Google tracking shows where people in Suffolk have been during lockdown
- Credit: Archant
Internet giant Google has released data showing people’s movements in Suffolk since the beginning of lockdown – with visits to the outside world plummeting in most cases.
We have now been in lockdown for almost four weeks, with many questioning when it will end, and if it is working.
Are people in Suffolk staying at home?
Using opt-in tracking software, Google has released figures which suggest people in Suffolk have been drawn back into parks since an initial avoidance of them when lockdown began.
Yet the number of people venturing out to green spaces for their daily exercise in the county is still more than 50% below usual levels for this time of year.
Visits to transport hubs, workplaces, grocery shops and pharmacies, plus trips out for retail and recreation have also plummeted in the weeks since lockdown began.
The data also reveals the majority of people tracked in Suffolk are staying at home and taking notice of the restrictions.
MORE: All the latest coronavirus news where you liveAfter Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement on March 23, movement figures for residential areas shot up by 25% on usual levels, with the highest peak above average of 32% happening on April 10 (Good Friday).
According to the data, the biggest slump in Suffolk after lockdown has been felt by (non-essential) retail and recreational sectors, with visits down 82% on average compared with usual levels of activity in this area.
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On the whole, Suffolk’s tracked movements are broadly in line with the rest of the UK, aside from transport hubs.
MORE: 1,300 people a week phoning coronavirus support lineThis may be partly due to Suffolk having far fewer major transport hubs on average compared with major cities such as London and Manchester, which are included in the UK data.
NHS England’s medical director Stephen Powis said at a Downing Street press conference that their own data analysis shows compliance levels from the public are very high.
He added: “We absolutely need to make sure that we keep the benefits of this going forward and we don’t take our foot off the pedal, we don’t become complacent.”
However, some people are continuing to flout lockdown, with Suffolk police issuing warnings to some 469 individuals this week alone.Is it possible to know if lockdown is working?
On Thursday, stand-in PM Dominic Raab extended the lockdown for a further three weeks, after he and scientific research group (SAGE) experts said it was too early to pinpoint the true impact of social distancing measures on deaths and cases.
However, the government’s chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance did say we are beginning to see a ‘flattening’ of the curve, though this may change over the next few weeks.
Trends are constantly being kept under review, and the data does not take into account deaths in care homes and the community.
Earlier this week, a Suffolk care boss revealed the death toll in our county could be up to 20% higher, while it emerged at least eight homes in Suffolk are battling outbreaks.The number of daily hospital deaths in the UK has fluctuated over the past week, with the highest number in a day – 980 – recorded on April 11.
It fell for three days in a row but rose again on April 17.
Daily positive cases have also fluctuated, with the number of tests carried out per day varying, although so far the peak has been on April 12, with 8,709 positive cases recorded.
Cumulative graphs of UK deaths and cases show a smoother flattening of the curve, though government chiefs have warned we cannot take our foot off the pedal yet, as if lockdown lifts too early, there may be a second wave.
MORE: National coronavirus death toll surpasses 15,000Compared with Italy and Spain, the UK’s daily death and case rates are not slowing to the same extent, suggesting we still have some way to go.
Up until April 12, when regional data was last validated by NHS England, the highest number of hospital deaths recorded across Ipswich, Colchester and West Suffolk hospitals was on April 8, with a total of 17 deaths.
Nick Hulme, who runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, recently told the EADT daily podcast it is tricky to predict when the peak will be in our region.
Is there an end in sight?
Lockdown is set to stay in place for at least another three weeks, until May 7.
Senior Tories have this weekend accused ministers of underestimating the public by refusing to discuss exit strategies for ending the restrictions.
Former Brexit secretary David Davis told the PA news agency: “There are lots and lots of benefits of being open about this.
“The argument that was put, that we don’t want to confuse the message, I think is just wrong.
“It underestimates the public. The public understand that there are phases to this.”
MORE: Temporary mortuaries ‘likely’ to be needed at Suffolk hospitals during coronavirus outbreakThe Government has set out what needs to happen before it will consider lifting the measures, but there has been no detail on how the easing of restrictions will take place.
A key adviser to the Government on coronavirus has said trials for a vaccine for the disease could be completed by mid-August.
Professor Sir John Bell, a member of the Government’s vaccine task force and adviser on life sciences, said human testing began at Oxford University last Thursday.