Blackpool Coronavirus Weekly Summary
Last Modified 17/09/2020 12:11:12
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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 11 September 2020 but were registered up to 19 September 2020, Blackpool
Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS) - Death registrations and occurences by local authority
In the period up to 19 September, 148 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. All regions recorded increases in mortality rates involving COVID-19 between March and April, followed by decreases in May, June and July. 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, 1 March to 31 July 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 and pillar 2 confirmed cases, for Blackpool residents over time.
Blackpool - COVID-19 Daily lab-confirmed cases to 20 September 2020
In the period up to 20 September, 1,276 residents of Blackpool tested positive for COVID-19 in pillar 1 and 2 testing.
The number of confirmed cases each day, across the UK, is increasing exponentially and is now similar to numbers last seen in the middle of May. The map below shows the higher rates of COVID-19 across the North West and increasing rates spreading across the country.
Weekly rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population, tested under Pillar 1 and 2, by upper-tier local authority – 7 to 13 September 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 59,800 people (95% credible interval: 46,900 to 75,200) within the community population in England had COVID-19 during the most recent week, from 4 - 10 September 2020, equating to around 1 in 900 individuals.
The charts below present estimates of infection rates over time. While the percentage of individuals testing positive for COVID-19 has decreased since the start of the study (26 April 2020), the most recent modelled estimate shows the number of infections has increased in recent weeks. There is clear evidence of more young people, aged under 35, testing positive.
The modelled estimates for the latest six-week period are based on 208,730 swab tests collected over this period. During these weeks, 136 individuals from 118 households tested positive. Both these estimates are presented below and are used to interpret change over time.
Estimated percentage of the population in England testing positive on nose and throat swabs for the coronavirus (COVID-19) daily
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 is similar to the value for the United Kingdom as a whole.
Latest R number range for the UK -
Range for the UK 1.1 - 1.4
Range for the North West 1.2 - 1.5
Last updated on Friday 18 September 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 +2 to +7
Range for the North West +3 to +8
Last updated on Friday 18 September 2020
For further information, please see The R number and growth rate in the UK