Covid infection rate reaches lowest level in England since September

12 March 2021, 14:07 | Updated: 13 March 2021, 07:25

A woman wearing a face mask mask in Oxford Street in London.
A woman wearing a face mask mask in Oxford Street in London. Picture: PA

By Harriet Whitehead

The number of people infected with coronavirus has dropped across England, yet appears to be levelling off in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The new estimates, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that around one in 270 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between February 28 and March 6. This is the equivalent of 200,600 people.

This is down from around one in 220, or 248,100 people, for the period February 21 to 27.

This marks the lowest figures since the week to September 24 when the estimate stood at one in 470, or 116,600 people.

Nonetheless, when compared to the level last summer the numbers of people infected in England is still high. In the week to August 25 around one in 2,000 people had coronavirus.

The ONS said the percentage of people testing positive has decreased in a majority of regions in England but there were "early signs of a possible increase ... in the South East and South West."

The latest data for Wales shows around one in 365 people are estimated to have had Covid-19 between February 28 and March 6 - down from one in 285 the week before.

In Northern Ireland, around one in 310 people were infected, up from one in 325.

The estimate for Scotland was around one in 320 people, up from one in 335 the previous week.

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The latest R range for the UK is 0.6 to 0.8, which is - 7% to - 4%.

An R value between 0.6 and 0.8 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 6 and 8 other people.

A growth rate of between -7% and -4% means that the number of new infections is shrinking by between 4% and 7% every day.

These estimates represent the transmission of Covid-19 over the past few weeks due to the time delay between someone being infected, having symptoms, and needing healthcare.

Sarah Crofts, senior statistician for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: "We are seeing a mixed picture across the UK this week.

"Infection levels in England and Wales have continued to decrease in the week ending March 6 but appear to be levelling off in Northern Ireland and Scotland."

In England the estimates for the latest six-week period are based on 529,020 swab tests.

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Crofts added: "It's reassuring to see infection levels in the majority of English regions also continuing to decrease - however, it's important for us to remain cautious and closely monitor those regions that are not showing a clear decrease.

"These are in the south of England, Yorkshire and the Humber and the West Midlands."

This information comes after data on Thursday showed more than 23 million people have now had their first dose of a vaccine.