The number of Covid-19-like outbreaks has doubled in workplaces across England as stores reopen and the lock is loosening, data revealed today.
Official statistics show that there were 43 ‘respiratory outbreaks’ at work between 21-28 June – double the 22 the previous week.
And in June, there were a total of 109 outbreaks, compared to just 22 in May when ‘non-essential’ stores reopened and the nation finally got back to work.
More promising figures from Public Health England, however, show that the number of outbreaks in hospitals has fallen from 27 to 13 and has fallen from 112 to 58 in nursing homes.
Hospitals and nursing homes have remained hot spots for the virus during the lockdown, but cases in those settings now seem to be on the decline.
While PHE doesn’t specify that all outbreaks are Covid-19, it’s “ respiratory outbreaks ” – meaning lung infections – and it’s not a cold or flu season, so many are likely to be the coronavirus.
The total number of outbreaks has declined, according to the Public Health England report.
“The number of nursing home and hospital incidents has decreased,” it says.
‘The number of incidents in educational environments remains relatively stable while the number of incidents in the workplace has risen from 22 in week 25 [June 21] to 43 in week 26 [June 28].
‘Since pillar 2, tests became accessible to everyone in week 21 [May 22] more cases of mild disease have been observed in environments with healthy younger populations. ‘
The spike in outbreaks of coughs and colds in the workplace coincided with the government allowing ‘non-essential’ stores to reopen.
Outdoor shops such as car dealers and markets were allowed to open again from 1 June.
And from June 15, high street stores and other ‘non-essential’ stores were allowed to reopen, meaning that all stores could reopen with social distance measures.
During May, when most of England was still shut down, 22 respiratory outbreaks had been reported to Public Health England.
But in June – after stores were allowed to reopen – there were 109. On average, more outbreaks each week in June than the entire month of May.
As the number of outbreaks in the workplace has increased, the number of positive tests declared by the Ministry of Health has decreased.
In May, a total of 105,314 people were diagnosed with Covid-19, which dropped dramatically to 37,167 in June.
PHE outbreaks have no defined sizes, so it is not clear how many individual people are involved in each incident.
The data also shows that the number of outbreaks in schools increased after they were allowed to reopen for reception students, year 1 and year 6.
After 29 outbreaks in May, when the number of students was strictly limited and only the children of key workers were present, there were 137 in June.
Today’s data showed that the Covid-19 outbreak in England seems to have stopped shrinking and up to 3,600 people still contract the disease every day for ‘Super Saturday’ this weekend as pubs reopen and social distance is loosened .
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that 25,000 people across the country currently have Covid-19, or one in 2,200 people (0.04 percent of the population) – a huge drop from the 51,000 active cases the week before.
But the same data shows that the virus is spreading slightly faster, with an estimated 25,000 new cases in the week ending June 27 – compared to the 22,000 infections that had been in the community the previous week.
US statisticians, who projected them based on swab tests of 25,000 randomly chosen people, warned that the rate at which the outbreak is diminishing has “leveled off”.
The estimate is in line with yesterday’s forecast by Public Health England and Cambridge University academics, who claimed that up to 3,000 people are still infected every day.
This is inclusive 1,000 in the Midlands, where Leicester is based – the first British city to be hit by a ‘local closure’. Their estimate is based on modeling based on death data, antibody sampling and mobility reports.
But both guesses are much higher than those of scientists at King’s College London, who believe that about 1,200 people are knocked down every day. The academics trust people to log into a symptom recording app and confirm that they have tested positive.
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