Is lockdown working in north London? Here's what the latest data tells us

A coronavirus testing site. Picture: PA/Jane Barlow

Covid-19 transmission rates are slowing in Barnet, Camden and Haringey. - Credit: PA/Jane Barlow

Coronavirus infection rates are now slowing across much of north London, bringing some hope that lockdown is working.

However, hospitals serving Camden, Haringey and Barnet continue to face a “relentless” influx of severe coronavirus cases.  

The Data 

 Between Wednesday, January 6, and Saturday, January 9, Barnet’s infection rate was lower than it had been a week earlier, according to the latest government data.

On January 6, the borough had 953.1 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents – down 3.2 per cent on a week earlier.  

On January 9, it was down 7.1pc on the week before.  

On the same day, infection rates in Haringey and Camden also began dropping.  

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Haringey was down 2.3pc on the week before and Camden was down 3.1pc.  

It was the first time Camden’s infection rate had dropped, week-on-week, since December 5, and the first time Haringey’s had fallen since November 27.  

The local picture 

But the decrease is not happening everywhere. In Camden, cases were up by 23.3pc in Abbey Road, 20.4pc in the Caledonian Road area, 14pc in the Fitzjohns and Royal Free area, and 6.1pc in Hampstead town.  

But in South Hampstead cases were down 28.6pc and in West Hampstead they had fallen by 12.1pc. Tufnell Park West had seen infections plummet by 57.8pc.  

Cases were also down 35.3pc in Muswell Hill North, 19.1pc in Muswell Hill South, 16.7pc in Highgate Wood and 12.1pc in Highgate West.  

Why the drop? 

On December 19, London was placed under Tier 4 restrictions. On January 6, England entered a new national lockdown.  

The virus typically takes more than a week to incubate and cause symptoms, prompting people to get tested – so the falling infection rate from January 6 would indicate a reduction in transmission between one and two weeks earlier, during Tier 4 restrictions. 

However, the fall could also be a natural consequence of people having been at home over Christmas and New Year, rather than mixing with others in school and at work. 

Therefore, it will take another week to know whether lockdown restrictions are working. 

Severe cases 

Hospitalisations and deaths are typically several weeks behind infection rates, as the virus takes time to become severe.  

So as new infections began to fall in early January, severe illnesses continued to rise. 

On January 9, as all three boroughs’ infection rates fell week-on-week, the number of people being admitted to hospital increase.  

That day, the Royal Free hospital trust had 495 Covid-19 inpatients – up more than 15pc on a week earlier, when there had been 430.  

The Whittington Trust was up more than 17pc, with 182 Covid-19 inpatients on January 9, compared to 155 a week earlier.  

By January 12, each had increased further – the Royal Free to 503 and the Whittington to 185.  

This week the Ham&High reported that the Royal Free had seen its adult critical care beds hit 98pc of capacity and the Whittington had hit 100pc, leaving staff “exhausted” and “distressed”.  

Both trusts urged the public to comply with lockdown rules, to help reduce the pressure hospital staff were facing.