Covid-19 infections in UK at lowest level for eight months

·3-min read
A person places a swab from a Covid-19 lateral flow test into a tube containing testing solution (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)
A person places a swab from a Covid-19 lateral flow test into a tube containing testing solution (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

Covid-19 infections in the UK have dropped to their lowest level for eight months, though the trend in some areas is uncertain, figures show.

A total of 953,900 people in private households are estimated to have had the virus last week, down from 1.1 million the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It is the lowest estimate since the end of September 2021 and the first time the weekly figure for the UK has been below one million since early November.

Total infections have fallen by 81% since the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave in late March, when a record 4.9 million were estimated to have Covid-19.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

In England, infections have fallen for the eighth week running, with 784,100 people likely to test positive for Covid-19 – the equivalent of around one in 70.

This is down week-on-week from 874,400, or one in 60.

In Scotland levels have resumed their downward trend after a small jump in mid-May, and now stand at 105,900, or one in 50, down from 135,400 or one in 40.

Wales has seen Covid-19 infections drop for the seventh week in a row, with 39,600 people estimated to have coronavirus, or one in 75, down from 52,900, or one in 55.

But levels are not dropping right across the UK.

In Northern Ireland there has been a slight rise, from 23,300 people, or one in 80, to 24,300 or one in 75, a trend the ONS described as “uncertain”.

The trend in also uncertain in north-east England, north-west England, London and the West Midlands, while infections are likely to have fallen in all other regions.

Prevalence is estimated to be highest in north-east England, where around one in 45 people are likely to have had the virus last week, while it was lowest in the East Midlands at around one in 85.

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is likely to have decreased in all age groups in England, except for children aged between two and school year six, 25 to 34-year-olds, and for people aged 70 and over, where the trend is again described by the ONS as uncertain.

Infection rates were highest among 50 to 69-year-olds and the over-70s, with around one in 60 likely to test positive.

The figures come days after the lifting on May 30 of the last remaining Covid restrictions anywhere in the UK, when the legal requirement to wear a face-covering in health and care settings in Wales came to an end.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said people can look forward to a “brighter future”, although he urged the public to keep taking steps to protect themselves, such as self-isolating if they have Covid symptoms and staying up-to-date with vaccinations.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19, another key measure of the prevalence of the virus, is continuing to fall in all parts of the UK. Levels in Scotland are at their lowest since December 2021, Wales recorded its lowest number since August, while in England and Northern Ireland levels are now at their lowest since last July.

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