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Covid-19 infections continue to fall in much of UK but rise in Scotland

Total infections are down 78% since the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave.


A person holding a Covid-19 lateral flow test (Danny Lawson/PA)

A person holding a Covid-19 lateral flow test (Danny Lawson/PA)

A person holding a Covid-19 lateral flow test (Danny Lawson/PA)

Covid-19 infections are continuing to fall in most parts of the UK but have risen slightly in Scotland, figures show.

A total of 1.1 million people in private households across the UK are estimated to have had the virus in the week to May 21, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This down from 1.3 million the previous week and is the lowest estimate for the whole country since the end of November 2021, when virus levels were just starting to rise due to the spread of the original Omicron variant.

Total infections have now fallen by 78% since the peak of the recent Omicron BA.2 wave in late March, when a record 4.9 million were estimated to have Covid-19.


(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Levels are not dropping in all four nations, however.

In England, infections have fallen for the seventh week in a row, with 874,400 people likely to test positive for Covid-19, the equivalent of around one in 60.

This is down week-on-week from 1.0 million, or one in 55.

But in Scotland, prevalence of the virus has increased, with 135,400 people estimated to have Covid-19 last week, or one in 40: up from 122,200, or one in 45, a trend the ONS describes as “uncertain”.

Wales has seen infections drop for the sixth week in a row, with 52,900 people likely to have Covid-19, or one in 55, down from 80,700, or one in 40.

The virus continues to be least prevalent in Northern Ireland, where infections are now at their lowest level since mid-October 2021.

Some 23,300 people were estimated to have Covid-19 here last week, or one in 80, down from 29,800, or one in 60.

The figures come ahead of the lifting on May 30 of the last remaining Covid restrictions anywhere in the UK, when the legal requirement to wear a face-covering in health and care settings in Wales comes to an end.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said people can look forward to a “brighter future”, though he urged the public to keep taking steps to protect themselves, such as self-isolating if they have Covid symptoms and staying up-to-date with vaccinations.

The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus has fallen in eastern England, the East Midlands, London, north-west England and south-west England, the ONS said.

The trend in other regions in the most recent week was “uncertain”.

Infection levels are estimated to have dropped among all age groups in England except for 25 to 34-year-olds, where again the trend was “uncertain”.

Separate figures show the number of people in hospital with Covid-19, another measure of the prevalence of the virus, is continuing to fall, with levels in Wales and Scotland at their lowest since December, while in England and Northern Ireland they are now at their lowest since last July.

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