England's coronavirus cases may be 'levelling off', says ONS

A medical worker takes a swab to test for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 from a visitor to a drive-in testing facility at the Chessington World of Adventures Resort, in Chessington, southwest of London, on May 2, 2020. - Britain's overall death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose by 739 to 27,510 on May 1 as the government announced that it had reached its COVID-19 testing goal administering a total of 122,347 tests on April 29. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Testing in the community for coronavirus suggests the number of new cases may be 'levelling off'. (Adrian Dennis/AFP)

The number of people in England testing positive for coronavirus may be “levelling off”, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures are based on throat and nose swabs from nearly 120,000 people who were tested between 27 July and 2 August – whether they had symptoms or not.

An average of 3,700 people per day in private households were estimated to be newly infected with COVID-19 during that time, down from 4,200 per day the previous week.

After a low in cases at the end of June, infections had been rising in July. Last week, Boris Johnson warned there was a "warning light on the dashboard" when the ONS said new cases were still on the increase.

However, the latest ONS figures released on Friday suggest the increase may have been halted.

A man wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walks past consumers sat outside a restaurant in London on August 3, 2020, as the Government's "Eat out to Help out" coronavirus scheme to get consumers spending again gets underway. - Britain's "Eat out to Help out" scheme began Monday, introduced last month by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help boost the economy claw its way from a historic decline sparked by the coronavirus crisis. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
The number of coronavirus cases in the community in England has not significantly increased in the past week, the latest data has suggested. (Tolga Akmen/AFP)

Restrictions have been introduced in recent weeks in a number of different areas to control outbreaks.

A statement from the ONS read: "Modelling shows rates of people testing positive for COVID-19 have risen since the lowest recorded estimate, which was at the end of June.

"But there is evidence that this trend may be levelling off when compared with last week’s headline estimate."

The figures cover the final days leading up to the prime minister’s last-minute decision to halt lockdown changes on 1 August.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by PA Video/PA Images via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson halted the 1 August planned easing of lockdown restrictions. (PA Video/PA Images via Getty Images)

On Friday last week, Johnson announced bowling alleys, skating rinks, wedding receptions and certain beauty services would no longer reopen on as planned.

The government also imposed fresh restrictions on more than four million people across Greater Manchester, Lancashire and west Yorkshire, with Leicester also remaining under strict lockdown rules.

People in the affected areas are no longer allowed to meet people from a different household indoors or in a private home or garden. Failure to adhere to the rules can result in a £100 fine.

Patients in hospitals and care home residents were not included in the ONS figures. The body has been estimating cases in private households since May.

Figures for Wales were also included for the first time. During the week of 27 July to 2 August, 1,400 people in Wales were estimated to have had COVID-19.

In England, the overall figure for the same week was 28,300.

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