UK coronavirus live: England death rate rises for first time since April; Greater Manchester in tier 3

A ban on public events is the single best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus, researchers have found, although a combination of measures is even better.

The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, involved analysing data relating to non-pharmaceutical interventions in 131 countries, together with changes in their R figure – the average number of people each infected person goes on to infect.

While experts have cautioned that it is unwise to focus on just one metric when it comes to looking at an epidemic, R is an important figure as it gives a sense of whether an epidemic is growing or shrinking.

The new study examined the impact of applying and then relaxing various different interventions, from closing schools to working from home, on the R figure up to 28 days after the rule change was made.

The results reveal that banning public events reduced the R figure by 24% by day 28, with the team suggesting that could be down to it preventing super-spreading events.

Prof Harish Nair, co-author of the study from the University of Edinburgh, said:

Although no single measure is sufficient, [a] ban on public events is perhaps the single intervention that has maximum impact on spread of SARS CoV-2.

However, measures such as telling people to stay at home or only gather in groups of less than 10 had little impact by day 28 – something the team suggests might be down, at least in part, to people not sticking to the rules, or such measures being imposed later.

When looking at which measures led to an uptick in R, the team found reopening schools and relaxing bans on gatherings of more than ten people had the biggest effect, increasing R by 24% and 25% respectively by day 28.

The Guardian

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