One science advisor to the government said that frequent “mini-closures” may be effective as a tool to control Covid-19 cases.
The suggestion of Professor John Edmonds, a member of the government’s Sage Scientific Advisory Group, comes amid mounting evidence that the virus is spreading among the elderly and the most vulnerable.
A quarter of the country’s population is now living under tighter Covid-19 restrictions, including a ban on household mixing, as London is about to take more measures. Scotland has already introduced stricter rules.
The government has so far decided against the so-called “circuit breaker” – a miniature national lockdown for two weeks – that some scholars have called for.
However, with warnings of a spike in daily deaths en route as the virus grows, Edmunds, dean of the School of Epidemiology and Population Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said deploying more than one circuit breaker could be effective. .
“A circuit breaker or a miniature lock can be used to reset the watch,” he told Foreman. The idea would be to return the injury to what it was a few weeks ago. You can replace two weeks of exponential growth with two weeks of decline in cases. This can have a significant impact on the total number of cases, especially if it is implemented soon after the outbreak begins.
“To maximize the effect, you also need long-term measures to slow growth – perhaps similar to what Scotland did. It is possible of course to do more than one circuit breaker – maybe one now and one around half the time. That could help reduce cases and deaths – and since the measures are short. Term and can be planned – it likely limits the impact on the economy. “
David Hunter, professor of epidemiology and medicine at the University of Oxford, said that travel restrictions should be taken into account at mid-term “in order to limit the spread of the virus in areas with low prevalence.”
The spread of the virus has nearly tripled among those in their 60s since the start of the month, according to official data analyzed by Duncan Robertson, an expert in policy and strategy analysis at Loughborough University. There are 23 cases per 100,000 people in their 60s, up from eight per 100,000 at the end of August; And 22 cases per 100,000 people over 80 – up from nine at the end of August.
“It is extremely important to reduce infections among older age groups,” said Robertson. “Without an effective testing and tracking system, people are less able to test, and their contacts are less likely to be traced, allowing the epidemic to spread throughout the population, including vulnerable groups.”
The government has so far said that reinstating the national protection program is not necessary. However, major charities that provide aid and services to vulnerable groups, such as those with severe asthma and the elderly, said they had detected an increase in people who self-isolate at home. They said hundreds of thousands of people had not stopped protecting themselves since the pandemic began, raising serious mental health concerns.
“Some people have chosen to go out and more during the summer months,” said Ruth Issden, head of health and influencing care at Age UK. “And of course, with everything in the news, that mood changes again.”
Sarah McFadden, head of policy and foreign affairs at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said plans were needed to avoid the problems that arose last spring, when some people struggled to access food – while others got help who didn’t need it.
James Taylor, executive director of strategy, impact and social change at the disability charity Scope, has called for greater clarity in communication with people most at risk.
He said, “Some of the things that we heard over the past two days are that many people are anxious and confused about what they should and should not do and what rules apply specifically to them.”