England's coronavirus infection rate dropped slightly after lockdown, latest figures show

22 January 2021, 13:50 | Updated: 22 January 2021, 14:59

About one in 55 people in England had coronavirus last week
About one in 55 people in England had coronavirus last week. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

There was a slight drop in the number of people infected with coronavirus in England after lockdown measures were brought in, new figures show.

Across England, around one in 55 people in private households had the disease between January 10 to 16, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is the equivalent of 1.02 million people or 1.88% of the population, and is down from one in 50 between December 27 to January 2.

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It comes as the Government’s scientific advisers said they believe the UK’s R number has fallen to below 1 across the UK, suggesting the epidemic is shrinking.

However they also warned case levels "remain dangerously high".

The ONS figures showed around one in 35 people had coronavirus in London last week, the highest rate for any region in England.

One in 40 people in north-east England had Covid-19, alongside one in 50 in north-west England and the West Midlands.

The other estimates are: one in 55 people in south-east England, one in 60 in the East Midlands, one in 75 in eastern England, one in 80 in south-west England and one in 85 in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Meanwhile, in Wales, around one in 70 people had Covid-19 between January 10 and 16 - unchanged from the previous estimate.

In Northern Ireland, the figure was one in 60 people, up from one in 200 for the December period, while the estimate for Scotland was up slightly from one in 115 people for December 25 to 31 to one in 100.

It comes after a study called React, from Imperial College London, found the prevalence of coronavirus across England increased by 50% between early December and the second week of January.

The Government is grappling with ways to bring the infection rate down as the vaccine programme is rolled out, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson unable to rule out that the national lockdown in England may last until the summer.

Reports suggested a £500 payment for people in England who self-isolate if they test positive for Covid-19 was being considered by ministers.

But Environment Secretary George Eustice told LBC that while “we keep these things under review”, the prospect of the scheme being rolled out was just “speculation”.

A further 1,290 coronavirus deaths were reported in the UK on Thursday, with another 37,892 cases.

Official figures up to January 20 showed 4,973,248 people had received a first dose of the vaccine, an increase of 363,508 from the previous day.