Although coronavirus cases remain relatively high in most of England, the recent lockdown seems to have made a difference to the number of new cases.
In a major study carried out by Imperial College London, it was confirmed that the number of infections fell by approximately a third during November.
Furthermore, some of the hardest hit regions in the country saw rapid improvements. But, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warns that the number is still high and people shouldn’t try to “take their foot off the pedal just yet.”
What were the results of the study?
The “React-1” study was conducted by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI. It involved testing a random sample of over 100,000 people between 13th and 24th November.
The sample included people both with and without symptoms. This, along with the large sample size makes it a reliable, up-to-date view of coronavirus in the general public during the period.
Overall, the researchers found there was a 30% decline in new infections. Prior to this, at the end of October, it was reported that the number of cases had been doubling every nine days.
New cases are still being reported. But, it’s estimated that the virus reproduction rate has now fallen to around 0.88, meaning the number of infections will halve roughly every 37 days.
Hard-hit regions like the North East and North West had the most notable improvements, with the number of new cases falling by more than half in November.
What happens next?
The results of the study are great news. However, experts warn that the number of cases is still high in England, particularly among people in deprived areas and for those living with larger numbers of people in their household.
Lead author of the study Professor Paul Elliot said in an interview, “These trends suggest that the tiered approach helped to curb infections in [the worst-affected areas] and that lockdown has added to this effect.”
But he added: “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. It’s really important in the run-up to Christmas that we keep the virus under control.”
Going forward, there will be a strict three-tier system in place in England until at least January. At the moment, 99% of households are in the highest tiers, with restrictions on household mixing and socializing in bars and restaurants. This will be reviewed in the coming months.