A new study has revealed a strong decline in coronavirus cases across England since lockdown began, with infections down 80 per cent in London.
The data comes from Imperial College London's React study, and is based on over 85,000 swab tests collected from randomly selected members of the population.
Results suggest that lockdown measures, including the 'stay at home' order and social distancing rules, are beginning to take effect. Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial, called the findings "really encouraging".
In spite of this drop in infections, virus levels still remain relatively high - around the level last recorded in September 2020 - with one in 200 people testing positive for the virus between 4 and 13 February 2021.
Slower decline in some areas
London has seen the highest decline in coronavirus rates, with positive tests falling from 2.83 per cent to 0.54 per cent over a period of six weeks - a drop of 80 per cent.
The virus is now declining across all nine English regions, with particularly high decline in London, the South East and the West Midlands. Areas where decline is more slow include Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and the North West.
It's possible that the slower decline in these regions is owed to the tougher rules introduced in London and the South East prior to Christmas.
Over-65s have lowest levels of virus
Infections have also fallen across all age groups according to the study, with virus levels highest in 18 to 24 year olds and five to 12 year olds.
Over-65s, meanwhile, have the lowest levels of coronavirus, at 0.3 per cent.
The news comes just ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's promised "roadmap" out of lockdown in England, set to be published Monday 22 February.
Both the Prime Minister and other government ministers have been vague around plans for easing lockdown, with Boris Johnson saying on 17 February that he would be taking a "data not dates" approach to ending lockdown, with measures eased "cautiously".