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COVID-19: What Boris Johnson will need to consider when deciding when to ease the lockdown | UK News




Over the next week, the government and its advisers will assess a host of COVID-19 data to develop a plan to ease lockdown restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will outline his non-lock roadmap February 22 and hopes to include the earliest possible dates for the reopening of different sectors of the economy.

But it all depends on the data – and there is a lot to consider.

Sky News has looked at the numbers on which the government will base its decisions.

Positivity rate

The percentage of tests of people who have come back positive has dropped significantly since the lockdown began and continues to decline.

But, the rate is still not as low as during the summer.

R number

In the past few days, the number of people infected by a person infected with COVID-19 has fallen below 1 for the first time since July.

The current R-number means that on average, for every 10 people infected, they will infect between seven and nine other people.

There can be a significant amount of variability in an area, especially if there is a local outbreak, so the government remains cautious about the R number, but experts from SAGE, the scientific advisory body, said the latest estimates “are reliable”.


The number of new cases each day has fallen since the start of the current lockdown, when they peaked.

They continue to decline but remain much higher than during the summer when far fewer people were tested, compared to now.


The number of people dying within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 has declined significantly since the peak on January 19, two weeks after the lockdown began.

But, deaths are still at the same level as Boxing Day and April 26, and after a continuous decline since January 28, February 8 has seen an increase.

Admission to hospital

The number of people admitted to hospital has dropped dramatically since the week after the start of the current lockdown and continues to decline.

But, like cases and deaths, daily hospital admissions are still much higher than the summer and are in line with mid-April and mid-November.

The Prime Minister said 60% of hospital patients with COVID are under 70 years old. So there is no time to relax … because the threat of this virus remains very real.

Outcome of COVID-19 hospital patients

As more people are vaccinated, the hope is that fewer people will be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 and fewer will die from the disease.

But the data suggests the death rate among COVID-19 hospital patients aged 70 and older remains high.


The government has met its goal of providing all four major priority groups – 15 million people – with a vaccine by February 15.

These included all residents and staff of older nursing homes, all over 70, all frontline NHS and care staff, and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

All regions have vaccinated the majority of people aged 70 and over, and people aged 65 and over are now offered their first dose.

London lags slightly behind the rest of England in giving the first doses to the first three age groups, although it is ahead in the 65-69 age group.

Mr Johnson warned on Monday that there was not yet enough data on how vaccination could stop transmission of the virus.

The prime minister warned that he and his advisers will have to be “very careful” about their decision to ease the lockdown and said he wants to see “cautious but irreversible progress”.

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