Health

Coronavirus infection rate in England 'remains stable'


The number of people catching coronavirus in England remains stable at 2,000 per day, according to official data which shows no proof that infections are surging.

There are now an estimated 2,000 new cases each day, on average – down 200 from last Friday, when the prediction sat at 2,200 – according to the Office for National Statistics.

Some 27,100 people in England are thought to be infected at any one time – 0.05 per cent of the population or one in every 2,000 people. This total is a decrease of four per cent from the 28,200 estimate last week. 

Statisticians at ONS said: ‘Evidence suggests that the incidence rate for England remains unchanged.’

The reassurance comes as the number of officially diagnosed cases is surging and was yesterday the highest it had been for three months, with 1,735 people testing positive. Scientists say, however, that many of these new cases are being picked up because the testing system has improved and is targeting areas with outbreaks.

King’s College London researchers, who run an app through which almost four million people report symptoms and test results, also estimate there are 2,000 new cases per day across the whole of the UK.

But this is a surge of 53 per cent on their estimate given the week prior – 1,300 – and the highest since late July. Neither team includes cases in care homes or hospitals in their estimates, and the King’s app – run with health tech company ZOE – doesn’t account for people who don’t have symptoms or get tested.

Six new coronavirus hotspots across the UK have been flagged by the Covid Symptom Tracker app, three of which have been added for the first time. 

On the top of the unofficial ‘watch list’ is East Renfrewshire, Scotland, while West Lothian is number 10, following the Scottish Government’s decision to bring restrictions into regions in West Scotland. 

Ards and North Down in Northern Ireland was also new to the watchlist, while Neath Port Talbot in Wales, Nottingham and Tameside in England were put back on the list after previously dropping off.

But not a single area in the south or east of England, including London, show concerning levels of infections, a sign Covid-19 continues to split the UK. 

Office for National Statistics data: There are now an estimated 2,000 new cases each day, on average

Office for National Statistics data: There are now an estimated 2,000 new cases each day, on average

King's College London researchers also estimate there are 2,000 new cases per day across the whole of the UK. But this is a surge of 53 per cent on their estimate given the week prior - 1,300

King’s College London researchers also estimate there are 2,000 new cases per day across the whole of the UK. But this is a surge of 53 per cent on their estimate given the week prior – 1,300

King's College London estimate there are 2,000 new cases per day across the whole of the UK, which is 53 per cent higher than their estimate last week

King’s College London estimate there are 2,000 new cases per day across the whole of the UK, which is 53 per cent higher than their estimate last week 

The Office for National Statistics also report a steady 2,000 per day figure. It said: 'Evidence suggests that the incidence rate for England remains unchanged'

The Office for National Statistics also report a steady 2,000 per day figure. It said: ‘Evidence suggests that the incidence rate for England remains unchanged’

Six new coronavirus hotspots across the UK have been flagged by the team, three of which have been added for the first time (East Renfrewshire and West Lothian in Scotland, and Ards and North Down in Wales). Neath Port Talbot in Wales, Nottingham and Tameside in England were put back on the list after previously dropping off. Manchester, along with Blackpool, Halton and Oldham, have remained on the list for the second week running

Six new coronavirus hotspots across the UK have been flagged by the team, three of which have been added for the first time (East Renfrewshire and West Lothian in Scotland, and Ards and North Down in Wales). Neath Port Talbot in Wales, Nottingham and Tameside in England were put back on the list after previously dropping off. Manchester, along with Blackpool, Halton and Oldham, have remained on the list for the second week running

ONS said: ‘While the percentage of individuals testing positive for Covid-19 has decreased since the start of the study (26 April 2020), the estimates suggest there was a small increase in July since the lowest recorded estimate, which was at the end of June. This trend has continued to level off since the end of July.’

The prevalence of coronavirus in the community right now – 27,100 – is almost a 10 per cent drop on the estimate given a fortnight ago, of 24,600.

But the data always operates within a range of possibility and this week’s true figure for daily new cases could be anywhere between 1,100 and 3,200, the ONS admits, while total infections could be 19,300 to 36,700.

It’s the fourth week in a row ONS has reported a decline in daily new cases suggesting the outbreak is steady, with cases neither rising nor falling significantly.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today’s ONS figures prove the NHS Test and Trace system is working, despite it being constantly criticised for failing to reach targets. The scheme tracks down close contacts of Covid-19 cases and tells them to self isolate in order to stop transmission. 

Mr Hancock said: ‘Today’s ONS data shows NHS Test and Trace and our local restrictions approach, in partnership with local areas, is working to contain the virus and is supporting the country to safely return to normal. 

