The rate of new Covid-19 infections across the country may be slowing, according to new figures published today as part of the country's largest coronavirus study.

More than 80,000 people were monitored for infection by Imperial College London and research firm Ipsos MORI between September 18 and 26.

Findings show infections increased substantially across the country before the R rate - the rate at which the virus is spreading - fell to around 1.1, suggesting the growth of infection may be slowing.

It is estimated 1 in 200 people in England were infected with the virus, which the Government is stressing reinforces the need to remain vigilant.

Today’s report shows prevalence of infection increased across all age groups and regions.

Infection was highest in those aged 18-24 – with 1 in 100 people infected - and cases increased seven fold in those aged over 65.

The north west of England had the highest levels of infection and the number of infections in London increased five-fold.

The final report and findings of all 150,000 volunteers tested between 18th September and 5th October will be published next week.

Professor Paul Elliott, Director of the programme at Imperial from the School of Public Health, said: “While our latest findings show some early evidence that the growth of new cases may have slowed, suggesting efforts to control the infection are working, the prevalence of infection is the highest that we have recorded to date.

"This reinforces the need for protective measures to limit the spread of the disease and the public’s adherence to these, which will be vital to minimise further significant illness and loss of life from Covid-19.”

Kelly Beaver, managing director for public affairs at Ipsos MORI said: “The continuing support of the public by taking part in the study is something we remain immensely grateful for.

"The number of participants gives this study the robustness and thoroughness which marks it out as world leading. Ipsos MORI would like to thank everyone who’s volunteered so far and those who will volunteer for further rounds of this study.”

The report was commissioned by the Department for Health and Social Care.