Coronavirus infections decreasing across England - but rising in London

·3-min read

Coronavirus infections have decreased across England as a whole, but increased in London, according to new data that raises questions about the efficacy of the lockdown in the capital.

Between 29 November and 5 December there were 481,500 people in England with coronavirus on average, equating to one in every 115 people, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There are fears of spiralling infections in London, which was placed in Tier 2 when England came out of its second national lockdown on 2 December.

As COVID-19 cases in the capital rise, residents have been warned they could be moved into Tier 3 before Christmas.

Shoppers, some wearing face masks, walk along a busy Oxford Street in London, England, on December 5, 2020. London has returned to so-called Tier 2 or 'high alert' coronavirus restrictions since the end of the four-week, England-wide lockdown last Wednesday, meaning a reopening of non-essential shops and hospitality businesses as the festive season gets underway. Rules under all three of England's tiers have been strengthened from before the November lockdown, however, with pubs and restaurants most severely impacted. In London's West End, meanwhile, Oxford Street and Regent Street were both packed with Christmas shoppers this afternoon, with the retail sector hoping for a strong end to one of its most difficult years. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
London's Oxford Street last weekend. Coronavirus infection rates are decreasing everywhere in England except London (David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Following a meeting of London MPs with health minister Helen Whately on Thursday, one MP told Sky News: "It was a very clear preparation for Tier 3. I think the decision is pretty much made."

Friday’s ONS report said: “Over the most recent week, the percentage of people testing positive has increased in London and there are early signs that rates may have increased in the East of England; the percentage of people testing positive has decreased in all other regions.”

Across the whole of England infections fell from 521,300 people, or one in 105, who were estimated to have COVID-19 in the period November 22 to 28. The numbers do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.

People walk through the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain, December 5, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
The Westfield Stratford City shopping centre last weekend (REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)

The percentage of people testing positive has decreased in older teenagers and young adults, those aged 25 to 34 years and those ages 50 to 69 years. Rates continue to be highest among secondary school-age children.

Mass coronavirus testing of secondary school children will begin in the worst-affected boroughs in London, and the bordering areas of Kent and Essex, Matt Hancock announced this week.

East London and the surrounding areas have seen a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, with some communities facing more than 300 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days.

Pedestrians walk beneath a sign reading "All Mancs Want For Christmas Is Two... (Tier2)", referring to manchester's current Tier 3 COVID-19 statues, in Manchester, northern England on December 2, 2020 as England emerges from a month-long lockdown to combat the spread of Covid-19. - England on December 2 exited a month-long lockdown into a new 3-tiered system of curbs with non-essential retail, leisure centres and salons all reopening but with some sectors, including hospitality, seeing tighter restrictions. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Manchester remains in Tier 3 under current coronavirus restrictions but with infection rates decreasing officials hope the region may be downgraded (Paul Ellis / AFP via Getty Images)

The health secretary said that the government will work with schools and local authorities to encourage children and families to be tested at their new mobile units over the coming days.

It comes as Boris Johnson was criticised by an ex-World Health Organization (WHO) director for deciding against imposing a “circuit break” lockdown in September.

Anthony Costello said 18,000 people had died in the outbreak since then and warned “thousands more will die” in the next two months.

The report confirmed that the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Wales has increased while in Scotland figures are stable, and in Northern Ireland numbers are decreasing.

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Read more:

The Tier 3 COVID lockdown rules explained

The Tier 2 COVID lockdown rules explained

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