The one region in England showing an increase in COVID infections

Emily Cleary
·3-min read
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02: Shoppers walk along Northumberland Street in Newcastle city centre on December 02, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Today is the first day of the new Tier system introduced at the end of the second Coronavirus lockdown to prevent against further spread of the Coronavirus. Newcastle has been put into Tier 3 restrictions. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Shoppers descended upon Northumberland Street in Newcastle city centre on Wednesday, but coronavirus cases in the region continue to rise (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

The proportion of people testing positive for coronavirus is thought to have decreased in all regions of England except the north-east, official figures suggest.

An Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey, released on Friday, suggested there were 521,300 people with coronavirus in England, equating to around one in every 105 people, in the week 22 to 28 November - the most recent dates for which data is available.

Watch: UK's R number estimated to be between 0.8 and 1.0 as infections shrink further

The ONS report said that the percentage of people testing positive has decreased in all regions except the North East.

Rates are highest in the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and The Humber.

It went on: “Over the past week, there appears to be a decrease in positivity rates among all age groups; rates remain highest among secondary school-aged children.”

Katie Ffolloitt-Powell and Mike Carr of the Patient Transport Services of South Central Ambulance Services prepare to move an elderly non-COVID-19 patient from hospital to a care home, in Portsmouth, Britain May 5, 2020. Picture taken May 5, 2020. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS
Experts have warned people not to become complacent and to adhere to restrictions in order to prevent the NHS becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients (Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS)

However, despite a two week firebreak at the end of October, cases in Wales have begun to rise again since lockdown ended, leading to a new set of restrictions being imposed on Friday evening.

Between 22 to 28 November ONS estimates that 18,100 people in Wales had COVID-19 - equating to one in every 170 people.

According to the ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey figures based on swab tests data from up to five days ago, daily new cases of COVID in the UK are continuing to fall, those in Wales and Scotland have plateaued.

The study suggests there are currently 20,497 daily new symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK, excluding cases in care homes. This compares to 29,311 daily new symptomatic cases a week ago and over 42,000 six weeks ago.

Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “It’s encouraging to see rates are still falling across most of the UK, and we’re now below 21,000 cases, less than half the peak of the second wave we saw in October.

“However, while we are also seeing steady falls in admissions now, it’s important that we aren’t complacent.

“Even though the UK will start the vaccine roll out next week, many of us won't be getting one for a few months, so keeping the numbers low and under control is really important for the NHS.”

Spector said he was confident that ZOE’s app data was the most up-to-date picture available.

He said: “The data’s tracking well with the other government data and hospital admissions and the paper out today in The Lancet Public Health confirms our self-reported data is in close agreement with traditional surveys like ONS and produces the same figures without the lag periods.”

Watch: The UK’s Christmas Covid rules