New map of Scotland shows areas most at risk for Covid-19 transmission

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A NEW interactive map has been launched showing the areas of Scotland most at risk of Coronavirus transmission.

A team of researchers and analysts at Scotianomics used multiple datasets sets to draw up its COVID-19 Community Risks Index, the most detailed possible picture of which Scottish communities are most under threat.

Now the organisation has produced a colour-coded map based on council constituencies which it says should help guide Scottish Government policy on lifting lockdown restrictions on a phased, geographic basis. 

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, founding director of Scotianomics in Glasgow, said: The public and business reaction to Coronavirus is highly-charged and often emotional.

“We believe this geographic breakdown can help the national response to provide clear analysis of existing data.

Image supplied

What is evident is that, for a wide variety of reasons, the risks vary hugely in different communities across Scotland.

“In terms of both the economy and health and well-being, we believe it makes sense to ease the lockdown according to those regional differences in risk.

There has already been a great deal of debate on whether the four nations within the UK should ease restrictions in lockstep, despite the fact that Oban is likely to have a completely different risk profile to Tower Hamlets in London.

“What our research shows is that there are also significant variations even within Scotland.

Across the world, other countries, including China, Italy and Germany, responded to the initial threat on a regionalised basis and are now lifting lockdown according to regional variations.

“Our research suggests this is the most likely way to prevent a second wave and to protect the economy.

The research, led by senior researcher Samuel MacKinnon, was conducted during April and has already been submitted to the Scottish Governments Advisory Group on Economic Recovery and has been welcomed by Government Ministers.

However, it is now being made publicly accessible and Scotianomics has pledged that it will update the online tracker as new datasets become available.

Currently, the research does not factor in actual infection rates or fatalities in each area as these figures are not yet publicly available in sufficiently detailed format.

Instead it is based on existing data for Scotlands 354 local authority wards and calculates each areas risk of exposure according to two factors – transmission probability and potential for fatalities.

The data used in those calculations include population density and socio-economic factors such as how many people use public transport and accessibility to health services.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp (image supplied)

Mr MacIntyre-Kemp added: We want to be absolutely clear. This is nothing to do with the number of cases in an area or how well people living in each area have observed the lockdown.

“It is not a map of COVID-19 cases across Scotland, but of the areas most at risk of community infection.

However, what it sets out very clearly is that the risks of transmission and the likelihood of fatalities within particular communities can be predicted with a high degree of confidence.

For example, our findings suggested that Inverclyde was the most at risk community in Scotland, taking up the top six spots on the index. That has been borne out by the actual impact of COVID-19 in the area.

“This clearly demonstrates the scope to consider issues such as schools reopening on Orkney to a different timescale to Greenock.

“We already have a weather warning system with yellow, amber or red alerts which are adapted to different parts of Scotland. Likewise, schools have different holidays in different council areas, all of which suggest that a phased reopening of Scotland, and indeed the rest of the UK, would not be that complex. 

It is our hope that this kind of fact-based, data-driven research will help shape the Scottish Governments plans to get the best possible outcomes for both public health and the economy, by lifting lockdown according to the very different risks in different areas.

The COVID-19 Risk Monitor can be viewed online at https://www.scotianomics.org/covid19-risk-monitor/

 
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