The Bristol Briefing: Covid-19 rate falls in possible sign that lockdown is working

It may be good news, but new cases of Covid-19 remain among the highest in the country, and hospitals under serious pressure.

The Covid-19 latest

📉 Bristol’s infection rate has fallen for the first time in weeks, potentially an early sign of the impact of Lockdown 2. But the city’s rate remains very high with 2,184 new cases in the week up to 15 Nov. Due to improvements in the way the data is reported, the statistics for Bristol now include more people who may have recently moved to the city, including students.

📈 Despite the fall in new positive cases, Bristol’s infection rate of 471.3 per 100k people remains much higher than the England average of 265.5, and means there are only 15 areas in England with a higher rate.

🏘️ Bishopsworth and Upper Easton are among the top 15 areas in England with the highest Covid infection rate. They recorded 81 and 76 new cases respectively in the week up to 14 Nov. 

At the midway point of lockdown, Mayor Marvin Rees has written an open letter urging local people to “stay at home as much as possible and not socially mix”. Rees also slammed “dangerous rumours spreading online from people who are either misguided or malicious” for putting lives at risk.

🏥 The number of Covid patients in Bristol’s two NHS trusts has risen beyond 250, which is higher than the previous peak in April. As of Tuesday, there were 129 patients with the virus at Southmead Hospital and 126 across the BRI and Weston General, which is an increase of 28% from last week.

😷 Southmead Hospital is nearly full as the number of Covid patients rise and lots of other care continues as normal, according to sources. Hundreds of staff are off sick due to Covid and there have been outbreaks on non-covid wards. Bed pressures are being made worse by difficulties discharging patients back into social care.

Thirteen people were arrested at an anti-lockdown protest in Bristol last Saturday, which was attended by 400 people. The gathering was held in breach of current coronavirus restrictions.

🔍 People under 30 are no longer the main group of new Covid infections in Bristol – it’s now people between 30 and 59. Both groups had similar numbers for the most recent week up to 14 Nov, with 866 new infections for the 30-59 group, and 856 for the under 30s group. Of most concern is the rising number of infections in the 60+ age group, which had 262 new cases for that week, up from just 48 one month previous.

Cases of Covid-19 in Bristol since March, by age

Source: Public Health England, Bristol Cable graphic

From the community

A new six-part radio documentary exploring the Bristol Bus Boycott produced by local Miranda Rae has just launched.

Our Journey celebrates the campaign to end racist employment policies on Bristol’s buses and its impact on the race relations in the UK. 

The series captures the voices of the Windrush Generation in Bristol, celebrating activism, determination and civil rights in the city and beyond.

Episode 1 features contributions from historians Dr Edson Burton and Dr Madge Dresser, as well as the original activists Paul Stephenson, Roy Hackett, Guy Bailey and Barbara Dettering.

The Bristol round-up

💰 Bristol City Council has asked local residents if they’re willing to pay 5% more in council tax next year to help fill the £77million blackhole in the council’s finances left by the pandemic. A public consultation has been launched with a range of options, as the authority tries to avoid cuts to local services. 

🎓 More than 1,400 Bristol University students are withholding £2 million by taking part in a rent strike this week. Yesterday, campaigners met with the university to discuss their demands of a 30% rent reduction for all students, contract releases without penalties and deposit returns for international students. 

⚠️ Frustrated watchdogs investigating a complaint against Bristol City Council were forced to threaten a formal legal summons to get information. In dealing with the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman, which investigates allegations of service failure, the council lost letters, failed to respond to emails, and did not forward correspondence to relevant officers. The council says it accepts improvements were needed and blamed a new IT system, which has now been resolved.

🌍 A new website called Bristol Climate Hub has been launched to share ways individuals, companies and local government can reduce their carbon footprint. The initiative is to mark the second anniversary of the city becoming the first in the UK to declare a Climate Emergency.

🚓 Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens has been accused of “clear failings” in the appointment of her new deputy. Mountstevens sent a letter to chief constable Andy March asking him to back the appointment of John Smith. A panel has now “identified clear failings in [the PCC] exercising fair process, transparency, and due diligence”.

🚓 Private school Clifton College has apologised over a former teacher jailed for child sex offences. Jonathan Thomson-Glover was jailed in August 2015 for abusing boys at the school. Former head teacher Mark Moore, said it “didn’t occur” to him to tell police when Thomson-Glover took pupils to a holiday home. During the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse hearing, Nick Tolchard, from the college’s council, said: “We feel that we have let down children and their parents.”

The latest data

The Bristol Cable