More than 1 million people in England currently infected with Covid-19, PM says

5 January 2021, 17:39 | Updated: 5 January 2021, 17:55

Boris Johnson was speaking at a Downing Street press conference
Boris Johnson was speaking at a Downing Street press conference. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

More than 1 million people in England are currently infected with Covid-19, the Prime Minister has said.

Quoting newly released figures published by the Office for National Statistics during a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said "there will still be long weeks ahead" as he showed the grim statistics.

It comes as Covid cases in the UK rose by 60,916 on Tuesday, the highest ever daily rise seen during the pandemic.

The Government also said a further 830 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday.

The Prime Minister told the public that an estimated 1.1 million people in private households in England had Covid-19 between 27 December and 2 January.

This is the equivalent of around 2.06% of the population, or one in 50 people.

It represents a rise from 800,900 people, or one in 70, who were estimated to have Covid-19 in the period 17 to 23 December.

The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.

Further ONS figures show that in London, an estimated one in 30 people in private households had Covid-19 between December 27 and January 2.

The figure for south-east England, eastern England and north-west England is estimated to be one in 45; for the East Midlands it is one in 50; for north-east England one in 60; and for the West Midlands and Yorkshire & the Humber one in 65.

For south-west England the estimate is one in 135.

During the Downing Street press conference, the PM also said that the number of patients in hospitals in England is now 40 per cent higher than at the first peak in April.

He also said that case rates have increased by 70% in the UK in the two weeks to 30 December.

Problems with the new variant, combined with the worst period of winter, led to a "significant increase" in the number of people testing positive for the virus in December, he says.

The PM also took a moment to praise NHS and care workers who he says are "grappling" with the new coronavirus variant and thanked them for their work while he tries to "put an invisible shield" around the elderly and vulnerable in the form of vaccination.

Discussing the decision to lockdown England, Mr Johnson said: "I believe that when everybody looks at the position we’re in people understand overwhelmingly that we have no choice.

"When the Office of National Statistics is telling us that more than 2% of the population is now infected – that’s over one million people in England – and when today we have reported another 60,000 new cases.

Professor Chris Whitty described one in 50 people having the virus as "really quite a large number indeed."

England's chief medical officer told the Downing Street press conference, citing the ONS estimates, said that the second lockdown brought down rates.

"But then we had the problems with the new variant and the worst period of winter combining to lead to a significant increase since that time.

"And we're now into a situation where, across the country as a whole, roughly one in 50 people have got the virus," he continued.