One in 10 people in north-west England had Covid last week, ONS says

The Guardian - Fri Jan 14 14:25

About one in 10 people in north-west England had Covid last week, data has revealed, while infection levels have risen in those aged 50 and over.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics based on swabs collected from randomly selected households, the Omicron wave has continued to sweep the UK.

Infection levels appear to have peaked in London, falling from one in 10 at the end of 2021 to one in 15 in the week ending 6 January, but they have risen in all other regions of England except the east. The north-west recorded the highest levels.

The ONS estimated that 3,735,000 people – or about 1 in 15 – in England had Covid during the week, while the figure for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was around one in 20.

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The study also reveals that while there was no clear rise in infection levels in those under the age of 50, the percentage testing positive for Covid remained highest for older teenagers and young adults, at around one in 10 of those in school year 12 to age 34.

There was an increase, however, among those aged 50 and over testing positive, at around one in 20 of those aged 50 to 69 and one in 30 of those aged 70. That compares with around one in 25 and one in 45 respectively the previous week.

The rise in older age groups is of particular concern given age is a risk factor for more severe Covid. Vaccine uptake in these age groups has been high, but many received their boosters early, meaning their immunity may since have waned to some degree. As a result it remains uncertain what the impact of high levels of infection may have on older adults, and – as a result – healthcare services.

According to official case data – which is based on infections among those who chose to come forward for testing – the number of new cases a day is falling in the UK, with 109,133 new cases reported on Wednesday, down from a his of more than 218,000 earlier in the month.

As experts have previously noted, however, the ONS data covers a slightly earlier period of time, and picks up both new and ongoing infections, as well as those without symptoms.

Sarah Crofts, the head of analytical outputs for the Covid-19 infection survey, said Omicron continued to be the dominant variant while Delta declined.

“Infections in the under 50s are increasing more slowly than in recent weeks, while infections in the over 50s have been increasing more rapidly,” she said.

“It’s important to note that older age groups still remain the lowest infected and we will continue to monitor the data closely to see how this changes.”