Coronavirus second wave may have passed peak and R rate 'almost 1' in most areas, expert claims

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: A coronavirus (Covid-19) sign in central London on October 29, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has reached a âcritical stage❠in England with 96,000 new infections in a single day and infections doubling every nine days, according to the Imperial College London (ICL) on Thursday. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that 16 more areas in England will move into Tier 2 restrictions, the second highest level, beginning Saturday. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A COVID-19 sign in central London as England prepares for a four-week lockdown from Thursday. (Getty)

As England braces for a second national lockdown on Thursday, the peak of a second wave of infections may already have passed, an expert has stated.

Non-essential shops and businesses will close from 5 November, while people will have to stay at home as much as possible under new regulations set by the government for the four-week lockdown.

Boris Johnson imposed the latest restrictions following a rise in coronavirus cases but Tim Spector, the principal investigator for the Zoe COVID Symptom Study app, believes that cases are already on the decline.

Citing evidence from the app, where users update their symptoms daily and say whether they have been tested in order to paint a clear picture of how COVID is spreading, Spector said “we have passed the peak in second wave new cases in the UK”.

He tweeted: “There will be a four week lag before this is seen in a decline in deaths and 1-2 weeks in hospitalisation.”

With the government hoping the R value of infections declines to one or lower by the time the 2 December end date of lockdown arrives, Spector said that it was “close to one in most areas now”.

Government figures showed that a further 397 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 47,250, while there were a further 20,018 lab-confirmed cases of the disease.

Watch: PM confirms return to tiered system after second lockdown

Spector noted that while data from the Zoe app showed total daily cases have stopped rising across the country, infections in the over 60s bracket are continuing to rise slowly – which Spector said may contribute to overall NHS capacity in the crucial winter months.

Graphs released by Zoe show that the decline coincides with the start of half term at the end of October.

However, worldwide data suggests that schools are not hotspots for coronavirus infections, with no spike in cases after they reopened following months of shutdown during the initial lockdown.

According to nature.com, only 1,212 campuses experienced outbreaks four weeks after some 65,000 schools reopened in September.

Britain's Prime Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session in parliament in London, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Boris Johnson is set to win a Commons vote on the second national lockdown. (AP)

The government is set to comfortably win a Commons vote on Wednesday in support of the new lockdown, despite a handful of Tories voting against the government.

Labour will vote with the government for the lockdown, which the prime minister hinted could extend beyond the current 2 December deadline.

Watch: Can you catch the coronavirus twice?

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