Findings from the tenth report of REACT-1, one of the country’s largest studies into COVID-19 infections in England, show that infections and deaths due to the virus have fallen.

Over 140,000 volunteers were tested with PCR tests in England between 11 and 30 of March to examine the levels of infection in the general population.

According to the latest data, infections in England fell by around 60% since the period between February 4 – 23, with the sharpest drops in prevalence seen in London and the South East.

However, the rate of this decline started to plateau from mid-March, which government officials say reinforces the need for everyone to continue following social distancing rules and the hands, face, space and fresh air guidance.

The study also found that the correlation between prevalence of infections and deaths is diverging, which is likely down to the success of the vaccination programme.

“We have seen a gratifying fall in infections since our last survey in February, with infections dropping by around 60% overall. This is hugely encouraging and shows we’re headed in the right direction,” said Professor Paul Elliott, director of the REACT programme from Imperial’s School of Public Health, commenting on the findings.

“However, in our most recent data there has been a flattening off in the infection rate with an R number now around one. This shows that we need to continue to approach the situation with caution and keep sticking to the rules.”