Covid-19: Circuit-breaker lockdown could ‘buy Scotland time’

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Jason Leitch said a “circuit-breaker” lockdown could help suppress the spread of the virus in Scotland

A “circuit-breaker” lockdown could help Scotland reduce Covid-19 infection rates by getting the R number down, the national clinical director has said.

Jason Leitch told BBC Scotland a two-week circuit-breaker could buy the country 28 days in the pandemic.

He said some closures to business and education would deliver a “short, sharp shock” to the R number without the need for a full lockdown.

The Scottish government has warned of a “rising prevalence” of the virus.

Another 758 positive cases were confirmed on Sunday and Deputy First Minister John Swinney said further restrictions may be introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The numbers of Covid-19 patients in hospital and those being treated in intensive care is also rising.

  • Can a ‘circuit break’ halt the second Covid wave?

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Nine programme, Mr Leitch said a circuit-breaker – a short period of tightened restrictions – was about “buying yourself more time”.

“Not full lockdown like 23 March – so you might make some choices in there about schools or about further education – but fundamentally a short, sharp shock to the R number,” he said.

“You get the R number down, you get the numbers down to a reasonable level and then you can bring to reintroduce some of the things that you’ve closed.

“So the idea is that a two-week, roughly, circuit-breaker, would buy you 28 days. You don’t know that for sure, because it’s not an exact science, but it would buy you about a month in the pandemic.”

Mr Leitch said there was a choice to be made on whether a circuit-breaker lockdown would be a cost “worth paying”.

The R number – also known as the R-value or reproduction number – is a way of rating any disease’s ability to spread and refers to the average number of people an individual would be expected to infect.

The higher the number, the more out of control a disease is.

If the reproduction number is higher than one, then the number of cases increases exponentially.

But if the number is lower the disease will eventually stop spreading, as not enough new people are being infected to sustain the outbreak.

The Scottish government estimates the R number could been above once since early September and currently could be as high as 1.7.

BBC News