Growth of coronavirus cases could slow, England’s largest infection study suggests.
A team from Imperial College London analyzed samples of 84,000 randomly selected people across the country.
They said the R-number, the virus’s reproduction number, appears to have declined since the introduction of measures including the “rule of six”.
However, they warn that the cases are high, with one in 200 people infected.
The React study is very influential, both because of its size and because it gives an up-to-date picture of how the virus is spreading. The last samples used in the analysis were collected as recently as Saturday.
It was the previous React report that found infections doubling every seven to eight days in late August and early September.
This, in turn, has led to warnings that there could be 50,000 cases per day by mid-October if this trend continues.
Then the research group estimated the R number – the number of people each infected person transmits the virus to, on average – to be 1.7.
The latest analysis, of swab samples taken between September 19 and September 26, suggests the R number has fallen to around 1.1 – although the precise figure is uncertain.
The researchers said this was the first clue that measures such as the ‘rule of six’ and increased public concern about the coronavirus ‘could have an impact on transmission’.
Professor Paul Elliott from Imperial College London told me: “This is a very critical time, we know that in an exponential phase you get very quickly to a very large number of cases.
“There seems to be a slowdown in the rate of increase, the R number seems to have gone down.
“Clearly no one wants a full lockdown, but if we pay attention to the public health messages on social distancing, hand washing, face covering, testing and isolation, then I think we can. stop the virus. “
However, this period when cases were doubling every week means that there are now many more viruses.
“What we have found is that the prevalence has increased markedly, with one in 200 people walking the streets each day has a measurable virus,” added Professor Elliott.
Because the study tests people at random, not all people who test positive develop symptoms.
However, the increase was noted in all regions of the country and in all age groups.
Infection rates were highest among 18 to 24 year olds, with one in 100 testing positive for the virus.
Infection rates were much lower among those over 65, but have increased sevenfold since the last report (from 0.04% to 0.29%).
“The idea that they’re all young and ‘that’s good’ just isn’t the case,” said Prof Elliott.
This is just one of many sources of information – alongside the Office for National Statistics, disease modeling groups, hospital data and the NHS Test and Trace – that the government relies on to assess. the situation.
‘No reason to be happy’
The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said on Wednesday: “We don’t have this under control at the moment.
“There is no reason to be complacent here. ”
The latest figures from the coronavirus in the UK showed there had been 7,108 other cases and 71 more deaths.
Last week Mr Johnson introduced restrictions, including a 10 p.m. closing time for pubs, bars and restaurants in England, with similar announcements in Scotland and Wales, and a 15-person limit for weddings.
Since then, new local lockdowns have come into force, including in the north-east of England, where households are prohibited from mingling indoors.
MPs now expect further restrictions to be introduced in Liverpool, after some MPs met with Minister for Care, Helen Whatley.
The city has seen a spike in cases, with a positivity rate of 16%.
BBC Newsnight was told the measures would be tougher than those in place in the northeast and could include a ban on pubs serving drinks without food.
Meanwhile, other MPs said the case for routine testing of all NHS staff in England was ‘compelling’.
The Health and Welfare Committee said it should be introduced as early as possible before winter.
The government and NHS England told the committee they wanted to conduct routine testing of staff, but any plan depended on available capacity.
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