What Boris should have told you

The reported deaths in hospital in England number sees 332 new deaths announced today. However, only 234 of these are over the last four days, with the other 98 being delayed in getting reported and going as far back as 11 March.

The 90% of UK hospital deaths that happen in England are shown in the chart below, with the *actual* date of death shown, not the date on which the NHS got round to reporting them.

The other UK regions are unfortunately not included – blame devolution for that, not me. But the rest are only 10% of the total anyway so don’t affect conclusions.

The chart is the most useful indicator of *current* trends in the wider community. It does not include deaths in care homes, but transmission there tends to be internal rather that to and from the outside world, with very restricted visiting now going on. A death is a death of course, and all deaths are tragic, but the purpose of this post and the graph is to look at the trends in the wider outside community, since that is what will drive government policy on lock downs etc.

The last 3-4 days on the chart will still see significant changes as data is added retrospectively. Earlier days can also change but the changes are normally small and do not affect the ability to draw overall conclusions. For this reason, the last 3-4 days on the graph should be ignored.

The data from 3 and 4 May looks to be finishing well below 300, currently at 225 and 227, and barring late additions, below 25 March, which saw 249 and which is when the curve was really starting to grow alarmingly. There has been a slowing of the down curve I think, with 3 and 4 May looking flat and 5 May currently on 215. I still think there’s a good chance of getting to below 200 by the end of this week (11 May final figures) but I am less confident than I was.

The peak in hospital deaths was very clearly on 8 April. The unwinding of the upswing since then is also very clear, though gentler than the upswing curve itself, as measures taken keep the NHS within capacity have been taken in a managed way, since it has never needed more draconian measures.

As Professor Angela McLean said recently, the virus is likely to hide in hard to reach parts of society in due course, so is unlikely ever to get to zero.

It sounds like Boris is going to announce some rather limited relaxations from as early as Monday – I hope we don’t go too quickly, the slowing of the downward curve suggests we should proceed with caution.

UK Political Forum Group member Steve Yarwood.

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