Covid infections drop in England but level off in Scotland and Northern Ireland
The number of people infected with coronavirus continues to fall across England, but appears to be levelling off in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
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 – 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.
It is the lowest figure since the week to September 24 when the estimate stood at one in 470, or 116,600 people.
However, the number of people infected in England is still high when compared to last summer. In the week to August 25 around one in 2,000 people had coronavirus.
Meanwhile, 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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
In England the estimates for the latest six-week period are based on 529,020 swab tests.
Meanwhile, Government scientific advisers said the latest reproduction number (the R) estimate for the UK is between 0.6 and 0.8, down from 0.7 and 0.9 last week.
It comes after data on Thursday showed more than 23 million people have now had their first dose of a vaccine.
In a paper published by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), scientists warn that as prevalence decreases, outbreaks in specific settings “will become more detectable”.
The document from a meeting on February 25 says: “As community prevalence decreases, outbreaks in particular settings will become more detectable and influential.
“There have been a significant number of recent outbreaks in prisons. Sage has previously advised limiting transfer of individuals between prisons.”