There has been a “strong decline” in levels of coronavirus infections in England since January, say scientists tracking the epidemic.
Imperial College London’s React study found infections have dropped by two-thirds across England since lockdown began, with an 80% fall in London.
But virus levels are still high, with one in 200 testing positive between 4 and 13 February.
Although these are interim findings, based on more than 85,000 swab tests from randomly selected people, they suggest social distancing and restrictions are having an impact.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to receive new data on the effect of vaccines on the spread of coronavirus, ahead of Monday’s publication of a roadmap to easing lockdown in England.
A further 12,718 coronavirus cases were reported across the UK on Wednesday – down 24% on the seven-day average – alongside another 738 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
The report found falls in infections across all age groups, with 18 to 24-year-olds and five to 12-year-olds currently having the highest virus levels – although still below 1%.
It estimates the over-65s have the lowest levels of virus at 0.3%.