Covid infections have fallen among secondary schoolchildren in England for the first time in weeks, but experts from the government’s pandemic advisory body are warning that deaths and hospitalisations from the disease across the UK could soar over the next nine days.
Figures released on Friday by the Office for National Statistics show that infection rates among children aged 11 to 16 in school years seven to 11 dropped to 7.5% in the week ending 30 October, ending rises throughout September, and down from a high of 9.1% the week before.
While the infection rate is still far higher than in any other age group in the UK, scientists said the downturn may signify that cases have peaked in England, at least for the time being. While the data includes the October half-term week when children mixed less, the ONS said the tests performed in the week ending 30 October would have identified those infected before the break.
The ONS figures raised hopes that the wave of disease that swept through schools at the start of the autumn term may finally be on the decline.