What can we learn from Liverpool's lockdown?

Published 30 October 2020


Liverpool was added to the Covid-19 watchlist on the 11th of September. After a series of progressive measures (see chart below), Liverpool entered Tier 3 (very high) restrictions on the 13th of October.

The good news is that after weeks of growth in new cases, the number of new cases per week looks like it has started falling and hospitalisations at Liverpool University Hospitals has flattened out - albeit at a high level. 

This suggests that measures to reduce the spread of the virus work to some extent. But this may be too simple an explanation. Firstly, people do not always follow the rules of new restrictions - especially when they are not entirely clear. Secondly, there is a lack of information on which control measures work. Some have been copied, and the evidence is anecdotal. This is how gyms across Liverpool won a row to reopen (although soft play areas must close). Thirdly, we have very little information on what changed as a result of the restrictions. Mobility trends from Apple (see chart from Apple below) data suggest there may be a correlation between infections and mobility, which has fallen in recent days. But it is less clear how much of this has been caused by increased restrictions rather than genuine concern?

The missing information in the puzzle is... information. Restrictions have increased, but these have gone up along with actual infections, hospitalisations and newspaper headlines. Residents are genuinely worried. What does this mean for the prospect of a national lockdown 2.0? One conclusion is that local restrictions can bite  - especially when combined with good information on case numbers (like a broken record: more data on who, where, and when infections are happening would help). This has happened in Liverpool but at uncomfortably high infection levels.


It is less clear that a national lockdown would have the same desired effect as it did the first time, particularly in areas with fewer cases. And if it did, would it be credible to have further national lockdowns again-and-again over the next few months? 


It is a hard call, especially with so many new cases every day. If you want to explore our estimates and projections of new cases, hospitalisations and deaths, please do take a look at our web app (regularly updated) here: https://edgehealth.shinyapps.io/COVID_19_estimation/

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