Decline in UK Covid rates slowing with possible increase in some areas - study

Sarah Boseley Health editor
·1-min read
<span>Photograph: DW Images/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: DW Images/Rex/Shutterstock

The coronavirus is still around and dangerous and people should keep to the rules, the health secretary Matt Hancock has warned, as new data showed a slowing in the decline of infections and a possible slight increase in London, the south-east and the Midlands.

The latest REACT1 study, which collects swab samples from people around the country on a continuous basis, found a drop of two-thirds in infections since the last report on swabs collected from 6-23 January.

But the decline has slowed, say the Imperial College London team who run the study. In January to February, prevalence of the virus halved in 15 days. Since then, it has halved in 31 days.

While the R number is firmly below 1, the scientists warn that infection levels are still too high. One person in every 200 still has the virus.

Hancock said it was encouraging that cases were falling overall and thanked people for following the rules. But he warned that this was not the time to take any risks.

“There is some cause for concern that our hard-won progress may be slowing down, and even reversing in some regions so it is important we remain vigilant – this is on all of us,” he said.

“We have set out a cautious, but irreversible approach to easing restrictions but until we reach each milestone, we must all remember the virus is still here, and still dangerous. Please continue to stay at home – practise hands, face, space – and get your jab when you receive your invite so we can bring down infections further.”