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Home How likely are you to catch Covid-19 if you live in Buckinghamshire – weeks from 21 September to 12 October

How likely are you to catch Covid-19 if you live in Buckinghamshire – weeks from 21 September to 12 October

The number of people infected with Covid-19 in Buckinghamshire has risen very sharply in the last week, after having risen rapidly for eleven weeks in a row. The Covid-19 situation in Bucks is now dangerous for older and clinically susceptible people. Read on to learn more…

BuDS is continuing to warn older and disabled people in Bucks who are clinically more likely to die or be seriously ill if they catch Covid-19 that they need to radically change their behaviour NOW to protect themselves. Although the Government has not yet re-started formal shielding, BuDS feels older and clinically-susceptible people need to start to self-isolate themselves for their own safety. See this link for details: https://buds.org.uk/high-risk-people-should-start-self-isolating-1-october/.

ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

This article is designed to help you understand the risk of catching Covid-19 if you live in Buckinghamshire today, Monday 12th October. BuDS researchers have looked at data and statistics which have been published by Government, NHS and academic bodies, and a clinical epidemiologist has reviewed all our work. We are confident that what we say is as accurate and balanced as it can be using public data.

You catch Covid-19 from being around other people who have Covid-19, so understanding how many people have the virus right now in Buckinghamshire is important to understanding how risky it is to meet other people. (If you would like to know more about how you catch Covid-19, please use this link: https://buds.org.uk/how-do-people-catch-covid-19/)

THE RISK OF MEETING AN INFECTED PERSON IN BUCKS – STEP ONE

The way we normally calculate this risk is by looking at the number of people from Bucks testing positive for Covid-19 in the last three weeks. We know from the World Health Organisation that most people outside hospital have active symptoms of coronavirus for around three weeks1, so these are the people who potentially could infect you. However, we are also aware that the privatised Test & Trace system is struggling to cope, with many people in Bucks reporting that they were unable to get a test when they needed one. For this reason, we are calculating the risk in three different ways.

FIRST WAY OF CALCULATING RISK

The first way of calculating risk is by looking only at published data about positive tests from Public Health England data. This says that, in the three weeks between 21st September and 11th October, 693 people had symptoms of Covid-19, got a test, and then tested positive for Covid-19 in Bucks2. We know, however, that because many people in Bucks were unable to get a test, this may not accurately reflect the total number of infected people.

SECOND WAY OF CALCULATING RISK

The second way is by looking at the average regional ‘R-Rate’ calculated by Public Health England and applying it to the published data from Public Health England for the three weeks prior to last week. The ‘R-Rate’ shows how quickly the number of infected people was rising across London and the South East of England, including Buckinghamshire, based on a large-scale survey of people. Using this independently-calculated measure, there should have been 538 people testing positive in Bucks. This shows that the number of infected people in Bucks is now rising faster than the average across London and the South East.

THIRD WAY OF CALCULATING RISK

The third way is by looking at the maximum regional ‘R-Rate’ calculated by Public Health England and applying it to the published data from Public Health England for the three weeks prior to last week. The ‘R-Rate’ shows how quickly the number of infected people was rising across London and the South East of England, including Buckinghamshire, based on a large-scale survey of people. Using this independently-calculated measure, there could have been 835 people testing positive in Bucks. This shows that the number of infected people in Bucks, while rising faster than the average across London and the South East, is thankfully not rising as fast as it could.

THE RISK OF MEETING AN INFECTED PERSON IN BUCKS – STEP TWO

We know from published studies that about 80% of people with Covid-19 show no symptoms and so are not tested3. Adding these untested people to our three totals gives us these final figures:

Actual published data (with struggling  testing system): 3465 people with Covid-19 in Bucks

Calculated result if average regional ‘R-Rate’ applied: 2689 people with Covid-19 in Bucks.

Calculated result if maximum regional ‘R-Rate’ applied: 4175 people with Covid-19 in Bucks.

Of these three measures, we feel that the calculations using the testing figures from Public Health England are most likely to be closest to the true picture despite the issues with the testing system, and so we are using in it in the rest of this article.

At least some of these 3465 people with Covid-19 will be showing symptoms and self-isolating or even in hospital. Some sadly may have died and some may no longer be infectious. Some may have been traced by NHS Track & Trace and told to self-isolate. However, for the purposes of calculating risk, we will take the ‘worst case’ scenario and assume that every infected person is still out in the community potentially able to infect you. How likely are you to meet them?

3465 people in the population of Bucks is about 64 people in every 10,000 people, or 6 in every 1000 people4. The population of Aylesbury is about 60,0005, so (mathematically) there could be roughly 382 people infected with Covid-19 living in the whole of the town. High Wycombe has a population of 120,0006, so (mathematically) there could be roughly 764 people infected with Covid-19 living in the whole of the town. On a busy Saturday, about 8 to 12,000 people might travel through Aylesbury or Wycombe town centres, and perhaps 51 to 76 of them (mathematically) would be infected with Covid-19. A large event like Parklife or the Bucks County Show attracts over 20,000 people over the day and (mathematically) 127 of those people will be infected with Covid-19. In a big, busy, supermarket or store with 1000 customers, (mathematically) there will be 6 or 7 people infected with Covid-19.

