Covid: New cases in England fall to 1 in 340 people but coronavirus slightly increases in Scotland, according to ONS

The number of coronavirus cases in private households in England has dropped to the lowest rate since September, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS Covid Infection Survey found around one in 340 people had the virus in the week ending March 13 - the equivalent of 160,200 people.

This is down from around one in 270, or 200,600 people, in the previous week.

It is the lowest figure since the week to September 24 2020, when the estimate stood at one in 470, or 116,600 people.

Cases in Wales continued to decrease with figures in Northern Ireland levelling off.

In Wales, around one in 430 people are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to March 13 – down from the previous ONS estimate of one in 365 for the week to March 6.

In Northern Ireland, the ONS estimates around one in 315 people had Covid-19 in the week to March 13 – broadly similar to one in 310 in the previous week.

But the ONS said there was an increase in cases in Scotland compared to the previous week.

The estimate for Scotland for the week to March 13 is around one in 275 people, up from one in 320.

  • The number of people estimated to have coronavirus in the week to March 13:

England - 1 in 340 people Scotland - 1 in 275Wales - 1 in 430Northern Ireland - 1 in 310

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have decreased in four regions of England: eastern England, London, south-west England and the West Midlands, the ONS said.

But there may be early signs of an increase in the East Midlands, while the trend is uncertain for the other regions, the ONS said.

The East Midlands had the highest proportion of people of any region in England likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to March 13: around one in 225 people.

Yorkshire and the Humber had the next highest estimate: one in 255 people.

The ONS Covid-19 Infection Survey estimates the number of cases in private households. Credit: PA

The percentage of people testing positive with the UK variant decreased in England but the ONS said there was an "uncertain trend" in both Wales and Northern Ireland.

In Scotland, it said there are early signs of an increase in the percentage of people testing positive compatible with the UK variant.

The survey also found that the percentage of school aged children from year seven and over testing positive had also decreased in England in the two weeks from February 28 to March 13.

However, the rate of decline appears to have slowed in all groups except 25 to 34 year olds and 50 to 69 year olds.

Sarah Crofts, Senior Statistician for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: "There is a mixed picture across the UK with infections in England and Wales continuing to fall, levelling in Northern Ireland and showing early signs of an increase in Scotland.

"The trend in some English regions is now uncertain, with the West Midlands, East of England, the South West and London showing clear declines and there are early signs of a possible increase in the East Midlands.

"Positive infections among secondary aged children have decreased and appear to be levelling for primary aged children. Our figures this week are from the first week since schools returned in England and therefore it is too early to say whether this has influenced infection rates.

"We will continue to closely monitor the infection rates in all age groups."

Excess mortality for under 65s in the UK was one of the highest rates in Europe at the end of 2020. Credit: PA

The UK ended 2020 with one of the highest levels of excess mortality in under 65s among countries in Europe, the ONS said.

Comparing the UK to 22 countries, the cumulative excess mortality rate by the week ending December 18 was 7.7% higher than the average mortality rate in 2015 to 2019, second only to Bulgaria on 12.3%.

  • Excess mortality rate of under 65s in the devolved nations at the end of 2020:

England - 8.7%Scotland - 7.7%Wales - 5.0%Northern Ireland - 4.1

For deaths among all ages, Poland ended 2020 with the highest cumulative excess mortality rate (11.6%), followed by Spain (10.6%) and Belgium (9.7%).

England ranked seventh on this list at 7.8% with the UK eighth at 7.2%.