Should I quarantine after protesting?

June 8, 2020

Did you attend a protest over the weekend? Here’s what you need to know about your risks.

Tens of thousands of people across the UK joined rallies over the weekend to stand up for racial injustice, going against the current COVID guidelines to avoid mass gatherings. But it’s left many people wondering what these gatherings mean for their own risk and also for COVID-19 in the UK? 

Based on the data from the 3.4 million people using the COVID Symptom Study app we estimate around one in 200 people are affected with COVID in the UK population at the moment, with around 10,000 news cases daily. Of these half are probably in the infectious early five day period, which means around one in 400 people you meet are potentially infectious and with mild or no symptoms. This figure varies depending where in the UK you are based, as there are in the last four weeks consistently more cases in the north than  the south. 

Things like closeness of contact and the number of people and duration of exposure, as well as use of gloves and masks and sharing food, drink and utensils will all alter the likelihood of transmission of the virus during the protests. However, being outside will mitigate much of the risk. 

Based on our data, and many large assumptions such as a five percent chance of being infected from another infected person who you spend a long time with outdoors. We estimate that on average, the people who joined in the rallies this weekend and had contact with ten people, have a one in 800 chance of themselves becoming infected with COVID-19. These figures are likely to be higher in the north of the UK in places like Manchester (one in 400) and lower in the south in places such as Bristol (one in 1600) due to the regional differences in number of cases (see graphs here). 

It’s also important to remember, that even if exposed, we all have different chances of being infected and we know that overweight people and those with diabetes are twice as likely to pick up the virus. 

If you or any members of your household attended the rallies over the weekend and were in close contact with a large number of people, we recommend that you think carefully about your personal risks. Log into the COVID Symptom Study app to note any possible early symptoms. Estimating risk is not a precise science and to err on the side of caution and depending on your circumstances, you should ideally stay home for a week and avoid meeting others during that time to help slow any potential spread of the virus. 

We all need to work together to reduce the virus more rapidly in this country, by isolating and logging on the app we can keep our communities safe.

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