeguards to protect against all respiratory infections, are to:

  • make sure your vaccinations are up to date;

  • 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);

  • ideally wear either a well fitting FACE covering,  or better still an FFP2 (N95) face mask when in crowded settings for example when in shops, theatres, health-care settings, when using public transport, and travelling by air;

  • SPACE at least 2 metres from people you don't feel safe with (see note 2);

  • preferably socialise with friends and other households outdoors in the FRESH AIR else, if you are indoors, either ventilate by keeping windows open as far as is practicable or consider putting a HEPA air purifier in the room;

  • avoid crowded indoor settings and friends and colleagues with cold and flu like symptoms;

  • stay at home to protect others if you yourself feel unwell with cold or flu like symptoms;

  • respect others and give them space;


1) Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face to avoid transferring virus from contaminated surfaces to your mouth, eyes and nose. If outdoors, for example filling the car up with fuel, either wash hands with an alcohol based hand gel after touching suspect surfaces or wear gloves.

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

3) If you are 'clinically vulnerable' consult your GP or specialist; you may need to take a test and consider anti viral drugs if testing positive.



NHS hospital COVID bed occupancy rose a further 11% this week and consequently it's very likely the death rate will rise proportionally to about 675 deaths per week in England and Wales during March.

However the Zoe data suggests cases may now be levelling off and could be beginning to fall so there is a chance that for the foreseeable future the death rate will remain 'acceptably low' - based on our criterion of < 100 COVID deaths per day.

In one of his YouTube videos Dr John Campbell suggests the recent ONS report about the effectiveness of the vaccines is badly flawed and should be ignored.

Click for Excess deaths discussion

(We had mentioned this ONS report last week)

COVID video updates

Links to updates by Professor Tim Spector of the Zoe Health Study, Independent SAGE  and pundit Dr John Campbell can sometimes be found here:-

Prof Tim Spector seems to have moved on to monitoring other health issues, food science and writing books. Three weeks ago Tim was back on the air with a short update on COVID.

Click to watch Zoe Health Study video: COVID update + eating plants increases energy by 10% on 3rd February 2023

The last Independent SAGE update was on 17th February.

Click to watch Independent SAGE update on 17th February 2023

Join Independent SAGE for a session on the Covid Pledge (about employers making workplaces safer for employees) hosted by Prof Stephen Reicher and Janet Newsham, with guests Lara Wong and James Robinson; Dr Stephen Griffin as chair and Dr Kit Yates on numbers.


List of vaccines

Section deleted. Refer to archived pages for historical information about vaccines.


Some of this information is now out of date but provides a historical context to the epidemic.

Information about Coronavirus can be found on the NHS website:




About COVID symptoms

Note: the list of symptoms was updated on 1st April 2022

Article about the effects of Wuhan Coronavirus on the human body


Reporting and how to obtain a test

How to get a test


About joining the Zoe COVID Symptom Study:




UK government Coronavirus guidance

See also - government sets out next steps for living with COVID

COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 for England

UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) website


COVID Alert states

Guidance on UK COVID-19 alert level methodology: an overview

COVID-19 Alert Level lowered to 3 on 10th May 2021



Guidance on tiers: what you need to know

Government postcode checker to find tier for other areas



UK government COVID-19: Omicron daily overview

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 on COVID intensive care beds - see intensive care national audit and research centre (ICNARC) website

Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard

Worcestershire COVID-19 Vaccinations Dashboard


HSA COVID-19 vaccine weekly surveillance reports

Information about NHS hospital bed numbers: past, present, future


A glimpse of the worldwide vaccination situation can be found on the Our World in Data website.

Click for chart showing % vaccinated


A video with Dr John Campbell and mathematician Professor Fenton explaining the various ways in which RISK can be specified.

Risks and benefits with Professor Fenton



A forecast of the progression of the COVID-19 epidemic can be found on a University College London (UCL) website.

Click for UCL Long-term forecasting of the COVID-19 epidemic

A 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



Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights by ONS

A live roundup of the latest data and trends about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from the ONS and other sources.


MedRxiv is a US preprint server for Health Sciences. A depository for reports which have still to be peer reviewed.

COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing the long-term effects of COVID-19

NICE guidance on managing Long COVID


The bigger picture

Worldometer summary of coronavirus cases worldwide

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control info


World Health Organisation info



Window on the USA

Centre for Disease Control (CDC)

CDC COVID Data Tracker

Find maps and charts tracking cases, deaths, and trends of COVID-19 in the United States.

American Association of Retired People (AARP)



A local summary of COVID data can be found on the Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard.

Note 1: use the arrow <> buttons at the bottom of the Dashboard screen to move between pages.

Note 2: the figures for COVID cases are becoming meaningless as testing is run down.

Note 3:  deaths are on page 7, and hospital beds on page 9.

Click for Worcestershire County Council COVID-19 news

There is a colourful webpage offering advice on learning to live with COVID for those aged under 30 years. 'Rona' is slang for Coronavirus.

Click for The Worcestershire 'Rona' Hub

COVID Outbreak Control Plan

Click for Simple Summary of Malvern numbers on the Coronavirus dashboard



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

Views of Prof Christina Pagel, a member of Independent SAGE

Follow Christina Pagel 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



Woolhouse, Professor Mark, The Year the World went Mad, published 2022 by Sandstone Press Ltd, ISBN: 978-1-913207-94-3

Medinger Dez, Altmann Danny, The Long Covid Handbook, Penguin Books, 2022. Kindle version available.


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The interpretations and opinions expressed are our own