Covid cases have plummeted TWO THIRDS since January and 'R rate is 0.7', major study finds
COVID cases have dropped by two thirds since January in a “better decline than we could have hoped for”.
Scientists hailed the plummeting cases as “really encouraging” yesterday, but warned pressure on hospitals must ease before we unlock the country.
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Britain’s biggest virus infection survey found the R rate is down to 0.7, even as low as 0.6 in London.
The React study, by Imperial College London, carried out swab tests on 85,000 people across England between February 6 and 13.
They revealed all regions of England have seen a fall in cases – with London, the South East and West Midlands seeing the biggest dip.
Around 52 people per 10,000 are testing positive for the virus now, which is similar to the rates we saw in September last year.
Infections are halving every 15 days – which is good news for the Prime Minister as he gets ready to reveal the roadmap to get us out of lockdown.
Positive cases in all age groups have dropped, with the youngest schoolkids and young adults seeing the highest numbers.
The study found larger households, living in a deprived neighbourhood, and areas with higher numbers of people from an Asian background were associated with higher infections rates.
Professor Paul Elliot, director of the React study and chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine, Imperial College London, said: “It's really encouraging news, we do think that lockdown is having an effect.
“We can see this quite rapid decline from January to this month… but, the actual prevalence is still very high.
“We are only back where we were in September and clearly we want to be back where we were in August.
“No one wants to be in lockdown, we all want to be in a situation where we can go more about our daily business.
“On the other hand we want to get the level down to a level where pressure is taken off the hospitals.
“We can take some pleasure in what we are seeing, but I would say we are not out of the woods yet."
He added: “We know from PHE that over 80 per cent of the tests that they are sequencing are coming up as that variant now.
“So I think that it is very reassuring that despite that greater transmissibility of that variant we are seeing that decline, which is testament to lockdown and reducing social contact."
It comes as Covid deaths in the UK fell by more than a quarter in a week, with 738 more fatalities reported on Wednesday.
Daily infections also dropped by 24 per cent week-on-week with 12,718 new cases logged.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “These findings show encouraging signs infections are now heading in the right direction across the country, but we must not drop our guard."
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