‘Sizeable’ drop in UK Covid-19 infections as Christmas wave recedes

Levels have dropped by nearly a third since the start of the month.

20 January 2023

Covid-19 infections have fallen sharply in all parts of the UK, in a fresh sign the current wave has peaked.

The number of patients in hospital with the virus is also continuing to drop.

Levels of flu and Covid-19 are now both on a downward trend, figures suggest, which could ease some of the pressure being faced this winter by the NHS.

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

Prevalence of Covid-19 is lowest in England, with about one in 40 people estimated to have the virus.

In Wales and Northern Ireland the estimate is one in 25, while for Scotland it is one in 30.

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.”

The latest wave of Covid-19 looks to have peaked at 3.0 million infections in the UK in the week to December 28.

This is below the levels reached in previous outbreaks.

Infections climbed as high as 4.3 million last winter during the spread of the Omicron variant, but this was topped a few months later during the wave caused by the Omicron BA.2/3 subvariants, when infections reached a record 4.9 million.

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