Friday 15 May 2020 8:24 am

London now counts 'just 24' new coronavirus cases per day

Fewer than 24 people are now catching coronavirus on a daily basis in London, according to new research suggesting the capital could soon be virus-free.

The research by Public Health England and Cambridge University suggests London could be coronavirus-free as soon as June, based on new modelling statistics.

Read more: London coronavirus cases: How many infections are in your London borough?

The capital’s virus reproduction rate – known as R – has fallen to 0.4, compared to around 2.8 before lockdown.

That gives London the lowest R rate in the country, according to the University of Cambridge’s MRC Biostatistics Unit.

The research showed that for every 10 people who are infected, they are likely to pass it onto four people.

The number of new cases in London are halving every 3.5 days, and less than 24 transmissions are said to be currently occurring daily. That is according to the Telegraph’s report on the same modelling.

Before London’s lockdown began around 230,000 Londoners were being infected with coronavirus each day, the modelling data found.

After lockdown began on 23 March, however, that figure promptly fell. And by 7 April the number had dropped to 10,000.

Read more: Square Mile lockdown: City firms plot staff’s return to work

London was once the worst British city measured on coronavirus hospital admissions and the epicentre of the UK outbreak.

Now the UK’s highest rate of infection is in the North East and Yorkshire, at 0.8. It is seeing around 4,320 new infections a day, researchers said.

Keeping the R rate below one is a key target for the Prime Minister to continue easing the UK lockdown.

The statistics raise questions of how long London’s coronavirus lockdown should continue once the capital is virus-free.

This research has raised the prospect of whether the UK could introduce regional lockdown lifts rather than judge the UK as a whole.

Read more: Life after lockdown: What are the new UK social distancing rules?

Bim Afolami, the Conservative MP, told the Telegraph: “If you look at other countries, they’ve often adopted regional approaches. If it makes sense from a health perspective, we need to consider it.”

Theresa Villiers, the former Cabinet minister, added: “These figures are good news. They show lockdown measures have been working and I think they make the case for further easing of the lockdown in London.

“It’s vital that we do find ways to let the economy recover – and London is the powerhouse of the economy.”