Researchers say individuals of all ages up to 60 rushed to socialize before lockdown in England,
Researchers have related the leak to the media of preparations for a November lockout in England, around a week before the restrictions came into effect, to a rise in Covid’s 19 cases triggered by people rushing to socialize before the deadline.
The study’s lead author, Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said, “There was an increase in new infections that started a few days before the lockdown and continued for about a week after the lockdown,”
The three-tiered structure was implemented in mid-October in England, with varying degrees of restrictions. A number of newspapers, including the Times, the Daily Mail and the Sun, announced on Friday, Oct. 30, that the government intended to declare a national lockdown the after Monday, following which a leak investigation was initiated. Eventually, the lockout went into effect Nov. 5 and ended Dec. 2.
Researchers found that case numbers increased until around Oct. 24, after which they tended to stabilize and even decrease in Tier 3 regions, using data collected from 315 local authorities. During the “pre-warning” time between the news break and the beginning of the lockout, however, case numbers started to increase again until they peaked about November 10.
The empirical research, the peer review of which is pending, found that this rise in infections was most noticeable in Tier 1 and Tier 2 regions, where there were more possibilities of congregation than in Tier 3 regions.
In the 20- to 24-year-old and 25- to 29-year-old age groups, the increase was most notable, although there was an impact in all age groups up to 60, Hunter noted. He joked, “Those of us over 60 are boring old farts who stay home all the time,”
Using data on Google mobility, the researchers observed a rise in visits to retail and recreational nongrocery facilities just before the closure began.
This increase was not observed in Tier 3 regions, where the main difference was that food service establishments were allowed to open only if they were functioning as restaurants. Combined with the atypical rise in infections among young adults, this result indicates that before the lockdown, increased socialization had occurred.
Hunter said, “I think it’s probably almost certain,” “You can’t say it’s absolute proof, but I think it’s excellent, strong supportive evidence.”
“If that’s the case, then … whoever leaked that indirectly would have been responsible for increased cases and, and almost certainly increased deaths.”
Infections in areas that had previously been in Stage 1 were at about the same level as they were on Nov. 1, as December approached.
We were back to square one,”we were back to square one,”
Tier 2 areas did marginally better – rates of infection were lower, but not by much. Tier 3 regions, where infection rates before the lockout had not risen, saw a drastic decrease, he said.
Nevertheless, cases started to increase in London, the southeast and east of England in the week before the lockdown ended, which was later attributed to the rapidly spreading variant found in Kent. “So that increase toward the end was almost certainly … driven by the new variant,”So that increase towards the end was almost certainly … driven by the new variant.