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England's COVID infection rate decreases slightly but remains high

England’s COVID infection rate decreases slightly but remains high

Infection rates have increased in Northern Ireland but levelled off in Scotland and Wales. The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in England has decreased slightly but remains high, according to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Around 1 in 55 people who are not in care homes, hospitals or other institutional settings had the virus in the week ending 16 January.

Worryingly, infection rates in Northern Ireland jumped from 1 in 200 in the previous survey to 1 in 60, as the country extended its lockdown to 5 March.

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Rates in Scotland and Wales have levelled off, with 1 in 100 and 1 in 70 people infected respectively.

In England, London and the North East still have the highest infection rates, with about 1 in 35 people estimated to have the virus in the capital.

But the percentage of positive cases has decreased in the capital, down from 1 in 28 – while rates are increasing in the North East.

Both have infection rates more than twice as high as the lowest regions in England.

However, there was some good news as the percentage of people infected with the new variant has fallen in London, the South East and the East of England.

Infection rates in secondary schools have also fallen, with only the children of key workers and vulnerable students attending.

All other age groups are only showing signs of cases levelling off.

Analysis: This survey reveals new areas of concern across the UK

By Thomas Moore, science correspondent

Lockdown is working, but not everywhere.

That’s the take-home message from the latest snapshot of the UK’s epidemic from the Office for National Statistics.

Across England, the number of people infected with the virus fell from 1 in 50 just before lockdown to 1 in 55 in the week leading up to 16 January.

But, as ever, that masks a complicated geographical variation in the virus’s spread.

In London, the South East and East of England, which were in Tier 4 for longest in the run-up to Christmas, cases dropped sharply.

London still had the highest infection rate – 1 in 35 people – but that was down from 1 in 28.

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