How well are we social distancing?

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Published 27 March 2020

Social distancing works, albeit with a lag. So hopefully some good news to end the week - data that shows Londoners are getting better at social distancing.

The chart below shows data from CityMapper, a route planning app. It tells us that people are moving less than average at the moment. Especially since Monday when the Government imposed measures to keep people at home.

While this is good news, it may be too little too late to stop London being in serious trouble. Growth has been significantly higher than we initially modelled (28% vs 22%), which has brought forward the surge. This has caught much of London off guard and scrambling to meet demand.

Two big questions are not yet answered. The first is on the trade-offs being made in preparation for the super surge, such as the cost and impact of cancelled operations. Second, how and when will this end?

China is further ahead, so I asked my clinician friend there to tell me how things are (nearly two months after the lock-down started). He tells me:

"Temporary hospitals are almost all closed. But those were only for people with minor symptoms back then. It was those top level hospital with ventilators and ECMOs that saved Severe cases."