COVID-19 infections 'increasing rapidly' in England as 27,900 test positive every day, ONS data finds

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons wearing a mask.
According to the ONS, almost 30,000 people are catching COVID every day in England. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Coronavirus infections have “increased rapidly” in England in recent weeks, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Between 2 and 8 October, 27,900 people tested positive for COVID-19 each day, the ONS found.

This is up from an estimated 17,200 new cases per day for the period from 25 September to 1 October.

The figures do not include people in hospitals or care homes.

During the same time period an estimated 336,500 people had coronavirus at any one time, equating to around 1 in 160 people.

Rates were highest in older teenagers and young adults, the ONS found, though smaller increases could be seen across all age groups, apart from those aged 70 years and over.

Across England the highest COVID infection rates were seen in the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, and the North East.

The South East and East of England saw the lowest rates.

A separate report published on Friday morning by Cambridge University estimates roughly 47,000 COVID infections are happening daily in England.

According to the Medical Research Council (MRC) biostatistics unit, deaths could be as high as 690 per day by 26 October.

The figures are fed to the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, which provides real-time information to the Government through the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), and to regional Public Health England (PHE) teams.

Commenting on the data, Sage member Jeremy Farrar said the country was now set to go beyond the “reasonable worst case scenario” predication made by chief medical officer Chris Whitty in September, in which he warned the UK could see up to 50,000 infections per day by mid-October.

Farrar said: “The current trajectory of this phase of the epidemic is now beyond what was outlined in the 'reasonable worst case scenario’.”

As of Friday afternoon, the reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission across the UK still remains above 1.

Data released by the government office for science and Sage shows the estimate for R for the whole of the UK is between 1.3 and 1.5.

When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.

An R number between 1.3 and 1.5 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 13 and 15 other people.

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