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Coronavirus statistical update: UK heads the death toll in Europe but East Sussex numbers remain low

As the coronavirus works its way towards peak effect, HOT is providing a regular update of the statistics for our region and the country provided by the public health authorities and other official sources. Latest figures show that the UK now has the highest death toll in Europe, though East Sussex, in both number of cases and deaths, remains relatively unscathed. Text by Russell Hall, who also prepared the graphics, and Nick Terdre.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that in all settings across Sussex the effect of the coronavirus varies considerably by local authority area, as shown in the map below – tap/hover over the areas to see the statistics by setting for each local authority area.

Hastings has been less severely affected than other Sussex areas so far by the current outbreak, with a total of seven Covid-19 deaths in all settings so far up to 24 April. None of these were recorded as occurring in any of the 66 care homes across town.

The below map shows the number of deaths due to all causes by local area within Hastings – tap/hover over each local area on the map to reveal the number of Covid-19 deaths for that area from 1 March to 17 April. All six Covid-19 deaths to 17 April in Hastings were males.

Below are charts illustrating the course of the epidemic for this area and the UK with all the indicators showing a steady decline.

The graphs in the Data Dashboard below confirm that East Sussex has escaped the effects of the virus relatively lightly – so far. Elsewhere the situation is more serious – the death toll, in particular, remains heavy.

Yesterday the Office for National Statistics reported that up to 27 April the UK’s death toll was 32,313, exceeding Italy’s 29,029 and making the country the worst hit in Europe. The US remains the world’s runaway leader, with deaths just shy of 70,000.

While it is true, as foreign secretary Dominic Raab said, that the figures in different European countries are not collected in the same way, so a straight comparison is not possible, it is also true that they are shockingly high. And if the Italian figures may be an underestimate, as the Italian National Institute of Statistics has said, the same may be true of the UK figures.

How well is the UK doing on testing? On 1 May health secretary Matt Hancock triumphantly claimed that his self-imposed target of 100,000 tests a day had been achieved – in fact, tests on 30 April totalled no fewer than 122, 347.

A little digging by BBC Radio 4 programme More or Less revealed a somewhat different picture. All through April the test figures provided by the government related to the results of tests carried out. The total given for 30 April, however, introduced a new element: the number of home kits posted off. These amounted to some 40,000, or one third of the total figure. They clearly did not involve tests carried out and analysed – in fact, it has transpired that in some cases a return address was not even included in the kit.

It raises the suspicion that a great effort was made to dispatch as many home kits as possible, even if some weren’t ready to be dispatched, in order to enable Hancock to claim that his target had been met.

And even with the addition of the home kits, tests numbers have since slumped back well below 100,000. Whatever testing capacity may be – and it may in theory be above 100,000 – performance is lagging by a significant degree.

Today prime minister Boris Johnson announced a new test target of 200,000 a day by the end of May. Government sources have confirmed that the new target refers to lab capacity rather than individual tests. Current capacity is around 108,000 a day.

The small print explains that the number of tests includes both tests processed through labs and tests sent to individuals at home or in satellite testing locations. Other graphs released in the government’s daily email which aggregate data from more than one source, such as new cases and hospital admissions, use different colours in the bars to indicate the numbers from each source, but the daily tests graph, which made its first appearance on 1 May, does not.

Caveats

A number of caveats need to be borne in mind regarding the PHE statistics:

  1. Cumulative case numbers include people who have recovered.
  2. With respect to testing, cases are reported when lab tests are completed, which may be a few days after initial testing.
  3. Testing capacity is increasing, resulting in a greater number of observed cases.
  4. Testing capacity constraints mean there are likely many more cases than currently recorded here.
  5. Deaths recorded by Public Health England include only those in hospital and exclude those in the community and care homes.
  6. There is a delay in many deaths being recorded from a few days to up to two weeks.
  7. Deaths tend to be recorded around three weeks after first symptoms in fatal cases.

Posted 21:35 Wednesday, May 6, 2020 In: Covid-19

4 Comments

Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Jenny

    Please don’t stop updating the charts. They are really helpful.

    Comment by Jenny — Friday, Jul 3, 2020 @ 22:05

  2. Russell Hall

    Hastings Emergency Action Response Team publishes a list of local food deliveries: https://www.hastingsheart.com/food

    Anyone needing help should ring: 01424 451019

    Hastings Borough Council information: https://www.hastings.gov.uk/my-council/covid19/

    Comment by Russell Hall — Friday, May 8, 2020 @ 05:30

  3. Ann Kramer

    Thank you for printing this regular column. It is very helpful.

    Comment by Ann Kramer — Thursday, May 7, 2020 @ 00:28

  4. Sunbear

    Bravo HOT. Such interesting information as ever. When I see HOT in my in box it is likely to be the first message I open. Always interesting and especially so in these awful circumstances.

    One request. Could you update the delivery information for food – so useful but the information may not may not have originated from you.

    Comment by Sunbear — Wednesday, May 6, 2020 @ 22:21

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