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Coronavirus: Fewer than one in 1,000 have Covid-19 in England, figures show

Data reveals evidence of number of people testing positive decreasing

Kate Ng
Friday 05 June 2020 15:12 BST
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Coronavirus in numbers

Data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of people infected with coronavirus in England has fallen to around 5,600 new infections a day from 8,000 reported last week.

Figures on how many people have coronavirus at any one time based on swab results from households across the country showed an estimated 39,000 new infections per week in England between 26 April and 30 May.

This equates to an incidence rate per week of 0.07 new cases per 100 people, or fewer than one in every 1,000 people had Covid-19. This latest ONS data is based on swab tests of 19,000 people in 9,000 households.

The ONS said “modelling of the trend over time shows evidence that the number of people in England testing positive has decreased in recent weeks”.

On 28 May, just over one week ago, the ONS estimated there were around 54,000 new infections per week in England, or around 8,000 a day.

The new figures suggest a drop of around a third between the two datasets. It does not include hospital or care home data.

The data comes from the ONS’ pilot infection survey of households in England, together with the University of Oxford, data science company IQVIA and the UK Biocentre Milton Keynes to collect and analyse samples.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said the survey was “a vital part of our testing strategy”.

“As the ONS make clear, their estimate is not the same as the R value and therefore should not be compared,” she added.

“This study provides valuable insight about the spread of the disease. We are working closely with the ONS to expand this study as well as our understanding of this virus.”

Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, said: “The rate of infection continues to decline and is half what it was two weeks ago.

“Changes over a longer period are now statistically significant. This is highly compatible with the fall in diagnosed cases.

“The contact tracing service has more than enough staff to cope with the current level of infection,” he added. “The main problem is people not getting tested for Covid-19 when they have symptoms.”

Reporting by PA

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