The number of people estimated to have Covid-19 in England has dropped by 40 per cent in a week, according to new figures, prompting hopes that the government’s roadmap for lifting restrictions remains “on target”.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed an estimated 54,200 people living in private households were likely to have tested positive for coronavirus in the week to 24 April, down from 90,000 in the previous week.
Commenting on the findings, Paul Hunter, professor in medicine from the University of East Anglia, said the results were “particularly important” as this week would have been the first to show the effect of the 12 April relaxation of restrictions.
“That there is in fact no evidence of an increased transmission risk is reassuring that for the time being at least it looks like the current roadmap is still on target,” Mr Hunter said.
However, Rowland Kao, professor of data science at the University of Edinburgh, warned that the survey did not yet “provide us with more information about what recent changes in restrictions are doing”, even though the continued decline in cases was “good news”.
The ONS found that rates had decreased in those aged between two and the school year 11, and in those aged 35 and over, but the trend was uncertain for those aged from school year 12 to age 34.
Overall, people testing positive had decreased in all regions of England except in Yorkshire and the Humber and in eastern England, where the trend was uncertain.
Meanwhile, about one in every 1,570 people in Wales were estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to 24 April, down from one in 840 in the previous week.
The figures came after Professor Tim Spector, epidemiologist at King’s College London, said that the UK was on track to reach herd immunity this year.
Referring to data from the Covid Symptom Study, which he runs, he told Sky News: “It looks like at the moment that we’re past that pandemic period and we’re moving into what we call the endemic period where we get low levels of infection, and occasional outbreaks, but they don't spread to the rest of the population, and the general risk is low.”
He added that people in regions of low infection who have been vaccinated “should be much more relaxed and less stressed out” now.
Additional reporting by PA
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies