Coronavirus cases are still tumbling in the UK and only one in every 340 people is now infected in England – a total of 160,200 – while around 4,500 Brits are developing symptoms each day, study data shows.
Office for National Statistics estimates suggest the total number of people carrying the virus in England is down 20 per cent in a week, with the one in 340 a staggering drop from one in 50 at the start of the year. It means just three out of every 1,000 people have the virus.
The ONS report said cases were still clearly coming down in in the West Midlands, East of England, South West and London, but the decline may have stopped in other areas.
And the Covid Symptom Study, run by ZOE and King’s College
But the speed at which the outbreak is shrinking has slowed, with the previous week seeing cases fall by a third. Experts behind the symptom-tracking app blamed the levelling off on on schools reopening.
Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist leading the study, said the levelling off was expected and insisted there was ‘no reason to worry’.
The findings add to Test and Trace data yesterday which showed coronavirus cases fell by 14 per cent in England last week, despite the number of swabs carried out almost doubling to 5.8million in a week as children returned to school.
Official Covid cases reported by the Department of Health fell by 7 per cent in a week to 6,303 yesterday. And deaths almost halved to 95. Hospital admissions are also still falling.
The Office for National Statistics will today publish a new estimate of how many people in the country have the virus. Last week it fell by a fifth to just over 200,000 — the equivalent of one in every 270 people.
The number of people believed to be infected with coronavirus in England continues to tumble and is now at just 160,200, according to the Office for National Statistics. This equates to just three in every 1,000 people
The Covid Symptom Study, run by ZOE and King’s College London , estimated there are now around 4,470 people becoming ill every day — down nearly a fifth from the 5,494 figure last week
Professor Spector, of King’s College London, said scientists expected the decline in cases to slow but expects to see it accelerate again in the future.
He said: ‘After steady falls at the beginning of the week, we’ve seen cases levelling off in recent days, especially in Scotland, Wales and the North-East of England.
Rates were lowest in the South West of England, with 252 registering symptoms per day, and the East of England, where just 297 became ill each day
‘This is to be expected after reopening schools across the country and is no reason to worry.
‘We’re keeping a close eye on cases in school-aged children and so far there’s nothing alarming about the data. I believe we’ll see case numbers holding steady for a little while before cases drop again.’
Today’s ONS report, based on random swab tests of 160,000 people in the week ending March 13, predicted that 0.29 per cent of people would test positive for coronavirus if the whole country were tested.
The rate of infection was lower in Wales (0.23 per cent) but higher in Scotland (0.37 per cent) and Northern Ireland (0.32 per cent).
In England’s regions the report said that cases were falling in most places but potentially flat or rising in others.
The ONS said: ‘The percentage of people testing positive has decreased in the West Midlands, East of England, South West and London in the week ending 13 March 2021.
‘The trend is uncertain for the rest of the regions, although, there may be early signs of an increase for the East Midlands. Caution should be taken in over-interpreting any small movements in the latest trend.’
Although there was concern that some regions might be seeing cases increase, none of them had a rate of infection higher than 0.4 per cent – one in 250 people.
The positivity rate was 0.4 per cent in East Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East; 0.3 per cent in the South East, North West and West Midlands; and 0.2 per cent in London, the South West and East of England.
The Covid Symptom Study estimates one in 823 people suffered from symptoms last week, with 3,226 people becoming ill per day in England, compared to 648 in Scotland, 172 in Northern Ireland and 424 in Wales.
Just one in 1,369 school-aged children developed Covid symptoms, the data suggested.
The figures are based on over a million app users reporting their symptoms and so cannot take into account people who get the virus but don’t have symptoms. It also doesn’t include people in hospitals or care homes.
Rates were lowest in the South West of England, with 252 people developing symptoms per day, and the East of England, where just 297 became ill each day.
They were highest in the Yorkshire and the Humber (602) and London (549), falling just 5.5 per cent from 581 in the previous week.
The estimated R rate, measuring the number of people infected by each person with the virus, is close to 0.8 in England and 1.0 in Scotland and Wales. An R of 1 means the outbreak is neither growing nor shrinking.
SAGE will publish an updated official estimate of the R rate later today. Last week it was thought to be somewhere between 0.6 and 0.8 – the lowest ever level.
The ZOE study also looked at the risk of blood clots in its users and found no link to Covid vaccines, after the European Medicines Agency yesterday confirmed it has found no evidence linking the AstraZeneca jab to a rare clot in the brain.
Boris Johnson last revealed he will get the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine today as he attempted to calm fears about the jab’s link to the rare type of blood clot.
The Prime Minister insisted it was ‘so important’ that people get their injection as soon as they are invited, adding that the British-made vaccine was ‘safe and effective’.
He said it was ‘reasonable’ for people to want reassurance on vaccines, but pointed to findings from drug regulators in Britain and Europe which today confirmed the benefits of the jabs ‘far outweigh any risks’.
Mr Johnson told last night’s Downing Street press conference: ‘It’s so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes – and as it happens, I’m getting mine tomorrow… The Oxford jab is safe, the Pfizer jab is safe, what isn’t safe is catching Covid.’
More than a dozen EU countries – including France, Germany, Spain and Italy – had suspended the use of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine after reports of some people suffering blood clots after being vaccinated.
The chief of Britain’s medical regulator, Dr June Raine, who joined the PM at the podium last night, said there was no evidence the vaccine is behind the cases.
After the EMA’s announcement a raft of European countries said they would soon resume vaccinations, including Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia and Bulgaria.
However, despite the report, both Sweden and Norway have decided to keep a ban on the jab in place for a few more days.
Public Health England data showed Covid cases shrunk in every region of England except Yorkshire last week. But the positivity rate – one of the best ways of tracking the size of the outbreak when swabbing increases – dropped in all regions
Their report also revealed that Covid infection rates were still falling among all age groups with a marked decrease among the over-80s, which have already received their first dose of the Covid vaccine
Covid cases have continued to tumble in England, with NHS Test and Trace seeing a 14 per cent fall in infections despite testing nearly doubling to 5.8million
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