England's coronavirus outbreak appears to have stopped shrinking ahead of 'Super Saturday', as official figures today claimed around 3,600 people are still getting infected every day.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data suggests 25,000 people across the country currently have Covid-19, or one in 2,200 people (0.04 per cent of the population) — a huge drop on the 51,000 active cases the week before.
But the same data shows the virus is spreading at a slightly quicker rate, with an estimated 25,000 new cases in the week ending June 27 — up from the 22,000 infections occurring in the community the week before.
ONS statisticians, who made their projection based on swab testing of 25,000 people picked at random, warned the speed at which the outbreak is declining has 'levelled off'.
The estimate is in line with yesterday's prediction by Public Health England and Cambridge University academics, who claimed up to 3,000 people are still getting infected each day.
This included 1,000 in the Midlands, which is home to Leicester — the first UK city to be hit by a 'local lockdown'. Their estimate is based on modelling of based on death data, antibody surveillance sampling and mobility reports.
But both guesses are much higher than the one by King's College London scientists, who believe around 1,200 people are being struck down each day. The academics rely on people logging in to a symptom-tracking app and confirming they have tested positive.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE CAUGHT THE VIRUS IN YOUR REGION?
NE AND YORKS
What is the attack rate? The Cambridge-PHE team used this term to describe the percentage of any given group that has been infected. For example, an attack rate of 20 per cent in London suggests one in five people living in the capital have already had the virus.
How accurate is the above number? The experts gave a range of numbers for each region and settled on their best guess, which was the number quoted above.
Today's ONS report said: 'When analysing data for the four most recent non-overlapping 14-day periods, these estimates suggest the percentage testing positive has decreased over time since our first measurement on 26 April, and this downward trend appears to have now levelled off.
'The latest confidence intervals overlap with the previous two time periods.
'This suggests that the actual number of individuals testing positive in the period 14 June to 27 June 2020 could be higher or lower than in the two previous periods.
'Therefore, at this point, we do not have evidence that the current trend is anything other than flat.'
The research by King's College London produced a much lower estimate of the number of new daily cases and has a figure that has been falling consistently.
Both sets of data - from King's College and the ONS - are based on data for the period between June 14 and June 27.
The COVID Symptom Tracker statistics, based on 31 positive test results out of 10,393 swabs, estimates that there are 1,445 new cases in the community each day across the UK. Most of those (1,225) are in England.
Meanwhile the ONS data, based on 12 positive results from 23,203 participants, put the weekly estimate at 25,000 which breaks down to 3,571 per day.
Public Health England and Cambridge University yesterday predicted up to 3,000 people are still getting infected in England every day, including 1,000 in the Midlands.
The team claims that between 1,500 and 5,780 people caught the virus across England on June 26 and that the rate has been fairly stable since the start of May.
The King's College team also estimate that the Midlands is being worst hit, making up 422 out of the country's 1,225 daily cases.
King's College London scientists believe around 1,200 people are being struck down each day. The academics rely on people logging in to a symptom-tracking app and confirming they have tested positive
It placed 215 in the North East and Yorkshire, 185 in the South East, 164 in the East of England, 104 in the North West, 92 in the South West and 84 in London.
There were a further 132 per day in Wales and 88 in Scotland, the project said.
Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist behind the app, said its model had successfully predicted higher rates of transmission in Leicester since June 17.
The city is this week returning to lockdown because it has a high rate of infections, with 140 cases per 100,000 people significantly higher than any other area.
Professor Spector said: 'With our data now flagging up potential new hotspots, it will allow for greater surveillance and focussed testing that could detect problems like Leicester much earlier and hopefully reduce the number of major lockdowns.'