SURGING coronavirus cases in England have slowed – amid hopes young people have been 'frightened' into behaving, experts say.
It's believed youngsters worried by long Covid and the country's rising death toll are finally complying with social distancing – and it may be the reason the north-east has so far escaped strict tier three restrictions.
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A Government 'gold' meeting on the pandemic, which was chaired by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, heard yesterday that infection rates appear to be dropping among younger people.
New graphs shown during Boris Johnson's Downing Street press conference earlier this week show rates dropping in people under the age of 30.
Although the Government is "very cautious" about the trend, there's optimism that a spike in cases when freshers went to university has been driven down, The Times reports.
Cases are still surging in the over-60s and, as a result, hospital admissions and deaths are expected to continue rising.
However, if cases in the young continue to drop, experts hope that will be reflected in older people too.
Student-dominated areas now have infection rates some 2.5 times higher than elsewhere – down from five times higher a fortnight ago, the paper claims.
Infections among teens in the north-east have fallen by around a sixth in the past two weeks.
As a result, talks about putting Tyneside and Teesside into stricter measures have been halted.
There were 276.1 cases of the virus per 100,000 people in the region for the week to October 16 – down from 316.6 the previous week.
South Yorkshire will go into tier three from Saturday, and Greater Manchester from Friday.
On Tuesday, England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said new cases are spreading rapidly across many age groups.
And he said it's a "game of two halves" – with weekly case rates declining in the 10-19 and 20-29 age brackets.
But the "other half of the coin" is people aged 30-39 through to 80-plus, he said.
"The infections seeded in younger age groups are now penetrating older age groups as we go forward in time," he said.
"This means hospital admissions and deaths sadly linked to those cases are now baked in for next two to three weeks."
And he said the issue is the spread of the virus to older people.
He said: "It's pretty stark.
"You can see very clearly now from this data that just one week on, how those heat maps have increased very markedly – not just in the north-east or north-west, but in the East Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber too.
"This is most concerning because it's the penetration of disease into the older age groups that gives the NHS the problems."
The UK yesterday saw the biggest ever rise in daily coronavirus cases, with 26,688 people testing positive in the past 24 hours.
It comes as 191 more people have died from the virus – taking the grim toll to 44,158.
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