EXPERT COMMENT: Bolton lockdown data is out-of-date

The coronavirus data which the Government is using to lift lockdown restrictions in Bolton is not accurate, says Dr Duncan Robertson – an expert in dynamic modelling from Loughborough University.

At midnight last night, three local lockdowns in Greater Manchester – Stockport, Bolton and Trafford – were all ended, allowing residents to now meet in homes and private gardens.

Despite the official easing, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has still urged people to continue to follow restrictions on social gatherings.

Loughborough’s Dr Duncan Robertson has backed Mr Burnham’s pleas and says the lockdown has been lifted too soon.

He said: “The Government appears to be lifting lockdown restrictions in Bolton on the basis of out-of-date data.

“Public Health England, together with the Joint Biosecurity Centre and NHS Test and Trace, issue a weekly watchlist of local authorities and their ‘Contain Framework Watchlist status’. 

“This showed that the restrictions in Bolton should be reduced from ‘Intervention’ to ‘Enhanced Support’ on the basis that there were 18.9 cases per 100,000 Bolton residents.

“That made sense, with a decreasing trend and a relatively low incidence.

“The weekly watchlist is however out-of-date.

“The latest report published on August 29, only shows data for the previous week and is based on data between August 17 and August 23, and where available daily data up to August 25, 2020.

“However, the most recent data on the Government’s data website shows that the cases in Bolton are far higher, with the current weekly figures in excess of 60 cases per 100,000 (for comparison, the German Government uses 50 cases per 100,000 as their threshold for the ‘emergency brake’).

“The Government appears to be using out-of-data data for releasing local lockdown measures in Bolton.

“In the Bolton case, the Government needs to rely on the most timely, accurate data in order to make the best policy decisions.”

*Dr Robertson is available for interviews:


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 20/150

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