Is the British coronavirus outbreak growing? Symptom tracking app shows daily cases doubled in a week
The British coronavirus outbreak may grow after a spike in the number of people with symptoms in the past week, data suggest.
King’s College London’s COVID Symptom Tracker app estimates that 2,100 people contract the virus every day in the community – compared to 1,400 last week.
The increase is too small to say definitively that the outbreak is growing again because other more official estimates place daily new cases between 1,700 and 3,300 with downward trends.
But the scientists confirmed that the epidemic had “ leveled off completely ” and claimed that cases are only decreasing in the Midlands, where Leicester is located – the city that is still shutting down locally in the UK for the first time.
KCL experts, in collaboration with health technology company ZOE, collected data on symptoms and test results from four million UK citizens between June 28 and July 11. It is one of several surveillance projects that monitor the spread of the disease in Britain.
The vast majority of new cases – 1,843 – occur in England, along with 185 a day in Wales and 75 in Scotland. No estimates have been made for Northern Ireland.
Data show that the virus spreads most in the North East of England and Yorkshire, which still has 401 daily cases.
The second most affected region is the Midlands, where there are 363 new daily cases, many of which would have been in Leicester, which had to reverse the loosening of the lock due to increasing infections.
In the northwest, 321 people catch the virus every day. Some additional restrictions went into effect yesterday in the Blackburn Lancashire authorities with Darwen and Pendle as things resurface.
Professor Tim Spector, an epidemeiologist at KCL and principal investigator behind the app, said it was clear “the virus is not going to go away anytime soon” and that his team was closely monitoring the situation.
The data adds to concerns that pub reopening and lockout rules released on “ Super Saturday ” earlier this month could cause a spike in infections.
King’s College London’s COVID Symptom Tracker app estimates that 2,100 people contract the virus every day in the community, compared to 1,200 last week. By comparison, the number of daily infections was above 11,000 last month
He said: ‘After months of seeing the number of Covid-19 cases in the UK decrease, we are now seeing those numbers protruding.
“We are not surprised that this is happening, given the relaxation of the lockdown and more and more people who work and socialize.
“The team is keeping a close eye on the data so we can identify potential new hotspots and pick up regions with a significant increase.
“The virus doesn’t always go away, so it’s very important that people stick to the public health messages around social distance, washing hands and wearing masks.”
Cases per month: data shows that the virus spreads most in the North East of England and Yorkshire, the Midlands and the North West
Professor Spector said he was happy that the government had turned face masks over and now made them mandatory in shops and supermarkets.
He said the facial coverings were clearly ‘important to stop an increase in virus transmission’
The team that manages the mobile app ‘Covid-19 Symptom Tracker’ has been collecting data from people who report symptoms and test results for months.
Data in this week’s update comes from four million people’s self-reports on their own health and the results from 14,429 swab tests done by app users.
People are asked to log in regularly to report if they have any signs of illness or if they feel healthy.
WHICH REGIONS SEE THE MOST DAILY COVID-19 CASES?
The COVID Symptom Tracker app data estimates the total number of new coronavirus cases per day in Great Britain at 2,103, as at June 20.
This is how the daily cases break down in the estimate:
- England 1,843
- Wales 185
- Scotland 75
And specifically for England:
- Southeast 231
- London 288
- Midlands 363
- East of England 144
- South West 187
- North East and Yorkshire 401
- Northwest 321
They are asked to be tested if they have symptoms related to Covid-19 and to report the results of the test.
As a result, the app cannot reliably track the number of people contracting the virus, but does not develop symptoms, perhaps thousands more.
The estimate does not include Northern Ireland or nursing homes, where the virus is still believed to be spreading, meaning the actual rate could be much higher.
Scientists behind the app also estimate that 26,020 people in the UK currently have symptomatic coronavirus.
Many patients do not show any signs of infection at all and are difficult to follow, so this figure can also be much higher.
This is a significantly higher estimate than that of the Office for National Statistics, which last week predicted that only 14,000 people – one in 3,900 – would become infected at any one time.
That data, based on eight positive results from tests on 25,662 people, suggested that 0.03 percent of the population across the country was infected. It fell from 0.04 percent last week and 0.09 percent a week earlier.
The Midlands still experience the highest number of symptomatic patients, with 5,270 currently suffering from the virus, according to the King’s College project.
The Northeast and Yorkshire registered 4,403, while the Northwest envisages 3,201 patients with symptoms.
It comes after the Lancashire municipality of Blackburn with Darwen re-introduced some restrictions yesterday following a spike in business.
For the next month, only two people from the same family are allowed to visit another household indoors in the Lancashire Authority, and everyone must wear face masks in any enclosed public space. This is different from the national directive, which says that two households of all sizes can meet inside each other.
It is also urged not to embrace anyone outside of their own household and to be tested regularly in new mobile centers as part of measures to prevent a Leicester-style shutdown, which is a ‘very real’ threat, according to city council leaders.
Mass tests started on the weekend after 114 people contracted the virus in the past two weeks.
Latest data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that Blackburn with Darwen had 47 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past week – second only to Leicester’s rate of 101.3.
Dominic Harrison, the authority’s public health director, said 85 percent of the 114 new cases were people with a South Asian background. That is despite the fact that the South Asian community accounts for only 30 percent of the municipality’s 150,000 residents.
Many other parts of England with the current highest contamination rates of Covid-19, such as Pendle, Bradford, Rochdale and Oldham, also have large South Asian communities.
Public Health England, which is again developing a regular daily infection estimate, using deaths and case data reported to hospitals and testing centers, estimated this week that there were 3,300 new infections per day.
The forecast report estimated a possible range of 1,900 – 5,700 daily cases.
This was up from the team’s estimate on July 1, when it was 2,900, which may be due to loosening of lock restrictions or local outbreaks like the one in Leicester.
The Department of Health’s testing program has detected an average of 584 new cases per day in the past seven days, with 538 people diagnosed yesterday.
The PHE estimate of new cases drops – it was 5,300 last week, later adjusted to 3,600 – but remains higher than estimates from the ONS and King’s College London’s ongoing project.