Two weeks later, COVID-19 lockout in Britain works, study finds

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LONDON (Reuters) – Data collected from 2 million people in Britain using a new COVID-19 symptom tracking application suggests that locking measures are slowing the spread of the disease, announced Wednesday researchers.

A British government public health campaign is displayed at Piccadilly Circus as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Great Britain, April 8, 2020. REUTERS / Hannah McKay

The rate of new symptoms of coronavirus reported in Britain has slowed considerably in recent days, according to scientists at King’s College London.

Their latest figures suggest that around 1.4 million people in Britain aged 20 to 69 are currently presenting with symptomatic COVID-19, down from 1.9 million on April 1 as some have recovered and fewer people report new symptoms.

Decrease in new symptoms suggests that although the number of CVOID-19 patients admitted to hospital is increasing, as will the number of deaths, these should start to decrease in about two weeks if social distancing measures are continued .

Official figures show that the total number of deaths in UK hospitals from COVID-19 increased by 786 to 6,159 at 4:00 p.m. GMT on April 6.

Like many other countries affected by the pandemic, Britain imposed strict social distancing as well as closures of shops and schools. In presenting the measures more than 2 weeks ago, the authorities also asked everyone to stay at home, except for essential travel.

Tim Spector, who led the King’s team analyzing the symptom tracker data, said the signs were “encouraging”.

“Even though hospital admissions and deaths are still on the rise, we hope these figures will provide a well-deserved light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Spector’s analysis comes after preliminary work by researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine published a week ago also showed that social distancing can already work by dramatically reducing the number of daily contacts between people.

Spector said his data showed, however, that large British cities like London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool “continue to have very high levels of symptoms in the community”.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Wednesday that Britain was unable to facilitate the shutdown, as the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic is expected to be more than a week away.

Report by Kate Kelland; Editing by Giles Elgood

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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