Around 40million Brits living in ‘Covid-free’ areas – with less than two cases a week

Nearly 40million Brits now live in areas which are almost free from Covid with two cases or fewer recorded in a week, the latest data has revealed.

Public Health England (PHE) figures now show that seven in 10 people in England live in places with negligible infection rates.

The promising news comes after months of lockdown, more than 127,000 deaths and 4.47 million infections across the whole of Britain.

It renews hopes that an easing of restrictions will go ahead as scheduled on May 17, with scientific advisers to the government saying the figures show the roadmap is “on track”.

England is split into 6,800 areas – each with a population of around 8,200 – to record Covid data.

PHE does not provide detailed information about areas where two, one, or no cases are being recorded to protect the privacy of those infected.

covid vaccine
The latest figures have renewed hopes that the roadmap out of lockdown remains on track

4,819 areas – 38 million people – have now had their data pulled, suggesting less than they reported fewer than three cases for week to April 22, according to analysis by The Times.

Dr Mike Tildesley of the University of Warwick, whose team accurately predicted the UK’s second wave of the virus, told the paper “things were very much moving in the right direction”.

The infectious disease modeller, who currently sits on SAGE’s SPI-M group, said: “The road map for relaxation is on track but we need to ensure we monitor it at every stage as the country reopens to evaluate the impact of unlocking society upon cases, hospital admissions and deaths.

Daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK
Graph showing daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK

Adults who have received Covid-19 vaccine
Graph showing adults who have received Covid-19 vaccine

“The vaccination campaign continues to be successful, so I hope that the road map can proceed on schedule. But it is really important we monitor the data over the next few weeks.”

But experts have also warned that cities such as Leicester and Manchester still have higher figures, and the spread could easily escalate.

Professor Mark Jit, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who also sits on the SPI-M panel, said staying “vigilant” is key to curbing an outbreak.

The figures come as people ready themselves for the next stage of Boris Johnson’s roadmap on 17 May.

The next relaxation is hoped to see the opening of pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues for indoor service.

Friends and family will be able to meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors and six people or two households will be allowed to socialise indoors under the current plans.

Foreign holidays are also back on the cards with ministers currently considering how vaccine passports might work as Covid safety certificates in the UK by June.

A new PHE study also offered hope as it found that a single dose of the Covid jab could cut transmission by up to half.

The research found that people given a single dose of either the Pfizer or Oxford vaccines – and who became infected at least three weeks later – were between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus on to people living in their homes.

One in four UK adults are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, after a record number of second doses were delivered in the past week.

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