23/05/2022
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Covid infections in record drop of nearly one million, says ONS

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There has been a record drop in the number of Covid infections in the UK, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Around 2.87 million people would have tested positive in the week to 23 April – 900,000 fewer than the week before.

Covid levels are declining in England, Scotland and Wales but are unchanged in Northern Ireland.

Despite the decreases in all age groups in most of the UK, the ONS said infections remained high.

“We are yet to see if this is part of a larger trend,” said Kara Steel, senior statistician for the Covid-19 Infection Survey.

One in 23 would test positive for the virus under the latest estimates, down from one in 17 the week before – a 24% decrease.

That equates to the largest week-on-week fall in total infections since the ONS started its survey in July 2020.

The figures are an estimate, based on tests on thousands of people in random households across the UK.

They provide the most accurate picture of Covid now that free testing for the public in England has come to an end.

Some free testing will continue in Scotland until the end of April, and in Wales and Northern Ireland until the end of June.

The ONS research found:

  • One in 25 people in England has Covid (down from one in 17)
  • One in 18 in Wales has Covid (down from one in 15)
  • One in 25 in Northern Ireland has Covid (which is little changed from the week before)
  • One in 25 in Scotland has Covid (down from one in 19)

Infections fell in all regions of England. They are highest in the North East (6.1% testing positive) and lowest in London (3.6%).

And infections in England are coming down among the over-70s (to 5%), younger adults and children, with the steepest falls among the youngest – those aged two to 10 (2%).

Official UK data shows the number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid continues to fall.

Figures had risen from about 1,100 a day in mid-February to nearly 2,400 by the end of March, but they have since dropped to about 1,455 admissions each day.

Meanwhile, the number of hospital patients with the virus in intensive-care beds is now around 325.

Data for mid-April shows 1,150 people died during the previous week with Covid-19 on their death certificate – suggesting it is very likely to be the underlying cause of death.

There were 1,673 deaths a week in mid-January.

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