The Imperial team said it did not know what was causing the higher prevalence in London and the South-East, as movement data did not suggest people were ignoring Covid restrictions.
Overall, the results show that infections between Feb 4 and 26 fell by two thirds compared to the last report, which tested people between Jan 6 and 22. 
The prevalence for the whole of Britain is now around one in 200, having fallen from 1.57 in 100 to 0.49. However, the speed of the decline is now slowing, with infections halving roughly every 30 days compared to 14 days in January. 
Recent results from the King’s College ZOE app, which is monitoring symptoms and test results, also suggested the case level may be plateauing. 
The Government said it was “critical” for people to continue following the rules, keeping contact with others low and maintaining social distancing.
Profe Paul Elliott, the director of the React programme from Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “The fall in infections our study has observed since January demonstrates that national public health measures are working. 
“But these new findings showing that some areas are experiencing apparent growth reinforce the need for everyone to continue to stick to the rules and help keep infections down. At this critical time, with lockdown soon to be eased, we need to make sure that our behaviours don’t risk a rise in infections which could prolong restrictions.”
However, experts said the new figures did not mean the release of lockdown measures should be slowed. Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College, said: “The currently planned speed sounds about right to me.”

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