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.

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.  

 

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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

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