SARS-CoV-2 infection in London, England: Changes to community point prevalence around lockdown time, March-May 2020

Michael Edelstein, Chinelo Obi, Meera Chand, Susan Hopkins, Kevin Brown, Mary Ramsay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background The UK has been one of the European countries most affected by COVID-19 pandemic. The UK implemented a lockdown in March 2020, when testing policy at the time was focusing on hospitalised cases. Limited information is therefore available on the impact of the lockdown on point prevalence in the community. We assessed COVID-19 point prevalence in London between early April and early May 2020, which approximately reflect infection around the time of the lockdown and 3-5 weeks into lockdown. Methods We tested 1064 participants of a community surveillance cohort for acute COVID-19 infection using PCR in London in April and May 2020 and described positivity as well as characteristics and symptoms of the participants. Results Point prevalence decreased from 2.2% (95% CI 1.4 to 3.5) in early April to 0.2% (95% CI 0.03 to 1.6) in early May. 22% of those who tested positive in April were asymptomatic. Extrapolation from reports of confirmed cases suggest that 5-7.6% of total infections were confirmed by testing during this period. Conclusion COVID-19 point prevalence in the community sharply decreased after lockdown was implemented. This study is based on a small sample and regular seroprevalence studies are needed to better characterise population-level immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-188
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

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  • Epidemics
  • communicable diseases
  • control of diseases


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