Covid-19 infections rise in all UK nations – but no link to Omicron

Covid-19 infections have increased in all four UK nations and remain close to record levels, though the latest rise is not linked to the arrival of the Omicron variant, new analysis suggests.

Around one in 60 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to November 27, up from one in 65 the previous week, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

One in 60 is the equivalent of about 898,900 people.

The proportion of people in England who were estimated to have coronavirus at the peak of the second wave in early January was one in 50.

This led to a surge in hospital admissions and deaths, along with a nationwide lockdown.

But the current wave of infections has so far not resulted in similar numbers of people becoming seriously ill, thanks to the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations.

The ONS said they had not yet identified any infections “compatible with the new Omicron variant”, but will continue to monitor their findings and will report estimates if Omicron becomes “more prevalent among the population”.

HEALTH Coronavirus Infections
(PA Graphics)

In Wales, around one in 45 people is estimated to have had coronavirus in the week to November 27, up from one in 50 the previous week, with the ONS describing the trend as “uncertain”.

Infection levels in Wales hit one in 40 people in late October, the highest since estimates began in summer 2020.

In Northern Ireland, the latest estimate is also one in 45 people, up from one in 50 the previous week and slightly below the record high of one in 40 in mid-August.

For Scotland, the latest estimate is one in 65, up from one in 70 the previous week and below September’s peak of one in 45.

All figures are for people in private households and do not include hospitals, care homes and other settings.

The number of Covid-19 infections in the UK, which is estimated every week by the ONS, is not the same as the number of new cases of coronavirus which are reported every day by the Government.

The number of infections provides a snapshot of the prevalence of Covid-19 within the entire community population of the UK, and estimates the percentage of people who are likely to test positive for the virus at any one point in time – regardless of when they caught the virus, how long they have had it, and whether they have symptoms.

It is based on a sample of swab tests collected from households across the UK.

By contrast, the number of cases of Covid-19 reported each day by the Government includes only those people who have newly tested positive for the virus, and is therefore affected by how many people are coming forward for tests, or who are taking a test because they know they have coronavirus symptoms.

When estimating the level of Covid-19 infections among different age ranges in England, the ONS said rates have increased in the latest week for those aged two to school year 6 and among 35 to 49-year-olds.

Rates decreased for people aged 70 and over, while for all other age groups the trend in the most recent week was uncertain.

Rates were highest for those aged two to school year 6, at 4.3%.

Across the regions of England, the percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have increased in London, north-east England and Yorkshire and the Humber.

The proportion decreased in the West Midlands, and in all other regions the trend was uncertain.

In north-east England, around one in 45 people was likely to test positive in the week to November 27 – the highest proportion for any region.

The West Midlands had the lowest proportion, at around one in 75.