Covid infection rate has stopped rising across England and may be falling in the North, study suggests

THE Covid infection rate has stopped rising across England and may even be falling in the North, a study has suggested.

Scientists at Cambridge University have published their new model – revealing that the virus infection rates have halted in every part of the country.

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And the research also shows that the R rate has fallen to 1 – suggesting that the growth of the pandemic is no longer escalating.

The researchers from the MRC Biostatistics Unit Covid-19 Working Group said: "We estimate R to be around 1 in all regions.

"The growth rate for England is estimated at 0.0 per day.

"This means that nationally the number of infections has stopped growing with initial evidence of possible decrease in the North East and North East and Yorkshire.

"The plots of the R over time show clear downward trends."

This revelation comes after the number of coronavirus cases yesterday dropped by 31 per cent compared to last Thursday, while deaths were down 11 per cent.

Sage and the Office for National Statistics are set to both publish their estimations of the R rate today – which will formally show if the second lockdown has worked so far.

If the data points towards a slowing infection rate, Boris Johnson will be in a stronger position to remove the current lockdown measures when they come to an end on December 2.

INFECTION RATE HALTED

But Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, warned social restrictions may need to remain in large parts of England when the national lockdown ends next month to stop infection levels rebounding.

He said: "A halving of infection prevalence over the four weeks would be a positive result."

However, Prof Ferguson said it was "too early" to tell how much of an impact the second national lockdown had.

He said: "We now have clear evidence that Tier 3 measures were working to bring down infection rates in some areas. Tier 2 was also having an impact, but a smaller one.

"The decision is a political one, but if we don't want to see infection levels rebound from December 3 my assessment is that measures between Tier 2 and Tier 3 will be necessary in the great majority of locations."

The Cambridge team has predicted that the true daily caseload in England is 49,700 – but more than half are not picked up by the testing programme.

Last week, it was suggested that the UK's coronavirus R rate was below 1 – and was falling before lockdown.

The crucial value was estimated to be 0.9 across the country, according to new data from the Covid Symptom Study app.

Professor Tim Spector, whose team run the app, said the latest data also shows rates of new infections have dropped to below 36,000 a day.

He said: "Thanks to everyone's efforts, the R value and the number of infections has come down now across the UK and across all four nations to below 1.

RATE RELIEF

"Though, there are regional variations, that's fantastic news.

"Numbers are still high – to around 35,000 cases a day, but nevertheless it's all going in the right direction."

Yesterday, coronavirus deaths rose by 501 across the UK, but infections dropped by more than 10,000 compared to last Thursday.

Another 22,915 Covid infections were confirmed, down from the 33,470 recorded this time last week.

It was the second day in a row that the number of deaths had dropped, having fallen from 598 on Tuesday to 529 on Wednesday.

And with the second national lockdown set to end on December 2, Brits are eagerly waiting to see what tiered system will replace it.

Ministers are discussing plans for families to meet in social "bubbles" of up to four households over a five day festive period in December.

But the five days of "freedom" could result in another 25-day lockdown in the new year.


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