Covid: Which regions have seen the biggest fall in coronavirus cases?

  • Video report by ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke

Coronavirus lockdown measures are driving down infection rates across the country but rates remain high, a new study has revealed.

The REACT study by Imperial College London - the biggest study of community coronavirus testing so far, with more than 85,000 people swabbed between February 4-13 - is the latest piece of data which will increase optimism about the possible easing of lockdown restrictions.

Infection rates have dropped by more than two-thirds since January, the study found, but with varying success in different regions in England.

Which areas have seen the biggest drop off in infections?

Infections have dropped across the country and the prevalence of the virus has dropped among all age groups, according to the pre-print report.

London and the South East have seen the biggest drop-off, where five times fewer people are now testing positive compared to previous findings in January.

Infection rates in London remain high. Credit: PA

There are differences between the regions, with Yorkshire and the Humber seeing a small drop off, with infections only falling by a quarter.

REACT estimates in every region in England, the R number is below 1 - meaning the prevalence of the virus in the community is shrinking.

What the data shows us?

The data below shows us the total number of coronavirus tests carried out by the REACT study, how many tested positive for coronavirus, and when the tests were taken and in which region.

The data is as follows:

  • South East

January data - 39,156 total tests, 578 positive. Weighted prevalence of 1.61%

February data - 19,127 total tests, 55 positive. Weighted prevalence of 0.30%

  • North East

January data - 5,731 total tests, 62 positive. Weighted prevalence of 1.22%

February data - 2,967 total tests, 26 positive. Weighted prevalence of 0.82%

  • North West

January: 17,917 total tests, 220 positive. Weighted prevalence of 1.38%

February: 10,404 total tests, 76 positive. Weighted prevalence of 0.91%

  • Yorkshire and the Humber

January: 10,665 total tests, 93 positive. Weighted prevalence of 0.87%

February: 5,963 total tests, 27 positive. Weighted prevalence of 0.61%

  • East Midlands

January: 21,698 total tests, 225 positive. Weighted prev of 1.16%

February: 11,773 total tests, 58 positive. Weighted prevalence of 0.51%

  • West Midlands

January: 15,088 total tests, 198 positive. Weighted prevalence 1.66%

February: 8,226 total tests, 31 positive. Weighted prevalence of 0.33%

  • East of England

January: 25,178 total tests, 391 positive. Weighted prevalence of 1.78%

February: 11,615 total tests, 47 positive. Weighted prevalence of 0.54%

  • London

January: 15,641 total tests, 390 positive. Weighted prevalence of 2.83%

February: 6,756 total tests, 36 positive. Weighted prevalence 0.54%

  • South West

January: 16,568 total tests, 125 positive. Weighted prevalence 0.87%

February: 8,642 total tests, 22 positive. Weighted prevalence 0.27%

R Number breakdown

  • East Midlands - 0.87

  • West Midlands - 0.78

  • East of England - 0.77

  • London - 0.74

  • North West - 0.89

  • North East - 0.96

  • South East - 0.72

  • South West - 0.75

  • Yorkshire - 0.88

Trends of coronavirus infection

As seen by the R number, the trend across the country shows falling infections.

But some parts of the country have seen larger drops than others.

In London, there was a fall from 2.83% prevalence to 0.54, 1.66% to 0.33% in the West Midlands, 1.78% to 0.54% in the East of England, 1.61% to 0.30% in the South East, and 1.16% to 0.51% in East Midlands. The drop in Yorkshire and the Humber was smaller, from 0.80% to 0.61%.

Staff at the vaccination centre have administered jabs to up to 1,000 people a day in the past week Credit: PA

The North West and North East currently has the highest numbers of infected people, at 0.91% (down from 1.38%) and 0.82% (down from 1.22%), respectively.

In the previous round of testing by REACT, carried out between January 6-22, the R was below 1 in almost all areas of the country, except the North East which was around 1.

Case rates among different age groups

A separate study published by Public Health England (PHE) found case rates were dropping among all age groups.

The highest rate is among 30 to 39-year-olds, which stood at 192.5 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to February 14, down week-on-week from 270.8.

Among 20 to 29-year-olds the rate dropped from 253.2 to 173.4, and for 40 to 49-year-olds it fell from 232.2 to 162.9.For people aged 80 and over, the rate fell from 208.0 to 129.6.

What the experts say about the data

Professor Steven Riley, Professor of Infectious Disease Dynamics at Imperial, said: “The downwards trend in the most recent REACT data is good news.

"If this can be maintained, the pressure on the NHS will be greatly reduced, resulting in fewer hospital admissions and deaths.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “These findings show encouraging signs infections are now heading in the right direction across the country, but we must not drop our guard.

“While cases and hospital admissions remain high it is vital we all remain vigilant and follow the rules as our historic vaccination rollout continues at pace.

“I urge everyone to continue to stay at home – remember hands, face, space – and get your jab when you receive your invite.”