TL&DR: All indicators are down this week, Covid cases, hospitalisation and deaths are sharply down, as are Scarlet fever cases. Time will tell whether this is a lasting drop or it is a result of inefficient reporting. Flu and RSV are also down, although already at low numbers.
While the cases are slowly going down, hospital admissions and Pillar 1 positivity experienced a sharp decline. I was originally sceptical about associating this with changes in reporting, but this is now an increasingly likely reason for such a rapid change.
To be clear, I believe that there is a decline, but I suspect there are other factors driving the reported numbers down.
Cases are clearly down in both England and in Scotland. How much of it is driven by the Easter school and work break, will be seen in the next few weeks, but there is no doubt we are over the wave crest.
Flu and RSV
Both flu and RSV continue following their seasonal pre-pandemic pattern, with numbers low and slowly declining.
Something rather strange happened to Scarlet fever notifications this week, with a huge drop in reported cases. While such declines are not completely unusual and indeed happened in pre-pandemic years (see 2017-18 season data), but I will believe it when I see the notifications next week.
I would not be surprised if this week’s numbers were revised upwards, but still expect the general trend to be a decline.
Apologies for still “poaching” the graph from the UKHSA report. The numbers are also down and it appears we are now in a “sweet spot” – a seasonal break before the summer months (from week 20) when the numbers will be picking up again.
TL&DR: A bit of sunshine, longer days and warmer weather and good news – all Covid indicators are down, and so we are over this strange wave’s crest. Flu, RSV and Scarlet fever cases are also down. Spring has finally arrived!
The number of reported cases in England has been declining over the last couple of weeks. Scotland is not yet there completely, but the numbers are declining in many age classes; the decline is masked by the increase in 15-19 age group.
A similar decline is now also visible in Pillar 1 cases, positivity and admissions. I suspect both positivity and hospitalisation numbers might still be revised upwards next week, but we are clearly at the wave crest.
So, it looks like this “strange” wave is now peaking. Compared to the other Omicron outbreaks, the initial growth rate was clearly lower this time, and the numbers at the peak were lower as well.
It will be interesting to consider what happens next, but any speculation are beyond the scope of this post.
Influenza, RSV, Scarlet Fever, …
All the other infectious diseases I monitor here are declining, following their pre-pandemic seasonal pattern. RSV is still high compared to other years, but not unusual.
Finally, I did not have time to update the Rhinovirus graph this week, so just simply copying from the UKHSA report.
The reported common cold cases until recently were high compared to a pre-pandemic 2018-19 season (and pre-lockdown 2019-20), but now seem to go down. The “usual” summer Rhinovirus season is still before us, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out this year.
The UKHSA releases their respiratory infections report on Thursday afternoon, and I always try to analyse these and put the graphs here as soon as possible. The report covers the data up to the end of last week, so they are not completely up to date.
Daily data for England are also released once a week on Thursday afternoon and are more up-to-date. Scotland still releases data daily.
The latest update from yesterday shows the cases peaking in England and continuing to grow in Scotland. The drop in England is, of course, welcome, but I am somewhat sceptical about its lasting impact.
However, even in Scotland, there seems to be some evidence of slowing down – the case numbers in the 0-14, 20-24 and 75-84 age groups decline and are not massively growing in other groups.
We need to remember that these are reported cases, and Covid testing is being scaled down even further. More on it in another post.