Coronavirus infections in England have plummeted by TWO THIRDS since January and R rate is now just 0.7 meaning the outbreak is ‘back where it was in September’, major Imperial study claims
- REACT random swab-testing study commissioned by the Government found ‘very encouraging’ news
- Cases have fallen all over England during the drastic lockdown in a ‘marked drop’ since the new year
- But prevalence is still high, experts warn, with one in 196 people testing positive in the first half of February
- They said case numbers are halving every two weeks, suggesting they could be below 1,000 by April
- Imperial researchers who did the study said easing lockdown would be about striking a ‘delicate balance’
PUBLISHED: 00:01, 18 February 2021 | UPDATED: 08:43, 18 February 2021
The country’s largest surveillance testing study yesterday found just one in 196 people in England were infected with the virus during the first half of February, down from one in 64 the last time around, in January.
Results from the REACT study, led by Imperial College London and commissioned by the Government, revealed 0.51 per cent of the population had the virus between February 4 and February 13, down from 1.57 per cent.
The testing of 85,400 people during this time revealed the R rate – the average number of those infected by each person with the virus – was estimated to be 0.7, meaning the epidemic is shrinking. The figures revealed a ‘marked drop’ in prevalence compared to last month, and a ‘reassuring level of decline’.
The positive news will no doubt pile more pressure on Boris Johnson – who was last night facing a growing clamour for the speedier lifting of lockdown.
Amid fears that Covid restrictions might last for months, business chiefs and MPs demanded an accelerated timeframe to save firms from collapse. Also warning of the social cost of lockdown, they cited the vaccine roll-out success and significant falls in deaths and infections.
The vaccine rollout has helped slash the number of deaths and infections, but the PM is being regularly reminded of the social cost of lockdown, amid fears firms unable to open under current restrictions will soon collapse.
The Prime Minister appeared to confirm a cautious timetable yesterday, saying he would take a ‘prudent’ approach and suggesting that pubs and restaurants would be among the last places to reopen.
The data shows that prevalence fell across all age groups, but research now suggests the virus is now spreading the most among primary school children and young people. Experts warn that reopening schools would need to be done ‘carefully’ in light of the study data, which shows Covid is most prevalent among five- to twelve-year-olds and those aged 18 to 24.
The relatively high number of children still attending school could be behind the high frequency in young people, it was suggested, the Guardian reports.