Thursday 8 April 2021 6:00 am

England’s Covid-19 prevalence drops 60 per cent in March

The prevalence of Covid-19 fell 60 per cent between 11 and 30 March, with the sharpest falls seen in London and the South East.

Imperial College London’s latest React study found the prevalence of Covid-19 in London fell from 0.60 per cent of the population in February to 0.16 per cent in March.

National prevalence dropped by around 60 per cent, from 0.49 per cent in February to 0.20 per cent in March.

Despite the fall, the study estimated the R rate to be at 1. An R rate below 1 means transmission is low enough that the epidemic is shrinking, while an R rate greater than 1 suggests the outbreak is growing.

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Kelly Beaver, managing director of public affairs at Ipsos Mori, urged individuals to remain vigilant going forward, adding: “The R number being at 1 means we need to remain cautious in our approach over the coming weeks and months.”

Areas of higher prevalence in March remained in the North West and Yorkshire and The Humber, and infection was most prevalent among those aged five to 12, and least among those aged 65 and over, the React study found.

The correlation between prevalence of infections and deaths was diverging, suggesting that infections may have led to fewer deaths since the start of the widespread vaccine rollout.

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So far 31.7 million people in the UK have had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

A further 2,763 cases were reported in the UK yesterday, and 45 deaths.

React programme director professor Paul Elliott added: “We have seen a gratifying fall in infections since our last survey in February, with infections dropping by around 60% overall. This is hugely encouraging and shows we’re headed in the right direction.

“However, in our most recent data there has been a flattening off in the infection rate with an R number now around one. This shows that we need to continue to approach the situation with caution and keep sticking to the rules.”