Britain is now doing more Covid-19 testing than anywhere else in Europe, offering a detailed regional picture that shows how rapidly the virus has receded in most of the country. The latest figures were released earlier this afternoon, for 29 June to 5 July, using the German definition: how many weekly positive infections per 100,000 people? The German danger zone is 50. Of 150 upper-tier local authorities in England, only one is over that limit: locked-down Leicester. And even now it’s unclear if this is due to more testing or more virus. Some 73 per cent of local authorities now have a score of 5 weekly infections or less per 100,000 people. It is hard to argue that, in these areas, there is a significant risk in allowing theatres to reopen, children to attend school or church congregations to sing. And what about the cities? Forget about the ratios: let’s look at the actual number of positive tests. In London, a city of nine million, there were just 35 infections diagnosed a day. In Bournemouth, scene of the famous beach photos, there were just four positive Covid-19 cases all week. In Devon and Middlesborough, just four. In Sunderland, two cases all week. In Darlington, one. And of all the tests taken in Bath and Cornwall, not one came back positive.
Rishi Sunak has authorised a lot of money stimulating the economy. But if the government were to lift restrictions in the parts of Britain where the virus has virtually gone, it would be a far better stimulus. If bosses cannot ask people to come into the office, no wonder they are reticent about hiring. If the advice is to only use public transport where absolutely necessary, no wonder restaurants are quiet. The UK testing programme now offers one of the most detailed Covid-19 pictures in Europe, showing just how safe most of the country is. The question is whether ministers will now act on it.
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