London could be “coronavirus free” by June, as new modelling has suggested that the UK capital was recording only 24 new cases a day, according to an analysis by the Cambridge University and Public Health England published on Friday.
The ‘R’ reproduction rate has fallen to 0.4 in London, with the number of new cases halving every 3.5 days, the Metro newspaper quoted the analysis as saying.
London was initially the hub of the pandemic in the UK and was considered to be weeks ahead of the rest of the country.
When the lockdown was imposed on March 23 it was being hit by around 200,000 new cases per day, but the new modelling suggested that it could be free of fresh diagnoses by next month.
But social distancing concerns were raised after pictures emerged this week of packed London Underground trains with many passengers not wearing masks.
Despite the analysis, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine warned that London’s true infection rate was likely to be “a little bit higher”, the Metro newspaper reported.
Speaking to the BBC Radio 4, he said: “There is some variation around this and there is some uncertainty in this, but what we have observed in London is that case numbers and death numbers have come down faster than in other parts of the country ï¿½ albeit from a considerably higher level.
“So I think itï¿½ well, I would say it is a little bit higher than that, but it is probably lower than the rest of the country.”
As of Friday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK has increased to 234,441, with 33,693 deaths, the current highest in Europe.