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Data Focus: What does the latest data say about the need for a national lockdown?

Data Focus: What does the latest data say about the need for a national lockdown?

Calls have been growing for a national lockdown and tighter Coronavirus restrictions to be implemented in England, as new cases of the virus surge to record levels.

On Sunday during an interview with Sky News, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer called on the government to implement a national lockdown within 24 hours as 'a first step to controlling the virus.'

Many primary schools in England are closed today following advice from the National Education Union to its primary school members that it is 'unsafe' for them to return to work. 

77% of the country is currently under Tier 4 'stay at home' lockdown measures, though with schools meant to stay open according to government guidance. However, in other parts of the country, gyms, leisure centres, non-essential retail and some other venues remain open, despite rising rates of COVID-19.

With the new variant of COVID-19 thought to be 70% more transmissible than the previous variant, there are concerns that increased restrictions will be needed to tackle the virus and on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC's Andrew Marr that restrictions in England are "probably about to get tougher".

So, what does the data say about a new national lockdown?

 

Cases growing in almost all areas in England

According to data analysis by The Speaker, cases of Coronavirus have been growing recently in nearly 90% of upper-tier local authority areas in England. For our data analysis, we compared the 7-day case rate per 100,000 people in each area at 29 December with the same rate at 23 December. Due to less testing over the Christmas period, it is likely that cases were even higher than actually recorded.

 

Are further restrictions likely?

Many now believe it is a question of 'when' rather than 'if' restrictions get tougher in England. Cases have been rising rapidly throughout the majority of the country, as shown by the below data. Importantly, the NHS is also coming under ever-increasing pressure, with hospital admissions on the rise.

Many will wonder how restrictions can get tougher, with Tier 4 restrictions already virtually identical to the nationwide lockdown in England in November. The areas which are not already under Tier 4 are likely to face those restrictions soon.

Tougher restrictions would likely see more school closures, perhaps across the country. It is understood that the SAGE committee (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) advised the Government on 22 December that the 'R' rate of the virus would remain above 1 unless schools are closed, and that there is uncertainty whether even closing schools would be enough to control the new variant of the virus. 

 

Where have cases been growing the most?

According to official data, the recorded rate of cases per 100,000 people grew the most in the following areas in the 7 days leading up to 29 December compared to the 7 days leading up to 22 December. Data may not completely reflect the level of infections in each area due to less testing over the Christmas period.

Many of the areas listed below are currently in Tier 3. In particular, increases can be seen in boroughs of Merseyside, other areas of the North West and in the North East. 

 

Area Current Tier Case Rate at 22/12 Case Rate at 29/12 Percentage Change
Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Tier 3 / Tier 1 90.4 233.8 61.3%
Isle of Wight Tier 4 188.3 426.7 55.9%
Halton Tier 4 193.2 411.9 53.1%
Sefton Tier 3 157.7 333.9 52.8%
Wirral Tier 3 191.7 392.6 51.2%
Knowsley Tier 3 177.6 344.7 48.5%
York Tier 3 196.6 380.8 48.4%
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Tier 4 209.4 389.5 46.2%
Shropshire Tier 3 100.6 183.5 45.2%
Cumbria Tier 4 198.4 357.4 44.5%
Swindon Tier 4 231.8 406.4 43.0%
Dorset Tier 3 113.3 196.6 42.4%
Redcar and Cleveland Tier 4 126.9 219.5 42.2%

 

Where are cases highest?

According to official data, the recorded rate of cases per 100,000 people in the 7 days leading up to 29 December was the highest in the following areas, all of which are in London;

Area Current Tier Case Rate at 22/12 Case Rate at 29/12 Percentage Change
Thurrock Tier 4 1437.4 1316.4 -9.2%
Barking and Dagenham Tier 4 1143.7 1298.2 11.9%
Redbridge Tier 4 1189 1286.3 7.6%
Newham Tier 4 952.3 1205.5 21.0%
Enfield Tier 4 970.1 1154.6 16.0%
Havering Tier 4 1339.6 1121.9 -19.4%
Bexley Tier 4 1149.1 1100.7 -4.4%
Tower Hamlets Tier 4 1028.8 1063.6 3.3%
Waltham Forest Tier 4 993.9 1007.6 1.4%
Bromley Tier 4 906.9 1001.1 9.4%

 

Where have cases been falling?

According to official data, the number of recorded cases per 100,000 people was lower in the 7 days leading up to 29 December than in the 7 days leading up to 22 December in the following areas. Most of the below areas are currently under Tier 4 restrictions, and some have been under these restrictions since 20 December.

The decreases in case rates could be a positive indication that Tier 4 measures may be having some effect in lowering the number of new Coronavirus infections. However, it is probably too early to conclude this and it is also important to note that this data may not be completely reliable due to less testing over the Christmas period.

Despite the decreases, case rates remain very high in most of these areas. In areas such as Southend-on-Sea, the case rate at 29/12 is still significantly above the national average, which at 29/12 was 476.9 cases of the virus per 100,000 people.

 

Area Current Tier Case Rate at 22/12 Case Rate at 29/12 Percentage Change
Kingston upon Hull, City of Tier 3 263.7 262.1 -0.6%
Islington Tier 4 694.9 688.8 -0.9%
Devon Tier 4 147.4 144.8 -1.8%
Rotherham Tier 4 224.6 219.7 -2.2%
North Lincolnshire Tier 3 194.4 189.2 -2.7%
Hackney and City of London Tier 4 849.6 826.2 -2.8%
Hammersmith and Fulham Tier 4 655.7 635.2 -3.2%
Lambeth Tier 4 796.2 768 -3.7%
Lincolnshire Tier 4 275.2 264.2 -4.2%
Bexley Tier 4 1149.1 1100.7 -4.4%
Milton Keynes Tier 4 878.8 828.3 -6.1%
East Sussex Tier 4 610.5 573.6 -6.4%
Kent Tier 4 755.6 701.1 -7.8%
Thurrock Tier 4 1437.4 1316.4 -9.2%
Wandsworth Tier 4 795.9 720.1 -10.5%
Medway Tier 4 1078.8 975 -10.6%
Southend-on-Sea Tier 4 1182.8 990.6 -19.4%
Havering Tier 4 1339.6 1121.9 -19.4%
Stoke-on-Trent Tier 4 306.2 246.1 -24.4%

 

Data referenced in this article is publicly available from coronavirus.data.gov.uk. Our analysis has been created for information purposes only and we cannot guarantee its accuracy. 

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