‘Rule of six’ may be working, say scientists, as coronavirus spread decelerates

The React study has carried out five rounds of sampling, of up to 160,000 people each time. It is being closely followed by the Government, and previous figures have led to tighter restrictions being imposed.

Although there are signs the disease may now be slowing, the researchers warned that in some parts of the country the situation was much bleaker. For example in the north, roughly one in 100 people currently has the disease, double the national rate. London is also seeing evidence of rises, according to the data.

There has also been a seven-fold increase in the over-65s, the age group most at risk from the disease. 

The King’s College Covid Symptom Study app also shows that the number of new cases of has flattened across the UK in the past four days. The new figures were based on the data from 8,377 swab tests done between September 13 to September 27.

The survey also shows that almost twice as many people under 30 were reporting positive tests compared to older people, which may explain why there is less pressure on the NHS than in the first wave.

Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “We are confident that this flattening in the data looks real and that this might be an early sign of infection rates slowing down. 

“This may be due to a number of factors including social distancing and the ‘rule of six’, but we can’t discount the role of less susceptible people and prior immunity in those exposed and the natural cycle of the virus.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice called recent data from the React study “encouraging”, but warned there is “no room for complacency”.

The next round of Imperial testing will take place between October 17 and November 2.

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