Covid Watch 156: Infection rollercoaster continues as cases rise locally and nationally

Covid Watch 156: Infection rollercoaster continues as cases rise locally and nationally

Covid-19 infection rates are on the up in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin and have stopped falling across England. This was perhaps inevitable after relaxation of social distancing regulations. Social mixing  is increasing and there is growing trend for people not to wear masks in public and enclosed spaces.

While infections rates are rising, there has only been a small increase in hospitalisations due to the effectiveness of the success programme. In Shropshire, 78.4% of adults have received both vaccinations, with a further 7.1% having had their first dose. In Telford & Wrekin, the equivalent figures are 81.1% and 12%.

Everyone 18 or over in England is now eligible for vaccination. All 16 and 17-year-olds in England are to be offered their first coronavirus vaccine dose or the chance to book one by 23 August and will be contacted by GPs or other local NHS service.

Last weekend, I chose to illustrate the Covid Watch edition with a cartoon of a rollercoaster. How apposite that was. There was then already an indication that infection rates locally and across the country had begun to rise. Rates have continued to rise during the last week. In Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin the infection rate now stands at around 250 positive tests per 100,000 people in the seven days to 13 August. Across the UK the rate is similar. In England, it is a little lower at 225. There have been suggestions in letters pages of local newspapers that rates are falling because people aren’t being tested, especially as children are no longer at school. The current data shows that argument to be false.

Although the trend is up, the estimate of the R number, the rate at which Covid-19 is multiplying, is lower at 0.8 to 1.0 – meaning on average every 10 people infected will infect between 8 and 10 other people. That suggests we should see a reduction in positive Covid-19 tests over the next seven days.

Vaccines do not protect entirely against infection but they are proving remarkably effective at reducing the severity of disease, hospitalisations and admission to intensive care units. The number of admissions of people suffering Covid-19 to the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust hospitals was running above 25 a week in January. Now, after the vaccination drive, under five cases a week are being admitted.  

The infection rate in Ludlow is up from 9 cases a week to 16 cases in the week to 8 August, an infection rate of 146 per 100 thousand people.

The uptick in cases has been in the last ten days and is not yet fully shown in the local area graphs below which end on 8 August.

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