Coronavirus: Testing figures unclear amid fears of ‘second wave’

Katherine Johnston (05 August, 2020)

Published statistics do not include regional numbers

35313Picture of the coronavirus

The number of lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Southwark remains under 1,500 – but is a ‘second wave’ already underway?

Last week the government’s own scientific advisory group (SAGE) said that across the UK as a whole the R rate – the number of people one Covid-19 sufferer goes on to infection – was likely at 0.8-0.9; perilously close to the watermark ‘one’ figure.

If R rises above one it would mean the number of new infections is, one again, on the up. On Friday, July 31, their latest report explained: “SAGE does not have confidence that R is currently below one in England.”

In total, 1,493 people have received a positive test in Southwark, with the rate of infection believed to be at around 470.6 people per 100,000. The News reported on April 22 that Southwark had 1,089 confirmed cases.

Although once recording one of the highest numbers of Coronavirus infections, Southwark is now 39th out of all 188 lower tier local authorities for overall infection numbers.

But there is limited data available on testing and, so far, published statistics do not include regional numbers – leaving us unsure how many people are coming forward for tests in the borough, especially since lockdown ended.

Blood donations are analysed for COVID-19 antibodies and in London have consistently shown higher prevalence than in any other part of the country.

It is likely many people with symptoms who do not need to be admitted to hospital, or have a relatively mild experience with the disease, simply ride out their symptoms assuming they’ve had COVID-19 – giving contact tracers a potentially limited pool.

At the end of the second month of test and trace, from July 16-22, across the country 366,397 people were newly tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) with 4,128 getting a positive result.  This was an increase of three per cent from the previous seven days. The highest rates of positive cases continue to be found in the north and midlands.

The same week, out of the 4,242 people transferred to the contact tracing system, 81.4 per cent were reached, 15.7 per cent were not reached and 2.9 per cent had no communication details – percentages consistent since the system launched.

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