It’s been around five months since lockdown measures were applied across the UK. Since then, a lot has changed in the Covid-19 landscape, not least the statistics. Without further ado, ConservativeHome looks at the current data – and what the future implications could be.
In recent weeks, cases have been a particular focus for newspapers and politicians, as Blackburn with Darwen, Preston, Burnley, Rossendale, Pendle and Hyndburn, among other areas, had rises in them, hence why new lockdown rules were imposed by the Government.
While there have been Covid-19 spikes, they are not necessarily evidence of a second wave, or that the pandemic is getting worse (far from it). Today’s Government figures show that the number of people who’ve tested positive for Covid-19 today in the UK is 812 (England experienced 707 daily cases, Northern Ireland – 34, Scotland – 50 and Wales – 21), a long way down from May 1, as one example when there were 6,201 daily cases.
It is worth remembering, too, that testing capacity has gone up by hundreds of thousands, so past figures may underestimate cases. Capacity now stands at 326,086, so we can expect to see more localised spikes. The Telegraph has produced a map that currently shows where the most cases are (measured as cases per million), which includes Blackburn with Darwen (1,697 cases at a rate of 11,393 per million), Bradford (5,784 cases at a rate of 10,767 per million), Oldham (2,660 cases at a rate of 11,289 per million) and Leicester (5,464 cases at a rate of 15,382 cases per million).
Even though the Government’s graph for daily cases clearly shows a few upticks towards the end (there are 1,077 cases for August 15 versus 630 cases for July 8, for example), the curve is generally going down. Some of the least affected areas include Dumfries and Galloway, North East Lincolnshire, Devon, and the City of London.
While cases, though generally lower, fluctuate somewhat, deaths show a huge, consistent drop. The daily number of deaths in the UK (within 28 days of a positive test) is now 16 – with the total being 41,397. On April 21, by comparison, there were 1,224 deaths.
Similarly, the graph for hospitalisations shows a dramatic drop from when deaths peaked in April, before trailing off consistently from July.
The daily number of patients admitted is 128, with a total of 133,125 admitted (as of August 5 – the last figures). As of Monday there are 895 patients in hospital and 73 patients on ventilation. It’s worth remembering that 3,483 were admitted in March.
The Office for National Statistics has provided one of the most recent breakdowns of the people that have been most affected by Covid-19.
It analysed nose and throat test swab results from study participants between June 8 and August 2, and found that:
- Asian or Asian British study participants were 4.8 times more likely to test positive than white individuals.
- One-person households were around 2.1 times more likely to test positive than those for two-person households, although there’s no difference for larger households.
In terms of deaths, the ONS analysed 51,879 registered up to August 7 in England and Wales, and found that:
- The majority were among people aged 65 years and older (46,351 out of 51,879).
- There were more deaths among males than females.
- It also found that care homes, hospitals and other communal establishments recorded fewer deaths than the average for this time of year.
One hopes that with this information on people at increased risk for Covid-19, the Government can better its response. If there is a second wave, for instance, it knows that care homes are one of the most vulnerable places, in need of better protection than the first time round.
What the Government should do next
Given that cases are moving about in certain areas, everyone’s energies have become focussed on this metric, as an indicator of whether the UK is being defeated, or not, by the virus.
It must be said time and time again, though, that cases can look worse as a paradox of a rapidly improved testing regime. The more important question about cases may be to ask who they are affecting – a high risk group needs more emergency measures than a low risk one, for instance.
It also must be said that cases cannot be taken alone, as they are so often done, to understand the extent of this pandemic. They have to be looked at along hospitalisations and deaths, which are – by all indications – coming swiftly down.
Though the virus has not gone, people should be encouraged by the levels to which it has declined. With the Government’s central aim being to protect the NHS at the start of the crisis, it’s now time to take stock of the fact it has done so – and move faster towards an economic recovery.