December 05, 2021

Coronavirus cases in UK have more than halved in last week - ONS figures

June 05, 2020

The number of people with coronavirus has more than halved in the last week, according to the latest official figures.

Data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed 53,000 people in England had the virus at any one time during the last two weeks of May.

That's down from 133,000 in the last round of figures.

The ONS says there is now a consistent downward trend - from more than 0.4% of the population being infected at the end of April down to 0.1% at the end of May.

The data also shows an estimated 39,000 people a week are currently catching COVID-19, down from 54,000 last week.

It hasn't updated its estimate of the number of people who have had the virus over the course of the outbreak, which remains at 6.8%.

The estimates are based on swab tests of 19,000 people in 9,000 households.

The ONS data also shows 5,600 people a day are still catching the virus, many more than are being tested and diagnosed.

It suggests many people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, which will reduce the effectiveness of the government's test and trace strategy in eliminating the virus.

Latest data from the ONS antibody surveillance study shows 6% of people have had the infection since the start of the epidemic, with 16% in London and around 10% in the northwest of England.

New estimates of the R number carried out for the government's SAGE advisory committee show it remains at between 0.7 and 0.9 for the UK, below the key threshold of 1, indicating that spread of the virus is slowing.

The data pre-dates the easing of the lockdown. The impact of people being allowed to gather in groups of six and schools reopening to more children won't be known until next week.

The analysis also found that 28% of excess deaths registered between 7 March and 1 May in England and Wales did not involve coronavirus, totalling 12,900 deaths out of 46,380.

Excess deaths is the number of deaths above the average total for this period in the last five years.

Many of the non-coronavirus excess deaths have occurred in older age groups, particularly those with underlying health conditions.

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Around two-thirds of non-coronavirus excess deaths in this period were linked to dementia, Alzheimer's disease and "symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions" mainly indicating old age, the analysis found.

But the ONS said undiagnosed COVID-19 is a "likely explanation" for some of the excess deaths of elderly people with underlying health conditions not linked to coronavirus.

The total number of deaths linked to COVID-19 recorded by the government currently stands at 39,904 - far lower than the 46,380 excess deaths counted by the ONS.

Many countries across the world have begun to ease their lockdowns, including the UK.

But a World Health Organisation spokeswoman said today there have been "upticks" in coronavirus cases in some countries as social distancing measures were loosened.

The UK has said it will be mandatory for commuters to wear face masks on public transport from 15 June, but the British Medical Association says this should be extended to all areas where social distancing is not possible.

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