‘This reassuring news is testament to the hard work of everybody in following social distancing guidelines to protect themselves, their loved ones and the NHS.

‘I would urge everybody to continue to be vigilant – wash your hands, wear a face covering and keep social distance from those outside your household – so we can keep the virus at bay.’ 

THERE IS NO SIGN OF A SECOND WAVE OF COVID-19 IN THE UK, SAY SCIENTISTS

Britain is not entering a second wave of coronavirus infections and the young, mildly-affected people being diagnosed in rising case numbers are not likely to trigger a rise in hospitalisations, experts say.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock this week warned that the UK ‘must do everything in our power’ to stop a second surge of people going into hospital with the coronavirus, which he said was starting to happen in Europe. 

But experts told MailOnline Mr Hancock’s comments were ‘alarmist’ and that there is currently ‘no sign’ of a second wave coming over the horizon. The data shows hospital cases are also not rising by much in Europe, contrary to the Health Secretary’s claim.

As of Monday there were only 764 people in hospital with Covid-19 in the UK, just 60 of whom are in intensive care. This is a sharp drop from a peak of 19,872 hospitalised patients on April 12.

The falling number of hospital cases comes despite infections having been on the rise since lockdown restrictions were lifted at the start of July. Experts say this is because the groups getting infected and diagnosed now are completely different to those at the start of the pandemic. 

Scientists say it is younger people driving up infections and they are less likely to get seriously ill and end up in hospital. For that reason, hospital cases and deaths will not necessarily follow higher cases, and there may not be a deadly wave like the first.   

Professor Carl Heneghan, a medicine expert at the University of Oxford, said: ‘There is currently no second wave. What we are seeing is a sharp rise in the number of healthy people who are carrying the virus, but exhibiting no symptoms. Almost all of them are young. They are being spotted because – finally – a comprehensive system of national test and trace is in place.’

Mr Hancock said in the Commons on Tuesday that he feared this rise in infections in healthy people would creep into vulnerable groups if allowed to continue, saying it was a pattern seen in the US where cases are out of control again.  

But scientists have shot down Mr Hancock’s doomsayer comments, pointing out that deaths have not risen in France or Spain, and the reason hospital admissions have not risen in the UK with diagnosed cases ‘simply reflects increased testing’. 

Official data from the continent shows Europe’s hospitals are not filling up with coronavirus patients despite a surge in positive tests – hospitalisations have been falling in France, Spain and Germany while cases have risen.

Open University statistician Professor Kevin McConway told MailOnline: ‘An important point is that numbers of Covid deaths in France have shown very little evidence of a rise recently. There has been something of a rise in deaths Spain, but not very marked at all.’ 

Statisticians say expansion of testing capacity means infections are being found more easily than at the start of the pandemic. In the UK alone, the number of tests being carried out has increased by 20 per cent from the start of July to now. But the number of positive results has gone up by only 0.3 per cent in the same period, suggesting new cases are a combination of more tests, and only a slight rise in infections in hotspots.  

 

The figures are at odds with those given by the Department of Health every day, which are based on positive test results in the UK as a whole. Cases have been climbing since July, and the seven-day rolling case average is now 1,435, up by a quarter (26 per cent) in a week. 

Oliver Johnson, a professor of information theory, School of Mathematics, University of Bristol, said: ‘This data [from ONS] may appear to contradict the recent increase in UK cases: this may partly be due to some of those cases being discovered by targeted testing in hotspots. 

‘Further, it is important to note this ONS survey covers only England and Wales: a significant proportion of the recent increase in cases has occurred in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and so would not be visible here.’

Experts have repeatedly said the increase in positive Covid-19 cases is likely as a result of flooding areas of concern with more testing – in town centres and by knocking on people’s doors. 

But there is also likely a small increase in transmission due to people returning to work and social activities, seen in parts of the North West of England and in parts of Scotland such as Glasgow and Clyde,  

Professor Johnson added: ‘Today’s ONS infection survey figures are very similar to last week. Indeed the long-term trend is broadly flat since the beginning of July, suggesting an R value very close to 1. ‘

ONS stops short of claiming the outbreak is actually shrinking because there is always a level of uncertainty about the figures.

Despite the fact they swab a huge 20,000 people across the country, only a tiny number actually test positive. So the estimates are based on less than a handful of people. 

It’s also impossible to detect every new infection. But the advantage of the ONS infection survey is it seeks out those who do not have symptoms, not just ones that appear in testing. 

ONS’s report maintains, as it has throughout the outbreak, that there is no measurable difference in infection rates across different regions of England.

It shows that there appear to be more people testing positive in Yorkshire and the Humber, and the East than in other regions, but the differences are not statistically significant. 

