Blackpool Coronavirus Weekly Summary
Last Modified 23/06/2020 16:42:40
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The trend in deaths of Blackpool residents is shown in the chart below. The orange bars show the deaths identified as COVID-19 on death certificates. The number of deaths quickly came to a peak in mid-April with a slower fall since. The black line allows a comparison of the total number of deaths currently being recorded each week with the average number we have seen in the last five years. This gap between the current number of deaths and what we would expect based on the pattern from previous years is often described as the number of ‘excess deaths’.
Deaths that occured up to 19th June but were registered up to 27th June, Blackpool
Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS) - Death registrations and occurences by local authority
In the period up to 19th June, 133 residents of Blackpool have COVID-19 recorded on their death certificate.
Comparing the numbers of deaths in different areas is more meaningful if we take account of their population sizes and their age and sex distributions. This is particularly important for COVID-19, as we know that it disproportionately impacts older people and to some extent males. The chart below takes these factors into account, and the overlapping confidence intervals tell you that over the peak period of the epidemic Blackpool’s mortality rate was not significantly different from England as a whole or its neighbouring areas. There are many factors that will influence this, but the later onset of the epidemic in Blackpool, arriving 7-14 days later than elsewhere, and the level of transmission within care settings are both very important factors.
Mortality rates for deaths mentioning COVID-19, 1st March to 31st May 2020
Source: ONS - Deaths involving COVID-19 by local area and socioeconomic deprivation
Testing for COVID-19 allows the diagnosis of an individual, but also allows us to track the progress of the epidemic. Testing has been undertaken in two ‘pillars’:
- Pillar 1: swab testing in Public Health England (PHE) labs and NHS hospitals for those with a clinical need, and health and care workers
- Pillar 2: swab testing for the wider population, as set out in government guidance
Pillar 1 testing has been undertaken since very early in the epidemic, whereas pillar 2 testing was introduced gradually from mid-April. The chart below tracks pillar 1 confirmed cases, for Blackpool residents over time.
Blackpool - COVID-19 Daily pillar 1 lab-confirmed cases - to 24th June 2020
In the period up to 24th June, 682 residents of Blackpool tested positive for COVID-19 in pillar 1 testing.
The number of confirmed cases each day, across the UK, is approximately a tenth of what it was at the peak of the epidemic. By combining the number of cases confirmed by pillar 1 and 2 testing, we can get an idea of the current position. The map below shows that the North West currently has a higher rate of confirmed cases than other regions.
Weekly rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population, tested under Pillar 1 and 2, by upper-tier local authority – 15th June to 21st June 2020
Source: Public Health England - National COVID-19 surveillance reports
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey pilot
COVID-19 can present as a mild illness in many people and can be totally asymptomatic in others. This means that many people who have COVID-19 will not be tested for the virus, and therefore testing cannot give us a complete picture of what is happening. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the University of Oxford are conducting the Coronavirus Infection Survey Pilot to assess the incidence (the number of new cases per week) and the prevalence (the number of people who have the virus at any one time) of COVID-19, as well as to gain further insight into what factors influence catching the virus.
- Prevalence: An estimated average of 51,000 people (95% confidence interval: 21,000 to 105,000) within the community in England had COVID-19 between 8 June and 21 June 2020.
The chart below shows that there is strong evidence, from the survey, that the prevalence of COVID-19 across England has continued to fall during the month of May, and this decline is significant.
Estimated percentage of the population in England testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) by week since the start of the study, 26th April 2020
Source: ONS - COVID-19 Infection SurveyNotes:1.These statistics refer to infections reported in the community, by which is meant private households. These figures exclude infections reported in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.2.It is important to note that the results for the most recent period are provisional, as the CIS is still receiving swab test results. This may result in further revisions to the figure.
The reproduction number (R) is the average number of secondary infections produced by 1 infected person.
An R number of 1 means that on average every person who is infected will infect 1 other person, meaning the total number of new infections is stable. If R is 2, on average, each infected person infects 2 more people. If R is 0.5 then on average for each 2 infected people, there will be only 1 new infection. If R is greater than 1 the epidemic is generally seen to be growing, if R is less than 1 the epidemic is shrinking.
R is not the only important measure of the epidemic. R indicates whether the epidemic is getting bigger or smaller but not how large it is. The number of people currently infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) – and so able to pass it on – is very important.
The R value cannot be measured or calculated directly but must be inferred from the trend observed in epidemiological data such as hospital admissions, ICU admissions and deaths.
The estimated R values for areas with smaller populations are much less certain, as there is less information available to produce a model. A number of models have been created to estimate an R value for the North West of England. These models currently suggest the R value for the North West may be slightly higher than the value for the United Kingdom as a whole, but is likely to remain below 1.
Latest R number range for the UK -
Range for the UK 0.7 - 0.9
Range for the North West 0.7 - 1.0
Last updated on Friday 25h June 2020
The growth rate reflects how quickly the number of infections are changing day by day and it is an approximation of the change in number infections each day. If the growth rate is greater than zero (+ positive), then the disease will grow. If the growth rate is less than zero (- negative) then the disease will shrink.
The size of the growth rate indicates the speed of change. A growth rate of +5% will grow faster than one with a growth rate of +1%. Likewise, a disease with a growth rate of -4% will be shrinking faster than a disease with growth rate of -1%.
Latest growth rates (percentage per day)
Range for the UK -4 to -2
Range for the North West -4 to 0
Last updated on Friday 25th June 2020
For further information, please see The R number and growth rate in the UK