The UK Government has said we are at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, with infection rates and deaths beginning to plateau. However, a scientist who has analysed data from the NHS believes the UK has passed the peak already, in what he described as “indisputably positive news”. Confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK have reached 138,000, which has resulted in more than 18,000 deaths.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other ministers have said the UK is on lockdown until at least May 8, when the situation will once again be reviewed.
Data from the NHS suggested there is a decline in both cases and deaths, but government officials stated these figures can be misleading as there can be a delay in statistics.
However, one scientist at least believes the UK is over the worst of its epidemic, and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Christian Yates, senior lecturer in mathematical biology at the University of Bath, said in an article for the Conversation: “While most British people support the lockdown, they will still be keen to know when the epidemic has reached its peak.
“Well, they don’t need to wait any longer – the answer is in. Data suggests that the UK is most likely over the peak.
“Data released by NHS England, in which deaths are aggregated by the date of death rather than the date of reporting, shows a clear decline in recent days.
“While the figures are subject to constant revision, the numbers are starting to give us a coherent picture of the shape of the epidemic.
“Knowing that we have passed the peak is important because it shows that we can, with great effort and sacrifice, bring this disease under control.”
While confirmed cases in the UK have stayed around 8,000 per day since it topped out on April 12, Mr Yates said the peak could have happened before then.
He argues that since the beginning of April, testing has increased on a daily basis, which will obviously yield more positive results.
If testing had remained the same as at the start of April, the number of confirmed cases would have dropped by now.
Mr Yates said: “In the UK, we have seen roughly constant new case numbers since cases topped out at 8,719 on April 12.
“But it’s important to note that the UK increased its testing capacity during this period.
“Constant levels of reported cases despite increased testing is a likely sign that the true number of cases in the community is coming down.”
And while this may be the beginning of something to celebrate, Mr Yates said it is important to reflect on what has happened in this country and around the world.
He said: “Still, being over the peak is indisputably positive news. It seems strange that studying a graph of death statistics can provide us with comfort, but such is the bizarre situation in which we find ourselves.
“It’s important to remember that each one of the deaths recorded on the chart above was a person with a family and friends who will be struggling to mourn them in these incredibly difficult circumstances.
“Although not cause for celebration, reaching the plateau is perhaps cause for a sombre degree of relief.”
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