UK showing 'early signs’ that COV19 could be slowing, says top scientist

The UK’s coronavirus outbreak appears to be slowing down, a top scientist advising the Government has said.

Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, said the slowing of the spread of Covid-19 was the result of strict social distancing measures brought in by the Government.

“In the UK we can see some early signs of slowing in some indicators – less so deaths because deaths are lagged by a long time from when measures come in force,” he told the BBC.

“But if we look at the numbers of new hospital admissions, that does appear to be slowing down a bit now.

“It has not yet plateaued, so still the numbers can be increasing each day but the rate of that increase has slowed.”

He added that antibody tests, which would reveal who had suffered from the virus even if they had recovered, “hopefully” be available in just a few days.

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The infection is moving at different rates across the country

Officials are working 3.5million antibody tests ready to rollout nationwide.

Frontline health staff would be prioritised for those tests once they were ready, the government says.

However junior health minister Helen Whately told BBC radio: “I am not going to confirm when that’s going to arrive.”

The tests would then be rolled out to the wider general public, but chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty said it would not be a “free-for-all” and those most in need would be prioritised.

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Professor Ferguson said that different parts of the country were experiencing the epidemic at different rates.

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Professor Neil Ferguson
Professor Neil Ferguson said there were early signs the infection could be slowing

London for example he said was likely to have seen up to 5% of the population infected.

He said: “It is quite clear across the country, the epidemic is in different stages in different parts of the country

“In central London it could be as many as 3% to 5% of the population has been infected – maybe more in individual hot spots. In the country as a whole in the UK, maybe 2% or 3%.”


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