26.11.2022

Covid infections continue to subside with just 1.4million infected in England last week

England’s summer Covid wave has continued to crash, with just one in 40 people infected on any given day in the first week of the month. Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysts estimate just over 1.4million people had the virus in the week up to August 6.

That was down 32 per cent on the week ending July 26, when the figures were previously updated.

The ONS’ weekly figures were paused last week as hundreds of thousands of survey participants transitioned to self-testing and reporting results online rather than being visited at home.

Today’s figures also showed infections fell in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, while also dropping in every age group and region of England.

Statisticians said the lowest levels were seen in children, who are on school holidays. They are continuing ‘to monitor the data closely’ ahead of the return to schools next month.

Despite the promising data, there are renewed calls to reintroduce Covid restrictions last night after a study found most people with the virus are infectious for longer than previously thought.

Scientists are calling for people to isolate for a full five days if they have the virus after the Imperial College London research found two-thirds of infected people are still contagious at that point.

Tony Blair’s Institute for Global Change has also urged the government to consider ‘mandatory mask wearing on public transport and most indoor public venues’ to reduce pressures on the NHS this winter.

Health chiefs yesterday announced Britain will start dishing out its next booster vaccines — including Moderna’s new Omicron-targeting bivalent jab — from the first week of September to help ease the strain.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysts estimate just over 1.4million people had the virus in the week up to August 6. It was down 32 per cent on the week ending July 26, when the figures were previously updated

Today’s figures also showed infections fell in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The ONS’ weekly figures were paused last week, with the hundreds of thousands of survey participants now self-testing and reporting results online rather than being visited at home

Statisticians say they saw ‘decreases are among nearly all ages in England with the lowest levels seen among children’

Scientists issue calls for masks and isolation to return this winter

There were renewed calls for Covid restrictions last night after a study found most people with the virus are infectious for longer than previously thought.

A study by Imperial College London found two-thirds of cases can pass it on five days after their symptoms begin, with a quarter still infectious after a week.

This is contrary to NHS guidance which states ‘many will no longer be infectious to others after five days. No-one in the UK legally has to isolate after testing positive for Covid.

Professor Ajit Lalvani, from Imperial College London and the lead author of the study, recommended people isolate for five days and do not leave isolation until they have tested negative twice on lateral flow tests.

It came after Tony Blair’s Institute for Global Change urged the government to consider ‘mandatory mask wearing on public transport and most indoor public venues’ to reduce pressures on the NHS this winter.

And the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged people to ‘wear a mask and maintain social distancing’, adding: ‘Learning to live with Covid-19 does not mean pretending it’s not there.’

Health leaders have warned the NHS faces a crisis this winter, with the triple threat of Covid, flu and soaring fuel prices set to pile pressure on hospitals during the colder months.

Sarah Crofts, head of analytical outputs for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: ‘Infections have continued to fall across much of the UK to levels last seen in mid June.

‘Our latest data show these decreases are among nearly all ages in England with the lowest levels seen among children. We will continue to monitor the data closely to understand the impact of the summer holidays.’

The ONS stats show cases in Scotland fell 37 per cent in a fortnight, the latest figure show, from 260,800 to 164,100 on August 8. It means around one in 30 people were infected in the most recent week.

Infections dropped 34 per cent to 72,600 in Wales — one in 40 — and two thirds to 36,600 in Northern Ireland — one in 50.

Cases are also falling in every region of England, with the East of England seeing the biggest drop at 43 per cent.

It was followed by the East Midlands (37 per cent), South West (35 per cent), London (21 per cent) and South East (21 per cent).

The smallest drop-off was seen in Yorkshire and the Humber (7.85 per cent), where one in 35 people had the virus on any given day.

Meanwhile, the age group with the sharpest fall in cases was the over-70s, who saw their positivity rate fall by 36 per cent.

They were followed by 50- to 69-year-olds (36 per cent), 11- to 16-year-olds (24 per cent) and 35- to 49-year-olds (17 per cent).

Two- to 11-year-olds had the lowest rates of Covid of any age group with just one in 68 testing positive.

It comes after health chiefs yesterday confirmed Britain’s autumn vaccine rollout will commence in the first week of September and use the Omicron-specific jab.

NHS England said 26million people elderly, middle-aged and vulnerable Britons will be called forward in order of their age and risk factors.

Care home residents and people who are housebound will be among the first to be vaccinated again from September 5.

All over-75s and the clinically vulnerable will be invited for their fifth shot from September 12, before moving down the age groups as with previous rollouts.

This week the UK became the first country in the world to approve Moderna’s bivalent vaccine, which targets both the original strain of the virus and the Omicron variant.

The NHS says it will be offered to people as the default first option, ‘subject to sufficient supply’.

The original Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will also be used as part of the rollout, along with the Novavax vaccine.

An updated Pfizer jab that targets Omicron is also expected to be approved by the medicines regulator ‘in the next few weeks’.

Health officials have stressed getting any booster is more important than the type of vaccine used — as they say the new bivalent vaccines probably only offer marginally more protection.

The effects of lockdown could be causing more deaths than Covid as nearly 10,000 more deaths than the five-year average are recorded, ONS data has found

Meanwhile, scientists last night issued fresh calls for masks and isolation measures to be ‘considered’ this winter after a study cast doubt on Britain’s current isolation period.

A study by Imperial College London found two-thirds of cases can pass it on five days after their symptoms begin, with a quarter still infectious after a week.

This is contrary to NHS guidance which states ‘many will no longer be infectious to others after five days. No-one in the UK legally has to isolate after testing positive for Covid.

Professor Ajit Lalvani, from Imperial College London and the lead author of the study, recommended people isolate for five days and do not leave isolation until they have tested negative twice on lateral flow tests.

It came after Tony Blair’s Institute for Global Change urged the government to consider ‘mandatory mask wearing on public transport and most indoor public venues’ to reduce pressures on the NHS this winter.

And the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged people to ‘wear a mask and maintain social distancing’, adding: ‘Learning to live with Covid-19 does not mean pretending it’s not there.’

Health leaders have warned the NHS faces a crisis this winter, with the triple threat of Covid, flu and soaring fuel prices set to pile pressure on hospitals during the colder months.

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