Decline in Covid-19 spread amid early stages of lockdown easing, study finds

Coronavirus infection rates continued to decline even when some lockdown restrictions had been lifted, a new report from the country’s largest testing study has found.

The research, conducted by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI, involved 150,000 volunteers across England being tested for Covid-19 between June 19 and July 8 to determine the scope of the spread of the virus throughout the country.

An initial report from the study, released last month, found that the rate of infection throughout the country was halving every eight to nine days during May.

The study’s second report has now revealed there was further decline of infection in late June and early July, with the virus continuing to halve every eight to nine days during this period before ultimately falling to just under eight positive cases per 10,000 people.

This was despite the reopening of non-essential shops and restrictions being eased to allow the public to have more interaction with people outside their households.

In contrast to the first report, the second report also showed there were no significant differences between the rates of infection for key workers and non-key workers.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this demonstrates the effectiveness of the country’s infection control measures in limiting the spread of the virus in care homes and hospitals as well as the wider community.

He said: “This research highlights how, thanks to everyone’s efforts and sacrifice, alongside targeted measures to counter the spread of this virus in health and care settings, we were able to keep rates of infection low as some restrictions were lifted.

HEALTH Coronavirus Cases
HEALTH Coronavirus Cases

“However, we must not be complacent. I urge everyone to get a test if you have symptoms, self-isolate and provide your contacts to NHS Test and Trace so we can continue to keep the virus at bay and get back to normal.”

Among the other significant findings from the report was the average number of people infected with Covid-19 falling from 74,000 in May to 39,000 in June/July and no significant differences being detected in the rates of infection by age.

However black, Asian and other ethnic minority individuals were still more likely to test positive than those of white ethnicity.

Another study, focusing on the presence of Covid-19 antibodies throughout the community, is currently underway.