Somerset COVID 19 figures – still no panic

If you look for a headline figure in the latest COVID 19 figures, you might take cases in the last 7 days. The number of new cases is 173. It is significantly higher than in recent weeks. Over the past month the number of cases reported in the Somerset County Council area has varied , 26 one week, 74 the next and 58 before that. But is it cause for alarm?

Not yet. But before we go into that, here is the weekly Leveller health warning about what the figures are and what they are not. Unlike NHS data these numbers include care homes and incidences of COVID 19 “at home”. The data is prepared to 3 October for cases (although different dates are used for some of the other figures – for instance deaths are reported to 18 September). The reason for this delay is to keep the numbers accurate. The daily totals published by the NHS are subject to constant revision, as not unreasonably, the data is constantly being updated to improve accuracy. It is also worth noting that the SCC area does not include North Somerset (so Weston hospital) or BANES (So the RUH in Bath) both of which are separate administrative areas.

That said, where does this leave us. Firstly there can be no denying that there has been a significant rise in the number of cases. These are cases confirmed with a COVID 19 test. But there are two factors we have to bear in mind as well.

Firstly these numbers are very small compared to most areas of the country. The NHS COVID 19 app (not the test and trace one) suggests the South West still has the lowest estimated case load in the country. The App uses data from 4.3m users to estimate the prevalence of the outbreak around the country. Only Exeter (a university town) and Purbeck council areas have cases running at more than 3,000 per million residents.

Secondly, the numbers are rising from a very low base. Yes we have seen nearly 2.5 times the number of cases since last weekly report. But that is still only an increase of 99 cases.

But the fact that the number is increasing does remind us of the importance of adhering to government guidelines on wearing a mask in enclosed spaces, keeping social distancing rules and now, getting the flu vaccination. And of course that also means gathering in groups of no more than 6 people. As we reported last week, the Police are ready to take action if people persistently refuse to obey the law.

Sadly we have to report a COVID 19 related death this week (albeit the latest figures are actually for the week ended 18 September). The death was in a hospital not a care home. However that is the first COVID 19 related death in our area for over a month and the total in Somerset is still relatively small at 207.

As ever we have produced the data for anyone who is interested in reading the detail and drawing their own conclusions.

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