United Kingdom

What school wave? Covid cases in England fall AGAIN, Office for National Statistics says

Covid cases fell again in England last week despite fears of a fresh wave of infections on the back of children returning to school, official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics' weekly surveillance report estimated there were 697,100 infections across the country in the seven days to September 11, down 8 per cent on the previous week.

Most schools in England went back from the summer break on Wednesday, September 1, meaning today's data includes the first full week of the new school term.

There had been widespread concerns that England would see a meteoric rise in infections like Scotland did when classes north of the border resumed in mid-August.

Covid cases there trebled to record highs in the following fortnight which put pressure on health officials to finally approve vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds this week.

The latest estimates, based on random swabbing of 100,000 households in England, suggest one in 80 people were carrying the virus on any given day last week. 

Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, said: 'It does look like those strongly expressed views that we would see a surge in infections after schools went back has not turned out to be the case.' 

The Office for National Statistics' weekly surveillance report estimated there were 697,100 infections in England in the seven days to September 11, down 8 per cent on the previous week

At the peak of the second wave in early January, around one in 50 people in England were estimated to have coronavirus. 

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have increased in north-west England and decreased in the West Midlands and the East of England, the ONS said. The trend for all other regions is uncertain.

North-east England and Yorkshire and the Humber had the highest proportion of people of any region likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to September 11: around one in 60. Eastern England had the lowest estimate: around one in 120.

In Wales, around one in 60 people are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to September 11, up from one in 65 in the previous week and the highest level since the week to December 23 2020.

In Northern Ireland, the latest estimate is one in 75, down from one in 60 in the previous week.

For Scotland, the ONS estimates that around one in 45 people had Covid-19 in the week to September 11, the second week in a row it has been at the highest level since estimates began for Scotland in October 2020.

The ONS said that while the percentage of people testing positive had increased slightly (from 2.23% to 2.29%) in the week ending September 11, the rate of increase had slowed. All figures are for people in private households.

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