- Covid cases in England are at their highest level since January, with one in 60 people infected last week
- The ONS estimates that 890,000 people – 1.6% of the population – had the virus on October 9, a 13.2% increase in a week.
- Infections not high since Britain recovered from a second wave in mid-January
- This comes as health department data shows cases hit a three-month high yesterday
- And England’s chief medical officer claimed that this winter the NHS. would be ‘extraordinarily difficult’ for
- But despite the bleak figures, the transport secretary today ruled out another lockdown this Christmas
According to government figures, Covid cases in England are now at their highest level since January, with one in 60 people infected on any given day last week.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 890,000 people in England – 1.63 per cent of the population – had the virus as of 9 October, up 13.2 per cent on the previous weekly figure.
Infections have not risen as much since the country recovered from the darkest days of the second wave in mid-January, when more than 1 million people were thought to have been carrying the virus.
Cases are now rising in all groups, except for those aged 35 to 49, where the ONS warned the trend was uncertain. But the latest increase has been due to infection among students, with one in 12 young people aged 11 to 16 being infected.
Meanwhile, separate data from the UK Health Protection Agency, which took over from the now-defunct PHE, showed today that the R rate is at the same level as last week – between a range of 0.9 and 1.1.
It comes as separate data from the Department of Health – based on the government’s official testing programme, as opposed to random swabbing of thousands of Britons – showed cases hit a three-month high yesterday, with 45,066 new infections recorded. Went.
Top scientists have repeatedly warned of a fourth wave this winter, prompting the return of pupils to classrooms and office workers, as well as cold weather and dark evenings for people to socialize where The virus seems easy to spread.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty claimed yesterday that this winter will be ‘extraordinarily difficult’ for the NHS, even if there is no surge in infections. He warned that the resurgence of flu and other seasonal viruses would hit healthcare in the coming months.
No10 has plans to roll back restrictions if the roll-out of booster vaccines and jabs up to 12 fails to stem the impact of Covid on hospitals. And ministers had warned earlier that they could not rule out another lockdown as a last resort.
But despite the bleak figures, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today ruled out introducing another lockdown over Christmas, saying there will be ‘no problem’ seeing loved ones around the festive period.
No10 imposed tough restrictions last December that barred millions from seeing their families, despite Boris Johnson repeatedly ruling out the possibility of canceling Christmas before the move.
Graphs show that the proportion of people testing positive for Covid continued to rise in England and Wales and continued to decline in Scotland, while the trend in Northern Ireland for the week ended 9 October
The ONS data shows the estimated daily percentage of the population testing positive for Covid based on nasal and throat swabs by age group. School children most likely to test positive for Covid in the week ending October 9
Grant Shapps denies another Covid lockdown over Christmas despite cases at three-month high
ONS estimates show that as of October 9, one in 60 people had been infected in seven days, up from one in 70 the previous week.
For comparison, this figure stood at about one in 50 at the peak of the second wave.
The data shows that infection is still mostly driven by rising rates among school children. One in 12 students aged 11 to 16 in England were estimated to have had Covid in the past week (8.1 per cent) – the highest positivity rate for any age group.
Cases are also rising among 16- to 24-year-olds, with 1.1 per cent testing positive, up from 0.8 per cent last week.
And 3.1 percent of children between the ages of two and 10 are thought to have the virus, an increase of 0.3 per week per year.
Cases were also trending upward in Wales for the week ending 9 October, while infections continued to decline in Scotland and the trajectory in Northern Ireland was unclear.
In Wales, nearly one in 45 people were thought to be covid (2.18 per cent) – up from one in 55 last week – marking the highest proportion of people infected since estimates began last July.
In Northern Ireland, the latest estimate is one in 120 (0.82 per cent), up from 130 in the previous week.
And in Scotland, the figure is one in 80 (1.26 per cent) down from one in 60 last week.
While infection levels in England are close to levels seen to peak in January, hospitalizations and deaths – which are two to three weeks behind the infection rate – are expected to remain much lower due to the success of the vaccine rollout.
The ONS said the percentage of people testing positive for Covid is projected to increase in all regions of England except the East Midlands, London and the North East.
Map showing the estimated proportion of people in the UK who had covid in the week ending 9 October
The graphs show the percentage of people the ONS estimates in each of the nine regions of England for the week ending 9 October.