Second Wave Covid Impacts on England & Scotland
It's a somewhat sad irony that one of the things that has kept me focused during the two national lockdowns has been my immersion in published data on Covid cases and deaths both in the UK and globally. In previous posts I've illustrated spatial variations in Covid cases across the UK nations and, more soberly, the inexorable rise in death rates by country across the globe.
In this post I turn my attention to how the second wave of the virus has affected local authorities across England & Scotland. England went into a second national lockdown on 05-November 2020. This was initially to last for 4 weeks with the plan to relax the constraints to allow Christmas to take place with some degree of normality. As infection rates soared, the constraints were extended into January and February.
On 22-February 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the government's roadmap for returning England back to a normal level of functionality. This would begin with a return to school for children of all ages on 08-March and relaxation of outdoor social mixing rules on 29-March. As we look forward to life slowly returning to normal I have taken the opportunity to look at how this most recent wave of infections has translated into changes in mortality rates across England & Scotland's lower tier local authorities (LTLAs).
The first map shows the distribution of cumulative death rates by LTLA on 11-Nov-2020.
The average death rate at this time for England & Scotland was just under 75. To make the legend neater I have rounded the ranges so as to make the mean 75. The places with the highest death rates relative to the average were clustered in the North West of England and Tyne & Wear. Other clusters above the average but less dramatically so were found in parts of Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Essex and Kent. The best outcomes were seen in the South West of England, The Highlands & Islands of Scotland and, perhaps incongruously, the rural area around Cambridge.
Move forward two months to a time nearing the end of the second wave and one can see the impact of the second wave.
The average cumulative mortality rate by 12-February was close to 180 per 100,000. I have taken 180 to be the average and set the ranges around it accordingly.
In Scotland, mortality rates continue to be generally lower than in England. Perth & Kinross and Aberdeenshire have experienced a worse than average past two months but Dundee, Edinburgh & The Lothians and in particular large parts of Northern Strathclyde have improved relative to the average.
Large parts of the North West of England have experienced a relatively good outcome during the second wave with death rates falling closer to the mean. The exception in this area is Blackpool and The Fylde Coast which continues to experience high rates or mortality. Tyne & Wear has also had a relatively good outcome during the past two months.
At the other extreme, places in Kent and the Eastern parts of East Sussex have been disproportionately impacted by the second wave. Hastings Borough and Rother District went from having some of the lowest death rates in the country at the start of November to some of the highest by February.
The Metropolitan centres of Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool as well as large parts of Greater London have all performed relatively well which may reflect a higher proportion of jobs that are being undertaken at home.
As always, however, I don't seek with these posts to speculate too much as to the determining factors behind the spatial distributions. I'll leave that to others.
The jpg images above will not stand up to too much zooming. If you are interested in browsing the maps then do download the pdf files below as they will give much better resolution at higher levels of zoom.