Comparisons 2

Five local authorities in England now have a 7-Day Case Rate below 100:

  • Torridge 48.3
  • North Devon 63.8
  • Exeter 82.9
  • North East Lincolnshire 90.9
  • Ryedale 99.3

However there are ten which have a case rate higher than 500 and a massive 201 with a case rates above 250.

There are 315 local authorities in England  at least for the purposes of this exercise there are! (The Isles of Scilly figures are always included with those of Cornwall, and the City of London is included with Hackney.)

More than 60% of English local authorities have a case rate higher than 250 and more than 98% have a case rate higher than 100. 

Contrast this with Germany where ‘only’ 36% have a case rate higher than 100! Their highest case rate is 340.2, England’s highest is 684.7 (twice as high).

So when people (usually new breed Conservatives) tell you that this government is doing a good job, don’t believe them. To be fair, the vaccination programme is going well. However even there, there are concerns. For example, the exceedingly small number of people who have received a second vaccination.

The government shouldn’t be comparing its performance against countries that are doing badly, but against countries that are doing well.


A comparison between the Covid-19 seven day case rates in German local authorities and those in English local authorities. 

Germany is in blue and England is in red.

The vertical axis show the number of local authorities and the horizontal axis shows the case rates. The latter are divided into ‘bins’.  The first ‘bin’ shows the number of authorities with case rates between 0 and 25 (there’s just one authority in that ‘bin), the second ‘bin’ shows the number of authorities with case rates between 25 and 50 (this contains 22 local authorities) all the way to the final ‘bin’ which shows cases rates between  975 and 1,000.

Note the very wide range of case rates in England – ranging from 55.7 in Torridge to 961.1 in Knowsley. The lowest case rate in Germany (24.3)  is in Kreis Friesland and the highest (426.6) is in Burgenlandkreis. It’s easy to see that Germany has much lower case rates than England. 


On 12 January North Devon had the second lowest seven day case rate (111.2)  of any local authority in England – beaten by Torridge (90.8).

Devon is in the bottom five so-called Upper Tier Local Authorities (counties and unitary authorities) with a case rate of 205. North Lincolnshire has the lowest case rate of 149.7.

The worst hit local authority is Knowsley in the North West, which has a case rate of 1,273.3! 

Contrast this with Germany: their highest case rate is 601.8. No other German local authority has a case rate higher than 500, and  70 (out of a total of 412)  have a case rate lower than Torridge!! Germany’s lowest case rate, in Zweibrücken, is 32.2.  

Almost a third of England’s local authorities (91 out of 315) have a case rate higher than Germany’s highest case rate.

And people still say that Johnson and his cabinet of incompetents are doing a good job under the circumstances!  To me it’s quite clear that they’re not.



Apparently Public Health England were using the xls file format to upload Track and Trace data into Excel templates. The issue is that this file format can only handle 256 columns and 65,536 rows.  Apparently each test result generates several rows of data (why?) and thus the templates could only handle about 1,400 cases. Anymore than this and the data was just truncated.

The latest version of the Excel file format (xlsx) can handle 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns. 

Were PHE using a massively outdated version of Excel? Or were they just incompetent?

In any event datasets such is thus should be handled by a database (e.g. Access or Oracle) rather than a spreadsheet program. 


England 7 Day Case Rate

NOTE: I’ll no longer be updating this image. The updated image, along with others, can now be found here.

Seven day case rate per 100,000 population by lower tier local authority.

More for my edification than anything else. Basically so I can test how best to display such things and see how well they display on multiple devices.
I created the map based on data downloaded from


This is the text of an e-mail I sent to my local MP on Sunday:

Dear Ms Saxby

I was very concerned to read the following report on the BBC web site on Saturday morning:
The south-west has always had relatively few cases – currently 778 infections a day, according to PHE. However, Dr Birrell says the north-west – 4,170 infections a day – is “more worrying”.”

The latest summary report from PHE which covers the period 20 January 2020 to 3 June 2020 shows a cumulative total number of cases of 11,945 for the South West and 37,321 for the North West. (National COVID-19 weekly summary report: 4 June 2020 – accessed from

The latest figures on the Coronavirus Data Dashboard ( – accessed on 6 June 2020) show a cumulative total of positive test results of 7,818 for the South West and 26,133 for the North West. The granular case data downloaded from this site shows a total of 1,264 positive tests for May – an average of 41 a day. For the North West, the figures are 5,267 with an average of 170 a day. North Devon has had 92 positive cases since the pandemic began. With only 13 cases in the whole of May and no positive tests since 23 May.

In all cases the regions cover the same geographic area (and in the case of the South West this includes Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Dorset!).

There is a massive mismatch between the figures quoted in the BBC article which are reported as having come from PHE, those in the PHE report and those from the government’s Coronavirus data web site.

Of course, the number of cases that test positive is lower than the true number of infections. However, is there really almost a ten-fold difference in the South West and 25-fold difference in the North West?

I can fully accept small differences in the data because of delays in test results being received etc but not differences of this magnitude.

What is going on here? Why don’t the figures match?

Yours sincerely,
Marc Cornelius


The graph above is extracted from the presentation given during the UK government’s Covid-19 press conference on Wednesday 6 May.  It  shows the cumulative number of deaths per million population for a number of countries. 

The UK is doing badly on that measure, as it’s just below Spain. But it doesn’t appear to be doing very much worse than the US. Neither does the difference between Germany and the UK  seem fantastically dramatic. It appears that Japan and South Korea are doing quite badly as well.

However, the graph is using a logarithmic scale (or log scale), which is a way of displaying numerical data over a very wide range of values in a compact way—typically the largest numbers in the data are hundreds or even thousands of times larger than the smallest numbers. The numbers 10 and 100, and 100 and 1000 are equally spaced. 

If the graph is redrawn using a standard scale, things look dramatically different:

The UK is still the second worst, but look how the gap between the UK (red line) and the USA (brown dashes) has dramatically widened, as has the gap between the UK and Germany (amber line). The death rates in Korea (blue line) and Japan (hidden by Korea) appear to be virtually zero. They’re not of course, but they aren’t yet in double digits.

Using a log scale tells a completely different story, and can be highly misleading.  I wonder whether the original graphic was deliberately designed to be misleading?

Note: The government’s figures came from John Hopkins University and Public Health England (PHE).  Mine are from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), so they might be slightly different.

The Truly Independent Councillor

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