Regional lockdown variation likely in England, according to new analysis

The government is likely to gradually introduce regional variation in England’s lockdown measures, an analysis of coronavirus case numbers and the UK’s recently published exit strategy suggests.

New data shows the incidence of the disease varies widely across the country, with Cumberland, Durham, Herefordshire and Norfolk now having 12 times as many Covid-19 cases than counties such as Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. 

The analysis was done by Edge Health, a leading provider of data analysis to the NHS in England, exclusively for the Telegraph.

Case numbers are estimated by a model which uses confirmed hospital cases as its base measure. The actual incidence of disease is likely to be higher for all counties but differences between counties remain constant.

George Batchelor, a co-founder of Edge health, said the data pointed to regional flexibility in the lockdown measure being “critical” to the government’s exit strategy.

“As seen in countries like Singapore, the risk of a surge in new cases can happen even when the virus is under control,” he said. 

“These surges, like the increase in cases in the North West of England, tend to be localised. If they are detected early, they can more easily be brought under some control. This requires a flexible regional response.”

The government is using both case numbers and “R” values to judge the effectiveness of its social distancing measures, which were partially relaxed for the first time this week. 

The R values – which indicate how fast the disease is spreading – also show distinct regional variation.

Rs calculated by the London School of  School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, suggest the fastest growth area in England is the East Midlands where R is calculated to sit between 0.8 and 1.2.  

Although the south west of England has lowest case numbers, the R value for the region is also higher relative to others, sitting between 0.6 and 1.2.

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