First rise in COVID-19 infections in the UK since July

COVID-19 infection rates have increased in the UK for the first time since the middle of July 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics (“ONS”). The latest ONS figures show one in seventy tested positive, with the largest rise in secondary school children in the week of 14 September 2022. Infections increased in England and Wales while rates fell in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The ONS will continue to closely monitor the data to oversee the impact of schools returning in the coming weeks.

ONS testing

The ONS estimates are based on random tests submitted by people in households across the UK, whether or not they have symptoms. From the latest ONS testing, approximately 927,000 people would have tested positive for COVID-19. That is 1.4% of the population, which is an increase from 881,200 the previous week. There were increases in London, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber and north-east England, while rates continued to decline in the South East. However, the rise was most noticeable in England in secondary school pupils as the new term started, as well as in those aged between 25 and 34. The number being admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in England has also increased over the most recent week. In total 4,015 patients were admitted in the week ending 19 September 2022. This is up 17% from 3,434 in the previous week.

What is being done?

COVID-19 booster jabs are now being offered to the most vulnerable, to help protection over the winter. As part of this COVID-19 booster protection, the UK has approved two dual-strain COVID-19 vaccines. This COVID-19 booster jab protection alongside antiviral treatments, expected to be given to millions of the most vulnerable starting September 2022, is designed to help protect those at greatest risk.

What is being said?

Sarah Crofts, head of analytical outputs for the ONS’s Covid-19 infection survey, said:

“It was a mixed picture across the UK. It is too early to see if these changing trends will continue, and we will monitor the data closely to see any impact of the return of schools over the coming weeks.”

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