Medics transfer a patient from an ambulance to the Royal London Hospital in London on January 19, 2021.
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LONDON – A third national lockdown in England appears to have had little impact on the rising rate of coronavirus infection, according to the results of a large study, with the prevalence of the virus showing “no signs of decline” in the first 10 days of the year, on a more severe basis Restrictions.
The closely watched REACT-1 study, led by Imperial College London, warned that if the prevalence of the virus in the community were not significantly reduced, the health system would remain under “extreme pressure” and the cumulative death toll would rise rapidly.
The results of the preprint report, released Thursday by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI, come shortly after the UK recorded another all-time high in coronavirus deaths.
Government figures released on Wednesday showed an additional 1,820 people had died within 28 days of a positive Covid test. To date, the UK has registered 3.5 million coronavirus cases with 93,290 deaths.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference on Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Downing Street on January 15, 2021 in London, England.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the latest numbers were “appalling” and warned: “There are still difficult weeks ahead.”
Johnson imposed lockdown measures in England on January 5, ordering people to “stay home” as most schools, bars and restaurants had to close. The strict public health measures are expected to remain in place until at least mid-February.
What were the main results?
The REACT-1 study tests nasal and throat swabs roughly monthly from 120,000 to 180,000 people in the UK community. The most recent results mainly cover a period January 6-15.
The study compared the results of swabs collected between November 13 and 24 and those collected between November 25 and December 3.
The researchers found 1,962 positives from 142,909 swabs removed in January. This means that 1.58% of the people tested had Covid on a weighted average.
This corresponds to an increase in prevalence rates of more than 50% since the results of the study in mid-December and is the highest value REACT-1 has recorded since it began in May 2020.
The prevalence from January 6-15 was highest in London. According to one study, 1 in 36 people infected was more than twice as likely as the previous REACT-1 results.
A man wearing a mask as a preventive measure against the spread of Covid-19 goes for a walk in London.
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In the south-east of England, the east of England and the West Midlands, the infections had more than doubled compared to the results published in early December.
“Our data shows worrying evidence of a recent surge in infections that we will continue to monitor closely,” said Professor Paul Elliott, program director at Imperial, in a statement.
“We are all helping to keep this situation from getting worse and we must do our best to stay home wherever possible,” he added.
The UK Department of Health and Welfare said the full effects of the lockdown measures were not yet reflected in the prevalence figures reported in the REACT-1 study.
“These results show why we cannot be on our guard in the coming weeks,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
“It’s absolutely essential that everyone does their part to help alleviate infection. This means staying at home and only going out where absolutely necessary, reducing contact with others and maintaining social distance,” said Hancock.