Think tank draws up COVID risk map

Deserted Oban during lockdown.

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A think tank has published an interactive map of Scotland showing parts of the country facing the greatest and lowest risk of coronavirus transmission.

The colour-coded map based on the country’s 354 council areas puts Oban North and Lorn as one of the constituencies least at threat, along with Oban South and the Isles and Mid-Argyll.

Researchers and analysts at Scotianomics who used various sets of data to create the free online map say it gives the most detailed possible picture of which Scottish communities are most at risk from passing on the virus and potential fatalities from it.

The data used includes population density; how many older people or those
with underlying health conditions live in the area; how many people use road and rail travel; how easy or otherwise it is to access local health services and what residents’ average income is in each area.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, founding director of Glasgow-based Scotianomics said: ‘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.’

The brains behind the map say it should help guide the Scottish Government on lifting lockdown restrictions on a phased, geographic basis.

If that happened, it could see schools or businesses in the Oban area open earlier than in places such as Inverclyde North which is ranked in first position – the riskiest location.

Out of 354 local authority areas, East Garioch in Aberdeenshire ranked the safest in 354th position, Oban North and Lorn ranked in 298th place with Oban South and the Isles in 321st place, Mid-Argyll in 304th place and Fort William at 326th place on the index.

Mr MacIntyre-Kemp said: ‘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 has already been submitted to the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery and the map’s online tracker will be updated as new data becomes available.

For the time being, the information does not factor in actual infection rates or fatalities from each area because those figures are not yet publicly available in enough detail.

To see the online map go to