Covid infection rates in England plunge by another fifth

England’s summer Covid wave is collapsing rapidly, with official data today revealing infections have plunged by another fifth across the country.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysts estimate 2.1million people were infected on any given day in the week up to July 26, the equivalent of roughly one in 25. This was down 20 per cent on the 2.6million logged the previous week.

It is the second week in a row cases have dropped, signalling the end of the resurgence fuelled by the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron. Cases fell in all age groups and regions of England.

Infections also dropped in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the first time in weeks, with experts hailing the ‘continued decreases’.

Nationally, cases peaked in mid-July at around 3.1million, prompting calls from some experts to bring back face masks, outdoor mixing and free testing. But the wave has been short-lived, thanks to sky-high levels of immunity from vaccination and natural infection. 

The ONS stats show cases in Scotland fell 4.1 per cent from 272,000 to 260,800 last week, with around one in 20 people infected. Infections dropped 30 per cent to 108,800 in Wales — one in 30 — and 3.1 per cent to 109,800 in Northern Ireland — one in 17

Long Covid more common in unemployed not seeking work 

Long Covid is more common in people who are unemployed and not seeking work, figures suggest.

Latest official estimates, based on self-reporting, indicate one in 20 economically ‘inactive’ people have the condition, excluding students and retirees.

Meanwhile, the rate is thought to be around one in 30 for those in paid employment, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures up to July.

The agency estimates about one in 34 retired people and one in 60 students had long Covid, based on a random sample of households surveyed last month.

Rates of the condition have more than doubled in the economically inactive and retirees in the past year, for reasons that are unclear.

Overall, 1.8million Britons were estimated to have long Covid — defined as people with lingering symptoms four weeks after a Covid infection.

It marked the second month in a row that rates of the poorly-understood condition fell, after rising in line with infections during the pandemic.

Dr Rhiannon Yapp, co-lead for the ONS Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: ‘Our most recent data suggests that infection rates have continued to decrease across much of the UK, although rates still remain high.

‘We have seen continued decreases in all regions and age groups in England. With the summer holidays and more people travelling, we will continue to closely monitor the data.’

The ONS stats show cases in Scotland fell 4.1 per cent from 272,000 to 260,800 last week, with around one in 20 people infected. 

Infections dropped 30 per cent to 108,800 in Wales — one in 30 — and 3.1 per cent to 109,800 in Northern Ireland — one in 17.

They are also dropping in every region of England, with the North West seeing the biggest drop at 34.1 per cent.

It was followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (33.8 per cent), the West Midlands (28.1 per cent) and the North East 22.6 per cent).

Covid remains most prevalent in London, with 4.1 per cent of people in the capital infected at any one time.

Meanwhile, infections are also dropping in every age group, with the sharpest fall (48.9 per cent) seen in secondary school students, who are currently on summer holiday.

The next biggest fall was in people aged 16 to 24 (44 per cent), two-to-six-year-olds (39.1 per cent) and those aged 35 to 49 (36.5 per cent).

Covid hospital admissions in England have been falling since the middle of last month, attributed to the fact that while BA.4 and BA.5 are extremely transmissible, they are just as mild as their parent strain. 

It comes after separate data today showed long Covid is more common in people who are unemployed and not seeking work.

Latest official estimates, based on self-reporting, indicate one in 20 economically ‘inactive’ people have the condition, excluding students and retirees.

Meanwhile, the rate is thought to be around one in 30 for those in paid employment, according to different ONS figures up to July.

They are also dropping in every region of England, with the North West seeing the biggest drop at 34.1 per cent. It was followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (33.8 per cent), the West Midlands (28.1 per cent) and the North East 22.6 per cent). Covid remains most prevalent in London, with 4.1 per cent of people in the capital infected at any one time, but rates dropped 15 per cent over the week

Meanwhile, infections are also dropping in every age group, with the sharpest fall (48.9 per cent) seen in secondary school students, who are currently on summer holiday. The next biggest fall was in people aged 16- to 24-year-olds (44.0 per cent), two- to six-year-olds (39.1 per cent) and 35- to 49-year-olds (36.5 per cent)

The agency estimates about one in 34 retired people and one in 60 students had long Covid, based on a random sample of households surveyed last month.

Rates of the condition have more than doubled in the economically inactive and retirees in the past year, for reasons that are unclear.

Overall, 1.8million Britons were estimated to have long Covid — defined as people with lingering symptoms four weeks after a Covid infection.

It marked the second month in a row that rates of the poorly-understood condition fell, after rising in line with infections during the pandemic.

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By Jon Doe