Coronavirus cases in England rise to 35,000 per day as 1 in 130 infected – ONS

Published: 23 October 2020

Post Desk : Daily coronavirus cases in England have risen again, with around 1 in 130 people estimated to have had COVID-19 last week.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were around 35,200 new cases per day between 10 and 16 October, and that 433,300 people in England were infected.

Last week, one in 160 people were believed to be infected, with around 27,900 daily cases.

Sky’s science and medical correspondent says the “bleak” figures still don’t show any sign that cases are levelling off.

The ONS study records cases in private households and excludes hospitals and care homes.

Researchers said there had been a rise in infections in all age groups over the last fortnight, with current rates highest in older teenagers and young adults.

“The highest COVID-19 infection rates continue to be seen in the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, and the North East,” said the ONS.

One in 59 people in the northwest England were estimated to have had the virus last week – but researchers say the gap between the North and other regions “seems to be narrowing”.

The ONS Infection Survey tests tens of thousands of people each week and is separate from the figures released each day by UK health authorities.

In Wales, cases doubled to around one in 180 people infected (16,700), compared with an estimated one in 390 (7,900) the week before.

The figure for Northern Ireland – which records a two-week period – more than doubled from one in 250 to one in 100.

Scotland appears in the ONS release for the first time, with around one in 180 people believed infected between 3 and 16 October.

For the first time, the weekly study gives a figure for the proportion of the population who may have antibodies for the virus.

It says that in September an estimated 5.6% of the population in England would have tested positive for antibodies from a blood sample.

That is an average of 2.5 million people aged 16 or over (one in 18 people).

The research comes as four regions in England – Lancashire, South Yorkshire, Liverpool, Greater Manchester – are now on “very high” alert and under the toughest restrictions.

Warrington council leaders have told Sky News they have agreed a deal to move to Tier 3 as discussions on whether Nottinghamshire will follow suit are continuing.

In Wales, a full nationwide lockdown comes into force at 6pm this evening, and in Scotland, restrictions on pubs, bars and restaurants have been extended until 2 November, when a new tiered approach is expected to begin.

Analysis: No glimmer of hope yet

By Thomas Moore, science and medical correspondent

We are bombarded with stats on what’s going on these days, but the ONS figures released each Friday are the ones that give us the most reliable picture of the epidemic.

They include tens of thousands of randomly selected individuals who are tested whether or not they have symptoms.

And the latest numbers – which cover the week to Friday 16 October – show the virus is still spreading rapidly.

More than 35,000 people a day were being infected – a 26% rise on the previous week.

The stats also show that the epidemic is getting worse in every region of England. An eye-watering 1 in 59 people in the North West had the virus last week.

That’s despite the progressive tightening of measures to control the virus.

The prime minister introduced the Rule of Six all the way back on 14 September. And the areas with the highest rates have been living with even tighter restrictions for many weeks.

By now the epidemic should be slowing, but there isn’t much sign of that yet.

The ever-changing rules, an unwillingness to stick to them, and the hopeless Test and Trace system all play a part in that.

The other big worry from the numbers is that infections in the over-70s, who are more likely to need hospital care and die, are still rising. Trouble ahead for the NHS.

There really is no glimmer of hope in yet another bleak batch of statistics.