The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 has remained stable in England over the past two weeks, according to the Office for National Statistics, with an estimated 14,000 people having the infection.
Test results from the coronavirus infection survey, which provides a weekly snapshot of community infections, confirmed the rapid fall in cases seen during the lockdown has plateaued. Importantly, cases do not yet appear to be rising again.
“We’ve got no evidence that it’s going up, and no evidence that it’s going down any more, so the phrase I use is it’s bobbling along the bottom,” said Prof Sarah Walker, who works on the survey at the University of Oxford’s Nuffield department of medicine.
“It’s great that we’re not seeing an uptick. I would say that I’m cautiously optimistic,” Walker added, but stressed that the data included test results from 22 June to 5 July, and so would not capture any rise in cases produced by the reopening of pubs and restaurants on 4 July.
“We won’t have picked up anything since the pubs reopened. The issue is about incubation period. You have to expect a minimum of a two-week lag and realistically longer before we’d see a big impact of that,” she said.
The latest results suggest an average of one in 3,900 people in England had Covid-19 over the two-week period, amounting to an estimated 14,000 people. Over the same fortnight, the survey suggests there were about 1,700 new cases per day, or two new infections per 10,000 people each week.
The data is an improvement on last week’s figures, which estimated 25,000 people infected over the previous two-week period, and 3,500 new cases per day. But Walker said that as the numbers of volunteers returning positive swabs fell, the estimated infections would be liable to fluctuate more.