14 November 2020

The worst cases

In my last post I looked at the age breakdown of some generally not-too-bad areas of the country, where the rate of current infection is below the national average. But some areas are way above the average. There are neighbourhoods (known as Middle layer Super Output Areas or MSOAs) where the current weekly rate is over 1,000 per 100,000 residents. (In Lewisham it's around 100.)  MSOAs contain on average around 8000 residents, and in some of them 100 or more people a week are testing positive. Sorry for the barrage of figures. The short version is that these neighbourhoods are around ten times worse than where I'm lucky enough to live. 

I'm not going to name them, although it's easy enough to do the online search. If it hasn't happened already I don't want to do anything that would enable tabloid journalists to name a given area and stigmatise it. But it's generally known that authorities spanning the Pennines are badly affected so I've looked at three of them: Blackburn with Darwen, Kirklees, and Oldham, with rates of 720.8, 559.6 and 776.9 respectively. 

Combining the figures for the three districts we get the following charts.

And we see that, as in Lewisham, the proportions of the different age groups remain pretty constant, even when the raw numbers are rising rapidly. There's no apparent university effect here, and I think there are no major universities in the three areas; not major enough, at any rate, to skew the figures.

Let's look at Exeter again. With November about a third of the way through, this is how it's looking. The peak in student-age number seems to have passed and new cases are generally declining.

Finally, it looks as if the south-east is flaring up in places. Here are the charts for Thanet.  

Obviously not a university-dominated area, but what's alarming is that the confirmed cases in November already outnumber those in October. You could argue that Thanet is now in a worse position than the Pennines districts.

What all this illustrates, I suppose, is different areas have different experiences, which shouldn't be surprising. Should different areas have different controls? Maybe, but a national lockdown is easy to understand, and seems more equitable and so may have better compliance. It's not an easy question.