Covid cases plummet by a THIRD with 0.9% of population infected
COVID infections have fallen by almost a third in one week, data shows.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 481,300 people had Covid in England in the week to February 12, the equivalent of one in 115 or less than one per cent of the population.
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It's a 30 per cent decrease from the estimate the week prior, of 695,400 – or one in 80.
And it is the lowest figure since November 29 to December 5, when the estimate also stood at one in 115 people.
Infections also went down by around 30 per cent in Wales and Northern Ireland, to 24,600 and 17,800 cases, respectively, and 17 per cent in Scotland, to 29,200.
The promising data is yet more proof that the Covid outbreak is shrinking, and bodes well for this weekend when the Prime Minister sets out the "roadmap" out of lockdown.
Boris Johnson's announcement on Monday evening is set to reveal schools will open on March 8, and the reopening of non-essential shops will follow in a "cautious" move to lift restrictions.
It comes as:
- Scientists advise anyone who feels slightly unwell to get a Covid test, as new variants may cause different symptoms.
- Over 40s could get their jabs as early as the end of next month.
- Wales plans for schools to open on Monday, with shops and hairdressers set to open in Easter holidays.
Widespread decline in cases
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Infection Survey swabs thousands of people every week to track the outbreak.
It does not give estimates of people in care homes, hospitals or prisons – only private homes.
It found that North-west England had the highest proportion of people of any region in England likely to test positive for coronavirus.
Around one in 85 people in the region were estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week ending February 12.
For London the estimate was one in 100, and for the West Midlands it was one in 110.
The other estimates are one in 120 people for the East Midlands and for Yorkshire and the Humber; one in 125 people for eastern England; and one in 135 for north-east England, south-east England and south-west England.
In Wales, around one in 125 people are estimated to have had Covid between February 6 and 12 – down one in 85 for the previous week.
In Northern Ireland, the ONS estimates around one in 105 people had Covid between February 6 and 12, down from one in 75.
The estimate for Scotland is around one in 180 people, down from one in 150.
A long way to go
The data adds to a slew of research finding a continued drop in cases over several weeks.
Yesterday, figures published by Public Health England (PHE) revealed that 99 per cent of areas have witnessed a drop in infections in the past week.
And data from NHS Test and Trace show that there has been a 29 per cent drop in positive Covid cases.
Despite this, experts say there is still a long way to go.
Sage has said the prevalence of the virus needs to be more like 50,000 a week – ten times lower than the ONS says they currently are – before the PM can consider easing lockdown.
That’s according to NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson, who said on Wednesday there was a “pretty clear view” that “number needs to come down to around 50,000”.
Meanwhile, researchers on the largest test survey in the UK said coronavirus rates are still "really high".
The React study, by Imperial College London, found that lockdown had caused cases to plummet by two thirds.
Around 52 people per 10,000 are testing positive for the virus now, which is similar to the rates we saw in September last year.
Scientists hailed the plummeting cases as “really encouraging” yesterday, but warned pressure on hospitals must ease before we unlock the country.
Meanwhile, the researchers of another study tracking the outbreak using app data said the pace at which cases are falling has stalled.
According to the ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey figures, there are currently 14,064 daily new symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK on average.
This compares to 14,818 daily new symptomatic cases a week ago, a decrease of only five per cent.
The data only include people who report symptoms to the app, therefore missing any asymptomatic infections.
Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London who leads the study, described the trend as a “hitch” in the progress to beat Covid.
Since the peak of 69,000 daily new cases around the 1st January, cases have fallen by around 80 per cent, according to the app.
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