Last updated: Thursday 29th October 2020
Question: How is COVID-19 data counted, collated and presented?
Answer: One of the best ways of understanding how the data is collected and then used is through these publications Behind the headlines: Counting COVID-19 from the PHE's blog (GOV.UK) and Health Foundation's article about Understanding changes to mortality during the pandemic.
Question: What are local restrictions for COVID-19?
Answer: There are now a range of local restrictions applicable to various areas across UK, including Wirral. The current details can be accessed at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-restrictions-areas-with-an-outbreak-of-coronavirus-covid-19 with any additional details affecting Wirral at https://www.wirral.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/coronavirus-updates/local-restrictions-wirral
Question: What is the situation with testing?
Answer: Anyone with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms can get a test and these can be booked at www.wirral.gov.uk/test when any one of these coronavirus symptoms are present:
Please remember not to get tests for people you live with who do not have these symptoms. This will make sure people who need a test can get one.
These tests are available at a number of Wirral locations. A limited number of tests are available as walk-ins at the Birkenhead, Bebington and Liscard local testing sites. You must book an appointment if you need a test at all other sites in Wirral. Some testing centres are open temporarily, so please check the opening dates. For more information or to book a test visit: www.wirral.gov.uk/test
Question: What is a Coronavirus?
Answer: There are many types of human coronaviruses, the common cold is a type of mild coronavirus. COVID-19 is caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. See our Covid-19 page for more background to the virus https://www.wirralintelligenceservice.org/covid-19/
Question: Why is this disease called COVID-19?
Answer: In February 2020, the World Health Organization announced the official name for the disease - abbreviated as COVID-19. The ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease, ‘19’ refers to the fact that it first emerged in 2019.
Question: What should you do or not do during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Answer: The Government has set up numerous web pages, sources of information and in this case, most frequently asked questions, on what you can and can’t do during the coronavirus outbreak: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do
Question: I keep reading about symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19, what does this mean and why is it important?
Answer: Symptomatic means that somebody is displaying the signs of COVID, such as a dry cough, high temperature and loss of sense of taste and/or smell. Asymptomatic means that somebody is not displaying any signs of the virus, despite testing positive. This is problematic, because asymptomatic people can go on to infect many other people, if they do not know they are infected and carry on with their daily lives. This is why government recommendations are to self-isolate for 10 days if you come into contact with somebody who tests positive, just in case you have caught the virus, but are not showing any symptoms yourselves (you are asymptomatic).
Question: What do you mean by IPC (infection prevention and control) measures?
Answer: IPCs (infection prevention and control) measures are activities, procedures and policies designed to reduce the spread of infections. Current UK guidance on IPCs can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control
Question: What does Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 testing mean?
Answer: Pillar 1 is COVID-19 testing which mainly takes place in NHS hospitals of either patients, healthcare staff or those with a clinical need or vulnerability. Pillar 2 is COVID-19 testing for the wider population (these are usually mobile or local testing centres run in conjunction with external companies).
Question: What is the ‘R’ Value?
Answer: The reproduction number (R) is the average number of infections which result from 1 infected person. So, for example, an R number of 1 means that on average, every person who is infected will infect 1 other person, meaning the total number of new infections is stable. If R is greater than 1 the epidemic is generally seen to be growing, if R is less than 1 the epidemic is shrinking. The R value is not produced at a lower level than region (e.g. North West) because it is not reliable at a small area level. To see the latest R for England and the regions, please see The R number and growth rate in the UK.
Question: What is ‘Growth Rate’?
Answer: The growth rate reflects how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day and it is an approximation of the change in number infections each day. If the growth rate is greater than zero (+ positive), then the disease will grow. If the growth rate is less than zero (- negative) then the disease will shrink. The size of the growth rate indicates the speed of change. A growth rate of +5% will grow faster than one with a growth rate of +1%. For further information, please see The R number and growth rate in the UK.
Question: Under what legislation are local and national organisations involved in COVID-19 response able to use people’s data?
COVID health and care system is facing an unprecedented challenge and the government want to ensure that healthcare organisations, Arms Length Bodies and local authorities are able to process and share the data they need to respond to COVID-19 for example by treating and caring for patients and those at risk, managing the service and identifying patterns and risks.
The Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002 allow the processing of Confidential Patient Information (CPI) for specific purposes. Regulation 3 provides for the processing of CPI in relation to communicable diseases and other threats to public health and in particular allows the Secretary of State to require organisations to process CPI for purposes related to communicable diseases.
As part of a wider package of measures, including guidance and directions, the Secretary of State has issued four of these notices requiring NHS Digital, NHS England & Improvement, all healthcare organisations, Arm’s Length Bodies, Local Authorities and GPs (including a specific requirement related to the UK Biobank project) to process CPI for the purposes related to communicable diseases
They will help give healthcare organisations and local authorities the confidence to share the data needed to respond to COVID-19. https://www.nhsx.nhs.uk/covid-19-response/data-and-information-governance/information-governance/copi-notice-frequently-asked-questions/
Question: What is contact tracing and what should I do if I have been contacted?
Answer: Contact tracing is used to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases and works by asking people who have been confirmed as having the disease or infection, who they have been in recent contact with. If you have been identified as being in recent contact with a confirmed case of COVID-10, you will be contacted by the new NHS Test & Trace service - either by email, text, or phone. They will then let you know what you need to do your bit to reduce the spread of COVID-19. For more information: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/nhs-test-and-trace-if-youve-been-in-contact-with-a-person-who-has-coronavirus/
Question: What is herd immunity?
Answer: Herd immunity is when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, which then provides indirect protection — or ‘herd’ immunity — to those who are not immune to the disease. Herd immunity can be achieved via either a high proportion of individuals becoming immune as a result of previous infection, or by vaccination. Evidence shows that a minimum 95% of the population need to be immune to infectious diseases to prevent community spread (this is what vaccination programmes such as MMR are trying to achieve). It is unclear at the current time, whether previously contracting COVID results in individuals becoming immune.
Question: Why are children more likely to be asymptomatic than adults?
Answer: Evidence suggests that as people age, their immune systems become less able to fight off new infections. Children and younger people generally have fewer underlying health conditions, a stronger immune system and are therefore less likely to display severe symptoms, or in some cases any symptoms at all.
Question: What are anti-bodies, and should I be tested to see if I have had COVID-19?
Answer: The presence of antibodies indicates whether a person has developed an immune response to a virus (because they have already had it). Tests are now being used to detect antibodies to the COVID-19 virus to see if people have previously had the virus. The test works by taking a blood sample and is completely different to the test for the virus itself (which involves a swab being taken of your throat and shows if people currently have the virus). See more about the Governments plans for antibody testing here:
Question: Can the government and councils contact individuals in relation to COVID-19 without their consent?
Answer: Data protection and electronic communication laws do not stop the government and councils from sending public health messages either by phone, text, or email. These messages are not direct marketing as they are being sent in the public interest to protect vulnerable individuals, meaning normal rules around consent do not apply.
Question: What is the ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey pilot’?
Answer: The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the University of Oxford are conducting the Coronavirus Infection Survey Pilot to assess the incidence (or number of new cases per week) and the prevalence (the number of people who have the virus at any one time) of COVID-19, as well as to gain insight into what influences catching the virus. This involves random testing of the population because COVID-19 can present as a mild illness in many people or can be totally asymptomatic in others. This means that testing data alone cannot give us a complete picture of what is happening, because people do not generally present for testing unless they have symptoms – hence the need for random testing via the Coronavirus Infection Survey Pilot.