The second lockdown in England, from November 5 to December 2, was seriously jeopardized by government leaks in late October, indicating restrictions were imminent.
The delay between the first leak on October 31 and the lockdown going into effect on November 5 gave the public "five days of freedom" that they had used to flock to restaurants and shops and socialize before it was banned.
A new study found that this grace period sparked a spate of new infections in areas that were in Tier 1 and 2 at the time, including London, Bristol and Leicester.
Case numbers and the R-rate peaked in mid-November due to a delay in detecting and registering new infections.
However, the lockout was effective as it went into effect as the infection rate fell and the R-rate dropped to about 0.7.
However, according to researchers, "much of the positive impact of the national lockdown was lost" due to the five-day window of time during which the public mixed and the spread of the virus increased.
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This graph shows infections for levels from October 14th to December 7th. It covers the November lockdown and shows an increase in cases after the five-day grace period between October 31 (when the lockdown leaked to the press) and November 5 (when the lockdown occurred) in Tier 1 and Tier 2 regions. There was no increase in tier 3. The peak of the curve is in mid-November as detection of all cases caused by the four-day window lock has been delayed
This graph shows the R-Rate in Tier 1, 2, and 3 from October 14th to December 7th. There was no increase in tier 3 in the five-day grace period. However, the R-rate increased in Tier 1 and Tier 2. The R rate peaked around November 17 due to a delay in detecting all cases, but ultimately the five-day window resulted in an increase from 1.1 to 1.2 in Tier 1 and from 1 to 1 , 15 in Tier 2
LEEDS: People out in Leeds city center, ahead of England's national lockdown in November. The night owls gathered in front of the restrictions in force
A pre-pint published on the medRxiv website, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, analyzed infection data across England for the duration of the lockdown.
It found that there was no increase in infections in the five-day window in Tier 3 areas, which at the time were only parts of north-west England around Liverpool.
"It has been suggested that this surge in cases at the start of lockdown was due to increased socializing," the researchers write.
& # 39; Google Mobility saw an increase in non-grocery visits to retail and recreational facilities just before the lockdown began in England but not Scotland.
“ Given that this early lockdown surge did not occur in Tier 3 … a link to increased sociability in the days leading up to lockdown is plausible.
"In any case, the value of the lockdown in Level 1 and 2 authorities appears to have largely been lost by this surge in early November."
The researchers also draw a link between the surge in infection rates and the government leak.
The whisper of a month-long November lockdown first came on Friday, October 31, and was the front page of The Daily Mail that evening.
At the time, only Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock had discussed the decision. Before this ministerial quad could communicate to the rest of the Tory party, the news was leaked, infuriating politicians.
An investigation was opened on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. to determine the cause of the leak. The politicians intended to keep the plan under wraps until Monday.
BIRMINGHAM: Friends in Birmingham are enjoying a night on the town before November 5th restrictions apply across England
NEWCASTLE: People out in Newcastle, ahead of England's November national ban. There was a heavy police presence in several cities
Later that day, the Prime Minister, flanked by Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty, gave a belated press conference unveiling the plan for a second lockdown and announced that it would not go into effect until the following Thursday.
This delay made it possible to determine the five day period and as a result the infections in Tier 1 and 2 rose sharply.
The national lockdown went into effect just three weeks after the three-tier system went into effect on October 14th.
Lead researcher and Covid-19 expert Professor Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich Medical School said: “People have been told to stay at home except for specific purposes. The non-essential retail trade was closed, but schools and universities remained open.
& # 39; However, there have been plenty of news about this new lockdown in the last two days of October.
"This gave people almost a week of 'freedom' and it seems that window made cases soar."
Department of Health and Welfare data has been checked by all 315 local authorities in England.
By tracking infections over time, the researchers also calculated the change in R-rate over time.
Professor Hunter said, “We saw there was a significant increase in infections from a few days before to a few days after the lockdown was put in place.
However, this increase was almost entirely related to Tier 1 and Tier 2 authorities. In Tier 3, where pubs could only be operated as restaurants, there was no such increase.
"After this initial increase, cases decreased at all three levels, with the R-value dropping to a mean of about 0.7 across all levels."
Michael Gove warns that March is the EARLIEST that the brutal third lockdown can be relaxed
Michael Gove today warned strongly that the lockdown will not be gradually lifted until March – and that the schedule will depend on the government achieving its ambitious vaccination targets.
The Cabinet Minister admitted there was no "certainty" that the brutal pressures Boris Johnson put on England last night will be eased in late February, as hoped.
The Prime Minister has set himself the goal of giving more than 13 million vulnerable people first doses of vaccine over the next seven weeks, although doubts have already been expressed as to whether this is possible.
But Mr Gove warned that even in the best case scenario, not all of the curbs will go away as he long-term prepared the weary public for the rapidly spreading new variant of the coronavirus.
In a round of interviews, Mr Gove said that a review of the situation would take place at mid-February.
"We hope we can gradually lift the restrictions after that, but I can't predict – no one can predict – exactly what we can relax and when," he told Sky News.
"We know that the more effective our vaccination program, the easier it will be to lift these restrictions, the more people are protected in this way."
The grave reservations came as Labor brushed off that the prime minister had "over-promised" vaccination hopes when it made another extraordinary U-turn by putting the country into a March-style lockdown, saying the NHS was risking within Weeks of being overrun if he doesn't act.
Just a day after urging parents to send their children back, Mr Johnson stated in a grim address from No. 10 that elementary and secondary schools will be closed starting today and only the vulnerable and offspring of key workers will be allowed to enter.
Kindergartens can remain open. However, university students are instructed to stay at home and study remotely, while GCSE and A-level exams do not go as planned.
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