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In this respect the ONS’s report is at odds with other sources. All of the local lockdown measures imposed by Government are in the Midlands, North of England or Scotland.

For the first time ONS also published estimates for how many people in England have antibodies – proteins in the blood which signify a person has had, and recovered from, Covid-19.

Between 26 April and 23 August, six per cent of people tested positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, suggesting they had the infection in the past.

There was some evidence of regional differences in the percentage of people testing positive for antibodies to Covid-19, supporting previous research. 

In London, an estimated 11 per cent of people have tested positive for antibodies – the highest for any region in England. Following was the West Midlands, with 6.8 per cent.

The lowest regional estimate was 3.5 per cent for south-west England. 

Public Health England (PHE) also publish an estimate of the prevalence of antibodies in the blood in England, but use a different test to ONS.

In its most recent report, PHE said 17.5 per cent of people in London had antibodies against the coronavirus which has been steadily rising over the course of the pandemic. 

The findings also chime with those from the REACT study, led by Imperial College London, which is based on self-administered antibody tests by 100,000 people.

A report published on medRxiv on August 13 showed London had the highest numbers at over twice the national average (13 per cent), while the South West had the lowest (three per cent). 

ONS's report maintains that there is no measurable difference in infection rates across different regions of England. But it shows more people testing positive in Yorkshire and the Humber, and the East than in other regions, but the differences are not statistically significant

ONS’s report maintains that there is no measurable difference in infection rates across different regions of England. But it shows more people testing positive in Yorkshire and the Humber, and the East than in other regions, but the differences are not statistically significant

In London, an estimated 11 per cent of people have tested positive for antibodies – the highest for any region in England

In London, an estimated 11 per cent of people have tested positive for antibodies – the highest for any region in England

The weekly report from King’s College suggests there are outbreaks across the UK that are causing cases to steadily rise, however.

Developed by healthcare science company, ZOE, the COVID Symptom Study app has now been downloaded by over 3.9million people in the UK who regularly report if they have symptoms of the coronavirus or have been tested.

HOW HAVE CASES CHANGED OVER TIME? 

King’s College London‘s COVID Symptom Tracker app estimated the following daily new cases for the UK as a whole:

  • August 29: 1,974
  • August 22: 1,292
  • August 15: 1,265
  • August 8: 1,434
  • August 1: 1,626 
  • July 25: 2,110 
  • July 18: 1,884
  • July 11: 2,103
  • July 4: 1,472
  • June 25: 2,341
  • June 18: 3,612

Researchers say there are currently 1,974 daily new cases of Covid-19 in the UK, based on data from 9,489 swab tests done between 9 August to 22 August. 

The incidence number has crept up from last week which was 1,292 where the numbers had been holding steady since early July. Only three weeks ago the researchers had said it was ‘encouraging’ to see the cases coming down across the UK to levels seen in July.

It is not clear why King’s College’s estimate of 1,292 in the week between August 15 and August 22 is so much lower than ONS’s, at 2,200.

But it is still within the range ONS gave, (between 1,100 and 3,800). 

One reason that the COVID Symptom Study app estimate is consistently lower than the ONS is the data doesn’t include asymptomatic cases.

ONS do swabs of hundreds of thousands of people in random households, therefore detect those who do not show symptoms. But the COVID Symptoms Study app relies on people reporting their own symptoms. 

Similarly, the app’s prevalence estimate of 22,040, up on the 18,340 the week prior, is within the range given by ONS today (19,300 to 36,700).    

Several new areas were flagged on King’s watch list this week that were not on there the week prior. The aim of the list is to highlight areas of concern so that attention can be focused there, such as increased testing.

East Renfrewshire and West Lothian in Scotland have entered the top 10 areas of concern for the first time since the app launched, where 0.22 per cent and 0.14 per cent are carrying the coronavirus, respectively. 

Infection rates across the UK, as predicted by the COVID Symptom Study app

Infection rates across the UK, as predicted by the COVID Symptom Study app

On Tuesday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a ban on indoor household gatherings were imposed on East Renfrewshire as well as Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire.

SEVEN SCHOOLS HAVE ALREADY SEEN CASES  

At least seven schools in England have sent pupils home to self-isolate due to students catching coronavirus within days of the start of term.

Primary and secondary schools in Greater Manchester, Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Lancashire and Buckinghamshire have all been stricken by the virus – seven sending pupils home and another delaying the start of term.

Notable among them is Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Marlow, Bucks, which delayed yesterday’s start of term after 20 pupils tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a party holiday to the Greek island of Zante. 

