The message from this afternoon’s data release from National Health England is that we must be careful here in Shropshire but there is no reason to panic. The data have been published as we expect more localised lockdowns, especially in the north of England and the central belt of Scotland. Wales already has many lockdowns.
The upwards trend in cases in Shropshire started three weeks ago during Week 38. The essential data for Ludlow is that there have been 12 positive tests during that period. In the previous three weeks, there were no reported positive tests. Across Shropshire there were 343 positive tests, well up from the 35 positives in the prior three weeks. In Telford and Wrekin there were 172 positives – compared to just 29 in the three weeks before.
We have a clearer picture of the trends in Covid-19 positive tests in today’s data. The data was wrongly reported by National Health England (NHE) towards the end of September due to an unbelievably stupid error in processing. The reporting system was at times reliant on ten-year old spreadsheet software. No one dealing with sensitive data like this should be using outdated software. And this is not a task for spreadsheets. Databases with a full data entry audit trail are essential.
The error meant that there was a catch up last weekend when the records that had literally dropped off the bottom of a spreadsheet were added. That essential action could not have been worse timed as cases were rising. The spike on the right of the graph below is excessively high due to this. But the underlying trend is still upwards.
It is easy to understand why cases are increasingly quickly in cities, especially those with universities. The beginning of university terms has always been a highly social experience. And people are stretching their legs after a year when travel, festivals and so much face-to-face fun was cancelled.
I would like to understand why Ludlow has had twelve cases in three weeks after 17 weeks without a positive test. But Ludlow’s infection rate remains less than half the England average and around 62% of the Shropshire rate.
Life has changed here. But Ludlow still feels like Ludlow. The natural socialising of our town has continued. We are more distant. Our pubs and restaurants have stuck to the rules. When customers haven’t, they are shown the door. People shop locally and I recommend our great open air market.
We are all looking forward to return of some semblance of normality. Given the data released today, that could be months away. There is no need to panic. This was long expected. We don’t need to change what we do. Just do it more carefully.
Infection rates per 100,000 people
Telford and Wrekin: 549.3
Data are for the length of the pandemic. Source.