Covid symptom app shows R rate below 1 across UK – but flags up 3 ‘at-risk’ hotspots

Covid symptom app shows R rate below 1 across UK – but flags up 3 ‘at-risk’ hotspots

 

The UK’s critical coronavirus R rate has fallen below 1 and infections are falling in every region of the country, a new study has found.

New research suggests the epidemic is shrinking with the reproduction rate now at 0.8 amid lockdowns in every UK nation, and cases have plunged by 51 per cent in a fortnight.

The Zoe Covid Symptom Study’s latest infection survey said second wave cases peaked on January 1 and hospital admissions are still high but are expected to fall next week, and deaths should start o plateau and fall soon.

But it also warned that three worst affected regions in the UK are London, Liverpool City Region, and Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea in Essex.

Experts expect that the rapid downward trends will slow down, something they have seen previously.

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Despite the trend, a leading expert behind the study warned Britons not to let their guard downs as the risk of infection is still high and “we still have a way to go”.

In some NHS hospitals, people infected with Covid-19 make up more than half of all patients.

According to the study, there are currently 34,133 daily new symptomatic cases of Covid-19 in the UK on average.

It is a decrease of 26 per cent from a week ago, when there were 53,528 daily new symptomatic cases, and 51 per cent two weeks ago, when the figure was 69,958.

There were encouraging signs in this week’s study, which suggests there has been a drop in the R rate.

The regional R values are 0.8 in England, Wales and Scotland. It is 0.7 in Northern Ireland.

The daily number of new cases is falling in all regions of the UK, the study found.

The slowest decreases are in the North West, West Midlands and South West, which have R values of 0.9.

The highest risk areas in the UK are London (1 in 54), Liverpool City Region (1 in 63) and Thurrock and Southend (1 in 63) in Essex.

In recent weeks, infection rates have been highest among people in their 20s.

The Zoe study suggests cases are falling dramatically in the 20-49 year olds who form the majority of cases, but more slowly in the 0-19 and over-60 categories.

Tim Spector, lead scientist on the Zoe Covid Symptom Study app and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “According to ZOE app data, cases peaked on 1 January and like confirmed cases, we’ve seen cases continuing to fall with an estimated R of 0.8.

“However, we expect these rapid downward trends will slow down, as we have seen before with this virus.

“Hospital admissions are still high with hospitals full with 23-55 per cent Covid patients across the country.

“But admissions have started to flatten, and if the trend continues we expect hospital admissions to fall next week and deaths to start plateauing and falling in the near future.

“Signs are hopeful we’re on our way out of this situation but risk of infection still remains high and we still have a way to go.

“Zoe app contributors are also now logging their vaccines, so we’re now monitoring the roll out and hope soon to see a direct impact on the numbers.”

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