Covid-19 infections fall in England but mixed picture in rest of UK

Numbers across the country are still higher than pre-Christmas levels.

23 February 2022

Covid-19 infections have fallen in England but increased in Scotland, while the trend in Wales and Northern Ireland is “uncertain”, new figures show.

There is still a high prevalence of coronavirus across the country, with infections remaining above pre-Christmas levels.

Total infections for the UK are down for the second week in a row, however.

Around one in 25 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to February 19, or 2.1 million people, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is down from one in 20, or 2.4 million people in the week to February 12.

By contrast, infection levels in Scotland have increased week-on-week, up from one in 25, or 219,300 people, to one in 20, or 240,700.

The trend is “uncertain” in both Wales and Northern Ireland, the ONS said.

In Wales, around one in 30 are estimated to have had Covid-19 last week, or 98,200 people – down from one in 25, or 112,600.

And in Northern Ireland the proportion of people with Covid-19 has dropped slightly from one in 13 to one in 14, while the total down is from 146,600 to 132,700.

Across the UK as a whole, 2.6 million people were estimated to have coronavirus last week, down from 2.9 million.

The number stood at 4.3 million at the start of the year.

The ONS infection survey is the most reliable measure of the prevalence of coronavirus in the UK.

It is based on a representative sample of swab tests collected regularly from tens of thousands of households, and is therefore able to estimate the percentage of people likely to test positive for Covid-19 at any one point in time – regardless of when they caught the virus, how many times they have had it and whether they have symptoms.

The number of cases of Covid-19 announced each day by the Government is limited only to those people who have reported themselves as testing positive for the virus, and is being increasingly affected by how many people are coming forward for tests or who are taking a test because they know they have coronavirus symptoms.

The Government said on Monday that the ONS infection survey will continue in the future, but in a “scaled down” form.

When estimating infections among age groups in England, the ONS found that around one in 20 children (4.8%) from age two to school year 6 are likely to have had Covid-19 last week, the highest level for any age group.

This is down from one in 13, or 7.6%, the previous week.

For children in school years 7 to 11 the estimate was around one in 25 (3.9%), down week-on-week from one in 16 (6.3%).

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