Since the end of the national lockdown in November, the number of cases of COVID-19 in Coventry has remained “relatively stable”, but the most recent data shows an increase in case rate across all ages, the Department for Health and Social Care has reported.
The official update comes following a review of the city’s tier allocations on Thursday, with Coventry remaining under Tier 3 – Very High – local restrictions until at least January.
The news was met with dismay, but not surprise from local politicians and businesses.
In justifying its decision to not de-escalate restrictions in the city, the Government suggested that the trajectory of the epidemiological indicators it measures does not support Coventry being placed into Tier 2.
The indicators include case rates by age group, positivity rate of tests taken and local pressure on the NHS.
De-escalating before Christmas “will likely lead to rising case numbers, and risks rapid re-escalation”, a statement explained.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that for a localised approach to work, it “must be tough” and recognise that “the winter months are the most challenging for our NHS.”
The data at a level local
The most recent data suggests cases are most prevalent in the outer suburbs of the city, in areas including Foleshill, Stoke Heath, Coundon and Copsewood.
While more inner city areas, including the city centre, Cheylesmore, Earlsdon, Canon Park and Hillfields, all have case rates well below the national average.
Citywide, the rate per 100,000 resident population stands at 162.3 and the number of cases are up 21 per cent over the past seven days.
Regionally the number of daily hospital admissions continues to rise, but bed occupancy among COVID-19 patients is below the national acute hospital average.
Though, the proportion of critical care beds or beds with mechanical ventilation occupied by COVID-19 patients remains high at a regional level.
The route to Tier 2
The de-escalation of restrictions in Coventry relies on, apart from reducing personal risk, effective testing and prompt vaccination, both of which the city has taken major strides in over the past few weeks.
On the vaccination front, we saw the use of the world’s first clinically-approved COVID-19 vaccination at University Hospital Coventry.
The efficient inoculation of Coventry’s elderly population in the remaining days of the year and into 2021 will be the most crucial element to reducing deaths and getting the city back to relative normality.
Asymptomatic testing will also play a major role; the city’s first public Lateral Flow Device testing site opened this week.
The walk-in site, near Coventry Cathedral, is open to all those who do not have symptoms of COVID-19, but want the reassurance of an easy, self-administered test that gives results in less than an hour.
Appointments are not required, but ID must be provided when visiting the site.
Combined, and with the continued risk-averse behaviour of local people, these recent breakthroughs could see broad improvement and a levelling off of case rates, leading to the area being de-escalated to Tier 2.