There are signs that restrictions on social contact such as limiting gatherings to groups of six may be helping slow the spread of Covid-19 across the UK, according to a major study.
Researchers from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI tested more than 80,000 volunteers in England between Sept. 18-26 as part of the country’s largest survey into Covid-19.
The results show infections increased substantially across the country and the virus is still spreading, with an estimated one in every 200 people infected. But the “R rate” — which measures how many people each infected person passes the virus on to — fell to around 1.1, from 1.7 in late August and early September.
“While our latest findings show some early evidence that the growth of new cases may have slowed, suggesting efforts to control the infection are working, the prevalence of infection is the highest that we have recorded to date,” said Paul Elliott, director of the program at Imperial College. “This reinforces the need for protective measures to limit the spread of the disease.”
In London the prevalence of the disease rose fivefold, to 49 people per 10,000, up from 10. That puts the capital close to the national average.
The study was commissioned by the government and full results are due next week, based on samples from 150,000 volunteers.
In recent weeks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has introduced a range of measures to combat the disease, including 10 p.m. closing times for all bars and restaurants, and the “rule of six,” under which people must not meet in groups of more than six anywhere, indoors or outdoors.