How the UK lost control of Covid-19 three times

The number of people in England hospitalised with coronavirus was at a higher level before each lockdown.

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During his select committee appearance on Covid-19 on 26 May, Dominic Cummings told MPs that he texted Boris Johnson on 11 March to warn him of the need to immediately impose a lockdown. 

Yet it was not until 23 March that the government would order citizens to stay at home. Those 12 days allowed the virus to take root. By the time the UK went into lockdown, recorded cases had risen almost ninefold.


Despite the clear and catastrophic consequences of delaying lockdown in March, the government ignored advice from Sage to implement a new lockdown in September as a second wave of Covid began. 

It was not until November that England entered a second national lockdown. By that point, 10,994 people in England were hospitalised with Covid-19, more than three times as many as at the start of the first lockdown in March. 

Despite the number of daily cases remaining consistently above 12,000, the government then released England from lockdown on 2 December. Case numbers immediately shot upwards, reaching over 53,000 per day by the time a third lockdown was implemented on 5 January.

Ben van der Merwe is a New Statesman Media Group data journalist. 

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