‘Sizeable’ drop in London Covid-19 infections despite spread of Orthrus variant

A man takes a Covid test (Stock image)  (PA Wire)
A man takes a Covid test (Stock image) (PA Wire)

London has seen a sharp drop in Covid-19 infections, in a fresh sign the current wave has peaked.

Just 2.1 per cent of Londoners tested positive for the virus in the week up to January 10, the lowest figure for any region in England.

It is a drop of 1.4 per cent on last week and half the figure reported a fortnight ago.

A total of 1.8 million people in private households in the UK were likely to test positive for Covid-19 in the week ending January 10, down 32 per cent from 2.7 million at the start of the month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Separate NHS figures show that the number of people in hospital in England with the virus has dropped 33 per cent since the start of the year and currently stands at 6,299.

And the rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England is down week on week from 8.9 per 100,000 people to 6.7.

Michelle Bowen, ONS head of health surveillance, said there had been a “sizeable decrease in Covid-19 positivity” across the UK.

She added: “That is a positive sign, though we must remain cautious as overall rates remain high.

“Also, it is still too early to see fully the potential impact of the return of schools. We will continue to monitor the data closely.”

Prevalence is highest among people aged 70 and over, with 3.5 per cent likely to test positive for the virus, or about one in 29.

The ONS infection survey is the most reliable measure of the prevalence of Covid-19 and is based on a sample of swab tests from households across the country.

South-west England has the highest percentage of the regions, at 3.1 per cent or about one in 30 people.

The fall in infections comes despite the increased spread of the Orthrus variant, which accounts for nearly a fifth of all Covid-19 cases.

It is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant known as Orthrus or CH.1.1. and was first detected in November last year, according to surveillance data.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the variant accounted for roughly 17.4 per cent of all Covid cases in England between December 22 last year January 17.