In Brief

Is coronavirus showing signs of slowing in the UK?

Key government advisers say rate of hospital admissions has fallen

The spread of the new coronavirus in the UK is showing early signs of slowing, according to leading government advisors.

Neil Ferguson, whose modelling influenced Boris Johnson’s decision to impose a nationwide lockdown, told the BBC: “In the UK, we can see some early signs of slowing in some indicators. Less so in deaths because deaths are lagged by a long time from when the measures come into force.

“We look at the numbers of new hospital admissions today... that does seem to be slowing down a little bit now. It’s not yet plateaued as the numbers are increasing each day but the rate of that increase has slowed.”

The professor said one-third, or even 40% of infected people, do not get any symptoms, adding that 2% to 3% of the UK population had likely been infected.

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Ferguson’s comments come as the UK’s chief scientific adviser said that people are now heeding the advice to stay at home to keep pressure off the NHS, and there are early signs that it is working.

Patrick Vallance yesterday said that social distancing measures are “making a difference”. Transmission of coronavirus is thought to be decreasing, which could mean fewer infections, reports the BBC.

Vallance said the NHS was seeing around an additional 1,000 patients a day and described this daily rise as “stable”. “That shows that it’s going up not in an increasing amount but in a constant amount, which may suggest that we’re already beginning to see some effect,” he said.

Vallance said that he expected the 1,000-a-day rise in hospital patients to continue for two to three weeks, after which “you would expect that to stabilise and to start to go down a bit”.

In an interview with The Times, Ferguson said he is increasingly hopeful that the outbreak can be contained. However, Reuters notes that Ferguson also cautioned that the latest data was not good enough to make firm projections.

Ferguson also explained there are “similar patterns in a number of European countries”.

In Spain, the country’s foreign minister said another 6,400 cases were confirmed by authorities on Monday, the lowest increase in new cases for a week

Sky News reports that 1,415 people have now died in the UK after contracting the coronavirus, following 180 more deaths. The latest increase is down from yesterday’s rise of 207.

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