It’s good news but we can’t yet be confident. Covid rates have been falling rapidly in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. Could our status be changed to Tier 1 on Wednesday? I hope so but there are signals are that we may have to continue in Tier 2 until the next review. There is growing nervousness that rates are going up in some parts of the country and that increased travel, shopping and social engagement over the Christmas and New Year break could spread Covid-19.
The headline Shropshire rate was 71 cases per 100,000 people over the seven days to 11 December (over 60 years, 59). The Telford and Wrekin rate was 114 (over 60 years, 81). Both rates were low and falling. On 8 December, 51 Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust beds were occupied by patients with Covid-19 and that is also falling. Cases in Ludlow have risen but remain low.
Many areas of England are thought to be in the wrong tier. London is looking to head up to Tier 3. Quieter areas like Shropshire are hoping for Tier 1. The review on Wednesday is expected to address this, with any changes coming into effect on Saturday 19 December. In this we must move with Telford and Wrekin because we have a common health system. Although rates in Telford have been higher than in Shropshire, they are dropping rapidly especially in the critical age group of the over sixties.
Hospital bed occupancy is also dropping. In mid-November more than 80 of the 713 overnight beds at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust were occupied by patients with Covid-19. By 8 December, Covid occupancy was down to 51 beds. We need every bed we can get in the winter season.
Covid related deaths are reducing in the county’s hospitals but we need to be cautious about the data. There is around a three week lag between people showing Covid-19 symptoms and hospitalisation if required.
Many areas of Shropshire now have fewer than 3 cases a week, shown as white on the map. Shrewsbury is down from more than 30 cases a week a month ago to 10 cases. In Ludlow, cases have risen to seven a week, a rate of 64 cases per 100,000 people over the seven days to 6 December (the most recent local data).
The government will use five main indicators to establish which tier an area will be in:
- Case detection rates in all age groups
- Case detection rates in the over 60s
- The rate at which cases are rising or falling
- Positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
- Pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy.