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Coronavirus spread in England drops sharply ahead of Johnson’s exam

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The national prevalence of the virus fell by two-thirds in the first half of February compared to January.

Bloomberg

POSTED FEBRUARY 18, 2021 6:16 AM

Coronavirus infections in England have fallen dramatically in recent weeks, a boost for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he assesses how quickly the UK economy is reopening.

The national prevalence of the virus fell by two-thirds in the first half of February compared to January, according to a survey by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, one of the country’s largest coronavirus studies. The number of people infected fell to 51 per 10,000 at the time of the last survey in February, from 157 per 10,000 in January.

Signs that a national lockdown is slowing the pandemic are good news for Johnson, who is under pressure to ease restrictions and help the UK economy rebound from its worst recession in 300 years. Johnson is due to establish a roadmap to relax the rules on February 22 and said he would take a close look at data regarding infections, hospitalizations and deaths from the disease before making a decision.

These results show encouraging signs that infections are now heading in the right direction across the country, but we must not let our guard down, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement. Cases and hospital admissions remain high.

Non-essential stores could be open from mid-April, followed by hospitality venues, hotels and some leisure facilities later in the month, Sky News reported on Wednesday, citing an unpublished document from Whitehall. Johnson said he hoped face-to-face teaching in schools could start again from March 8.

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