Steve August 1, 2020
coronavirus-in-the-uk:-how-many-confirmed-cases-are-there-in-your-area?

Bournemouth beach packed with holidaymakers as heatwave continues in England

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There have been more than 300,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far in the UK and more than 40,000 people have died, government figures show. However, these numbers include only people tested, and the actual death toll is higher.

Following a review of the way coronavirus deaths are counted, the death toll in England has been reduced from 46,706 to 41,329.

New rules mean deaths will be included in the coronavirus total only if they occurred within 28 days of a positive test – this brings England into line with the other UK nations. Previously all deaths after a positive test were included.

Here we a take a look at some of the key figures of the pandemic in the UK – estimates of the death toll and number of cases. You can also find out more about cases in your area using our search tool below.

Find out how the pandemic has affected your area and how it compares with the national average:

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Rise in new cases amid concern over hotspots

Daily confirmed cases are starting to edge up again after they fell significantly from their April peak as a result of lockdown restrictions imposed a month earlier.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the government now has to “squeeze that brake pedal” and has postponed further easing of measures across England.

Another 1,009 cases were confirmed on Wednesday across the UK.

However, these daily confirmed case numbers released by the Department of Health and Social Care mask the fact that the number of tests being carried out is also increasing – and these tests are targeted at areas where infection rates are highest.

As BBC health correspondent Nick Triggle points out, if you are testing more, you are likely to find more cases.

And if you look at the percentage of tests coming back positive, the rise in cases becomes marginal, once daily fluctuations are taken into account, he says.

Separate data released last week from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), which surveys a sample of households in England for current infection – not including care homes or hospitals – also suggests the rise in cases may be levelling off.

The UK does, however, currently have a number of local “hotspots” of cases of the virus, which was first confirmed in the UK in January.

More than six million people in England are living in areas where coronavirus appears to be rising quickly again.

Last Friday, Preston in Lancashire was added to the list of places, many in the north-west of the country, where lockdown measures have been re-introduced.

In Scotland, a local lockdown has been imposed in Aberdeen.

A Covid-19 watchlist is produced by Public Health England, based on an assessment of incidence rates, and other indicators such as trends in testing, healthcare activity and deaths.

Along with the UK, several countries across Europe have reported a recent rise in cases. Spain has seen a particularly sharp increase.

Decline in daily deaths has slowed

While the number of new confirmed cases of coronavirus is rising again, government-announced deaths have continued to fall since a peak in mid-April.

The new method for counting deaths – including only those within 28 days of a positive test – has reduced the overall UK coronavirus death total by 12%. Previously all deaths after a positive test regardless of caused were included in the figures.

Prof John Newton, director of health improvement at Public Health England, said: “The way we count deaths in people with Covid-19 in England was originally chosen to avoid underestimating deaths caused by the virus in the early stages of the pandemic.”

But he said the new methods of calculating deaths from the virus would give “crucial information about both recent trends and overall mortality burden due to Covid-19”.

New weekly totals giving the number of deaths in England within 60 days of a positive test will also be released. Deaths occurring after this time will also be added to the total if Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate.

On Wednesday, 20 new deaths were reported across the UK, using the new counting method.

There were five deaths reported in Wales. There were no coronavirus-related deaths reported in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Deaths are published on the government’s coronavirus dashboard.

England has seen the majority of deaths. Using the 28 day cut-off, there have been just under 37,000.

Overall death toll could be more than 60,000

When looking at the overall death toll from coronavirus, official figures count such deaths in three different ways.

Public Health England counts people who tested positive for coronavirus and died within 28 days.

But the ONS publishes weekly updates using two other measures.

The first includes all deaths where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate, even if the person had not been tested for the virus. The latest figures using this measure suggest there had been more than 56,000 deaths by 31 July.

The ONS also looks at all UK deaths over and above the number usually expected for the time of year – known as excess deaths. The latest figures for this measure show the death toll was just under 64,000 by 31 July.

In recent weeks, figures used in this third measure have actually been falling.

This is because the number of deaths from all causes registered in a single week – including coronavirus – has now stayed below the five-year average for seven weeks in a row.

Of the deaths registered in England and Wales the week to 31 July, 193 involved coronavirus, or just 2.2% of the total of 8,946.

Figures released by the ONS at the end of July show that England had the highest levels of excess deaths in Europe between the end of February and the middle of June.

Some areas of Spain and Italy were harder hit than UK cities. But ONS analysis shows the epidemic in the UK was more widespread than in other countries. Scotland saw the third highest death rate in Europe – behind England and Spain. Wales was in fifth place and Northern Ireland in eighth.

The government has argued it is too soon to make definitive international comparisons but, as the impact of the first wave becomes clear in many countries, analysis is beginning to suggest the UK has been the hardest hit of the leading G7 nations.

What is the R number in the UK?

The “R number” is the average number of people an infected person will pass the disease on to.

If R is below one, then the number of people contracting the disease will fall; if it is above one, the number will grow.

The current estimate by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, known as Sage, for the R number across the whole of the UK is between 0.8 and 1.0 as of 7 August.

The estimate for England is between 0.8 and 1.0, while for Scotland it is between 0.6 and 1.0. The estimate for Wales 0.7-0.9.

In Northern Ireland, it is between 0.8 and 1.8, which means it is “highly likely to be over 1”, according to the department of health.

While the government has said in the past that the R number is one of the most important factors in deciding when lockdown measures can be eased, it now says these estimates do not fully represent current infection levels.

Sage says it is no longer confident R is below 1 in England. It says models using testing data, rather than epidemiological data such as hospital admissions, to predict transmission rates are suggesting higher values for R and these are likely to be reflected in the coming weeks.

from the BBC

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