London could be coronavirus-free as early as June, a new analysis suggests — though some researchers are skeptical of that conclusion.
The reproduction value in the capital city — a figure which represents how many people one infected person can transmit the virus to — has fallen to 0.4, according to a Cambridge University and Public Health England study cited by Metro UK.
In addition, the number of new cases in the city has been halving every 3.5 days, the research shows.
London was the first hub of the country’s outbreak — and when the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 23, the city was seeing around 200,000 new cases each day, according to the report.
But now, the analysis suggests, the city could be free of fresh diagnoses by next month.
NHS workers participate in a national “clap for carers” to show thanks for the work of Britain’s National Health Service workers.JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Imag
About 1.8 million people in London — approximately 20 percent of the entire population — have already gotten the coronavirus, meaning the higher immunity could make it harder for the contagion to spread, the researchers said.
The findings state that between 10 and 24 people in London had caught the bug on May 10 — but some experts say the rate is “extremely unlikely to be so low.”
Also, the data used in the study was collected before the British government began to soften its lockdown this week, so it’s uncertain how these numbers might change as workplaces and public spaces start to fill up, according to Metro.
A commuter disembarks an Underground train in LondonEPA/ANDY RAIN
Professor David Heymann, an infectious disease epidemiologist and public health expert from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told Newsweek the findings aren’t enough to suggest that the virus will disappear in the city of around 9 million.
“It depends if there’s a rapid response mechanism to deal with outbreaks when they do occur and if there’s a monitoring system in London,” Heymann said.
“You’d have to be sure that every case coming into London is identified and every case in London is found,” he added. “You’d have to have them all isolated and contacts traced and all those people isolated, so there’s no guarantee.”
He acknowledged that it’s a “good sign” if the rate of transmission is decreasing.
“But the fact is that possible cases have not been identified in London that will continue to transmit, or that cases will be imported from other parts of the country where there are not cases,” the professor added.
The UK, overall, is showing progress, with the reproduction value at 0.75, below the 1.0 that Prime Minister Boris Johnson said would be a requirement to ease lockdown regulations, according to Metro.
However, the North East and Yorkshire regions are still battling about 4,000 infections each day, the findings show.