Coronavirus infections plummet 35% in a week, symptom-tracking app reveals

CORONAVIRUS infections have plummeted by a third in just a week, data from a symptom-tracking app has revealed.

An estimated 2,341 people are being struck down with Covid-19 each day, according to scientists from King's College London.

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Data from their COVID Symptom Tracker app last week put that number at 3,612 – around 35 per cent higher than the figures published today.

To put that into perspective, last month, new daily infections were above 11,000 per day in the UK.

Despite the falling numbers, the experts behind the app – which monitors the size of the outbreak across the country – say it's the first time the figures have stabilised.

Prof Tim Spector, a genetic epidemiologist at KCL, said: “With lockdown being eased over the last few weeks and more changes soon to come it’s interesting to see that we are now seeing a tail off in the decline.

"With Covid very much still in the population it’s really important that the UK continues to be cautious when it comes heading back to normal life."

North / South divide

The researchers, working alongside health tech company ZOE, started collecting data from around one million Brits with the app since the outbreak of the pandemic.

According to their latest figures, there are currently 2,341 daily new cases of Covid in the UK on average over the two weeks up to June 20

These figures were based on 14,422 swab tests from June 7 to June 20, including 56 positive swabs – but don't include care homes.

This week's data points to the return of a slight North / South divide as the Midlands, North West and North East all now have higher numbers of daily new cases compared to the southern regions like the South West and London which have very low numbers.

It also shows that the Midlands is now the region of England with the largest number with 716 daily new cases.

 

 

Most of the new cases – 1,978 – were in England, while there were 241 in Wales and 122 in Scotland. Estimates for Northern Ireland were not provided.

The app team pointed out that they have updated their approach in updating daily new cases.

That's because the number of people gaining access to antibody tests has increased in recent weeks – particularly in London.

As a result, the number of positive Covid cases has increased, the experts said.

They added: "Results from these antibody tests provide information about past infections, so removing reported antibody tests from the analysis gives a more accurate reflection of the number of new cases in the population."

Lockdown eases

It comes as Boris Johnson unveiled that the "national hibernation" would be coming to an end, with lockdown measures easing on July 4.

Among the new relaxed rules, people will be able to go to the pub, have a hair cut and meet up with friends and family indoors for the first time in months.

But scientists have urged caution so as to avoid a risk of a second spike.

Prof Spector said: "If we want to make this lifting of lockdown a success everyone needs to educate themselves on Covid-19 such as knowing all 19 symptoms.

Everyone needs to educate themselves on Covid-19 such as knowing all 19 symptoms

"Especially important is the first few days when cases are being missed when it is important to self isolate if unwell and getting tested rapidly.

"Also using technology like our app will give us valuable data and help us build a clearer picture of how much Covid-19 is in the population at any one given time, which will help us catch any potential second waves sooner rather than later."

For those with the app installed, they are asked regularly to report whether they have experienced any signs of illness or if they are healthy.

If they have symptoms that may be linked to Covid-19, they are prompted to get a test and report the results.

However, that means the app cannot accurately track the number of people who are catching the virus without symptoms.

It also doesn't include data from care homes or Northern Ireland where testing is too low to generate an accurate estimate, according to the team.

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So the true numbers are likely to be much higher than reported.

The Office for National Statistics collects data differently and uses regular testing of a representative sample of the population.

Last week, the ONS suggested there were around 3,800 new infections in England per day, which was in line with the Covid Symptom Tracker app data estimates this week.

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