Covid cases plateaued in England last week but remained high

Covid cases plateaued in England last week but remained stubbornly high at 766,000 as infections in Scotland soared 170% in fortnight after schools went back, official data shows

  • Office for National Statistics swabbing estimated 766,100 people had Covid in England last week
  • This was barely a change from 756,000-odd in the previous seven-day spell, and up 10 per cent in two weeks
  • But in Scotland infections rocketed 170 per cent in the wake of the return of children to the classroom

England’s Covid cases plateaued last week, official estimates suggested today — but in Scotland they have rocketed 170 per cent in a fortnight.

Office for National Statistics random swabbing estimated 766,100 people were infected with Covid on any given day in the week to August 27, or one in 70 people had the virus. 

This was barely a change from 756,00-odd in the previous seven-day spell, and an uptick of less than 10 per cent on the number of cases estimated a fortnight ago.

But in Scotland — where schools opened in mid-August — the ONS said there were 69,500 people infected or one in 75 residents, a mammoth surge from the 25,900 recorded two weeks ago.

Experts fear England will face a surge in cases similar to Scotland in the coming days as pupils return to classrooms this week and the next. There are concerns these could spill over into older age groups, who are vulnerable to the virus.

The UK’s vaccine advisory panel is being lobbied hard by ministers, politicians and some scientists to give the green light to rolling out the vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds but it has so far resisted the calls.

Britain is becoming an international outlier with France, the US, Canada, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands all already administering jabs to over-12s. Last night Norway became the latest country to OK the move. 

The above charts show the percentage of people who would test positive for Covid in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on any given day since the start of August. It reveals cases are surging in Scotland after the return of schools, but have plateaued in England — although they remain at stubbornly high levels

Across England, the ONS found that cases were surging fastest in the South West. The area has seen a spike in cases amid a staycation boom and the kickstarting of music festivals. The above graphs show Covid cases by region

The above graph shows estimated Covid cases by age group. It predicts that cases may have been rising in school age tchildren even before they went back to the classroom, and among 25 to 34-year-olds. There is also an uptick in the over-70s

The above map shows estimated Covid infection rates in the UK. Red indicates a higher infection rate, and yellow indicates a lower infection rate. The map suggests cases are highest around Northern Ireland and the North East

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid is estimated to have increased in the South West and the West Midlands. 

London and the East Midlands saw a decrease, while the trend for all other regions is uncertain.

Yorkshire and the Humber had the highest proportion of people of any region likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to August 27, at around one in 55.

The East Midlands, eastern England and London had the lowest estimate, at around one in 85.

When modelling the level of Covid-19 infections among different age ranges in England, the ONS said rates have increased for those aged 70 and over, although they remain lowest for this age group, and there are early signs of an increase for those aged 25 to 34.

There were also early signs of a decrease for those from school year 12 to age 24.

The trend is uncertain for all other age groups.

Around one in 35 people from school year 12 to age 24 are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to August 27, at the highest positivity rate for any age group.

In Wales, around one in 110 people are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to August 28, up from one in 120 in the previous week and the highest level since the week to February 6.

In Northern Ireland, the latest estimate is one in 65, down from one in 40 in the previous week.

For Scotland, the ONS estimates that around one in 75 people had Covid-19 in the week to August 28, up from one in 140 in the previous week and the highest level since estimates began for Scotland in October 2020.

All figures are for people in private households.

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