U.K. Covid Infections Fell Faster Than Thought in May, Says Study

U.K. levels of Covid-19 infection fell faster than previously reported in May, according to a study of 120,000 people that took place before the country’s lockdown was eased.

There were an average of 13 positive cases for every 100,000 people across the month, the survey by Imperial College London found, and the overall reproduction number -- the number of new infections from each case -- was 0.57. Estimates in the middle of the month put it between 0.7 and 1.

However, 18 to 24-year-olds were most likely to test positive, suggesting they were less likely to stick to lockdown rules. People with Asian ethnicity were also more likely to test positive, which could explain the higher death rates in this group. And care home staff and healthcare workers were also more likely to test positive. People who had been in recent contact with a known Covid-19 case were 24 times more likely to test positive.

“It shows the impact our national lockdown efforts have had and demonstrates that we have taken the right actions at the right time,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in an emailed statement. “As a country we have made great strides towards beating this virus, but we mustn’t take our foot off the pedal.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been heavily criticized for its handling of the virus outbreak, which has seen the U.K. experience the highest number of deaths in Europe. After debate over the weekend, the government on Tuesday said face masks would be mandatory in shops from July 24.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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