UK

England’s Covid outbreak WAS still shrinking last week

England’s Covid outbreak shrunk 12 per cent last week for the second week in a row, official figures show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows 2.6million people in the country were infected in the week to January 22, compared to 2.9million one week earlier. Both figures equate to one in 20 people in England carrying the virus.

It marks the second week that the ONS has recorded a fall in infections since Omicron first took off in late November.

Cases are trending downwards in all age groups apart from under-16s in England, with the return to classrooms earlier this month thought to have triggered the rise among youngsters. 

And infection rates appear to be falling across all UK nations and all regions of England.

The ONS survey is regarded as the most reliable indicator of the UK’s outbreak because it uses random sampling of around 100,000 people, rather than relying on people coming forward to be tested.

It comes as UK Health Security Agency daily figures show cases have plateaued after falling for two-and-a-half weeks, before the effects of lifting Plan B restrictions have been felt.

Work from home guidance was revoked last week, while Covid passes and requirements to wear face masks in public spaces will come to an end tomorrow.

The ONS graphs show the percentage of people testing positive for Covid on nose and throat swabs in the week to January 22 in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Cases appear to have fallen in all nations for two weeks in a row, apart from in Northern Ireland where the trend is uncertain

The ONS graphs show the percentage of people testing positive for Covid on nose and throat swabs in the week to January 22 in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Cases appear to have fallen in all nations for two weeks in a row, apart from in Northern Ireland where the trend is uncertain 

The ONS said the proportion of children aged two to 11 in England who are infected increased for a second week in a row, while cases among 12 to 16-year-olds are now also on the rise. 

However, infections among all other age groups are still declining, according to the statisticians. 

UK Covid deaths peaked at around 255 per day, official data shows

Britain’s fourth wave of Covid deaths peaked in mid-January, according to official figures that debunk fears over ‘soaring’ fatalities. 

The UK yesterday posted 439 virus deaths, marking the highest tally since February. It was quickly jumped on by campaigners as proof ‘Plan B’ restrictions in England should not be relaxed from tomorrow. 

But there are often lengthy delays between someone dying from Covid and their death being officially registered, which makes interpreting daily reported deaths more complicated. 

Looking at fatalities by date of death, however, shows that the number of people actually dying each day has been falling since around January 15 — and has never risen above 270 during the Omicron wave.

Using that dataset there were around 255 Covid deaths per day in the UK on average on January 14, but the most up to date figures show that three days later it had dropped to 240.

Covid deaths this winter have hovered at barely a fifth of the levels recorded during the depths of last year’s crisis, and below the up to 400 daily fatalities registered during a bad flu year.

Statisticians suggest the true daily Covid death numbers might be even lower because figures suggest a fifth of victims are dying ‘with’ Covid rather than directly from it. 

All parts of England are seeing a drop in case rates, apart from the South West, where the trend in cases is uncertain, the ONS said.

In Scotland, 163,600 people are estimated to have had Covid on any given day last week, while 99,500 individuals in Wales were infected, equating to one in 30 people in both nations.

For comparison, the ONS estimates one in 20 people in Scotland and one in 25 individuals in Wales were infected one week earlier, in the seven days to January 15.  

The ONS said the trend was uncertain in Northern Ireland, but it estimates 96,500 were infected — around one in 20 people — compared to 104,300 infections last week.

Sarah Crofts, head of analytical outputs for the ONS infection survey, said: ‘Our latest data show that while Covid infections remain high, they have continued to decrease almost everywhere in the UK apart from Northern Ireland, where the trend is uncertain. 

‘The fall is evident in all age groups apart from children, among whom infections have risen.’ 

The figures for last week come after UKHSA data yesterday shows daily Covid cases  and deaths remained flat for the third day in a row.

Another 94,326 positive tests were recorded, which was virtually unchanged from the figure last Tuesday. 

Infections have been flatlining for the past week with rising infections in primary schools and people returning to work thought to be playing a role.

While experts agree that the worst of Omicron is behind us, the Government’s scientific advisory group (SAGE) has warned of a ‘long tail’ of infections as the wave dies down because the variant is so transmissible.

Latest hospital data shows 1,613 Britons were admitted with Covid on January 21, marking a 15 per cent fall on the previous week. 

And 439 Covid deaths were recorded yesterday, almost identical to the number recorded last week, but the highest tally since February.

However, official figures suggest Britain’s fourth wave of Covid deaths peaked in mid-January.  

Looking at fatalities by date of death, rather than the day they are announced in the daily figures, shows that the number of people actually dying each day has been falling since around January 15 — and has never risen above 270 during the Omicron wave. 

The above graph shows Covid deaths according to the Government's dashboard. It shows that they are now starting to head downwards, in a sign they have also peaked

The above graph shows Covid deaths according to the Government’s dashboard. It shows that they are now starting to head downwards, in a sign they have also peaked

But it comes as Covid cases again start to rise across most of England and Northern Ireland, and in a few areas in Scotland and Wales. Experts have warned there will likely be an uptick when schools return

But it comes as Covid cases again start to rise across most of England and Northern Ireland, and in a few areas in Scotland and Wales. Experts have warned there will likely be an uptick when schools return 

Using that dataset there were around 255 Covid deaths per day in the UK on average on January 14, but the most up to date figures show that three days later it had dropped to 240.

Covid deaths this winter have hovered at barely a fifth of the levels recorded during the depths of last year’s crisis, and below the up to 400 daily fatalities registered during a bad flu year.

Statisticians suggest the true daily Covid death numbers might be even lower because figures suggest a fifth of victims are dying ‘with’ Covid rather than directly from it. 

Meanwhile, separate ONS data released today shows getting vaccinated against Covid can halve your risk of suffering long Covid.

Its study of 6,000 people found those double-jabbed with Pfizer or Moderna were 49.6 per cent less likely to have lingering symptoms such as fatigue three months after infection.

Two doses of AstraZeneca‘s vaccine gave slightly lower protection, slashing the chance by 37.7 per cent. The report did not look at boosters and did not cover the Omicron wave. 

In total, 1.3million people in the UK were estimated to be living with long Covid — defined as having virus symptoms for more than 12 weeks.

The condition was reported in 9.5 per cent of people who had two jabs compared to 14.6 per cent of the unvaccinated.

The ONS analysis was based on people aged 18 to 69 and included people who had a positive test by November 30 last year. It relied on people self-reporting their own symptoms, meaning they were not clinically diagnosed.

Separate analysis suggests NHS staff in England have taken around 1.8million sick days because of long Covid since March 2020.


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