A map shows what experts think will happen to the number of Covid-19 cases across the North East in the coming weeks.
More people are ill, more are in hospital, and more are dying than we have seen since the end of last winter’s surge in cases – and scientists from Imperial College London think things will get worse across the region in the coming weeks.
With winter pressures on the NHS starting to mount, the last thing needed is a rise in Covid cases, but a map produced by experts shows that by November several more areas in the North East will have weekly case rates above 500 per 100.000 people.
The suggestion is that in County Durham, whether cases will increase remains “direction unclear”.
Plan B has been discussed widely, with Government ministers potentially set to introduce contingency measures introduced to help alleviate the burden on the NHS.
The Department of Health and Social Care’s chief scientific adviser Prof Lucy Chappell even told the Science and Technology parliamentary select committee that a Plan C “had been proposed” on Tuesday.
This is what the map tells you about our region:
The experts reckon County Durham might have more chance of avoiding a spike in coronavirus transmission than neighbouring areas.
They’ve predicted there’s a 26% chance that the rate of weekly cases per 100,000 people tops 500 by the weekend after after Bonfire Night.
The last few days has seen the rate in the county fall, according to the Government’s coronavirus dashboard. The infection rate on October 22 was 439.7 for the seven days previously. It reached a peak of 459.5 on October 17. That remains substantially higher than during September.
The professors at Imperial don’t think it’s likely to drop too much though. Their figure for the probability of the case rate remaining above 300 is 76%.
Government data from October 22 – showed a rate of 420.8 new Covid cases per 100,000 people in the city over seven days. It has climbed from a rate of 303.8 at the start of October.
The experts at Imperial think there’s a 61% chance that the rate will pass 500 by November 7. They don’t think there’s much chance at all of it dropping back below 300 – the probability of that is rated only 8%.
The people behind the map think things in Gateshead will be similar to those just over the Millennium bridge – they’ve worked out the area has a 59% chance of seeing weekly Covid rates shoot past 500 per 100,000 people.
Of course in the borough the case rate has actually, according to the Government figures, been over 500 every day since October 14. As of October 22, it was 516.5 cases per 100,000 people over the seven previous days.
North Tyneside is another area which has already seen rates spike well above 500, so the latest map’s suggestion that there is a 96% chances of the rate still being above 500 on November 7 shouldn’t be a surprise.
After hovering in the mid-300s for much of October, the weekly rate per 100,000 people has been rising fast during October.
For the week preceding October 22, it was up to 770.8.
According to the experts, it’s a toss-up as to whether Sunderland will be seeing more than 500 Covid cases per 100,000 people as autumn turns to winter.
The team at Imperial model that there’s a 51% chance of this happening by November 7.
On October 22, the rolling week rate 434.1, but it is climbing more slowly than in other areas – it’s only up around 9% on a day earlier.
That said, the likelihood of cases dropping below 300 is considered slim – the team think there’s just a 15% chance of that.
Although there’s less certainty in Northumberland than when it comes to its southern neighbour, the Imperial College data suggests its likely – with an 81% probability – that the case rate in Northumberland will remain above 500.
As of October 22, 617.3 people per 100,000 had tested positive in the last week. Needless to say, the chances of the rate falling below 300 are considered negligible by the scientists – they’ve suggested there’s only a 4% chance.
The prediction for South Tyneside is that there’s a 61% chance of the Covid infection rate topping 500 by that first weekend in November.
As of October 22 it was 440, and it has risen ever day since October 2.
To explore the map yourself, visitimperialcollegelondon.github.io/covid19local/