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Want to understand the Covid map?

By : The Report
Published : Nov 30, 2020 08:35:00 AM | Opinion

hy does the late November map of the three-tier system in England look so much like a depiction of the north-south divide? In one sense, the explanation is simple: the tiers are principally set according to prevalence of the disease in each area and that is higher in much of northern England.

But why is the disease currently more common in the north? Why, in early autumn, were you more likely to be infected if you lived there? In part, this might be due to the seasonal nature of the virus and autumn comes first to the north. However, that does not explain why North Yorkshire and Cumbria are not now in the highest tier.

The greater truths are that in poorer, more often northern, parts more people have jobs that cannot be done from home and more use public transport. Frequently, childcare is provided by the extended family who live nearby – wages and benefits are usually too low to allow other childcare options. There is less early retirement and more pensioners need to work too. Further, overcrowding in homes in cities is more common and anyone out of work exacerbates that.

There is also the question of taking a test. People are often not sure whether they have symptoms or not. If the implication of volunteering to take a test is that you and your family are then trapped in a small home for two weeks, that your older children cannot go out to work, that your school-age children will be trying to learn at home with whatever computer you have (if any), and that you and any partner you have also cannot go out – would that influence whether you thought a test was worth it? Of course it would.