The number of people with coronavirus symptoms has plummeted by 75 per cent since the beginning of April, a data-tracking app shows.
Latest analysis from the King’s College COVID Symptom Tracker app estimates that there are now around 462,700 people with symptoms of the killer infection.
It’s a drop of more than three quarters since the 1.9million on April 1 and a staggering 93 per cent since March 23 – when app began to track Britain’s outbreak.
While London appears to have overcome the worst of its outbreak, researchers have highlighted two new ‘hotspots’ – Blackpool and Barrow-in-Furness.
Health chiefs now believe cases are now plateauing – but there are still thousands of Britons infected with the deadly bug, scientists warn.
The Government has come under increasing pressure to release its lockdown exit plans because of claims the outbreak has peaked.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson today moved to snuff out Cabinet pressure for an early easing of lockdown, making clear that a second peak is the UK’s biggest threat.
The number of people with coronavirus symptoms has plummeted by 75 per cent since the beginning of April, going from 1.9million to 462,700
The COVID Symptom Tracker works by taking people through a questionnaire about how they are feeling and whether they have the typical symptoms of coronavirus
Developed by researchers at King’s College London and company, ZOE, the COVID Symptom Tracker is helping predict the scale of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.
The public are encouraged to download the app and fill out forms which describe their health and ask about possible coronavirus symptoms.
Healthy people, those who think they might have COVID-19, and those who have been officially diagnosed are all able to take part.
The first set of data was released on March 26. It suggested around one in 10 people were ill with, or had already had, COVID-19.
When applied to the whole of the UK population, it meant an estimated 6.6million people had the virus in the third week of March.
Following that, the team have used data from people who have logged in for seven days in a row to extrapolate to the overall UK population.
Since March 23 people have been confined to their homes under lockdown, and the symptom tracker has shown cases falling as a result.
On April 1 there were 1.9million cases in the UK, mathematical modelling shows, and 1.4million on April 8.
Between April 8 and April 16 cases fell dramatically to 582,640 and even further still to a record low of 462,700 today.
The figures would not detect people who carry the virus but do not show symptoms – it can take up to a week for the tell-tale cough and fever to appear.
Scientists know a portion of those who have fought the disease never knew they had it – but it’s not clear how many yet.
The app has also uncovered that there is now no clear difference between cities and the countryside when it comes to predicted COVID cases, as new hotspots appear
London is no longer a key hotspot for predicted cases, as all boroughs have less than two per cent of symptomatics in the population
AREAS OF ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE COVID-19 HOTSPOTS
Areas with large ethnic minority populations make up more than three quarters of England’s coronavirus hotspots, a report has revealed.
But numbers coming from Muslim communities in areas which could be expected to be hard-hit are low, and cultural habits may be protecting England’s Muslims from the fast-spreading disease.
That’s according to a report by Professor Richard Webber, from Newcastle University, and writer and former Labour Party politician, Trevor Phillips.
The report points out that while areas with high proportions of non-white people make up most of the UK’s coronavirus hotspots, Asian Muslim areas, largely, do not.
Blackburn, Bradford, Luton, Rochdale and Rotherham, Mr Philips said, are ‘conspicuous by their absence’ on the list of worst-hit places by the coronavirus as both non-white and poor areas.
He suggests that regular hand-washing before prayer, a young average age and fewer than one in three Muslim women being in work may offer the population ongoing protection from COVID-19.
The report comes as Public Health England launches an inquiry into why non-white people appear to be worse affected by the disease – intensive care reports show that 34.5 per cent of critically ill patients come from ethnic minority groups, despite only making up around 14 per cent of the population.
Scientists say black and Asian people may be at greater risk of catching the disease because they’re more likely to live in densely-populated cities and work in people-facing jobs such as public transport or the NHS.
The app has also uncovered that there is now no clear difference between cities and the countryside when it comes to predicted COVID cases.
London is no longer a key hotspot for predicted cases, as all boroughs have less than two per cent of symptomatic people in the population.
Now, hotspots are spread out across England, Wales and Scotland, and they change daily.
The two current hotspots or areas that have not reduced as fast, as of today, are Blackpool, with an estimated 2.9 per cent of people with symptoms of COVID-19, and nearby Barrow-in-Furness with 2.8 per cent.
By region, the North West has the highest percentage of symptomatic people, at 1.61 per cent, followed by London with 1.58 per cent.
Lead researcher Professor Tim Spector said although the steady decline in cases is ‘very reassuring’, the deaths are still high.
‘This is definitely not the time for complacency,’ he said.
Professor Spector is against the lifting of lockdown restrictions in the immediate future, after ministers extended it for a further three weeks on Thursday, until May 7.
He said: ‘What the data tell us is that there is still a large number of infectious people in the UK with mild symptoms, so to quickly lift the lockdown would not be appropriate.
‘We are working closely with NHS Wales and NHS Scotland to explore how the app can be used to speed up and guide the lockdown lift.
‘It can work as an early alert, before hospital testing, flagging up any particular spikes in new symptom cases.’
Some 2.3million people in the UK have used the app so far, but the data becomes more accurate the more people sign up.
It was the research team at King’s College London that discovered loss of smell or taste is common and an even stronger predictor of being tested positive for COVID-19 than fever.
The figures come after a weekend of hopes the coronavirus crisis is easing, with the lowest number of deaths on Sunday for a fortnight.
The PM has told colleagues his ‘overriding concern’ about lifting draconian measures is to avoid a second peak.
In a round of interviews this morning, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: ‘The PM is very concerned about a second peak if we lift the restrictions too soon.’
Government sources have also been frantically playing down the idea circulated by senior Tories over the weekend that schools could be reopened by mid-May, suggesting early June is more likely.
The timetable emerged amid signs of Cabinet splits over how quickly to ease the lockdown, with fears the economic damage will kill more people than the virus itself.