The official policy in the UK is not to test everyone who suspects they might have caught Covid-19. This policy conflicts with advice from the WHO and the drastic measures taken by other countries in Europe. The approach should lead to some very different statistics from the UK vs. other countries who are taking a more proactive management approach.
Two figures I have been particularly interested in are the number of new tests carried out every day, and the percentage of these tests that have led to positive results. Given the advice from Public Health England that prioritises self-isolation over testing, you might expect the first number to be steady, indicating that a maximum testing capacity has been reached (if not, why not do more?). The percentage of infections from new tests would increase if the epidemic is spreading, indicating a higher prevalence of the disease in (presumably severely ill) people being given the test.
The graphs are below (I intend to update them daily over the coming weeks):
Some interesting points:
- 4975 tests is the maximum reported in a day by Public Health England (on 14 March 2020)
- The slight slowing of the rate of new infections on 15 March 2020 is entirely attributable to a reduction in new tests.
- There has been a severe reduction in the number of new tests in the 24 hour period between 2pm on 14 March and 2pm on 15 March. Perhaps the effect of the weekend?!
Percentage of those tested who are infected
It’s worth noting that the percentage of those tested who are infected is the highest it has been since testing began (as of 15 March).
Things I’m curious about:
- Does 5000 tests/day reflect the full capacity of Public Health England at the moment?
- Why was there a drop in testing from 14 March 2020 to 15 March 2020?
Numbers for the graphs above have been sourced from the official @dhscgovuk Twitter account.