Covid: ‘No evidence’ virus levels decreasing in England

 Covid: ‘No evidence’ virus levels decreasing in England

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Scientists tracking the spread of coronavirus in England say infection levels in the community may have risen at the start of the latest lockdown.

Swab tests indicate 1.58% had the virus during the period 6-15 January, with the highest level, 2.8%, in London.

The Imperial College London researchers say there was “no strong evidence” of these high infection levels.

The past few days have seen a clear slowdown in the number of lab-confirmed cases reported daily by the government.

But the Imperial College London researchers say their data – based on swab tests from 143,000 people across England, of which nearly 2,000 were positive for the virus – is more up to date because it does not rely on those being tested developing symptoms and then waiting to have their infections confirmed by a laboratory.

Before the Covid rules were tightened when the national lockdown came into effect on 6 January, the restrictions faced by people in England varied depending on where they lived.

The researchers say the government’s latest daily case figures may reflect a drop in cases just after Christmas, which is only now being registered.

And they suggest infection levels may have gone up in early January as a result of people’s activity increasing after the Christmas holiday period.

They admit there is some uncertainty in their data amid a “fast-changing situation” but conclude health services will remain under extreme pressure.

Ministers say the Imperial College London report does not yet reflect the impact of the national lockdown in England.

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Redak staff

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