Covid-19 infections rise in England but trend is ‘uncertain’ in other UK nations

There is a mixed picture across different regions and age groups.

22 July 2022

Covid-19 infections are continuing to rise in England and have reached their highest level for three months, but the trend in the rest of the UK is uncertain, figures show.

Hospital numbers also appear to have stopped climbing, though it is too early to say if the latest wave of the virus is starting to peak, experts have cautioned.

It comes as a new survey suggests public concern about Covid-19 has dropped to its lowest level since the pandemic began.

A total of 3.8 million people in private households in the UK are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to July 13/14, up 7% from 3.5 million the previous seven days, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is the highest estimate for total infections since mid-April, but is still below the record high of 4.9 million seen at the peak of Omicron BA.2 wave at the end of March.

Kara Steel, ONS senior statistician for the Covid-19 infection survey, said: “Infections have, overall, continued to increase in England, reaching similar levels to those seen in April during the BA.2 wave.

“However, we are seeing some uncertain trends in the latest data across the other UK countries, some English regions and among some age groups.

“It is too early to say if this most recent wave is starting to peak, but we will continue to closely monitor the data.”

The rise in total UK infections has been driven by a jump in England, where 3.1 million people were likely to have had the virus in the week to July 13, the equivalent of around one in 17.

This is up from 2.9 million, or one in 19, a week earlier.

In the other three nations, the picture is described by the ONS as “uncertain”.

Covid-19 remains most prevalent in Scotland, where 340,900 people were estimated to have had the virus in the week to July 14, or around one in 15.

This is up slightly from 334,000, or one in 16, and is the highest estimate for Scotland since the start of April.

Wales has seen infections level off at 183,200, or one in 17 people, broadly unchanged on 183,500 in the previous week, which was also one in 17.

In Northern Ireland, infections have dropped to an estimated 88,400 people, or one in 20, down from 107,600, or one in 17.

The figures come as new polling suggests public concern about Covid-19 has fallen to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

Around two-thirds of people surveyed (65%) said they are concerned about the risk coronavirus poses to the country, down from 71% in March, according to data shared with the PA news agency by the poll company Ipsos.

Some 56% of respondents are concerned about the risk the virus poses to people personally, down from 59%, while 39% are not concerned, up from 36%.

The survey of 2,196 adults in Britain was carried out on July 8-9, at a time when infection levels were already rising across the country.

(PA Graphics)

The findings suggest most people are still prepared to take certain precautions if they know they have tested positive for Covid-19, with a majority saying they would be unlikely to go into work (61%), use public transport (66%), visit elderly relatives (68%) or go to the shops (60%).

But more than a quarter of respondents (28%) said that despite testing positive they would go to work, over a third (38%) would leave the house, while nearly a half (47%) would go for a walk outside.

Keiran Pedley, research director at Ipsos, said: “Although concern about the virus is at its lowest level since the pandemic began, it should be noted that a majority of the public are still concerned.

“They are also prepared to avoid seeing others or spending time in public places should they test positive for the virus.

“This all shows that whilst other issues, such as the cost of living, might be more foremost on people’s minds, the public are still prepared to take the virus seriously.”

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