Northern Lockdown Triggered by 14 Extra Cases. Or is it Five?

Matt Hancock receives the news from Chis Whitty: “14 extra cases you say? Right, let’s lock up four-and-a-half million people.”

Was the “surge” in cases in the North West that prompted the Government to impose a local lockdown on more than four million people due to 14 additional people testing positive? It certainly looks that way.

The ONS infection survey data showing that the number of infected people had risen from 0.05% of the population to 0.07% (still below the level of an epidemic), was based on just 59 people testing positive out of 116,026 swab tests over a six-week period. In the previous period, 45 people tested positive out of 114,674, which means the tipping point for a northern lockdown may have rested on only 14 extra positive tests. That’s well within the confidence interval so it’s perfectly possible that there’s been no increase at all and next week the numbers will fall.

If you compare the most recent week’s ONS data it shows 24 people testing positive out of 28,325, compared to 19 out of 31,542 the previous week. So a total increase of five.

Is this “the data” Matt Hancock referred to in his Twitter thread on Friday night when he announced the new restrictions?

No wonder some Tory MPs in “red wall” seats were furious when they heard the news. The Telegraph has more.

“They were furious. They were calling it an outrage. One of them was all over the place, screaming his head off,” said a Labour MP who witnessed the row unfold. “These are Tories who think Boris Johnson can do no wrong, and you could see the scales falling from their eyes.”

Sir Graham Brady, the Chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee and the MP for Altrincham and Sale West, said: “These new restrictions have been introduced over a large area, even though there are massive variations in infection rates. It is unfortunate that these restrictions were introduced so quickly and without consultation.”

Another senior Tory, with an affected northern seat, said: “I just think there remains a default position of extreme caution which jars with the reality that we may have to live with Covid for a very long time and we have to get on with life.”

By 1 August 2020 /

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