Scotland has lowest Covid-19 infection rate in UK, ONS figures suggest
The latest estimate in Scotland is one in 95 people currently have Covid, down from one in 85 the previous week and below September’s peak of one in 45.
Around one in 65 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to November 13, down from one in 60 the previous week, according to the latest estimates, which is the equivalent of about 824,900 people.
The proportion of people in England who were estimated to have coronavirus at the peak of the second wave in early January was one in 50.
Wales has also seen a drop, with one in 55 people estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to November 13, down from one in 45 the previous week.
Infection levels in Wales hit one in 40 people in late October, the highest since estimates began in summer 2020.
The ONS described the trend in Northern Ireland as “uncertain”, with an estimate of one in 65 people in the most recent week – up from one in 75, but figures across the UK are down.
All figures are for people in private households and do not include hospitals, care homes and other settings.
The estimates come as a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned that high infection levels are likely to put the NHS under “significant strain” and there is a potential for new cases of the virus to “take off”.
Professor John Edmunds told BBC Radio 4’s the World at One programme: “It’s really important that we boost immunity in older individuals and then we might be able to avoid any significant fourth wave.
“We’re going to have high levels of infection for many months, so I think the NHS will unfortunately be under significant strain. It may not get to breaking point, where we were close to before, but significant strain for a very long period of time is certainly on the cards.”
The number of Covid-19 infections in the UK, which is estimated every week by the ONS, is not the same as the number of new cases of coronavirus which are reported every day by the Government.
The number of infections provides a snapshot of the prevalence of Covid-19 within the entire community population of the UK, and estimates the percentage of people who are likely to test positive for the virus at any one point in time – regardless of when they caught the virus, how long they have had it, and whether they have symptoms.
It is based on a sample of swab tests collected from households across the UK.
By contrast, the number of cases of Covid-19 reported each day by the Government includes only those people who have newly tested positive for the virus, and is therefore affected by how many people are coming forward for tests, or who are taking a test because they know they have coronavirus symptoms.
The average number of new cases of Covid-19 in the UK has been on a slight upwards trend in recent days, and any change in the long-term trend for infections could become clearer in future weeks.