Covid-19 infections drop by a third in Lockdown 2, research suggests

Barney Davis
·3 min read
<p>Mounted police officers speak to people on Primrose Hill, London</p> (PA)

Mounted police officers speak to people on Primrose Hill, London

(PA)

Coronavirus infections fell by almost a third in England during the second national lockdown, research suggests.

There was a 30 per cent drop in cases across the country over almost a fortnight this month, the latest interim findings from Imperial College London’s React study showed.

Health secretary Matt Hancock thanked the public for the drop in cases but warned we “cannot afford to take our foot off the pedal just yet”, despite the fall in cases and progress on vaccines.

Latest figures showed the UK recorded 12,155 new coronavirus cases and a further 215 deaths yesterday.

The total number of infections recorded over the past week is more than a quarter less than over the previous seven days.

It takes Britain’s total Covid-19 infection count since the start of the pandemic to 1,617,327.

Regionally, the research suggests infections fell by more than half in the North West and North East, and were also down in Yorkshire and the Humber.

But prevalence remained high in the East Midlands and West Midlands.

More than 105,000 volunteers were tested in England for the ongoing research.

According to round seven of the study, there were 96 people infected per 10,000 between November 13 and 24, down from 132 per 10,000 between October 26 and November 2.

England’s second lockdown began on November 5 and is due to end on December 2, when the country will go into tiered restrictions.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial, said the findings suggest the tiers before the beginning of November, followed by the lockdown, had helped bring cases down.

He said: “Our robust data offers encouraging signs for England’s epidemic, where we’re seeing a fall in infections at the national level and in particular across regions that were previously worst affected.

“These trends suggest that the tiered approach helped to curb infections in these areas and that lockdown has added to this effect.

“As we approach a challenging time of year, it’s even more vital that, through our actions and behaviours, we all play our part in helping to keep the virus at bay.”

<p>Members of the public sit in the sunshine on the cliff overlooking The MV Britannia in Dorset</p>Getty Images

Members of the public sit in the sunshine on the cliff overlooking The MV Britannia in Dorset

Getty Images

The Department of Health said the research supports findings from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) that stronger measures would be needed in some areas to prevent the epidemic from growing and that local tiers should be toughened to keep the virus under control when the lockdown ends this week.

Mr Hancock said that, while the drop in cases is “encouraging”, the public must stick to the rules in the coming weeks.

He said: “Thanks to the huge efforts of the public over the last few weeks, we have been able to get the virus more under control.

“This latest data shows we must keep our resolve and we cannot afford to take our foot off the pedal just yet, despite the encouraging fall in cases and progress on vaccines.

“The next few weeks and months are the busiest time of year for our NHS, so it’s vital we all continue to follow new local restrictions, wash our hands, wear a face covering and observe social distancing.”

The news came as it was revealed shops could stay open 24 hours a day in the run-up to Christmas in a Government bid to boost England’s ailing high street.

Under the new plans, councils will be able to waive rules restricting retailers’ opening hours to help shop owners recoup sales lost during the coronavirus lockdown.

Announcing the move on Sunday, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said he wanted to ensure a “more pleasant and safe shopping experience” for all.

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