Last week, looking at the three weeks before 28th September, we reported that there were around 2210 infected people in Buckinghamshire (calculated using the average R-rate). This week, positive tests in Bucks have risen to 3465, an increase of 64% over our reported figure last week (and 88% larger than the previous number of positive tests). This shows that the number of infected people in Bucks is now growing very fast, although the overall number is still not as high as seen in other areas of England. There has been an exponential7 increase in the numbers of infected people in Buckinghamshire for 11 weeks now. You can see a graph of the increase here: https://buds.org.uk/numbers-of-people-in-buckinghamshire-testing-positive-for-covid-19-over-a-rolling-3-week-period/

HOW BUCKINGHAMSHIRE COMPARES WITH OTHER PLACES

The Government and local councils are imposing restrictions and local lockdowns in many areas of the UK to limit the spread of Covid-19. While Government and councils take many factors into account when deciding to impose local restrictions, what is called the ‘local rate of infection’ is often quoted as one of the main reasons. If this rate gets too high, restrictions are imposed, and if the rate is below a certain level, extra restrictions are not imposed, or they are removed.

To calculate the ‘local rate of infection’, Public Health England divide the total number of people who have ever tested positive for Covid-19 in an area by the population of that area. This isn’t a useful figure for deciding how risky a place is right now, but it does provide a way to compare one area with another. Using this calculation method, Buckinghamshire has a ‘local infection rate’ of 518.4 per 100,000 population, an increase over the 448.4 of last week. Leeds was placed into local lockdown 5 weeks ago when it had a rate figure of approximately 600, which means that Buckinghamshire has a rate over five-sixths of that at which a local lockdown may be imposed. So, while Buckinghamshire is not yet somewhere the Government might impose a local lockdown is needed now, it is still rapidly moving towards that state. (This all might change after 12 October if the Government introduce a new lockdown system).

THINGS TO REMEMBER

These are mathematical calculations, not actual predictions. There could be more infected people actually present on any one day in any place than the numbers suggest, or fewer.

Infections usually occur in small areas as ‘hotspots’, but BuDS does not have access to the figures to know if these exist in Buckinghamshire. Buckinghamshire Council has warned that there is a particularly high number of cases in South Bucks and Wycombe, but has not provided any detail of this.

As the Chief Medical Officer warned recently, one person with Covid-19 could infect dozens or even hundreds of other people if precautions aren’t taken to limit infection.8 Small numbers can rapidly become large numbers, which is why social distancing, washing hands and wearing face masks remains vital to keep numbers low. If people neglect or refuse to take sensible precautions like face coverings and hand washing, the number of cases and risk will rapidly rise.

Also, of course. you don’t necessarily have to meet 1000 people to meet one with Covid-19. The first person you see in the street or supermarket might be the one person with Covid-19.

IF YOU ARE NOT HIGH RISK FROM COVID-19

If you are not high risk of being seriously ill or dying if you catch Covid-19, you should still reduce your risk of catching and spreading the virus by using sensible safety precautions and avoiding higher risk people. Sensible precautions include using a face mask or face covering, avoiding higher risk places and people, washing your hands frequently and using social distancing to keep away from people who might infect you. See links below for more information.

IF YOU ARE HIGHER RISK FROM COVID-19

Despite the rise in infections all over the UK, the Government is continuing to allow workplaces, pubs, restaurants, schools, and universities to remain open, although people are now being encouraged to work from home if they can. This is rightly making many people anxious. The science is clear: the more people mix together, especially indoors, the more Covid-19 will spread and the more the numbers of people with Covid-19 will increase. Unlocking society also unlocks the virus.

We have all seen reported in the news that there have been outbreaks of Covid-19 in schools, universities, workplaces, and other places where people gather.(sup>9 This *will* happen in Bucks too as our infection levels continue to rise.

BuDS is continuing to warn older and disabled people in Bucks who are clinically more likely to die or be seriously ill if they catch Covid-19 that they need to radically change their behaviour NOW to protect themselves. Although the Government has not yet re-started formal shielding, BuDS feels older and clinically-susceptible people need to start to self-isolate themselves for their own safety. See this link for details: https://buds.org.uk/high-risk-people-should-start-self-isolating-1-october/.

NEW LOCKDOWN PLANS?

The Prime Minister is due to make a public announcement on Monday 12th October about the Government’s response to the rapid increase in cases. This article was written before this announcement, but details of what is said will be covered on our website and social media after it has been made.

MORE INFORMATION

You can read detailed, fact-checked, advice for school students, staff and families here: https://buds.org.uk/the-risks-of-fully-reopening-schools-to-individuals/

To learn more about the people who are more likely to die or have serious illness if they catch Covid-19, use this link: https://buds.org.uk/how-dangerous-is-covid-19-if-you-catch-it/

To learn more about how face coverings and face masks can protect you, and read our recommendations about using them, click this link: https://buds.org.uk/information-about-face-coverings-and-masks/

WEEKLY UPDATES

BuDS is keeping a very close eye on the statistics and will put out another article next week using the latest figures.

FINALLY

Please feel free to share this article using social media. However, please do not share only parts of it, or edit it, or try to claim that it is your own work. If you do, BuDS may take legal action against you.

 

References
[1] https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf

[2] Based on calculations using rate figures and daily case announcements from the Government – https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/#category=utlas&map=case, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/897199/Weekly_COVID19_Surveillance_report_-_week_27.pdf, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51768274,

[3] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/coronaviruscovid19infectionsinthecommunityinengland/july2020

[4] Assuming population of 543973 based on 2018 survey data, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51768274

[5] https://www.aylesburytowncouncil.gov.uk/about-aylesbury/#:~:text=Aylesbury%2C%20the%20County%20Town%20of%20Buckinghamshire%2C%20is%20a,of%20over%2060%2C000%2C%20the%20largest%20in%20Aylesbury%20Vale.

[6] https://www.wycombe.gov.uk/pages/About-the-council/Transparency-and-open-government/Open-data/Statistics-and-census-information.aspx

[7] Exponential meaning ‘at an ever-faster rate of increase’

[8] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/chief-scientific-advisor-and-chief-medical-officer-briefing-on-coronavirus-covid-19-21-september-2020–2

[9] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/911267/School_Outbreaks_Analysis.pdf