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Cases of Covid-19 are continuing to rise rapidly in England, multiple studies have found, with as many as one in 170 people infected with coronavirus.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, based on results from more than 127,000 participants over the past two weeks, suggest that between 25 September to 1 October about one in 240 people in the community in England had Covid-19, with about 17,200 new cases per day.
The ONS figures suggest a sharp uptick from the previous week, when it was estimated that between 18 and 24 September, about one in every 470 people in the community in England had Covid-19, with about 8,400 new infections a day.
“The estimate shows the number of infections has increased rapidly in recent weeks,” the ONS said.
Prevalence was highest among regions including the north-east, north-west, and Yorkshire and the Humber, and was highest in older teenagers and young adults.
“The second-highest rates are seen in the secondary school – age group,” the ONS added.
The finding that cases are continuing to rise chimes with the latest results from the React 1 study, led by Imperial College, London, that uses swabs from about 120,000 to 160,000 randomly selected people in England across 315 local authority areas each month to track the spread of coronavirus.
The team previously reported that the fourth round of the study, conducted between the end of August and beginning of September, suggested prevalence of the virus in England was doubling about every eight days, with an R figure of 1.7.
However, early results from the fifth round, released last week, suggested that while cases continue to rise, the rate of increase may have slowed, with an R of 1.1 and about 0.55% of the population infected.
Now the team say analysis of the data for the entire fifth round, based on swabs collected between 18 September and 5October, confirms this, although the prevalence is higher than thought last week.
“Our estimate today is that 0.6% of the population, or 60 per 10,000, have [coronavirus] amongst the general population,” said Prof Paul Elliott, an author of the report from Imperial College London. “Even since the previous report, things have gone up even more.”
Prof Steven Riley, another author of the work from Imperial College London, said the latest figures confirmed that there had been a slight slowdown in the rise in infections, with the new data suggesting the R value for England was now 1.16, with a doubling time of about 29 days.
Riley said the data suggested restrictions, including the “rule of six” may have had some effect, but stressed that cases were still rising.
“It’s a national epidemic, it is still growing,” he said, noting the React-1 study suggested the prevalence across England was now about one in 170 people, with 45,000 new infections each day.
While Elliott noted that prevalence remained highest among 18-24-year-olds, infections have risen across all age groups. And geographic differences remain.
“As we reported last week, the highest rates are in the north of the country, in [the] north-west region where now the rate is around 1%… north-east and Yorkshire and Humber,” said Elliott.
The team say the R for Yorkshire and Humber is between 1.0 and 1.8, while the best estimate for doubling time is 13 days, but may be as low as seven days.
“We would highlight that in general there is an urgent need for concentration on the main public health message of social distancing, hand washing, and using a face covering,” said Riley, adding that greater access to testing and faster testing were also important, as was keeping an eye on the situation in care homes and hospitals.
Elliott said despite some regions showing slower growth than others, most were experiencing a rise in infections, with the data suggesting that some parts of the country are just “a few weeks” behind others.
“We really do need to double down the efforts nationally, as well as regionally,” Elliott said. Riley agreed, adding that this could mean either greater compliance with existing measures, or the introduction of tighter measures.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Up to 1 in 170 people have Covid in England, latest figures suggest | World news