Almost 900,000 people in England had Covid on any given day last week, official data suggested today as the country’s outbreak continued to trend upwards.
Office for National Statistics weekly surveillance — based on random swabs of 100,000 people — estimated 898,900 people were infected over the week to November 27, equivalent to one in 60 having the virus.
This was the highest number since early November, when 925,000 were estimated to be infected. It was 300,000 infections off the record set at the peak of the second wave when 1.1million were predicted to have Covid.
Last week’s estimated Covid cases were up four per cent on the previous seven-day spell, and marked the second week in a row that cases have risen after children returned from half term.
Two to 11-year-olds were the only age group to see their infections rise, but they remained flat in all others. London, the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber saw their infections rise.
ONS statisticians said they picked up no sign that Omicron was taking hold in the UK. Some 42 cases have been detected to date, with the first spotted in tests taken on November 20.
It comes after figures from the UK Health Security Agency showed that infections in all age groups fell last week. But the number of Covid tests carried out also dived by 15 per cent.
A separate study by King’s College London scientists warned Britain’s Covid cases ticked up by five per cent last week, with 80,483 people estimated to be falling ill with the virus on any given day.
Britain’s daily Covid cases have trended upwards for the last two days in a row, after dropping slightly earlier this week. Yesterday they hit their highest level since July.
The above graph shows the infection rate by age group. It reveals that Covid cases have fallen in all age groups over the week to November 28, despite only some receiving the booster jab. Testing fell over this period, but experts have also suggested that immunity from past infection and jabs may now be high enough in younger age groups to keep cases low until the spring
The ZOE symptom-tracking study estimated that 80,483 people fell ill on any given day in the week ending November 27, based on test results from around 650,000 volunteers
ONS statisticians take random swabs of 100,000 people every week to estimate the infection levels across the country.
Their estimates are seen as the gold-standard by ministers, because they can catch infections in hard to reach groups that would not normally get a Covid test.
ONS estimates suggest Covid cases also rose in the other three UK nations.
In Northern Ireland they ticked up by 10 per cent to 41,100 infections — equal to one in 45 —, in Scotland they rose by 9.7 per cent to 83,300 infections — one in 65 — and in Wales they rose by eight per cent to 64,100 — one in 45.
Nearly 60% of under-50s who died from Covid in November in England were unvaccinated
Almost six in 10 Covid deaths among the under-50s in England last month were unvaccinated people, official data shows.
Data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows 156 people aged 50 and under died within 28 days of a positive Covid test and 89 of them had not come forward for a single Covid jab.
The figures equate to 57 per cent of deaths in the age group and lay bare how the unvaccinated are most at-risk from severe outcomes after catching Covid.
Nearly 80 per cent of 18 to 49-year-olds in England are double-jabbed, meaning the number of unvaccinated deaths occured in a much smaller group of people.
NHS workers say they are frustrated with the figures, because hospital admissions and deaths among unvaccinated Britons could be avoided if they came forward for a vaccine.
It comes as the Prime Minister this week unveiled plans to expand the booster rollout to the 53million adults across the UK to boost protection against severe illness and death over the winter months.
The UKHSA data, which covers the four weeks up to November 28, shows 3,571 people died across England within 28 days of a positive Covid test. Not all of these deaths will be directly caused by Covid.
Eight deaths among under-18s were recorded, seven of whom were not jabbed, while the vaccination status of one child was not known.
There were 13 deaths among 18 to 29-year-olds, eight of whom were unvaccinated, while three had received their first dose and two were double-jabbed.
And 35 people died aged 30 to 39. Among this group, 24 people were unvaccinated, three were single-jabbed and six had both vaccines. The vaccination status wasn’t known for two of the people who died.
In the 40 to 49 cohort, 100 deaths were recorded, with 50 unvaccinated, three single-jabbed, 44 fully immunised and three of unknown vaccination status.
Almost every infection checked for variants was found to be Delta, with statisticians saying there is no sign that Omicron is spreading in the community
ONS head of analytical outpots for the survey Sarah Crofts, said: ‘We have not yet identified any infections compatible with the new Omicron variant in our survey. The Delta variant remains the most common across the UK.
‘We will continue to monitor for different variants among our survey participants as part of our work tracking the virus.’
UKHSA data published yesterday showed Covid cases fell in every age group in England last week and all regions except London despite fears the super-strain Omicron may already be spreading in the community.
Its surveillance report showed the sharpest declines were among the over-70s (down 29 per cent) and over-80s (22 per cent) where most people have received their boosters.
But infections dipped across the board including for under-40s who are yet to be offered a top-up dose, but have had much higher infection rates than older age groups.
Across England infections fell in every region except London, where they rose by two per cent, and in 116 of 149 local authorities or 78 per cent.
The number of lateral flow and PCR tests carried out tumbled 15 per cent, with 4.2million completed in the last seven days compared to 5million the week before.
Despite concerns over Omicron none of the 16 local authorities that have detected the mutant strain recorded a sudden spike in infections. In South Africa, where the strain has taken hold, cases are surging more than sixfold week-on-week.
UKHSA sources said there was still nothing to suggest that the variant was spreading in the community.
Separate data from a surveillance study yesterday showed symptomatic Covid cases in the UK rose by nearly five per cent to more than 80,000 per day last week.
The ZOE symptom-tracking study estimated that 80,483 people fell ill on any given day in the week ending November 27, based on test results from around 650,000 volunteers.
It marked a rise of 4.9 per cent compared to the estimate on the previous week and means one in 61 Britons suffered a symptomatic infection at any given time, King’s College London scientists who run the study said.
But infections started to fall in the over-55s, in a clear sign of the effect of booster vaccine doses — with more than 19million people now having had a third dose according to Government data.
No10 unveiled its new scheme to vaccinate all over-18s by the end of January on Tuesday, with the UK yesterday buying 114million more doses in an effort to stop the spread of the new supermutant Omicron variant.
Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist behind the ZOE study, warned the Omicron variant has ‘rudely awakened’ the UK to the pandemic and encouraged more volunteers to continue tracking their symptoms to help monitor the strain.
He said said: ‘Omicron has rudely awakened many countries, including the UK, from the slumber they had fallen into over Covid.
‘While we need more data to understand the risks this variant presents, I would advise the public not to panic, but remember that it’s important for everyone to be more cautious.
The above maps show percentage change in Covid cases across England in the week to November 21 (left), and November 28 (right). They reveal Covid cases in the country are not surging in any areas where Omicron has been detected
Britain’s Covid cases are continuing to climb with more than 53,000 recorded yesterday, official Government data revealed amid fears that the Omicron variant could wreak havoc on Christmas plans.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data shows there were 53,945 positive tests in the last 24 hours, up 14.2 per cent on the 47,240 recorded last Thursday and the most since July 17.
It was the second day in a row cases have increased week-on-week and only the second time in a week cases have breached the 50,000 mark.
There is no indication that the Omicron variant is behind the rise, with only 42 cases officially confirmed in the UK so far but there are signs that it could be spreading domestically.
Meanwhile, the number of people dying with the virus fell to 141, down 4.1 per cent on the 147 fatalities registered last week.
And hospitalisations also dropped, with 700 admissions recorded on Sunday, the latest date data is available for. It was down six per cent on the 745 seen the previous week.
Boris Johnson has urged Britons not to call off their Christmas parties after his government’s muddled messaging sparked a wave of festive cancellations and a super-spreader event in Norway infected up to 60 people out of 120 with Omicron. The Prime Minister received his booster shot live on TV before telling Sky News there was no reason for Britons to change their plans.