Coronavirus circuit breaker lockdown: What is the science behind it and has it worked elsewhere?

- SKY NEWS - Oct 15, 2020 -

Pressure is growing on the government to impose a short-term "circuit breaker" lockdown in England in a bid to get rising coronavirus cases under control.

Northern Ireland faces four weeks of such measures, beginning on Friday.

Some scientists have warned the newly announced three-tier coronavirus restrictions do not go far enough, and only universal measures have any chance of curbing infections.

But what would it mean for people's daily lives, how long could a circuit breaker lockdown last, and where is the evidence it will work? Sky News explains.

What is a circuit breaker?

An actual circuit breaker is an automatic switch installed in an electrical circuit that flips and breaks the flow of electricity when there is a power surge or short-circuit, preventing fire and other damage.

A circuit breaker lockdown would therefore see people sever almost all contact with people outside their own household by shutting non-essential businesses and cutting social interactions, therefore reducing transmission of COVID-19.

Do scientists think it could work?

Thousands of deaths could be prevented up to January with a circuit breaker, according to scientific advisers to the government.

A modelling paper written by Professor Graham Medley and colleagues sets out that deaths could possibly reduce for the rest of the year from about 19,900 to 12,100.

Hospital admissions could be reduced from 132,400 to 66,500.

A limited lockdown, with schools and shops open but hospitality venues closed, could potentially cut deaths to about 15,600, they said.


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