Swab tests on more than 105,000 people showed that Covid-19 infections are declining in England, according to an interim report from the Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) program.
The report includes results from home coronavirus tests taken between November 13 and 24, and shows that “an estimated 0.96% of England’s population has the virus, or around 1 in 100 people.”
“This is roughly a 30% drop in the number of infections compared with previous findings, where more than 1 in 80 or 1.3% of people had the virus as of 2nd November,” according to the researchers from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI.
The four-week national lockdown in England, which saw non-essential businesses close and residents told not to mix with other households, began on Nov. 5 and will end on Wednesday.
It came after the UK experienced a second wave of infection, which particularly affected regions in the north of England. The government introduced a localized system for the country, under which regions where infections were high were placed under tighter restrictions than other areas. England will return to a tiered system on Wednesday.
Cases dropped across most of the country, including in former hotspots, and most age groups except those of school age, where there was an increase, the researchers said. Schools remained open during the second national lockdown, while they were closed in the first lockdown in spring.
The researchers also drew attention to the fact “the virus is having an uneven impact” on people, with health workers, people living in large households and minority ethnic individuals all having a higher risk of infection.
“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,” said Paul Elliott, the director of the program at Imperial.
The research also showed the R-number (or reproduction number, which indicates how many other people each infected person passes the virus onto) has fallen below 1 to an estimated at 0.88, “meaning that the country’s epidemic is currently shrinking rather than growing,” according to the researchers.