Random question. If Covid-19 hit Gloucestershire as badly as parts of Italy, what would it look like?

Gloucestershire currently has 11 confirmed cases of Covid-19. That’s one case for every 58,000 residents. It was only six for several days, then it kicked up on 17 March.

In neighbouring Worcestershire it’s only one case per 197,000 residents (still only three confirmed cases in total there) and in Bath it’s just the one case among all 192,000 residents.

Oxfordshire is worst off among our neighbours with 23 cases, or one per 23,000 residents.

None of those figures are the the stuff of nightmares when put next to Switzerland – one in 3,100 people – or poor Italy, where one in every 1,900 people is a confirmed case.

In Italy’s hard-hit Lombardy region there are over 15,000 cases among a population of 10 million. That’s around one in every 700 people. As of yesterday, 16 March, 1,420 people there had died and six thousand – 0.06% of the region’s population – remain in hospital.

Set against that, 99.9% of Lombards are NOT in hospital with Covid-19. Many of them are at home, with untested-for Covid-19, of course. But the nature of the illness is to be fairly mild unless one is over 80 or has a serious pre-existing health condition, or are very, very unlucky. Most of us will sweating out the illness at home.

Now back to the original question. What if the outbreak here in Gloucestershire took off like Lombardy?

I took some early work on fatality by age. Then I mapped Lombardy’s 0.14% infection rate and 10% mortality rate on to Gloucestershire’s demographics.

It’s very back of fag packet stuff but, over the next three weeks, Lombardy-style rates would give Gloucestershire (pop. 633,000) around 650 confirmed cases and maybe seven deaths among the under-60s. Most of this cohort would be sent home to self-medicate in isolation.

The over-60s would bear the brunt: around 250 confirmed cases and 65 deaths, largely among the over-75s. Most of this cohort will need intensive care in hospital and they’ll all arrive in a short space of time, putting the system under great strain.

That wouldn’t be the end of it, although some government predictions suggest mid-April will be the peak, in which case an S-curve distribution of cases over time might mean 1,300 cases and 130 deaths in Gloucestershire.

It’s to prevent that number being bigger that we’re being asked to turn our lives inside out and accept a wartime-level increase in authoritarian control over everything we do.

Something for the 99.98% of us in Gloucestershire who won’t die from Covid-19 to ponder.

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