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Infection reduction may be flatlining

Thursday March 4th 2021

The prevalence of COVID-19 infection has risen slightly in four large English regions, according to the findings of a major national monitoring project.

Experts at Imperial College, London, UK, said the findings showed the need for cautious relaxation of lockdown – amid concerns that the spring weather, the extension of vaccination and return of schools next week will lead to the collapse of social distancing.

The REACT study found prevalence has risen “slightly” in London, the South East, the East Midlands and the West Midlands and has remained unchanged in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Overall national prevalence of infection fell from 1.57% to 0.49% last month, researchers found, with big reductions in the north of England, outside Yorkshire.

There was also a substantial reduction in infection rates among health workers – but an increase among those working in education. Some 2.1% of those of Pakistani origin were infected during the period.

The findings come from more than 165,000 people tested in the period up to 23 February.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “There is some cause for concern that our hard-won progress may be slowing down, and even reversing in some regions so it is important we remain vigilant – this is on all of us.

“We have set out a cautious, but irreversible approach to easing restrictions but until we reach each milestone, we must all remember the virus is still here, and still dangerous.”

Researcher Professor Paul Elliott said: “The fall in infections our study has observed since January demonstrates that national public health measures are working. But these new findings showing that some areas are experiencing apparent growth reinforce the need for everyone to continue to stick to the rules and help keep infections down.

“At this critical time, with lockdown soon to be eased, we need to make sure that our behaviours don’t risk a rise in infections which could prolong restrictions, which we all want to avoid.”

The UK yesterday reported 315 new deaths from the virus and 6,385 new cases.

* The NHS in London has been asked to draw up plans to manage a potential resurgence of the pandemic later this year, the Health Service Journal reported.

Tags: Flu & Viruses | UK News

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