COVID-19: Infection rates rise across most of UK - but 'possible signs' of slowing in England

·3-min read

Infection rates have continued to rise across England, Wales and Northern Ireland - but dropped in Scotland, according to the latest estimates.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that in the week ending 24 July, approximately one in 65 people were estimated to have had COVID-19 in England.

The rate was around one in 65 people in Northern Ireland, and around one in 160 Wales.

Meanwhile, the percentage of people testing positive in Scotland dropped in that week - around one in 110 people had COVID.

Though England's infection rate went up, there are "possible signs that the rate of increase may have slowed", the ONS said.

The highest percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus in England was in the North East, while infections increased in all regions except for the East of England and the South West.

The percentage of people testing positive has increased for those aged two to 16, and those over 50.

The estimated prevalence of one in 65 in England is up from the one in 75 reported for the previous week.

Sky's science correspondent Thomas Moore noted that the government's official dashboard shows the number of tests being done in the UK fell by 14.4% in the week leading up to 24 July.

Professor Stephen Reicher from the University of St Andrews noted that data from the ZOE app, which uses analysis provided by King's College London, suggests that infections haven't fallen and remain at about 60,000 per day.

He also questioned whether testing behaviour is changing now we are told "infections don't matter?"

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lifted the last COVID restrictions in England in spite of the pre-dominance of the highly-transmissible Delta variant which concerns scientists globally.

Cases rose steeply in the run-up to the end of legal coronavirus restrictions in England on 19 July, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid said cases could hit 100,000 a day after the unlocking.

Instead, the number of new cases recorded each day started to fall.

The average number of new infections in the UK has fallen over the past week, which might suggest the third wave of coronavirus has peaked.

But the latest ONS figures, suggesting cases are continuing to rise in most parts of the UK, mean it is too soon to say that the peak has definitely passed.

Epidemiologists have said that the end of the Euro 2020 football tournament and school summer holidays might have helped reduce the spread of the virus, as well as cautious behaviour in the population.

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They also say the impact of the 19 July unlocking, which saw nightclubs reopening and the end of social distancing requirements, will take a while to filter through to the data.

Daily reported cases fell for seven straight days to a low of 23,511, but have risen on each of the last two days.

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