A large-scale study has showed that the UK government’s efforts to control the pandemic may be working, as those infected are passing the virus on to fewer people. However, the overall number of infections has increased.
Researchers from Imperial College London tested more than 80,000 volunteers between September 18 and 26. The results, compiled by the polling organization Ipsos MORI, showed the infections had “increased substantially across all age groups and areas of the country.”
More than one in 200 people in England has Covid-19, the study concluded. This is a higher figure than that produced via the data from a previous study in late August to early September, which showed that 13 people per 10,000 were infected.
However, at the same time, the so-called ‘R number’ – which indicates how many people each infected person passes the virus on to, on average – fell from 1.7 to 1.1. And that’s a good sign, the researchers say.
Paul Elliott, director of the Real-Time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) study at Imperial, said the latest findings show “some early evidence that the growth of new cases may have slowed, suggesting efforts to control the infection are working.”
Nonetheless, he warned that “the prevalence of infection is the highest that we have recorded to date,” stressing the need for strong measures to curb the spread of the virus.
The study’s author, Professor of Infectious Disease Dynamics at Imperial, Steven Riley, noted that the situation in England is “fast-moving,” and urged “continued engagement from the public” to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and deaths.
In an interview with Sky News, former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt cited the study as “a glimmer of hope” that the UK might be getting closer to Italy, which had eventually “managed to contain the virus in the north of the country.”
The resurgence of Covid-19 has forced the government to halt its plans to continue easing restrictions. Instead, last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tougher rules on mask-wearing and social distancing, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock hinted that that the county risks going into a second nationwide lockdown if the situation continues getting worse.
A total of 7,108 new cases was recorded in the UK on Wednesday, compared to 7,143 the day before, which was the highest daily increase since the start of the outbreak.
On Wednesday, the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, gave the stark warning that “we don’t have this under control at the moment,” and “there is no cause for complacency.”
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