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The UK could finally be turning the tide against the second wave of coronavirus as infection rates fall to below one in some regions.
A new report from researchers at the University of Cambridge has revealed that the R number is as low as 0.6 in some southern areas.
Experts believe the infection rate could be as low as 0.6 in London, which was placed into Tier Four in December.
The data suggests that lockdown and tier four measures – which were in place in the south east – are finally having an impact.
The Cambridge researchers said regions with a current R rate below 1 are the East of England, London, the South East, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber.
They say it is above 1 in the South West, North West, North East and East Midlands.
It comes after Boris Johnson was placed under increasing pressure to toughen his lockdown measures in line with Scotland.
But according to reports, Downing Street is prioritising getting Brits to comply with existing rules rather than changing them.
In what will be a boost for Boris, Cambridge's Medical Research Council (MRC) Biostatistics Unit Covid-19 Working Group said the current estimate of the daily number of new infections occurring across England is 60,200.
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The team suggests the proportion of the population who have ever been infected could stand at 30% in London, 26% in the North West and 21% in the North East, dropping to 13% in the South East and 8% in the South West.
They added: “The growth rate for England is now estimated to be -0.02 per day. This means that, nationally, the number of infections is declining but with a high degree of regional variation.
“Infections are still increasing in the South West and North East, whilst plateauing in the West Midlands and East Midlands.”
The team also predicts that the number of deaths occurring daily is likely to be between 518 and 860 on January 28.
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Infection rates are still high and the second wave of the pandemic has been deadlier than the first.
But scientists say thee are signs that the lockdown is working as cases begin to drop off slightly.
Another 48,682 cases were reported on Thursday, which is down 7.5% on the same figure last week.
London still has the highest rate of any region, but stats show it is coming down rapidly.
One Cambridge boffin, Professor Daniela De Angelis, said this was down to Tier Four restrictions resulting in “decreased transmissions”.
It comes as Public Health England (PHE) released data on Wednesday showing infection rates had fallen in most regions of England across all age groups apart from the over-80s.
At the same time, however, the PHE surveillance report noted that there were more people being admitted to hospitals and intensive care units.
NHS England data shows that around one in five major hospital trusts in England had no spare adult critical care beds on January 10.
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