Coronavirus: London now has lowest rate of infection in UK and could see disease wiped out in two weeks

The capital records less than 24 new infections everyday

Kate Ng
Friday 15 May 2020 14:50
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London’s rate of coronavirus infection has fallen to less than 24 cases a day, the lowest in the UK, nearly two months after the region hit a high of 200,000 new cases in a day at the start of the nationwide lockdown.

Research by Public Health England and the University of Cambridge’s MRC Biostatic Unit showed the number of daily infections in London now halving every 3.5 days, which means coronavirus could be wiped out there within just two weeks.

However, the study suggests a drastic divide between the north and south of England as the northeast records around 4,000 new infections daily. The north east and Yorkshire are recording over 4,000 new cases daily, followed by the north west of England with 2,380 new infections every day.

Overall, the rate of infections in England appears to be slowing, with the data showing that the R value across the board is 0.75. This means the number of people on average an infected person will pass the virus to remains firmly below one.

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, said earlier this week that in order for lockdown measures to continue being eased, the R value must remain below one.

Broken down by region, London has an average R value of 0.4, which means for every 10 people who become infected with the virus, they pass it on to four other people.

In the northeast and Yorkshire, the average R value doubles to 0.8, followed by 0.76 in the south west.

The disparity in the numbers between the north and south of England has raised concerns about inequality and has put pressure on the government to consider easing the lockdown at different rates in different parts of the country.

Sheffield City Region Mayor, Dan Jarvis, told ITV News on Thursday that northern England was facing “particular challenges” with higher hospital admissions compared to the rest of the country.

He said: “I think that is likely because of existing medical conditions and generations of health inequality but I also think deprivation is a factor.

“Everybody needs to work together and we’ve got a good working relationship with national government but they need to trust in us – to give us the data so that we can make an informed decision.”

The housing minister, Robert Jenrick, suggested there could be such a response in different areas earlier this week. He told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “If we see there are outbreaks in particular localities, neighbourhoods, schools, towns, then we may be able to take particular measures in those places as we build up a more sophisticated and longer-term response to controlling the virus.”

The Department of Health (DoH) said in a statement in response to the figures: “Our current estimates of R are broadly consistent across the UK, although we cannot rule out it being different in different regions and nations.”

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