Today it emerged that another seven schools – which unlike Sir William Borlase’s had already started term – have asked pupils to go home, some after just hours back in the classroom.

The seven schools are:

  1. The Dixons Trinity Academy, Bradford 
  2. Dixons Kings Academy, Bradford
  3. The King David High School in Crumspall, Greater Manchester
  4. The Ridgeway Primary Academy in Market Harborough, Leicestershire
  5. Chesham Grammar School, Buckinghamshire
  6. Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Marlow, Buckinghamshire
  7. A school in Whitworth, Lancashire
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Cases have increased in the area which Ms Sturgeon said was mainly due to mixing in households. Schools, pubs and restaurants have been allowed to remain open.

The First Minister revealed yesterday the reproduction rate of coronavirus in Scotland is now ‘probably above one’ and could be as high as 1.4.

Scotland reported 101 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, the fifth day in a row that cases have been in triple figures. Cases have begun trending upwards this month after being at record lows during June and July. 

Provisional figures indicate some 53 of these new cases are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

While across Scotland the number of positive cases of coronavirus is 9.2 per 100,000 people, in Glasgow it stands at 21.8, in East Renfrewshire it is 18.8, and in West Dunbartonshire it rises to 32.6 per 100,000, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said. 

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, who leads the research using the Covid-19 app, commented: ‘While with increased economic activity and travel we are seeing the numbers starting to creep up again, it is good to see that when numbers start to rise, areas like around Glasgow are taking swift action to help stop the situation spreading.’  

Ards and North Down in Northern Ireland and Neath Port Talbot in Wales have also been added to King’s watchlist for the first time, having not previously been identified as places with high levels of transmission. 

Around 0.17 per cent and 0.16 per cent of the population currently have the coronavirus in those communities, which in real terms is a small number of people. 

Coming in at number two on the watchlist is Manchester, where 0.19 per cent of people have the coronavirus.

The ten boroughs of Greater Manchester have been under tougher Covid-19 restrictions since the end of July. But these are starting to be lifted in some areas, as well as in Lancashire and West Yorkshire, where coronavirus cases have decreased. 

Manchester, along with Blackpool, Halton and Oldham, have remained on the list for the second week running. Some areas in the north of England are on the list every week.

Professor Spector said: ‘We are yet to see these localised outbreaks such as those in the North of England, having a negative impact on hospitals and NHS capacity, which suggests that those who are getting COVID may be milder cases with less of them ending up in hospital as a result, which is good news.’

Halton and Blackpool have not been identified in Public Health England’s latest watchlist league table, published last Friday.

The report last week showed that Pendle, Oldham and Blackburn with Darwen, were at the top of PHE league tables as ‘areas of intervention’. Manchester is also in this category.

The weekly report being published by PHE today is expected to see a change in the watchlist, with Leeds, in West Yorkshire, thought to be an addition.

Council city leader Judith Blake has pleaded for a city-wide effort to control the coronavirus as the infection rate continues to soar. 

Modelling by Imperial College London also predicts Leeds will become one of England’s hotspots in the next two weeks.

It’s research says there is an 85 per cent chance the city will reach 50 cases per 100,000 people.  

Yesterday Britain has announced a further 1,735 new coronavirus cases in the biggest daily spike in three months

Yesterday Britain has announced a further 1,735 new coronavirus cases in the biggest daily spike in three months

It comes after Britain yesterday announced 1,735 new coronavirus cases in the biggest daily spike in three months.

The last time daily infections were higher was on June 4, when 1,805 were diagnosed with the disease and the majority of tough lockdown restrictions were still in force. 

The seven-day rolling case average is now 1,435, up by a quarter (26 per cent) in a week.  

Despite cases being on the climb since July, scientists have emphasised that it is not the sign of a second wave and that they had always expected case diagnoses to increase as lockdown measures were lifted and the testing system got better. 

Experts tell MailOnline the rising figures are simply the result of young, healthy people being picked up on official figures. Previously, they were being missed because tests were reserved for the sickest people. 

Deaths are continuing to spiral and hospital admissions remain flat, with less than 800 Covid-19 patients in beds, and 82 on ventilators. 

For this reason, scientists say the rise in cases is not something to currently be concerned about in terms of a ‘second wave’, and is simply as a result of increased testing in the community. 

The coronavirus has never been ‘eliminated’, which some scientists say means the ‘first wave’ is not actually over. New diagnosed cases were at their lowest on July 6, when 352 cases were recorded. 

Bolton, in Greater Manchester, has risen to the number one spot for the highest infections in England, with 76.5 cases per 100,000 people. It’s overtaken Pendle, where there are 71.7 cases per 100,000 people.   



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