A man queues to receive the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine outside a closed down Debenhams store that is being used as a vaccination centre in Folkestone, Kent, Britain January 28, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

A new study published on Thursday (Jan 28) revealed that black and Asian ethnicity people in England from large, deprived neighbourhoods were more likely to test positive for Covid-19 compared to smaller, less deprived neighbourhoods and other ethnicities.

It added that the coronavirus infections remained very high in England in the first three weeks into the lockdown as one in 64 people had the virus.

The eighth report of Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) study of over 167,600 volunteers by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI between January 6 and 22 has provided a snapshot of the levels of infection in the general population.

According to the study, healthcare and care home workers, and other key workers were more likely to test positive compared to other workers, and the levels of infections are lower in Yorkshire and The Humber and the South West compared to other regions.

Levels of infections was highest in London, with one in 35 people infected, and highest nationally among those aged 18-24, the study said.

In England, 157 per 10,000 people infected during the period and the national R is estimated at 0.98 with a range of 0.92 to 1.04. The regional prevalence increased nationally in all adult age groups and was highest in 18 to 24 year olds at 2.44 per cent. Prevalence in the over 65s was 0.93 per cent, it added.

“These findings are a stark reminder of the need to remain vigilant. Infection rates this high will continue to put a strain on our NHS and add to the significant pressures dedicated health and care staff are already facing,” said health secretary Matt Hancock.

“We must bring infections right down so I urge everyone to play their part to help save lives. You must stay at home unless absolutely necessary, follow social distancing rules and minimise contact with others.”

The NHS is under significant pressure in England with over 37,000 people in hospital with the virus, twice as many as the first peak in April. As many as 4,076 people are on ventilators, more than at any time in the pandemic.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial, said: “The number of people infected with the virus is at the highest level that we’ve recorded since we began testing last May. We’re not seeing the sharp drop in infections that happened under the first lockdown and if infections aren’t brought down significantly, hospitals won’t be able to cope with the number of people that need critical care.”

The study urged people to stay at home, reduce contact with others and maintain social distancing.

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