Estimated number of COVID infections in England nearly halved ahead of pubs reopening, new data suggests

Passengers wearing face masks at Waterloo station in London as face coverings become mandatory on public transport in England with the easing of further lockdown restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
England's restrictions have continued to ease while the estimated number of infections fell away. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

The number of people in England thought to have been infected coronavirus on any given day nearly halved ahead of pubs and hairdressers reopening, new data shows.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) now estimates an average of 14,000 people not in care homes or hospitals had COVID-19 at any given point between 22 June and 5 July.

This equates to one in 3,900 people in the community.

Last week, the ONS found 25,000 people had the coronavirus at any point between 14 June and 27 June in England, or one in 2,200.

“During the 14-day period from 22 June to 5 July 2020, there were an estimated two new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 individuals per week in the community population in England, equating to an estimated 1,700 new cases per day,” the ONS said.

However, it added that the decline of people testing positive for COVID-19 has levelled off in the past few weeks.

Pubs and hairdressers reopened on 4 July in England, one day before the period covered by the ONS ended, with concerns about drunk people being unable to follow social distancing guidelines.

The period covered by the ONS in this latest data took place entirely after many non-essential businesses were allowed to reopen, on 15 June.

Despite the encouraging figures, England’s deputy chief medical officer has said she is “very, very concerned” about a second wave of the coronavirus.

Dr Jenny Harries told ITV’s This Morning: “The death rate definitely is coming down but effectively what we’ve seen is the first peak, and we want to prevent a second one.

“Because the weather is slightly with us, it’s quite likely that the summer is sort of running a bit in our favour, that in the warmer weather, particularly when people are outdoors much more – which is much safer – we’re unlikely to see one.

“But I think myself and colleagues are very, very concerned about looking out for a potential second peak as we move into the autumn, and of course that’s the same time that we start having people presenting with other symptoms which could confuse people – so flu symptoms vary, obviously, and also when our hospitals get busier.”

Government data shows that across the UK, 286,979 people have been confirmed to have COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak and 44,517 have died after testing positive.

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