Decline in cases slows despite lockdown

November 20, 2020

According to the ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey figures based on swab tests data from up five days ago, the drop in the number of daily new cases for the UK overall has slowed down but the real picture is distorted by regional differences. 

Key findings from ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey this week: 

  • There are currently 34,279 daily new symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK on average over the two weeks up to 15 November (excluding care homes) 
  • This compares to 35,963 daily new symptomatic cases a week ago
  • The UK R value is  around 1.0 
  • Regional R values are: England, 1.0. Wales, 0.9. Scotland, 0.9
  • Worryingly, the East of England and especially The Midlands are both seeing numbers still increasing with R values of 1.1 and 1.0 respectively. 
  • In Wales and Scotland the number of daily new cases continues to decline with R values of 0.9
  • The North West and the North East and Yorkshire, both have R values of 0.9 with numbers  still declining since their peak at the end of October
  • However, in the southern regions of England, cases are not declining despite lockdown restrictions, with R Values of 1 in South East, London and South West 
  • Age groups: Reassuringly, the number of cases in the over-60s remains fairly flat in most regions

The ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey figures are based on around one million weekly reporters and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have positive swab tests. The latest survey figures were based on data from 13,014 swab tests done between 1 to 15 November 2020. 

If you’d like to receive the full daily report for the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, head to: https://covid.joinzoe.com/your-contribution 

Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London, comments: 
“The reason we are now seeing an overall R value of 1.0 in England is because numbers are falling in the North, rising in the Midlands and East but staying flat in the South of England. The continued rise in the Midlands, despite national lockdown is concerning. This suggests an approach focused on improved compliance at regional, not national level over a longer time frame over months is the best way forward. We need to keep cases low enough for us to function as a nation until vaccines arrive without further harmful lockdowns. The good news is that cases in the over 60s, that account for most NHS activity, are remaining low. According to the government hospital data, admissions have only gone up slowly and most parts of the NHS have spare capacity, so as we head into December, it looks like the hospitals won't be overwhelmed with COVID admissions. ” 
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