Covid cases fell again in England last week, despite fears of a new wave of infections on the backs of millions of children returning to school, official figures show.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) surveillance report estimated that in the seven days to Sept. 11, 697,100 people were infected on any given day across the country, an 8 percent drop from the previous week.
Most schools in England went back from the summer break on September 1, meaning today’s data includes the first full week of the new school year.
There were widespread concerns that England would see a rapid rise in infections, as Scotland did when classes north of the border resumed in mid-August. Covid cases there tripled to record highs in the following two weeks, putting pressure on health officials to finally approve vaccines for 12- to 15-year-olds this week.
The latest estimates, based on random swabs from 100,000 households in England, suggest that one in 80 people carried the virus on any given day last week.
Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, said: ‘It seems that the strongly expressed views that we would see a wave of infections after schools go back have not turned out to be the case.’
Meanwhile, the top government scientists said England’s R-rate held steady at around 1, but could be as low as 0.9 or as high as 1.1 for the past week.
The R, or reproduction, is the average number of people each Covid patient continues to infect and it needs to be less than 1 for the epidemic to decrease consistently. However, it is a lagging indicator and reflects the situation the country was in three weeks ago.
Separate data from Public Health England showed yesterday that more than nine in ten local authorities in England saw their outbreaks shrink in the first week of schools returning.
The Office for National Statistics’ weekly surveillance report estimated that there were 697,100 infections in England in the seven days to September 11.
Meanwhile, the government’s scientific advisory group said England’s R-rate held steady at around 1, but could be as low as 0.9 or as high as 1.1 for the past week.
The UK currently records 1,000 Covid hospitalizations per day, the majority of which take place in England (pictured). This is an increase of about 750 since ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19, when all legal restrictions were lifted in England
The number of deaths has remained low despite high transmission levels thanks to the roll-out of the vaccines
At the height of the second wave in early January, it is estimated that about one in 50 people in England had the coronavirus.
The percentage of people testing positive is estimated to have increased in the North West and decreased in the West Midlands and East of England, the ONS said. The trend for all other regions is uncertain, with outbreaks believed to have leveled off in the past week.
North East England and Yorkshire and the Humber had the highest percentage of people of all regions likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to September 11 – about one in 60. The East had the lowest estimate, around one in 120.
Speaking about last night’s projected school surge, Professor Hunter said: ‘Today was the first day when we had expected a clear impact from the opening of schools on the daily reports of the number of Covid cases in England.
“We started seeing case reports on the same day of the previous week on September 9, about eight days after most students went back to school at the time when some impact may have been observed.”
He added: “In an endemic infection, as Covid has now become, infections reach an equilibrium point where the proportion of the population that becomes susceptible balances the chance of transmission and of course many people have had some degree of susceptibility in recent months.” immunity developed because due to immunization or infection.
Also, although the number of cases seems to be declining in all age groups, age-specific data is always reported a little later and it will be later next week before we can know for sure what the trend really is in each age group.
“Yet it seems that those strongly expressed views that we would see a wave of infections after schools went back have not turned out to be the case.
Cabinet Minister George Eustice says there will be ‘another full lockdown’ if vaccine-evasive coronavirus variant emerges
The emergence of a vaccine-evasive coronavirus variant will force the government to impose “another full lockdown,” a minister said today.
Environment Minister George Eustice said a national shutdown is in the government’s toolbox to prevent the spread of the disease should the virus succeed in ‘dodging’ the jabs.
Eustice insisted a new lockdown “isn’t what we want” but his confirmation that it’s on the table is likely to infuriate Tory, with many MPs vehemently opposing the possible return of rural draconian curbs.
His comments come just days after Boris Johnson unveiled his winter plan to stop the spread of the disease in the coming months.
The document made no specific mention of a potential shutdown, but said that ‘more damaging economic and social restrictions would only be considered as a last resort’ if the NHS was at risk of being ‘overwhelmed’.
Johnson repeatedly said he wanted the UK’s exit from the latest lockdown to be “irreversible”.
Eustice was grievous this morning on Sky News about expected changes to the government’s international travel rules.
The minister would not rely on details as he said the cabinet subcommittee responsible for the issue is expected to make its decisions later today.
When told that the travel industry is at a critical point and now is the time to change the traffic light system, Mr Eustice replied: ‘It has been a very, very difficult time for the travel industry, we absolutely recognize that.
“That’s why we’ve done everything we can to have those easements, reduce the restrictions as quickly as possible.
“But perhaps the biggest threat to the travel industry is that if we get another variant that bypasses the vaccine, that the vaccine can’t deal with, then we’re in another full lockdown and that’s not what we want.”
“That’s why we took this step by step carefully, because we want every step we take to be irreversible.”
It is not clear how long and how low this decline in the number of cases and hospital admissions will last.
“I suspect the number of cases will level off at some point and there is still the possibility that the number of cases will increase again as we move through the fall, although I doubt it will come close to being as high as we have seen in the past.” have seen or as predicted by some. ‘
In Wales, it is estimated that around one in 60 people have had Covid in the week to September 11, up from one in 65 the week before and the highest level since the week to December 23, 2020.
In Northern Ireland, the latest estimate is one in 75, up from one in 60 in the previous week.
For Scotland, the ONS estimates that around one in 45 people had Covid in the week to September 11, the second week in a row at the highest level since estimates for Scotland began in October 2020.
The ONS said that while the percentage of people who tested positive in the week ending Sept. 11 had increased slightly (from 2.2 percent to 2.3 percent), the rate of increase had slowed. All figures are for persons in private households.
It has been suggested that high antibody levels in young people can keep the virus at bay. According to official estimates, nearly nine in ten people in the UK aged 16 to 24 have Covid antibodies.
The percentages of the virus-fighting proteins will also rise rapidly in 12- to 15-year-olds next week, when the rollout of the injection first opens up to them.
The ONS, which carries out blood tests on young people in the four British countries, found that between 87 and 89 percent of them had antibodies that help fight the virus.
The presence of antibodies to the coronavirus suggests that someone has been infected or vaccinated in the past and therefore has some immunity. Children under the age of 16 are not routinely tested for antibodies.
PHE data revealed that Covid cases continued to grow in just 11 parts of the country between Sept. 6 and 12, providing more evidence that schools haven’t sparked a wave.
Newcastle upon Tyne saw the biggest increase in the country, rising 11.1 percent. It was followed by Northumberland (10.3 percent) and Leicester (9.5 percent).
Local outbreaks also rose in the rest of Leicestershire (5 per cent), Oldham (4.6 per cent), Blackpool (3.1 per cent) and Coventry (1.4 per cent).
Middlesbrough (0.9 percent), Redcar and Cleveland (0.8 percent), Southend-on-Sea (0.8 percent) and Calderdale (0.4 percent), meanwhile, saw small increases in infection rates.
At the other end of the scale, data showed that infections were more than halved in West Berkshire (-54.2 percent) and Gloucestershire (-52.7 percent).
Cases also fell in South Gloucestershire (-49.5 per cent), Bristol (49.4 per cent) and Swindon (48.9 per cent).
PHE data showed that the number of cases fell nationally and in all nine regions of the country, in a marked change from last week when it rose slightly in every area except the Southwest.
The Northeast had the highest rate, with 370 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to Sept. 12.
Meanwhile, they were the lowest in London, where 212 per 100,000 people tested positive last week.
But with large numbers returning to offices last week and Transport for London experiencing its busiest day since before the pandemic, cases in the capital could increase in the coming weeks, experts fear.